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After deaths, Dianne Reeves creates a ‘Beautiful Life’

Dianne Reeves/Photo Credit: Jerris Madison

Dianne Reeves/Photo Credit: Jerris Madison

On the “A” w/Souleo…

On the surface the title of Dianne Reeves’ new album, Beautiful Life seems straightforward enough, but it holds a deeper significance for the singer after experiencing two major deaths. Five years ago, she returned home to help care for her ailing mother who died in 2012 after battling breast cancer and a tumor. Then in August of last year, Reeves lost her cousin and frequent collaborator, George Duke due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

“The title of the record is a tribute to really close people in my life who made transitions. I got to share this incredible time with them and learn and be a better person because of them,” she said.

Despite her recent personal tragedies, Reeves decided to present a collection of songs that mainly focus on life’s positive aspects such as “Feels So Good (Lifted)” with accompaniment by Duke. Additionally, she covers classics like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.” Becoming familiar again with the latter songs reminded Reeves of an earlier time when she was just identifying her voice and purpose. Now she believes that she has found it.

“A lot of the songs took me back to a time of discovering who I was,” she said. “I feel like I am still courageous but I know now what I want. Now I want to sing from a very clear place because I see things and I have access to a broad array of information. I can speak about life now with some power.”

One of the most popular R&B groups of the 1990s, After 7 (“Ready or Not,” “Heat of the Moment,” “Can’t Stop”), returns to the stage this Friday for a special Valentine’s Day concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center with headliner, Fantasia. The trio was originally composed of Keith Mitchell, Kevon and Melvin Edmonds (both brothers of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds). Melvin officially left the group in the early 2000s and his son, Jason Edmonds now performs with them. For many the circumstances surrounding Melvin’s departure remained a mystery until now.

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