03-07-19 | Songs for Listening | shirlette ammons
shirlette ammons, associate producer for the Emmy and Peabody Award winning docuseries, A Chef's Life, picked tunes for Thursday, March 7 at Songs for Listening. In addition to her work in television, shirlette is a writer and musician whose work includes two collections of poetry and three different working music projects. shirlette's most recent musical endeavor, Language Barrier, features guest appearances by Meshell Ndegeocello, The Indigo Girls, Amelia Meath, and M.C. Taylor. shirlette is a Cave Canem Fellow and an alum of the Next Level Program (an international hip-hop diplomacy program of the US Embassy and UNC Deptartment of Music).
shirlette was born and reared in the NC coastal plains hamlet of Beautancus (near to Mt. Olive). She has been a fulcrum of the arts community in Durham, NC for more than a decade — constantly creating and participating in projects that resonate with her rural homeplace, her perch in the cosmopolitan Mid-South, and the waves of new music coming constantly through her headphones.
Here's shirlette's playlist along with some annotation she provided:
'Throw It Away' by Abbey Lincoln
This song appeared on three of Abbey Lincoln's records; first in 1980 on Painted Lady when she was 50 years old, then on Turtle's Dream in 1994 when she was 64 years old, and on her final studio record, Abbey Sings Abbey in 2007 when she was 77 years old. The beauty of this song is that she sang it at different phases of her life. Each time it's different. You hear the maturity in her voice over time, you hear the morphing of the meaning of the lyrics and the newness of the wisdom she's acquired. In this way, it becomes a study of a life lived. I prefer the version on Abbey Sings Abbey because it sounds like the universal wisdom of a grandmother.
'Weather' by Meshell Ndegeocello
I just love the rainy day vibe of this song. Perfect for days like today. It's sexy & romantic & makes you want to curl up with your sweetheart. It's also the type of song that reminds me that it's valid & important for Black songwriters to write about the poetry of lazy, everyday love.
'Final Hour' by Lauryn Hill
My favorite song from this classic album. The lyricism is bold, skillful and sure. The second half of the third verse where Lauryn changes the cadence of her rhyme is just ... fire!
'What a Fool Believes' by The Doobie Brothers
This is one of my favorite songs of all time. You really have to pay attention to the lyrics to grasp the story they tell. And Michael McDonald and The Doobies are the epitome of blue-eyed soul.
'Black Flowers' by Fishbone
This song is a power ballad about systemic oppression of Blackness. It's Black men singing in unison about 'the auction block of castrated dreams.' It's gorgeous and ironically uplifting.
'The Mother' by Brandi Carlile
I cried the first time I heard this song ... and the second time ... and the third time. It's just a lovely song. I went down the Brandi Carlile rabbit hole after her performance on The GRAMMYS. I just think she's a great songwriter and the story 'The Mother' tells of a queer mother whose child is not born of her body, is relevant, vulnerable and utterly stunning.
'Throw It Away' by Abbey Lincoln from 'Abbey Sings Abbey'
'Weather' by Meshell Ndegeocello from 'Weather'
'Final Hour' by Ms. Lauryn Hill from 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'
'What a Fool Believes' by The Doobie Brothers from 'Minute By Minute'
'Black Flowers' by Fishbone from 'Give a Monkey a Brain & He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe'
'The Mother' by Brandi Carlile from 'By The Way, I Forgive You'