Canonized, marginalized or just scrutinized, Meshell Ndegeocello has given up trying to explain herself. After 20 years in an industry that has called her everything from avant garde to a dying breed, what unquestionably remains is the fearsome bassist, prolific songwriter, and the creativity and curiosity of an authentic musical force. With that, she has earned critical acclaim, the unfailing respect of fellow players, songwriters and composers, and the dedication of her diverse, unclassifiable fans.
"Pour Une Ame Souvraine" (For a Sovereign Soul), A Dedication to Nina Simone, is Meshell's tenth record, her second for Naive. Produced by Meshell and guitar player Chris Bruce, this album is a labor of love, a reflection of Meshell's awe, affection, and gratitude for the pioneering work of a woman who refused to be owned by genre, industry, or expectation. Meshell and Chris turned well and lesser known songs into new experiences, inviting collaborations by Cody ChesnuTT, Valerie June, Sinead O'Connor, Lizz Wright, and Toshi Reagon, and the results are intoxicating. While Nina Simone is no longer here to pass the torch, this album, not just a tribute but a transformation, clearly nominates Meshell as her heir apparent.
About her choice to record the music made famous by Nina Simone, Meshell says, "Nina Simone was unusual, unruly, unparalleled. She has an unmistakable voice and an unavoidable spirit - she's terse and angry and expressive of her despair and her joy and her sexuality. She is not an industry player, she was obviously difficult and volatile. She wanted success, was pressured to make hits, but her own sound was still irrepressible. She had things to say, she protested. She was a loud, proud black, female voice during a time when black female voices were not encouraged to make themselves heard."