The many captivating and incredible facets of the career of Annie Lennox cannot be numbered. The iconic singer and song writer is a woman of unquestionable truth, justice and kindness, as well as possessing an immeasurable talent.
Lennox is about to release her brand-new, enchanting album “Nostalgia” on October 21,(in CD format), which comprises songs from the past that she enjoyed as a child. Her renditions of these songs are both gentle and sometimes haunting, but are remarkably mastered and vocalized.
The 12-track collection encompasses musical masterpieces written in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, such as “Summertime,” “You Belong to Me,” “I Can Dream Can’t I,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and her beautiful, tender interpretation of “God Bless the Child,” just to name a few. Her heartfelt execution of each and every song is inspirational, soul-felt and indubitably performed with grace, courage and a passion that make them her own. Lennox says that for her the origin of these songs stem from the “blue,” something she defines as both beautiful and painful, both of which she claims to be familiar with. I truly believe this anthology of songs is destined to become one of her finest hours.
Annie Lennox began her career in the ‘70s with a new wave band called “The Tourists,” but then she and David Stewart formed the “Eurythmics,” which brought her major success both in the U.S. and abroad in the ‘80s with songs such as “Sweet Dreams.” Later she began a solo journey, which led her to her collection of eight BRIT Awards, four Grammys, an MTV Video Music Award, a Billboard Country Award (the highest honor bestowed from Billboard Magazine), a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for best original song for a soundtrack to a feature film (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”).
Lennox has also been named one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by “Rolling Stone,” called “The Greatest White Soul Singer Alive” by “VH1” as well as the “Most Successful Female British Artist in U.K. Music History.” All of these honors just touch the surface of the remainder of credits associated with her.
As well as her overwhelmingly incredible musical career, Annie Lennox is also a social activist, an LGBT icon and an ambassador several times over. She was awarded the “Freedom of the City of London” by the British Red Cross for services to humanity in the field of HIV. She is a special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Scotland and an Ambassador for HIV/AIDS in London. Her “SING” campaign was born in 2007, an organization dedicated to raising funds for woman and children with AIDS in Africa. In 2010 she was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for AIDS and became an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” in recognition of her humanitarian work. She was awarded this honor by Queen Elizabeth in 2011. Once again, this only touches upon the work she has done in the name of humanity.
It was so much more than an honor to be able to speak with Lennox, to me near an accomplishment of a lifetime. To best describe our conversation, I would have to use the word “charming.” From seeing and hearing other interviews with Annie, I imagined her to be a little bit on the serious side; however, instead I found her to be fun, to laugh easily and to be very relaxed, candid and realistic.
You have recorded this glorious new album with songs from the past. Do you have a personal favorite, one that means more than the others maybe?
Well, it’s tricky when people ask me that, because honestly I love every one of them. They’re all very different in a way. They all have their individual characteristics. There’s a whole palate of mood and kind of story line, if you like, right across the board from the beginning all the way through to the end. It’s like a journey. So it’s hard for me, really hard process for me, to give you one particular song. I’m happy to talk about them all, but I can’t favor one. They’re all my children, my babies. I can’t favor one over the other.
You are such an accomplished and talented songwriter. Why did you decide to do this album?
It was because I was curious to see how my voice would work in a genre I have never recorded before, and I really … it was intriguing to me, and I thought this is an interesting idea. I really wanted to see what it would be like. I just started to translate songs by myself with a keyboard and find the cords that I really thought spoke the most evocative feeling. I started to work on it privately. Then I thought, “Know what, this is great, I really want to record this.” So I started recording it towards the end of last year. Now it’s here, it’s about to come out!
Well, I’ll tell you – your voice definitely worked!
Well, thank you! I’m delighted that you think that way.
I especially loved your rendition of “God Bless the Child.” It was amazingly creative and so perfectly mastered.
Well, thank you. Each of the songs have got some magic to them. They’re all individual. They’re like people. They’ve got a particular characteristic.
It was just so different for you. I really enjoyed the album!
So besides your vast musical career, you’re an ambassador, an activist, a humanitarian and so many other things. Where did you find the time to record this album?
Well, I had to block it out, to be honest with you. I really did have to say, “You know what, if I’m going to do this, I’m gonna have to cut back for the time that I’m working on this album. I’m gonna have to cut back and say no to a lot of people.” There’s a constant kind of request that comes to me from all over the world to do things and get involved with different things, and I just had to block time out. It’s like a very practical thing, you know?
Yeah, I do. Is there anything in your life that you wish to achieve that you haven’t yet?
I don’t think about achievement as sort of “mountains that I need to climb.” I think just to be present in your life and to have an authentic life – that is, I’m grateful, I have gratitude and sensibility of kindness, and maybe even some sort of calm and peace is really something I strive for more than anything else you, know – just to feel that somehow your existence is meaningful to you and not just meaningless.
What is your favorite thing about humanity?
My favorite thing about humanity? I like good company. Good company!
I love that answer! How do you think your life is different than you might have imagined as a child?
Oh, I don’t think you could ever project into the future and imagine a life, because I think it plays out so differently. I could never imagine when I was a child a life like the one that I have created. It would be just beyond the bones of my imagination.
So do you plan to follow this album with a tour?
I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it. I’m just going to play it out until December, and then I think I’ll take stock, and we’ll see what the next steps are going to be.
You must be excited that “Nostalgia” is about to be released, but you also released a vinyl edition, correct?
Yes, I did. Well, I try not to get overly excited with things, because you’re too much on the “ballast peak,” and I like to keep on an even keel. I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I like to stay present. I like to be just enjoying the present moment, because there is plenty of time in the future to come ahead of you.
The songs on the album are very, very soulful.
I think so, yeah. They are very soulful songs.
They seem to come from the heart.
Yes, well, I think they must have come from the heart of the composers.
Are all the composers known?
I think they’ve all been identified. I think they’re all published, and they are known. They’re some of the best composers of the last century from America.
Well, I think we’ve about wrapped it all up unless there is anything else?
No, I think we’ve done a very nice conversation.
Thank you! One last question: How do you feel about Scotland remaining part of the U.K.?
I’m pleased about it. I’m relieved. I’m glad about that. I think they made the right choice!