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Andra Day talks new album, plays a villain and regains confidence after vocal injury



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andra Day rose to acting acclaim after her starring role within the 2021 Billie Holiday biopic, however the soulful singer nearly lost the ability of her powerful voice in the method.

Day suffered a vocal injury after smoking cigarettes for her role in Lee Daniels’ “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” It took her a while to get well from a hemorrhage in her vocal cords, but now it appears like the singer is back on form together with her latest album, “Cassandra (cherith),” which was released earlier this month.

“Cassandra” – which is Day’s legal name – is her first album in nine years, since her debut in 2015 with “Cheers to the Fall”, which received a Grammy nomination together with the superb single “Rise Up”. On his new album, he explores the complexities of his past relationships and his spiritual walk with God.

Day has been attempting to regain her confidence since starring within the movie “Holiday,” which helped her win a Grammy and a Golden Globe for her acting and music. She trained her vocals in studio sessions and on several large stages, including several performances during Grammy week and the pre-Super Bowl game, where she performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” earlier this yr.

In a recent interview, Day talked to The Associated Press about her latest album and how her faith helped her overcome heartbreak and her desire to play a villain.

The comments have been evenly edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: How essential was it for you to deal with the problem of religion in “Cassandra”?
DAY: Faith is my entire foundation. It’s who I’m. If someone asked me to summarize my identity, I might answer: “I am a follower of Christ. I am a child of God.” What matters is the way you show up. No one’s perfect. When creating this album, I wanted people to experience the mistakes I made. You don’t desire to remain on this place. You need to grow out of it. No matter what mistakes I made or didn’t perform well, I used to be very loved.

AP: How has your faith helped you overcome heartbreak?
Day: This season I’m intensely reminded that I’m loved. That’s what I mean. I feel like I’m hard to like. I feel like when people get to know me they’ll think, “Oh God, she’s really not that great or interesting.” I’ve handled a lot of this type of imposter syndrome. This is the love I really want. There is a verse that claims that God’s plan shouldn’t be to harm you. But they’re there to provide you hope and a future. I stand by it. I imagine it. It’s very painful for me because I like really deeply – something I recently discovered. But at the identical time, it’s a reminder that God’s plan for me shouldn’t be nearly me on this romantic relationship. This could also be a part of it. It is wonderful. But that is a holistic issue that concerns every one’s life. His plans for me are good. God’s love and plans for me. This is what really helps me in the long run.

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AP: How badly were your vocal cords damaged?
DAY: Hemorrhage occurred. You could see inflammation of the blood vessels. I actually have one which is in pretty bad shape at once, nevertheless it hasn’t fully hemorrhaged, which is great. This was my rescue. It’s just drier, more hemorrhagic, more damage and breakdown.

AP: Do you regret smoking cigarettes to play Billie Holiday?
DAY: I began to wonder if it was the best decision. I used to be really desperate. It was my first role. But it definitely had… an impact. I left Billie feeling more confident due to who she was, how she walked across the room and dealt together with her own confidence issues. My voice as a singer. Over the last yr or two I actually have had serious self-confidence issues. It’s really hard when you already know your voice is one-way and then all of a sudden you are like, “Oh my God, I am unable to hit these (notes) or I’m having a hard time hitting these (notes). You need to determine sing again. This is totally new. It definitely affected my self-confidence. Recently, the situation appears to be improving.

AP: Was smoking required for this role?
DAY: I didn’t need to smoke for Billie. I’m just awesome. It appeared to me that this was one in all those roles that required sacrifice. I simply cannot get it to burn well on screen.

AP: Has your voice reached your level recently?
DAY: We played on the Blue Note (jazz festival) in New York. God was so great. We sold out two nights. It was amazing. There were moments in this system after I felt prefer it wasn’t my very own voice. I used to be in a position to hit certain notes and reach certain places. Recently it has given me more confidence. I just have to get back on the horse and keep doing it and strengthening my muscles like all the pieces else.

