denitia odigie
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denitia odigie

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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There’s little question that Denitia Odigie spent much of the ’90s poring over PJ Harvey and Portishead albums as well as plenty of other eerie, brooding alternative rock. On last year’s self-titled EP—which she recorded with artist/producer Quiet, KY—and a more recent four-song demo, she channels tinges of the grunge aesthetic through her avant-garde melodic sensibility, introspective songwriting and wiry three-piece band. Even with the percussive barrage of electric guitar on songs such as “5 Minutes,” Odigie’s music retains an ethereal frailty, because the low, warm tones of a bass guitar are conspicuously absent. During quieter moments, the Nashville singer-songwriter’s clear soprano and acoustic guitar playing veer into tattered indie art-folk territory, like Cat Power before her Memphis excursion on The Greatest.. ( www.myspace.com/denitiaodigie ) —JEWLY HIGHT - Nashville Scene


Denitia Odigie, pronounced Dah-NEE-Sha Oh-DEE-Jee. A quiet day requires soothing voices to calm the soul. Such is the case of Denitia Odigie, a strong soul with raw appeal to comfort your mind. I definitely like this new music and almost want to keep it as my secret. However, my selfish bones are away on vacation today.

Denitia Odigie’s new work is the Brick By Brick EP, which is available for sale on iTunes and through her MySpace. It is a very short and delicious musical impression of a revived old soul. The sweetness in her voice is a reminder of Corinne Bailey Rae (her look too), with Feist’s folk raw intensity. She’s been nesting her greatness in Nashville since 2005, releasing independent albums. I’m actually quite surprised Starbucks hasn’t snatched her for their inhouse record label, she would be perfect for their collection.

The Brick By Brick EP is a musical mix with a tinge of country, sprinkles of soul, scatters of acoustic and drizzles of caramel gospel.

(Coko Galore for awmusic.ca) - AwMusic.CA


When singer-songwriter Denitia Odigie first got her hands on a copy of the seminal album "Grace" by the late Jeff Buckley, it changed her life.

As an artist, she'd grown up in Houston listening to music and singing along to lyrics. After moving to Nashville to attend college, she continued her singing and playing, hitting up open-mic nights in Music City and taking a songwriting class at Vanderbilt.

But it was "Grace" that inspired her, that opened doors to a world of singing, performing and songwriting that she didn't know existed. Ever since, she's been kicking those doors open, exploring what's on the other side for herself.

"Just the whole album -- from the way it's sequenced and those first low, rumbling notes of 'Mojo Pin' -- I was like, 'I need to sing like this. I want to sing like this man,'" Odigie told The Daily Times this week. "I really started singing along to him and stretching my range out. I started singing from different parts of my body and really opening up, playing different chords on the guitar and becoming somebody who could play to different moods."

With "Grace," Odigie became a singer-songwriter reborn. Playing along to post-grunge radio, as she'd done in her teens ... writing songs from the perspective of a teen ... all those things went out the window. From that moment, she started carving out her own path to the folk-soul siren she is today, a woman whose voice can range from a whisper to a roar within the span of a single song.

To call her voice and music ethereal is an oversimplification -- there's something so graceful and angelic about a song like "Pioneer" that evokes images of a pretty girl in a sundress, pirouetting through a field of flowers, a snapshot from a movie so colorful and vibrant that it doesn't seem real. To go from that to "Personal Savior," a simmering slab of country-blues slide mixed with shimmering R&B that rockets in energy and passion into the stratosphere, is no small feat. But it's part and parcel of Odigie's drive and ambition.

"I've gone through many musical stages -- the last project I put out is just an EP of four songs called 'Brick by Brick,' but sonically I'm the most proud of it," she said. "It's really rich and soundtrack-ish. The one before that had a lot of slide guitar and country influences, and I think one could listen to it and easily think that it came out of Nashville. I'm really excited about where things are going musically."

Odigie recently signed with Nashville-based Weston Boys Entertainment, a small label for which she also works as a songwriter. As her music develops, so do her skills with a pen, and she sees a song as a blank canvas with which she can use words to evoke feelings as much as she does thoughts.

"If I have a whole, free day, I'll just sit there and write a bunch of songs about what's going on in my life," she said. "I really appreciate symbolic writing and songwriting that uses symbolism to give you a concrete idea of what's going on. I like to be multi-conventional -- I want my words and the shape of the words to literally take on a mood, but I also want them to describe something intangible at the same time that I'm telling you what I see is going on."

If it sounds like a complex process, it's OK -- Odigie is a complex girl. On the surface, her residence might get her pegged as a wannabe country star. Her race might earn her comparisons to Tracy Chapman. But the complexities of her music, as well as the power and the passion, are what blow away those preconceptions.

