Saidah Baba Talibah

Saidah Baba Talibah will take you on a trip, get you high, bring you to your knees and take you to that place called grace, all in one album. Toronto rock soul songtress Saidah Baba Talibah’s – who’s been described as Living Color-meets-Erykah Badu – debut LP (S)Cream is more than just an album: it’s an experience. The suggestive, choose-your-own-adventure parentheses around the ‘S’ in the album’s title are indicative not only of the album’s lyrical content, but of Saidah as an artist and as a person.

Similarly, following the cues of innovators like Radiohead and Public Enemy, Saidah took an unorthodox approach to funding her upcoming album, letting fans pre-invest in it via a campaign called Make Me Wanna (S)Cream, where fans were rewarded with various gifts, including autographed Saidah albums, raw vegan meals prepared by Saidah and private dinner performances complete with burlesque dancers, depending on the level of investment. Saidah hoped inviting her fans to be involved so integrally in her career by pre-purchasing and thus funding the creation of her album, would strengthen the connection between her and her supporters, and it has. Just come to any Saidah Baba Talibah show and you’ll know it instantly; these fans are invested in Saidah, heart and soul, and it comes across in the energy the crowd feeds her, and of course, she throws it right back at em, only with the strength and gusto that only a seasoned performer like Saidah can.

In Saidah’s own words, “(S)Cream is a collection of dreams, daydreams and realities, that speak from a place of fierceness, vulnerability, insecurity and assuredness. (S)Cream has put away all childish games and is all grown up, but is still searching and getting comfortable in all of her cracks and bulges, turn ons and turn offs. This is my coming out as a woman who likes to talk sex & sensuality, broken-heartedness, not taking anymore shit-ed-ness. I growl. I purr. I go to pretty places, harder places and naked places. I wish you joy, despair, heartbreak, inspiration and to be turned on.”

Born and raised in Canada, Saidah Baba Talibah’s music has been greatly influenced by Toronto’s musical and ethnic enclaves. She first created stories that reflect the multitude of sounds and styles emanating from the city as a founding member of the seminal soul/rock group Blaxam and was prominently featured on their 1998 EP, Kiss My Afro.

The daughter of Salome Bey, Saidah credits the internationally renowned jazz/blues singer and actress for her talent and ambition. In addition to her Tony and Grammy-nominated mother, her uncle, Andy Bey, also a Grammy-nominated musician – she says that growing up in a family where the arts were respected, gave her the confidence to embark on a solo career.

With the encouragement of her family, Saidah entered the Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto, where she received formal training as a dancer and minored in visual arts and music. At 19, she entered the professional musical theatre world as part of the Toronto touring cast of Showboatand eventually won roles in Ragtime, Not Wanted on the Voyage and Love & War. Saidah was honored to be a part of the smash hit, Djanet Sears The Adventures of a Black Girl In Search Of Godand was featured on the original cast CD recording.

Since then, she has accomplished a myriad of artistic projects, such as being a featured vocalist at the Quincy Jones Gala as a part of Harbourfront’s World Leaders Series, hosting the showcases Skiffle in my Ear and Good Sounds Good, also singing with the legendary musical collective. While teaching singing and songwriting to youth, Saidah also provided backup vocals for several of Canada’s Hip-Hop and R&B artists, including Jully Black and Divine Brown. Most recently she’s been touring Canada with multi-platinum selling country singer Johnny Reid. By working with artists from a myriad of musical backgrounds, she found herself discovering new ways to transmit her unique style to the masses.

Saidah’s debut EP The Phone Demos – a collection of songs inspired from using her cell phone to record demo tracks – received nothing but high praise from the likes of NOW, Exclaim, and AOL Spinner, who gave the video from the EP’s “Place Called Grace” its US debut as the AOL Spinner Video of the Day. After sharing the Phone Demo recordings with friends, not only did they love the music, they also remarked that the slightly grainy quality reminded them of the textured sound of early vinyl recordings. The recordings had an eerie similarity with Saidah’s personality: an old soul who creates new and vibrant work with new technology but through her voice and spirit, she acknowledges the musical greats whose spirits helped shape who she is as a dynamic and unique performer.

Saidah explains her musical career as something that is not just a natural extension of her family’s musical legacy, but an organic part of who she is as an individual. And when she performs, all of who she is and will be, pours out.

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