*Blessed with the gift of enrapturing any audience with spellbinding flow and magnetic aura, The Floacist spins tales of love, loss, empowerment and change on her new CD Rise Of The Phoenix Mermaid.
Staying true to her credo to create personal, soulful and honest anthems that speak to the soul, The Floacist delivers her finest recording yet. Born in Germany to Jamaican-born and British-raised parents, the striking poet and singer took the music world by storm in 2002 when she graced the R&B scene with her brainchild Floetry.
*“Music has always held a greater purpose than financial gain, attention and consumption,” declares The Floacist. “Music is older than the music industry. It is an ancient form of communication, healing and unification.”
The strikingly beautiful, eloquent and immensely perceptive slam-champion poet, singer, songwriter and producer took the music world by storm in 2002 when she graced the R&B scene with her brainchild, the Gold-Selling duo Floetry. The group’s unique elixir of sensual soul and poetic justice garnered seven Grammy nominations. Floetry’s soulfully original sound and style yielded such smash hits as “Floetic,” “Say Yes” and “Getting Late.” On October 2, 2012 The Floacist will celebrate the ten year anniversary since her creative vision took flight with the release of her new and sophomore recording, Floetry Re:Birth. Devout Floetry fans will delight in the Renaissance woman’s jazzy reinvention of her classic “Say Yes.” A decade later, the song hits a new sweet note. “These past ten years have been one of self-love and independence. Floetry Re:Birth explores that journey,” shares the London based artist.
Floetry Re:Birth is The Floacist’s gift to her fans who have missed the vibration of Floetry. “I create with intention, not expectation, so there isn’t a set outcome that is anticipated. Ultimately, this album is the confirmation that Floetry has been reborn,” shares The Floacist. “It is produced with real instruments and real musicians ultimately creating a true musical experience.” Inspired by the worlds of jazz, R&B, African music, and beyond, Floetry Re:Birth further delves into the ever-evolving artistic spirit of The Floacist and her diverse musical influences. Much like Robert Glasper’s Black Radio Experience and Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, Floetry Re: Birth’s is the culmination of many influences uniting to create one powerful musical statement. “I have been listening to a lot of pure instrumentation and taking a step away from the midi world lately,” confides The Floacist. “Lyrically, it’s the poetry that inspires me; the storytelling, the painting of a picture, the capturing of a moment, the exploration of self. All of the artists I love tell a story from Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba, to Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins.”
Floetry: ReBirth is the first new Floetry album in six years and a follow up to The Floacist’s 2010 recording Floetic Soul. Fans all around the world have wanted The Floacist and singer Marsha Ambrosious to reunite and there has been much speculation as to what caused their departure from one another. While Marsha has tended to be vocal about their departure, The Floacist has chosen to focus on her art and not until now has she commented publicly on the events that led to their separation. Doing what she does best, The Floacist answers these much asked questions in the provocative self-penned “Soul.” “This is the first Floetry album, after a six year split, and Marsha has been doing a lot of excessive talking during that time, all of which has gone unanswered by myself. My silence could have been confusing to the fans, so I wanted to address the split, at the right time, in the correct medium,” she explains. “It was important for me to comment truthfully on the main issue…Marsha left Floetry, after so much joint success and foundation building, to join Aftermath Records, with no assurance of an album release. Ultimately, holding Floetry to ransom, to pursue a possibility of ‘mainstream’ success and all that was gained, was whatever they would’ve put into her pocket, and a mixtape release entitled ‘Neo Soul is Dead’. This to me is the perfect example of someone selling out, or selling their soul.”
