Tennerz: Zepherin Saint feat. Ann Nesby & G3 – Optimistic (Tribe Records)
UK label Tribe Records going 100 (releases). This with a classy and respectful reinterpretation of ‘Optimistic’ by the likes of label head Zepherin Saint and US diva Ann Nesby. A cut which initially saw the light back in 1991, with production work courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. ‘The uplifting ‘Optimistic’ happened to be one of the landmarks of 40 piece band the Sounds Of Blackness, under the direction of Gary Hines and vocally led by Nesby.
Sounding like a beautiful revival for this timeless classic…
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A Chicago, IL native, Ann Nesby has pretty much gotten herself into the First League. The one of divas such as Martha Wash, Jocelyn Brown or Patti LaBelle for instance.
She began makin’ some noise with girl group The Sensations. But her religious father would put an abrupt end to this 14 years old secular experience. Ann makin’ her first real industry break aged 32, therefore proving unstoppable from then.
It all (re)started from a Nashville songwriters’ contest which led her to the role that would propel her to fame. A lead singing role along with Gary Hines for Sounds Of Blackness. Itself finding its origins in the Russel Knighton formed group The Macalester College Black Chores back in 1969 at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Macalester College.
A vocal and instrumental ensemble whose work bridged gospel, R&B, dance, and jazz, SOB remained more of a local combo during their 15 first years of existence. They would come to higher recognition though when establishing a fruitful partnership with Minneapolis-based production pair Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis by the end of the 80’s. The latter engendering a string of classics. From ‘Optimistic’, the opening cut to their 1991 ‘The Evolution Of Gospel’ album. To ‘Testify’ and ‘The Pressure’ which Frankie Knuckles brilliantly reworked. But also ‘Joy’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’. This in addition to ‘I Believe’ and ‘I’m Going All The Way’.
Nesby made her solo debut back in 1996 with ‘I’m Here For You’. Adding extra goodies to her repertoire such as the boiling hot ‘Can I Get A Witness’. If not the soothing ‘This Weekend’ and its classy title cut, in a vein somehow reminding of Anita Baker. Then firing things up the year after with ‘Hold On’ delivered with remixes courtesy of Mousse T and Blaze.
She then jumped on Disco/House vibes with her cover version of Brainstorm‘s ‘Lovin’ Is Really My Game’, teamin’ up with producers Brian Alexander Morgan and Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley. Then on some more in yer face House tip with the hypnotic ‘Love Is What You Need’ which Mousse T also happened to remix. Eventually joinin’ Jasper Street Co. 2 years after on ‘Praisin’ His Name’…
Then how not to think of her electrifying performance with <strong>The Basement Boys in charge of the production on ‘Shelter’? Meanwhile she would join forces with Kenny Bobien on the Louie Vega produced ‘Spread Love’ back in 2004. Then, more recently with Zepherin Saint on her cover version of ‘Optimistic’. And DJ Spen on ‘I Feel’. Her latest delivery for Quantize Recordings seeing her partnering with upcoming producer EmKayBe on the uplifting ‘Jam’.