"I realize that when people are thinking about music or any kind of art form that they want to put it into a category," she said. "I mean, before you bite into something, you want to know what's in it so you're not surprised. But I like blowing those stereotypes away. I'm really excited about how my project is broadening and how unpredictable it can be.

"I'm addicted to getting lost in the moment, where I'm not even really in my body anymore. I'm just ecstatic and emotional and passionate, and I'm really drawn to that in other people, so that's the way I communicate. I like going from a whisper to a roar, and I want to get to something that's going to move people, because I'm moved when I'm singing the songs and I'm playing."

- The Daily Times Knoxville


"The Next Big Musical Acts to Come out of Last Week's SXSW: Denitia Odigie is the beautifully comfortable mesh of Corinne Bailey Rae and Nneka on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Her heartfelt vocals dance effortlessly on top of crisp complex Neo-soul arrangements. Denitia is signed to the same publishing company as Jace Everrett (performer of the Trueblood theme song), so we can all expect to see big things in Ms. Odigie's bright and soulful future. " - Joon Bug


"As soon as Odigie opened her mouth, the crowd went silent. She's a smiley, unassuming little lady who looks a lot like Lauryn Hill and laughs like a scheming five year old. But, when she's on stage, you can almost feel her squeezing your heart with her bare hands. Her voice is raw and haunting, and soars unpredictably to unimaginable heights. Between that and her slow electric guitar, Denitia's heart-wrenching love songs are of a dark, soulful ilk that would make Jeff Buckley fans weep. " - Performer Magazine


"Basically everything that Denitia writes or records is “soulful” in some respect, but damn… “Vitality” has got soul. We’re talking Erykah Badu-meets-Chaka Khan, then throw in the most tasteful elevator music, with a little bit of Shelby Lynn—(if the girl had some class)—and that’s what Denitia has dished out. From start to finish, this record is in a constant state of grooving; relaxed or raunchy; sweet or sultry. It’s all there. At the same time, “Vitality” manages to be what is probably the most laid-back set of recordings I’ve heard all year. Few artists can actually accomplish creating a record that not only grooves, but relaxes, from start to finish...fresh and classic." - The Deli Nashville


"Relatively unknown and super-talented, strummer-songwriter Denitia Odigie just appeared out of nowhere on our musical radar, like a flock of swans in airplane formation. Recorded in somebody’s living room with only guitar, organ, mini-moog and voice, the Dream Suite EP is quiet but powerful–pretty sure no amount of tracks could make these original songs shine much better. Must have been a sunny living room." - Okayplayer.com


These days, Denitia Odigie is pondering just about every significant question that a songwriter can have. Where is she at home stylistically? Who should her audience be? What's the best ratio of commercial appeal to artistic expression? Where does she fit in the local music scene? Despite how much is up in the air, she seems remarkably Zen about it all. It's as though the answers are working themselves out.


Contrast is Odigie's fourth release (for the record, she's recorded strictly EPs to date) and—true to its title—it sounds unlike anything she's done before it. Her alt-rock leanings now take a backseat to country-touched soul, and her earlier penchant for abstract lyrics and avant-garde melodies have disappeared altogether. The difference is clear from the very first track, a 3/4 ballad framed in languid slide guitar titled "Missing You." Her girlish cayenne-pepper voice skips from breathy to syncopated to belting, not exactly the kind of singing she was known for in the past.

Some strategic listening kicked off Odigie's shape-shifting journey. "Somewhere along the way I got a hold of some rare Aretha Franklin and it freaked me out a little bit," she says. "I mean, I just listened to it over and over and over again." (The Aretha she's referring to is the 1970 album This Girl's in Love With You.)

"I just connected with that soul feel," says Odigie. "That's my first musical memory—Al Green. So I think it was just a matter of me getting back in touch with the kind of music that really moves me. I think when I was doing more of an alternative thing, it was an unconscious movement from my late teenage years: 'This is the music I've been listening to and this is the music I'm going to put out.' And this whole soul direction has been more of a conscious thing."

Odigie—who completed an art history degree at Vanderbilt in 2004—started thinking more about a songwriting overhaul when she signed her first publishing deal in November with upstart Weston Boys Entertainment. (That offer played a big role in drawing her back to Nashville after a short stint exploring acting opportunities in Atlanta.) "The whole idea of [a publishing deal] has really been a catalyst in me re-approaching songwriting as its own craft. I've not really labored over songs—like, ever—in the past."

"It really was [a time to consider], 'What am I trying to do with my songs?' " she continues. " 'Are these just for me? Or am I trying to really communicate to people, open this up as a reciprocal relationship, me to the audience member?' I would like to speak directly to people to where they would understand me, at least on the second listen."