The Floacist is joined for the first time on recording by the lovely gold-selling South African singer Thandiswa, from the popular and celebrated South African unit Bongo Maffin. The two met in 2006 at Floetry’s one and only performance in Africa. As fate would have it they would reconnect in London where the two were joined together to pay homage to ‘Mama Africa,’ the great South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba. The Floacist recalls, “’Ingoma,’ was the first song of Thandiswa’s that made it to my ear, and it stayed on repeat…literally! Thandiswa is an artist that I would love to create an entire album with and tour the world! She is dynamic, engaging, spiritually aware and awake. Politically and socially she is a responsible artist, who cares about what she creates and the purpose of creativity. In other words…she is my kind of people!!” The connection between The Floacist and Thandiswa are apparent on the epic and spiritually grounded “Roots of Love” as the duo deliver one of the album’s most powerful performances. This track is a reminder of The Floacist’s incredible ability to ignite the cerebral and emotional aspects of the music and create a totally transcendent experience. The Floacist shares, “This is by far the most experimental track on the album. It is completely Floetic in the delivery of poetry and song. Thandiswa sings beautifully in her mother tongue language, Xhosa and assists me in calling on us all to ‘remember’ that our roots are set in love.’” The vivid imagery conjured by The Floacist and Thandiswa’s vocal interplay parallel the kind of spiritually driven images brought to life in films like Julia Dash’s unforgettable film “Daughters of the Dust.” The Floacist invites talented young singer Demi Mseleku to join her on “Children of the Sun,” another highlight on Floetry: ReBirth. Demi is the granddaughter of legendary musician and activist Pinki Mseleku and the grand niece of celebrated jazz musician Bheki Mseleku. Demi’s pure and angelically rich vocals shine on “Children of the Sun” and perfectly complement The Floacist’s smooth, earthy and velvety vocals. The Floacist shares, “It is an honor to feature the Zulu language on this song. Far too often in life, the children of the sun are requested to soften their glow or dim their light. This song bares a message that is a calling for those who can hear it!”
Blessed with the gift of communication and ability to enrapture the crowd in her spellbinding flow and magnetic aura, The Floacist spins stories of love, lessons learned, conflict and resolution, anthems of personal growth and affirmations of positivity into a tapestry of soulful hymns. Devout Floetry fans will delight in The Floacist jazzy remake of her chart-topping classic “Say Yes.” The Floacist declares that this reincarnation of the song “is definitely for the grown folks!” It is only apropos that The CD opens with the abundantly soulful and affirming “Start Again” featuring Grammy winning vocalist Raheem DeVaughn, who appeared on The Floacist’s “Keep It Going” from her last CD . The two also recorded the song “Marathon” together back in 2007. “Raheem is a joy to work with,” shares The Floacist. “He is a master of his craft and technique when approaching vocal arrangements and recordings. I believe deeply in the ethos of this song. One must know how to ‘Start Again’ and find the peace in it, as change is the only thing promised in life!” The Floacist also offers food for thought on the songs “Step Out” and “Slow Down” and she explores the many sides of love with “Speechless,” “This Love” and the cosmic “Could it Be?”
“I truly believe that love is a spiritual study,” explains the multi-faceted artist. “It is a course of elevation that requires many graduations. The song ‘This Love,’ represents my graduation from control to acceptance. From thinking one knows how to love, to becoming love.”
Floetry Re:Birth is the first recording project that The Floacist has created and brought to life at her home base in London utilizing her own production outfit, FREE SUM Music Company, which is headed her creative partner Nolan Weekes and comprised of international musicians, based in London. She says, “The recording process was intimate, intense and I absolutely loved it. In the past, my creativity was on other people’s time, so songs were often recorded in the moment and that was that! I really lived with this music, developing my own craft and delivery along the way.” The fruits of The Floacist’s labor are evident as she delivers a solid showing of her artistry as a composer, singer, poet, lyricist, and producer. Her willingness and freedom to express herself in various musical contexts is refreshing, courageous and not heard often enough in today’s music.
The Floacist created Floetry in the 90s in London on the open mike/performance poetry scene as a forum to combine the strengths of three platforms close to her heart – music, voice and spoken word. In her attempt to create a new genre she coined the word Floetry by combining the words flow and poetry. Born in Germany to Jamaican born and British raised parents, The Floacist is a natural. The trained actress and slam champion poet made her stage debut at age three. “My relationship with word is at the core of my being,” affirms The Floacist. “I just absolutely adore words! In fact, the first `career’ that I ever claimed was that of an author. That was my earliest dream, so much so, that at 8 years old I was selling stories in school! A graduate of Richard Branson’s BRIT Performing Arts and Technology College where she earned the title of ‘Student of The Year.’
