The jazz singer talks new music, and working with Stevie Wonder.
Maysa is back on the scene, with a new album, and a new record deal. The Baltimore native, who used to front the UK neo-soul band Incognito, says her 9th solo album, “Motion of Love” is a move away from the more jazzy sound she is known for. “The sound of this album is me, but a little more daring,” she says.
“Motion of Love” includes collaborations with Stevie Wonder (whom she sang backup for some 20 years ago), and neo-soul singer Dwele. We spoke with Maysa about her album, how her music helped her get over a difficult breakup, and working with Stevie Wonder.
ESSENCE.com: ‘Motion of Love’ is your ninth studio album. That’s quite an accomplishment.
MAYSA: Yes. I didn’t think I was ready quite yet to do a record, but somehow it just happened. So I ended up doing this one and I’m glad I did because it turned out to be my favorite, next to my last two albums, “Metamorphosis” and “All About Love.” This is my all time favorite of those three.
ESSENCE.com: What about it makes you love it?
MAYSA: I think because it’s a cleansing of what I’ve been through. It’s like a real time break up album. I broke up with someone during the whole thing and instead of letting myself wallow in disappointment and hurt, I just worked. The sound of this album is me, but a little more daring. I think it’s a new me, my voice changed on this record. A lot of people say I sound younger than when I started with “Incognito”, so it has a different kind of sound. I don’t know where that came from, but I think I was being reborn.
ESSENCE.com: Not many people can boast to having Stevie Wonder co-write a song on their album. How did that happen?
MAYSA: Oh my gosh! My best friend who actually got me my first audition with him years ago called me one day and said, ‘Maysa, i wrote a song and Steve said he would produce it for your album if you want too.’ I said, ‘If I want him too? Ok! Absolutely!’ So we got to the studio and he started writing the song ‘Have Sweet Dreams.’ He told her to film them, so he wouldn’t forget the song, and she said, ‘Is this a Stevie song or a Maysa song?’ He said, ‘It’s a Maysa song.’ Then I just lost my mind! It’s crazy! He doesn’t do this, it’s very rare that he does this for anybody. So I’m triply honored that he did that for me.
ESSENCE.com: This album is the last of quartet of albums dealing with a breakup. That must have been some breakup.
MAYSA: Yeah, it was on and off. It happened all at once, everything was quiet. The business helped me through it. Had I not been busy I think it would have been worse. I would have had more time to think about it.
ESSENCE.com: You’ve got quite a cult following. How’s that helped you in your 20 years in the business?
MAYSA: They’ve kept me going! They’ve absolutely kept me going m whole career, the last twenty years. They’ve introduced me to other people, and it’s growing and growing and growing. And it’s definitely still underground, vibe, not in the mainstream. This interview means a lot to me. It let’s me know that things are changing. They’ve kept me alive the whole time.
Maysa’s “Motion of Love’ is out today.
Check out her latest video with Dwele:
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