Internationally-lauded vocalist and Harlem native Vivian Sessoms is proud to release her new album LIFE II, on Ropeadope. Following the November 2018 release of LIFE I, Vivian Sessoms now unveils this twelve-track collection as a companion piece that solidifies her almighty return with a truly unique sound. In the company of some of the world’s finest musicians, Sessoms is joined by Shedrick Mitchell, Chris Parks, Donald Edwards, Billy Kilson, Kenyatta Beasley, Vincent Gardner, John Isley, Casey Benjamin, Adi Yeshaya, Charisa “The Violin Diva” Rouse, Sherrod Barnes, Mark Whitfield, Jeremy Gaddie, Meku Yisrael, Gregoire Maret, Dave Archer, Tony Lewis, Eric Brown and Kali Zain Jafari.
Having earned her stripes as a performer with Ryuichi Sakamoto, P. Diddy, Cher, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, P!nk and many others, Sessoms and co-producer/creative partner Chris Parks brings her vast array of experiences to bear on an inspired, jazz-influenced set that proves Sessoms a fiery, forward-thinking artist in her own right. Although Sessoms carries her definitive sonic landscape through to this new album, LIFE II certainly pushes boundaries even more so than its predecessor. With an upbeat, bold approach, LIFE II evokes a sense of urgency- a contrasting feature to the mellow, earthy volume one. Across both records, Sessoms does not shy away from confronting particularly sensitive and emotional issues. With an awareness for the potential difficulty her audience might have had to digest this vast material on one record, the vocalist has tactfully split this music across two. Taken individually, part I sets an apropo tone for part II. With this collection of reimagined gems and dynamic originals, Sessoms aims to maintain a constant dialogue and engagement with her listeners. Amongst many fellow artists, she desperately wants to see an end to the ugly violence against people of color – “There are so many things happening in the world that I care about and want to see change in, but none so much as halting the killing of black people”.
A stand-out track from the album, “I Can’t Breathe (For Erica)” features guitarist Mark Whitfield and confronts the heart-wrench a family experiences upon the loss of a loved one. Amidst the aftermath of several utterly tragic and unjust deaths including that of Eric Garner, Rodney King, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and so many others, the songstress grieved for their lives. She grieved for their families. During her compositional process for this album, Sessoms recalled and reflected upon the thoughts she put to paper just a few days following Garner’s death. “It was really after seeing Erica Garner in an interview about seeking justice for her father when I actually sat down and penned the song,” said Sessoms. She dedicates this tune to her, her strength and her resilience in the face of such a heartbreaking tragedy. Check out the Billboard premiere for “I Can’t Breathe” music video here.
Admiring the layered and nuanced lyrics of “One Thing Leads To Another”, Sessoms presents her individual interpretation of this funky and political song by The Fixx. Sessoms reflects, “I thought in the face of what we are currently witnessing politically, we could do something interesting with this.” Continuing the trend of paying tribute to her musical icons, Sessoms carefully reinvents Stevie Wonder’s “As”. Knowing that some classics should indeed remain untouched, Sessoms devoted some thought to covering this composition – “I feel it’s almost a sacred song for us and to us. It’s one that is so timeless, and the message is so crystal clear.” Featuring Sherrod Barnes and Paradigm, the tenth track of the album, “1 Thing” is Sessoms’ take on one of her all time favourite compositions, co-written by Amerie and Rich Harrison
Vivian Sessoms, with her unerring pitch and dynamism, conjures captivating moods and melodic departures on every song, in ways that couldn’t suit the music better. These elements sum up so much of what is special about LIFE in its risk-taking and endlessly resourceful spirit.
As a young girl from a rich musical pedigree, Sessoms expressed the sense of her presence in history, and as she began to seek career opportunities and landed a gig with the great Ryuichi Sakamoto – it was an experience that would match a vast musical curiosity with her talent. As an ethno-musiciologist, Sakamoto introduced Sessoms (singing in Japanese) to a unique perspective: rather than expanding out from the root, begin from a classical background and add multicultural styles and elements. It is exactly this approach that brings LIFE into perspective. The roots are there in powerful form, and yet a worldly, diverse, and universal aspect is presented in every arrangement and composition
Vivian Sessoms’ work has landed her on renown stages such as Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall,The Beacon Theatre, The Apollo Theatre, Irving Plaza, The Knitting Factory, Bowery Ballroom, Highline Ballroom, Joe’s Pub and many more. She has performed, written and/or produced dozens of jingles, has toured internationally and has made TV appearances on The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The View, The Wendy Williams Show, Soul Train, The MTV Awards, American Music Awards and many more.
# # #