February 13th, 2012 | Published in Events
Cleveland welcomes soul singer Meshell Ndegeocello to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this Friday, February 17, for an in-lobby concert commemorating Black History Month.
Born Michelle Johnson in Berlin, Germany to the wife of a saxophone-playing army lieutenant, Ndegeocello took to music early and was playing the Washington, D.C. club circuit by her late teens. Demo tapes recorded in Meshell’s bedroom upped her profile, and she soon found herself on the board of directors of the Black Rock Coalition, a New York-based music advocacy group founded by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid. Madonna signed Meshell to her own Maverick (Sire) label in 1993, employing Ndegeocello’s bass and rap skills on the Bedtime Stories album.
But Meshell struck paydirt the following year, joining John Mellencamp on a tag-team cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night.” Propelled by Ndegeocello’s funky bass line, the Dance Naked standout hit number one on AC radio and peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Top 100. A music video for the song put a face to Meshell’s uncommon surname (it means “free as a bird”) and showcased her dynamism at the microphone alongside the chain-smoking Indiana bad-boy. She scored another hit in 1996 with her take on Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (and What Is He to You)?”
Ndegeocello’s issued several albums since Plantation Lullabies in ’93 and guested on countless others by such notable—and musically diverse—acts as The Rolling Stones, Chaka Khan and Alanis Morisette. She toured with Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair in 1998-99, bringing her neo-soul sounds and introspective lyrics about race and romance to increasingly larger audiences. A ten-time Grammy nominee, Meshell continues connecting with today’s listeners, her empowering musical messages about racial and sexual equality resonating more deeply than ever. Her latest CD, Weather, was produced by alt-rocker Joe Henry for Paris-based Naïve Records.
The concert is just the latest in a series of Ladies Who Rock events hosted by the Rock Hall. On February 22nd the Hall will feature a Women in Hip-Hop seminar as part of its ongoing—and free—“Rock and Roll Night School” program. On February 29th Motown songbird Gloria Jones will be the featured guest in a lecture about the impact of African-American women in popular music. The Cincinnati native is perhaps best known for singing the original version of “Tainted Love,” a tune popularized in 1982 by British band Soft Cell.
Tickets for Meshell’s show are $15.00 at www.rockhall.com/events . She’ll also play Oberlin College on March 2nd.