Canadian band Son of James harnesses a fusion of musical influence to highlight the rise in discriminatory attacks against Asian-Canadians during the Covid-19 pandemic, with his heart-stopping new single, “Mama Never Told Me” – check it out on YouTube here:
Dripping with heart and soul, “Mama Never Told Me” is a sonically smooth experience filled with soulful guitar playing and stellar saxophone work. Rich embellishments reveal themselves in the form of brilliant piano playing and soaring vocal performances. “Mama Never Told Me” tells a relatable tale about the most important woman in our life with all of the rhythmic complexity that Son of James is known for.
“Mama Never Told Me” finds its origin when Son of James founder Shon Wong noticed the alarming increase in Asian hate crimes as the pandemic raged on. “The vigilante in me prayed that an attack on an Asian woman would happen right in front of me so I could exact vengeance for that woman right then and there.”
As if the world had stopped for that moment, the sudden realization of his mother’s own experience came flooding into view. “Knowing what my mom and many other immigrant Asian mothers sacrificed and endured to make a life in a foreign country. It made me think of all things my mom never told me about her struggle until my father passed when I was 20.”
Fast forward to the month before Mother’s Day, and all of the elements seemed to fall into place for a musical tribute worthy of all mothers. The lyrics practically poured out through the tears and onto the page.
“When the time has come
I will carry you
When you’re all alone
I will comfort you
For the rest of your days
Don’t you ever be afraid
I owe it all to you.”
With the pandemic affecting the rest of the world, the recording process for “Mama Never Told Me” had to be re-strategized. A talented group of musicians brought the recording to life from the get-go, including guitarist/bassist/pianist Adam Richards, accomplished cellist Michelle Kwan, and percussionist Jason Overy. Jonathan Reichert’s slick guitar fills, and Eric Tsang’s hypnotic saxophone work hits you right as Jackie Nguyen breaks your heart with her enchanting vocal work. These elements are brought together to create a rhythmic synthesis between art and life previously inexperienced by audiences.
Son of James founder Shon Wong was bitten by the artistic bug from a young age through his grandfather’s career as a professional Chinese opera actor. Wong’s early life was spent practicing martial arts and physically training himself to deal with the bullies that plagued him. When faced with the tragic loss of his father, James Wong, Shon found solace and comfort in music. While in China, his drum and guitar lessons would be the catalyst to managing grief and reclaiming his life. A long and winding road littered with more tragedy would lead Shon Wong to form Son of James and proudly represent his heritage through a combination of Asian instrumentation and rock n’ roll, developing his signature Chynatruckerfunk sound in the process.