Dee Dee Bridgewater, who is best known as a jazz singer-songwriter and radio host, is getting ready to release a new album of soul covers titled Memphis... Yes I'm Ready as a tribute to her hometown.
Above you can listen to the first single from the album, a cover of "Hound Dog," originally written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and made popular by Big Mama Thornton before becoming a huge hit for Elvis Presley.
Bridgewater's rendition of "Hound Dog" is sparse, bouncy, and bluesy, with the singer's biting, fierce vocals dancing around the stylish bass, guitar, and keyboard embellishments. The song is a good springboard for Dee Dee's dynamic vocal ability. Her voice sounds right at home in this slow, blues-oriented setting which is a bit of a departure from her past work.
The Memphis... Yes I'm Ready album features covers of famous songs that helped to define the Memphis southern soul sound of the 1960s and 70s, including Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" and The Staple Singers’ "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)."
Bridgewater explained her intentions behind recording these soul and blues classics to WREG Memphis:
Memphis is truly in my blood. I was born here even though I was three-years-old when I left... I wanted people to be able to recall the original versions, but I wanted them, all of the songs to have a more modern feeling while respecting the originals... I want to honor this city, Memphis, which we call "Soulsville," which has brought so much joy to so many people around the world.
Much like "Hound Dog," about half the album is composed of cover songs not originally by Memphis artists. Bridgewater attributes her version of "Thrill is Gone" to B.B. King, although the original version was written by Roy Hawkins. She credits "Goin' Down Slow" to Bobby Blue Bland, but that was originally written by St. Louis Jimmy and famously recorded by Howlin' Wolf thirteen years before the Memphis recording.
Rather than committing to a survey of Memphis' original soul tradition, the singer pays homage to her childhood experience listening to the radio station WDIA, where B.B. King and Rufus Thomas both worked early in their careers.
Memphis... Yes I'm Ready is set to be released on September 15th on DDB Records / OKeh Records / Sony Masterworks. Pick up a copy of the album on Amazon.
For more, check out Dee Dee Bridgewater's Zumic artist page.