Home Featured Content Maya Angelou’s Final Project…Caged Bird Songs


“People whose names we will never know, whose voices we will never hear, people whose languages we’ve never heard, will be better because they’re being guided as children of God.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Producer Shawn Rivera, and Angelou’s Grandson, Colin Johnson, give rare interview to NPR called “Why The Caged Bird Raps”: http://www.npr.org/2014/11/10/362278556/why-the-caged-bird-raps




Famed poet, author, dancer, director, composer and lecturer, Dr. Maya Angelou’s latest work is officially in stores. The project, posthumously released, is one that Dr. Angelou was most proud of, and one she anticipated would reach men and women as children of God, reminding them of their true identity. In a rare AOL.com video clip, Dr. Angelou speaks of the impact that she foresaw for Caged Bird Songs:
“There will be some young man in a warehouse someday, who feels his life has come to an end and he didn’t
even have the right to hope, and somehow, his eye will fall on the work that the three of us [Angelou &
Producers RoccStarr & Shawn Rivera] has done. We may never know his name or see his face or hear his
dream, but he will be changed, enhanced, increased….”
“Some young woman who had decided that life owed her nothing and she owed nothing, she had decided that life had no promise for her, but she’ll turn on the radio or pass a car with the radio booming and it will be playing something that came out of our meeting and the young woman’s eyes will open and her heart will be lifted up. She may decide to turn away from the gun or the knife or the narcotic and say you know I don’t think I’ll do that.”

Though best known for her poetry, Maya Angelou lived a long life full of music that included a critically acclaimed calypso album, seven songs with Ashford & Simpson on their album Been Found and collaborations with other musical greats including Wynton Marsalis and Roberta Flack. Three GRAMMY Awards for her spoken word recordings, received TONY Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, as well as numerous other honors including an EMMY Nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Roots.
“Music was such a huge part of my grandmother’s life,” said Colin A. Johnson, Dr. Angelou’s grandson and founder of Caged Bird Legacy. “She loved everything, from pop to country and, of course, hip hop. With her dedication to social activism and how she illuminated the struggles and injustices of the urban experience through prose, there’s a direct correlation to hip hop today. She was really excited about her words being presented in this way and I’m glad her fans will now be able to hear it.”
Caged Bird Songs’ 13 tracks crackle with urgency. Dr. Angelou’s rebellious, street-wise commentary on inner-city circumstance and her braggadocios flair for colloquial slang has been perfectly paired here with modern hip-hop beats. The lyrical content, underlying social context, rhythm, melody and cadence of Dr. Angelou’s early work bears a striking resemblance to the sound of current hip-hop and is, unfortunately, still relevant to today’s urban experience.
David Helfant and Smooch Music principals Larry and Van Kantor executive produced the project. Caged Bird Songs is available in two versions: the 13-track standard edition and an 18-track deluxe edition. The album was co-produced by RoccStarr (whose production credits include Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Hudson and CeeLo Green) and Shawn Rivera (the lead singer of Az Yet, the R&B vocal pop group formerly on La Face/Arista Records) with album artwork created by Alan Aldridge, whose credits include the Beatles, Elton John and The Rolling Stones with. Caged Bird Songs is perfect for the young and young at heart.

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