After winning a JUNO award for World Music Album of the Year in 2013 with Tribute to Miriam Makeba, Lorraine and her co-producer Mongezi Ntaka (former lead guitarist with Lucky Dube) wanted to take their time in choosing material for her next project. For Lorraine Klaasen, it was important to make sure the songs on her new album, Nouvelle Journée, communicated the importance of family, social responsibility, and, as the album title says, the joys of a new day. Known as a melting pot of cultural diversity (not to mention one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite singers) she has done just that.
Born in South Africa, Klaasen has never been shy about paying homage to her many influences, among them her mother, Thandie Klaasen, a highly respected jazz singer. Fortunately for anyone who has ever heard her sing, Lorraine was able to launch her career at a young age due to all the traveling she did with her mother. Accompanying her to performances all over South Africa, Lorraine learned the ropes early. After touring Europe, she eventually made her way to Canada, settling in Montreal. A foray in to musical theatre, a JUNO and three albums later, Lorraine was ready to revisit the infectious, upbeat style of Township music on Nouvelle Journée. Lorraine sings in Tsonga, Sotho, isiZulu and Xhosa languages of South Africa, English and French, with a joy that comes across on first listen.
“This new release is a reflection of where my life is at this point in time. I got inspired to record this CD when I decided to make some changes in my life, which included spending more time with my ailing mother in South Africa. It’s almost like a new beginning for me, as I chose to make sacrifices to get to where I wanted to be. It was important for me to discover more about my beautiful country and reconnect with family, friends and my culture.”
Heading in to the Studio with co-producer Ntaka, recording began at Studio 451 in Montreal in November 2015, with mixing and mastering taking place in the beginning of 2016. Lorraine wanted a calm and relaxed environment for pre-production so she could create the right ‘Township music feel’ that was so important to her. By the time she stepped in to the Studio, she was more than ready. “The recording sessions for this new CD were very calm, but efficient. I always made sure that laughter stayed contagious while we were recording.” The musicians on this project were also a very integral part of the process, even though not all of them were South African. Says Lorraine, “Noel Mpiaza, the drummer, is from the Congo in Central Africa, but he understands the Township music feel very well. Cédric Dind-Lavoie, the upright bass player, laid down some of the most exciting grooves even though this was his first encounter with Township music. Medad Ernest, the keyboard player, was a perfect fit for my recording because he has a good background of Haitian music, which is rooted in African music. And Assane Seck, the second guitarist, who contributed his West and Southern African cross cultural guitar riffs.”
All ten tracks on Nouvelle Journée have special meaning to Lorraine, who wanted to make sure the songs represented her current journey. Title track “Nouvelle Journée” is about being able to start fresh without any regrets or bitterness from past failures, while the gorgeous, piano driven “Polokwane” talks about home, and how your place of birth holds a special place in your heart. The funky, 70s sounding “Make It Right” speaks to being part of a solution to problems that affects others rather than turning away, and the buoyant “Ke Tsepile Bafatsi” is a song about having faith in one’s own abilities by staying positive, drawing inspiration from people who have come before you.
Of course, Lorraine, a born performer, is planning to take the songs from Nouvelle Journée on the road, with a month long US tour starting in mid-October. She can’t wait to share these new tracks with her audience. “Nouvelle Journée is where I’ve always belonged: music from my culture, words that represent my thoughts and a sound that’s all my own. This release fits in perfectly with my previous albums as it is true Township. Come see my show – I’ll make you laugh, I’ll make you cry and I will definitely make you dance!”