Shadia Powell and The Truth:
The Real Deal In Sacramento Nu-Soul…And That’s No Lie
If classical music, sultry jazz, and three decades worth of contemporary Pop/Rock/Soul could all get together and have a love child, the product of that wild union might very well be Sacramento neo-soul songstress, Shadia Powell.
In the crowded and ever-growing collective that has become Sactown’s Nu-Soul scene, Ms. Powell -- and the fellas that she has assembled to craft her musical soundscapes, The Truth -- have been quietly carving out their niche. Employing the essential basics of drummer B-Love’s solid and thumping foundation, Fred Collin’s earthy bass, Marlon Bowen‘s magical guitar work, and the smoky-smooth keyboard and synth tinkling of Y’dell Myles, the guys lay down some serious grooves.
Unique to this get-together though, are Shadia’s very capable and satisfying vocal abilities. Throaty and powerful, she cuts through and does justice to selections by the genre’s bellwether artists -- Jill Scott, Badu, Maysa, just to name a few.
Maybe her eclectic musical upbringing has something to do with that. “My parents were very musical people. My mother was a professional opera singer (Gail Yon Walls) who had opportunities to work around the world,“ says Ms. Powell. Shadia’s dad was a serious music head too, who also played drums. She adds, “I started early with musical instruments. I played sax and flute all through my childhood.” Indeed, she actually won numerous awards and was recognized playing in youth orchestras.
Playing in the C.K. McClatchy High School band got her contemplating her future musical endeavors. “I had the chance to go to college on a scholarship for flute,” says Shadia. That was not meant to be however, as Shadia questioned her commitment to the instrument. She explains, “I loved the flute, but didn’t really know if that was my passion or direction.”
The experience slowed her stride career-wise. But deciding to hit pause on a path toward professional flouting for a little while didn’t squelch her love of a multitude of genres. Talking about her influences, it’s hard to reign her in. “Oh, gosh…I love everything -- from Earth, Wind, & Fire to Bon Jovi to Marvin Gaye…and Ella (Fitzgerald); Ella can’t be touched!” As if that weren’t already a diverse group of sounds, she laughingly adds, “I listen to anything. If Polka was on the play list, I’d listen to that!” She’s not kidding about being all over the musical map.
On the contemporary tip however, it’s the scary-good Bay Area soul goddess Ledisi that is currently lighting her fire. “Ledisi is really starting to show the world her talents and that’s what inspires me; I love whoever is comin’ from the heart,” says Shadia. She continues, “those artists that are truly putting everything on the line to do what they do.”
And speaking of doing the damn thing, Shadia makes it clear that she would rather be put on the Jazz side of the fence when asked to describe her sound. She shrugs off labeling her music, but adds; “I will say that I am Nu-Soul with a Jazz edge. A lot of singers doing this style tend to go Hip Hop, but I’m definitely more jazzy.” Vocally, she is certainly adept, adding, “My tone is raw and soulful; people say I can do things most female singers can’t or won’t do.”
Shadia also makes up 1/6th of a popular local “old skool” cover band, The Movement. She admits to needing a little push to go in a different direction and do the music that really excites her, and it was those guys that kept boosting her confidence. “Marlon, Rolin (Shafer), Mike, Fred…they kept telling me I could do this.”
Telling The Truth…
When it came time to assemble her personnel, the approach was an honest and organic one; hence the self-descriptive name. Their first gig was in 2007 at Q’s in Oakland. In describing the live show, Ms. Powell states that it is a simple brand of entertainment -- a group of passionate musicians doing their thing. “It’s a good vibe, laid-back. It’s definitely a sensual, sultry show. What I love about this genre, is that it allows me to be myself -- raw and uncut.”
And that is, essentially, the very definition of the truth…Can you handle it?
Recent and Upcoming Shows:
Working in the studio on a debut CD, Shadia and company are on a brief hiatus from local club gigging. Recent shows have included Center Court, Bella Bru, and the Dante Club. However, they are always seeking new opportunities to play and will be hittin’ it hard after finishing the album project.
Current CD/Studio Sessions:
Shadia is knee-deep in a collaborative effort with Sacramento sax legend Jose Hernandez, who is helping produce and co-write her debut disc. Shadia and Hernandez --the former sax man on the road for The Whispers-- are currently six cuts into what will be about a 14-song CD. Other local producers are expected to contribute to the project as well.
Artist Website/Booking Info:
Visit Shadia’s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/ladydeja