Sunday, December 28, 2008

Playlist: Black singers, white songs (pt. 3)

As promised, here are more black singers covering songs made famous by white artists:

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Tamara Wellons

Tamara Wellons is from my old stomping grounds... Prince George’s County, Maryland. Go on, girl!

2. “Sledgehammer” – Maiysha

Maiysha – from Brooklyn by way of Minneapolis (or maybe it’s the other way around) – is nominated for a Grammy for her debut single, “Wanna Be.”

3. “What I Am” – Sy Smith

Howard University graduate Sy Smith makes her main living these days as a background vocalist on “American Idol.”

4. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Alana Davis

Native New Yorker Alana Davis is a daughter of the late Walter Davis, Jr., a jazz pianist who recorded with the likes of Max Roach, Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey.

16 comments:

Kellybelle said...

I like Alana Davis' version of Ani DiFranco's 32 Flavors, too.

that dude said...

I love ALL these covers...I haven't heard of most of these ladies, but thanks for the updates on the few I did know. I also love Alana Davis' 32 FLAVORS.

Your site actually sends me to Amoeba to buy new music!

Brian said...

I really like this version of Sledgehammer, but I think Smells Like Teen Spirit doesn't quite work. Though it doesn't fit the category, I prefer Patti Smith's cover, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_ciiCyxOJA

KeWayne said...

What a fabulous idea, UBM!!!

In the early 70's, Al Green covered 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart' by the BeeGees. It fascinated me that it worked for two distinctly different artists in two different genres.

I've got a million of these - both ways. For some reason, at least for me, it seems white covers of songs written by/for blacks do not work as well as the other way around. Just my opinion. The neat thing about music is you use your ears and you don't give a damn what the artists look like...

bklyn6 said...

Nice picks! I especially liked "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "What I am." (I can imagine Jill Scott and Erykah Badu singing them, respectively.)

KeWayne said:
In the early 70's, Al Green covered 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart' by the BeeGees.

Okay. I think I forgot they were the same song! Wow.

KeWayne said:
I've got a million of these - both ways.

Luther's cover of the Carpenter's "Superstar" immediately comes to mind.

As for the other way, I like Lelia Broussard's cover of Beyonce's "Single Ladies."

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Broussard needed a ukulele for that joint.

Undercover Black Man said...

I've got a million of these - both ways. For some reason, at least for me, it seems white covers of songs written by/for blacks do not work as well as the other way around.

They're fun to collect, aren't they, KeWayne?

As for "White singers, black songs," I'll put another batch of those up on Friday.

bklyn6 said...

^ Broussard needed a ukulele for that joint.

LOL. You would think so.

Undercover Black Man said...

Your site actually sends me to Amoeba to buy new music!

That does my heart proud. Thanks, dude.

DVA118 said...

Cool post UBM. I've been reading this blog for some months, having been pointed to it as your being a writer on The Wire, but this is the first time I've been compelled to comment. You hear Saul William's version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday"? Blows the original out of the water in my opinion. Can check it out at http://popculturewilleatitself.com/2008/random-cover-of-the-week-saul-williams-takes-on-sunday-bloody-sunday/. Cheers!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks for commenting, DVA118. Yeah, I shined a light on Saul's "NiggyTardust" project last year.

Cool video as well.

KeWayne said...

DVA118 said...
Saul William's version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday"...b(B)lows the original out of the water in my opinion.
********
I disagree. The video is great. But close your eyes and listen to both (U2's & Sauls') side-by-side and I think you may change your mind. The drums get a little busy keeping up with the video. Just my opinion. Beautiful music is in the ears of the beholder....

bklyn6 said...

Has anyone heard "The Persuasions Sing U2"?

I've had this on my Amazon.com wishlist for a couple of years. Don't know why I haven't purchased it, yet.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I need to get around to doing a Persuasions playlist, bklyn6. I've got their Beatles and Zappa tributes, but didn't know about the U2 one.

Bellingham View said...

Might want to add Bettye LaVette's version of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" to this list, after last night's Kennedy Center Honors broadcast. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVkXACKFF6o

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Wow.