If this is anything like “Fire” or “Doin It Again” I’m buying two copies. – Philaflava
New York (June 24, 2010) â€“ Musical powerhouses John Legend & The Roots are presenting fans with a fiery new offering, Wake Up! The upcoming CD, being released by Sony Music on September 21, 2010, will feature soulful music from the 60â€™s and 70â€™s all with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement and consciousnessâ€” effectively telling listeners to Wake Up!
After being inspired by the recent historical Presidential election campaign of 2008, the R&B singer Legend and hip-hop band The Roots felt a need to enter the action. What started as plans for a single quickly developed into a passionate album representing change, hope and activismâ€” not only referencing one particular moment in time, but on a larger scale, holding true no matter what the political climate may be.
The resulting album features eleven profoundly evocative songs infused with sounds of gospel, rock and reggae inflections with hip-hop influences. The album is highlighted by familiar tracks like â€œWholly Holyâ€ by Marvin Gaye and â€œLittle Ghetto Boyâ€ by Donny Hathaway mixed with the more obscure selections of Baby Huey and the Babysittersâ€™ â€œHard Times,â€ and â€œHang on in Thereâ€ by Mike James Kirkland.
â€œThese songs sound so relevant now,â€ Legend says. â€œOn most of them, you wouldnâ€™t change a lyric. â€˜Wake Up Everybodyâ€™ (the albumâ€™s first single, featuring contributions from Melanie Fiona and Common) has four versesâ€”the first one is a general statement, the second is about education, third is about health care, and the fourth is about making a better environment. No editing needed.â€
â€œWhen these songs were written, people were more spiritually in tune,â€ says Roots drummer/musical director Ahmir â€œ?uestloveâ€ Thompson. â€œIt was fresh from the civil rights era and there was a feeling of hope that maybe, yes, someday we will all be free. In 2010, not so much.â€
The album features one original composition, Legendâ€™s song “Shine,” which is featured in Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheimâ€™s upcoming documentary film Waiting for Superman. The song, a “Stevie-Wonder-meets-gospel” stunner, clearly demonstrates the strengths of this specific group of musicians. Wake Up! blends Legendâ€™s expressive, thoughtful vocal interpretations with an element of funk that only The Roots can provide.
Bringing John Legend & The Roots together is an inspired pairing, so logical that itâ€™s a little surprising they havenâ€™t teamed up in a proper collaboration before. John Legend is a six-time Grammy winner whose three albums have all hit Number One on the Billboard R&B charts, and who has collaborated with such artists as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and the Black Eyed Peas. The Rootsâ€”currently visible nightly as the stupendously versatile house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallonâ€”have released nine acclaimed studio albums (including the recent How I Got Over) and redefined the relationship between live instruments and hip-hop.