February 4, 2007

Vesta Pays Homage to Her Musical Heroes on Shanachie Debut Distant Lover

Vocalist Reinvents Timeless R&B Songs Sung By Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Smokey Robinson, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams & Other R&B Icons

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘classic’ as ‘being of the highest, rank or class’ or ‘serving as an outstanding representation of a kind.’ Vesta’s new CD Distant Lover exemplifies the word ‘classic’ on a number of levels. Not only is her Shanachie debut a sampling of some of the greatest R&B ‘classics’ but it is a sublime example of how a singer can rework a song when they posses an innate ability to personalize and take chances with a composition. Distant Lover is a refreshing exploration of R&B gems that reveal Vesta’s personal connection to each song. Her intensely rich, earthy and soulful voice combined with her intelligent, thoughtful and often playful phrasing drive home the lyrics of any song she sings. The upbeat and charming singer shares, “I don’t think people will expect to hear me sing all the different styles featured on Distant Lover. I hope to shock people when they learn that these are not only songs that I love but also ones that I can actually sing and capture the essence of all the incredible artists who sang them.”

Distant Lover is a thrilling glimpse into the singer’s personality and creative genius as a song stylist. Her renditions of Babyface’s “Whip Appeal” and Sly Stone’s anthem “If You Want Me To Stay,” show off her playful and comedic side. Vesta states, “I had a lot of fun with Sly’s song and got to show off my more stank funky side!” Vesta equally enjoyed recording the Bill Withers hit “Use Me,” a song she frequently performs in concert. “This song has a lot to do with some of the experiences I have had,” says Vesta. “I have run into a lot of severe vultures in the business and in relationships.” Vesta also calls upon songs from her youth on Distant Lover, like the Spinners staple “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and the title track, which was a hit for Marvin Gaye. Vesta recalls “In my youth, I remember sitting in my living room and listening to ‘Distant Lover’ over and over again. Growing up it was one of my favorite songs. I guess I was lonely and the song just spoke to me.”

Other highlights on Distant Lover include “Ooh Baby Baby,” popularized by Smokey Robinson who Vesta calls “the coolest of the cool.” The ballad is the perfect vehicle for Vesta to display her range of emotion as she delivers a stunning performance. The singer explains, “If you do not really pay attention to the words of this song, it can sound happier than it is. I tried to get to the real pain of the lyrics and convey what I felt Smokey was trying to say.” Vesta also took great joy in recording Steve Wonder’s “Knock Me Off My Feet.” She confesses, “Stevie’s songs are deceptively difficult. His genius is such that his songs sound easier to sing then they are. ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ is so beautifully romantic and I am a romantic!”

While most of the tracks on Distant Lover are classics recorded by men, Vesta highlights three songs sung by women for whom she holds deep admiration: Deniece Williams, Sade and Syreeta Wright. Vesta remakes Deniece Williams’ smash hit “Free” and says “Deniece Williams is an amazing vocalist and person. She happens to be someone who is as sweet as she sounds!” Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” is a song that Vesta fell in love with the first time she heard it. She shares, “There is a wonderful mood to Sade’s writing. She stands alone in her genre.” Vesta and singer Issac Clemon, perform a memorable version of “Born Again,” which was sung by Syreeta and the late Billy Preston. The singer confides, “I had the pleasure of spending time with Syreeta at her home and she was such wonderful person. When the idea of a duet came up, I knew ‘Born Again’ was the right song. With the passing of Billy Preston, it was heavy on my heart. He was a sweetheart and a killer piano player and you could almost forget how well he sang until you heard him singing. I called upon Syreeta in my minds eye when we were recording this song. Hopefully she came and visited. Maybe that beautiful smile from heaven blessed us with her essence.”

As much as Vesta enjoyed recording the repertoire on Distant Lover, she equally enjoyed collaborating with the personnel on the CD which includes saxophonists Kim Waters and Marty Q, guitarists Derrick “HotSauce” Cummings, Randy Bowland, Rhon Lawrence and Wayne Bruce. Producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who Vesta affectionately refers to as “Muscle,” plays all the additional instruments heard on the CD. “Recording this music with ‘Muscle’ was just magical,” says Vesta. “Creative energies are powerful and sometime stubborn but this was such a beautiful experience.”

With the release of Distant Lover, Vesta is sure to delight and surprise old fans and garner new ones with her refreshing takes on timeless classics. Vesta concludes, “I hope that my love for this music and the musicians and composers who wrote and sang them comes through.”

www.myspace.com/vestawilliams

Posted by Peter Böhi at February 4, 2007 3:19 PM