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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Mama Told Me go see Dee

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Back in 1995, Dee Lavell released her debut solo album Sanctified. Living in LA at the time, Lavell was new to the music world. But that didn’t stop this nurse-turned-singer hooking up with Motown producers and fellow soul-based funksters. Her tenure was short lived and, moving back to Australia – while she never really left the music scene – Lavell faced a tough divorce, and the death of her mother. But this is one resilient woman, and now, almost two decades later Lavell releases her next album, Mama Told Me.

Dee, what to you is the essence of a great song?

The great songs are ones that many people can relate to – they inspire and lift us out of ourselves. I find melody and rhythm really important and I love songs that make me wanna move.

What happens to you when you are singing… do you go somewhere? How do you keep finding emotional places to give songs such heart?

Singing is like breathing to me, I have to sing! It’s my form of therapy. I cannot imagine my world without it. There is a ‘zone’ that musicians long to find in performance, where everything feels exactly right. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does I value it deeply.

The album you have released is called Mama Told me… What are the most important things that your mama told you?

My mother was the most beautiful person and my best friend. She was greatly loved in the Mullum community, even though she and dad only moved here in 2000. Like many daughters I didn’t always heed what she told me, but she did often remind me to be courageous. I have been told I am very brave.

As a mama yourself, what wisdoms are you planning to hand down to your two sons.

To be kind, considerate, encouraging, strive to be a valuable part of our society and know that you are loved so very much.

What did you set out to achieve when recording the album?

I wanted to make a blues album. I’ve been a soul singer for many years, yet did not believe I could write my own songs until a series of life-changing experiences – relocating to another country, marrying in my forties, infertility, adoption, divorce and caring for my mother with advanced breast cancer, then losing her to that. I found myself coming up with lyrics and melodies quite spontaneously. That’s why I think of them as a gift; they just started writing themselves.

What song/s are you proudest of?

The song titled So I Walked, about leaving my marriage. It became an apology in a way and it was a cathartic experience. The other one is Do Your Thang, an uptempo blues that simply says do what you think is right for your own life and before you jump to judge me, walk a mile in my shoes.

Tell me a little about the band that is going to be performing at the Courthouse and what kind of show we should be expecting!

I’ve always believed that if I surround myself with great musicians, it brings out the best in everyone involved. Most of the players on the CD will be there including Geoff Wright on guitars, Alan Park on piano, Thierry Fossemalle on bass and Pete Wilkins on drums. Guy Kachel will make a guest appearance on harp. There’ll also be horns and backing vocals. Belle Hendrik will open with an acoustic set.

Ms Ilona Harker is co-ordinating the event and Mae Wilde is MC. Belle Benet will be performing something very special and exotic. It will be a ‘Southern Sunday Afternoon’ to remember. Imagine yourself sipping mint juleps on a sultry New Orleans afternoon, while listening to a mixture of blues, soul, sauciness and celebration, with a few surprises!

Dee is launching her new album at the Courthouse in Mullumbimby on Sunday from 3pm.

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