Maya Angelou: Caged Bird Songs

Caged Bird Songs

(Maya Angelou)
Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The world lost an incredible treasure this summer with the death of Dr. Maya Angelou. An incredible personality, legendary poet, and civil rights activist, Angelou was truly one of a kind. The lives she inspired and the minds she informed cannot be underestimated.

Caged Bird Songs was in the works before Angelou passed and it truly is a treat. Angelou’s poetry blends seamlessly into the melodies and syncopated rhythms with a natural flow. The hip-hop bravado in Pow Pow feels just as real as an rapper on radio and Angelou's subtle insults are sharp as knives. Her voice may have a cotton softness, but do not mistake her words for fluff!

The truth and observations presented in Sepia tell of social climbers who’ve forgotten their history as  means of getting ahead. Angelou makes it clear that the shine off of their pomade do’s don’t fool her at all.

Ain’t That blends a whimsical jazz flute and bongos behind artfully autotuned vocals of Angelou singing the praises of black successes. She mixes scenes of eatings beans and going to the opera, presented a nuanced view of blackness. You can hear the smile in her voice as she asks:

Now ain't they bad?

An ain't they Black?

An' ain't they Black?

An' ain't they Bad?

An' ain't they Bad?

An' ain't they Black?

An' ain't they fine?

And as for Angelou’s most famous poem? Still I Rise receives a full gospel choral treatment. Bell tones and hums soar over a classic, foot stomping gospel beat. Clearly saving the best for last, Angelou’s triumphant last line will make you feel that you too can rise.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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