The edgy and intriguing Nona Hendryx, formerly of the sizzling ’70s super group LaBelle, brings “A Woman’s Bill of Rights Tour” to World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, for one show only at 8 p.m., Sunday, July 15.
Performing at Downstairs Live, accompanied by her seven-piece instrumental/vocal ensemble, Hendryx will present new music from “Mutatis Mutandis,” now available digitally, and set to be released on CD by Righteous Babe Records on July 31.
“That is Latin, and it is a legal term in contracts,” Hendryx said recently in regard to the unusual title of her project. “Meaning basically, changing things that need to be changed - just the things that need to be changed. You can change the names and faces, or the people who are involved in this agreement, but basically, the agreement remains the same.
“In my interpretation, and why I’ve chosen the title, is that over time from my teenage years of going to school, I’ve seen a lot of names and faces change, but a lot of the issues that we face everyday remain the same. So that kind of tells you, if you can look at the title and understand what it means, what’s inside.”
A gifted and insightful songwriter, Hendryx, who hails from Trenton, N.J., wrote the captivating Labelle classics, “Get You Somebody New,” “Come Into My Life,” “Chameleon,” “(Can I Speak to You Before You Go To) Hollywood” and “Messin’ with My Mind,” while the social commentary of “Mutatis Mutandis” includes the thought-provoking compositions “Ballad of Rush Limbaugh,” “Tea Party,” “Transformation” and “Black Boys.”
“Some of them I’d written before, because they were inspired by the major things that have happened since 9/11,” Hendryx explained. “The events of 9/11, the Iraqi War, [Hurricane] Katrina, the earthquake in Japan ... the different things that were like major events that you would think would, in a way, pull people together? It shows how far apart we were. There’s a song called “Let’s Give Love a Try,” which is to me, ‘Okay. We’ve tried all this other stuff. Why don’t we give love a try?’”
Hendryx explained that “A Woman’s Bill of Rights Tour” was inspired by “this whole thing with a woman’s civil rights being decided by a bunch of men in Congress. And the discussions that have been going on in the Senate and the committees about basically trying to legislate a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her life and her body. I just feel that that’s not something you can really legislate — especially for men to make that decision for women! And the whole thing of trying to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.”
While the 10-track “Mutatis Mutandis,” meets the high artistic standard that we have come to expect from Nona Hendryx, she felt that her message would have a greater impact if delivered directly to the people.
“I just felt that the things that I was writing about and that I was feeling and wanting to share, that yes, I could put it out on a CD or do all the stuff online, the social networking, but I don’t understand the impact or what people get out of it unless I see it in the audience, and feel and hear how they respond,” she said.
“And also, I can’t just sit around and be upset and complain about stuff. I need to be out there and be active, and get involved with organizations and have a voice. There are many people like a Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and all the FOX anti-Obama bigots, many of them racists, sexists — all those things. They have the airwaves, and they have a huge following of people who for whatever reason, can’t reason for themselves and just follow the loudest voice. I want to try and be whatever tiny voice I can be to share a difference of opinion.”
Like many veteran artists, Hendryx, a startling and stylish beauty at age 67, is adapting to the massive changes in the music industry, and is making a unique opportunity available to her fans.
“Doing it in this new music industry way and using the social network, everything that I’m doing is coming out of my pocket,” she said. “I made the record, I’m doing distribution with a label for a limited amount of marketing and promotion, but everything else, I have to foot the bill for, so I’m doing a PledgeMusic campaign. If they want to win an iPad, they should go on my PledgeMusic page (www.pledgemusic.com) and try to come up with the answer to the clues that I’m giving. The clues will be in the music, and for $10, they might be the lucky one to win an iPad.”
Hendryx is anticipating her return to Philadelphia, where she once performed regularly at the historic Uptown Theater with Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, and promises that, “You can expect a funky good time! The thing to do is nourish the brain and move the body!” For tickets call (215) 222-1400 or visit www.worldcafelive.com.