PREMIERE: Renee Holiday Covers Patti Smith’s “People Have The Power”

Patti Smith’s voice is a hammer striking an anvil, her songs often come across as poetry set to a tune. In the era of fake news, Smith’s work has come into the spotlight: she has been nominated for induction into The Songwriters Hall of Fame, performed at Pathway To Paris (a nonprofit trying to bring awareness of climate change), and even called President Trump an “uneducated man.” Written by Smith and her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, 1988’s “People Have The Power” is considered a classic protest song. The perfect song to dust off in the melee that is 2019.

Seattle’s own Renee Holiday teamed up with Nigel Harrison (of Blondie) for a true cover of Smith’s “People Have The Power.” True in the sense that it uses the material in a fresh, subversive way. Patti Smith’s original recording is raw rock n’ roll, while Holiday manages to infuse hope into every note. From the first “I was dreaming,” Holiday’s voice takes the form of a warm trickle of water: smooth, comforting, confidant in its path. While Patti commanded the audience to remember their power, Renee gives a gentle push. And in a world on fire, we could all use a little gentle ribbing.

Watch AudioFemme’s exclusive premiere of “People Have The Power” and read our interview with Renee Holiday below:

AF: Tell us about your childhood. When did you first take an interest in music and how did that lead you to the work you create today?

RH: I grew up in a very musical household so it’s no surprise that I took an interest in singing at a very early age. My family always tells me cute stories of me forcing them to be my audience for at-home concerts and performances. I also clearly remember watching a performance of Sade when I was around the age of 5 or 6, and knowing right away that I wanted to be a like her. I wanted to float around stage while serenading whoever would listen, so that’s what I did!

AF: You’re a Seattle native – what’s the music scene there like nowadays?

RH: The scene in Seattle is pretty eclectic. There’s definitely something for everyone!

AF: You’ve recently changed your stage name from Shaprece to Renee Holiday. What was the catalyst for this change?

RH: I had the idea to change my name years ago but the timing felt right, now. The break from performance that I took allowed time for me to meditate on the idea and when I started working with this new team and label, it felt like the right time to make that decision.

AF: Will the music be altered as well?

RH: The music is still very true to my voice and story but the production and direction has evolved.

AF: Your live performance has an incredible amount of tension to it (we were enthralled with your Sofar performance). How do you ready yourself for performance? Do you have any rituals before a show?

RH: No particular rituals but I do have a tendency to become very quiet and reserved right before a set. I think it’s my mind’s natural way to preserve every ounce of energy for my performance.

AF: You incorporate a variety of instruments into your live performances. When you’re writing songs, do you normally think: “Ok, and here’s a brass section” or “I want a harp to back me up on this one,” or is it something that comes in later during production?

RH: Production is always a collaboration of sorts between myself and my producer(s). Sometimes the producer will place unusual instruments to the production and I’m like woooow, I never would have thought of putting a banjo on this! Sometimes I phantom hear instruments while the track is being made, and suggest adding whatever that may be. It really all depends on the mood and the energy of the song.

AF: How did this “People Have The Power” cover come about?

RH: I was catching a flight to New York for a vocal session, and I met a very eccentric man by the name of Roger Greenwalt. He was dancing around the back of the plane with noise cancelling headphones and I just knew we would get along! I ended up moving seats next to him for the remainder of the flight, and we quickly found that we both have grand ideas when it comes to creating music. Next thing I know, he invited me to sing on a compilation album for his label Petaluma Records (which is now my label home). He explained to me that the compilation was a collection of protest songs and of course, I was immediately interested. When I showed up to his studio later in the week, Nigel Harrison of Blondie was there working on the track as well. I felt so honored that they both trusted me to carry the power of this song.

AF: Have you always been a Patti Smith fan?

RH: Actually, I didn’t realize how much of a fan I was until I was asked to perform the cover. I had so many jaw dropping a-ha moments once I traveled down the Patti Smith rabbit hole. She’s a legend!

