Cornfed’s Corner: A Fiery YahZarah Speaks Out!

cornfed picWelcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed's Corner. There is new music from soul favorites, including: Ledisi (A Xmas project), Erik Rico, Eric Benet, John Legend, Kenny Lattimore, Rahsaan Patterson (a Xmas project), Raphael Saadiq, Terry Dexter (a gospel project) , Natalie Cole, and George Duke are all available or coming your way in the next few weeks. New artists we love like Darien, Jazmine Sullivan, Jennifer Hudson, and The Revelations featuring Tre Williams are also finally making their way to your indie music store after months of buzz. Even though much anticipated projects by Michelle Williams and Syleena Johnson, respectively, have been pushed back, good music just keeps rolling out as the leaves change.
cornfed pic As the chill of winter approaches to match the economic mood of the country, I think we're going to need all the honest music we can get to help see us through the frost. Don't you?  

To help you get through the day you open those quarterly 401(k) statements, the revelationswe have some soul soothing scoop for you Cornfed Campers. The Revelations featuring Tre Williams is making not one, not two, but six free incredible soul songs available on their MySpace page for a very limited time. So, run, don't walk, to the site to grab hold of hotness like "Stay Free" and "Sorry's Not Enough!"

Knowing you like inside industry gossip as much as you like free music, we bring you an intimate moment with indie supastar YahZarah aka Purple St. James (Hear Me, Blackstar) as she takes on her critics. The butterfly Southern belle with the explosive voice also shares the real deal about her alias, production challenges and those halcyon days of recording with Erykah Badu on Mama's Gun. Yah is always a lady, but this mama holds no punches! So, break out the celly , dial up your girl and both of ya'll get yo' selves corn-fed! 

Intimate Moments with YahZarah aka Purple St. James

The Washington, DC born, NC educated and ATL based diva has been producing critically acclaimed music for over 10 years with a host of modern Southern legends including: Phonte (Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange), Raheem DeVaughn, and most famously with Erykah Badu. She is YahZarah aka Purple St. James and her new project, The Prelude, is just a taste of the "Four Alarm Fire" to come.  

yazarahCornfed: Hey, Beautiful!

YahZarah: Hello, darling.

Cornfed: Ok, so I remember purchasing Hear Me in the indie bin of a Durham, NC record store in 2001 and being so excited to see that you killed "Baby Love" by Mother's Finest, but it took almost two years after that with your BET video debut and a repackaging of Hear Me for you to gain national attention. What happened in between those years?

YahZarah: A lot of regrouping. My first CD, Hear Me, was released by Keo Music and-as you stated-they went through a lot of growing pains which resulted in us parting ways in the middle of all that. Chip Sherring who was the CEO of Keo was in talks with Three Keys and a few other labels about a repackage and re-launch of Hear Me; so the gap in between CDs really didn't feel like it lasted that long. I was touring and still singing background on and off for Erykah Badu at the time, so it kind of flew by. I also took part in the making of The Foreign Exchange [collaborative projects by North Carolina MC Phonte and Dutch producer Nicolay] so I never really stopped making music. Oh...and yes, I'm still here. Lol.

Cornfed: You certainly are and blazin' to boot. Ok, now you've been grinding for about a decade; does it feel like you've gotten closer to "making it" in this industry? What is making it for YahZarah aka Purple St. James?

YahZarah: Wow a decade! It's funny sometimes I feel like I'm really just getting started.  I learned so much but only recently got the courage to believe I could do it for myself.

Cornfed: With all that talent? Get outta here, lady!

YahZarah: Yes, it's true. For a long time I believed all I could be is the voice, not the biz, know what I mean?

Cornfed: I might, but explain it for our Campers and Trackers.

YahZarah: When you have labels handling so much of your career, it's easy to start to believe that you need them.

Cornfed: Ahhhh, so now that you know better, what would be "making it" for YahZarah?

YahZarah: Being able to make music that people everywhere in the world are listening to long after I'm gone from this earth, and being able to perform that music around the world at least 185 days a year. :o) Most of all using what comes from that to be a woman not only known for my voice but what I did with the opportunity.

