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ANGELA BOFILL 2010 FEATURE
ANGEL OF THE NIGHT - BACK FROM THE BRINK
In music, there are comebacks and there are comebacks. Reforming for the big-money gig might be par for the course these days for some überbands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but soul great Angela Bofill’s recent upheavals mean that her forthcoming comeback will have far greater significance than just a tasty payout. Echoing an artist she once came within a hair’s breadth of working with - Miles Davis - she will return to the stage this summer after recovering from not one, but two strokes.

Now more than ever, Bronx-born Angela Bofill’s career feels like a precursor to those of artists like Regina Belle, Anita Baker and even Jill Scott; someone who blurred the boundaries between soul, jazz and r&b. In her smoother moments, as on slow-burn classics like “I Try” and “Song For A Rainy Day”, she also laid the foundations for the slick ‘80s ballad style of artists like Whitney Houston. Another intriguing and often overlooked aspect of Bofill’s career is that she is one of the first Latina singers to find success in the r&b market, working with such heavyweight producers as Dave Grusin, Clive Davis, Narada Michael Walden and The System. Her big, unique contralto voice, composition and arrangement skills (self-penned “I Try”, “Song For A Rainy Day” and “Time To Say Goodbye” still sound like career standouts) and natural sex appeal ensured a string of hits in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, including “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter”, “People Make the World Go ‘Round”, “I’m On Your Side”, “Too Tough” and “Something About You”. Things were quieter toward the end of the ‘80s and through the ‘90s, as they were for many female singers who had come of age in the post-disco years, but Bofill continued to issue intriguing, underrated material up until her most recent official studio album ‘Love In Slow Motion’ in 1996.

She suffered strokes in early 2006 and summer 2007. Benefit concerts were held to help her pay for treatments and physical therapy but recovery was very slow. But remarkably, this July, Bofill will be appearing in a mini-tour called ‘The Angela Bofill Experience’, a narrative and musical presentation of the songs most relevant to her career. Incognito vocalist Maysa Leak will be ‘starring’ as Angela, Grammy®-winning flautist and mentor Dave Valentin will be MD and close friends vocalist Phil Perry and drummer/vocalist Norman Connors will also perform. The show will feature footage from her appearances on The American Music Awards with Michael Jackson, ‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘Soul Train’. Bofill herself will provide a running commentary on the proceedings – it should be quite a story.

‘The Angela Bofill Experience’ opens at the Razz Room in San Francisco on July 22-25.

Matt Phillips is the website editor of Jazz FM. He is a drummer and multi-instrumentalist who has performed with the Shez Raja Collective, Jean Toussaint and Silver Sun as well as fronting his own mattjoplin project. He lives in London.

  
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