Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Soul - Served up guest style from the Fu

Today marks the start of the inaugural Mainstream Isn't So Bad 1st Annual Guest Writers Week (try saying that ten times quickly), and to serve up some savory soul I turn to my man John, A.K.A. Dr. Fu. John has had his hands in all sorts of musical pots, and is a man of my own grain. He's worked at a major label, started his own PR company, mixes mad music as a DJ (try out some of his mixes here - I highly recommend the "Selectively Elegant" mix), tried his hand at blogging for a bit but couldn't hack it (j/k John), and is just an all around musical jedi. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some fine female soul artists that fly under a lot of people's radar.


A couple of months back on a Sunday Soul post Sean said "There are some albums that are just so powerful, or historical, or just plain amazing, that it takes me a little while to muscle up the nerve to try and tackle writing a post about them." This only scratches the surface of how I feel about describing two of the most compelling voices I've come across in three decades of aural obsession. For the nuts and bolts, it would be better to consult the experts here and here. My take is this:

Minnie Riperton is overlooked far too often in conversations about the great voices of her generation. Likely a result of her premature and tragic passing at 32, Minnie's name doesn't resonate. I often hear people say, "oh the Lovin' You girl," disregarding album after album of epic songs that have been forgotten by nearly everyone but the crate-diggers. We talk about Aretha, Otis, and Curtis, and in fairness their output of music was much greater. Yet I can't necessarily say that their music was greater. Minnie...just had it. Watch this clip and let her sing this song to you.

Tell me you don't feel more comfortable than you did 3 minutes ago.

Now Amel Larrieux. It's almost as if she inherited Minnie's spirit. And voice. It's with pause that I say that because Amel is truly one-of-a-kind in her own right. Where Minnie offers a bright and bubbly escape, Amel forces you to be comfortable right where you're standing. She's the moonlight that followed Minnie's afternoon sunshine. Unappreciated just the same - her name is mistakenly glossed over when rattling off the Lauryn's, Erykah's, and Jill's. It's only those that dive deep on the genre's finest that really get Amel. And they're all that much luckier for it:

I'm certainly not the first to speak Amel Larrieux in the same sentence as Minnie Riperton. Comparisons are often made about their awe-inspiring vocal range. Still, for me it has never been about the high octaves alone. There is much more important thread woven into their musical lineage.

They share something that doesn't come along every day. Something the imposters and glass-shattering false idols simply can not replicate. It's a feeling passed on to the listener. The ability to change your day for the better three notes into the first song. Warm like tucked-in with the headphones on. Real like dusty vinyl. Pure like before it was sampled.

Minnie and Amel share what music junkies like myself hope to find at the core of every next song - untouched by whether or not it was a hit single, unaffected by the time place, or source, and absolutely independent of the name of the genre it has been labeled. They share soul.

Minnie Riperton - Memory Lane (Single version) : Capitol Gold: The Best Of Minnie Riperton

Minnie Riperton - The Edge of A Dream
: Petals: The Minnie Riperton Collection (disc 1)

Amel Larrieux - Earn My Affections : Morning

Amel Larrieux - Magic : Morning

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