Interview with Chris Whaley of SOBO Magazine..
The first time I heard Albrightâ€™s Sunny One Day, I was literally blown away. The first track, â€œDunno Whatâ€ grabbed me and would not let go. The music of Vivian Sessoms and Chris Parks is splendid from top to bottom and if youâ€™re a lover of great music, it is recommended that you get a copy of this CD as soon as you read this article. Representing Harlem, New York, Vivian has worked (live or in studio) with a plethora of talent that includes Michael Jackson, Diddy, Sinead Oâ€™Connor, and Stevie Wonder. Her skills have taken her all over the world and with the release of Sunny One Day, this is only the beginning of whatâ€™s to come from this intelligent young lady. SOBO recently had the chance to talk to Vivian where she discussed her musical family, her love of James Brown, and her partnership with Parks. Vivian, when did you discover your gift of music? Both of my parents are musicians and I have a lot of musicians in my family as well. I donâ€™t know if I really discovered it but I know that Iâ€™ve always loved to sing and we always sung around the house. It was very normal for us every weekend to have people over playing music. My father was a percussionist and he was a very talented self-taught musician. My mother and my grandmother were both singers and I was always singing. In all honesty, thatâ€™s really how it was. So I take it that your exposure to music was very vast, right? I grew up around a lot of jazz musicians because both of my parents were in the music industry. I think I was always in love with Rufus, Donna Summer, and Natalie Cole. When I saw Natalie Cole, she was singing â€œLucy In the Sky with Diamondsâ€ and I felt like I wanted to do that. However, in my house we listened to everything! My mother listened to Elton John, Electric Light Orchestra, and Chicago and all of that influenced me. Did you attend any special training to enhance your talents? Yes I did. I took piano for many years and I had a classical voice teacher as well. When I went to college it wasnâ€™t for music because at that point I didnâ€™t think that I would be doing music. According to your bio, your father played with James Brown, am I correct? Thatâ€™s correct. He did play with James Brown for a time. Did you ever get to see the Godfather of Soul in action? Let me tell you somethingâ€¦ if you really wanna talk about who influenced me then you can say James Brown! People in my family can attest to this because I was absolutely, positively obsessed with James Brown. Iâ€™ve seen him maybe a hundred times. This was before, during, and after my father played with him because I was always mesmerized by James Brown. When I learned to read and I could see James Brownâ€™s name on the Apollo marquee, my mother knew she better have some tickets! It was like that! James Brown is a genius, Vivian. Heâ€™s the man. I do believe that he is a genius. He is the founder and innovator of what a lot of artists do today. Tell me about your experience working with Ryuichi Sakamoto. That was a great learning experience for me. It wasnâ€™t my first tour but it was a different kind of tour because I would be touring all over Asia and I never been there before. It required me to sing some songs in Japanese and theoretically I had to do things in music that I had never done. It was challenging for me and I was with other musicians on that tour that I really didnâ€™t know. However, being around all those musicians taught me a lot about music and presentation. Since I didnâ€™t go to school for music it was an exciting time for me. Did you find it difficult learning how to sing in Japanese? Not so much because I did it kind of phonetically. Sakamoto taught it to me and sounded it out for me and it wasnâ€™t difficult at all. Since then Iâ€™ve sung in Russian, German, Italian, and Spanish to name a few. So how did Albright come together? Albright is my grandmotherâ€™s maiden name and I named the group as a tribute to her. She believed in me and always supported me and sheâ€™s my ace in the hole. Chris Parks and I came together through mutual friends. He was producing a record and I was one of the guest vocalists. Afterwards, we struck up a friendship and continued to work together the next couple of years and one day, I told him that I wanted to do an album because I liked the work that he did. At the time I was more on a rock thing and I had only heard him do R&B and jazz. We had a meeting, he played me a lot of stuff, and we started writing. Sunny One Day is one of those records in which you canâ€™t skip songs because everyone of them is so good. That is so sweet. Thank you very much for that. Chris and I did what we felt and itâ€™s nice to hear people say that they like it. My favorite track is â€œLove Can Turn You Aroundâ€ which I think is so beautiful. What inspired this song? To be honest, I tell people that I wrote that song for Chris but thatâ€™s not actually true. There are some songs on here that I wrote many years ago and that was one of them. I have always loved that track and just never let it go. People write in all the time and say thatâ€™s their favorite song! What can we expect from Albright in the future? You can expect many things. I have a lot of surprises up my sleeve and thatâ€™s the brunt of what Iâ€™m gonna say right now! Always look to be surprised! Vivian, thank you for speaking to us here at SOBO. We wish you and Chris much success with Sunny One Day and will look forward to what you have to offer in the future. Thank you so much and I appreciate talking to you. Thank you for your compliments and much love to you and your wife and SOBO Magazine.