In that perfect world we all like to wistfully evoke, Kayah (Kayah's Official Web site), and Natu ( Natu's Official Web site) and all the other Eastern European R & B/soul divas would be right up there on the American charts with Mary J., Beyoncé and even Jill Scott and her Neo Soul sistahs. In fact, Natu was a founding member of a group called, quite aptly, Sistars.
But…that perfect world doesn’t exist, as we all know. So I’m here to introduce Kayah and Natu personally in the hope that someday soon the rest of the imperfect world outside of Eastern Europe catches on.
They do sing in English sometimes, but you can understand them, somehow, even when they don't. Soul...is a universal language. If you go to those official sites or want to know what the lyrics are in English, just let Google translate them for you--it'll do whole pages, and it's worth the bother.
You can Spotify both artists--to get Natu’s list, you have to search on Gram Duszy, her latest album, but Kayah pops right up. That playlist and my own for both probably will, too.
You can also create Last.fm stations with either name, or Sofa, one of the world’s funkiest EE bands, and take notes as I did, when Sofa first popped up on a Neo Soul station I found there. Using that method, last weekend I found over a dozen new soulful solo artists, rappers and bands I hadn't heard yet. I found most on Spotify, soon after.
I Google’d up an assortment of Kayah and Natu videos to post here as a “quick and dirty” introduction. I'm going to post two selections by each first, so that you can decide which to explore more in-depth--Natu's are both in English. Then, you can go to the "video concert" for your favorite, and just enjoy.
I'm not about to try to spell the names of the ones that are not in English--in fact, I'll dispense with labeling any of them, since YouTube does it for you. And I mean, who cares? Put on those dancin' shoes, and turn it up past 11!
Funkin' with American "human beat box" Chesney Snow--sit tight, once he's done and she begins...well...let the sistah sing...
If you only have time to hear one thing today...make it this soul stirring song...
The songs in the clip above are the way her MTV Unplugged appearance begins--with a whisper...and then...a empassioned roar that made me tear up...and gape. And then the funk begins--listen all the way through, and let the dancing begin...
This one begins a few bars after the song did, but...it's still too good not to be included...
Yes, this is “Get Down On It,” and sorry about the amateurish clip, but…I just couldn’t do a Kayah concert without it.
Bonus clip: If you’re happy and you know it…sometimes, you just go a little nuts. This is Kayah doing exactly that to the rhythms of American “human beat box” Chesney Snow, and the audience applauding appreciatively, but…just…go with it:
Natu's Sistars songs are everywhere on YouTube, and if you're a hip hop devotee or just like it more Old School...this part of the "show" is for you. But be sure to check out Natu on her own, as well.
Natu with Sistars