Ladies first, there’s no time to rehearse

I’m divine and my mind expands throughout the universe

– Queen Latifah, “Ladies First”

For today’s mix, I collaborated with the inimitable M.H. to serve a broad swath of soulful, genre-spanning women: from R&B and blues to hip-hop, soul, country, reggae, and funk. Donna Summers leads us in with the radio edit of what, when she first released it as a single on Oasis Records in 1975, totalled at about sixteen minutes and fifty seconds of orgasmic moaning, the mega-hit “Love to Love You Baby.” We float on Dolly’s “Early Morning Breeze” through the melty, ecstatic harmonies of Studio One’s the Soulettes and into Mariah Carey’s timeless “Fantasy,” into what Maya reminds us is one of the best tough-girl songs of our early teens: Toni Braxton’s breakup anthem, “He Wasn’t Man Enough For Me,” and through the lyrical gymnastics of young Queen Latifah and Monie Love. No story line to chart in this mix, really: Erykah Badu plays the prophet, Denise La Salle takes no prisoners, Etta James wreaks havoc over what must be the best horn solo in soul history. A room full of strong women, singing together.

It felt so right and good to make a mix where Denise La Salle rubs shoulders with Toni Braxton, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love—where Sugarpie DeSanto can sing her pre-party dress-up hip-shaker nestled between a progenitor and a disciple, where Mariah links arms with fellow high-voiced angel Dolly Parton. In Sister Soul, Aretha Franklin answers TLC and Big Mama Thornton protects her brood, excoriating the man trying to break into this sonic house of women with the righteous, enormous, “I Smell A Rat.” Maya and I have more rooms to fill with female musicians—stay tuned!

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Big Sound Saturdays: Sister Soul

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