After two successful and well-received classic R&B CDs, singer Douye’ is on a career path that has taken an unexpected but ultimately logical turn. Douye’ (pronounced Doe-Yay) has re-emerged as a very talented jazz singer on her impressive new recording Daddy Said So. It may seem as if this is a radical change but, as Douye’ explains, it is actually a return to her roots.
“Jazz was the first music that I ever heard. It was introduced to me by my Dad who always played jazz around the house. He regularly sat me down and told me to listen closely to the music, that jazz was life.” Her beloved father passed away when she was 11. “The last time I saw him, he was at the hospital, had me driven in, and he told me that he wanted me to promise him something. He wanted me to promise him that I would sing jazz after I became a woman. Years passed, life went on, and I became involved in performing and recording r&b. But when I was completing the second CD in 2013, I kept on thinking about my last conversation with my Dad. It was as if he was reminding me about my promise. I decided that I would see if I had what it took to sing jazz.”
Douye’ has since worked very hard at finding her own place in the jazz world. Rather than doing it halfway or merely copying the great jazz singers of the past, she was determined to study hard, learn a countless number of songs, and sing jazz in her own way. She paid close attention to the reactions of the audience and the musicians when she appeared at jazz jams at the World Stage in Los Angeles. “If I did not sound any good, they would certainly tell me! I gained the courage to give it a real try after getting some confirmation from the jazz crowd that I could do this.”
Daddy Said So features Douye’ singing a set of classic jazz standards. Her voice is attractive, warm, quietly emotional, has a solid sense of swing, and she clearly has a deep understanding of the lyrics. It is a very impressive jazz debut for the up-and-coming singer.
Rather than utilize the same group of musicians on each selection, a wide variety of brilliant jazz artists make memorable appearances throughout the release. Douye’ originally made demos of the songs that she planned to record, sent them to many of her favorite musicians, and happily discovered that every artist was interested in being on her project.
Douye’ recorded “Nature Boy” as a duet with the immortal bassist Ron Carter. “It was funny. He suggested that we meet for the session at 11. I said, ‘Alright but I would be there at 10:30.’ Ron Carter replied that he would make it by 10:30 too. I arrived at the studio at 10:17 and he was already there! I think we were finished with ‘Nature Boy’ before 11.”
“Mood Indigo” and “I Loves You Porgy” were recorded with veteran pianist Kenny Barron’s trio. “But Beautiful” and “All The Things You Are” feature a talented Nigerian tenor-saxophonist Zem Audu and pianist Benito Gonzalez. Douye’ originally recorded “Lush Life” and “Sophisticated Lady” as duets with her friend the late pianist Joel Scott. Later on, tasteful bass and drum parts were added but Douye’ kept Scott’s beautiful accompaniment intact. “Round Midnight” and “In A Sentimental Mood” were performed with pianist-arranger John Beasley and a few of Los Angeles’ top jazz players (saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist John Clayton and drummer Roy McCurdy). Check out Douye’s deep-toned vocal on “’Round Midnight” and Beasley’s emulation of Duke Ellington’s piano playing on “In A Sentimental Mood” from Duke’s famous collaboration with John Coltrane.
Every performance has its special moments. The great guitarist Russell Malone not only arranged “Body And Soul” but organized a group that included trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and drummer Willie Jones III. “Autumn Leaves” (arranged by Angelo Metz as was “Besame Mucho”)) and “Someone To Watch Over Me” (arranged by Phil Small and produced by Metz) find Douye’ joined by the Kim Richmond Orchestra while the warm tenor-sax of Justo Almario co-stars on “Besame Mucho.” Also included on Daddy Said So is a very spirited rendition of “Summertime” that was recorded in New York with a band of young Cuban Americans led by drummer-arranger Zack O’Farrill (the 21-year old son of Arturo O’Farrill).
“I’m so grateful,” says Douye’. “While it took time to coordinate everyone’s schedules, each of the sessions came together very quickly. It was so enjoyable that it confirmed my decision to sing jazz.”
Douye’ was born in Lagos, Nigeria and regularly spent her summers in England. She was in a church choir in Africa when she was quite young and often sang along with recordings from her father’s record collection. Douye’ also wrote poems and songs as she grew up. Early on she knew that singing was going to be her lifelong love. In her pursuit of singing, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute as a vocal major. While attending school, she met songwriter Terry Shaddick who had composed the giant hit “Physical” for Olivia-Newton John. Shaddick and Douye’ soon formed a musical partnership, writing all of the fresh new music for her first two albums Journey and So Much Love. During this era, Douye’ performed classic r&b inspired by Anita Baker, Sam Cooke, Sade, Regina Belle, Rachelle Ferrell and other major soul singers.
But while Journey and So Much Love created a stir (“Life Is Good” made it to #9 on the UK soul chart), Douye’ has found her true voice as a jazz singer. She is quite enthusiastic about the future. “It seems so natural for me to sing jazz. I love the stories in these timeless songs, and the fact that I have the freedom to do each piece in my own way. I relate each song to my own life, my story and my journey. I love this music and really love performing it. I can’t wait for the next time!”
With the release of the very enjoyable Daddy Said So, Douye’s jazz journey is just beginning.