Cornfed's Corner: Aimee Bryant Makes Sarah Palin Look Plain Lazy!

lmgWelcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed's Corner. Can you believe that it's almost Fall already! Lawd! You know what that means, don't yah? It's time for all ya'll to put away those Kool-Aid colored short sets, faithful faded linens ("It don't even look like I've had this shirt since Carter was in office whatchu talkin' ‘bout!") and seersucker pimp suits. And ladies, my dearest sistah-girlfriends, Labor Day has kissed us and said goodbye, so fight your worst impulses to make summer an Eveready bunny. Place those white sling-backs squarely in the back of the closet, far from weak-willed eyes. Uh, uh, I don't wanna hear any backtalk about etiquette changes and "winter whites," that's for sweaters, not pumps, gal! Trust, you'll be able to wiggle your pedicure from your favorite ivories soon enough.
lmg

I know it's hard to let go of summer fiestas for winter blues, but we can console ourselves with the knowledge that a whole new round of sweet soul music is on its way to soundtrack those autumn snuggle sessions. PPP, Siji, Don-E, Heston, Maiysha, Solange, Goapele, Janelle Monae, and Amp Fiddler, have already kicked off the Fall with late summer releases to tide us over until Jennifer, Jazmine, Raphael, Tamia and Trina Broussard turn up the heat just in time for winter. Before you know it, you'll be nailing up that wreathe to the forthcoming holiday album from soul jazz starling, Ledisi.

Until then, if you need a hearty distraction for raking up the foliage, we've got a fresh round of project mentions in the Cornfed Notes for your perusal. One new artist you might have missed this summer is singer/songwriter/actress/voiceover talent and one heck of a mom, Aimee Bryant, a lady whose tireless days are giving the rest of us miscreants a bad rap. Aimee's debut album, Becoming, lives up to its name and so does Ms. Bryant's personality. If you're not familiar with the future Broadway baby, settle in for a spell, break out the red, and get yo' self corn-fed! 

Intimate Moment on IM: Aimee Bryant

CC: Let's jump on the juicy stuff before we go all Inside the Actors Studio on ya! Ready? aimee bryantYou boldly entitled a song after the "n" word in an era when that word is riddled with controversy, why?

Aimee: Well, I have really ambiguous feelings about that word. I fully understand and agree with both sides of the argument. As I say on the track preceding that song: I wrote the song before the public discussion began (Oprah and them) and before the word was laid to rest (ironically in my home town). I think the whole deal points to larger problems in the black community. Hip hop has been around for about thirty years now and the "n" word has been a part of it for at least twenty. Why now? Why didn't our elders lead us, when it was introduced into pop culture? Why didn't they squash it before hip hop became so commercially viable? I just feel like we grown now.  The time to play parent was when  we were children.

CC: For those who haven't heard "No Ni**a No"-which I think is a hot track, BTW-tell the Campers and Trackers how it works into the theme of your song?

Aimee: The song is playing on liking a dude who's kinda disinterested at first, and then when I find someone else, all of the sudden he wants some attention. So, I said no, "N" no.

CC: Do you think there are any words that should be off-limits as artists' tools?

Aimee: No. But context is essential and poetry should be your paintbrush. If controversial language is your watercolor at least be artful about it. Make it clever. I'm actually quite fluent in profanity, but I always strive to be creative enough to find other words to make my point (plus, I just can't embarrass my mother who is so saved- hallelujah!). To me, vulgarity is only interesting in a song when it's used because that's all there is left to say.  When every other word is flim flam it gets predictable and boring to me.

CC: Switching gears. Sister, you're living the dream of countless theater and music majors: a full-time working theater actress and recording artist; girl, how'd you do it?

Aimee: (singing) Somebody prayed for me!

CC: lolololol

Aimee: I choose not to believe what "they" say: "only two percent of all actors are working as actors". If that's the case, I decided I would be one of the two percent. I'm blessed to live in a market that does good work, has lots of venues and pays a liveable wage. And... I'm a beast! Plus, I can't get a real job. I don't have no other skills.