AP: What are your future profession plans?
DAY: I would like to play more. I also need to make more music. I need to make more music, more consistently. I’ll take one other break someday. It won’t be one other nine years. I actually need to make EPs with artists I like. Just drop a whole bunch of EPs. All sorts of species. All sorts of styles. I would like to support the opposite producers who worked on this album.

AP: Is there a specific role you wish to play?
DAY: I like futuristic sci-fi stuff. I prefer to play a sort of warrior hero. Biographies too. There are three roles that I’m extremely focused on. I might like to play the unique version of Poison Ivy. I might definitely like to play Eartha Kitt and Angela Davis. These are my dream roles.

AP: It can be interesting to see you play a villain like Poison Ivy. Why her?
DAY: This is the funniest a part of playing the bad girl. She’s only bad for you. She’s just bad for the audience. For me, as an actor, I do not play a bad girl. I never play a bad character. That’s what I learned from Tasha Smith and Lee (Daniels). To really play well and be convincing, all the pieces in your head needs to be justified. Every move I make. Every thing has its reason. Violent passion. How in my mind and head I do not function like that in real life because now I actually have justified every horrible thing I actually have done and said. I do not have a look at Poison Ivy like, “Yeah, I’m playing a villain.” I say, “My God, she is an amazing plant savior.” … It’s the difference.

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Brandy and Monica team up for a remix of “Boy Is Mine” with Ariana Grande




Brandy and Monica take fans back to 1998 with their latest song.

The R&B divas who collaborated on the ’90s hit “The Boy Is Mine” join Ariana Grande on a remix of her song of the identical name. Grande’s version of “The Boy Is Mine” just isn’t a cover of the unique song, but as a substitute reimagines the R&B classic that at the highest of the Billboard charts, Grande said in Interview with Apple Music. Brandy announced the exciting news concerning the remix on Monday Instagram post.

“Ariana Grande – The Boy Is Mine Remix with Brandy and Monika will be released on JUNE 21! You can find the pre-save link in my bio,” the “I Wanna Be Down” singer wrote alongside a Catwoman-themed teaser video.

Grande posted the identical video about her Instagram pagewhere she also thanked Brandy and Monica for joining in on the remix of her song.

Monica and Brandy on the Grammy Awards on February 24, 1999 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

“THE BOY IS MINE REMIX with @brandy and @monicadenise on June 21,” Grande wrote. “I………can’t believe this is actually happening (I don’t know if I will until long after the premiere),” Grande wrote. “My deepest and most sincere thanks to Brandy and Monica, not only for joining me in this moment, but also for your generosity, kindness, and the countless ways you have inspired me.”

“It’s almost impossible to articulate how much this means to me,” she continued. “We want to celebrate you both and the impact you have had on every singer, vocal producer, musician and artist working today. I love you both very much. Thank you !!!!!!! BOY IS MINE REMIX JUNE 21.”

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Monica also got in on the fun, posting the identical teaser video on Monday with details concerning the remix’s release date. Per week earlier, Monica shared recent photos with Brandy Instagram. In the primary photo, Monica and Brandy are wearing black and smiling on the camera. In the second photo, they stand and serve supermodel styles.

“@arianagrande 🖤THE BOY IS MINE🖤,” Monica captioned the carousel of photos.

The remix of “The Boy Is Mine” is Brandy and Monika’s third joint song. In addition to the hit single from 1998, the duo recorded and released “Everything Belongs to Me” in 2012.

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Jazz, justice and Juneteenth: Wynton Marsalis and Bryan Stevenson join forces to celebrate Black protest




NEW YORK (AP) – Black music traditions like jazz play a key role in Juneteenth celebrations, says civil rights lawyer and jazz pianist Bryan Stevenson.

That’s why he and Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz artist Wynton Marsalis debuted “Freedom, Justice and Hope,” a live album of historic jazz records created to protest racial injustice, just in time for this 12 months’s celebration.

In addition to a brand new arrangement of saxophonist John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” a tribute to the 4 black girls killed within the 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing of Birmingham’s sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the project features original compositions by rising bassist Endea Owens and trumpeter JoshEvans.

