Jul 2008 21



Ain’t nothing like good soul music! It’s clear we love Hip Hop here at PinBoard, but we also love, love, love soul music. You know, real, true, honest soul music!

…So, naturally I was super excited when I discovered the music of Ra-Re Valverde!

This lady not only possesses a voice that has been described as “chocolate silk” by Jill Scott, but has the ability to be truthfully [and sometimes brutally] honest with her words. She’s worked with the likes of Lalah Hathaway and Rahsaan Patterson and while listening to her debut album “A Beautiful Mess” her voice and words give you a real insight into her life and her mind. It’s very rare for an artist to produce such high calibre work on their debut album, but Valverde does so – seemingly with ease.

I caught up with Ra-Re @ her hotel while she was in London supporing Jill Scott on tour and it’s my pleasure to introduce you to her…


Ra-Re Valverde/New York

How was it growing up in NY?

I love New York! It’s got so much flavour, rhythm and movement. I live in Harlem at the moment and I’m really only now learning about it’s history, I truly love it there. I love that you can still see women on Sunday’s wearing their church hats!

What age did you realise you could sing?

Oh, when I was really young. It all began in church, that’s where I had my very first solo. I was so, so scared but I quickly realised I could move people with my voice. Singing is in my family too, my Grandmother was the lead singer in our church singing group (“The Rose Budds”) and my mother sings also and my sister…not so much! [she laughs].

My mom and dad always made sure I was surrounded by music and the arts, so I always knew it was something I wanted to do. I remember every morning my Grandmother used to make us breakfast and sing the same song, every single morning. I never knew why until I asked her one day why she sang the same song every morning and she replied “because that’s my morning song”, I realised then that she loved making us breakfast and singing to us, it made her so happy and from pretty much then onwards, I knew I wanted to sing…

“A Beautiful Mess” is your debut album, can you tell me a little bit about the album and what people can expect?

You’ll get a piece of who I am and where I am as a woman and as an artist. I show a lot of vulnerability on this record. That’s something I don’t normally do and didn’t know how to do until I began making this record.

It’s experimental and not exactly what people may have expected from me [as a soul singer]. I used a lot of different influences including Radiohead (I wont lie, I was introduced to those guys very, very late!), Bjork, Prince’s first album…“A Beautiful Mess” is surprising! I really challenged myself when making it. There’s no bullshit on this record, for real.

My producers Baby Jupiter and László (a German producer that Ra-Re met via Myspace and has yet to meet in person!) really helped me with the sound that’s on the record!

Songs like “Outside the Box” and “Love Will” are pretty inspiring and personal songs. What song do you think is most personal on the album and why?

Hmmm…That’s a good question. [Valverde picks up her album and studies the tracks] Hmmm…I’d say “Outside the Box” is definitely one of them. I surprised myself with that one because when I went into the studio, I didn’t know I wanted to say what I said on that song. I heard that track and those words just came out, it was also the first record I did for the album.

“Love Will” is also definitley one of them too. I was dating my ex-boyfriend [Peter Hadar], who’s also a musician and we were just arguing all the time and so I wrote that song, gave it to him and told him to write his piece and that’s what came out. Honestly, we didn’t argue after that – we said it all on the song!

*While hearing the album, I took notice of the guy featured on that track because his voice so amazing and after learning that in fact Ra-Re and Peter were in a relationship when writing that song intrigued me even more*

…He’s amazing! Really, he’s so talented and his voice is amazing! I definitely recommend you check him out and connect with him… *Advice I have since taken – watch this space!*

Oh, also “May B I’m The 1”. I wrote that song after a night out with my girls. I had had too much to drink, came home and wrote that song. As women, we can be so damn emotional and that song is me saying “OK, maybe this is my bullshit, my fault” etc – you know?

*“May B I’m The 1” is my personal favourite song on the album*

Your voice is so soulful, I wonder, who did you listen to when you were growing up?

I’m a Hip Hop baby. I grew up on that so, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots [they got me through college] and aside from that my mom had a crazy record collection! I recently stole a lot of it so people like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Chaka Khan, Oleta Adams…The greats!

Continue reading after the jump

…And who are you listening to today?

I listen to a lot of underground music, stuff like Georgia Anne Muldrow, Peter Hadar (and not because he’s my ex!), he really is amazing. He’s like the Big Daddy Kane of soul music with his metaphors! I love Adele! She’s so real and her voice is just crazy! Oh! And…The Ting Tings! I ain’t gon’ lie! Let’s be real here, I love those guys!

You’re currently on tour with Jill Scott, that’s huge! How did that come about and how’s it all going?

I’ve been on tour with Jill for around 3 years now. I was working with Lalah Hathaway and she recommended me to Jill. That was around the time of the Sugar Water tour [Jill Scott, Erykah Badu & Queen Latifah] and yea, we were instant family!

But I gotta admit, I was super nervous. It’s funny because there is this friendly rivalry with Philly and New York and I knew I was gonna be the only New Yorker on the tour and so yea, I was pretty nervous but soon as I met everyone, it was all good!

Jill is so amazing. She’s shown me so much love. She’s so honest, I played her my record and she was totally honest with me – thankfully, it was all good! I appreciate her and her personality so much. I’ve learnt so much from her, one of the biggest lessons she’s taught me is to truly connect with your audience! No one does that better that Jill Scott and I’ve learnt how to do that from her…

It’s extremely rare to find singers like you, who not only sing amazingly but also can write real, beautiful and honest lyrics, do you find it hard being the type of artist you are in a business that normally sticks with clean cut, ‘radio-friendly’ artists/songs? In other words, do you ever feel you need to compromise your music to be heard more easily?

Never! See, there’s an upside and a downside to being an indie artist…

The upside is you’re free. You’re free to do the music YOU want to do and make music that means something to you. But the downside is obviously you don’t have that monster [major label] behind you. It’s hard for us as indie artists, but for me comprising is never an option. The moment it becomes unnatural to me, nah – that’s not what I’m about! 

I’m just so thankful! You gotta understand what success is. Yea, I’d love to have a Bentley parked outside, but do I need one? No…? I’m a girl from the Bronx and yesterday I saw the Mona Lisa in Paris! If the world was to end tomorrow – I’d be good.

You’ve already accomplished so many great things, what are your aspirations for the future?

To get better! I want to play more instruments, I want to learn to produce, I want to get better at writing, arranging…I really don’t want to put my finger on what I want to accomplish. I want to be surprised, I want to see where it all takes me, you know? All I do know is, I’m super excited!

And finally…Do you have anything you’d like to say to your UK fans @ PinBoardBlog.com?

Go get the record! HA! Just…be open minded. [“A Beautiful Mess”] Is a true album and is the beginning of something great! Enjoy it and thank you!

People, make sure you go show your LOVE to Ra-Re Valverde over at her Myspace and I IMPLORE you all to go cop her stunning debut album “A Beautiful Mess” from iTunes, Amazon.com, CD Baby or Soul Brothers