“With all my heart, I love you baby, stay with me, and you will see my arms, will hold you baby, never leave, cause, baby I believe I’m in lawrve, sweet lawrve…”
That’s not a typo. My 6 year old ears heard and fell in lawrve with the songstress Anita Baker. I didn’t know her name then, but I knew that whenever I was in the grocery store, or playing on the playground and a car drove by blasting WGCI, I stopped and closed my eyes to take in the luscious tone of her voice, style, and range. She was like no one I had ever heard.
My home was filled with music. My mother was a singer and musician and she exposed me to everything at a young age. It also bears mentioning that music was just dope in those days. I remember one of my earliest memories of music is at 4 waking to the smell of bleach and pine cleaner and the sound of The Emotions, mom hitting every note. Her voice, light and airy, rich and saucy, inspired me.
There wasn’t just R&B in our two room apartment, there was classical, gospel, pop, folk, funk, musicals, showtimes and even a little country. My mother’s eclectic musical tastes I formed mine, and so did the time In which I was raised.
By the time I had lost my first tooth, we sang the entire soundtrack of The Sound of Music together. She taught me harmony how sound is a tangible thing by pressjng our foreheads together and letting out an AAAAHHHHHH simultaneously at varying pitches. It was like we carried the power of sound into one another as our notes first crashed and then blended.
I especially took to all things Julie Andrews and classical. There was something so regal and pure about her voice and the way it stretched across those melodies. I had a thing for unique, seasoned and agile voices and songs in minor keys. Something bright and melancholy; dark and enchanting. Music that could invoke feelings of love, longing, and beauty. Songs to ride with the purple dusk and a waning moon. Perhaps a warm summer day at dusk with a big orange sun and tangerine sky, or a sensually rainy day, with gray clouds and the sound of a train horn in the distance.
I couldn’t unwrap the complete meaning of a song like that then, I only knew how it made me feel then, kind of like that tangibility of sound when my mother and I blended voices. I knew that I wanted a love like that. One that would set me up with a crescendo of a drum and send me spinning around in the smooth silk of lawrve, sweet lawrve. The kind that could only be captured in the golden throated vocal stylings of Auntie Anita. For that, this entire album, but especially this song will always have a special place in me, and touch that six year old little brown girl doing the “Anita Baker sway” while singing into my rat tail comb.
Next week: Songwriting/Producing Genius Gary Taylor