My crew and I had a great time recording an in-studio session for NPR’s World Music Cafe Sense of Place series. Thanks to Overdub Studios for hosting us!
AFROPUNK PREMIERE: “Dear Nora” by Poet/Musician Shirlette Ammons ft. Meshell Ndegeocello offers a dose of hopefulness
by Sound Check
19 hours ago
“For me, Meshell Ndegeocello is the musician who best represents a genuine creative freedom, without fear of bounds or boundaries. Her catalogue of music is genius and has undoubtedly been one that has provided me with the most inspiration, affirmation, challenge to learn, and freedom to create what I want how I want. It’s really difficult to put into words how much it means to have her perform “Dear Nora”–a song I wrote that reflects this notion of ‘love as an act of resistance,’ which is the main artery of the album. I wanted each song on the record to possess its own collection of risks. I think “Dear Nora”‘s risks lie in its marriage of fantasy and hopefulness, which seem to be relevant, juxtaposing themes in this day and age. Meshell’s handling of the song allows those themes to become apparent, then visible, and ultimately tangible. She’s simply amongst the best. I’m so very grateful,” Shirlette Ammons tells AFROPUNK.
“Dear Nora” is the musical manifestation of sunshine: bright, joyful, and evocative of pure optimism. Take a listen down below.
By Erin White, AFROPUNK Contributor.
Photo by Tim Walter
Photo by Tim Walter
Photo by Jason Rodgers
via Paste Magazine:
shirlette ammons is premiering the video for her track “Earth Intro” off of her upcoming full-length album Language Barrier, to be released February 5, 2016 via Churchkey and SugarQube Records.
“The video concept was devised by Kid Ethnic who also shot and edited it,” said ammons of the video. “It’s basically an arrangement of clips that are playful and carefree. I wanted to do something that represented the anthemic vibe of the song, the sheer joy of it….and I wanted to dance in front of the screen!”
The track features folk rock duo, The Indigo Girls.
“It was an honor to have the Indigo Girls sing this song,” she continued. “I had them in mind for the song from the moment I wrote it. They have so many songs in their catalogues that feel like epic sing-alongs and I wanted them to add that personality to Earth Intro.”
Watch the video for shirlette ammons’ “Earth Intro,” featuring The Indigo Girls, below.
November 13, 2015
From Culture Collide:
As a poet and musician, Durham, North Carolina-based wordsmith shirlette ammons is well-versed on the robust and all-encompassing power of lyricism. In anticipation of Language Barrier, her sophomore album and riotous ode to verse (out on February 5), ammons has just gifted the public with a brand-new single, a collaboration with Berlin’s resident rap queen sookee entitled, “Language Barrier Segue.” Here, militaristic drum beats merge with ominous drones and heavy-hitting bass drops as spoken word reigns supreme. ammons reveals that the release centers around the notion of “love as an act of resistance.” She explains, “I wanted to approach genre as a ‘barrier’ then break it down. I wanted to write an album that explores the ways we love across imposed and implied barriers.”
sookee and i are consistent collaborators and i’m very proud that this track is debuting at this moment. for those interested, i’ve posted the lyrics here:
LANGUAGE BARRIER SEGUE
lyrics: sookee, shirlette ammons
music: Daniel Hart
vocals: sookee, shirlette ammons
sookee verse (w/English translations)
Es geht selten um english esperanto und deutsch
It’s rarely about english esperanto or german
Es geht oft darum zu verdrängen und darum zu versäumen
It’s more often about repressing and neglecting
Die barriere im kopf eine karriere verbockt
The barrier in the mind, a career gambled away
Keine euros und dollars auch kein leben für für gott
No euros no dollars neither a life for god
Aber ein klares verständnis wie kann ich dir begegnen
But a clear understanding of how i can i encounter you
Meine konzepte und wünshe inzwishen nicht mehr vernebelt
My concepts and wishes aren’t foggy anymore
Denn ich trau mir vertrauen zu in gesichtern verewigt
Cause i dare to have trust manifested in faces
In teilen im meim eigenen und dazwishen beweglich
Partly in parts and also in my own, still flexible in between
Da sind liebesbegriffe die uns zu tiefe verpflichen
There are terms of love that obligate us to depth
Worte sind sauerstoffflashen wenn uns krisen vergiften
Words are oxygen bottles when we are poisoned by crises
Wir kommunizieren komplexer realitäten entsprechend
We communicate more complex according to realities
Was meinst du mit was meinst du kann mich nicht ewig verstecken
What do you mean by what do you mean, can’t hide forever
Sprache ergänzt durch blicke hände und lächeln
Language complemented by gazes hands and smiles
Wir sind so im moment dass wir das ende vergessen
We are so kept in the moment that we forget about the end
Und den anfang, den standard wenn du magst kannst dus weitersagen
And about the beginning and the standards, you can spread the word if you want to
Parole brückenbau und grenzen zerplatzen wie seifenblasen
Watch word building bridges, barriers burst like soap bubbles
For those who deal with the ridged curiosity’s hidden
and the aim is mistaken coded in smokescreens of language
Take the tongue from the tiger feel ashamed when they bite it
but we aim for the opposite, igniting the silence
If we don’t name our injustice a generations indicted
if we do speak about it, we’d be far from nearsighted
I wrote this fearing the mirror the one you clearly invited
held up facing the angels plus the demons inside us
I’m only versed in 3 pidgins: ebonic, country, and christian
plus the jargon of forefathers who don’t seek forgiveness
Now we burning them bridges amidst the broken and brilliant
watch the barriers burst like bubbles scaling a building
but nothing’s ever that simple ‘cept my word and my pencil
in 24 hour diners breaking from making a living yeah
so when I finish the sentence
since we mend distance with sentence
let’s never finish this sentence
Durham, NC-based poet and musician shirlette ammons partners with twin sister, Shorlette Ammons, launch SugarQube Records.
