Canadian Blast at MIDEM Saidah Baba Talibah Style!

Cover Feb 11, 2011

by Natasha Slinko

Saidah  - Happy & Fortunate

Baba  -  Born on Thursday 

Talibah – Seeker After Knowledge

 A unique and beautiful name for a strong, beautiful and talented artist.  Saidah Baba Talibah is the real deal and she totally rocked the house at Morrisons Irish Pub for the Canadian Blast show this January during the MIDEM 2011 Conference in Cannes, France.  Saidah has an energy about her that just pulls you in, makes you smile and then grin ear to ear, and then makes you want to just get up and dance.   She has a powerhouse of a voice that just doesn’t stop and a stage presence that connects with you in the most powerful of ways.  Backup by musicians  Alex McMaster - cello, Donna Grantis - guitar, Rob Teeham - Sousaphone, Roger Travassos - drums and Hill Kourkoutis - keys it was an incredible sound.  

Saidah comes for an extremely musical family and as she said “she’s been doing it for a long time”.  Saidah grew up around a strong family of women – her mother, aunts, cousins and sister. Saidah Baba Talibah has the pleasure and the privilege of calling Salome Bey her beloved mother and grew up watching her every move as a songwriter, singer and actress.  “I watched every single little thing that my mom did.”  Every rehearsal, recording, performance, every play and musical.  That was her school of the music industry, up close and personal. Salome Bey is one of nine children and her daughter Saidah was the baby of the family.  Saidah truly bonded with her mother’s side of the family tree - everything was women centered and about empowerment – and it shows in Saidah’s incredible voice, in her music and in her stage presence and performance. She comes by her talent honestly – through incredible genes, phenomenal talent and hard consistent work ethics.  She truly rocked the house or as she refers to the house, her "Church in the Club".  A true creation of a theatrical production.

MIDEM - Music Unlimited, Cannes, France - Photo credit Natasha SlinkoMIDEM - Music Unlimited, Cannes, France - Photo credit Natasha SlinkoSaidah Baba Talibah's first role as an actress was when she was around 12 – 13 years old in one of her mother’s productions.  She turned to her mother and said that she wanted a bigger role in the play. Salome Bey turned to her daughter and said, “Then write the role you want for yourself. “ And Saidah did just that.  And she hasn't stopped since.  She is still writing her bigger role. She is a true storyteller and she relishes this role.

Saidah then entered the Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto, where she received formal training as a dancer and minored in visual arts and music. At 19, she entered the professional musical theatre world as part of the Toronto touring cast of “Showboat” and eventually won roles in “Ragtime”, “Not Wanted on the Voyage” and “ove & War.” Saidah was honoured to be a part of the smash hit, “Djanet Sears The Adventures of a Black Girl In Search Of God” and was featured on the original cast CD recording.  

Saidah gets it.  She is wise beyond her years and knows that its all about the whole.  "It's not about me - its about the whole sound", and this is what she wants to capture and relay and share with her audience.  Every piece is integral and gives to the whole.   Its also about building a stage show that will pull people in and entertain them on every level.   She feeds of the audience but gives back ten-fold.  Mostly its about being present, at all times, at all rehearsals.  

Photo Credit Natasha SlinkoPhoto Credit Natasha SlinkoSaidah had the opportunity to be one of the backup singers for Canadian Idol from 2005 - 2007 which she said work ethic wise was another amazing experience.  Working with the various singers and learning so many different songs in such a short period of time, although challenging, she relished the challenged as it helped her hone her skills and grow as an artist.

 The music that touches Saidah in the deepest way is the blues, jazz and rock and a little in between, and of course anything that her mother Salome Bey has ever performed, recorded or written.  Saidah’s respect and love for her mother also drives her to be her very best and honours her mother at every step and the many other influences in her career.

Saidah’s success did not happen overnight.  From watching as a child at her mother’s knee to experiencing her other family members bursting into song.  Saidah sang back-up for her mother Salome Bey and her mother would suddenly turn to her and say, "You're going to do this one!"  and Saidah would be trying to remember the melody and the words - it was all about preparation.  Saidah later started a band with her sister where they played and sang and arranged some crazy harmonies.  She also had the opportunity to sing with the likes of Jully Black and Johnny Reid and Divine Brown, which she says were incredible learning experiences and memories she will carry with her always.  

