When the WEATHER GIRLS enter a room, it is almost impossible not to fall under the spell of their charm. Frankness and joie de vivre. Izora Armstead and her daughter Dynelle Rhodes are two extremely self-confident personalities who complement one another. Their energy and powerful soul voices are now found combined on the new CD, Think Big, whose title should be understood in a quite pro-grammatical way, for "we now think in greater dimensions, our music is very varied and intended for people between two and 92.
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Quite different from their previous CD, Double Ton of Fun, the WEATHER GIRLS now focus exclusively on opulent dance music, a style which belongs somewhere between soul-pop, hip-hop, house-techno and the disco sound of the '70s. They are supported by such renowned production teams as the Rapino Brothers (Take That, Kylie Minogue), the successful Scatman Duo, Tony Nunzio Cantina and Ingo Kays, and Dee-Dee Halligan and Junior Torello (Haddaway). "These people produced high-class sounds and various musical facets which were ideal for our voices," enthuses Izora Armstead. The 13 songs on Think Big were recorded in places like London, Berlin, Hamburg and others...
The first single, "Oh What a Night," was a tremendous dance floor clearer which was underlain with a pulsating techno-loop. The very relaxed hip-hop beat on "The Sound of Sex (Ooh Gitchie Olala)" sets the swinging mood. "I wrote this text with my daughter and Marc Hatwood," reflects Izora. "Although subliminally offensive, it's not really as dirty as it sounds." The Texas born Izora was also involved both as author or co-author of the lyrics to "I Just Want You (To Dance to the Music)," "Movin' and Groovin'", "I Need Your Love" and "We Stand Together." The Duo lays special importance to the "We Stand Together," a soul-pop hymn dedicated to community values. Izora and Dynelle together care for 11 children and 23 grand-children. Holding together the family is the most important aspect of their lives.
A highlight of the new WEATHER GIRLS album is the track Star. Originally recorded by Sylvester, this version features the sweet vocals of Jimmy Somerville (Bronsky Beat, Communards). In the '60s and during the '70s, this disco-gospel protagonist recorded the classics "Disco Heat" and "Mighty Real", alongside Izora Armstead. The true meaning of '70s music is displayed by the WEATHER GIRLS in their covers of "Boogie Night" (originally recorded by the Heat Wave Band) and "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" (originally recorded by Rod Stewart). "I was so excited when Rod offered us this song. I attach importance to the question 'Do you think I'm sexy?'" Smiling, Dynelle adds, "This is true, my mother sings this song with real abandon." Both fight the tyranny of tailor-made beauty. Their creed is 'every being is, in its own way, sexy and beautiful.'
Since the age of four, Izora has been a musical prodigy. Her mother, along with her music teachers, excepted her to be the next great classical music concert pianist. Her studies led her to the San Francisco Conservatory, where she began her education in singing arias. The formal training can be heard in Izora's voice even to this day. Coupled with her physical emphasis, her training provides the backbone for her voluminous soul inflections. "Anyone who, like me, is from the old school, will again and again practice the basics to improve their all-a-round mastery - no matter whether this applies to playing the piano or to singing. We therefore practice two or three times per week, putting in eight hours each time. Perfection can only be reached through practicing."
Discipline and energy have always been the outstanding characteristics of the WEATHER GIRLS - qualities that were recognized very early on in the music scene. Even before her WEATHER GIRLS hit debut, "It's Raining Men" (1982), Izora Armstead sang together with the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and Sylvester. Her work with her ex-partner, Martha Walsh, on the project Two Tons of Fun eventually paved her way to success. Walsh went on to pursue a solo career, leaving Armstead to carry-on the duet that is the WEATHER GIRLS. All that was needed was a partner. Frank Armstead, manager of the WEATHER GIRLS and husband to Izora, came up with the family concept.
Dynelle Rhodes remembers, "My mother called me up asking if I would like to sing with her. At first, I thought she was pulling my leg, but she sounded serious. She said, 'I'm at the studio working on a new disc, you will have to make up your mind on the spot.' I left my employment, and together with my son Anthony, who is four years old now, we moved to New York and a dream came true for me.
In 1993, the family debut, Double Ton of Fun was an instant radio success, led by the single "Can U Feel It," and followed by "We Shall Be Free" and "Party." Always on the go even during the record sessions for Think Big, the WEATHER GIRLS still found time for live performances on stage inter-linking dance music, jazz, blues, soul and gospel. "Our audiences expect our music to be gay and positive. Reality for many people is grim and depressing, and for this reason we want to pass on our energy and drive, and to bring pleasure to people through our music. With Think Big, the WEATHER GIRLS, again, have achieved in a big way.
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