Have you ever found yourself wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' for a new album from a favorite artist? We all have. But it might surprise you that many artists feel the same way when an issue prevents them from releasing new music. Whether it's a legal dispute, creative differences with their label or a personal struggle, you can bet we don't know the half of what goes on behind the scenes, resulting in a frustrating delay. Our girl YahZarah knows this all too well but proves a dream deferred can be transformed into a dream realized with her long-awaited album The Ceremony.
We got our first preview of the project back in 2017, but in reality, The Ceremony has been 10 years in the making. In between touring with the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Madonna, plus exploring other creative ventures with innovative artist Fabiola Jean-Louis, YahZarah was also in the process of self-exploration. The hard journey led to what she calls a "personal emancipation and reclaiming of my life and music."
"I’ve always been a late bloomer...Always had to take my time...," she expounds. "In the middle of making this I had so many adventures I had to do some living to make this record. I am grateful to all the people in my life that told me not to give up. Reclamation, Revelation, Reincarnation and Faith made this project possible. It was done last year, but I was struggling with self-trust...Wondered had I lost my moment. 2019 & 2020 Let me know that my time is now." Upon first listen, we have no choice but to agree. This is indeed her time.
A glorious fusion of rock and soul, the album features stellar production by Ray Angry, Raheem DeVaughn and Jonas Rendbo (aka "Jonas Music"). YahZarah stakes her claim on our aural faculties and cements her status amongst music lovers everywhere with "LEGEND," a hard-driving, bodacious opener that sets a high bar of expectation for the remainder of the album. She rises to the challenge, providing a stunning collection of 12 songs that give a glimpse into the gamut of emotions experienced during her 10-year journey. She pivots from fearless ferocity on "CREATURES" to fragile vulnerability on "DRUGS." The old adage "experience is a good teacher" comes to mind as she explores lessons learned on "ASHES," "TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE" and "BEAUTIFUL USER" (featuring guitarist Kat Dyson).
As the album continues, her resilience and determination inspire the listener and provide the lifeblood of empowering anthem "KEEP RUNNING" (featuring Dyson) and "HEIGHTS," a bold reclamation elevated by a cameo from Farrah Boulé. Nestled in between the two tracks, her affinity for Prince comes through on the funky, no-nonsense tune "BE REAL." Meanwhile, the helpless romantic from earlier tracks evolves into a sensual siren for "BACK SEAT OF MY STAR" (with help from her real-life love MI7) and "F.M.T.U. (FLY ME TO THE UNIVERSE)." Afterward, Ghanain rapper M.anifest helps YahZarah close the album on a memorable note, tapping into her roots with an autobiographical groove built on tribal rhythms.
We won't call it a comeback (she's been around for years, after all), but what we will do is scream "YAHZARAH IS BACK!" and The Ceremony deserves nothing but fanfare. Stream the album below and support this indie release by purchasing a copy for your permanent collection.