Music

Angela Johnson Testifies That Every Kind of Love Will Do on "Inclusion" (premiere)

Photo: Tewelde Medhin / Medhin Photography

Acclaimed R&B singer-songwriter-producer Angela Johnson delivers a salve for the soul on her new single "Inclusion".

"Every kind of love will do," Angela Johnson testifies on her new single from Purpose Music Group, "Inclusion". The statement is right on time. Driven by a sense of belonging and inclusivity, the singer-songwriter-producer commands attention with a bracing yet breezy groove.

"Inclusion" is the latest gem from an artist who's sustained a standard of excellence ever since her solo debut They Don't Know (2002) and her tenure in acid jazz / soul collective Cooly's Hot Box. "At first, I wanted to write a song to celebrate our uniqueness as individuals," she says. "As I got deeper into the idea, I started to feel sad. My heart breaks every time I learn about a child or young adult committing suicide because of bullying. Whether it's in school or cyber-bullying, they are so vulnerable and feel so pressured to hide their true selves from the world.

"From there, the idea evolved into something much more broad. Not wanting to get political, I felt the need to vent out my frustration with the current administration in regard to the treatment of immigrants here in the U.S. It's awful to see how much this country is divided on so many issues. Music is one way to bring us together, even if it's for three or four minutes at a time. We all live under the same sun no matter how we look, act, think, or feel. The title 'Inclusion' seemed to be the most fitting for this song."

Johnson has channeled her frustration into a festive, percussion-driven salve for the soul. The beat powers her voice to scintillating heights. "I knew that I wanted to create an uptempo song, so I started off programming the drums," she continues. "I changed the beat several times before I was satisfied with the feel. Once I added the keys and bass for the verses, I was ready to write the lyrics. It didn't take long for the verses, but it did take some time for me to come up with the chorus. I had so much to say in just a few lines. So, that's how the lyrics, 'There's room under the sun …' came to be."

After recording lead and background vocals, Johnson enlisted Washington, D.C.-based percussionist Leroy "Boogie" Greer plus the ESession Horns of Buenos Aires to round out the track. "Leroy was able to lay down some fantastic percussion grooves to complement the drums," she says. "When it was time to add the horns, I wrote and arranged parts for trumpet, alto sax, and trombone. To complete my vision, I hired ESession Horns to bring it to life." From rousing horn lines to infectious drum and percussion parts, Johnson leads "Inclusion" with masterful musicianship.

As 2018 draws to a close, "Inclusion" forecasts where Johnson might be headed in 2019. "'Inclusion' is definitely setting the pace for my next album," she says. "I feel drawn to making more danceable R&B. Ideas are still flowing and being put together. I don't have a title for my album as of yet. Usually, the title will reveal itself to me when the album is completed. Until then, I plan on releasing a few more singles. I'm excited!"

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