The title track of Ari Lennox‘s Dreamville debut, Shea Butter Baby, is climbing the chart. The album’s title is apt, since it’s definitely a smooth record. Ari tells ABC Radio that she developed her sound based on the classic R&B and soul she heard growing up — and one particular Mariah Carey song.
“I just really love soul music,” she tells ABC Radio. “So [the album’s] just heavily influenced by all of…so many greats that I adore, from Patrice Rushen, Rose Royce, Raphael Saadiq, Missy Elliott, Tweet…You’re just going to hear all of those elements in there because I’m so inspired by them.”
The “BMO” vocalist says she started singing at the age of three, and her relatives immediately took notice.
“My grandma, she heard me singing, she was like, ‘She sounds like an angel,’ and it stuck with me,” she tells ABC Radio. “And my aunt Shawnee, she taught me this song called ‘Take a Look at Me Now’ — I know that’s not the right name of the song — by Mariah Carey. And so I just studied Mariah…I love her.”
That song is actually a Phil Collins hit called “Against All Odds,” which Mariah covered in 2000.
In addition to Mariah, Ari says she was surrounded by music from other legends, like Whitney Houston, Anita Baker and the Jackson 5. Not only did they inspire her to sing, but they also inspired her to start writing songs, before she even started kindergarten.
“I just always wanted to be this child, singer-star and I was writing at, like four!” Ari reveals. “Like, my grandma told me I would go under her porch and just write songs. I barely remember that.”
Ari will open for Lizzo starting September 10 in Tampa, FL.
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