I have incredible news! AMAZING news! I’m thanking God for technology and the gift of a legacy, even as a wisp of a smile dances across my face. Yesterday I discovered that the late Dr. Maya Angelou is releasing a project posthumously. It’s like nothing she’s ever done before, yet so familiar and reminiscent of her style and grace. Check out the press release taken from MayaAngelou.com:
Maya Angelou’s Work Mixed With Hip-Hop for Album
NEW YORK — Sep 3, 2014, 11:38 AM ET – By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer
Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will blend with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.”
Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4.
The album — the title taken from Angelou’s classic 1969 book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she died in May, her grandson said in an interview Tuesday.
“Grandma loved it from the beginning,” Colin A. Johnson said of the album’s concept. “These guys were inspired by grandma’s work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people.”
Rivera and RoccStarr started working on the album before Angelou knew of it. Johnson, who is in charge of Angelou’s estate with his father Guy B. Johnson, said once she was aware, she completely backed the project, which was recorded at her North Carolina home. Some of the songs use previously recorded Angelou vocals, while others were recorded specifically for the project.
Johnson said Angelou’s initial reaction to the songs was similar to when she first saw her own Facebook page: “She just laughed.”
“She loved it and was excited to hear more about what they wanted to do,” he said of the album. “She had a lot of energy around it.”
Angelou won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums. She previously released a calypso album and collaborated with Ashford & Simpson for 1996’s “Been Found.” She also was featured on Common’s 2011 album, “The Dreamer/The Believer.”
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There’s a sample on Maya Angelou’s website of her melodic and powerful voice reciting the critically acclaimed poem ‘Still I Rise’ with soulful music in the background. Check it out here. You can also pre-order the album that is set to drop on November 4, 2014 via Amazon. Choose either the Deluxe Album or Standard Album. I’m sure they’re both absolutely fabulous!
Who’s your favorite author or literary hero? Why are you drawn to their work? What would you say if you had the opportunity to meet him or her?
In case you missed it, click here to read the tribute I wrote to Dr. Angelou on the day she passed.