CC: You crazy! LOL. After graduating from Howard's esteemed Fine Arts program under the legendary Mike Malone, you could have tried to conquer Broadway but you chose St. Paul, Minnesota, why?

Aimee: I was always aiming for New York, and still am actually. But when I go to New York, I want to go to work, not to struggle. I never intended to stay here, but the Twin Cities embraced me. The theatres keep me working and living well, and I don't have to do things I don't like to pay my bills. 

CC: A lot of legendary producers and musicians come out of St. Paul and Minneapolis; having worked with several on your project, do you think there is a distinct Twin Cities soul sound like Philly or Chicago?

Aimee: You know what? All the people I know making soul music here are from somewhere else. All the ones from here went somewhere else. So the sound is really eclectic.

CC: I hear you. That would explain the diversity of an artist like Prince, the king of collaboration. You've now been compared to Deniece Williams by three different journalists, but who does Aimee say influences her sound and vocal technique? 

Aimee: I'm gonna give the typical black singer answer: I grew up singing in church. We weren't allowed to listen to secular music in my house, most of the artists i grew up listening to were men: The Winans, Commissioned...I guess the quality of my voice is similar to hers, but I sing like me with a little of influence from Cece Winans and the Clark Sisters. Yodeling is my vocal technique. I just haven't made a recording of that yet-y'all ain't ready!

CC: Yeah, me thinks you might be right about that one (smile). Do you see yourself as part of a tradition of Black theater divas (Jennifer Holliday, Stephanie Mills, Heather Headley) that have transitioned into R&B recording artists? Are there commonalities?

Aimee: I think that's the natural progression. I was a singer before I was an actor, but I've always written music. We're probably all singers whose first venues were theatres.

CC: How does that theater training inform the kind of music you choose or the way you tell a story through song? 

Aimee: Well, thanks to Mike Malone. I can't just stand on stage, close my eyes and enjoy myself. I have to interact with the audience, and that's a function of theatre. There is no theatre without the audience. However, my songs aren't written to be performed. Most of them were written in my bathroom, about the stuff I was going through. When you listen to Becoming you get to hear me in therapy, trying to work it out, trying to find some peace in my own story.

CC: You're an in-demand actress, doing voice-overs, fronting the afro-jazz ensemble the Yohannes Tona Band, and you're a full-time mom, what made you decide to add the demands of recording and promoting an album to that robust plate of yours? Where ever do you find the time?

Aimee: Child! I don't know. It just had to be done!

CC: Lol! A reader inspired by your example has 99 cents to get an introduction to Aimee Bryant's music, which tune should they choose and why?

Aimee: That's hard. I'm trying to choose a song to give away now, and I can't decide which. People love "No, Ni**a, No," and I think aside from being good music, it's clever (like me). My favorite songs are "They do" and "Kiss me," because the poetry in those songs is so rich and lyrically different than most of the songs being written.

CC: See how folks can't ever just give you just that one, hardheaded I tell ya, lol.

Aimee: Ok! "They do."

CC: Thanks Aimee for kicking back with us, we appreciate cha! Tell the good people when and where they can expect to see you, whether on tour or on a stage?

Aimee: Lawd! So you know I'm my own label, publicist, and booking agent.

CC: Aren't we all these dayz?

Aimee: Around the Twin Cities of course. I just got back in town and am about to get on my grind. You can always find out what I'm doing at aimeekbryant.com or at www.myspace.com/aimeekbaby . That's short for in my living room. I'd like to organize a concert in Detroit and in D.C. That's what's in the works right now.

CC: I love it! Best to you sister! Folks check Aimee out; you can already see that mama is no joke! There are a few free downloads on her MySpace Page so give her a listen!

Aimee: Thanks, Mike

CC: Eh, eh, eh! That's Cornfed to yah, sister! Youse family now!

