The Soul Seen is a retrospective of features that appeared on ISPYSOUL during its acclaimed initial run. These features provide a snapshot in time of key moments in the careers, from fledgling to legendary, of several creative and talented artists. The projects featured are older now, but no less significant. The insights and perspectives they shared, speak to their success and as you will find, still resonate today.
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2003
Alison Crockett Before Your Very Eyes
The catalyst for singer/songwriter, Alison Crockett’s solo debut being named On Becoming A Woman . . . , arrived in the form of a realization of sorts. Well, actually a couple of them. The initial concept revolved around the alias Diva Blue given to her by DJ/Producer, King Britt with whom she worked on the Sylk 130 project, When The Funk Hits The Fan and that spawned the popular underground hit, “Seasons Change”. But when the songs started to unfurl the first realization kicked in – they didn’t really support the concept. Feeling confident about the mounting collection of impressive tracks and rightfully so, Crockett who hails from the DC area, but who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, decided to go with the flow and find a heading that would best underscore their collective tone. That process revealed the defining realization that before her very eyes she had changed. “I changed quite a bit”, Crockett says of herself during the year and a half it took to complete the project. “Not significant changes, but I changed more from a girl to a woman. I started thinking of myself as a woman. And these are women’s songs,” she’s quick to add. “They’re not girl’s songs. They’re not about, ‘ooh will “he” like me’. It’s established. It’s established that there’s an attraction. [It’s established] that they’re having a relationship and they’re having problems. There’s [thinking] that I want more out of life than right now – Things that adults think about. So I figured, this is how I became a woman. I started thinking about all that kind of stuff. And I thought, ‘Ahh, that’ll work!’” And the ellipsis that follows the title is as important as the title itself because it acknowledges she is still growing into this stage of her life – Into womanhood and that of solo artist, both she seems quite ready to embrace wholly.
Indeed the talented vocalist has been traveling a path of steady progression toward this point, especially since her days at Temple University in Philadelphia where she “cut her teeth” on the stages of the storied music town and jazz was her calling. The experience not only brought sharpening of her ability, but also an invaluable glimpse at the kind of vocalist she was becoming – a stylist who although displayed a capacity for the jazz vernacular, clearly was something that harbored other musical influences and desires. Crockett can vividly recall regularly being on the bill with other vocalists of a now defunct club in Philly that while describing the others as either traditional or “smooth jazz”, would leave the space next to her name blank. “I’ve kind of been for a long time that artist that people can’t quite peg”, she says. But that characteristic certainly didn’t keep admirers away. In fact, the style driven by her dynamic voice and seductive delivery wooed several who proved instrumental to her further development and exposure. Folks like King Britt, saxophonist and Bluenote recording artist, Greg Osby as well as Geoff Wilkinson known to many as one of the principals of the rap/jazz unit Us3. Crockett appeared on their release, An Ordinary Day In An Unusual Place, an album touted by many as perhaps their best complete effort due in great part to the addition of her flavorful vocals.
Now with On Becoming A Woman . . . Crockett, who in addition to her vocal and writing skills is a talented pianist, has poured her wealth of accumulated experience and musical influences into a splendid, moving collage of sensual reflection, powerful affirmation and beautifully insightful takes. In the process, a complete look at this utterly mesmeric voice, soulful, strong and scored with individuality is granted and one of the more impressive releases this year revealed.
From the explosive opening track, “Save Me” where Crockett poignantly pleads, “Oh save me from/ loving you/I just promised myself/that I would not fall/in love again so soon” to the last, “Nappy” a celebration of her natural tresses, she shifts through a myriad of emotional colors and situations, but all supporting her tale of maturity. A creatively reworked version of Janet Jackson’s “When I Think of You” gives us Crockett with an endearing sweetness while, “You Know What Happens” finds Crockett in an assertive, seductive mode with a jazzy backdrop declaring a certain someone can’t resist her special lovin’. Sitting in the midst of this very solid collection are “Crossroads” and “Like Rain” both amazing metaphorical looks at telling times in a relationship and strong candidates for instant classic status.
In addition to Crockett’s fine work all over this project is the equally fine musicianship compliments of a talented supporting cast and top-notch production from in-demand guitarist as well as sibling, Teddy Crockett. For him, this marks the emergence of an outstanding young producer destined for big things.
Alison Crockett, who is already enjoying success in the UK, is of course hoping for that and more here in the states with On Becoming A Woman . . . As for those who astutely discover this CD, she hopes they will have what she describes as an “ah ha” moment when listening. “That moment when you say, ‘Ah ha, yeah, I know how that feels,” she explains.
Ah ha, I got it! Right before my very eyes.
Check out Like Rain below, one of the fantastic tracks from On Becoming A Woman . . . and click on the album title to hear more and purchase
Alison Crockett is a splendid and accomplished vocal instructor and music educator back in the DC area. She released a few other impressive and acclaimed projects after the very successful On Becoming A Woman . . . , including Bare and the provocative Mommy, What’s A Depression along with a host of features on others. Although she has not released a project in a minute (we hope that’s something she has plans to rectify sometime in the near future) she is still wowing audiences live in and around the DC area. It would be wise if in that area or if you see her coming to yours that you check her out. You indeed won’t believe the vocal magic that happens right before your very eyes.