The album, released by Blue Engine Records, encompasses a guest appearance by the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra, of which Marsalis is the artistic and managing director. It is currently streaming on digital platforms.

Its publication comes ahead of this summer’s tenth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests. When “Freedom, Justice & Hope” was recorded three years ago in 2021, the nation was reeling from one other flashpoint – the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

“To take some of the great jazz works of the 20th century and integrate them into the narrative of the long struggle for social justice in this country is just a dream come true,” said Stevenson, founding father of the Equal Justice Initiative, a criminal justice reform nonprofit. and racial justice based in Montgomery, Alabama.

The history of jazz and the musicality of Black American protest runs deeper than many individuals realize, said Marsalis, the legendary trumpeter who provides moving melodies throughout the album. Stevenson accompanies on piano and intersperses spoken reflections on disenfranchisement, racial injustice and the activism that has erupted in response.

“Jazz itself was the opposite of minstrelsy,” Marsalis said, referring to a type of entertainment popularized within the twentieth century wherein white actors with blackened faces performed racist depictions of African Americans.

“Jazz still has the same influence,” he said. “People come in, they can play and they take what they do seriously. They will discuss issues and be honest about them, and they don’t feel the need to denigrate themselves.”

Originating in ragtime and blues, cultivated in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, and rising to prominence through the Harlem Renaissance, the genre is a crossroads where music meets the march for justice. Some historians even credit jazz singer Billie Holiday’s 1939 rendition of “Strange Fruit,” an anti-lynching poem by Abel Meeropol, as one among the catalysts of the Civil Rights Movement.

“I think jazz as an art form should be understood as a protest against the narrative that black people are somehow incapable,” Stevenson said. “The extraordinary thing that jazz musicians did was that they took Western music, did things with art forms that others had been doing for centuries, and added things that dazzled and inspired.”

“They did it with dignity and purpose, debunking this false narrative of racial hierarchy,” he said.

In that spirit, Owens’s lighthearted “Ida’s Crusade” chronicles journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s lifelong struggle against lynching and false imprisonment. Evans’ “Elaine” draws inspiration from the 1919 Arkansas massacre wherein several hundred Black Americans were killed.

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With Marsalis and Stevenson, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs recent arrangements of “Honeysuckle Rose,” originally composed by Fats Waller in 1929; “We Will Overcome” – The Civil Rights Movement Has Stopped Since 1947; and “Freedom Suite”, originally composed by Sonny Rollins in 1958.

Apart from Stevenson’s monologues and songs from the album “Freedom, Justice and Hope”, these songs are entirely instrumental and contain no vocals.

Jazz’s reliance on instrumental solos has led some to stereotype it as outdated, irrelevant, and less connected to social justice than rap and vocal-based hip-hop – similar to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” “F(asterisk)(asterisk) (asterisk “NWA) Tha Police” and “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar. But musicians, scholars and activists urge listeners to recognize and defend the political messages conveyed through the emotional depth of music.

“Sometimes there are no words to express the joy and sadness we feel,” said Reiland Rabaka, founder and director of the Center for African and African American Studies on the University of Colorado Boulder.

“And sometimes these trumpets, these saxophones, these guitars, these pianos – they can express it better than our words can,” said Rabaka, who has written extensively about hip-hop and Black Power, songs about women’s liberation and civil rights.

According to Rabaka, the improvisational elements of jazz may be present in the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas, where slaves chained to the underside of ships invented songs. Improv is also present in Juba and juke dances, common in various parts of the southern United States, including Congo Square in New Orleans, where slave auctions were held.

Improvisation may be compared to the resourcefulness of Black Americans who, using what they’d, built a life for themselves after freeing themselves from the agricultural environment wherein they were confined.

For Marsalis and Stevenson, the eleventh release of the album recorded three years ago is symbolic. June 19, or Juneteenth, is the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom – greater than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation granted them it.

