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BEYOND GENRES THE UNMISTAKABLE VOICE OF SARAH JANE MORRIS/THE INTERVIEW

Mediafrequenza meets the great and multiform vocalist to talk about the recent release of “Let The Music Play”, a title in homage to Barry White and made with Papik

by Davide Iannuzzi

From jazz to blues to mainstream, the hierarchies of genres can disappear behind the imposing and vibrant vocals of the redhead from Southampton, who for over thirty years has been following in the footsteps of the greatest vocal performers of all time. Personality, flexibility of interpretation and an extraordinary ability to encompass a multiplicity of vocal registers, bordering on pure transformism, in the same performance, are the main recognition given to her by international critics. And yet, in our parts, Sarah Jane Morris has attached her legend to the tradition of singer-songwriter songs, evoking the unforgettable duet with Riccardo Cocciante in Sanremo in 1991, when the two sang the winning ‘Se stiamo insieme’, or, again in Sanremo a few years later, with Noemi in ‘To Feel in Love’, the English version of Lucio Battisti’s ‘Amarsi un po’. In 2021, she appeared on Mario Biondi’s album “Dare”, with whom she sang the song “Show Some Compassion”, in a cast that also included Dodi Battaglia, Enzo Avitabile and Annalisa Minetti. 2021 also marks the release of “Let The Music Play” by Jane Morris and Papik, a project by Roman composer Nerio Poggi. The album celebrates the traditions of pop, soul and bossa nova. And Sara Jane Morris gives us a taste of it in her interview with Mediafrequenza.

Is there a common element that binds the 11 tracks of Let The Music Play?

The common element is that they are songs that both Papik and I liked. Most of from the 80s and a few from the 90s.

What is the artistic feeling between you and the Papik band in the realization of this work?

We recorded this album in Rome and St Leonards on Sea. I recorded all the vocals here and Papik recorded all the musicians in Rome and Tony Remy recorded his guitar parts in London. Papik and I had worked together before but had never met. I really enjoyed putting this album together this way and loved meeting and playing with Papik and his band in the Summer when we came over to Italy. We wrote the original songs virtually too.

Your collaboration with the Papik Band begins with the unreleased “I really feel you so”: can you tell us about how this song was born?

I was asked to come into a studio in Bologna to record my vocal on this song, many years ago, and I was given the freedom to change some of the words and melodies.

You made yourself known to the general public with a pop song symbol of the eighties, but then your choices took you away from the mainstream; Is this record a return to the origins or the desire to introduce opposing musical worlds?

This album is familiar musical territory to my first album, with Irma Records, in 1995, with ‘Blue Valentine’. I felt that the world needed an album to not challenge but to uplift with something familiar, yet different.

How did the work of selecting the pieces take place?

The songs are mainly from the 80s and we chose songs we liked and felt could change. There is no point in covering a song unless you change it and claim it and make it your own. Some songs Papik chose, some I chose. We both agreed though.

let’s talk about your vocality: to what extent do natural talent and real study coexist in your way of singing?

I’ve never had a musical lesson in my life so it’s nothing to do with any traditional education. I have developed my ear and trust my musical instinct.

Can you tell us about your inspiring models?

I find so many musicians inspiring and have spent this year writing songs about them for an album I’ll be recording in November for release next year.

You have worked with many Italian artists such as Mario Biondi, Dodi Battaglia RIccardo Cocciante and many others. Which of these do you think are most adaptable to a European or international conception of music?

Mario Biondi is the one that is most successful in the UK, because of his work with Incognito originally. There is something familiar about his voice. When he first came on the scene he was known as the Italian Barry White. I love collaborating with other singers and hope I will carry on duetting. There are many great Italian singers.

Special thanks: Morgana Grancia and Fabrizio Ragonese

Italian version: OLTRE I GENERI L’INCONFONDIBILE VOCE DI SARAH JANE MORRIS/L’INTERVISTA – Media Frequenza

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