Mutatis Mutandis is an album that has both politically and socially relevant lyrics wrapped in funky grooves, soulful vocals and driven by rock charged rhythms. Quite simply put, Nona Hendryx is the quintessential “mother” of contemporary artists such as Erykah Badu, Emeli Sandé, Janelle Monáe, M.I.A., V.V. Brown, and others who can only hope to see careers that allow them to span the decades, and she still rocks on!
On Mutatis Mutandis (Latin for “Changing those things which need to be changed”), Hendryx attacks the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh (“Ballad of Rush Limbaugh”), Gulf oil spills (“Oil On The Water”), and lends the necessary gravitas to a striking rendition of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” with smoky vocals somewhere between funk and the end of the stratosphere. Blistering guitars, killer horns, and gospel flourishes and unstoppable beats fill the album, but don’t take away from the message at hand – Nona Hendryx is here to tackle social issues, point out corporate greed, black on black violence and attacks by political and religious conservatives. The result is an album steeped in vintage R&B and soul, but totally in tune with the here and now.
“I chose the title and was moved to write and record the CD by the major events and changes on the world’s stage in the last 12 years, initiated by the ‘black swan’ event, 9/11,” expands Hendryx.
Longtime Nona Hendryx fans know her as one of the founding members of the doo-wop girl group, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles. Known as the “sweethearts of the Apollo Theatre” the group was inducted in the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999. After signing to Atlantic Records, the group lost a member, but the remaining members reinvented themselves into the iconic funk-rock group, Labelle. The group saw huge success throughout the 70s, racking up three gold albums and a #1 worldwide platinum hit with the single “Lady Marmalade”. In 1977, lead singer Patti LaBelle left the group to start her solo career.
While Labelle fans grieved the split, Nona Hendryx fans celebrated at the launch of her solo career. Nona’s solo efforts included eight studio albums, collaborations with the likes of Prince, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Bono, Keith Richard and more, resulting in several top 10 hits and a Grammy nomination. Hendryx also began writing music for theatre and film and began producing and continued to collaborate with a new generation of artists including India Arie, Esperanza Spalding, Cassandra Wilson and Sheila E. In 2011 Nona added to her long career an adjunct position teaching Stage Craft, a course she created for The Clive Davis Department at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and was appointed Ambassador for Artistry in Education at Berklee College of Music in Boston.