Amazing Azaniaâ€™s The Blue Note Show: Soundtrack to a Beautiful Life
Azaniaâ€™s music leaves you fulfilled and feeling like you can take on the world. Itâ€™s kind of like a soundtrack for living a beautiful, soulful life.
Azania's version of “Moody’s Mood for Love” is what did it for me.
Not the fact that she’s performing at the Blue Note only having been in New York less than a year, let alone to a full house on Saturday September 1st --one of the club’s slowest nights all year-- and not even the fact that everyone thought the woman in the orange dress in the flyer was me.
I wasn’t even going to cover Azania’s show at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club’s Late Night Groove Series in NYC’S West Village but the duet did it! I didn’t think there would be anything new to say about her show since I had last interviewed her several months ago in February 2012 at the Triad Theatre, also in New York City, but I was so wrong! Apparently she’s been working very hard to achieve perfection and worldwide recognition. I didn’t know she had a fresh live set, a band, and had let the Whitney Houston covers rest in peace for now to make room for some standards and some original songs that give new life to her name in the music game. Azania’s bio is interesting and international, her parents were born in Sierra Leone and she was born in Boston. She has a unique accent having lived in America and Switzerland for most of her life. Her sweet spirit and approachable personality comes through in her lyrics. She’s not fearful of her sensuality and she handles compliments and cat calls from the audience with grace. Yet, when she tells you to stand up and clap your hands, you’d better. I felt like the uncomfortable student in class when “Teacher Azania” pointed out one table who had not obliged to her request at the end of the show to stand. “They think I can’t see them because they’re in the corner, but I see them. Could you stand up please? I don’t know why they think I’m not speaking to them!” She teases them but you know she’s serious. That’s feminine power in action and it shows an impressive command of the space around her. Now let’s get to the songs. I’m so excited because rather than give you a run of the show, (you’ll have to make it to one yourself for that) I’m just going to focus on the songs that inspired me to actually write. A sure sign of feminine power is the ability to light a fire under a man’s ass for him to do the things you like without having to say or do anything at all. “Show Me A Sign” is a great outlet for frustrated women who want a man to pursue them. Rather than tell them directly, do what Azania did and write your feelings in a song. Channel that frustration into a creative endeavor and shiver from rush of excitement from singing from the depths of your being. After you’re done you can sigh, relax, and forget about it, and watch the next man you come in contact with be sucked right into your aura. Relaxation is like a spell for men. This song helps release frustration. I like the way she could tell a man to piss or get off the pot and look graceful doing it. That takes skill.
Now, if you find yourself still obsessing over this man who you needed to get over “Yesterday” you might listen to that song of the same name, with clever lyrics written from the perspective of the person who doesn’t want to let go. No stalkers, just hopeless, melancholy romantics who are in love with idea of love but have no idea what true love is. You can find out with this song. True love knows how to let go, and is at peace with their decision to do so.
The person who has lost their love because they finally moved on with their life might petition for the person to hold on to what has ended by saying “Wait For Me.” This is a beautiful ballad for which audience members actually started shushing each other so they could hear, after Azania asked them would they quiet down if she sang a quiet song. (I swear I need to take a class in diplomacy and sweetness with this woman). This sounds like a Whitney cover but it isn’t. Still, I consider it a tribute because this is a song that could go down in history. The lyrics are simple and relatable, the melody has what I like to call “painful chord changes” that really make you feel the mix of emotions that the artists had when composing the piece. This is song is an instant classic and needs to be on the radio, like, now.
If you and your love reunite after careful contemplation there still may need to be some convincing, and the woman may play hard to get. (Now, this tactic is getting some harsh criticism in some more progressive circles but I still think it works.) “Moody’s Mood for Love” is one of those Jazz standard duets that not everybody can master easily. It’s not a straightforward song, it’s more like a cabaret or musical theatre piece. You really have to embody the characters of this song to make it successful and I think Azania and her guest singer Jamie Owens did. The sexy, flirty, loving yet hard to get feminine energy and the pleading, almost self-abasing, yet bold and persistent masculine energy blended perfectly. Azania’s strong sassy and smooth tone and her male singer’s strong caramel-y R&B sound was a match and they brought the house down with that one. After that, I was completely open.
Congratulations! You and your love become parents. And Azania’s got a song for that occasion too. “Sweet Mother” it’s a song that no doubt Azania’s children will sing for her one day. Featuring the Kora player Yacouba Sissoko, it has a traditional vibe that makes you want to move your hips, have some drinks, and with this type of rhythm and you’ll be making more babies again soon too, or maybe just practicing for now.
This has become our own little love story, hasn’t it, with Azania’s live show as the soundtrack? You may have a long and challenging future ahead of you, but no challenge is too trying. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is another classic recreated by Azania and guest singer Aundreus Patterson, who sound like two old friends coming together to jam. His gravelly grown folk soulful tone is a great compliment to Azania’s vocals.
“Looking Ahead” is a song about having an optimistic outlook for the future and is a perfect way to end the show and keep us wanting more. Use it to inspire you to achieve the fruits of love and creativity, because it’s the stuff of life. Azania’s music leaves you fulfilled and feeling like you can take on the world. It’s kind of like a soundtrack for living a beautiful, soulful life.
Helese Smauldon, Columnist for The Black Star News
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