Spoken word and the soul perspective.
Shauntay Grant is a writer and storyteller from Halifax, Nova Scotia. A descendant of Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons, and Black Refugees who came to Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, Shauntay’s love of language stretches back to her storytelling roots in Nova Scotia’s historic Black communities.
Her album Say Sumthin - released in June - is a beautiful mix of spoken word deeply rooted in soul. Production by Yogi (Johann Deterville) is smooth as silk. The album was done mainly as a commission piece for the Nova Scotia Department of Education – a first time initiative to include a spoken word project that could go out to all the high schools in the province, to be used as a learning resource for students and teachers. The reason Shauntay might be chosen for such a project is clear – her storytelling skills are second to none.
Grandmother to me is a standout in this sense – a short poem filled with humour, longing and the fierce bond between generations of women. She manages to give us a complete picture of a woman – as well as of a home longed for – through brief, glimpsed images and thoughts… “I want to know potatoes…grandmother, teach me.”
Shauntay also has a great soul voice, as demonstrated on T(her)e. Shauntay told me this poem was partly inspired by her 2008 trip to Australia, documenting her travels on the coast and in the red centre of this country. Cinematic visions in the mind’s eye – she captures it perfectly.
Shauntay’s lineage is of oral storytelling culture. In particular the African Nova Scotian folk tradition, and the experience of storytelling as a daily activity:
“From an early age, family and community gatherings of all sorts illustrated the power of oral traditions. Some of my fondest memories of growing up place me in the home of my great-aunt and -uncle with stories past and present whizzing around my head, well into the night. Family members would be on their feet telling tales, each person vying for centre stage, and engaging everyone with dynamic language and hand gestures.”
This vibrant sensibility infuses this album. It’s a great work of neo-soul poetry, a deep exploration of the soul of storytelling, and so eminently listenable. Highly recommended!