Cornfed: Sounds heavenly. You're one of three First Ladies of Indie Soul who are associated with Erykah Badu's classic Mama's Gun album and tour, one that includes N'Dambi and Karen Bernod. What has it meant to you and your career to come out of this now mythic camp and time?

YahZarah: Yes, amazing ladies and you can't forget Chyna Blac either. She is also part of that legacy. It was wonderful being able to soak up all that energy and to be a part of it. And create myself out there in that classroom. We all were always very sure that we were there for the time being and on our way to some place bigger. Just having the chance to be a part of Mama's Gun, you know, being in the room and having someone like James Poyser say to you "Hey, Yah, what do you hear on this?" is priceless.

Cornfed: I can only imagine! Wow! I understand that you arranged some on Mama's Gun, what other projects have you worked on and do you see yourself doing more writing and arranging in the future for other artists?

YahZarah: On The Foreign Exchange [projects] I wrote the single "Sincere," co-wrote some on Darien Brockington, also did arranging on The Healing by Strange Fruit as well as some writing and vocal features on the upcoming Camp Lo release. I also wrote songs for Frenchie Davis, I love songwriting and producing, arranging everything about it. I most enjoy writing a song for an artist and hearing them say "Hey, you wrote that for me? That's my story." Sometimes I feel as if I've written my best songs for other people. So, to answer your question, yes, I love it and want to do more. I almost forgot about the intro and outro of The Foreign Exchange. I loved working on that CD and I'm really excited about the new one.

Cornfed: You've consistently been one of those artists whose visual presentation has been edgy and the epitome of cool. How important is the visual as an indie soul artist and why do you think so many indie artists fail to take marketing their visual presentation seriously?

yazarah 2YahZarah: Good question. Well, for me I believe that image is important because I want to give no one an excuse to deny me. In the biz of music they have to be interested before you open your mouth. And some indie artists believe that to be that deliberate is to sale a lie. But not only am I an artist but-like it or not-I am a product too. I take both very seriously; to not do so is to discount myself and my work.

Cornfed: Okay, straight talk, what's with that mouthful of an alias name, YahZarah aka Purple Saint James? What's the stripped down version of that story?

YahZarah: Well, after my last two musical ventures I really needed a break from everything. I almost quit music altogether. I just never felt like I was being allowed to do me. And I use to use channel "Purple" to help me generate the energy to write songs when the name YahZarah was too painful to speak because of all the business attached to her. So, my next release is her story, The Ballad of Purple St. James.

Cornfed: So, there wasn't any Ike Turner like name stealing attempts going on by your former label?

YahZarah: Sh**....I wish they would..lol.

Cornfed: LMAO!

YahZarah: Ike, I'm taking my name I worked to hard for it!!!

Cornfed: Thanks for clearing the air. Now don't beat me up for this next one, but I gotta ask it. You've taken some heat from a few industry insiders about not having radio-ready mixes on past releases; do you think there is any truth to those criticisms and can you talk a little about the cost of professionally mixing and mastering an indie project?

YahZarah: Ha ha ha...ah...I knew you were going to go there....

Cornfed: I know; I'm a stinker

YahZarah: Well, this is how it goes. You're speaking of my EP [The Prelude] because otherwise my standard has always been met and radio has more often than not been very happy. The EP in fact is a project made from songs I would have loved to release on other records but was unable to fight hard enough to get [them] on. I said I could hold these sessions to the vest where only I can enjoy them or share them anyway and take whatever hits may come. Considering what I have heard getting shine this year, my few pops and snaps, I hope, won't make my listeners love me any less. And, thanks to the love they have shown it, we have been able to re-master and will be re-releasing it.

Cornfed: Speak it, girl!

YahZarah: Of course, I just wanted to share the music and let folks know I'm not chilling at the house. [This EP was] something to share with them in between my last and next CD. the prelude

Cornfed: Well, I rock it and added "Four Alarm Fire" to my previous Track Love list.

Yahzarah: Oh, "Four Alarm Fire." Yes!!! My favorite!!! Thanks for the love.