Late last year, Odigie went on her first proper tour and passed the ultimate performance test: her first-ever show in front of family and friends in her hometown of Houston, Texas. "They loved it," she says. "Times like that, I think back to two years ago: Had I been playing this more abstract, alternative material they would have been like 'What?' And now I'm singing love songs and I'm howling a little bit. And I think older black people get that. I want to communicate to my grandmother. I want her to get it, what I'm saying."

That experience got Odigie contemplating where she fits among her pop-rock musician friends "from that whole Christopher Pizza circle," what her Nashville shows are like and how—once in a blue moon—an industry person will look at her and assume that an African-American woman with a guitar adds up to Tracy Chapman.

Odigie's EP title implies a change in sound, a surprising studio pairing (she recorded it with Darryl Swart, drummer for the Christian rock band Tree63) and the wide range of emotion—from giddy to seething—she covers in five songs. But there's even more to it than that.

"When I named it Contrast I was thinking about Nashville specifically, what an audience looks like at most of my shows—it's a Caucasian-American audience—and how cool it would be to get some racial intermingling going on," says Odigie.

"Artists like Damien Horne and Darnell Levine, what they're doing and the people that I see hanging out at their shows, it's a mix of people. I can sincerely say that. And I think that part of my whole soul bent [came from asking], 'Where am I coming from racially, ethnically, socio-economically—where am I coming from and who do I want to speak to?' I want to speak to a wide range of people. How nice would it be if people who would never be in a room together came to be in a group together because of music? I didn't make that up, but that's a great thought."

- The Nashville Scene


Long-time fans of Denitia Odigie may have noticed a complete 180 in her music. The aptly and overtly named Contrast has shed all of Denitia's precursory alt-rock a la PJ Harvey and instead goes full steam ahead with the soul, mo-town, and gospel. There's very little room for dissention here, whether it be attributed to the recent signing with Weston Boys Entertainment publishing or a lot of trial and error combined with soul-searching. Whatever the case, Odigie has found herself a beautiful formula for music, and if you can't recognize a little wonderfulness in it, then you don't like music.

Her comfort and charisma on stage is just the starting line for a show that was almost flawless, from the musicianship of the band to the background vocals and the general ebb and flow of all the songs. Denitia's band, including the always amazing Dan Cohen on guitar, plus Laura Ezell and Jenny Wood on back-ups managed to enhance the music instead of detract; a notable feat for any singer-songwriter who usually spends time on stage playing those same songs sans a back up band.

While Odigie blew everyone in the room away, and will most likely garner only kind words about Contrast and the performance she gives on stage, I know we still have yet to hear Odigie's masterpiece, something that combines the tried-and-true with the inner raw-ness she shows on her old EPs. So stay tuned to this one. Check out all her work, when you can get your hands on it, starting with Contrast and working back to The Fireworks Session and 2006's Good Causes.
- The Deli Magazine


If it seems like Denitia Odigie hasn’t been much around lately, that’s because she went off to entertain New Yorkers for a while at Googies Lounge, the smaller listening room above the big Living Room rock club. However she might’ve tinkered with her music while she was away, she’s kept at least one thing the same: EPs are still her format of choice. They—not full-length albums—are what she’s been recording all along, and she’s got a brand new one out titled Brick by Brick. Like Odigie’s last one, Contrast, it works a warm acoustic palette and a soul pulse. Above the swaying grooves, though, her melodies never settle into an intuitive soul-style flow, instead spraying emotion outside such well-trod routes. But her lyrics take direct aim. Case in point: “Don’t be such a heartbreaker / It’s not sexy anymore.”

http://www.nashvillescene.com/events/denitia-odigie-w-adam-agin-and-the-wailin-canes-293889/

- Nashville Scene


Album Review
Denitia Odigie, pronounced Dah-NEE-Sha Oh-DEE-Jee. A quiet day requires soothing voices to calm the soul. Such is the case of Denitia Odigie, a strong soul with raw appeal to comfort your mind. I definitely like this new music and almost want to keep it as my secret. However, my selfish bones are away on vacation today.

Denitia Odigie’s new work is the Brick By Brick EP, which is available for sale on iTunes and through her MySpace. It is a very short and delicious musical impression of a revived old soul. The sweetness in her voice is a reminder of Corinne Bailey Rae (her look too), with Feist’s folk raw intensity. She’s been nesting her greatness in Nashville since 2005, releasing independent albums. I’m actually quite surprised Starbucks hasn’t snatched her for their inhouse record label, she would be perfect for their collection.

