Published On: Sat, Jul 14th, 2012

Who is YahZarah? And Did She Just Remix a Prince Classic!?

Tonight I did something I haven’t done in years. Even as I was doing it, I was hesitant that I was making a wise decision. I mean, it’s the 21st century, and I like to think that I’m keeping up with technology. But something in me told me to do right at least this one time.

See, Nduku and I took the night off from playing mommy and daddy. With Najwa at the babysitters, we snuck off to Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park. Now that the derechos have past and the heat is safely back below furnace hot, the evening was perfect for a little neo-soul.

Washington DC’s Tamika Love Jones got the night started, getting the early birds into the mood with her ballads and songs of trials and tribulations. She has long legs — just had to say that. She really got the ladies on their feet when she performed a tribute to Whitney Houston with I’m Every Woman.

Following her was Deborah Bond. It was obvious from the moment she stepped on the stage that she has a lot of character, strong stage presence and knows how to keep your eyes trained on the stage. Though she has a petite shape, she has a big presence on the stage. She also did a Whitney Houston tribute, but it was her Chuck Brown tribute that got people moving.

I’m not sure what it was, but there was a playfulness about her that was just fun to watch. She shook her small frame, she wiggled, she danced, she really added that dimension to music you can’t get from listening to a CD [remember those?], the visual of seeing the artist make the music personal.

Nduku’s separation anxiety was starting to kick in, or maybe it was the wine, but we wanted to hear a bit of YahZarah before we left. I heard of her before, only because she performed a Prince tribute to bring in 2011, but I didn’t make that concert nor heard any of her music.

Man. Tamiko Love Jones was good. Deborah Bond was good. YahZarah? She was phenomenal.

YahZarah’s vocals are amazing. Her stage presence is mesmerizing. Her music has a variety of sounds, all neo-soul, but nothing alike. She glides on the stage even in her skyscraper-high stilletos. I was thoroughly impressed. I mean, whoever she was, I made it point to see her perform again next time she’s performing in DC. And that wasn’t even the best part.

YahZarahShe was telling a story, one of her motivations and mother and, well, the crickets, cicadas and frogs made it difficult to hear everything she was saying. Then the stage went red. The music drowned out mother nature. YahZarah poured herself into the mic, starting off with, “I guess I should’ve known…”

I don’t know how he did it. I’m generally critical of anyone who tries to redo a Prince song. If you’re going to do a musical genius’ song, don’t try to one-up him. However he composes a song, it’s about as perfect as it’s going to get. And if it’s one of his most classic songs of all time, in this case Little Red Corvette, you’re begging to not be taken serious.

Has anyone heard Tom Jones singing Kiss? What about when Trey Songz did Purple Rain at the 2010 BET Awards? Don’t they have agents who aren’t tone deaf? They both would’ve been better off singing the National Anthem. Of Great Britain.

So, YahZarah determined she could do Little Red Corvette. And she remixed it to the point where if you didn’t hear the lyrics, you might not have known it was Little Red Corvette. It was a bit gospelly, much more drippy with emotions, more neo-soully, more something. And she sang it as if she never heard the original tempo before. The original at all.

And let me say, and I chuckle when I say this because I’m surprised I would say this, but her version was the most perfect version of Little Red Corvette I’ve ever heard. And I heard Prince remix his own song thousands of times. And if you’re a Prince fan and you want to revoke my NPG Membership, I’m telling you, YahZarah ripped it!

I mean, I’ve heard Prince songs remade by everyone. Chaka Khan’s most famous song is a Prince song. Maniac Monday by the Bangles from back in the day was written by Prince. I have the better sounding Prince version. DOne in a studio at that. I’ve heard DJ remixes. Countless go-go versions which are always good music. But this rendition of a Prince song is hands down the best Prince song I’ve heard sung by anyone not named Prince.

Let me tell you what I did. I was that impressed, not only with her version of Little Red Corvette, but of her music and vocals and stage presence and everything. So, I did something I haven’t done in so long, I felt old school. I felt like I could hear my homeboy Daz, a huge Prince fan himself, chastising me for what I was about to do. I felt like I was neglecting my child because that’s where my money goes anyway.

I bought a CD. That sounds funny. And unrealistic. But I bought a compact disc with 13 tracks of YahZarah — for an inflated price of $15 at that. When Najwa gets older, she’s going to think I bought a certificate of deposit.

You know, because of the performance YahZarah gave, because this is what she does and I want her to keep doing it, I felt it was only right that I actually supported her in hopes she’ll continue to make great music and perform more often in DC.

Yes, I bought a music CD. And if you get an opportunity to see YahZarah perform — go. And when she’s done, you, too, need to buy her CD.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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