Music Mondays: Meshell Ndegeocello


In addition to 10-time Grammy-nominee and social activist, singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello can add pioneer of the "neo-soul" movement to her list of impressive credentials. Born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Germany, but moved to Washington, D.C. as a child. Her father was not only a Sergeant Major in the military, but also a saxophonist. Music was an important factor in her life from an early age. The young musician adopted her surname "Meshell Ndegeocello," which means "free like a bird" at the age of 17.


Meshell found her way into music via the D.C. "go-go" scene of the late-1980s. She released several albums in the 90s and gained prominence for her cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" where she performed with John Mellencamp. Her music has also been featured in films such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Best Man. In addition, Meshell has collaborated with many artists throughout her long career. She has appeared with The Indigo Girls, Alanis Morrisette, and Zap Mama. Meshell has used her music to fuel her activism, contributing music to The Enough Project and Downtown Records' Raise Hope for Congo compilation. Profits from the record funded efforts to make the protection and empowerment of Congo's women a priority, as well as inspire individuals around the world to raise their voice for peace in Congo.

Meshell's sound is as diverse as her background. She borrows from rap, funk, hip-hop, reggae, and rock. Meshell is also an accomplished bass player and has contributed tracks to her albums as well as to the albums of other artists. Her most recent studio album titled Pour une âme souveraine ("for a sovereign soul") is a gorgeous tribute to vocalist Nina Simone. Guests on the album include Sinead O’Connor, Lizz Wright, Valerie June, Tracy Wannomae, Toshi Reagon and Cody ChesnuTT. Meshell describes the feel of the album on her website: It's "a dedication to Nina Simone and her incredible influence but it is also a dedication to the single, interior life we all experience.”

Enjoy "Loyalty" and be sure to check out all the grooves on  I AM THAT GIRL's Music Monday's playlist, updated each week!


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