In the belly of her Tony and Grammy-nominated, pregnant yet still performing mother Salome Bey, Toronto-based vocal powerhouse Saidah Baba Talibah missed being born right out on stage by about one month, so it’s little wonder that she’s managed to maintain such a close relationship with that great artistic pulpit through most of there life. A singer, dancer, actress, and all around renaissance woman, Talibah has found success in many avenues throughout her career, from her touring work with renowned musical theatre presentations and her 6-year stint fronting local soul/fusion group Blaxäm through the late 90’s, to her lengthy list of backup duties for artists as disparate as Divine Brown, Alannah Myles, Enrique Iglesias , and Saukrates.
Still, it’s only now that the talented songstress has mustered the confidence to craft a masterpiece stamped with her own name, settling down to bang out a debut album some ten years in the making. But with such a wealth of experience in her back pocket (she’s even worked as a member of the Canadian Idol backing band), it’s curious that Saidah has taken this long to lay her own songcraft to tape.
“[I’ve been] just kind of getting over insecurities about myself and whether the songs were good enough, or whether I was good enough and whether I was worthy,” she said when asked at the end of a recent marathon week that saw her and the band lay down twelve cuts in three days’ time. “Just being ready to be on stage being naked singing my own songs. I mean, I’ve been singing all my life, but I’ve always been singing other people’s songs. But it’s different when you get up there and sing your own songs – you leave yourself open for people to poke at you.” Taking the interesting and cost effective approach of recording “live off the floor” – with each part being recorded simultaneously, though in isolation – while practical, was also important in maintaining a natural feel across the board.
“[Recording live] is kind of how we’ve been doing this process and that’s how we’ve been able to knock off twelve songs in three days. We just bang out three or four of them and see which one felt the best as a whole, and maybe which pieces could fit in there wherever it’s not feeling so good. Like, if the sousaphone is like, eh, that one note – we’ll either get the engineer to fix it, or he goes back in and does it. So basically, I wanted to get a continuity, and I don’t like doing things bit-by-bit. It just doesn’t flow.”
Those who caught her rocked-out performance of title track “(S)cream” at this year’s Honey Jam showcase got a taste of how things will likely sound when the record drops is finished, though Saidah assures that there’s no one sound that will characterize this album. For a better sense of things to come, look for her to storm the stage of Manifesto’s main throwdown this September at Nathan Phillips Square, in the lead up to her upcoming digital EP release The Phone Demos, due out in October.
Check for Saidah on Myspace to keep up on the goings on: