Recycle It!: Joy Denalane Brings In The Heatwave

Monday, December 12, 2011

Music knows no race, culture, or language, and Joy Denalane is proof of that. I had known about Maureen (doesn't she look grand on the cover?), Denalane's now third album that came out this year. Yet, hadn't seen many folks talking about it because's mostly all sung in German, just like her 2002 debut album, Mamani. To be honest, I have a hard time plowing through albums where I'm not fluent in the language, yet, I was urged by QH, a blog compadre of mine, to check out the album further, as I've been a fan of Joy's since Born & Raised became one of my all-time favorite albums back in 2006. Once again I was taken aback by the force that is Joy Denalane as I found myself enjoying the Maureen album in full. A round of applause goes to Joy for once again bridging the cultural gap. For further listening to the album, a couple of video sessions were made to show Joy in her zone and they are well worth the watch.

Sticking to my English guns, I was even more pleasantly surprised at Joy's gorgeous take on Heatwave's "Happiness Togetherness". It's a tune you don't hear too often, but has always left a warm impression on me from years of hearing off of the band's 1978 album, Central Heating, growing up. In my opinion, I've favored this slow jam over their most well-known hit, "Always & Forever". Heatwave has quite an interesting back-story as they were clearly more than the disco floor burners they released or the band where Rod Temperton got his start before being hired as Quincy Jones' in-house songwriter and the man behind Michael Jackson's chart-toppers. TV One's Unsung series had a great episode about Heatwave that opened my eyes to their hustle (and I do mean hustle---seriously, they prevailed over some real bad luck). Joy does Heatwave justice as she sings this with real conviction. Though it may be chill outside at the moment, this is one cut that beckons back sunny summer days.

Pop after the cut to hear Heatwave's original and soak in Joy's version below.

Joy Denalane - Happiness


  1. "Maureen" is my favorite of the three albums. "Mamani" is nice mind you, but a bit too long. She has an lone English number on there, a Billie Holiday cover "I Cover the Waterfront" which is lush.

    My favorites from the new one, are "Rosen" & "Der Tag Ist Nah." Glad you like it. Thanks for the shout out girl.-QH

  2. QH:
    Oh no prob, I had to shout you out for directing me to this! :) I need a few more listens, but if all goes well...this might end up on my end-of-year list.

    To be honest, I haven't heard 'Mamani'. I'm just so conditioned towards 'Born & Raised' and I need to stop being bias and dive into buying it!

  3. "Mamani" is far from a bad album, it is smashing, but Denalane (language aside) got better on each album. I think both her debut & follow-up were a little heavier than needed. "Maureen" is much more tight & focused, and because of that, I label it her best effort. Thus far.
    I listen to a lot of foreign language stuff. I have records in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and know Japanese. Utada Hikaru is one of my favorite singers & opening yourself to other languages is important as a listener. Think about it, everyone else in the world jams to English music, though they may not understand it, they feel it. Our culture (Western) really looks down on foreign language stuff. I began my trek into non-English work with Gloria Estefan & her Spanish recordings in 2002, and haven't looked back since. I think you have more, based on your already broad ear, listening chops for foreign language material than you may think you do. :) -QH

  4. Thanks Jennifer fo the info.
    I actually had my eye on this album too and bought it immediately and was not disappointed. I agree with QH - we are quite spoiled (ie. there is a soul/jazz singer named Nina Vidal who is HUGE in....Japan--language is not an obstacle there.) I haven't decided which of the 3 I love the most - but I enjoy Maureen more and more with each listen (check out her YOUTUBE Maureen Sessions 1-5 where she sings live --her husband [Max Herre] is in the first 1!) As for the language --I too was curious - so with the help of several translators was able to get the gist --check your inbox to see what I mean and I hope you enjoy! I also agree with QH --try Mamani - you will really like it. Also, look out next year for Y'akoto --another Afro-German soul singer--she has an EP out now - Tamba -but the full CD comes next year.

