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Cat Power: René Marie Pays Tribute to Eartha Kitt

Exploring the artistry and humanity of a kindred spirit

Rene Marie
Eartha Kitt in 1954
Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, circa 1967

“I swore I would never do a tribute album,” singer René Marie writes in the liner notes of her new album, I Wanna Be Evil, which happens to be a tribute to Eartha Kitt.

Marie’s resistance was understandable. Female jazz singers are often pressured to look backwards and recycle old songs, while male instrumentalists are largely encouraged to move forward. In her song “This Is for Joe,” Marie laid out her feelings by singing, “I can’t be a good girl and sing standards all nice and sweet. … Please don’t compare me to Ella or Sarah. Magnolias won’t stay in this hair, ’cause that was then, this is now. I’m right here and they’re somewhere up there. So please don’t compare. Singing the songs I write is an uphill battle. Come and give me a fight.”

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