AF: What was it like working with Nigel Harrison?

RH: He is so kind, and such an encouraging person to work with! He complimented me on my professionalism, ability to learn a song on the spot, and perform it with confidence. I was majorly flattered and appreciative to get that sort of feedback from Rock Royalty. He has written some majorly ICONIC songs that I absolutely love so needless to say, I was honored to be working with both Nigel and Roger!

AF: If you did an album of covers as Renee Holiday, what would be your top tracks?

RH: I can’t pinpoint exact tracks because I have so many favorites but I can say that there would definitely be some Amy Winehouse, Bjork, Sade, Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Bill Withers, Jazmin Sullivan…

AF: Is a Renee Holiday album in the works?

RH: Definitely. Stay tuned!

AF: When and where can we see you live?

RH: If you happen to be in Seattle between November 7th and December 1st, you can catch me at the Can Can Culinary Cabaret in historic Pike Place market for my residency, “Beautiful.” The show’s concept is based on life transformation and rebirth which is definitely something that we can all relate to. I’m excited to showcase the transition from Shaprece to Renee Holiday through song, stunning visuals, and an incredible dance team!

A portion of “People Have The Power” proceeds will go to

TRACK REVIEW: MisterWives “Same Drugs”


You know what life has been missing? A new MisterWives track! And although it’s not a new track per se, as it’s a Chance the Rapper cover, it’s still a worthwhile song to add to your weekly playlist (because everyone has one of those, right?).

In a lot of ways, this single is a deviation from the MisterWives we’ve come to know and love. “Same Drugs” holds elements of gospel music, complete with clapping and soft “ooh’s” in the background, and is overall more low-key and serious compared their usual bubbly, fun sound. Frontwoman Mandy Lee slays the track with her signature quirky vocals, yet this track has a more sobering effect. She handles it masterfully, hitting highs, lows, and everything in between while dodging playfully alongside keys and brass. It’s a great reminder that we all need a lot more MisterWives in our lives–and hopefully sooner rather than later.

WILLONA ON WAX: Hozier & The Fugees


hozier-album-coverThe first time I heard Hozier’s breakout (and Grammy-nominated) single, “Take Me to Church” I was sleeping. I woke as if from a beautiful dream, jumped out of bed and went to my computer. I needed to know what the song was before it slipped away.

Although I found out that the Irish singer/songwriter’s debut album was due out in the fall of 2014, I put off buying it because I was afraid I would be disappointed. I finally purchased the album on vinyl a couple of days ago, opened it, took a breath and listened.

I am not disappointed.

Hozier’s roots rock sound feels like it was born and bred in the Bible Belt of the American South. There are head-bobbing blues riffs, spare melodies, 1960’s soul, violins, cello and plenty of church choir style harmonies. Somehow, Hozier manages to wrangle these eclectic sounds into a cohesive album.

This record will appeal to fans of The Black Keys (especially the track “To Be Alone”). Standout tracks include “Work Song” and “It Will Come Back,” with the amazing lines “Jesus Christ, don’t be kind to me/Honey don’t feed me/I will come back.”


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Packaging: Double LP. Beautiful collage artwork and lyric sheets. CD version included.

Where to Get It: You can buy the vinyl from Hozier’s website.

The Score

“How many mics do you rip on the daily?”

FugeesThis is really happening. The Fugees’ The Score is almost 20 years old, people. It’s a vintage classic.

When I went to buy the Hozier record, I came across this re-release in the crates. Let’s just say it wasn’t cheap, but as I debated whether or not to take it home I realized that I hadn’t heard the full album since my tape player died. So, I bought the record.

The Score is a perfect and amazing album. It’s not a bunch of singles. It’s a story. There are even weird little skits in-between songs.

Think about how many tracks have become legendary from this record: “Ready Or Not,” “How Many Mics,” “Fu-Gee-La” and Lauryn Hill’s cover of “Killing Me Softly.” That’s just to name a few because otherwise I would have to list every track.

