John Legend & The Roots are presenting fans with a fiery new offering, Wake Up! The upcoming CD, being released by Sony Music on September 21, 2010, will feature soulful music from the 60’s and 70’s all with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement and consciousness— effectively telling listeners to Wake Up!
After being inspired by the recent historical Presidential election campaign of 2008, the R&B singer Legend and hip-hop band The Roots felt a need to enter the action. What started as plans for a single quickly developed into a passionate album representing change, hope and activism— not only referencing one particular moment in time, but on a larger scale, holding true no matter what the political climate may be.
The resulting album features eleven profoundly evocative songs infused with sounds of gospel, rock and reggae inflections with hip-hop influences. The album is highlighted by familiar tracks like “Wholly Holy” by Marvin Gaye and “Little Ghetto Boy” by Donny Hathaway mixed with the more obscure selections of Baby Huey and the Babysitters’ “Hard Times,” and “Hang on in There” by Mike James Kirkland.
“These songs sound so relevant now,” Legend says. “On most of them, you wouldn’t change a lyric. ‘Wake Up Everybody’ (the album’s first single, featuring contributions from Melanie Fiona and Common) has four verses—the first one is a general statement, the second is about education, third is about health care, and the fourth is about making a better environment. No editing needed.”
“When these songs were written, people were more spiritually in tune,” says Roots drummer/musical director Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson. “It was fresh from the civil rights era and there was a feeling of hope that maybe, yes, someday we will all be free. In 2010, not so much.”