The Women Who Raised Me (Blue Note)

Kandace Springs

Released March 27, 2020

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Singer and pianist Kandace Springs — whose soulful singing led her late mentor Prince to praise her “voice that can melt snow” — has announced her newest project, The Women Who Raised Me. Produced by GRAMMY-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock) — who produced Springs’ 2016 debut Soul Eyes — The Women Who Raised Me is a tribute album to the female vocalists who most impacted Springs’ music, stylings, and journey.

Alongside the album announcement, Springs has also released the lead single “Pearls,” a song made famous by legendary R&B singer Sade. The track features Kandace on vocals and Rhodes, along with Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Scott Colley on bass, and Clarence Penn on drums. In a black and white video, Springs is featured in a series of vignettes – performing in a studio and wandering about the city on a quest of self-reflection, her stunning vocals giving a vital energy to an iconic song.

The Women Who Raised Me features renditions of songs made famous by some of history’s most iconic vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Astrud Gilberto, Lauryn Hill, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall, Carmen McRae, Bonnie Raitt, Sade, Nina Simone, and Dusty Springfield. The Women Who Raised Me also features a cover of and a collaboration with Kandace’s “ultimate inspiration,” Norah Jones.

“This is an album I’ve been wanting to make forever,” says Springs. “It really expresses my love for all of these singers and gratitude for what they gave me. Each taught me something different and all of those lessons combined to make me who I am now.” Tracked live in the studio, the album finds Kandace singing and playing piano in the company of a pare but able band who all have ties to the artists honored here: Steve Cardenas (Norah Jones), bassist Scott Colley (Carmen McRae), and drummer Clarence Penn (Diana Krall) — that allows her remarkable gifts to shine.

While, Kandace Springs is no stranger to collaboration — she’s worked with everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah to drummer/producer Karriem Riggins (Common, J Dilla, Kanye) — The Women Who Raised Me features notable contributions from bassist Christian McBride (“Devil May Care”), saxophonist David Sanborn (“I Put A Spell On You”), and, of course, Norah Jones. “I didn’t even know what to think,” says Springs of recording with her first musical love. “It’s something I relive every so often, like, ‘Lord, I can’t believe she’s sitting right there.’ It was nerve-racking. I was like, ‘Get it together, Kandace, let’s do this!’” The result is a warm, swirling duet on Ella Fitzgerald’s “Angel Eyes” — an album highlight that proves that Kandace thrives in elite company. From a starkly intimate rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” — the song that first caught the ear of Blue Note Records President Don Was when Kandace auditioned for a record deal in 2014 — to a simmering version of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor,” Kandace is able to add an incredible depth of character and emotion to every phrase. Her virtuosic voice and subtle playing reflect a studied yet adventurous approach to reinventing these canonical works.

Track Listing:

1. Devil May Care (Bob Dorough / Terrell Kirk) featuring Christian McBride 02:59

2. Angel Eyes (Earl K. Brent / Matt Dennis) feat. Norah Jones 06:00

3. I Put a Spell on You (Jay Hawkins) feat. David Sanborn 03:57

4. Pearls (Helen Adu / Andrew Hale) feat. Avishai Cohen 04:44

5. Ex-Factor (Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Dennis Coles / Robert Diggs / Gary Grice / Marvin Hamlisch / Lamont Hawkins / Lauryn Hill / Jason Richard Hunter / Russell Jones / Clifford Smith / Corey Woods) feat. Elena Pinderhughes 05:30

6. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Mike Reid / Allen Shamblin) feat. Avishai Cohen 04:35

7. Gentle Rain (Luiz Floriano Bonfa / Matt Dubey) feat. Chris Potter 03:55

8. Solitude (Eddie DeLange / Duke Ellington / Irving Mills) feat. Chris Potter 04:59

9. The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael) 03:36

10. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life (Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Michel Legrand) 03:59

11. Killing Me Softly With His Song (Charles Fox / Norman Gimbel) feat. Elena Pinderhughes 05:17

12. Strange Fruit (Lewis Allen) 03:36


Kandace Springs: Fender Rhodes, piano, vocals

Steve Cardenas: guitar

Scott Colley: bass

Clarence Penn: drums

Christian McBride: bass (1)

Norah Jones: piano, vocals (2)

David Sanborn: alto saxophone (3)

Avishai Cohen: trumpet (4, 6)

Elena Pinderhughes: flute (5, 11)

Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (7, 8)

Recorded at Brooklyn Recording Studio, Brooklyn, NY, by Andy Taub; Strange Cargo Studio, Los Angeles, CA, by Adam Greenspan
Additional recording at Trout Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY (tracks 7, 8) by Bryce Goggin

Producer: Larry Klein

Mixed by Tim Palmer

Mastered by Bernie Grundman

Design: Katie Moore

Photography: Robby Klein


Kandace Springs attracted Blue Note with a version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” a ballad popularized by Bonnie Raitt, then covered Shelby Lynne on Soul Eyes, and updated “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” deeply associated with Roberta Flack, on Indigo. Honoring the women who raised her has always been one of Springs’ facets — she has also evoked other inspirations less obviously with vocal nuances — but the singer and pianist does it in concentrated form with her third Blue Note album. Like Soul Eyes, The Women Who Raised Me was produced by Larry Klein, who tracked it live with bassist Scott Colley, drummer Clarence Penn, and guitarist Steve Cardenas providing economical and softly luminous core support. Springs’ poised if consistently fiery voice (over her tasteful keyboard work) pays tribute here to singular voices spanning genres and generations, including Lauryn Hill, Nina Simone, and Mainstream-era Carmen McRae, along with the softer-styled likes of Flack, Astrud Gilberto, and Sade. Knowing Springs’ back story, it’s a delight to hear an official recording of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” enriched with Avishai Cohen’s consoling trumpet. Springs’ own held notes ooze romantic resignation. A few exceptions aside, the song choices aren’t adventurous, though Springs skillfully balances reverence with her individuality, treating even “I Put a Spell on You” and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” like they’re no more worn than anything she has written herself. Among the several featured players, bassist Christian McBride, who drives “Devil May Care,” and flutist Elena Pinderhughes, heard on two of the songs with the strongest hip-hop connections, add the most. Springs also gets to duet with formative influence Norah Jones on Ella Fitzgerald favorite “Angel Eyes,” in which the two exchange leads and back one another like longtime play cousins. On the surface, The Women Who Raised Me might seem like a regression, the kind of project that would have made more sense as an introduction — especially since Springs co-wrote some of her debut and almost everything on the follow-up. Only one spin makes it clear that Springs is in her element, and an increasingly fascinating interpreter.

Andy Kellman (AllMusic)