Classics: Carleen Anderson – Mama Said (Circa)
No matter what! One of the most exciting periods in the history of contemporary music saw the light in Britain. Of course, how could we ever forget the Disco era in the 70’s? Then how about the heydays of House Music in the early 90’s Stateside??? But what the Brits have done by the end of the 80’s and for about 10 years has simply no name. Redefining the contours of the groove, from Soul to Jazz, Funk or R&B and eventually breakin’ the boundaries while turning hybrids such as Drum & Bass into genres…
Moving to London in the early 90’s, US singer Carleen Anderson brilliantly took her part in this. Collaborating with luminaries such as the Young Disciples, Incognito and the Brand New Heavies among others.
Taken from her 1993 ‘True Spirit’ album which marked her debut as a solo artist, I can’t help seeing an auto-biographical connection in ‘Mama Said’. Even though the theme of the song has more to do with love matters. Not that far away from Amanda Lear‘s ‘Never Trust A Pretty Face’ to a certain extend…
And what a performance Anderson delivers here, reachin’ a rare level of intensity. This over an insane funky bass driven jam with stellar chords and that little street flavor.
Houston, TX native Carleen Anderson had almost no chances to not become an artist. Singing solos in front of the congregation at her grand dad’s Pentecostal church by the age of 3. Playing piano by ear 4 years later. The proximity with her Aunt, Betty Faye Anderson, soprano soloist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, would be for much in her integration of Gospel. Not to mention the ones of her uncle, David Anderson Jr. and his daughters, Pamela and Jhelisa who had had a very successful family Gospel singing group that travelled the Southern US states. And, last but not least, her mom, Vicki Anderson who happened to tour with James Brown. Not to mention her stepfather, Bobby Byrd, who formed a group with the latter in the late 50’s called The Flames.
As many connections who brought her to tour as the opening act for Bobby Byrd & the JB All Stars. This being how she landed in England and met Marco Nelson and Femi Williams, who later formed the Young Disciples. From then, Anderson would collaborate with artists such as Paul Weller, Galliano and Courtney Pine to name a few.
Her relation with The Young Disciples only lasted a few months though. And this despite an obvious complicity. The band releasing only one album – ‘Road To Freedom’ – back in 1991 on Talkin’ Loud. And makin’ quite an impression with ‘Get Yourself Together’ and ‘Apparently Nothin”.
In her will, as a single mother, to provide a secure future for her son, Carleen soon after signed a solo record deal with Circa Records. Teamin’ up with producer Ian Green, she delivered her debut-album – ‘True Spirit’ – back in 1994. An album which got her a nomination as Best International Newcomer Brit Award in 1995. Spanning gems such as ‘Mama Said’ and ‘Nervous Breakdown’.
In 1994 too, she contributed to the ‘Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool’ compilation’. Eventually joining forces with Incognito and Ramsey Lewis on the one of a kind ‘Trouble Don’t Last Always’.
Her second album – ‘Blessed Burden’ – marked a change in her artistic direction… Away from the sampling and drum looping production techniques that set up her previous recordings. This getting the Circa execs to release her from her contract soon after. And her to embark on a worldwide tour with the Brand New Heavies from January 1999 to September 2000.
Since then, Anderson has released 4 extra albums. With the latest – ‘Cage Street Memorial ~ The Pilgrimage ‘ – back in November 2016 on Freestyle Records.