1 Prince- Purple Rain (Warner Bros.)
I was honored to perform Purple Rain along with Stevie Wonder and an ensemble of industry heavyweights on the steps of Los Angeles’ City Hall for the LA LOVES PRINCE tribute in May 2016 following his untimely death. Over 15,000 people came together to honor the Purple One’s legacy in Downtown Los Angeles. Even though I now live in Los Angeles, I’m a Minneapolis girl
at heart, born and raised in the same hometown as the Purple One. You can imagine that Prince’s music had a big influence on me growing up. I love so many of his less popular songs: Strollin’, Money Don’t Matter, but Purple Rain is iconic and often thought of simultaneously at the mention of Prince. Prince will always be my hometown hero.
2 Marvin Gaye- Come Live With Me Angel (Tamla)
I was first introduced to this lesser-known Marvin Gaye track at the beginning of my singing career. A group of well-known Minneapolis musicians from Prince’s camp (Michael Bland/NPG,
Tommy Barbarella/NPG, Eric Leeds, Brian Gallagher, Troy Norton) came together to create JUICE, led by vocal powerhouse Julius Collins. I was invited to sing background for the band. Come Live With Me Angel was one of the first songs I learned for JUICE’s set and I was instantly enamored. I was familiar with Marvin Gaye’s classic hits like, Sexual Healing, and What’s Going On, but Come Live With Me Angel was new to my young ears. Marvin Gaye’s silky-smooth vocals and effortless, yet polished approach make him one of my favorite artists to sit back and unwind to. I often reference him for inspiration when working on vocal production.
3 Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like (Atlantic)
I was blessed to be invited to attend the 2017 Grammy Awards Ceremony where Bruno Mars performed That’s What I Like live on the Grammy stage. I’ve always been an admirer of Bruno’s performance, and songwriting abilities, but witnessing this performance confirmed my feelings about his gifts. He filled the Los Angeles Staples Center with magnetic energy, holding his own amidst other breathtaking performances like Beyonce’s cinematic performance bearing her
pregnant twin belly.
4 Maxwell- Til’ The Cops Come Knockin’ (Columbia)
When I first heard Maxwell’s debut album Urban Hang Suite I was in love with EVERYTHING about it and I still am. I was so influenced by Maxwell’s music growing up, that I used Urban Hang Suite as the subject of my tenth grade English literature project on poetry interpretation. The album is full of songs that evoke strong emotions and create atmosphere. I love the false ending on Til The Cops Come Knockin’, followed by an instrumental reprise for us listeners to vibe out to.
5 Mint Condition – Breakin’ My Heart/Pretty Brown Eyes (Perspective)
This song is perfection. From the precise hits in the intro to the sonic quality and fusion of the Minneapolis sound and 90’s RnB. I’ve always been a fan of lead singer Stokley Williams, so you can imagine how excited I was to record a duet with him for albums RED and REWIND (Radio the Remix and Original).
6 Sade – Is It A Crime (Epic)
Sade is tops in my book…pure class. She is such a unique artist, never trying to be anything but her authentic self. I was first introduced to Sade’s music as a child by my Father. I’ve loved her ever since. Sade is a master of song interpretation, and she showcases her band, Sweetback masterfully on each of her tracks. I’m drawn to Is It A Crime because of the vast dynamic range it embodies, going from mellow to intense and back to mellow, and Stuart Matthewman’s saxophone solo is killer!
7 Erykah Badu – Otherside Of The Game (Kedar/Universal)
QUEEN. That’s the word I would use to describe Erykah Badu. Listening to Baduizm and the track, Otherside of the Game, takes me back to my formative adolescent years. I was so intrigued by Erykah’s lyrics, phrasing, unique vocal tone, and beautiful Afrocentric Aesthetic. She made me proud to be an young woman of African decent.
8 Jill Scott – Talk To Me (Hidden Beach)
Jill Scott is one of my favorite female vocalists of this generation. She is a masterful interpreter of song, with the ability to change her tone and vocal delivery at a moment’s notice to compliment the music and captivate the listener. Talk To Me is the perfect example of this, not only does Jill change her vocal delivery from tender to bold, the track also has two distinct personalities. It starts with a refreshing RnB groove, and then seamlessly shifts to a throwback swing vibe showcasing a lush horn section. When I first heard Talk To Me, I listened over and over again in awe of the creativity and talent packed into one track.
9 KING – Supernatural (King Creative, LLC)
KING’s music is both futuristic and throwback at the same time, I love it. I first learned about KING, while at the beauty shop, getting my hair done. Two of KING’s members, Paris and Amber Strother, are sisters and fellow Minneapolis natives. My long time hair dresser also happens to be their father. In the early 2010’s, he played me a YouTube video of Paris and Amber performing an AMAZING Jazzy/RnB arrangement of Bonnie Raitt’s, I Can’t Make You Love Me. I was very impressed and shocked! I knew that Paris was a talented piano player, but I had no idea that Amber could sing. I’d known her for years, and she never let on that she was a singer. She had a GORGEOUS voice! I knew from that moment on they would go far. A couple years later, their father shared a music video with me from their EP The Story. The rest is history. I ran into Paris, Amber and the third member of KING, Anita Bias, at the 2017 Grammy Awards Ceremony where their debut album, We Are King, was nominated in the Best Urban Contempary category alongside the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna! If you don’t know KING, get to know them.
10 Heatwave – Always and Forever (GTO/Epic)
One of the best ballads ever! I love Heatwave’s version of Always and Forever, but Luther Vandross also has a heart melting rendition. When I was a young girl my Father gave me a copy of Heatwave’s Greatest Hits and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. I am forever grateful to my Father for exposing me to the classic RnB of the sixties and seventies. He taught me the importance of knowing the music of the past.
Skydoll ft Timotha Lanae ‘Lost In Right Now (Time)’ will be released worldwide on March 30th 2018 on Skydoll Records.