The multifarious and multitalented Dana Owens, aka Queen Latifah, will be hosting this year’s Grammys, telecast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles (assuming it doesn’t wash away) on CBS, February 13.
“Queen Latifah is an extraordinary Renaissance artist with unparalleled style and substance, and her passion, talent and personality make her an excellent choice as host for our show,” said Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy. “We are delighted to have Queen Latifah as the host of the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards.”
The Queen, who will also perform on the show, is a nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for her extraordinary The Dana Owens Album, of which I wrote:
Queen Latifah’s latest album is an excursion into classic covers (and the cover above isn’t so bad either).
Having conquered hip-hop, television, and film, the Queen is now taking on herself, so to speak, with The Dana Owens Album (produced by Arif Mardin and Ron Fair), wherein she recorded twelve of her favorite soul, blues and pop songs ranging from the ’20s to the ’70s.
The Queen was inspired to cut loose on 20th century standards by the success of her Oscar-nominated performance as Mama Morton in Chicago, where she proved herself a singer to be reckoned with, delivering the goods on “When You’re Good to Mama” and other songs.
Among the tunes on the album are gems from the Al Green (who joins in for a duet on his “Simply Beautiful”), Peggy Lee, Cannonball Adderly, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, José Feliciano and Barbara Lewis repertoires.
Exclusively to we groover-devils here at Blogcritics are a number of full-length, sneak preview numbers from the album. First, check out an extended video preview of recording studio snippets and Dana Owens herself discussing thoughts on the record here (Real) (Windows Media).
Next, bask in Mardin’s full swinging orchestration and Latifah’s impressive take on Dinah Washington’s bluesy “Baby Get Lost” (WM) (Real). Her singing is unmannered, fully present and totally convincing. Would the music be of interest if you didn’t know who the singer was? The answer is a resounding yes. In addition to proving she has the chops, her taste is also impeccable: nothing showy or ostentatious, her phrasing subtle and assured.
Bill Withers’ “The Same Love that Made Me Laugh” (WM) (Real) is equally impresive, a smooth soul workout with swirling strings and classic ’70s wah-wah guitar bolstering the Queen’s emotional but always in-control vocal.
The final available track is a captivating, lightly-Latin rendition of the Mamas and the Papas’ tale of wistful geographic displacement, “California Dreamin'” (WM) (Real), a surprising and audacious arrangement that works like a languid dream.
I can’t wait to hear the rest of this thing – I am sitting here, frankly, stunned. Is there anything Dana Owens can’t do?
The full list of this year’s Grammy nominees is here.