  5. QH and Gracie:
    You guys are so right on those levels about language and music. Americans tend to brush off things that aren't in English because we can be sadly, ignorant. Not to offend anyone, but that's how I sort of see it---We Americans miss out on a lot of great foreign media because of that.

    I gravitate towards more Spanish speaking music, since a) I live and grew up in an area that has a rich Latin culture (San Antonio, Texas, represent!) and b) I have Spanish ancestry in my own family as my late grandmother spoke the language to me so I have a grasp on the dialogue. I'm a HUGE Selena fan. I really hate that she's not with us, she'd probably be just as big of a name as Mariah Carey or Madonna. I also listen to Shakira and Gloria Estefan beyond their English albums. Then on the flip, I also listen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux who sings in French (or yells it whichever way to describe, lol) and I enjoy her work.

    So I am open and I'm also learning. If I had let ignorance win---I wouldn't have discovered what a wonderful album 'Maureen' is---and that is why I'll always love music, it's ability to bridge those gaps.

    I find if kind of crazy that even some English speaking artists find themselves superstars in other countries, but not superstars in the US, their homestead. Once again, that's why I love blogging and the Internet cause you can always find something wild and great.

    Based on your dual praise, I'll be adding Mamani to my Christmas list! Plus I will check out Y'akoto, Gracie. I've been looking for some new blood for 2012 so thanks for the tip!

    LOVE my readers for bringing up such thought-provoking dialogue and music suggestions!

  6. I'm glad to hear that Jennifer and thanks for turning me on to QH's blog - I am just 'discovering it' and the great job he does--I'm getting some great suggestions there too. I too love music in Spanish and agree with you -- all the artists you mentioned --and I too think Shakira in particular has great music in Spanish that you miss out on in English (I loved Pies Descalzos and Dónde Están los ladrones --dos de sus mejores:) I agree --as a culture we tend to isolate foreign language music ---Les Nubians latest for example should be more popular than it is. De nuevo, gracias por las recomendaciones y espero que disfrutes de Mamani y Y'akoto cuando los escuches.

  7. Wow, this is a pretty glowing convo. @ Gracie, thanks for the support, I hope you like the site & there's plenty to discover there, I hope, lol.

    @ Jennifer: Girl, I've gotten heavy into Utada Hikaru this year, I'm only missing her first two LPs, which I'm going to rectify in a month. Are you hip to her? If not, let me know, I'll link you some stuff on Last.FM. She's prolific.

    You're a Zap Mama fan right? If you like Les Nubians, Erykah Badu, and Donna Summer, you'll like Zap Mama.

    By the way, my favorite Shakira album is "Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1" I think I spelled that wrong, lol. On Gloria's tip, "Alma Caribena" remains my favorite, but "Mi Tierra" and " 90 Millas" are hot too, the latter has some of her best vocals. And I always tell people not sleep on Jennifer Lopez's "Como Ama Una Mujer" it is very emotionally intense, lots of atmosphere.-QH

  8. I'm loving this convo too :)

    QH has a great blog! He's real in-tune with music as he gives history lessons with each post :) Totally agree about Shakira. She had kind of this Alanis Morisette vibe going on on 'Donde Esta' that I loved, but I like Shakira with whatever she does---even 'She Wolf', lol.

    I actually forgot about Les Nubians releasing a new album...gosh 2011 has been one for the album releases---I can't keep up! Thanks for the reminder.

    I've heard of Utada a number of times, but haven't really heard anything. Though I know she did something with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis....just never went further. I'm open and curious to hearing more, so clog up my silent wall on!

    Oh yes, I love Zap Mama. Got 'Supermoon' and 'Recreation'...need the rest.

    I'm not that big on Jennifer Lopez, have liked a song here or there (favorite was "Get Right" which everybody HATED---figures, lol), but Gloria Estefan...I grew up listening to that woman so she always gets a pass. I remember hearing cuts from 'Mi Tierra' a lot at the time it was released, '90 Millas' is the one I haven't heard, and I probably need to get around to listen to it.

  9. I like "Get Right," lol. But I enjoy La Lopez. I recommend Zap Mama's "7" LP, right up your alley girl.-QH


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