Whitney Wolanin

Funkology XIII

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The musical electricity in the Nashville studio was crackling the day in 2004 when 13-year-old Whitney Wolanin made her recording debut with a powerful and spirited rendition of the Martha & the Vandellas classic "Heat Wave" -- which she nailed brilliantly in one take. Legendary bassist and Motown "Funk Brother" Bob Babbitt, who gathered some of the industry's top session musicians to play with the young singer, turned to his cohorts and asked what they thought. "Amazing for a 20 year old," they agreed. Then Wolanin spoke up and reminded them, "Guys, I'm only 13!" It's always tricky trying to launch a young teen singer as more than just a one-shot novelty, but it's clear from this powerhouse collection that the natural-born soul singer has the goods. The title of the singer's debut project title perfectly reflects the set's lively old-school-meets-modern pop/rock grooves. Produced by Babbitt with the singer's father, 35-year music industry veteran Vincent Wolanin, the collection is a fun-filled gathering of soul classics, some very familiar ("This Old Heart of Mine," "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," "Young and in Love") and others magical but a bit more obscure (Martha & the Vandellas' "Quicksand," Smokey Robinson's "Head to Toe"). On "Quicksand," the singer pulls off the amazing feat of literally "swinging" with her voice, along with the band. Wolanin also fashions another Robinson chestnut, "Mickey's Monkey," into her own thing with a whimsical reworking called "Whitney's Monkey," and she recorded "It Takes Two" with famed Survivor lead singer Jimi Jamison. The lone original number is a self-empowerment anthem appropriately and simply titled "Good" which is already catching fire on the female youth basketball circuit.

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