They just don’t make music like they used to. Or do they? 10-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello seeks to revive the old soul of soul music with her latest album, a dedication to the late jazz legend Nina Simone.
The album, entitled “Pour une ame souveraine” (“For a Sovereign Soul”) marks Ndegeocello’s 10th studio album and includes 14 tracks, performed and/or written by Simone. Although Simone’s influence is central to the album, Ndegeocello manages to make each of the songs her own. On Simone’s quintessential hit, “Feelin’ Good,” Ndegeocello swaps Simone’s powerhouse belts with her own trademark coy vocals. Similarly, Ndegeocello takes Simone’s formidable alto vocals on “Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood,” and transcends them into a sweeter, more sensual sound while maintaining the original track’s emotional drive. One particularly experimental track is the bluegrass duet “Don’t Take All Night,” which Ndegeocello sings alongside Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor.
Musical exploration is nothing new for Ndegeocello, as her discography knows no genre boundaries. Her biggest hit, “Wild Night,” sung with rock legend John Mellencamp, reached #3 on the Billboard charts in 1994, the same year she saw success with dance-rap track “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night.)”
Talents aside, Ndegeocello and her muse have something else in common: their political activism. While Simone rallied for civil rights in the 1960s-70s, Ndegeocello actively campaigns for both AIDS awareness and protection and empowerment of women in the Congo.
Appropriately credited with sparking the neo-soul movement, Ndegeocello brings a new dawn, new day, and new life to the iconic Simone’s music.