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It takes a special artist to fuse elements of varying genres and eras into a winning formula. Taking a bit of the old and a bit of the new to create a fresh sound requires great skill and care. This is the crux of Douyéism. On her forthcoming sophomore album So Much Love, Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based singer Douyé (pronounced Doe-Yay) pays homage to the mellow blend of silk and soul made iconic by artists such as Sade, Dianne Reeves, Chanté Moore, Regina Belle, and Rachelle Ferrell. Featuring the musical prowess of fellow Nigerian and multi-platinum producer Dapo Torimiro (John Legend, Justin Bieber, Toni Braxton), Grammy-nominated multi-platinum British songwriter Terry Shaddick (Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross), guitarist/ producer Chris Sholar (Beyoncè, Mariah Carey, Kanye West), JR Hutson (Jill Scott, Musiq, Lalah Hathaway) and Grammy-nominated jazz keyboardist/ producer Philippe Saisse (Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau), So Much Love is a breathtaking tour de force that adeptly revisits the sound of early 90s Urban Adult Contemporary radio with a unique spin. Laced with Douyé’s smoldering vocals and seasoned with elements of jazz, R&B, and a dash of spicy Afrobeat, it goes without saying that So Much Love is destined to be one of the more feted independent releases of 2013.
Hailing from the Nigerian capital of Lagos, Douyé was raised in a household where the sounds of legends like Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Marley, and Dinah Washington were omnipresent. “I grew up listening to all of these people,” she says. “I fell in love with all of it from the onset. But I always found myself singing along with the songs, so I thought to myself, ‘I think I want to do this’.” And with that, Douyé had found her calling. After receiving her parents’ blessing, she began to hone her nascent vocal talent in her church choir. “From there, I started writing poems and eventually developed my own niche as a singer and a songwriter.” Anxious to spread her wings, Douyé charted her course in the stars and made the ambitious voyage to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a singer. To further sharpen her craft, she attended the esteemed Musicians Institute in Hollywood as a vocal major. While at school, she was introduced to songwriter Terry Shaddick. Responsible for penning Olivia Newton-John’s decade defining multi-platinum hit “Physical,” Shaddick immediately recognized Douyé’s unique innate talent and began collaborating with her on a series of songs that would eventually culminate in her debut album Journey in 2007.
“The title represents how far I had come at that point and the mere fact that you can actually say something, dream it, and start to see it come alive,” she reflects. “Those are things that I’ve gone through and I’m still on that journey of life, of music. That’s my world.” Co-written entirely by Douyé and Shaddick, Jazzuality.com called the album a “journey of sensual soul on smooth jazz…ready to take your breath away.” In response to audience reception at her live performances, glowing album reviews, and being featured as woman of the month in Ladybrille Magazine’s February 2009 issue, Douyé remastered, repackaged, and reissued Journey in 2010. Three years later, Douyé is fully prepared to share the next leg of her wondrous journey with the world on So Much Love. With Shaddick on board as a mentor and co-writer, the new album is an exemplary testament to Douyé’s growth as an artist, songwriter, and human being. “When we started writing for this album, the goal was to show some level of improvement from the first album,” she explains. “When you’re creating a new project as an artist, it’s good to let people see growth. I wanted the sound to be richer. I wanted the songwriting to be more profound.” Douyé and Shaddick carefully culled the album from a prolific period of writing that eventually amassed over 50 tunes. “I only write what I know,” she explains. “My journey and my experiences in life are what I pull inspiration from. That doesn’t happen overnight. You have to live through it to be able to write a song about your story. That’s one of the reasons why the second album has taken this long to come out.”
Over the course of 13 tracks, So Much Love takes listeners on a ride through the full range of life’s joys and beautiful struggles. “I try to relate to the everyday person,” affirms Douyé. “That’s why when you listen to my songs, it takes you through the journey of everyday living.” The breezy tune “Life Is Good,” featuring acclaimed saxophonist Eric Marienthal, is a whimsical number embedded with a reminder to enjoy the little things in life and live in the moment. “It’s really about being appreciative of life,” she says. “Life can be so simple, but we make it so complicated. Live life a little slower and just appreciate the little things that matter.” Since its release, the song has gained attention in media outlets in both the United States and Europe. “Life Is Good,” produced by Torimiro, climbed to #9 on the UK soul chart and has remained in steady rotation on play lists at radio stations in Europe and stateside. Infusing Douyé’s signature sound with a more contemporary R&B vibe, the Sholar produced “Till Morning Comes” finds Douyé caught up in rapture with that special someone. “It’s a lover’s song,” says Douyé with a coy laugh. “Spending that special quality time with the one you love. It’s all the things you want to do when you’re with that special person in your life. Every moment counts; every second matters. Because it’s so precious.”
