Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In a Feb. 15, 2011 file photo, President Barack Obama kisses author and poet Maya Angelou after awarding her the 2010 Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will be blended with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.” The album is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she passed in May, her grandson Colin A. Johnson said in an interview Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Maya Angelou’s work mixed with hip-hop for album
First Published Sep 03 2014 10:36 am • Last Updated Sep 03 2014 10:36 am

New York • Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will blend with hip-hop beats for a new album called "Caged Bird Songs."

Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s "Fine China," produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The album — the title taken from Angelou’s classic 1969 book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" — is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she died in May, her grandson said in an interview Tuesday.

"Grandma loved it from the beginning," Colin A. Johnson said of the album’s concept. "These guys were inspired by grandma’s work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people."

Rivera and RoccStarr started working on the album before Angelou knew of it. Johnson, who is in charge of Angelou’s estate with his father Guy B. Johnson, said once she was aware, she completely backed the project, which was recorded at her North Carolina home. Some of the songs use previously recorded Angelou vocals, while others were recorded specifically for the project.

Johnson said Angelou’s initial reaction to the songs was similar to when she first saw her own Facebook page: "She just laughed."

"She loved it and was excited to hear more about what they wanted to do," he said of the album. "She had a lot of energy around it."

Angelou won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums. She previously released a calypso album and collaborated with Ashford & Simpson for 1996’s "Been Found." She also was featured on Common’s 2011 album, "The Dreamer/The Believer."

Johnson said his grandmother was a fan of hip-hop music.

"She saw (hip-hop) as this generation’s way of speaking and conveying a message," said Johnson, adding that Angelou had "great stories about interactions with Tupac (Shakur)."


story continues below
story continues below

Johnson said he hopes the album will connect Angelou’s work with younger generations. It resounded with his own 13- and 16-year-old children, he said.

"I don’t know that they ever have picked up a book of poetry without it being assigned by either me or their school," he said of his children. "To hear somebody that is so famous for her poetry and her message, and then set to some music that you can enjoy definitely feels like this is something that can continue her reach through generations."

Johnson and his father founded Caged Bird Legacy to launch future Angelou projects.

"There are other things coming out," he said. "You’ll see a lot of other things come out with her name. ... And these are all projects that she had out there in the works at various different levels of completion."

———

Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.