Vocal powerhouse Syleena Johnson is going back a century for her next studio project, ‘Rebirth of Soul,’ and she has a special collaborator guiding her.
For the effort, the R&B Diva joins forces with her father, legendary soul/blues singer Syl Johnson, for their first recording in over two decades.
‘Rebirth of Soul,’ conceived and produced by Syl, will arrive on November 10th via Shanachie Entertainment. Syl is best known for his original hit version of “Take Me To The River,” which was covered by Al Green and Talking Heads. Everyone from Jay-Z and Kanye West to Wu-Tang and Usher has sampled Syl Johnson’s recordings.
On ‘Rebirth of Soul,’ Syleena delivers her interpretations of classic R&B songs, mainly from the Fifties and Sixties, starting with “We Did it,” originally recorded by Syl Johnson.
“People don’t use live musicians much anymore, but every musician brings his heart to a recording,” states Syl Johnson about the musical project.
Syleena adds: “The inspiration behind REBIRTH OF SOUL is my father. I wanted to honor him and classic soul music in a time when auto tune and electronic beats reign supreme. While I am not against this kind of creative musicianship, there is so much more to the real thing. True Soul music tells stories… stories that can heal a nation.”
As an artist who came of age during the 90’s hip-hop era and broke through in the early 2000’s, Syleena had never actually recorded live in the studio previously. “The difference with this album,” Syleena relates, ” is that I had the opportunity to record with live instrumentation as well as actual musicians from the (classic) era. On this album, I didn’t write any of the songs, and it was the first time in a while that I worked with my father. I had to tap into the soul and spirit of the era of each song to bring authenticity to the project.”
Other songs on ‘Rebirth of Soul,’ which was hand-picked by Syl Johnson, include Betty Everett’s “There’ll Come A Time,” Bettye Swann’s “Make Me Yours,” Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
“For each song, I channeled the emotions of the record,” Syleena confides. “I put myself in the mind of each storyteller, and in doing this, I was able to merge myself into the story of each record. This is how I was able to put my own personal stamp on each record.”
‘Rebirth of Soul’ is Syleena’s first collaboration with her father since his 1994 recording BACK IN THE GAME when she was just a teenager.
“The process of creating music with my father is not a difficult one. It’s actually the only space we get along perfectly,” states Syleena. “Music is our strongest tie, and no matter what, he has always respected that particular bond inside of studio walls. He is very creative as an artist and he loves music with his true heart.”