Saidah Baba Talibah was born to be a performer. Her style and presence emanates from her entire being. I met her at a Danforth coffee shop on a beautiful evening to discuss her art, inspiration and her latest album, RedBlack&Blue. I was immediately struck by her beauty and fantastically theatrical outfit: short shorts, high boots, and a top hat. In this little café, the ensemble could be considered over-the-top on anyone else except Saidah.
Singing is in her blood: her mother was “Canada’s First Lady of Blues” Salome Bey, the legendary songstress who managed to grab a Grammy and Tony award nomination. Her aunt, uncle, cousins and sister are also vocalists. So, music was simply a way of life. Surrounded by music since the womb, it seems almost inevitable that she should inherit the gift of song; and where many people train throughout their childhood and youth only to face years and years of struggle before they get their first break, Saidah was professionally performing theatre.
She’s sung alongside legends Skunk Anansie and Bootsy Collins (my personal punk and funk heroes, respectively) and has travelled all over the world, performing her unique blend of rock, soul, and blues. Now, Saidah is set to release her second album, RedBlack&Blue, a follow up to her debut (S)cream. The album was financed through the crowdsourcing platform for musicians called PledgeMusic.
When asked about the significance of her album title, Saidah tells me that the three colours are representative of her mother, sister and daughter, under the spiritual guidance of her totem animals: The Robin Red Breast, the Black Panther, and the Blue Morpho Butterfly. Totem animals represent different aspects of a person’s being and help guide them through whatever comes their way in life. Just from sitting with Saidah, I can see these three animals reflected in her essence: the persistence of the robin, the sleek and subtle strength of the panther, and the grace of the butterfly – which can also describe her new album (just listen to the recently released single High on YouTube).
While Saidah may have met her PledgeMusic goal, you can still contribute and receive perks such as the RedBlack&Blue album itself, merchandise, and more. You may very well be contributing to the making of another Canadian legend, and 10% of money raised above and beyond the goal goes to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Visit PledgeMusic to see how you can get involved.
WORDS: MELISSA ALLEN
PHOTOS: MARK TYM