Music makes you (s)cream


I (s)cream, you (s)cream, we all (s)cream for singer Saidah Baba Talibah!

Bright lights, big singin’/laura billet

Bright lights, big singin’/laura billet

If I only had two words to describe singer Saidah Baba Talibah, they would be power and passion. Even such loaded words, however, do not capture the personality and the vocal strength of this woman.

Saidah Baba Talibah hails from Toronto and was born into a family of musicians. With accomplished and talented singer Salome Bey as her mother, Talibah grew up surrounded and nurtured by music.

“I was dancing in the womb,” She says. “I always felt like [performing] was something that was a no-brainer. What else would I do, become a doctor? My mom’s a singer, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, [and] my sister.”

Talibah developed her love of the performing arts when she went to an arts school, majoring in dance. She has since made a career as a performer, acting and singing. Even if there is no such phenomenon as fate, Saidah Baba Talibah was destined to perform.

“I guess it sounds really cliché, but I come alive on stage,” states Talibah. “I really like being on stage; I really like being taken by the music; and I really like to be surrounded by people who feel the same way about music.”

I have listened to her album (S)cream through and through, and it never ceases to impress. The album is possibly so addicting because of its diversity. Every song is unique in pace, style, and mood. She gives you everything from a sweet love melody to a heavy rock song.

What is consistent throughout the eleven-song album, though, is the energizing, seductive vocals. The album wasn’t named (S)cream just to look different. This album is powerfully provocative and passionate. It isn’t just the impressive combination of blues, rock, and jazz that makes this album make you want to (s)cream, it is the power and emotion that emanates through Saidah Baba Talibah’s voice.

It is seriously impossible to sit still while listening to her music. Even if you aren’t big into dancing, I am willing to bet that you will be inadvertently rocking your hips like a metronome, keeping time with Talibah’s rocking beats.

Watching her live at Folk Fest, I was blown away at how naturally she took over the stage. Her’s was by far my favourite performance of the weekend; her happiness on stage was so genuine it caught the audience and brought us all together into one grooving group. Her music created a frenzy; people were entertained, impressed, and energized by her performance.

Even in her recorded music, Talibah’s personality shines through. Just like you can hear when someone is smiling on the phone, when listening to Saidah Baba Talibah’s album, her smile can be heard through her singing.

t is evident that Saidah Baba Talibah possesses the gift of being a true performer. She easily brought hundreds of folks to their feet and immersed them in music they likely hadn’t heard before at Folk Fest. So naturally, I had to know, what is it that moves Saidah Baba Talibah?

Talibah says, “Anything that’s expressive. Anything that’s soulful. Soul comes in all kinds of music. I think soul is what moves you. And I would say that that would be my inspiration.”

Soul is what feeds passions and radiates energy, and Saidah Baba Talibah does exactly that with her music. So forget powerful and passionate; the adjective that will do Saidah Baba Talibah justice is soulful.

She has now returned to Toronto, after having rocked the Regina Folk Festival, to work on her second album Red, Black and Blue.

“It’s based on the three colours of my totem animals: the red robin, the black panther, and a blue butterfly,” Talibah explains. “It’s [inspired by] the guidance that our totems give us, and also the relationships that I have with three really strong women in my life … how those relationships relate and how I internalize it into living my own life.”

So as we eagerly await Talibah’s second album, as summer ends, and as a new school year begins – whether that fills you with excitement or dread – we would all do well to remember what makes us inspired as we embark on a new year of studies and adventure:

“My advice to anyone,” says Talibah, “is to stay open to being inspired because you never know where inspiration is going to take you.”

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