shirlette says, “Our goal is to create a platform that supports artists who blur genre lines by making music that pushes the bounds of categories and labels. The concept behind SugarQube developed from my own experiences as an artist seeking support. SugarQube will represent artists who want to create defiant work. I love hip hop and R&B, but what if you’re a Black musician who wants to create outside of the molds you’ve been arbitrarily cast into? SugarQube aims to allow artist that opportunity.”
SugarQube will co-release shirlette’s sophomore solo album with Durham, NC’s Churchkey Records in early 2016. The first single from the album will be released September 2015.
“Soon after Shorlette and I decided to create the SugarQube label to release my new album, Churchkey expressed interest in releasing the new record to,” shirlette adds. “We’re excited to work with Kyle and Steve of Churchkey on our inaugural project and feel the collaboration only strengthens the ideas that inspire SugarQube Records.”
For Shorlette, a former librarian-turned-community gardener and food justice activist, this is a first venture into music. About starting SugarQube, Shorlette says, “We grew up around music and continue to have a genuine love for artistic expression. I am truly a fan of shirlette’s first solo record, Twilight for Gladys Bentley, and look forward to working with her to support her second.”
More information will be announced about SugarQube Records’ co-release with Churchkey in the coming weeks. Visit www.SugarQubeRecords.com for more information as it is announced.
got my feet heavy
For 2 1/2 weeks, I had the distinct honor of joining legendary Hip Hop Producer Diamond D, Pop and Lockin’ Specialist Pop Master Fabel, and Denver’s finest DJ B*Money as the lyricist/MC instructor for the Serbian contingent of The Next Level Program.
Next Level is “an initiative of the US State Dept & UNC Music Dept to send artists around the world to use hip-hop as a tool for cultural diplomacy & conflict resolution.” Over 2 weeks, we worked with a vibrant community of Serbian Hip Hoppers in Belgrade and Novi Sad. The Belgrade experience concluded with an outdoor performance at Dom Omladine after 10 days of skill-building. Novi Sad’s two and a half day residency concluded with a performance of its own, which we shuffled indoors at the promise of rain.
I was inspired by the hope that exists beneath the justifiable layer of pessimism exhibited by many of the students with whom I taught, learned, and chilled. It was only 15 years ago that NATO bombed former Yugoslavia. On one outing, we drove past the Yugoslav Army Headquarters that were damaged by NATO cruise missiles in 1999. Trying to build a cultural identity while physical and psychological remnants of war are so palpable is it’s very own struggle. In some essences, it seems that such a truth motivates the art and expressions of the people.
We also experienced Serbian nightlife, partying along the Danube and Sava Rivers with a all-night, energetic crew. Everyone–the hotel staff, the workshop participants, the tech and soundpeople, our Embassy hosts–generously extended their time and energy to ensure an expansive, creative experience and an overall good time. I’m so very grateful to everyone involved.
Visit Next Level’s website for a slue of photos and videos from all Next Level residencies including images from the final Belgrade performance at Dom Omladine and video from our live stream session at Watch More TV Radio in Novi Sad. And please visit the following links to support the work of those committed to making music, fighting homophobia and classism, and building sustainable Hip Hop culture in Serbia:
shirlette Next Level performance with MC Shan
Thanks to Iwo Betonkultur, who’s been documenting Purple Velvet International Female Hip Hop Tour from an insiders perspective, here’s video from our performance of “Joy Division,” at this tatted venue called Conne Island in Leipzig, Germany. The performance features live drumming courtesy of THE Majus Beats, producer/drummer extraordinaire who’s energy alone adds bounce to my step. Loved having him with Gabe, Tommy, and me if only for a couple songs.
Plenty more #purplevelvet videos and photos at www.springstoff.de !
hot off the reelz! here’s the only song, my dear sookee and i ( Shirlette Ammons (Twilight for Gladys Bentley)) have ever recorded in real time, in the same country, on the same soil, in the same time zone, in the same room using the same mic! (stay tuned, tho. our collab catalog is soon to rival lionel richie and diana ross:) written and produced during #prettypreciouscargo fall 2013 ( Hopscotch Music Festival Shiprocked), with Dj Boogie Dan + Gabe Turner + Tommy Rau + Just Photographer Berlin+ my momma:) so much love in these moving images. hope you enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdmjNIrBEig