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Sting mixes politics, passion

Sting
Sting

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(CNN) -- As he enters his 52nd year, Sting hopes his songwriting is gaining clarity.

"I'm still trying to express my truth, my place in the world, my belief," the former teacher and Police frontman told TMR's Amanda Palmer.

Sting's latest album, "Sacred Love," explores love and relationships in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Personal relationships and politics mingle in the seasoned musician's lyrics.

On the album Sting puts his range to the test with "Whenever I Say Your Name," a passionate duet with hip-hop queen Mary J. Blige.

Palmer caught up with Sting at the Festivalbar music festival in Verona, Italy, to talk about "Sacred Love."

TMR: Sting, we'll start with this album, "Sacred Love." I know that world events certainly weighed on shaping not only the writing and recording. Can you tell us about that?

STING: Well the album was really conceived in the wake of September the 11th. In fact, I started thinking about it on September the 12th of 2001. Certainly that mood is reflected in some of the work, and then it was finished off in Paris in the buildup to the Iraq war. So there are certain issues that are to the forefront on the record. But I'm still writing about personal relationships, close relationships, love, if you like, but with this sort of parallel resonance in the political sense.

That, you know, we create the world incrementally by our personal relationships. You know what I'm saying? The world is not created by massive political movements but by small acts of kindness or meanness, or greed, or selfishness or acts of love. We can create a negative world or a positive world and it's up to us, so we're responsible for the world -- this is my conclusion.

TMR: I know that somebody who's very passionate about things like that is Mary J. Blige. What is it like collaborating with her?

STING: Mary J., I sang with her about four or five years ago and was blown away by her passion, by her raw emotional energy and that amazing voice that really does make her the heir apparent to Aretha Franklin. I love the way she sings. She's a very powerful lady too, but she's also very vulnerable. There's something very compelling about that combination. I remember coming away from that show we did together thinking I'd love to write a song for her and I to sing that really was inspired by her.

It took me a couple of years, but I wrote, "Whenever I Say Your Name I'm Already Praying," which has a kind of religious connotation and Mary's singing start comes from the church, it comes from gospel. So I sent it off to her, praying that she would like it. And she called me back and said, 'Yes I'd love to sing it'...

I'm very proud of the duet. I had to alter my singing style a little bit to match her passion. You know, I'm an Englishman, so I'm not easily given to singing my passion. But to match hers I had to try and get up there.

Click on the interactive gallery for scenes from Italy's Festivalbar.


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