Georgia Anne Muldrow is all about showing and spreading love. That fact became clear as we discussed the set list for her Tiny Desk performance. She and the band were floating the possibility of swapping the duet with her partner in music and life, Dudley Perkins with another song. But she decided it was more important to showcase their shared love on the song "Flowers," originally from Perkins' 2003 album A Lil' Light.
The first song I ever heard from Georgia Anne Muldrow, back in the early 2000s, was called "Break You Down." The opening line spoke directly to my experience as a twentysomething coming into my own:
"Don't let them make you forget who you are
Don't let them break you down"
I later found that she wrote, produced and performed that song when she was only 17-years old. She possessed talent and perspective beyond her years and I became a fan.
Some time would pass before she eventually released her debut album, Olesi: Fragments of an Earth, in 2006. Since then, she's released well over a dozen, mostly self-produced projects. While much of her music's focus has been on the healing, preservation and education of African American people, the themes are universal: family, struggle and of course, love. The beats are a combination of J Dilla and Battlecat while her voice carries soul that sounds like it was groomed in the backwoods of Jackson, Miss. She's also made a name for herself as a collaborator with artists that include Madlib, Mos Def and Erykah Badu, with whom she introduced the notion of "staying woke" to the world, years before it was appropriated as a hashtag.
During her set, Muldrow performed, reworked and animated versions of the song "Flowers," along with two selections from her latest album, Overload, including an extended and jazzy version of "Ciao."
Georgia Anne Muldrow: lead vocals, bongo drum; Dudley Perkins: vocals; Bronson Garza: bass; Renaldo Elliott: drums; Mokichi: keys
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Adelaide Sandstrom; Photo: Amr Alfiky/NPR