In this world, there are people who can sing, and then….there are those who can “saaaaang”. YahZarah (a.k.a. Purple St. James) is the latter. You would not believe that such a powerful voice is coming from such a petite woman. Her voice ranges from a Chaka Khan-like strength, to the gentleness of, say- a Chante’ Moore. The DC native performed as a background singer for Erykah Badu for many years, then transitioned to being a part of the collective, Foreign Exchange (alongside Phonte’ and Nicolay). All the while, she’s recorded numerous solo projects (by the way, I had the honor of singing backgrounds on her track “Cry” on the “BlackStar” LP :-)) and toured throughout the world.
That’s YahZarah (her stagename – a tribute, combining her grandmothers’ names; Yaa Asantewaa (paternal) and Sarah (maternal) that roughly translates to ”Queen Mother is the brightest star” in Arabic.) the superstar.
Now about YahZarah my friend….
We first met in 2001 when she came to ATL to record at the home I shared with producer Sol Messiah. Not only did she come record, she was a guest for some time and I enjoyed every minute of it. From thrift store shopping together, creating impromptu songs while riding in the car, to watching her create (on my very own wood floors) the most beautiful dresses, using only cotton jersey fabric and scissors. Nothing more. She even made me one! Check it:
YahZarah and I spent many hours in the kitchen together while I cooked. She would tell me jokes, stories about her then boyfriend (and now husband), and how dearly she loves her mother and grandmother. Of course, food was always the third person at the table with us! She enjoyed my cooking and asked for tips on how to incorporate vegan habits into her and her mother’s diet. I happily shared my expertise with her and she was appreciative. So much so that when it was time for her to have her recent show in Atlanta, she had me cater! She left the menu choice all up to me, “…because anything you make is gonna be good” she said.
Having said that, I decided on preparing a variety platter for her featuring jerk tofu skewers, vegetable fried rice, Vietnamese fresh rolls w- a soy-ginger dipping sauce, and homemade empanadas.
She has a new project entitled, “The Ballad of Purple St. James” (in stores NOW) that’s catching a nice buzz on the ‘net and in the streets. Also, you MUST see her perform live when she comes to your neck of the woods. It’s “ahhh-MAY-zeeng”! She consistantly gives a mind-blowing and high-powered show and I’m proud that YahZarah’s ATL show’s “energy” was fueled by EARTHCANDY GOURMET VEGAN CUISINE.
Until then, here’s her dangerously sexy video “The Tickler” for your pleasure…