The growth and evolution of one of R&B and spoken words most innovative artists comes to life on this honest, revealing and spiritually driven project. Floetry fans have waited a long time and the wait is over – The Floacist’s manifesto of poetic delivery with musical intent continues on Floetry Re:Birth.
Checkout the video for the new rendition of “Say Yes:”
*As I was listening to the new CD of Natalie “Floacist” Stewart, “Floetic Soul,” I was taken back in time when clubs where full of poets doing their spoken word thing in a delivery manner that made the audience just as excited as any other act. Well, with this highly anticipated solo project of the seven time Grammy nominated former Floetry member, you get both poetic spoken word with the supported of Floacist’s beautiful voice.
“I understand the audience and response of the audience, “Floacist said about her delivery and performing in general.
On the “Floetic Soul” album her, though spoken word, her delivery changes with each selection: some sultry, some funky and some a bit jazzy. Joining Floacist on the “Floetic Soul” project is Music Soulchild, Raheem DeVaughn and Lalah Hathaway.
“I absolutely adore all three,” Floacist said about her featured guest artists. “I adore…what they stand for…what they choose to sing.”
It just so happens that included in some of my favorite cuts on the CD are those featuring theses artists. Musiq Soulchild assist her on “Forever,” the first single off the CD; Lalah Hathaway’s hot jazzy moaning in the background on “Come Over;” Raheem DeVaughn on “Keep It Going,” with its slight Jazz flavor; “What R U Looking 4” for its impressive piano support, and “Alright Then” because I get to hear her beautiful voice a bit more in this one, the horn support and the Jazz feel are impressive as well.
“(Floetry) was a large journey of identifying and understanding,” London native Floacist said about the ending of the duo Floetry – which she co-founded with partner Marsha Ambrosias. “I was manager, PR, travel agent, etc…”
Now managed by her husband, who in the beginning was the motivation for her to take her poetry to the stage (which is where she met Marsha), Floacist is going solo with the release of “Floetic Soul.” I feel not only will she be setting the tone to revitalize the spoken word genre, but releasing a strictly spoken word project by such a successful artist is almost trend setting.
Ava DuVernay directed film, I Will Follow, premieres at the historic The Egyptian Theater
*I was invited to cover PR guru – turned film producer/director - Ava DuVernay’s (My Mic Sounds Nice) film, I Will Follow, red carpet movie premiere and screening during the AFI Film Festival presentation at the historic The Egyptian Theatre. At the end of the night I walked away so proud of her. Not only did all the cast members come to support her night, but by the tears of joy in Ava’s eyes, I can see she was quite surprised at the turn out for the movie screening.
This true-life story is about the death of a mother, played by Beverly Todd (Crash), who was the center of her niece’s life, played by Salli Richardson (I Am Legend). Pledged with jealousy about that relationship, the daughter, played by Michole White (She Hates Me), finds it hard knowing she never said good-bye – because she refused to help tend to her mother.
Richardson’s character, while dealing with packing up her aunt’s possessions, is working through her own personally problems – a husband (Blair Underwood) she left a year ago to come tend to the aunt and a budding relationship with a local played by Omari Hardwick (“Dark Blue”). I Will Follow also stars Tracie Thoms (“Rent”), Dijon Talton (“Glee”), and Damone Roberts (Essence).
“I had such a great cast,” Ava DuVernay pointed out to me. When asked about any challenges the film brought as director she said, “I think the budget. We had a very low budget and not as much time as we’d like. Next time we’ll have more cash.”
I Will Follow is an awesome film, simply award winning material. It was deep, something every family goes through (even me with the death of my husband). It made me think, reflect, laugh and cry. Great storyline, awesome script, great acting and directing – bravo!