Mariea Antoinette is upping the ante. Her previous albums have been designed to place the classical harp in surprising, unimagined contexts: R&B, jazz and hip hop. The motif expands on her third outing, “All My Strings,” which drops April 24 from Infinity/Maasai Productions. Teaming with producer Allan Phillips, who wrote four songs for the album, Antoinette’s focus is vibrational, celebrating the progress and unique contributions made by stringed instruments in music.
“The idea was to create an organic sound where most of the instrumentation of the album is propelled by vibrating strings - harp, violins, violas, cellos, guitars and bass guitar. ‘All My Strings’ is a tribute to the evolution and the magic that strings bring to music,” said Antoinette, a San Diego native. “I wanted the album to unfold as a beautiful, unexpected story.”
Antoinette began telling the story a couple of years ago when she released the album opener, “Overture,” as a single, which went Top 5 on the Billboard chart and was named Best Jazz Single by the Black Women in Jazz & the Arts Association. With sweeping strings that build to a dramatic crescendo over funky beats, the track provided an exciting preview of what was to come on “All My Strings.” Last fall, Antoinette provided a second glimpse with the release of “That Thing (Doo Woop),” a reinvention of the Lauryn Hill hit. A third sampling came when “Loving You” began collecting airplay and playlist adds last week. The single earned Most Added status at Billboard. Antoinette tells the story behind why she elected to record the Minnie Riperton signature tune.
“For years, Allan (Phillips) had the idea of recording a tribute to my first producer, the late Carl Evans, a founding member of the contemporary jazz group Fattburger. Carl had inspired countless musicians in Southern California and first introduced me and Allan. After years of searching, Allan suggested ‘Loving You.’ The original has a sublime effect that naturally seemed to work great with the harp. Then Allan gathered the surviving original members of Fattburger to record the song. We used a hallmark arrangement typical of Fattburger’s chart-topping style along with the string ensemble that appears throughout ‘All My Strings.’ The result is a fresh and exciting new version of a classic so dear to everyone’s heart. It also honors Carl who taught us to always spread love through our music - no matter what.”
After earning a master’s degree in harp performance, Antoinette debuted as a solo artist in 2003 on the Evan’s-produced “Sexy Paradise.” She began serving as principal harpist with the Los Angeles Southeast Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and later played a private event for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Antoinette also accompanied Ne-Yo during a BET Awards performance. Her 2015 “Straight From The Harp: Special Edition” album, produced by Phillips, went Top 5 on the Billboard chart. Antoinette’s honors include winning a 2018 Black Music Award and the Instrumentalist of the Year title from the San Diego Prestige Awards the same year. In addition to playing club, theater and festival dates with her own ensemble, Antoinette has toured with the female-powered supergroup Jazz in Pink.
“All My Strings” Track-listing:
“Yearning For Your Love”
“All My Strings”
“Sekmet: Lioness Goddess”
“Garden Of Peace”