Few ‘90s R&B fans can forget the voice of Amel Larrieux. Her sultry voice was one-half of the radio hit “Tell Me,” a song that continues to be in today’s slow-jam circuit.
Since then, though, her releases have been sporadic. As a solo artist, she released her first album, “Infinite Possibilities” in 2000. Her follow-up album, “Bravebird,” came out in 2004, and it has been six years since her most recent release, “Morning,” hit the shelves. Performing live is Larrieux’s favorite part of being a recording artist.
Fans in D.C. will benefit from her love of being on stage Friday.
“I’m so excited to perform at the Howard Theatre again. It’s a great venue. A lot of times I can bring 150 percent of my energy, but if everything’s not copasetic, it’s not professional. Howard Theatre is half the battle. I love the D.C. crowd. It’s such a music-loving audience. Can’t say I’ve had one funky experience in D.C. It’s always been on the up and up. It’s always been soul-fulfilling. I’m always excited when I’m about to play to an excited and open-minded crowd,” says Larrieux.
Her upcoming album, “Ice Cream Everyday” is currently being mixed and mastered, a part of the recording process that is tedious for Larrieux.
“I don’t like this part. That’s an understatement. I like to write and record. This is the technical part that changes the whole meat of the song. It’s really about the mixing engineer’s style, and that might not be what we’re looking for. We can mix a song three or four times, and have it not be what we’re looking for,” she says.
At the time of this phone interview, Larrieux, who lives in New York, was on a train headed to a show in Richmond, Va. She is touring for the holiday season, and the whole family is in tow.
“My oldest daughter is in my band now for the last three years. My youngest, now 14, is able to travel with us when we’re not going for long periods of time so she can alert her teacher,” says Larrieux. Her husband, Laru, is her manager and producer.
Preparing for her album has not been easy. Performing is her passion. Time in the studio is more like a necessary evil.
“I totally wish I could do without it, but I know a lot of people’s jobs really suck, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining,” says Larrieux.
Owning Blisslife Records gives the Larrieuxs the freedom to spend extra time perfecting a release or touring more often, but it can also be stressful.
“I consider us small business owners, and when you are, it’s all on you, so it’s a lot of responsibility. There’s a person who does better with a 9-to-5, and then there’s a person who does better with their own schedule. I haven’t determined which one I am, but I am independent-thinking,” she says.
Larrieux and her husband came up with her new album title together. Stressed out, Larrieux told her husband and manager she just wished she “could have ice cream every day.” Her husband instantly loved it.
“It resonated with me, because obviously, I’m not going to throw something out there that gluttonous without some meaning behind it,” says Larrieux, who has been practicing yoga for the last five years.
Yoga has taught her to manage stress by being “super present,” or being grateful for each moment, no matter how small.
“I think as a human race, we lose sight of those things that make us intrinsically happy — rat race, status quo, fulfilling someone else’s dream. Obviously, I won’t eat ice cream every day because I’d become a diabetic, but I just needed to find that thing. That thing has been meditation and yoga,” says Larrieux.
In fact, she dreams of sharing her love of yoga with the community, providing classes to young children of color.
“That’s my mission as a songwriter and singer — to be of service to the world. I don’t want to just take up space. It’s not about vanity.”
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