YARBROUGH Camille 1975

Today Nana Camille Yarbrough is internationally known as the ol' school gifted singer whose song and vocals were sampled by technomusician Fatboy Slim. His monster chart-busting hit "Praise You" is sampled from Yarbrough's original hit "Take Yo Praise" and after his version (led by Camille's vocals) found a spot on MTV's rotation, the song exploded commercially. It has been featured in movies (Cruel Intentions, Go, Thank God It's Friday, and Michael Jordan to the Max), on television shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Entertainment Tonight, the Golden Globes, the TV Guide Awards show), and on commercials for Mercedes Benz, Wimbledon, Air Jordan/Nike, and many others. "Take Yo Praise", however, was originally recorded in 1975 for Nana Yarbrough's first album, the critically acclaimed "The Iron Pot Cooker".
The Iron Pot Cooker was taken from the very successful 1971 stage dramatization of Nana Yarbrough's one-woman/spoken word show "Tales and Tunes of an African American Griot" (with which she toured nationally during the 70's and 80's). But it was the song's new found popularity that prompted Vanguard Records to re-issue "The Iron Pot Cooker" in 1998. When it was first released in 1975, "The Iron Pot Cooker" received high reviews from local and national media.
As an accomplished actress, Nana Yarbrough has worked in theatre -on and off Broadway- including Kwamina, the Katherine Dunham Company of Dancers, Singers and Musicians, (Nana Yarbrough taught Dunham technique at Southern Illinois University), in Lorraine Hansberry's "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black", (with which she toured nationally and was a member of the cast album). In James Weldon Johnson's "God's Trombones", (Trumphet's of the Lord). In television and film, her credits include a CBS special "Caught in the Middle", soap operas "Search for Tomorrow" and "Where the Heart Is", and the movie, "Shaft" (the original). During the 1970's, Nana Yarbrough found yet another creative vehicle with which to honor her divine assignment. She began a new career as a writer.
Nana Yarbrough's published works have appeared in The New York Times Drama Section, 1971 (Today I Feel Like I am Somebody), The Black Collegian Magazine (Black Dance in America), and The Journal of African Civilization, (Black Women in Antiquity, edited by Ivan Van Sertima). In 1979 her first book for children the award winning classic "Cornrows" was published by (Paperstar/Putnam Grosset). Nana Yarbrough followed that publication with three other critically acclaimed books: "The Shimmershine Queens" and "The Little Tree Growing in the Shade" (all Paperstar/Putnam Grosset). Her "Tamika and the Wisdom Rings", first published by Random House, is currently published by Just Us Books, Inc. Nana Yarbrough is presently at work on two new books for children.
Continuing in her divine assignment in life, Nana Yarbrough moving from actor/author to lyricist/composer/producer to performance artist in 2002, formed Ancestor House Productions, the Ancestor House Band and Ancestor House, a stage presentation of song, story, music and dance. Nana Yarbrough went on to produce the Family Forever Concert at Aaron Davis Hall in New York City. The Concert was also performed at the Museum of Natural History and at other venues throughout the New York City/New Jersey area. From that concert presentation Nana Yarbrough produced, on her own label, MA'AT Music, her first independent CD, Ancestor House.
Ancestor House, the CD is a celebration of family, culture and spirit. Ancestor House the stage presentation is a musical collage and an African "call and response serenade". It is a cultural bridge connecting the African diaspora to itself and the entire human family. One can't help but ask how is it that a women of her season and stature is still compelled to perform rather than rest on her laurels? She explains "Being a griot or storyteller is not a role that I choose to play. I know this is what I was born to do. What fuels me is the richness of African/African-American culture. This is what energizes me. I come from a kinship line that was re-born to re-tell our story over and over again. As its been said, "if we don't tell our story, we will surely die". We must tell it to the young, tell it to the old...everyone grows when our family story is told!"
Continuing in the tradition of Griot/Jalli, Nana Yarbrough currently produces and hosts a weekly cable television show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) in New York City, (Channel 34, Saturday/6:00PM). The cable show Ancestor House is a community based outreach and an outlet for the telling of our stories. Ancestor House, the cable show, is a spiritual space where we give thanks to our Creator, respect to our Ancestors and where we continue the telling of the Great African Family Story!!


Whether you call Camille Yarbrough a street poetess, proto-rapper, or urban politico, there is no doubt that this woman contributed an enormous amount of fire, passion, and strength in all those guises. Neither is there any doubt that her 1975 album "Iron Pot Cooker" is a landmark work of great importance. Rapping in the style of the early-era street poets, Yarbrough certainly set the bar for almost every woman in that vein who followed, and in that context, this album can be interpreted as feminist rhetoric -the empowering vision of a young black woman who emerges from the ghetto, from her circle of women- to impart her message.

The most important discovery of 2003 is Camille Yarbrough's new and only album release since 1975. A mixture of dramatic oration, gospelesque testimony, protest chant, and intermittent song with minimal jazz-industrial accompaniment. The album simultaneously occupies several stylistic dimensions in a way much more at home in our own pluralistic time. Simple but eloquent humble yet stirring in her performance career activist Yarbrough makes the rare leap from front person to prophet. The indomitable conviction of her delivery is as encouraging as the persistent relevance of her tales of eroding rights is ominous. The original six tracks are rounded out with two remixes of "Take yo' praises" bowing to its recent sampling by Fatboy Slim for his hit "Praise you." But this music needs no technical enhancements to sound brand new. You'll find the cd HERE at Cdbaby.

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