Jazz vocalist Ceclia Stalin performs tonight at the girls are Summer Sessions live at the Forge in Camden. She’ll be playing tracks from her recent album, Step Like a Giant. We caught up with her to ask about what we can expect to hear this evening and the story behind putting the album together.
Cecilia says, ‘the whole concept of why I did the project was because I thought it was so important that people start thinking outside the box when it comes to jazz. I was feeling that there were so many great artists and just because they were classified as jazz, people didn’t pay them as much attention. Then someone like Norah Jones or Robbie Williams does these kind of jazz-like projects and all of a sudden people open up their ears and their eyes for it. And I thought if they can do it, why couldn’t Joe, John and Susie get the same attention for it? So I thought, why don’t we reclaim jazz the genre and make it into a cool thing, that actually younger people are gonna grow up and say ‘yeah I like jazz’. That’s why I did Step Like A Giant. I think because John Coltrane had a really big impact on me, but also I’ve had so many other influences in my life besides jazz, I didn’t want to make it a tribute. I said I’m just gonna let my inspirations take over and not restrain myself into boxes and then just take it from there.’
The album is hooky with inflections of hip hop, soul, jazz, broken beat and pop, all mixed together to stunning effect. She describes her creative approach, ‘I start with a groove, I’m very much a groove kind of person, whether it’s a ballad or a bebop song. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hip hop song, it’s all about whether the groove sits right.’
Aside from being an homage to jazz icon John Coltrane, Cecilia explains another message behind the project, ‘it took on its own life, like how you can step like a giant with whatever you want. If everyone would take giant steps each day – it could be go and see your granny – but if people start having the mentality that I’m gonna make a difference today and do something that’s not for me but for the greater scheme of things, I think that we got the power.’
Wanting to present jazz in a way that younger audiences or those not familiar with jazz may connect with, Cecilia chats about why it is so important for the music to evolve, ‘everything develops, language, society, people, so why shouldn’t musical genres develop? I think, yes, honour the traditions, let people know who John Coltrane was, but also let people know that there’s new stuff.’
You can catch Cecilia this evening at The Forge, tickets and further details here. If you can, come down early and say hi to us – the girls are editorial team will be there for a meet the team event from 7.15pm.