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Released on 07/09/09. Long overdue re-press for this Exotica classic Maya Angelou is known primarily (and deservedly) as a poet, activist and best-selling author, delivering the poem “In the Pulse of the Morning” as part of President Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremonies. She is far less known for her early career as a singer. In 1957, at the age of 27, she made her only sung album to date, Miss Calypso, which consisted of quite respectable calypso songs with pop and world music influences.
Very much in line with Harry Belafonte’s recordings of this period, and no doubt made with the same lightly subversive civil rights agenda, the album features sparse backing from guitarist Tommy Tedesco ( Top L.A. session musician of the ’50s and ’60s, best known as a Phil Spector collaborator) and Al Bello (on congos, bongos, and drums), as well as Miss Angelou’s surprisingly effective singing voice. Miss Angelou also wrote half the songs on the album.
The kitsch masterpiece of a cover features Miss Angelou draped in a slip of a red dress, gyrating next to a fire in the middle of a fake jungle scene. Altogether an unusual sidelight on the work of a great and important literary figure, and let’s not forget, a damn fine record too!
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