Oh wow! I can’t tell you how happy I am to have stumbled upon this cracker today! It reminds me of Nora Dean’s Angle Lala in some ways and I’m loving every second of this track!
A powerful woman of funk, soul and afrolife, Mari Affiong Usuah hailed from Oron town, by way of Calabar in southeastern Nigeria. With a voice that carries itself over many genre borders, she was trained as an opera singer at St Cecilia Academy in Rome, after which she spent 13 years touring Europe with artists like Duke Ellington and Deep Purple!
Her strong, powerful vocal skills were the perfect match for Robert Plant when she performed with Led Zeppelin and when she eventually returned to Lagos, Nigeria she blew away even the top names on the scene! Mary AfiUsuah only released two albums but she is undeniably one of the greatest female singers the African continent has produced and through a blend of gospel, soul, funk, jazz and rock her sound is nothing short of impressive and captivating.
Teaming up with the South Eastern State Cultural Band for her 1975 album, Ekpenyong Abasi, Mary wrote all eight tracks including today’s smouldering jazz/funk dream. Call Me Your Lover swirls around dreamy funk lines and hypnotic beats, whilst sassy vocals erupt with passion and power as they boldly invite you to “Call me your Lover” in exchange for the prospect that “Maybe i’ll be true”….a fair deal if ever I heard one!? It’s one of those songs that entices you in with gentle persuasion and by the time the tempo lifts at about 2:33 minutes in, you are well and truly hooked by Mary’s impassioned howls as she declares “I am your illusion….”
What a song! What a woman!! Check it out above.