Meshell Ndegeocello: Releases Sun Ra Tribute album The Magic City

Meshell Ndegeocello: Releases Sun Ra Tribute album The Magic City
Artists Music

Meshell Ndegeocello a Trailblazer in Music and Activism

With a career spanning over three decades, Meshell Ndegeocello has cemented her status as a pioneer in the realms of soul, funk, and jazz. From her groundbreaking debut album “Plantation Lullabies” to her genre-defying collaborations with artists such as John Mellencamp and Herbie Hancock, Ndegeocello has consistently pushed the boundaries of musical expression while fearlessly addressing issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany, Ndegeocello adopted her stage name as a tribute to African-American activist and musician Miriam Makeba.

Drawing inspiration from a diverse array of influences, including funk legends Sly and the Family Stone, jazz icon Miles Davis, and avant-garde composer Ornette Coleman, Ndegeocello has crafted a unique sonic palette that defies categorization. Throughout her career, Ndegeocello has garnered critical acclaim and commercial success with hits such as “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night),” “Wild Night” (a duet with John Mellencamp), and “Fool of Me,” which earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. In 2024 she claimed the first Grammy Award for a new category, Best Alternative Jazz Album for her Blue Note Album “The Omnichord Real Book”.

Magic City Artists

Meshell Ndegeocello’s discography spans over a dozen albums, each showcasing her virtuosity as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In addition to her musical achievements, Ndegeocello is also known for her activism and advocacy work, particularly in the realms of LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice. She has used her platform to amplify marginalized voices and challenge societal norms, making her a powerful voice for social change both on and off the stage. Now, Ndegeocello continues her tradition of using music as a tool for activism with the release of her latest album, in collaboration with the Red Hot Organization. The album, titled ”The Magic City,” features a collection of newly inspired compositions and reimagined versions of Sun Ra classics. This album was created in collaboration with artists like Marshall Allen who played with Sun Ra in the Sun Ra Arkestra, the young phenom Immanuel Wilkins, Justin Hicks, and Deantoni Parks. The album also features edgy vocal contributions by artist like Pink Siifu and spoken word by a number of other artists including Sun Ra himself. I was able to observe and document the creative process of Meshell working in the studio on film for the upcoming Sun Ra film being produced in collaboration with Red Hot. The focus and collaborative prowess of Meshell was astounding as she channeled Sun Ra, playing multiple instruments including keyboards and her signature bass. She masterfully curated and conducted every aspect of the album and its intricate free jazz compositions. As an artistic nod the artwork on the album was created and contributed by her fellow Grammy award-winning multi-hyphenate jazz vocalist and visual artist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

The Red Hot multi-album series features limited edition one-of-a-kind colored vinyl albums with covers by an eclectic mix of visual artists and musical contributions from a number of innovative musical artists like Georga Ann Muldrow, Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dewitt, Rich Medina, and Sanford Bigger’s group Moon Medicin was assembled by Red Hot to celebrate the visionary artistry of Sun Ra and to draw attention to the urgent need for environmental action to combat climate change and to advocate for climate justice in underdeveloped urban areas. With proceeds from each album sold benefiting climate justice initiatives like the Green New Deal, Ndegeocello once again demonstrates her commitment to using her artistry to make a positive impact on the world.

Red Hot believes that every human has the right to a healthy environment. The Red Hot & Ra series has partnered with several organizations, including The Green New Deal Network, to advocate for climate justice. The writer, David Grandison Jr is a Creative Advisor for Red Hot.

About David Grandison Jr.

Music Origins Project is curated by David Grandison Jr. This site aims to remove the chronological and geographic barriers faced by music aficionados, students and travelers seeking to learn about the origins of the various musical genre while providing a platform for young writers and content creators to be published so that their voices can be heard.