PROJECT CONTAINS REIMAGINED WORKS BY BILLIE HOLIDAY,
ELLA FITZGERALD, DINAH WASHINGTON AND MORE
Emerging artist Melanie Charles unveils her rendition of Sarah Vaughan’s “Detour Ahead,” capturing her personal experiences with heartbreak and unrequited love—at the romantic, familial and societal levels. In addition, the track premiered yesterday on FLOOD Magazine, who proclaimed, “Charles’ reimagination of Sarah Vaughan’s ‘Detour Ahead’ is an ode to resilience.” Listen to the track HERE.
“‘Detour Ahead’ is one of the tunes that always has helped me get through moments of uncertainty and disappointment,” notes Charles. “In March 2020, I bought a Polaroid camera not knowing that this camera would capture one of the greatest challenges my community of friends, family and world at large has ever experienced. The images tell the story of how the pandemic pushed us to ‘wake up and slow down’ as Sarah beautifully sings. This flip allowed me to proclaim in harmony with Sarah, ‘oh lucky me that suddenly I saw the light,’ a sonic and visual journey honoring our resilience in the midst of life’s many detours.”
“Detour Ahead” appears on Charles’ first major label release, Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women, out on October 22 via Verve. The forthcoming release is a love letter to the unheralded labor of Black women, containing reimagined works by Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington and more.
Most recently, Charles debuted her rendition of Marlena Shaw’s “Woman Of The Ghetto” to critical praise; Billboard declared, “Breathing new life into a 1960’s anthem for empowerment, Melanie Charles delivers a charged performance of Marlena Shaw’s ‘Woman of The Ghetto.’” Listen to the track and watch the accompanying video HERE.
Charles originally began developing the project in 2019 when she was approached by Verve to create a remix album using their back catalog. Her initial approach was to find songs that spoke to her with the intention of breathing new energy into them. She was immediately drawn to the voices of Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn, enabling her to reminisce about the tunes and voices that made her fall in love with jazz. By the time she was ready to start recording, the pandemic hit and Americans were in the throes of a racial reckoning sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others. Taylor’s death, in particular, had an impact on Charles’ creative process. “I was rudely reminded that Black women are and always have been undervalued, uncared for, unprotected and neglected. It was at that point that I decided to focus on songs written and or sung by the Black women who paved the way for me,” recounts Charles. The resulting work comes together in Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women, featuring renditions of songs originally recorded by Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington and more.
“Melanie Charles is a true renaissance artist, who is equally talented as a producer, singer, engineer, composer and performer,” says Jamie Krents, EVP of Verve/Impulse!. We’re always looking for new ways to expose the Verve catalog to a wider audience with respect and integrity, and we felt completely confident giving Melanie unprecedented access to bring her unique artistry to the table to reimagine some of the jewels from our vault. She spent hours in our library, carefully choosing songs that resonated for her, and we’re thrilled with the result.”
On Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women, Charles leaves listeners with a powerful statement on what solidarity with Black women can look like. It includes not only care and attention to the everyday struggles that animate Black women’s lives, but also to the beauty and joy as well. At its core, the record is a call for a more intersectional vision of the world in which Black women can live more freely and express their full humanity.
Melanie Charles is a Brooklyn-born singer, songwriter, bandleader, producer, actress and flautist of Haitian descent, with a creative fluidity spanning jazz, soul, experimental and roots music. Charles was raised by a Haitian mother in Brooklyn where the sound waves in their home was filled with artists like Johnny Hodges, Frank Sinatra, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, John Coltrane, and Nat King Cole. As a teen, she attended the famed LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts where she studied flute and vocals. Eventually, she landed at the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School where she met artists like singer, songwriter and record producer Jesse Boykins III and alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.
Charles’ genre-bending style has been embraced by a wide range of artists including Wynton Marsalis, SZA, Mach-Hommy, Gorillaz and The Roots. Throughout her career she has remained committed to making music that pushes listeners to consider new possibilities, both sonically and politically. “Make Jazz Trill Again,” a project that she launched in 2016, demonstrates her allegiance to everyday people, especially the youth and is focused on taking jazz from the museum to the streets. Earlier this year, Charles’ Tiny Desk (Home) Concert debuted on NPR Music, who proclaimed, “Melanie Charles takes us on a journey that embodies the soul of jazz: exploration.”
Y’ALL DON’T (REALLY) CARE
ABOUT BLACK WOMEN
1. God Bless The Child
2. Perdido (Reimagined)
3. Detour Ahead (Reimagined)
4. All Africa (The Beat)
5. The Music is the Magic
6. Pay Black Woman (Interlude)
7. Woman Of The Ghetto (Reimagined)
8. Jazz (Ain’t Nothing But Soul) [Reimagined]
9. Go Away Little Boy
10. What A Difference (Reimagined) 11. Beginning to See the Light (Reimagined)