Today, Holland based soul singer Sandra St. Victor releases her third studio album, Oya's Daughter.
Although St. Victor may not be known to all, she's an industry veteran who has worked with a number of heavy hitters and legends. Her lengthy resumé includes having her songs recorded by Prince, Common, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner among others. She's also earned her stripes by hitting the road with Roy Ayers' Ubiquity, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ziggy Marley.
ESSENCE.com caught up with the funk, soul and jazz artist to talk about her latest album, on which all of those sounds come together. St. Victor, who was born in Dallas, explains the album's unique title, her 10-year break since her last album and her biggest musical inspirations.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us, in your own words, who Sandra St. Victor is?
SANDRA ST. VICTOR: I’m a singer-songwriter who’s been doing music professionally since about 1980. I’ve written with Prince, written for Chaka, Layla Hathaway and The Temptations. I’ve had a pretty sweet career I would say but pretty much under the wire as far as mainstream is concerned. We’re just trying to kick the knick-knack with Oya’s Daughter.
ESSENCE.com: You took a little break from music to raise your children. How did that influence your new music?
ST. VICTOR: During that break there was a lot of introspection and certainly a lot of gathering of ideas and motifs, and of course, experience. The more you live, the more you experience, so all of that time, I just added that to my pocket to be able to come up with what we have now, which is Oya’s Daughter. Not that it should ever take 10 years. It didn’t take me all that time. During that time I wasn’t writing, I was living and being a songwriter. I see stories everywhere so I’m collecting, and when I get down to the business of creating and writing, then all of that stuff that I’ve collected and stored and mostly forgotten about comes to the forefront again. Then I can use that to say what I need to say.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about the title’s meaning.
ST. VICTOR: Oya is an Orisha in the Yoruba faith. I came about it just as I was writing the songs and realizing that I always recognize the music, songs, lyrics and melodies are coming through me because all of this exists in the universe, and I didn’t create that literally. I recognized that most of those songs were dealing with elements of transformation, forward motion, upheaval, change, helping and guiding. I just recognized those as this Orisha of Oya. That is her job, all of that. She’s the bringer of the storm. She’s about the winds of change, and there’s so much about change and transformation on this record. I’m just giving credence to being one of the daughters of that energy.
ESSENCE.com: Have you always thought of yourself as an out-of-the-box artist?
ST. VICTOR: Yes, I’ve never fit. I can’t really see where I fit and that’s totally fine with me because I don’t really want to fit. That’s not why I make this music. If I were to attempt to fit then that would mean that I’m not doing what’s coming naturally to me and that’s almost sinful.
ESSENCE.com: You’ve worked with so many other artists. At this point in your career, who or what are your influences and inspirations?
ST. VICTOR: The foundation is what it is. That was solidified in childhood, so that would be everyone from Ella [Fitzgerald] and Sarah [Vaughn] to Leontyne Price and Maurice White and Jimi Hendrix. That’s the round-up of my childhood in a nut shell.
ESSENCE.com: What’s next for you?
ST. VICTOR: We have to get out there and experience the record with people. That’s how the movement towards people will grow. We have to get people to feel what we’re feeling when we’re playing it because it’s infectious. So the idea now is to perform as much as possible. We’ve got the debut concerts (in New York City), which is on the same day as the release and we’re opening up in Washington, D.C. next month, October 6th. We’re opening up for Rufus featuring Sly Stone which is amazing.
Stream Sandra St. Victor's new album, Oya's Daughter, below.