N'Dea Davenport is an American born recording artist, songwriter, dancer, performer and producer, best known for her work as a vocalist in the UK funk band, The Brand New Heavies and for her pioneering contributions to the genre of acid jazz.
Her diverse projects include collaborations with music producers and artists, such as Mark Ronson, Roger Sanchez, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Madonna, Natalie Merchant, Mos Def, Sly and Robbie, J Dilla, and Malcolm McLaren. Dance scholarships, acting and music were the core of her developments as an artist and entertainer. Immediately after finishing college, she left her then home of Atlanta, Georgia, en route to Los Angeles. There she engaged in theatrical productions and commercial music video and was embraced by artists in both art, music and popular culture. Her legacy as an artist began also with her involvement in the burgeoning Los Angeles underground club and rave scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Working simultaneously as a dance/performance artist and recording and commercial studio session singer, Davenport was soon connected with Fab Five Freddy, who recommended her to a DJ friend at new upstart label Delicious Vinyl. Eurythmics member/ producer Dave Stewart, offered Davenport a recording contract a year prior when introduced through a collaboration with Bootsy Collins and Malcolm McLaren, where she was featured on McLaren's Waltz Darling LP. She declined Stewart’s offer at the time due to his requirement for her to relocate to London, England. Later to ink a solo development deal with Delicious Vinyl, who made introductions to her future bandmates, The Brand New Heavies who at the time had no singer. With the core band members based in London, she decided to relocate there.
The band’s initial UK indie label Acid Jazz Records, struck a deal with London Records for distribution in Europe and the rest of the world. During this period, the band produced a string of international albums and singles, invigorating a global movement and popularized the musical term known as acid jazz. Parallel to this, Davenport completed work on Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1, with Guru.
In 1995, Davenport left the group citing irreconcilable differences, returning to the US and choosing New Orleans as a home base while she pursued other collaborations, and completed work on her solo recording with Delicious Vinyl. Encouragement received from her associate and record producer Daniel Lanois, resulted in the completion of her debut solo effort as producer, all except for four songs, produced by Dallas Austin. While her association with Delicious Vinyl was dissolving, Davenport's project was picked up by the newly formed label owned by Sir Richard Branson. In 1997, her self-titled debut solo recording on V2 Records was released. She toured extensively in support of the album, around Europe, North America and Australia and with the concert series Lilith Fair. When the relationship at V2 came to an end she continued musically primarily focusing on European dance music projects.
Davenport held residency in New Orleans but lived primarily in New York City. Her diverse musical tastes led to an eventual stance as a New York club DJ. In late 2005, talks began about a reunion with The Brand New Heavies and, by 2006, the group re-emerged with the release of Get Used To It. Her latest project with collaborator Katsuya Everywhere, was in the multi-media based electronic/acoustic duo, Celectrixx, which was conceived in Japan.
N'Dea Davenport (V2, 1998)
(Peaked at #56 on Billboard's R&B Album Charts)
- Whatever You Want - (4:31)
- Underneath A Red Moon - (4:16)
- Save Your Love For Me - (4:07)
- When The Night Falls - (4:50)
- Bring It On - (4:22)
- No Never Again - (5:14)
- In Wonder - (4:06)
- Bullshittin' - (3:34)
- Real Life - (3:06)
- Old Man - (4:00)
- Placement For The Baby - (6:25)
- Oh Mother Earth (Embrace) -(3:52)
- Getaway - (3:30)
- "Trust Me" (Guru featuring N'Dea Davenport) (Delicious Vinyl, 1993) (UK #34)
- "Bring It On" (V2, 1998) (US R&B #75; UK #52)
- "Bullshittin" (V2, 1998)
- "Underneath A Red Moon" (V2, 1999) Ft.Dj Dodge Soul Inside remix
- "Whatever You Want" (V2, 1999)
- "You Can't Change Me" (Roger Sanchez featuring Armand Van Helden and N'Dea Davenport) (Defected, 2001) (UK #25)
- "One Day My Love" (Peace Bisquit/Curvve Recordings, 2006)
- "Destiny" (2011) Japan
- The acid jazz label applied to The Brand New Heavies music was popularized by Eddie Piller and British record executive Gilles Peterson, perhaps in hopes that he could keep interest in the music on a par with the then-ubiquitous acid house music. The musical style was patterned after an admiration for 1970s funk ranging from James Brown to Rufus and the Average White Band. Peterson named his fledgling label Acid Jazz Records as well, and the Heavies recorded for this label in the United Kingdom.
- Davenport recut the vocal track on "Never Stop", "Stay This Way" and "Dream Come True", after Jay Ella Ruth (the band's prior lead vocalist and co-writer) had ceased to be a member of the group, but preceding the major release of these recordings.
- Davenport participated in sessions for both Malcolm McLaren's Waltz Darling and Madonna's I'm Breathless. The similarities between the videos (Deep in Vogue and Vogue) is a source for debate.
- Davenport recorded Buddy Johnson's Save Your Love For Me, a song which has been covered many times and was a big hit for Nancy Wilson.
- Davenport appeared in the music video for Breakfast Club's "Right On Track", singing back-up dressed as a singing hen in 1987.
- Davenport appeared in the 1988 music video for Steve Winwood's "Roll with it" which was choreographed by Paula Abdul.
- Davenport appeared on 2 Hip 4 TV.
- Davenport is also a drummer.
- Davenport is a spinto soprano.
- Davenport provides vocals on Michael Paulo's "One Passion." Track: "If You Ever Change Your Mind." (1989)
- Davenport provides vocals on Dead Prez's Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape Vol. 3: Pulse Of The People.
- Davenport provides vocals on Dilouya's album Faithful Circus. Track "The Right Time".
- Davenport provides vocals on DJ Krush's album 漸-Zen. Track: "With Grace".
- Davenport provides vocals on the Everlast (House of Pain) album Eat at Whitey's. Tracks: "Love for Real" and "One and the Same".
- Davenport provides vocals on Fred Everything's album Lost Together. Track: "Don't Nobody".
- Davenport provides vocals on José Padilla's album Navigator. Track: "The Look of Love".
- Davenport provides vocals on Natalie Merchant's album Ophelia. Track: "Break Your Heart".
- Davenport provides vocals on Robbie Williams's "Lovelight", both a CD single and a track on the album Rudebox. Fellow Brand New Heavies member Andrew Levy provided bass.
- Davenport provides vocals on Sly and Robbie's album Version Born. Track: "For the Living".
- Davenport provides vocals/writing on Return of the Headhunters!! with The Headhunters Band. Tracks: "Tip Toe", "Watch your back" (with Tre Hardson).
- Davenport provides vocals/writing on Roger Sanchez's #1 European dance album First Contact. Track: "You can't change me" (with Armand Van Helden).
- Davenport provides vocals/writing on Okino Shuya (Kyoto Jazz Massive)'s album Destiny. Tracks: "Deep into Sunshine", "Destiny", "Look ahead".
- Davenport provides vocals/writing on DJ Kawasaki (Okino Yoshihiro/Kyoto Jazz Massive)'s album Black & Gold. Track: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".
- at AllMusic