In conjunction with the end of Pride Month, Meshell Ndegeocello has released the video for her cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity” today via Jezebel. The video was directed by Cass Bird. “Sensitivity” appears on her latest album Ventriloquism, out now via Naïve. The album features versions of songs by Prince, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner and more.
As a counterpoint to “Waterfalls”, this video will move quickly, be filled with emotion, joy, movement, grand gestures and small moments of tenderness. The cast will focus on faces and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated, often misuderstood and depicts them at their most vital, with each other, standing in where society has created norms that don’t apply. We see people dancing, wider images of movement and convivium, and smaller moments of tenderness, both reflecting what sensitivity means – to each other, with each other, for each other, and where it hasn’t been shown before.
Musically, Ventriloquism has the hallmarks of all of Ndegeocello’s work, lush and investigative, subversive and sublime. As always, she pays tribute to her diverse influences and in these eleven covers, we hear them layered over one another. Ndegeocello filters “Tender Love” through a folky, Californian filter and brings Vaudevillian accents to “Sensitivity”. She recreates Smooth Operator in five, and turns “Private Dancer” into a sultry waltz. The reimagining affords not just a new musical experience but also a comment on the narrow expectations of sounds and structures for black artists and black music.
“Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.”
A portion of the profits from this album will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.