“Enslaved people learned to love in the midst of sadness, and that is something extraordinary that can be achieved,” Stevenson said. “This is the part of Juneteenth that I hope we can start celebrating. Not just emancipation, but this whole legacy. … I think music plays a key role in that.”

Echoing his colleague’s words, Marsalis said he hopes to encourage people to have a look at the challenges ahead moderately than continuing to fight old battles.

“I like Juneteenth in a symbolic sense because often people, wherever they are in the world, don’t know they are free,” he said. “From a national standpoint, the nation must view June 11 within the context of the national struggles we’re still fighting.

“We are still fighting this conflict, now on a unique battlefield. No one was telling people, “Hey, it’s long overdue.” Let’s be present,” Marsalis said.

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Zsela lets go and falls into uncertainty with her debut album “Big For You”




LOS ANGELES (AP) – Zsela leans into the ebb and flow of uncertainty and encourages listeners to do the identical throughout her debut album, “Big For You.”

The album, which was 4 years within the making, is the follow-up to Zsela’s 2020 EP “Ache of Victory,” which she describes as “an imprint of time.”

“I’m connected to it because it will always be a part of my story, but I’m excited to talk about it with the new album,” Zsela said. “I worked rather a lot on myself and on this music. It took time. I feel really lucky that I used to be in a position to get the songs where I wanted them to be this time, and I’m really enthusiastic about where they ended up,” she said.

For Zsela, working on “Big For You” was a test of trusting her instincts and pushing herself beyond her comfort zone, each sonically and vocally.

“I actually began experimenting with my voice in a way that influenced my writing. I had this character that I used to be singing with who got here on a day where I just wasn’t feeling my voice. So I assumed, let me try something different. Really different,” Zsela said of the album’s character. When asked where a particular character appears, she simply replies, “I feel it’s more fun to depart it to the listener to seek out.”

Singer Zsela poses for a portrait on Friday, May 24, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Zsela has a wealthy, appealing voice. Its warm tone is intertwined with upbeat, dreamy melodies and instruments, especially heard on songs like “Fire Excape” and “Not Your Angel.”

“I feel like I’ve become more confident in just the practice of experimenting, of not being so precious, of being open to people and ideas, and really trying to practice listening to myself and where I want to go, and to the outside noise of the world,” she says.

However, when starting her transformation, Zsela says she really desired to strive for “lightness, fun and lightness” in any respect times.

“I really tried to bring it into the room whenever I was alone and working on what I wanted to say,” she said. “It’s almost like opening up and letting go and experimenting.”

“Big For You” was a probability for her to see how far she could go, establishing her creative confidence and creating an enthralling and energetic album, filled with musical tension and rest.

“My friend described this album as sweaty, it feels tense and hot,” she says.

“Big For You” in Zsela’s case means “I love you”, and the album is about love and all its complexities.

“The space we fill and move into the inside of affection is large. Like being ‘full for you’ and ‘filled with you’ and the complexity of the scale of the space we occupy and fill,” the artist said.

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The Brooklyn native takes listeners on an adventure that begins with the whimsical “Lily of the Nile” and ends with “Play” – a song that she claims “ends with a question about love.”

“It’s kind of leaving the album open and hopefully making you want to start over to see what the answer is or if there is one.”

She once more teamed up with longtime Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs collaborator Daniel Aged to provide alongside Gabe Wax.

“I keep my world of colleagues quite private. And that does not imply I don’t desire to ask more, but I feel the intimacy really built loads of trust and that was really vital to create that and to have the option to experiment and find your way home. “

Zsela has played many concert events with artists comparable to Caroline Polacheck and Arooj Aftab. However, this summer she shall be embarking on her first headlining tour and is looking forward to meeting listeners who enjoy her artistry.

“I can’t wait to see who’s in these rooms,” she said. “I’m excited to play these songs live. The whole time I was making this album, all I could think about was playing them live.”

The premiere of “Big For You” is scheduled for Friday. Zsela hopes listeners will absorb the melodies, lyrics and arrangements while driving with the highest down.

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