TORONTO – THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2016 – JUNO award-winning artist Lorraine Klaasen has a new album out called Nouvelle Journée, or New Day, (Justin Time Records). It’s a stunning collection of songs sung in Tsonga, Sotho, IsiZulu and Xhosa, as well as English and French, that have a slight political tone, infused with hip-shaking, toe-tapping rhythms.
On seeing singer Lorraine Klaasen coming at him with open arms, radiant in her multi-coloured stage outfit, Nelson Mandela, (then on an official visit to Canada), hugged her warmly and said, with a broad smile, “You really are the spitting image of your mother! But can you sing like her?”
Based in Montreal for more than 35 years, Klaasen still has the bearing of a queen. Through her mother, the legendary South African singing star Thandie Klaasen, she decoded the authentic grooves of her country’s Townships. After raising a family in Montreal, she embarked on a brilliant solo career, during which she has delighted music lovers with her irresistible mix of South African sounds, strongly spiced with West Indian flavors.
The award-winning Klaasen has already garnered a JUNO for World Music Album of the Year in 2013, for her Tribute to Miriam Makeba, and the Hagood Hardy SOCAN Award as chosen by her peers, the following year.
Now upon her return to the concert stage, Klaasen presents Nouvelle Journée which translates as “New Day,” and which represents a new beginning!
Nouvelle Journée is an optimistic, danceable record but also a lucid, sincere and engaging work. Not holding back, Lorraine sings in Tsonga, Sotho, IsiZulu and Xhosa – tribal languages of her home country – as well as in English, and all with her charming Soweto accent. The title track even features her singing in French for the first time!
Lorraine Klaasen pays tribute to her mother by covering “Izani Nonke”, a song that stridently criticizes those elected to govern us. “Never trust a politician,” she sings, and goes on to deplore the lack of ethics displayed by these untouchable, high-placed figures, described as “dishonest puppets” who profess to love the people but instead abuse them.
“Where to Now?”, is a poignant, soul-charged ballad that Klaasen wrote nearly 30 years ago, imploring people to have compassion and to condemn greed. “There are a lot of homeless and destitute people and my heart is heavy,” she admits, evoking the migrant crisis currently affecting European countries. She adds, “We can’t ignore what’s been happening in the world today.”
Produced by Washington DC-based Mongezi Ntaka – the incomparable guitarist and producer, with whom Klaasen had already worked in the past, on the album Africa Calling (2008) – the album boasts some top notch musicians. Others on board for the project are the brilliant Congolese drummer Noel Mpiaza and Haitian musician Medad Ernest, who contributes his jazz and gospel groove on the accordion and keyboards. Local musicians completing the roster are Assane Seck, the most in-demand Senegalese artist in town, brothers André and Ross Whitman (of the famed West Indian Soca band Jab Jab), as well as Quebec’s double-bassist extraordinaire Cédric Dind-Lavoie, who has become a fixture on the local world music scene.
And just to add a little extra dynamite to the mix, an irrepressible trio of young backing vocalists (Anne Metellus, Melissa Gresseau, Cynthia Binette), enhance Klaasen’s eclectic repertoire.
Lorraine Klaasen, a born stage performer if there ever was one, is definitely back on the scene and we can look forward to getting our groove on, starting with songs like “Township Memories”, “Polokwane” or “Babalazi,” which brings to mind the South African mega hit “Pata Pata”.
Klaasen’s new album Nouvelle Journée is available now on iTunes geo.itunes.apple.com/ca/album/nouvelle-journee/id1089646941?mt=1&app=music. For more information please visit www.lorraineklaasen.com / www.justin-time.com.