The Brick By Brick EP is a musical mix with a tinge of country, sprinkles of soul, scatters of acoustic and drizzles of caramel gospel.

Brick by Brick EP, available everywhere for digital purchase.

Video Review
Of the videos on Denitia Odigie’s site, I picked the one below to post. For most parts, I find her quietly mysterious. I hear her voice loud and clear but I don’t really see her. I feel like this video below, although not a complete representative of her, is a glimpse and insight into her creative elasticity. The video is of a noisy background of people chatting while Denitia sings over top with whispering but clear vocals. You can’t really see her except for the fluorescent make up highlighting her smile. It’s quite unique.


http://awmusic.ca/2009/07/18/denitia-odigie-brick-by-brick-ep-review/
- Coko Galore for awmusic.ca


Though based in Nashville, Tennessee, earnest heart-on-her-sleeve singer-songwriter Denitia Odigie follows more closely in the footsteps of the guitar-strumming songstresses you're likely to read about in Paste Magazine than watch on the Grand Ole Opry. Her breathy, sultry voice is complimented by gentle acoustic guitars and occasional electric guitar noodling. And with lines like "you're predictable, but you're running out of fools" and "don't be a heartbreaker; it's not sexy anymore", Odigie's lyrics are likely to resonate with heartsick 20-something indie-pop fans.

Still, there are hints of Nashville throughout the four-song Brick by Brick EP. The chorus of the title track, for instance, features some twangy electric guitar. But it's so low in the mix that it works more as a compliment than a distraction. And during the first verse of the closer, "Oh Well", Odigie's vocal style is reminiscent of the jazz singer Susannah McCorkle, not an influence you'd necessarily expect from a Nashville songwriter. This is tasteful pop music: the product of a modern ear and a world-wise iTunes library, mixed with hints of Odigie's country-music-capital hometown.

http://www.nitesblog.com/2009/07/album-review-denitia-odigie-brick-by.html
- 'NITES blog


Discography

Songs for Sunsets (Independent Release 2012)

Dream Suite (Independent Release 2011)

Vitality (Weston Boys Entertainment 2010)

Brick by Brick (Weston Boys Entertainment 2009)

CONTRAST (Independent release 2008)

The Fireworks Session (Independent release 2007)

Good Causes (Independent release 2006)

Denitia Odigie (Independent release 2005)

Photos

Bio

There's a little bit of country in the soul music of Denitia Odigie—or maybe it's the other way around. From attending Texas rodeos in the '90s to jam sessions in Brooklyn apartments today, the fierce duality of Odigie's music refuses to stop at lame attempts for categorization. Her airy voice is simultaneously subtle and knee-knockingly powerful, comfortingly familiar and totally unique. Her lyrics are uplifting yet often tinged with an exposed heartache. However, one element remains without its opposite: her unrelenting hard work.

With four self-released EP's under her belt, Denitia Odigie (pronounced Deh-NEE-sha Oh-DEE-Jee) released her debut album, Vitality, on Weston Boys Entertainment in 2010. Deli Magazine called it "fresh and classic at the same time," while other reviewers said it left "a delicious musical impression of a revived old soul." Critical praise did not quench Odigie's thirst for creation, however, as a move to New York City in 2010 birthed new music and collaboration at an astounding rate.

Denitia's NYC musical life began with 2011's Dream Suite EP, a stripped down and emotionally bare acoustic spotlight that focused on her subtle compositions. A few months later, another extended-play, Songs For Sunsets, recorded live in a Brooklyn apartment, arrived with unmatched depth and life. Odigie's voice wafts through the rafters on currents of face-twitching guitar licks and despondent saxophone blows. The two EP's share a life thread and the results are a collection of music that OkayPlayer.com called "pure magic."

After touring parts of Europe twice in the first part of 2012, Odigie has gotten right back to business, working on new material with a three-pronged attack. She joined the cast of Brooklyn-based band Recess, helping take their funktastic first single "Between You & Me" to incredible new heights. Next up, her work with Sene continues to explore new boundaries, including an electronic project with the emcee called Denitia & Sene. 2DopeBoyz.com is already frothing at the mouth over the first single, "How to Satisfy Your Lover." And last, but obviously not least, there is Denitia Odigie's renewed focus and vigor for a follow-up solo effort.

"The songs I'm currently recording, I'm finally putting out the things that I'm truly hearing in my heart into the forefront," says Denitia, who counts both home-cooked food and sunsets among her inspirations. "The music I'm producing now is being carved out with more intention and higher concepts. Yeah, I do soul music, but I want to push it a little farther. I'm here with my peers and we're doing the Brooklyn thing and the Brooklyn thing has a legacy. We have to rep."