By Darlene Donloe
About 13 years ago singer, songwriter Sandra St. Victor had a unique idea that would prove to be brilliant.
She wanted to form a musical group that would include the daughters of some of the music industry’s legendary singers.
She would call the group the Daughters of Soul (DOS). They would go on to tour in 2004 and 2007 and wow audiences with their individual and collective talents.
The DOS includes Lalah Hathaway (Donnie Hathaway), Indira Khan (Chaka Khan), Kori Withers (Bill Withers), Syleena Johnson (Syl Johnson), Lisa Simone (Nina Simone) and Sylvette Stone (Cynthia Robinson and Sly Stone).
The stories each one of these “Daughters” could tell! The similar experiences they could talk about. Theirs is a kind of private sorority with legendary parents and their own natural talent as the price of admission.
The DOS is a three-tiered project: a worldwide tour, soundtrack and a documentary.
In cooperation with PledgeMusic http://www.pledgemusic.com/artists/daughtersofsoul, the Daughters of Soul will go on tour in April 2016.
The tour will be filmed for a documentary by Amsterdam’s award-winning film company, Zeppers Film & TV, along with the Dutch Film Commission.
The documentary will not only feature and have input from the legendary parents, it will include the Daughters’ stories, trials and information on their everyday lives. In addition, a soundtrack will be recorded during the tour helmed by Grammy Award winning producer, Robert Glasper.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, St. Victor and several members of the Daughters of Soul will be at Maverick’s Flat in Los Angeles for a private performance.
St. Victor, a solid music veteran whose most recent album is Oya's Daughter, has recorded with Curtis Mayfield and had her own songs recorded by Prince, Common, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner. She has toured with Freddie Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roy Ayer's Ubiquity, Ziggy Marley and Glenn Jones.
I recently caught up with St. Victor, who has lived in the Netherlands since 2002, but is currently in Los Angeles, to talk about her vision and all things DOS.
Sandra St. Victor
DD: How and when did you come up with this idea?
SSV: It’s a long time coming, honestly. I’ve been in the Netherlands since 2002. I went there because I wanted a break. I was like a gypsy around Europe for a year or so. I guess I’m a failed gypsy because I planted roots. Before I left I was in New York talking to a friend. I told her I wanted to do a show with some friends of mine who are singers who weren’t getting enough light. I immediately thought of Indira Khan. She is my niece. Then I thought of Lalah and then…. And then I realized everybody I was thinking about were all daughters of …holy crap…it was an accidental ‘Aha’. This could be something other than singers getting together. It grew from there. When I got to the Netherlands I talked to some people who said they’d love it. We toured during the 2004-2008 festival season in Europe. It was the original Daughters of Soul - Indira, Lalah and Lisa Simone were the originals. Then there are the spiritual, which includes myself, Nona Hendryx and Joyce Kennedy from Mother’s Finest.
DD: What has been the response to the group?
Incredible. With five or six ladies on stage 5-6 it’s a long show, but the audience is on its feet. The show is two hours and 20 minutes. They sing their songs and their parents’ songs. We also have collaborations. It’s really cool.
DD: What kind of camaraderie do the ladies have?
SSV: It’s very special. I tell folks I’m just a fly on the wall. It’s a little sorority. They have their own lives and relationships. But none of these people share what they share – growing up legacy. On top of that trying to find your own voice when your parent is so revered. There is a spoken and unspoken bond between them. That’s why I decided we have to document this.
DD: Talk about the show at Maverick’s Flat on Sunday, Dec. 13.
SSV: It’s a meet and greet, not a concert on Sunday. We’ll see the trailer. Four of the girls are in town and will do two songs, then a jam session. We can’t do the regular concert because Daughters of Soul is an extravaganza. This is a meet the Daughters of Soul event. The audience can get a vibe for who they are.
The show is about 6:15 p.m. There will also probably be a jam session.
Q: What was the criteria for someone to be involved with this project?
SSV: The thing about the numbers is that there are many people on stage. Can’t have 12 singers all trying to do their thing. I can have a stable or harem of sisters who can do it. Number one, to be involved you just can’t have a name, your talent has to be outstanding. The DNA is there, you can see it but they have to have their own identity. I grew up in the 70s and the artists I listened to were filled with the artists of our generation. They were at the forefront of the ‘move forwardness’ of our time. They were the consciousness of our community. We lack that now.
DD: Was there anyone who wanted to be involved with DOS that you had to tell, “No?”
SSV: Yes, the girl is talented. However, her mom doesn’t fit the criteria.
DD: So there is a tour next year?
SSV: Eventually we will have a big tour. We gotta get these numbers up. The documentary is important.
It’s the most important piece of the puzzle. Talking about who they are is the focal point. The legends will be in the documentary as well.
DD: So talk about how you’re raising funds for this project.
SSV: We’re doing it through the PledgeMusic campaign. It’s like a crowd-funding touring fund for Daughters of Soul. We’re doing this to supplement the offers. We are 60 percent there. We have a month and a half left. PledgeMusic is specifically geared toward music.
DD: So this is for the tour, the soundtrack and the documentary?
SSV: The soundtrack will be produced by Robert Glasper. The documentary and soundtrack is being funded by Dutch Commission. 2016 is the birth of DOS in America.
DD: So, do you perform with DOS?
SSV: I don’t get on stage anymore. My performance will suffer because I’m so busy making everything happen. I need to be 110 percent and I can’t do that while doing this project. Sunday I will do something. I might emcee.
DD: You’re a music veteran. How has the industry changed over the years?
SSV: There is negative and positive stuff. Bad thing is once ‘360 deal’ started coming into record deals, it takes away from artist. They don’t want to do A&R (artist and repertoire) anymore. They want you to come ready made. They want to know how many followers you have and your social stats before considering signing an artist. All of your development has to be on you. That’s not nice. The streaming is a good promotional tool for us. But it pays a pittance next to the royalties we used to receive. The money part is going to be a minute.
(A 360 deal is a business relationship between an artist and a music industry company. The company agrees to provide financial and other support for the artist, including direct advances as well as support in marketing, promotion, touring and other areas.)
The positive side is – you are more in control and at the wheel of your image. You’re more in touch with people. You hear people’s ideas and opinions and ideas.
DD: When you’re not working with DOS, what are you doing?
SSV: I have two little kids and one big one and they are my life. I can’t do an album right now because DOS takes up every waking business moment. I would like to do my next album. After 2016 when DOS is rolling, I can focus on my artistry.
For information on how to donate to PledgeMusic http://www.pledgemusic.com/artists/daughtersofsoul. For information on DOS: daughtersofsoul.com.