Meshell Ndegeocello’s Dedication to Nina Simone

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I just recently picked up Meshell Ndegeocello’s Pour une ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone and immediately liked it. I like listening to jazz and have a fairly extensive collection but the thing that my collection is most lacking is jazz vocalists. It’s not that I dislike jazz vocalists I just tend to prefer my jazz as instrumentals. I will make the occasional exploration into vocalists though especially when it is dedicated to someone as great as Nina Simone. This album has a great selection of Nina Simone’s catalog and includes most of the hits that I am familiar with. It’s got a couple of songs off of her debut album, Nina Simone Sings the Blues such as “Real Real” and “The House of the Rising Sun”. I’ll admit that I somehow made it this far without realizing that Nina Simone had ever recorded a version of “The House of the Rising Sun”. If you haven’t heard Nina play this song here is a great live version.

This album also has some of her better known songs such as “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “Feeling Good”, and “Four Women”. There are a few guest vocalists on this album as well such as on “Be My Husband” which features Valerie June singing instead of Meshell. Valerie’s voice adds a nice twist to this song since she has a country sound that gives the song an old 50’s feel to it. Meshell is no Nina Simone and does not try to be but she is a great vocalist in her own right. Instead of trying to imitate Nina she adapts the songs to her own style and does a great job of making the songs her own instead of trying to sound like Nina Simone and is one of the reasons that I like this album.

I just saw Meshell Ndegeocollo play down at The Anthology in San Diego last week as she started to make her way up the West Coast. Meshell and her band did an absolutely amazing time of recreating these songs live.  One of the things that differs the most between the live show and the CD is that the band stretches out a bit more live, especially Meshell who her did an outstanding job of singing and playing the bass. They started the show off with “Be My Husband” which I was unsure of if they were going to do since Valerie June and not Meshell sings it on the album. Meshell did a great job of covering it and I wish I had a recording of her version of the song along with Valerie June’s.  The show continued on from there with the band playing most of the songs on the CD and I think I would have to say that all of them sounded better live than they did on the CD . It was the best dedication to Nina Simone I have been to. Granted it is the only live concert dedicated to Nina Simone I have seen, but I don’t see this one getting beat anytime soon. If you like Nina Simone I would suggest checking this album out. Here is the opening track to the CD “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”:

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