Artist in Residence: Meshell Ndegeocello

This year’s Artist in Residence is Meshell Ndegeocello. The American artist is a musical Jack-of-all-trades, which she will prove at the festival by playing a completely different concert on each of the days.

The music of the singer, composer, and multi instrumentalist is too diverse to simply list as jazz; genres such as soul, funk, and even hip hop also fit her like a glove. Her versatility was firmly on show on her latest album, 2023’s The Omnichord Real Book, which landed her the Grammy for Best Alternative Jazz Album earlier this year. It was her debut on the renowned Blue Note Records. The album, which was produced by saxophonist Josh Johnson, features many beloved North Sea Jazz regulars, such as Cory Henry, Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Brandee Younger. The Omnichord Real Book was Ndegeocello’s first album in five years and succeeded 2018’s Ventriloquism, on which she gave new meaning to well-known R&B and pop hits.

Ndegeocello’s debut album Plantation Lullabies was released in 1993 on Maverick Records, Madonna’s label, and right away garnered her no less than four Grammy nominations: one for Best R&B Album; one for Wild Night, her duet with John Mellencamp; and two for her solo single If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night). The extraordinary thing about Ndegeocello is that she has never let herself be limited to a specific genre. In her career, she received twelve Grammy nominations for both singles and albums in varied categories: R&B, pop, urban, and (contemporary as well as alternative) jazz.

She appeared on recordings by artists varying from Madonna, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Basement Jaxx, Gov’t Mule, Alanis Morissette and The Staple Singers, among many others. Her music has also been featured on many movie soundtracks. In addition to all that she is a sought-after producer and as such responsible for the sound of many other musicians.

At the festival, Ndegeocello will show several of her musical sides, bringing a different performance on each day. On Friday she will honor the founder of both Cricket magazine and the Black arts movement, Larry Neal, with songs by NTU Troop, Eugene McDaniels and Public Enemy. Her concert on Saturday features her latest album The Omnichord Real Book, while on Sunday she will perform material from her debut album Plantation Lullabies.