Douyé unveils her more pensive side on the flamenco inspired “Wake Up,” a song produced by Saisse that speaks to the issue of mental illness. “It’s a subject that people don’t like to talk about,” she admits. “So we found an angle to talk about it. Not to scare people, but to bring awareness to the subject matter.” Douyé rebounds and lightens the mood with her tribute to the days of her youth, “Golden Days.” Produced by Torimiro and featuring smooth jazz trumpeter Rick Braun, “Golden Days” is a reflective song full of lyrics that reminisce on simpler times when being a free-spirited child was her only care. “Enjoying life as a child, spending quality time with your siblings, going to the beach, building castles,” she recollects. “You don’t know how beautiful it is until you grow up and everyone is living their own lives.” Second generation soul wunderkind JR Hutson (Jill Scott, Musiq, Lalah Hathaway) layers a lush sonic bed on “Love Rules,” where Douye croons passionately about the sweetest taboo of a forbidden love that feels so right. Hutson and Douye up the ante on “Loved By Love,” a shimmering lover’s rock tune brimming with island vibes and the glowing realization of true love. On the jazzy track “Man Enough,” produced by Philippe Saisse, Douye lays out her list of standards for her would-be suitor. Featuring a scintillating saxophone solo, the tune finds Douye floating effortlessly on a cloud of smoldering confidence and unmistakable charisma.
One of the album’s crowning moments comes in the form of her jubilant tribute to the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend and international icon Fela Kuti, “So Much Love.” After reflecting on bearing witness to Fela’s rousing live performances at his legendary venue The Shrine throughout her childhood, Douyé decided that a tribute to Fela was in order for her new project. However, the undertaking would not be without its challenges. Douyé went through the arduous process of auditioning several producers with a maligned vision of what she’s originally had in mind. But when she was introduced to Baba Ken Okulolo, a bassist who’d played in Fela’s band back in Nigeria, she knew she’d found the right one. In the middle of the daylong recording session with over 12 band members, Douyé stepped away to have a spiritual conversation with Fela himself. “I meditated and prayed to Fela,” she reveals. “I said, ‘please listen to my call and bless me with your presence, I’m doing this as a tribute to you and I want your spirit to flow in me and take on this song. I want to do it right. To honor you, what you’ve done, and your movement that continues to live. I need your blessing’.” It wasn’t long before Douyé returned to the vocal booth, unleashing her soaring vocals on the track with the spirit of Fela fully engaged. “I tapped on the mic and banged it,” she exclaims. “When you’re in front of the mic, you just let yourself go! I’m not trying to be like him or take away from him. The song has the laid back, Douyé signature feel to it. But you can tell that it’s a tribute. I just wanted to say to him, thank you for all that you’ve done.” The track has received praise from online outlets like SoulBounce.com, VibeWeekly.com, and is accompanied by a making-of video with exclusive footage from the studio session.
Pulling no punches for So Much Love, Douyé enlisted the talents of young, in-demand Nigerian stylist Ugo Mozie (Chris Brown, Beyoncè, Sean “Diddy” Combs) for the album’s cover photo shoot. “I’m an independent artist, and I try to look beyond that and instead, present myself as an artist that seeks excellence in my artistry,” she laughs. “I try not to limit myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be shooting for the stars. So Much Love is not just a title. It represents everything that I’ve given to this album. Everyone that has been part of it has given the project so much love and more.” Douyé realizes that though the new album has taken three years to get here, it’s right on time. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. “In Africa, we have many sayings,” she explains. “There is one that translates to when you’re cooking a good soup, you don’t rush to drop everything in. Because it’s a process. You take your time so that the love will reflect in the soup. You can’t rush a good thing. That’s the way I feel about the new album. I know I’m on the right path.”
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