N’Dea Davenport: She ain’t (just) heavy

Ahead of her catalog-spanning show at City Winery, the Atlanta-born vocalist opens up about some of her biggest non-Brand New Heavie music

Wednesday August 9, 2017 09:21 pm EDT

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When vocalist N’Dea Davenport hits the City Winery stage tonight (Thursday, August 10), she’ll be performing songs not just from her time with the U.K.-based band the Brand New Heavies but also from the extensive catalog of tunes she’s built up before and after joining the acclaimed group. And what a wide-ranging catalog it is from hip-hop to jazz, house and more. But before she treats local audiences to a sonic walk down memory lane, the Atlanta native chatted with CL about the stories behind some her biggest non-BNH projects.

“Trust Me” from Guru’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1: “I had a great relationship with rapper Guru, who I did know when we were much younger in school. And then we met on another level as professionals in music, and he really wanted me involved with the Jazzmatazz project. And it was great because it was that first infusion of jazz live instrumentation and hip-hop. I wasn’t a hardcore jazz musician, though I had the affiliation. But the jazz artists that played on the album like Lonnie Liston Smith, Dr. Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers those guys were so embracing of young people who were interested in jazz. There was no separation of generations.?۝

“I Might Do Something Wrong (Ethan White Raindrops Remix)” by Tortured Soul featuring N’Dea Davenport: “Well I’m a former New Yorker, and the lead singer/drummer of Tortured Soul John-Christian Urich and I met there, we became friends, and we started to write songs together. And also, I saw the band live somewhere, and I thought they were kind of a cousin of the Brand New Heavies. I really, really liked the vibe of where they were coming from, and I always liked their song “I Might Do Something Wrong,” so it was an honor to be asked to work on it.”

N’Dea Davenport, self-titled solo album: “I initially had a solo deal before I met the Brand New Heavies through Delicious Vinyl. But after I made my first departure from the band, it was rewarding to get back to my solo work. At that time, the producers were literally the artists and weren’t allowing artists to express themselves. But with all the production and writing work I had done with the Brand New Heavies, I didn’t want to turn everything over to some producer and not actually keep developing my own production skills. With the solo project, I had the freedom to be the executive producer, find all my musicians, book the studios, write the music, even be the accountant; I controlled every dynamic.”

N’Dea Davenport plays City Winery tonight (Thurs., Aug. 10). $25-$45. 7 p.m. City Winery, 650 North Ave NE, Suite 201, Ponce City Market. www.citywinery.com/atlanta.