Carleen Anderson has done backing vocals on the Bryan Ferry albums Taxi & Mamouna (1993 & 1994)
The quiet, undeniable confidence of her album, "True Spirit" underscores singer Carleen Anderson's unusually rich musical background. Her self-assured style has been germinating since childhood, a childhood steeped in gospel and soul: her mother and stepfather were longtime members of the James Brown Revue; the man known worldwide as the "Godfather Of Soul" was always "Uncle James" to young Carleen.
Her deep rooted talent has rapidly blossomed since 1988, when Anderson joined the J.B. All Stars onstage during a sold-out gig in London, and blew away an amphitheater full of unsuspecting fans. Following that dramatic introduction, she moved to England and earned rapturous praise as an associate of the now-defunct British group the Young Disciples.
The candor of her music has earned Anderson acclaim, and -- sometimes -- baffled listeners. "Men are always asking me why I write about 'women's stuff.' Well, we are all human beings, but so often men tend to miss (or dismiss) anything that may be laid open and bare. They see it as a weakness when it is, in fact, a strength. They should welcome the input that women are now making in music."
From an early age, music has played a vital role in Anderson's life. Her mother, singer Vicki Anderson, toured ceaselessly throughout the 1960's and 1970's with the James Brown Revue alongside Carleen's stepfather, piano player Bobby Byrd, another mainstay in J.B.'s ensemble and writer of numerous funk and soul classics.
During those years, young Carleen was raised in Houston, Texas, in her grandparents' strictly religious home. "I had a very isolated existence," she recalls. "My grandfather was pastor in the church; I was going to church six times a week, playing piano and singing in the choir. For them, the blues was the devil's music -- you dealt with it by praying."
Moving to Los Angeles in her late teens, Anderson received numerous scholarships and awards for her musical abilities, including a prestigious grant to study music education at the University of Southern California. But during this time, she did not plan to follow her parents into show business, preferring instead to pursue an academic role in music.
Things changed for good in 1988, when Anderson's mother coaxed her to come to London to sing in a one-off show with the J.B. All Stars. Carleen was a smash, and began to look at performing as a career. Encouraged by the communal warmth and excitement of the soul music scene in the U.K., she soon moved to England, worked with Bryan Ferry and Paul Weller, and eventually recorded with the Young Disciples, contributing greatly to their 1991 album "Road To Freedom."
Her work with the Disciples earned rave reviews, and continues to be regarded as a milestone in the annals of British soul music. Looking back on the seminal "Road To Freedom," The Face declared "'As We Come (To Be)' and 'Freedom,' stark, chilling ballads written solely by Carleen,...ultimately stood out as the haunting classics of the record."Interview magazine recently concurred, noting "Carleen Anderson was what set the Young Disciples apart from their competition.... While her soaring and sorrowful vocals alone are enough to burn a hole through your heart, it was the songs she penned for the Disciples...that gave the band's music uncharacteristic depth, with lyrics that shifted easily from the political to the romantic."
On her new album, the resonant quality of Anderson's lyrics continues to be matched by the expressiveness of the voice which brings them to life. True Spirit marks the coming of age of a true artist.