Born: August 29, 1968 Primary Instrument: Bass, electric
Meshell Ndegeocello is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, bassist, and vocalist. Her music incorporates a wide variety of influences, including funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, R&B, rock, and jazz. She has received significant critical acclaim throughout her career,and has had ten career Grammy Award nominations. She has been credited for having sparked the neo-soul movement.
Ndegeocello honed her skills on the D.C. go-go circuit where in the late 1980s with the bands Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence. She unsuccessfully tried out for Living Colour's bassist position, vacated in 1992 by Muzz Skillings. Going solo, she was one of the first artists to sign with Maverick Records, where she released her debut album, Plantation Lullabies. This recording presented a distinctly androgynous persona.
Her biggest hit is a duet with John Mellencamp, a cover version of Van Morrison's Wild Night, which reached #3 on the Billboard charts. Her only other Billboard Hot 100 hit besides Wild Night has been her self-penned If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night), which peaked at #73 in 1994. Also in 1994, Nedegeocello collaborated with Herbie Hancock on Nocturnal Sunshine, a track for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as Album of the Year by Time magazine.
She had a No. 1 Dance hit in 1996 with a Bill Withers cover song called Who Is He (and What Is He To You?) (briefly featured in the film Jerry Maguire) as well as Dance Top 20 hits with Earth, Leviticus: Faggot, Stay and the aforementioned If That's Your Boyfriend.. Last Night). Ndegeocello played bass on the song I'd Rather be Your Lover for Madonna on her album Bedtime Stories.Ndegeocello was also tapped, at the last minute, to perform a rap on the same song. This came after Madonna and producers decided to remove Tupac Shakur's rap (which he did while he and Madonna were dating in 1994), after he had criminal charges filed against him.
Her music has been featured in a number of film soundtracks including How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk To Me, Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls,The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, and Soul Men.
She has appeared on recordings by Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, and The Blind Boys of Alabama. On The Rolling Stones' 1997 album Bridges to Babylon she plays bass on the song Saint Of Me. On Alanis Morissette's 2002 album Under Rug Swept, she plays bass on the songs So Unsexy and You Owe Me Nothing in Return. On Zap Mama's album ReCreation (2009), she plays bass on the song African Diamond.
She can also be seen in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, singing The Miracles' You've Really Got a Hold on Me and The Temptations' Cloud Nine. In the late 1990s, she toured with Lilith Fair. She also did a remake of the song, Two Doors Down on the 2003 release, Just Because I'm A Woman: The Songs of Dolly Parton.
Ndegeocello was also a judge for the 2nd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
Her song “Tie One On” was chosen as the Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week on February 23, 2010.