Born in Brooklyn, raised in Switzerland and long resident in Toronto, Ontario, Shakura S'Aida, is an international artist whose involvement in the Canadian music scene has been ongoing for the past 30 years, enriching the jazz, blues and classic R&B communities with her soulful voice, enthusiastic personality and commitment to music as an art form. Recently signed to Ruf Records, she has a new disc, “Brown Sugar,” that certainly will establish her as a significant vocalist.
Her strengths as a singer are immediately evident on “Mr Right,” as she sings about her man “Can’t be my Mr. Right, cause you doing me wrong.” Her voice and phrasing is spot on, soulful with a somewhat dry delivery and little vibrato. More can be heard on the next track, “Walk Out That Door,” where her jazzy background is evident in her seemingly off-the cuff approach which serves to highlight when she belts out a line. And she is backed on this by a terrific band of guitarist Donna Grantis (what a first-rate player she is), Lance Anderson on organ, Rick Steff on keyboards, Steve Potts on drums, and Dave Smith on bass. Grantis, like S’Aida, is a revelation, who has a wonderful tone and whose playing works off S’Aida’s vocals, like on the brooding ”Gonna Tell My Baby.”
Most of this CD are originals from the pens of S’Aida and Grantis and maybe its because the performances are so good, but when she tears into the soulful ballad “Break Your Heart,” one knows things are special. With so many musical peaks here, the highpoint may be “Angels on High,” as she sings about needs to find faith and find a new start as she she asks them to help her stop and cry and know when it is all right again.” She is donating proceeds of downloads of this track to benefit Haitian earthquake relief.
This is among the best recordings this writer has heard so far in 2010. I have already mentioned the superb musicians here and the fine material. Kudos also need to be extended to Jim Gaines for his overseeing this terrific recording that display what a fabulous singer Shakura S’Aida is and a voice that fans of the blues and related musical genres will becoming familiar with soon.
For purposes of FTC regulations, I received this from the publicity firm for the recording company.