Aimee: Lol, can i borrow some money?

CC: See now you takin' that family thang too far... lol

Aimee: Lol, alright peace.

Cornfed Notes

amp fiddlerAutumn is a time for looking cool in leathers and suede while palming an overpriced cognac. Such posturing demands proper accompaniment. The following artists should help out even the worst wankster glide through a room like Rico Suave.    
  • Amp Fiddler should've been listed in Ebony Magazine's 25 Coolest Brothers. A fashionista that makes chic look easy, the Detroit native has been making urban sophisticate sounds for several years. His latest LP, Rare and Unreleased, is perfect house party harmony for the trendsetter who loves to say "Oh, you dunno?" to the uninitiated soul fan.   
  • Darrius Willrich may not yet be a household name, but his albums Darrius (2000) and Love Will Visit (2003) are once again gaining attention thanks to a few forthcoming spot dates with popular artists like Choklate and inclusion of the lovely "Blissful" on the free Indigo Soul podcast release from indie soul tastemaker DJ Conscience. Willrich's spare new single "Can't Get Enough" has us agreeing with Darrius, we can't. So, don't make us wait too long for more, brutha!     
  • New Soul Woman is the double CD for the ages (30 cuts!): Maysa, N'Dambi, Karen Bernod, Marva King, Adriana Evans and so many more divas. You know these ladies deliver.
  • Let's give a quick round of critiques of some latest releases: Terence Howard's debut Shine Through It proves just because you can, doesn't mean you should; Wayne Brady's aptly titled debut single "Ordinary" demonstrates that milquetoast is more than a cracker; and Solange sophomore project overcomes my hatred of "I Decided," kinda, by delivering a pleasant, if occasionally underwhelming, project (but what's with the title as long-winded as my reviews). Despite a lyrically interesting tune, "16 @ War" and a listenable voice, Karina Pasian's debut First Love fails to make me draw hearts, scribble hyphenated last names and swoon at the sound of her name. Damn.   

Track Love: 12 "New" EPs, Singles and Album Cuts Worth Your Gas Money

Track/EP

Artist/Duo/Group

Project

Available To Buy?

Genre(s)

Groove Swing

Roi Anthony

True Love Experience

Yes

Soul

Jump Start

Divine Brown

The Love Chronicles

Yes

Soul/Funk

Can't Get Enough

Darrius Willrich

Single Release

Yes

Soul

Waiting

Stephanie Parker

Waiting

Yes

Soul

Will You Still Believe

James Day (feat. Catherine Russell)

New Soul Woman

Yes

Soul

Lions, Tigers and Bears

Jazmine Sullivan

Fearless

Not Yet, But U Can Hear It On-line

Soul

Ode To Marvin

Solange

Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams

Yes

Soul

Fallen

Ayah

Problem Woman (Mixtape)

Yes 4 Free

Soul

The Road

Darien

If These Walls Could Talk

MySpace

Soul

Hollywood

Amp Fiddler

Rare and Unreleased

CD Baby

Soul

Writings On The Wall

Don-E (Ft. Keisha Buchannon)

Natural

Yes

Soul

No Ni**a No

Aimee Bryant

Becoming

Yes

Soul

 

_____________________________________________________               

L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him

See past "Cornfed Corners"

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Heston Chops It Up, Chester Gregory Gets Us High!

Trina Broussard on Surviving So So Def (Pt. 1) and Motown (Pt.2)

Marko Nobles' Talks Indie Dayz for Indie Music

Dain Harris Is All Grown Up & Ready To Sang

Kev.O Talks Sun, Runs and H.U. Fun

Mo' Jazz and Rogiérs' Talks Sexual Eruptions

Jazmine's New Single, Marcell Russell on Spittin' Truth in Soul

Lemar, Tim Dillinger and more

Alice Russell and opening thoughts

 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"
Song of the Month - Aya Ito - "Don't Take My Life"

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