ESSENCE.com’s “New and Next” column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet Denitia Odigie, a Brooklyn-based folk-soul singer whose remake of Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway’s ‘The Closer I Get to You” is surely one of the best we’ve heard in a while. Odigie is currently working on her debut album, slated for a spring 2013 release.
Who is Denitia Odigie, musically?
I am a singer/ songwriter originally from Houston, Texas. I think what I do is soul in its core, but I definitely am influenced by rock and roll, R&B, pop, and ’80s new wave. I think I’m very eclectic with a sort of rawness.
You grew up in Houston and Nashville, the meccas of country music. Does that influence your sound in any way?
I definitely have always been interested in country music growing up in Texas and going to the rodeos. I feel like being in Nashville helped me explore that scene and sound, but I also learned a lot about songwriting itself.
Who would you say are your greatest influences?
Definitely Prince and Aretha Franklin. Lauryn Hill, the singer Patty Griffin, but also some Americana music.
Today you’re releasing a remake of Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway’s “The Closer I Get to You.” What inspired that?
I’ve just always loved that song. It was something that was on my mind for a long time, and one day I was in my house chilling with my friend next to a piano and I said, “Let’s record that.” I just think it’s a timeless song.
There are some songs that people don’t dare to remake. What made you want to touch a classic like this?
[Laughs] That didn’t really cross my mind and it wasn’t even part of the conversation. It was like, “Man, I love this song. Let’s do it some justice.”
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my debut album, which will come out in early spring. I’m always working on a project — a duo called denitia and sene and a song called “blah, blah, blah.” That’s more of an electronic soul and pop project. We have a record coming out at the end of the year.
Listen to Denitia Odigie’s remake of Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway’s “The Closer I Get to You” and let us know what you think.