New singer brings fresh vibes to 'Brand New Heavies' funk
August 13, 1997
Web posted at: 6:23 p.m. EDT (2223 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Take three lads from England who are fluent
in Valley Girl, add a new lead singer from Los Angeles who's
comfortable with cockney, and mix in a funky '70s beat, and
you've got the latest incarnation of the Brand New Heavies.
The band, which appeared on the recording scene in 1990 with
its first album, "The Brand New Heavies," has just released
its latest album, "Shelter," the first to feature new
bandmember Siedah Garrett.
Garrett, a Los Angeles native who has crooned with the likes
of Michael Jackson, replaces N'Dea Davenport on vocals.
"Obviously Siedah's brought a whole new different thing to
what we are doing, you know, in terms of the sound vocally.
When you take one lead vocalist and replace another with a
completely different personality, the sound changes
automatically," said drummer Jan Kincaid.
The look and sound of the Brand New Heavies is as decidedly
retro as their clothes and music videos. Kincaid describes
their work as "very eclectic, funky, soulful music."
Guitarist Simon Bartholomew agrees: "It's kind of R&B, isn't
it, with an old flair to it, and a bit of the new, too --
infectious grooves, catchy melodies."
Kincaid picks up the thought again. "(It's) very jazzy as
well. There's so many different things in there as well, and
that's what gives us our sound."
Part of the Heavies' sound has rubbed off on Garrett, and
vice versa. She now asks for fish and chips in a cockney
accent; they tease her with their, like, total Valley Girl
sayings. "Yeah, like totally," says Bartholomew.
And while Garrett says she's having the time of her life
touring around the world with the Heavies, the
singer-songwriter still looks back fondly on her past music
experiences, including work with Quincy Jones and a tour with
the King of Pop.
Garrett co-wrote the Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror" and was
the voice opposite Jackson in "I Just Can't Stop Loving You."
"It was like an amazing experience to watch him do his thing
every night, but there were times when we had to give it up
for him and clap for him, he is just a phenomenal, phenomenal
entertainer and I learned a lot from him," she said.
The band's sound, classified as acid jazz by some, has a wide
following. Even that eternal swinger Hugh Hefner proved he
is hip to the Heavies' groovy retro, appearing in a video for
their song "Sometimes."
Correspondent Mark Scheerer contributed to this report.
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