Though she has more than 50 years of music-making under her belt, Melba Moore–a world-renowned R&B singer and Grammy-nominated artist– is still finding firsts in her career with the release of her latest album.
“This one is different because it came from my daughter, which it usually doesn’t – prior to now she hasn’t been part of my professional life or career,” Moore said in a recent interview with NJ Urban News. “She and her uncle, Beau (Huggins), are the executive producers of this album, it’s really their concept.” Titled “Imagine,” her latest album was released on April 29 with 10 songs that Moore estimates took upwards of two years to come together as presented. It resulted from Moore’s daughter, Charli Huggins, bringing song after song to Moore.
She doesn’t recall the moment that convinced her to work with Charli and Beau on the project, only that they hit a point where they had more than enough wonderful songs for an album. With Beau and Charli as executive producers and handling so much of production, Moore noted “Imagine” is also unique in that – for the first time – she can listen to the recordings and appreciate them in a way she can’t with most of her other music. “I think it’s an incredible album because we were able to put the time into it, no one was squeezing us into any format or theme,” said Moore, “and because it was my daughter bringing it to me I was much more open to consider things that – if it were someone else bringing it to me I might say ‘no.’”
The acclaimed singer’s long list of accomplishments also extends into the world of theater, particularly the 1970 musical “Purlie,” for which she was awarded a Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. She also saw stage time in the musicals “Hair,” which was her first musical, and “Les Miserables,” where she was the first Black woman to play Fantine on Broadway. Her acting accomplishments go on, boasting her one-woman musical show, “Still Standing: The Melba Moore Story.” The nature of musicals, Moore noted, changed how she approached some of her more mainstream body of music and how she might study the characteristics of a genre she might be performing. “If I were to do jazz as a character I would study (Ella Fitzgerald), I got her ‘Air Mail Special’ recording and I studied her,” she said.
As Moore gets deeper into her tour for “Imagine,” she’s also preparing to bring new acknowledgment. In August, she’s expecting to receive a Life Time Achievement Award from President Joe Biden, and she currently has artifacts from her storied career being placed in the Smithsonian. It was also announced that Moore will be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2023.
Imagine is available to purchase or stream now, with details available through melbamoore.com. Moore also mentioned that tour dates are posted to her Instagram account, @melba1moore.