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Shirlette’s Grip Tapes debut “re-imagines” Gladys Bentley, Performs at SxSW, Hopscotch Music Festival
Award-winning, Durham, NC-based poet and musician Shirlette Ammons‘ debut solo album entitled “Twilight for Gladys Bentley” (T4GB) has been digitally released by independent record label Grip Tapes and is available for review.
The album is a ‘re-imagining’ of 1920s blues singer and ‘bulldagger’ Gladys Bentley, a forgotten musical icon whom Shirlette spent a year researching to create what has been called ‘her best album to date.’ Shirlette's 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival performance was named amongst Blurt Magazine's top 10 performances of the festival.
“Twilight for Gladys Bentley” (T4GB) features guest appearances from Sy Smith, W. Ellington Felton, Little Hollow,German rap "Quing," sookee and others. The first single from the album entitled, “Take a Chance” was voted one of the best singles of 2012 by alternative weekly, The Indy. The album is a ‘re-imagining’ of 1920s blues singer and ‘bulldagger’ Gladys Bentley.
Of T4GB, Shuffle Magazine says, “Ammons’ swagger is monstrous on this record….Whether she’s slinging playfully brutal battle raps, louche sex rhymes, or the occasional bout of introspection, she goes in hard, showing more verbal virtuosity than ever before.”
After opening for The Roots at last year’s Hopscotch Music Festival, she will be making her debut solo appearance at the 3-day event this September with assistance from her 3-piece band and very special guests.
Shirlette's most recent collaborative works include a 6-song EP with Chapel Hill based rock band, The Dynamite Brothers called And Lover’s Like. The album includes guest appearances from Justin Robinson (formerly of The Carolina Chocolate Drops), Kelly Crisp (The Rosebuds), Juan Huevos, Greg Humphreys, Yahzarah, Jocelyn Ellis, and Pierce Freelon. Her most recent collection of poetry, Matching Skin featuring The John Anonymous EP was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2008. Shirlette’s first collection entitled Stumphole: Aunthology of Backwoods Blood was published by Big Drum Press in 2002. Her literary work has appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, What Your Momma Never Told You: True Stories About Love and Sex, The Asheville Review and The Journal of the Academy of American Poets amongst other publications. She has recieved a John Hope Franklin Grant for Documentary Studies, The Ebony Harlem Award for Literary Achievement, as well as Emerging Artist Grants from the Durham Arts Council and the United Arts Council. She is also vocalist for the hip hop rock band Mosadi Music whose debut album, The Window, was released in 2006 and songwriter and vocalist for the fusion electronic duo, Jon Anonymous.
Shirlette has shared the stage and/or recorded with such diverse talents as Meshell Ndegeocello, Angelique Kidjo, Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown, Tres Chicas), Chris Boerner (The Foreign Exchange) Daniel Hart (St. Vincent), Django Haskins (Old Ceremony) and Phonte Coleman (Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange) while playing side stages at arena shows featuring Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, and Destiny’s Child.