Meshell Ndegeocello | Duke Campus: Reynolds Industries Theater | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Meshell Ndegeocello

Photo by Charlie Gross

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell Ndegeocello 

When: Fri., Oct. 19, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $10-36
www.dukeperformances.org

She's sort of the Shelby Lynne of soul. Like Lynne, Meshell Ndegeocello is a sweet-throated siren who could've skated on the beauty of her voice and slid down that commercial track, but instead pushed her craft forward. Ndegeocello started young, playing Washington, D.C., clubs as a teen and then studying music at Howard University before signing to Madonna's Maverick label. Her 1993 debut, Plantation Lullabies, scored three Grammy nominations as she worked a funky alt-pop sound perfect for the moment's confluence of Lilith Fair, hip-hop and college rock. By the time she released her third album, 1999's breakup disc Bitter, she'd begun losing her prior pop orthodoxy. In the new millennium, she's been a free spirit adventurously expressing herself with hip-hop, jazz, pop and world music idioms in lovingly crafted ways from spare to lush. Her music's smoky mystery exerts a subtle, insistent gravitational pull. Her latest, Pour Une Âme Souveraine, is dedicated to Nina Simone and features several terrific renovations of songs Simone famously covered, including a funky syncopated "House of the Rising Sun," a sweet Afropop "Suzanne" and a dreamy, underwater soul take on "Either Way I Lose." After Friday's 8 p.m. performance at Reynolds, which is a tribute to Simone, she moves to Motorco for a more intimate all-covers show on Saturday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $32 Friday and $24 Saturday. —Chris Parker

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