Akina Adderley continues family’s soulful tradition
Written by DAVID DUPONT Festival Program Editor
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:01
When Akina Adderley was just a few years out of college she dreamt of having a normal person’s career.
|Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys
She was rebelling against the expectation of going into the family business.
But “the life of a normal citizen” — working in an office and teaching — just didn’t sit well with her. “I finally had to give in and acquiesce to my nature,” she said.
That meant she started to sing again. She started writing songs. She started doing exactly what you’d expect from someone bearing the a name so associated with American music.
Adderley is the granddaughter of Nat Adderley, a jazz cornetist and composer, most famous for his association with his brother the saxophonist and bandleader Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Her father, Nat Adderley Jr. was a musician in his own right a keyboardist and producer who had a 25-year association with soul music great Luther Van Dross.
Adderley now fronts her own band Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, an ensemble that embodies her own musical heritage as well as the musical inclinations of her bandmates. The neo-soul outfit will perform Saturday at 4:45 p.m. at the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s Main Stage. She’ll also hang around to play a set Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on the family stage.
Playing for families with kids isn’t much of stretch for Adderley. She splits her time as a performer with being a full-time school music teacher as well as having a private music studio.
“Sometimes it’s kind of crazy,” she said in a recent telephone interview, “but it always works out.”
As much as she’d love to devote herself to performing full time, she said, “I realize the market is fickle and the industry is changing”.”
Still, she said, she’d never stop teaching,.
Family lore has it, Adderley said, that she was singing before she was talking. She made her stage debut at 6. Born in Houston and growing up in New York City and Los Angeles, she sang in choirs and musicals and even had a short-lived cover band in seventh grade that played covers of Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes. she ended up attending a performing arts high school in New York and on weekends studied classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music’s prep program. Then she attended Yale University
When she as in college, she was writing songs, influenced Joni Mitchell.
When she went back to music her songs had “ a soulful, bluesy, funk kind of vibe.”
“I was tapping into the music I heard growing up, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway... stuff my dad would play. I just kind of got on that path.”
Her songs also were influenced by the musicians she worked with, a funk drummer, a jazz pianist, a couple rock guitarists, and important to her sound a three-piece horn section.
“I can’t go anywhere without the horns,” Adderley. They are so essential to the Vintage Playboy sound that on the tour that brings her to Bowling Green, she’ll leave behind a guitarist and the percussionist, who also happens to be her husband.
Especially given she’s on before music legend Booker T. Jones, she wanted the best representation of her sound, and that includes the brass.
“The horn section is a voice and each individual members of the horn section is a voice,” she said. “Together there’s this countermelody to what I’m doing.”
That essential to capturing the flavor of the vintage soul and funk.
She’s excited to be playing before Booker T. “He’s a legend.”
Adderley has a soft spot for festivals. Her band came together around a campfire at the High Sierra Festival in California. “We were absorbing so much great music and disparate music,” she said. Then at night “we were jamming based on what we were fed from going to these different shows.”
For Adderley and the band going to festivals “when you can immerse yourself in a lot of different music over a couple days” is like “a field trip.”
“It feeds into what we are as a group. It’s really magical.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 08:08