Grammy-nominated harpist and composer Brandee Younger has released her new album Brand New Life via Impulse! Records. At once a stunning testament to Younger’s power as a composer and a remarkable tribute to trailblazing harpist Dorothy Ashby, the album features Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Mumu Fresh, and more.
On her second album for Impulse!, Younger pays tribute to the enduring legacy of Dorothy Ashby, whose groundbreaking work brought the harp to the forefront of popular genres and has influenced generations of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B musicians. Brand New Life sees Younger lend her inimitable talent to original compositions (including the album’s title track, an evocative collaboration with singer-activist Mumu Fresh), reworks of iconic pieces from Ashby’s catalog, and never-before-recorded works by Ashby.
Younger says of her experience making Brand New Life, “Creating this album has been a longtime dream of mine. I really had a lot of living to do before being able to execute it, genuinely. The finished product is truly representative of where I am now and it is an honor to convey that through the compositions of one of my heroes.”
The first single from the album is the previously unrecorded and evocative Ashby composition, “You’re A Girl For One Man Only.” What may have become a jazz standard of 1960s—had it been recorded at the time of its conception—now emerges as timeless as ever and is colored with the vibrance of the 21st Century via drummer and producer Makaya McCraven’s trademark style.
Younger is also joined on Brand New Life by icons of hip-hop and R&B, many of whom have been inspired by Ashby themselves. DJ and rapper Pete Rock joins Younger for a powerful rework of Ashby’s “Livin’ and Lovin’ in My Own Way,” and also accompanied Younger in a discussion of Ashby’s rich musical legacy on Good Morning America. Meanwhile, 9th Wonder adds infectious production to a new interpretation of “The Windmills of Your Mind,” and Meshell N’degeocello contributes dreamy vocals to Younger’s imaginative take on Ashby’s 1969 track “Dust.”