“This album is a tribute to the strength of the resilience, dignity and beauty of African slaves deported to America for the purpose of labour exploitation. Africa paid in blood to build America’s structure as well as its art. Thanks to Alan Lomax, we are able to listen to these songs 100 years later, so we may never forget.” Betty Bonifassi
She needs no introduction, but here is her story. Betty Bonifassi became known with The Triplets of Belleville, her collaboration with DJ Champion, and the duo Beast. She is undoubtedly one of Canada’s great voices and exudes a magnetism that is unreal!
At long-last, she is releasing her debut album which will be available September 23, 2014 with the Montreal-based L-A be label. In collaboration with Jean François Lemieux (production and bass), Benjamin Vigneault (drums) and Alex Mac Mahon (production and keyboards), Betty’s ambitious album (which began as music research for Steinbeck’s play Of Mice and Men) pays tribute to African-American prisoners’ songs from the 1920s in the Southern States. These chants helped to maintain the pace of the unbearable and inhuman work.
These songs are what inspired this project, a modern reinterpretation of a work that has already been largely archived by the Lomax family. Alan Lomax (1915—2002), a famous ethnomusicologist, folklorist, musicologist and collector of American music, collected music from the United States, Caribbean, and European nations, which influenced this music. He archived folklore for 52 years.
This album captures the very essence of Betty Bonifassi. She perfectly conveys the intensity of the emotion, pain, and hope in these slave songs, alternating between a range of styles: blues, soul, funk, electronic and rock, adding this extraordinary voice to the mix. From the first single, the haunting rendition of Whoa Buck followed by the hypnotic Grizzly Bear through to the surreal Black Betty, Betty Bonifassi’s album contains 12 great songs of hope (including 2 original works) which will make…history.
In an interview with Sylvain Cormier of Le Devoir, before her performance at the last Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Betty summed it up best: “I have finally found a way to express what has been forever on my mind, what I’ve wanted to achieve in all my projects, The Triplets of Belleville, DJ Champion, Beast, 30 years of music! I’ve been searching for this all my life, and now I have it in my hands! My own in vitro mix!”
2015 tour dates will be announced shortly.