Smart. Funny. Funky. This record is worth the cost of 180 gram vinyl.

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Packaging: Double LP. Black and white photos of Lauryn Hill, Pras and Wyclef.

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TRACK REVIEW: Coeur de Pirate “Wicked Games”

Coeur de Pirate Beatrice Martin

Francophone singer/pianist Coeur De Pirate (that’s French for Pirate Heart) recently released a new album of covers of her favourite English songs for the Canadian television show Trauma. Arguably, the best song on the album is her version of a track by another Canadian artist – The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games”. Coeur De Pirate, whose real name is Beatrice Martin, has released two full albums in French. Trauma marks her first full length English album, and it does not disappoint.

Martin is Quebec born and raised, which holds a particularly special place in my heart and is one of the main reasons I first started following her work a few years ago. When I first moved to Montreal, the only thing I listened to for the first six months (religiously!) were Martin’s first self-titled album Coeur De Pirate (2008), and her second album Blonde, released in 2011.

Those familiar with Martin’s work know that the common themes in her songs are heartbreak and unrequited love, and she delivers them with a sweet but painfully lovelorn voice. Her rendition of “Wicked Games” is no different; something about the way she sings it gives you the feeling that her heart is actually breaking at the moment. Armed with only a piano and her voice, Martin delivers a version of the song that will haunt you. Having been fortunate enough to watch her do her thing live (twice) in her hometown of Montreal, I can say that her talent is as mesmerizing on a stage as it is coming through speakers.

It is obvious that Martin wanted to strip the song into her own raw form; “Wicked Games” doesn’t sugarcoat anything and is as beautiful as it is hypnotizing. The original version of The Weeknd’s alternative R&B song is sultry, smooth and exquisite, but Coeur De Pirate was able to take the song to a whole new amazing level. Elsewhere on Trauma, Martin tackles Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”, Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille”, and the ever classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, though you should probably just play “Wicked Games” on repeat all day – just saying.

Trauma is available for purchase and download via the artist’s bandcamp. Check out Martin’s video below, and compare it to The Weeknd’s original.

TRACK REVIEW: Jeffertitti’s Nile “Blue Spirit Blues”

Jeffertitti’s Nile is the kind of band that likes to make its own reality. The project of Jeffertitti Moon, bassist for Father John Misty, Jeffertitti’s Nile developed in the space between tours, expanding with various new members and cameos as well as scattered musical styles and odd combinations. The group prides itself on its unpredictability, and seem to deliberately sidestep expectations with each new release of self-described “Transcendental Space-Punk Doo Wop.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that the first single off the Jeffertitti’s second album The Electric Hour, set to drop at the end of April, is a little out of left field: on “Blue Spirit Blues,” Jeffertitti conducts a large-scale, ultrazany reimagining of jazz legend Bessie Smith’s 1929 version. Jeffertitti’s cover is a full gutting of the track: underlaid with a bass pull as powerful as a riptide, “Blue Spirit Blues” moves at a breakneck pace through its three and a half minutes, rollicking and snarling the whole way.

Bessie Smith and Jeffertitti aren’t nearly as odd a combination as they seem on first glance, and in fact, the more you listen to the song, the easier it is to realize that the full-body trip of Jeffertitti’s “Blue Spirit Blues” isn’t a new addition; the song always had a glint of craziness beneath the surface. The lyrics have always been scary: it’s the story of dreaming of descending into hell, running until someone wakes you up. Just as the deep dread and foreboding at the heart of Jeffertitti’s version is traceable to Smith, the original version of the song has always had something otherworldly and–in an early 20th century jazz sort of way–psychedelic about it. Jeffertitti’s rendition blasts open the song’s expansiveness and amps up the dark, sexy rhythm behind the melody.

It’s hard to know what to expect from an album whose first single is a cover, but if the imaginative power behind this track is any indication, The Electric Hour will be worth looking out for. The new album drops on April 29th via Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records. Until then, listen to “Blue Spirit Blues” below: