I don’t know if you can really put Joy Denalane in the “Be On the LookOut” category considering she’s been recording music in English since 2006. German Soul singer Joy Denalane release her first English speaking album “Born & Raised” in August of 2006. I originally heard her back when neosoulcafe put out mixtapes as podcast. It was her single Heaven or Hell featuring Raekwon that caught my attention. The fact that she was singing over a Wu-tang afflicted track made me reminisce of early Mary J Blige. Once I found her first album it solidified the comparison to. She has a Mary J grove with a neosoul lean. From the hip-hop feel beats she chooses to sing over, to the lessons of love she’s advising us not to go through. She also has a this old soul singer vibe at times. She doesn’t have the largest range, but somehow the rasp and sultriness in her voice allow her to convey her messages well.
I didn’t realize until last year when making that she had released another album in 2012 entitled Maureen after her middle name. I was making a playlist of artist I think people should know and thought of her. When I saw there was another album I gave it a listen and discovered it. This album continues her blend modern and classic soul with a touch of hiphop. One of the highlights of the album is a cover of Bilal’s song “Never Be the Same”
According to Joy she first heard Bilal sing “Never Be the Same” live and really enjoyed it. She learned he wasn’t planning on using the for his upcoming album and asked him if she could use it. She recorded her version “Time to Make a Change” for her 2012 album. Bilal later recorded the song for his 2013 Love Surreal album which is the version I heard first. The context of the song combined with the rasp in his falsetto and ad-libs lead me to believe that it was a Curtis Mayfield cover, but after further digging I learned it was a song he and producer/artist Conley “Tone” Whitfield penned together. Joy’s take on the song keeps the sentiment, but moves it from a 70s sounding track to a more up to date soul piece.
Bilal- Never be the Same
Joy Denalane- Time to Make a Change
Mamani Live – Joy Denalane 2004 (Geman)
Born & Raised – Joy Denalane 2006
“Time to Make a Change” – Joy Denalane
“Never Be the Same” – Bilal