Stephanie launches Catharsis
"Making this album has been a truly cathartic experience for me. It stripped me of all residues of pain. It gave me stronger legs to stand on with deeper roots and it helped me to embrace all of me," is how Stephanie Wallace begins the thank you section in the album jacket of her sophomore album, Catharsis.
Last Thursday, at the launch of the new set, the vocalist and mother amplified this sentiment in speeches backed up by the lyrics and performances of some of the songs from the CD. An intimate audience of friends and well-wishers, along with diners who happened to be there, witnessed the testimony under the towering fruit tress that enclose the stage of Redbones Blues CafÈ, New Kingston.
During the hour before the launch activities began the CD was played and images of Wallace engaged in various activities projected on a screen. Not surprising, there was no call to order; instead, there was a request for all to turn towards to the screen by the voice and image of Wallace. Wearing a pair of large framed glasses and standing before a building in the video she, along with others, provided some background information on the album.
"Catharsis is in the album, it's in every song." Wallace said, before taking the audience inside One Pop Studio to meet the team of producers and engineers. Those included Paul 'Patchy' Wright and Michael Sean Harris. Harris, who wrote and produced the title track, said he received guidance from Stephanie and described the recording process as "fun". For Wright it was quite an experience and he predicted that the CD will be "a hit".
It was one of the three guest artistes featured on the album, Lymie Murray, who had the final say in the video. In acknowledging that it is an honour for him to be featured on the album, Murray described Catharsis as having "spring-time vibes" and "sexy tracks" and then directed Wallace "to do your thing." He later joined her for a live performance of the song Two Hearts.
As Murray had suggested, Stephanie did her thing. She made her entrance through the centre of the audience and went on to the now converted thrust stage (which extends into the audience on three sides) singing Let it Be Me (which is not on the album). After seeking and getting the audience's approval for her tight fitting black shorts and black mesh, long-sleeved black top decorated with gold, topped off by a red bowl style wig, she segued into Coming Home, the first track from the album.
Track number five, Shades of Grey, one of her favourite songs on Catharsis, was next. Wallace explained that the song speaks of encouragement, that if you fall out of love you can fall in love again. Then it was on to the emotionally charged Battlefield, which is definitely one of the songs to look forward to on the album.
Along with Murray, there are two other featured artistes on the album, RR (Double R) and Javada. They, too, were on hand to add variety to the show. Javada, who is featured on the rather raunchy Have Me, gave a commanding performance. RR who is featured on Grown and Sexy (the initial choice for the album's title), was sensational.
Before delivering the song, which could amount to a celebration of the independent woman, Stephanie shared some of her thoughts.
"When I thought about doing an album I needed to understand that grown and sexy is a form of catharsis, to release or to purge the old beliefs of what sexy is. And how women should hide themselves as sexual beings and to not to express themselves. And it makes them less of a woman if they do certain things," she said.
"I think that women can be grown and sexy and that is different from the leggo ones. A woman should be mature and strong and independent. We celebrate those women. A grown and sexy woman understands the place of a man in her life. She is not saying she can live by herself. She is saying in the absence of you. I know that I am."
Stephanie and RR gave a powerful rendition of the song, supported by an outstanding backing band attired in black or red, all set against the white backdrop. "Red is my symbol colour for cleansing, for burning, and white is for purity and black is black," Wallace explained before the thank yous.'.
That began somewhat off course. "I do not consider myself as an upcoming artiste, seeing that I have been doing music forever. But there are people, like journalists, who will say upcoming artiste Stephanie," she said. Then all the persons involved, from making the album to its launch were thanked.
The live performance and official launch of Catharsis ended with a performance of the title track.
Wallace later said making the album was effortless and the final stages took about four months. This was because some of the works on the album were done two years ago and, also, the producers wasted no time in doing music for the tracks.
The next stage for the singer, who began her solo career in 2000, is shooting the music video for the soon-to-be released single Coming Home. There are also plans to do promotional tours to support the album in the Caribbean, then it is off to Florida.