Cornfed: So, your recent release The Prelude is a prelude to The Ballad of Purple St. James?

YahZarah: Why yes the EP is my way of saying: hold on the heat is coming. Just love this project for now.  I am very proud of it and can't wait to share this FULLY MASTERED project with you...lol.

Cornfed: Lol, listeners have 99¢ to spend on one tune to get an introduction to YahZarah aka Purple St. James, which tune should they purchase off The Prelude?

YahZarah: Hmmmmmmm. "Four Alarm Fire" if you want to get the party started, "Ooo Baby U" if you want to grab her by her lower level and "Natural" if you want a classic. But I love it all and let your readers know I am offering a free download of "Come 2 Me," my duet with Raheem DeVaughn, on http://www.myspace.com/yahzarah You will always know what I'm doing and be able to talk to me directly on my My Space page. Look out for my website in November http://www.purplesaintjames.com/. You can also look for The Ballad of Purple St. James on Feb 14th.

Cornfed: That's whassup! Thanks for a great interview. We'll be looking for our copy of that new joint in the mail!

YahZarah: I got you! And The Prelude EP is available on iTunes, Napster and Amazon.

Cornfed Notes

  • Speaking of The Foreign Exchange, their latest album, Leave It All Behind is dropping soon. A sampler is available here but make sure you also download their new single, "Daykeeper," featuring progressive soul singer Muhsinah-all for free.                                      
  • mateoWest Coast soul pop artist Mateo (who looks like Craig David's long lost brother), is also giving away the goodies with three free downloads definitely worth your time. The sweet tenor is literally giving away the piano ballad "Get To Know Me (Live)," an airy acoustic ditty that is all too "Human" and a lively bounce that lives up to its name, "Beautiful." If those whet your appetite for more Mateo, he's also offering up a free mixtape just for you.
  • We just got word that the second Patti, Nona and Sarah have wrapped up the Labelle reunion project their super uber-publicist will be giving Cornfed an advance listen to one of the most anticipated LPs of the year! Now you know we're going to give you all the scoop on whether the project meets the hype! In the meantime, we'll have to satisfy our Labelle cravings with our favorite album from our moon walking soul sistahs, 1976's Chameleon.
  • Ever wonder what happened to Wendy and Lisa from Prince and the Revolution? Curious about all those sex, love and soul rumors surrounding Prince and these multi-talented ladies? Well, wonder no more. The UK Guardian does a stellar job of covering all the bases and then some. Check it out!
  • Check out my recent reviews of Douye and Chester Gregory on SoulTracks and be on the lookout for more reviews on Ledisi, Darien, Kenny Lattimore and mo' of those artists that keep you cornfed!
  •  

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

     

    Track/EP

    Artist/Duo/Group

    Project

    Available To Buy?

    Genre(s)

    Miss U

    Roi Anthony

    True Love Experience

    Yes

    Soul

    Come 2 Me

    Yazarah aka Purple St. James feat Raheem DeVaughn

    Free Download

    MySpace

    Soul

    Beautiful

    Mateo

    Human

    MySpace

    Soul Pop

    It Ain't No Use

    Kenny Lattimore

    Timeless

    Yes

    Soul

    Big Easy

    Raphael Saadiq

    The Way I See It

    Yes

    Soul

    Lions, Tigers and Bears

    Jazmine Sullivan

    Fearless

    Not Yet, But U Can Hear It

    On-line

    Soul

    He's A Hustler

    The Revelations feat Tre Williams

    Deep Soul

    MySpace

    Soul

    Beautiful One

    Terry Dexter

    Listen

    Not Yet

    Gospel/

    Inspirational

    Sail Thru

    Darien

    If These Walls Could Talk

    MySpace

    Soul

    Today

    Erik Rico

    Higher Frequency

    Yes

    Progressive Soul

    Chocolate Legs

    Eric Benet

    Love and Life

    Yes

    Soul

    Jump Start

    Divine Brown

    The Love Chronicles

    Yes

    Soul/Funk

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

     


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    Marko Nobles' Talks Indie Dayz for Indie Music

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    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"

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