Every once in a while, the young woman who works for me will have her ear-buds in and be singing one of her songs. She records under the name, “Czesha,” and she sings a trip-hoppy blend of rap, soul, and surprisingly melodic pop. Think Beyonce-meets-Massive Attack. It’s very danceable and while it is not my usual taste, it’s good and I’ve grown to like it. This kid works hard. She’s a talented visual artist as well and every day at 4:30, she runs off to the recording studio or to her studio and it is a heartening thing to observe. At 25 or 26, it’s all in front of her. Her career will become what she makes of it. It is an exciting time in one’s life.
She brings to mind the music I listen to every day and how much of it is made and sung by women. From Billie Holiday to Neko Case, each voice contains its own aural reliquary of sounds, secrets and stories; and I need all of them. Each of them evoke a different kind of picture out of me. Each of them bathe different words and feelings in light and I realize what a rare instrument the human voice is.
It never fails to astound me how Aretha Franklin can hurl her voice around the planets, or Kelly Hogan can conjure the sweetness of Harold Arlen’s, “Tis Autumn,” or how Annie Lennox, with her wounding, perfect, upper register can will us into feelings we don’t really want to have. The song, “Why” can make me bitch-up at the drop of a hat, or Emmylou Harris’ aching rendering of “Wrecking Ball”…I could go on and on. And when I flesh this out into an article, I will.
This one is for all of the Women who’ve made songs such a holy thing.