Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Oct 2nd 2009 2:00PM by David Dacks
This summer, Talibah's website asked supporters to "Choose Your Own Adventure" and contribute money -- starting at $15 and topping out at $3000. In return, they would receive content ranging from t-shirts to hanging out with her in the studio. For the right price, she'll even come to your home, bring a burlesque dancer and supply a four-course raw-food meal -- let's see Radiohead top that.
Her "proper" debut '(S)Cream' won't drop until next year -- Pop Montreal-goers will get a taste this weekend -- but later this month Talibah will be letting people into the creative process by releasing 'The Phone Demos' EP, bare-bones vocal-and-guitar performances she recorded on a cell phone. Suspended in a heavy digital haze, they're all about the intimate distance that a phone connection evokes. Friends commented that these recordings sound old and wise, like a recording from the 1920s.
The daughter of legendary jazz and blues singer Salome Bey, she "grew up in a house with walls and walls of music around me," Talibah says. "I was always encouraged to just sing from my heart and soul. How that translates to my music is that I just do what feels right."
Encouraged to pursue an artistic career by her parents, she trained in dance, visual arts and music in high school in Toronto -- initially finding success in stage productions such as 'Showboat,' 'Ragtime' and Djanet Sears' landmark 'The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.' At the same time, she gigged in bands -- notably '90s soulsters Blaxäm -- while teaching music and performing as a backing vocalist.
These diverse professional experiences and the struggles to achieve them come out in her music. "It seems in the pop music world, people never want to show too much because they want it to come out perfect and not show the flaws -- it's like polished angst and polished hurt. I let people into the journey of me."
Talibah had to be resourceful to make a living from her artistic abilities -- sometimes being a part of a larger production brings different returns than her individually driven statements. This attitude helped cope with the intensity that went along with being a backup singer for 'Canadian Idol.'
"It was great for my chops," she exclaims. "The whole process we would go through each week, we'd have to be on our game, we'd have to read charts -- I hadn't done that since high school. It was great to be working with Dennis DeYoung from Styx and Roger Hodgson from Supertramp. There were so many people who came on that show. I was so keen to meet Paul Anka!"
But these days she's most excited about a mixtape, consisting of cover songs recorded live off the floor, that drops at the end of this year. "It's dirty, nasty, gritty funk from different things that excite me," she says, citing a characteristically diverse sweep of artists. "Nine Inch Nails, Led Zeppelin, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton -- I don't discriminate."