'Still Over The Moon!'
Born and raised in Birmingham, England of Jamaican parents, Julie Dexter is a world-renowned singer / songwriter who has won numerous international awards. A classically trained musician who writes, arranges, composes and produces, Julie is considered by many to be one of the most important female vocalists of her generation. Deeply influenced by legends such as Abbey Lincoln, Billie Holiday and Nancy Wilson, as well as popular icons such as Omar and Sade, Julie takes classic soul to the heart of artistry.
Julie Dexter's artistic passion flows through her latest recording, Conscious, which reflects upon what she perceives as the highest principle of life. While consciousness provides us with our perception of the world and our relationship to it, Conscious conveys Julie's insightful musings on love, trust, and the plight of perserverance. Within this disc Julie addresses the superficial limits of "life", trancending its biological definition by acknowledging its spiritual essence. "Its not enough for us to walk the earth day by day without questioning our purpose for being." Julie asserts, furthermore, that as human beings our blood keeps us alive, yet it is through consciousness that we thrive. As such she compels us in the disc's title track to re-evaluate ourselves as she rhetorically asks, "How you're living?.”
Julie Dexter's myriad musical manifestations have astounded fans and critics across the globe. Over the past seven years Julie's career has taken her through the circles of jazz, broken-beat, bossa-nova, and soul. The dynamic voice of Julie Dexter was first heard in 1997 on Dune Records' release of J-Life, a UK group led by Jason Yarde, that sought to invigorate the public concept of Jazz as a dying tradition. While this debut recording showcased original instrumental compositions and stirring renditions of jazz standards, it also contained a swinging cover of Loose Ends' hit song "Gonna Make You Mine," which amply featured the soulful croon of Julie Dexter. Julie gained her “chops” for cutting her vocals on this record by touring several continents with jazz wunderkind Courtney Pine as a lead vocalist of his ensemble.
This musical school of tough-love learning would also give her the confidence to begin to perform and record as a solo artist, garnering the seven song EP, Peace of Mind (2000) and then later the full-length recording, Dexterity (2002), both of which were independently released on her own label, Ketch A Vibe. These two recordings gained international acclaim for Julie's talents in addition to her collaborations with broken-beat innovator IG Culture ("The Plan" & "Free As") and bossa nova composer Thomas Naim ("Like Ours").
For the past seven years Julie Dexter has spent the millenium sharing the stage with this generation's cutting-edge soul artists, including Jill Scott, Bilal, Amel Larrieux, Donnie, Omar, Jaguar, Rachelle Ferrell, Ledisi, Eric Roberson and Fertile Ground, to name a few. While Julie Dexter is more than able to hold up against her peers, her music has also been praised by them. In time the world will hold Julie Dexter in the same regards as those stellar artists who regard her well.
And now another circle of her musical lifes becomes whole with the release of her latest CD, Moon Bossa a collective gathering with the bass player from the India Arie Band, Khari Simmons.
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? "My influences varied from Bob Marley to Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton, The
Police, Abbey Lincoln, George Michael, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Herbie
Hancock, Barbara Sreisand, Sarah Vaughn, Phil Collins, Roberta Flack ... I
could go on, but it is so vast and so varied. I would say all of these
Artists factor into the type of music that I make today. For me they have
set an example. They have all made music which was relevent when it was made and is still relevant today. I think that is one of the hardest things to do as an Artist today."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your new collaboration CD with Khari Simmons, how would you yourself describe your sound? "I would describe it as a contemporary interpretation of Bossa Nova with flavors old and anew."
Just how did a talent singer from England hook up with the bass player
from the India Arie Band in the first place? "Khari was one of the first musicians I met when I first moved to Atlanta seven years ago. We have developed a strong musical relationship since then and it was only a matter of time before we would eventually end up working together."
Your album title 'Moon Bossa' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? Is there a theme to it, perhaps? "It is actually the title of the first song that was recorded for this album. It is an original composition by Khari Simmons."
With a career that has seen you perform jazz, pop, broken-beat, bossa-nova, and of course soul, in reflection which did you find to be your most personal musical comfort zone? "Jazz, because it is the one art form where you are "allowed" to put your own stamp on a song without being told if it is wrong or right. It is the music which helped me discover and nurture my voice."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "I think it gets easier the longer you've been in the game. When I put my first CD out I was unaware of who my audience was. Now four CDs down the line I can definitely pinpoint my market and even if I choose to change directions I am consciously aware that I may be gaining or losing fans."
Please tell us more about your choice to include the always-wonderful 'Fooled By A Smile' (Swing Out Sister) on this new album? "The song choices for this album were all innitiated by Khari. He pretty much presented everything to me and I had no problems with any of the choices he made. I was actually excited to record "Fooled by a Smile" as it was a favorite of mine when Swing Out Sister first put it out."
Has work begun yet on a follow-up album to 'Moon Bossa,' and if so, any thoughts on what we can expect? "No recording has been done yet, just talk at this point. I think we already have the album mapped out, it's just a matter of recording the songs. I think it would sound pretty much like Moon Bossa just different songs. There are about 4 or 5 songs that didn't actually make the album so there's half your album right there!"
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "I would cover 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' by Tears for Fears, cos I was a big Tears for Fears fan and this was one of my favorite songs of theirs!"
Lastly, and throwing in a comedic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Oh Yeah, it's funny you asked cos I was just thinking to myself where do I need to go to get my next Penguin fix [smile]."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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