Where she was challenged and felt pressure was that there was a part of her that held her back in her own mind, in that "my family is really talented and is what I look up to.  How am I going to even compare?"  A talent in her own right, Saidah truly has done her family legacy proud and there is so much more to come.

Morrison's Irish Pub, Cannes, France - Photo credit Natasha SlinkoMorrison's Irish Pub, Cannes, France - Photo credit Natasha SlinkoHer album (S)Cream speaks to a very empowering aspect of womanhood.  Scream is to have the power of voice and expression, Cream is to the claiming of and empowerment of womanhood.  This album is all about collaboration.   As an artist, Saidah went through self doubt, as many artists do – it is part of the territory of being a songwriter, singer, performer/entertainer.   The first song “Do It”, that started the album was written by Andrew Thompson and then Saiadah hooked up with her guitarist Donna Grantis and in one day co-wrote two songs – the title song "(S)Cream" and “No More”, which is an empowering realization song basically all about dragging someone else into your cave.  Then they went on to write songs such is “Good Morning Baby”, So Cool” and “Bang it Back “ which is one of Saidah’s favorite tracks.

In Saidah’s own words, “(S)Cream is a collection of dreams, daydreams and realities, that speak from a place of fierceness, vulnerability, insecurity and assuredness. (S)Cream has put away all childish games and is all grown up, but is still searching and getting comfortable in all of her cracks and bulges, turn ons and turn offs. This is my coming out as a woman who likes to talk sex & sensuality, broken-heartedness, not taking anymore shit-ed-ness. I growl. I purr. I go to pretty places, harder places and naked places. I wish you joy, despair, heartbreak, inspiration and to be turned on.” 

Saidah has an interesting turn of phrase and it comes out in her music and her lyrics. Catching the spirit of the song is integral.  She writes about relationships - the routine of long term relationships where you are constantly in the same position, same space but if you still have that spark - then there is a celebration of relationship.

The art is everything.  There is a constant spreading open, listening to the band and how you go through a song and in turn they dictate and feed each other, but is also the flow of the song and the art of the set.  As a dancer, choreography is also a another important aspect of the show that Saidah takes very seriously.  "Music moves me, the clothing has to flow." In that moment she feels "powerful and sexy" and in turn want to empower other women.

Saidah grew up in a  church going family.  Both her mother and her father and the rest of the family attended church regularly.  As for religion, Saidah said that although her whole upbringing was spiritual, she never felt the pull to organized religion and in many ways she considers that it is through her music that she connects to that aspect of herself.  “I was just never into church," says Saidah  “I’m open to the idea of religion but my mother taught me that we are all reading different languages but its all the same.  I find all aspects in all religions.”  Which in truth is the best way to look at religion – language maybe a little different but we are all the same – we are all part of the whole, one world, one spirit.  The exchange of energy with her audience is passionate, powerful and yet zen-like.

Photo Credit Anna KeenanPhoto Credit Anna KeenanSaidah took an unorthodox approach to funding her upcoming album, letting fans pre-invest in it via a campaign called Make Me Wanna (S)Cream, where fans were rewarded with various gifts, including autographed Saidah albums, raw vegan meals prepared by Saidah and private dinner performances complete with burlesque dancers, depending on the level of investment.  Saidah hoped inviting her fans to be involved so integrally in her career by pre-purchasing and thus funding the creation of her album, would strengthen the connection between her and her supporters, and it succeeded.

(S)Cream will be released Summer 2011 and presently Saidah is working on and recording her next album.  We look forward in anticipation of what she will be creating and sharing with us next.

Saidah wants her audience to walk away moved, to experience a "Soul Rockestra".  Well Saidah you definitely managed that - you definitely have our attention and the attention of every single one of your fans.  I don’t think there was a single person that was not moved after her performance at the Canadian  Blast at MIDEM and the standing ovation and cheers definitely proved that - totally and uniquely Saidah Baba Talibah Style!   Keep it comin' on! 

For more information and performance dates please visit