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JT Video Premiere: Cécile McLorin Salvant’s “Wives and Lovers”

A classic of the "Mad Men" era, updated with irony

Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant performs Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Wives and Lovers” on her new Grammy-nominated album For One to Love. JazzTimes is pleased to present the exclusive premiere of the video for the song, featuring Jay-Z collaborator Storyboard P. The complete backstory at the bottom.

The video can also be viewed here.

The backstory of the “Wives and Lovers” video:

The ascendant careers of singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and Brooklyn flex dancer Storyboard P have followed strikingly similar paths. Both received classical training as budding performers, both produce work which simultaneously draws from the past while careening toward the future, and both have rocketed out of relative obscurity in recent years to the highest echelons of their respective fields.

The two paired up earlier this year to create a music video for Salvant’s of performance Wives and Lovers from her album For One To Love. The video features alternating shots of Salvant and Storyboard P in striking red monochrome, with numerous tight shots of Storyboard P slipping in and out of frame. This alternate take is comprised of a single continuous full-body shot of Storyboard P’s performance. “The uncut video will allow people to see how he builds his story in time, how he improvises, and his full range of motion,” Salvant says. “His concept of animations, rather than movement, is fascinating to me. I was mesmerized by his dancing the first time I saw him.”

According to Salvant, her choice to perform the song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David has raised the ire of many listeners. “I have been reading more and more negative comments about my choice to sing ‘Wives and Lovers’ … from men, who think that I shouldn’t be singing from a feminist standpoint at all,” she says, “and, much to my surprise, some women have also reached out, imploring that I not sing such a song. Others have told me that laughing at sexism was inappropriate. Things are too often taken at face value. I firmly believe that humor is one of the best and most important tools in making social or political commentary accessible,” she says. “Had I heard this song sung by a woman as a teenager, I would have felt empowered by the idea of mocking the 1960s ideal of a ‘perfect’ woman. It would have taken a bit of the daily stress from being a woman and made it a joke, made it something absurd, and thus powerless. This is my intention.”

The physical and conceptual depth and flexibility of both artists results in a work that illustrates the wonderful synergy between jazz and dance, aural and visual, beauty and humor. The song and video also affirm that music is an experience for the whole being, from patting foot to outstretched fingertip, and everything in between.

Originally Published