Working on this track was an exhilarating ride from the first demo to the last printing of the final mix. Seriously. My adrenal system still hasn’t recovered from the first surreal night. It was Ahmir and Ray bringing Roots magic, and Luke bringing some Antibalas groove, and Nate repping for tune-yards. Serious cats, together for the first time but sounding so solid nonetheless.
I had worked up a demo about 2 weeks before the recording sessions because I wanted a new feel for the rhythm of the song. Doing straight afrobeat is great, but I had been listening to some contemporary Nigerian pop music which was giving me goosebumps, and I thought a new feel would free us up to create our own interpretation of ‘Lady.’
Bringing in Patricia Preware and Toni Hartley, singing pals of mine for years, really helped me feel grounded in a vocal part that was difficult and dissonant. The three of us hadn’t sung together for about 10 years but we came together like it had been no time at all. Those ladies both have other professional careers but they’re two of the best musicians I know. Singing with them makes my heart happy.
It’s hard to find words for this whole experience. Asking Angelique Kidjo to find the clawing animal in her voice and having her give us just that; speaking with Akua Naru from her home in Germany about turning Fela’s original lyrics, which we both felt were painful and sexist, into something we could get behind; listening to the overwhelming, deep final mix that was the sum of so many people’s talents and hearts and commitment.
I’m so very proud to be a part of this project. Thanks so much to Paul Heck and Red Hot for inviting me in!