Cover Me Sundays: Lalah Hathaway Edition

So last week we did a post about Lalah Hathaway’s appearance on Questlove Supreme which you can check out here. During a particular segment Lalah and the Quest Crew were discussing cover songs and how some artists are able to make a song their own. Names like Luther were rightfully put out there as artists who can simply make a song so much their own that you don’t realize it’s a cover.

That notion is really a big part of the impetus behind this series when we began way back in 2010. Now I must take a divergent turn for just a minute here. Hearing that convo on Questlove Supreme could not have come at a better time. When you’re out here doing “Tree falling in the woods” type of work it can be frustrating at times when you look up from your bakery and see the masses flocking to Mondo Burger, McDowell’s and The Krusty Krab en masse when you’ve been serving Prime Rib for damn near a decade.

But we don’t do this for the popularity contest. It’s cool, but the reason we do this is because we love and know about the music. So as long as the record of these posts exist online so that someone at sometime will stumble upon these woods and will read and read and understood that we’re not new to this but true to this. Ok, rant over.

So back to the subject at hand. Lalah had to interject that quite frankly her father was a true master of making cover songs his own. Many folks are still just figuring out that “A Song For You” is a Leon Russell composition or that “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” was written by Al Kooper and first made famous by Blood, Sweat and Tears. I believe we’ve documented that in these here pages over the years that’s why you should cut those zeroes and get…

Lalah went on to further illustrate the point by stating that a majority of the material on her debut album were covers. Most folks know by now that “I’m Coming Back”(Written by Gary Taylor) was a cover after Vesta released it on her debut album.

But did you know that “Heaven Knows”(Written by Derek Bramble)was originally recorded by Jaki Graham in 1984? How about the smooth and sultry “Something”? That was written by (Brenda Russell and David Foster) and included on Brenda’s 1983 album? But that’s not actually the first release of that great tune that distinction goes to Leslie Smith off his 1982 album Heartache.

Even later on her career we find Lalah closely identified with covers. Lalah’s 1999 collaboration with the great Joe Sample The Song Lives On is all about great songs, you know like this series. I wanted to place a special performance of “One Day I’ll Fly Away” featuring Vesta with The Crusaders to show how this music and great songs in particular can cause great artists paths to cross multiple times in their career.

I rounded out the songs in today’s post with Eric Benet’s 2001 version of “Better And Better” that was from his unreleased album that ended up on Lalah’s 2004 release Outrun The Sky which marked Lalah’s return to solo recording projects after a ten year hiatus after 1994’s A Moment. You really should check out the podcast to hear about why there was such a long break in between projects and why and what did Lalah do during the intervening time.

The list here is by no means comprehensive but we just wanted to take some time out to illustrate the origins of these songs.

P.S. There’s one more song down at the bottom that may have you puzzled. Well “Good Love” by Anita Baker was written by Gary Taylor who got a young Lalah Hathaway to sing the demo. Now if we could get Lalah to premiere that demo here… I mean we’ve already gotten the Al B. Sure! K-Ci/JoJo/Al demo for Tevin Campbell. So I’m sayin’ 🙂

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Daisy Jane

I’m writing this post partially out of inspiration and partly out of being somewhat miffed. My miffery(is that a word? lol) is because I get really bothered when I read the ideas of persons who claim to be experts in a field yet they posit ideas that are often devoid of a complete contextual picture because they are too busy advancing an agenda that logic and reason often leave the room. Now at this post you may be asking yourself why have I posted a screencap of lyrics from America’s 1975 composition “Daisy Jane” and then the song itself? Well… if you just listen you will undeniably hear the influence that this particular song had on a song that is held in high esteem in the canon of Black Music – Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait A While”.

If you’ve every had the opportunity to read, view or listen to an interview with Jimmy Jam (I had the pleasure of interviewing him myself) he talks extensively of the influence of AM Radio and Pop music on his musicianship and his writing and production. In the early to mid 1970’s numerous Pop/Rock (some may even say Soft Rock) groups in the vein of America held sway over the radio dial. The influence that these artists had on Black Artists is undeniable – you could simply stop at The Isley Brother’s 1971 Opus Giving It Back if you wanted to illustrate the two street that inspiration is or you could bring to mind that one of the greatest writers of song of all time Steveland Morris went on the record to state that “Living For The City” is an outgrowth of his fondness for Blood, Sweat & Tears “Summer In The City”.

The point is this… we know how incredibly influential Black Music has been on the totality of American Music. Black Music is quite simply at the core of the sound of all music created in this country whether people want to acknowledge it or not. Where I have a problem, a beef if you will is when folks discuss this great music and its creators as if somehow they created music in a vacuum. Many are so quick to point out the influence of Black Music ( and rightfully so given the sordid history of non-attribution, the Pat Boone effect etc., etc.,) but for me you lose all credibility when you don’t acknowledge that the influence at times can run the other way and create something that moves the music further – just from that little bit of influence that adds something different to the pot.

I titled this post “Inspiration Is Everywhere” because I believe it truly is… I also believe that if you truly want to be inspired and create art that helps the music progress you need to spend some time listening, learning, analyzing and creating music that comes from “outside” so that when you bring it inside and put your proverbial spin on it something new and beautiful is birthed.

“As many proclaim content is King, I serve as a reminder that context is Grown!”

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.

“Cover Me” Sundays-You’ve Made Me So Very Happy

Sometimes your own song that you record first becomes more closely identified with another artist such is the case with the 60’s classic “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”. Continue reading ““Cover Me” Sundays-You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.