Mahalia Barnes, her band The Soul Mates and American blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa have been working on an album of Betty Davis covers.
Betty Davis is the American funk singer who was married to jazz legend Miles Davis. She released three albums across 1973, 1974 and 1975 then her only other release was the belated ‘Is This Love Or Desire?’ released in 2009 but recorded in 1976.
The album ‘Ooh Yea! – The Betty Davis Songbook’ will feature 12 Davis tracks from those early 70s sessions.
Despite her high profile marriage to Miles Davis, Betty’s story is relatively unknown. “I have been a fan of Betty Davis for years now,” said Mahalia. “I can remember the first time I heard her stuff, I was hooked! She is wild, free, nasty, raw, funky, intense, powerful and sexy. I love the instrumentation, I love the backing vocals. I’ve always wanted to make a record that sounds like what she was doing.”
Mahalia recruited Kevin Shirley to produce. Shirley worked often with Mahalia’s father Jimmy Barnes on many of his records.
With her partner Ben Rodgers (bass), The Soul Mates for this record came together with Franco Raggatt (guitar), Clayton Doley (organ, piano), Lachlan Doley (clav, rhodes), David Hibbard (drums), Yanya Boston (congas), and backing vocalists Darren Percival, Jade MacRae, and Juanita Tippins.
The entire project was recorded live over three days at Freight Train Studios in Sydney, Australia. It will be released on J&R Adventures, the independent label founded by Bonamassa and his longtime manager and business partner Roy Weisman.
“Making this album was a real joy. I love the realness. Recording it the way we did kept it really exciting and raw – no tricks or fix ups, old school and real. A perfect take is one that means something and feels great,” said Barnes.
“Ooh Yea! – The Betty Davis Songbook” will be released on February 14, 2015.
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