Ms. Wade, a native of Brooklyn, NY, was a first runner-up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition. She's been singing most of her life, inspired at the age of 12 by hearing Sarah Vaughan sing and going on to be a participant in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program. She has since performed off-Broadway in the show "Cafe Society" and has worked with many artists, including the Eyal Viner Big Band. All that won't necessarily prepare you for her powerful performance on "Offering" save to understand that she is as fearless an artist as Ms. Carter. With an ensemble that includes Brandon McCune (piano), Dave Stryker (guitar), Lonnie Plaxico (bass) and Alvester Garnett (drums) plus a major contribution from vibraphonist Stefan Harris, MS. Wade makes this music her own. The way she attacks the lyrics and melody on "Home Is Where The Hatred" is brilliant, her arrangement giving the musicians their wings while she relates the tale of abuse and addiction. Garnett and Plaxico lay down some serious funk on "Ain't No Such Thing As a Superman", echoed in the "wah-wah" guitar and forceful chords from the pianist. The vocalist is right up in the mix, admonishing her audience to stand up on its own and not wait for a super-hero to change the world. The gentle sway of the musicians lead the way into "Song of the Wind" while Harris wraps his handsome lines around both the words and McCune's excellent accompaniment.
The joy that rises from the words and music of "I Think I'll Call It Morning" also reflects who Gil Scott-Heron was as an artist and poet. It's the final track on the CD and echoes the positive "vibes" of the title and opening track where the artist sings "We have something to offer you/We have new love to offer you/And music to offer you/And spirits to offer you/And new love and music to offer you."
Charenée Wade states in the liner notes of "Offering" "The songs I chose to include on this recording I feel speak to truths that still need to be heard." She, along with the great ensemble alongside her, prove once again that music not only has the power to tell stories but also to lead the way to positive change in society. Gil Scott-Heron influenced and continues to influence artists with his songs with messages harsh and damning as well as uplifting and encouraging. Ms. Wade's album is powerful and real, full of truth, music that should be heard throughout the land and the world.
To find out more, go to www.chareneewade.com.
Here's the title track courtesy of Motema Music: