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by Aneta Tadeusiak & Lars Janssen
She is the hottest R&B star in the USA right now, and she wants you to "dance the night away". The new single "Dance With Me", taken from her debut UK album by the same name, has already been a Top 10 hit on the USA Billboard Chart, and is currently storming charts all over the world. Now it's time for the UK to learn about this new talent, Debelah Morgan.
Debelah was, until a year ago, America's best kept secret. Despite having recorded two quality albums ("Debelah" in 1994 and "It's Not Over" in 1998), things never quite worked out with the "middle people", such as managers and producers, and the all-important marketing aspect went astray. She began to make a mark in parts of Europe and South-East Asia, but true recognition and success proved elusive.
But now Debelah, along with her brother Giloh, who co-wrote and co-produced the whole album, is in control making sure everything goes right. Debelah likes to sing from the heart, especially about love, and believe us, this girl really can sing! She has a vocal range to match Mariah but sounds - erm, how can we put this nicely? - more natural, restrained.
We wanted to find out a little more about the artist behind this fresh and original album, but this being just a fan site can make such things tricky. Luckily for us, Debelah is an artist who really appreciates the fans, so between some e-mails and finally meeting them while they were over in London, here's what Debelah and Giloh Morgan had to say for UKMIX.
UKMIX: How do you feel about coming to the UK? Do you listen to any of the UK artists?
Debelah: First of all, shopping is better in the UK. There are many great, fashionable stores! As for music, I love British music! During the summer I opened a lot of tours with Cleopatra. They were absolutely adorable, we had a lot of fun together! They are a great group and great girls.
So much good music has come from the UK. The Beatles still have a huge impact on the world, I love them! As far as artists right now on the UK scene are concerned I've listened to and would love to work with Craig David, Robbie Williams and the Spice Girls.
Giloh: We are currently working on a Phil Collins tribute album. Debelah was asked to cut a Phil Collins song, there were many of his songs already cut by some other Atlantic artists. We decided to choose "Do You Remember". His sound was dominant in the 80s and early 90s here in America. We are honored to be remaking his song.
UKMIX: Talking of working in the studio... do you guys get along well?
Giloh: Even though we live, work and write music together we get along remarkable. There are normal bro/sis things we go through, but because of the level of music that we understand we are able to communicate without difficulty. On the personal side we try to help each other as much as we can. If a person is having a bad day, we stay out of each others way!
UKMIX: You wrote or co-wrote the whole album, and a few cuts on the past album. Who is your biggest inspiration in writing?
Giloh: We both grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie etc... We also had a healthy amount of jazz that was played around our house, songs like "Misty", "Funny Valentine" and "Days of Wine and Roses". We feel that because of this we learned the way classic songs are written. Meaning where to put the verse and chorus and bridge. That is essentially called the "form" of the song.
Also as a result of artists like the above mentioned we gravitate towards music that will be played 20 years from now. Even "Dance With Me" draws from a classic place.
UKMIX: You said you'd like to work with some UK artists. What about the non-UK duets? Who's your favourite artist you've dueted with, and who would you like to duet with in future?
Debelah: My favourite person I have dueted with has to be Stevie Wonder. I met him when I was 15. I became friends with him, or as good as it can be under the circumstances of him being such a huge star! I have sang with him on five occasions over the years. My favorite time was the wedding of former Motown president, George Jackson. We sang "You and I", as a lover of the legacy of Motown it was absolutely exhilarating!
As for future projects, I'd love to duet with Mariah Carey! We could do high notes harmonies together!
UKMIX: So you like Mariah! Many people compare you to her, because of the high-notes ability you share. How do you feel about that?
Debelah: I love Mariah and I feel honored people compare me to her, she's such a good singer.
UKMIX: Debelah, what is your next step after music?
Debelah: Bodyguard sequel part 10, when I'm the bodyguard! I could guard Mark Wahlberg or Ricky Martin!
"Dance With Me" is released on 12th February on Atlantic records, with the album by the same name coming out the following week.