I couldn't get enough of Toni Lynn Washington's newest CD, "Good Things." From the moment I pushed the play button on my stereo, I became totally enthralled with her smooth, distinct, soulful sound. Her music is perfect for rainy days, romantic nights, or just went you want to kick back at the end of a long day.
Her stunning voice is powerful, polished, and sleek, as if her heartfelt melody and sophisticated lyrics were like a piece of black velvet brushing up against one's soul, relinquishing an intense feeling that stirs deep inside, and leaves a satisfied sensation for hours. I was extremely impressed by the words she vocalized with confidence in her songs; for they weren't your normal, sappy lyrics you would hear a majority of female, blues vocalists sing. Her words are intelligently written with creativity and a style, which stated, "Toni Lynn Washington is more than just a beautiful voice, she has a brain, and a good philosophy on life as well." Her sense of style only intrigued me even more, and kept me listening intensely until her CD was over, and I had to play it all over again.
It wasn't just her sensual, well balanced voice which moved me; it was her eclectic approach in her songs, which set her apart from the others, adding uniqueness to her high quality melodies. Toni has an artistic way of taking a bit of contemporary funk, roots, soul, blues, and jazz, and mixing them up so they hit with precision in all the right places. And I loved the way each distinct piece of music in her six piece band, accompanied her voice, and knew just where to make each piece radiate with impact, emotion, and energy.
It has been quoted that, "Toni Lynn Washington is one of the finest, female, blues vocalist ever heard, " and I would have to agree. Every since she was young, she was destined to sing, and share her talented voice with the world. Her career began as a child, singing in the gospel choir in the southern pines of North Carolina. When she reached adolescence, her family moved to Boston, where her mother began to introduce her under aged daughter, to what is now referred to as the famous, South End Club District. When Toni was only eighteen, she married a navy man and moved to New Orleans. It is there she recorded a top - 50's single, "Dear Diary" with the assistance of the famous producer, Edward Frank. With her success she took her music on the road for quite some time, performing with the chitlin' circuit gigs.
Toni Lynn Washington has worked hard for her success, as most refined artists have done, and has had many obstacles to overcome during her musical career, due to her frequent moving from state to state, and her strong commitments to raising a family. However, she never let go of her dream. Just when her career would seem to soar, she had to move, leaving her to find the integrity and courage to start from scratch all over again. And that is what happened to her once more in New Orleans, when her husband was transferred to California. Again, Toni was left to climb the ladder of the music scene in Los Angeles, and eventually she joined a band called, "The Sound of the Seventy's." It was then she had the opportunity to be recorded on a major album label, with musicians such as Earth, Wind, and Fire, as well as getting the opportunity to be featured on the Steve Allen Show. Just as she began to climb the ladder of success once more, something happened to push her back down again. The album never was released due to a mishap with the label and management company, and afterwards Toni went back to Boston to work a day job, and sing in the evenings at local night clubs.
It was back in 1989, in Boston, when she met several other gifted musicians, Bruce Bears (keyboard, musical director), Tim Gearan (Tenor Sax player), Rob Lee (Bari Sax), and Paul Ahlstrand (tenor sax/arranger) who then formed the, The Toni Lynn Washington Band. Together they played with force, reaching her first Tone-Cool release in 1995, "Blues At Midnight," as well as her second, "It's My Turn," in 1998. Since then she has continued to climb higher, becoming a nominee of the W.C. Handy and NAIRD awards for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year, as well as Soul/Blues album of the Year. Not only has Toni Lynn Washington graced her fans with three CD releases, she has also gifted them with many outstanding performances around the world, touring high profile festivals, and world wide clubs.
Toni's newest CD, "Good Things," was produced with the assistance of veteran producer, Bobby B. Keyes, and her altruistic voice is accompanied by her tight, six piece band, which features the talent of Bruce Bears (organ, piano), Tim Gearan (guitar), Paul Ahlstrand (tenor sax/horn arrangements), Rob Lee (bari sax), Craig G Mc Intyre (drums) and Ed Spargo (bass). Together they explode in the soul with a diverse beat, making you wish they'd never stop.
There wasn't a song on this CD that I didn't like. Each one had a way of reaching out with a smooth, rich melody, grab hold and pull me in, until I smiled with contentment. Toni Lynn Washington is fantastic, and if you've never listened to her music, run and out and pick up her new CD, "Good Things, " it's a definite must have!
If you want more information on where to pick up Toni Lynn Washington's newest CD, her history, or what other critics are saying, you can visit her web site at http://www.tonilynnwashington.com, as well as email Michael@tonecool.com, or visit Tone Cool's web site at, www.tonecool.com. If you don't have access to the internet you can also contact Tone-Cool by snail mail at, Tone-Cool, 6 Abbot Road Annex, Wesley Hills, MA, 02481.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Mia Jennings, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.