Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Digitally remastered release of this rare album from the artist known primarily as a poet, activist and best selling author. She is far less known for her early career as a singer. In 1957, at the age of 27, she made her only sung album to date, Miss Calypso, which consisted of quite respectable calypso songs. Very much in line with Harry Belafonte's recordings of this period, and no doubt made with the same lightly subversive civil rights agenda, the album features sparse backing from guitarist Tommy Tedesco (Top L.A. session musician of the '50s and '60s, best known as a Phil Spector collaborator) and Al Bello (on congas, bongos, and drums), as well as Miss Angelou's surprisingly effective singing voice. Miss Angelou also wrote half the songs on the album. Rev-Ola. 2009.
Recorded in 1956. Includes liner notes by Chuck Foster.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Before gaining fame as a poet, Maya Angelou recorded an album of calypso songs in 1957. Tracks include "Mambo in Africa" and "Calypso Blues."
This reissue was probably motivated by the exotica-space age pop revival. The cover, after all, features Angelou draped in a slip of a red dress, gyrating next to a fire in the middle of a (almost definitely fake) jungle. It's really not that strange or cheesy, though. It's more or less straight-ahead pop-calypso, sung with respectable gutsiness by Angelou, who wrote almost half of the material. Somewhat in the mold of the popular calypso recordings from the same era by Harry Belafonte, it features sparse backing from guitarist Tommy Tedesco (one of the most frequently employed L.A. session musicians of the '50s and '60s) and Al Bello (on congos, bongos, and drums). ~ Richie Unterberger