*Fans who have been waiting for powerhouse singer Patti Austin to get back to some good ol’ fashioned R&B have finally seen their patience pay off.
The artist, who burst onto the scene in 1969 and generated a string of Billboard hits during the 80s, has traded R&B for symphony halls in the last five years, traveling all over the world with her Ella Fitzgerald and Gershwin tribute shows. And when she wasn’t doing those gigs, she’d been using her distinctive vocal stylings to front various jazz combos.
“Fans from my other music – from the ‘Baby Come to Me’s’ and ‘The Heat of Heats’ and those things – would come to those shows expecting that was gonna happen, and it didn’t,” she tells EUR’s Lee Bailey. “And although they say they enjoyed it, they were like, ‘When are you gonna do that other stuff again?’ So that was really the motivation for making this record.”
Released on May 17 from via Shanachie Entertainment, “Sound Advice” features a number of musical classics done in a way that only Patti can, including Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me,” Brenda Russell’s “A Little Bit Of Love” and The Jacksons’ “Give It Up,” from their 1980 album “Triumph.”
She also Patti-fies tracks from Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and even 80s synth band Depeche Mode, adding some soul to their staple, “Enjoy The Silence.”
“The album is intended to be a return to my music history,” says Patti, who worked on the project with her longtime friend and collaborator Greg Phillinganes, best known for his extraordinary work with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones.
“We consider ourselves graduates of ‘Q.U.,’ which is what we call Quincy University,” Patti says of her 30-year musical partnership with Phillinganes. “It was a big comfort zone for me to work with Greg because we have a some kind of weird out-of-space relationship where I can look at him and say, ‘Greg let’s try blah-blah-blah,’ and he’ll walk around the room for about 20 minutes and come back with whatever blah-blah-blah should be.”
Although her record company describes the project as an “inspirational album,” Patti says don’t expect to find any traditionally religious or spiritual songs.
“If anybody listens to it and gets inspired, I’m happy for them, but that was not the intention when we made it,” she clarifies.
“We’re trying to keep a whole other set of fans I have that had not been satiated for a long time by what I’ve done musically,” she continues. “We’re trying to get them back on board and make them happy, and also, let the other audience that doesn’t know I do that kind of music – kind of bring them all together in the same room at the same time.”
- Below, Patti explains how she convinced a reluctant Phillinganes to include yet another remake of “Lean of Me,” then scroll down to hear to their version.