Finding 5 records that influenced my musical taste was more difficult then I initially perceived, so to help me with the process of elimination: I based my decision only on the artist that exposed, prepared and challenged me musically.
5. Wendy & Lisa – Fruit At The Bottom (1989)
I would not be telling the full truth if I stated that I Prince’s influence didn’t play a part in my appreciation of Wendy & Lisa. However, by the time Fruit At The Bottom was released Wendy & Lisa had proven that they were a strong musical force without their mentor. Fruit At the Bottom displays a more mature yet playful funky style, yet still musically melodic. However what satisfied my musical taste bud was their ability to create great lyrical content that wonderfully deal with the facet of love and hope.
4. Brenda Russell – Get Here (1988)
The Unsung Poetic Queen: When I think of the inspiration of Brenda Russell’s music, what instantly comes to mind is her amazing songwriting skills which always maintained a high level of lyrical content and her own unique way of telling a story. Miss Russell was instrumental in my understanding of tones and melodies and how those qualities enhanced the listeners musical experience. Did you know that Brenda Russell learned to play piano at 19?
3. Sade – Stronger Than Pride (1988)
Making the decision on which was the best Sade album from the 80’s era was really difficult because Diamond Life, Promise and Stronger than Pride were all classics in their own right. However, Stronger Than Pride will forever stand out in my heart because I experienced Sade live for the first time on the Stronger Than Pride tour. I definitely give Sade (the band) credit for preparing my musical chops and appreciation for jazz: which lingered just around the corner. The similarities between Helen Adu and Billie Holiday are haunting: on record and in performance.
2. Grace Jones – Nightclubbing (1981)
Nightclubbing by Grace Jones blew my young fourteen year old mind musically. Everything that I consider cool I was forced to have it all thrown out the window. Nightclubbing showed me that music could also be presented as high art and funky.
1 Prince – 1999 (1982)
Even though, most considers Purple Rain to be Prince’s great work up to this point, however, real fan will argue that Prince’s real masterpiece was actually 1999 release just two year previous. Right up there with Nightclubbing, 1999 was a force to be reckoned. The synthesizer layers and the drum machines placed Prince a decade head of his peers. I didn’t realize how much I actually played 1999 until one day my sister came into to my room with stone face and stated ” you are playing this album like Prince is going to die tomorrow”. How ironic that statement is now because when Prince passed in 2016, from all his work I owned I chose to pull out 1999 to celebrated the life of a genius.