BACK WHERE I BELONG
In spite of the fact that Aireene has never been here, this is where she comes from.
This album is a prequel. The missing link between the songs she never sang and everything she has done to date. On this album, Aireene Espiritu explores the roots that made her the unique voice she is in folk music and simultaneously reveals to us both a powerful persona and a touching glimpse into her background.
We had hints. The clues have been there all along in her phrasing -the personal touch that every singer applies to the basic melody and rhythm of a song. Old-school folkies tend to either minimize this coloration or stick to traditional affectations of Appalachia and the European roots that music came from. Aireene, on the other hand, tends to pull her seasoning from the gospel and R&B end of the spice rack. Where does she get her flavor profiles?
50 years ago another diminutive, Filipino-American singer was carving out a name for herself as an R&B singer and songwriter. Sugar Pie DeSanto’s biggest hit was her 1960 single, “I Want To Know”, which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot R&B Chart. She was signed as a singer and songwriter to Chess Records in Chicago in their heyday of the ‘60s and built a reputation as a dynamic performer whose live shows far surpassed her studio recordings. At 80, Sugar Pie is still with us, performing in 2016.
LVF’s Jim Pugh met Aireene at a folk music conference in 2014. She was playing solo with just a ukulele among hundreds of other performers, but Jim came away with a bug in his ear. Over the next year he developed an idea that seemed out of left field -Sugar Pie’s R&B music with folk singer Aireene singing.
No one familiar with Aireene could have seen this coming or predicted the outcome, but having heard the result, one wonders how there could have ever been any doubt. What you hold in your hand is the perfect sum of pieces no one considered might fit. A gorgeous answer to a question unasked. In spite of the fact that Aireene has never been here, this is where she comes from. This is the look back at the songs she never sang. Aireene Espiritu, back where she belongs…