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R&B Singer Finds Secular From Spiritual

of the Oakland Press

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R&B singer N’dambi grew up in Dallas as one of 12 children raised by parents who were Baptist ministers — and not exactly fans of secular music. So she proceeded cautiously in pursing a music career that went outside of those parameters.

“When I first started, I didn’t really mention to them what I was doing,” N’dambi (real name Chonita Gilbert) says with a laugh. “I just was doing it. I didn’t want anyone to say ‘no.’ I just kept doing it until I finally put out my first album (‘Little Lost Girls Blues’ in 1999). I let them hear it, and they were like, ‘OK, what can we say? You really are doing it, so go ahead ... ’ ”

N’dambi, who sang backup for fellow Texan Erykah Badu before going solo, has released three albums since then, and her latest, “Pink Elephant,” finds her signed to Stax Records, the legendary Memphis soul label that’s been resurrected in recent years but still has the cache of its rich history.

“What I love about being on Stax is it’s a label that started out with a legacy of creating timeless music that has surpassed the years in which they made the songs,” N’dambi, 40, explains. “The artists were important for their time, and they made stuff people can relate to now.

“So I enjoy being part of that company and would hope to make some songs that will be timeless, too, and be stuff people remember after I’m gone.”

N’dambi performs a free show at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 19) at the Pi of Southfield banquet hall, 28847 Franklin Road. Call 248-208-7500 or visit www.piofsouthfield.com. She’ll also sign autographs from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Street Corner Music, 26020 Greenfield Road, Oak Park. Call 248-967-0777 or visit www.streetcornermusic.com.

Web Site: www.piofsouthfield.com

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