N'Dambi at the Vienna Jazz Festival 2010
|Birth name||Chonita N. Gillespie [Gilbert]|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Labels||Concord Music Group2006–present,
|Associated acts||Erykah Badu, Snarky Puppy, Lecrae, Keite Young|
N'Dambi is the ninth of eleven children born to a Baptist minister and missionary. Her father was a minister and singer in a quartet group. She got her professional start singing with Gaye Arbuckle, a local gospel singer, touring with Arbuckle for two years (from the ages of 18 to 20). Shortly thereafter she sang as background singer and collaborator with Erykah Badu.
She released three independent albums: Little Lost Girls Blues, Tunin' Up & Cosignin' and A Weird Kind of Wonderful. As a result of her success as an independent artist, she was signed to the re-activated Stax Records (Concord Music Group) in 2006 and released her 2011 Grammy-nominated album, Pink Elephant in 2009. N'Dambi has also recorded or been featuring on songs with Erykah Badu, Keite Young, Down To The Bone (band), Lecrae, The D.O.C., Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicholas Payton, DJ Kemit and Snarky Puppy's Family Dinner vol. 1 which earned her a SESAC Award for Best Jazz Performance.
Her name, "N'Dambi" was taken from a Central African language. It means "Most beautiful", N'Dambi told RNation.com. "NDambi" is not uncommon as a name in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. As a model, N'Dambi has posed for fashion photographer Marc Baptiste.
N'Dambi delivered her debut solo CD Little Lost Girl Blues in 1999. Since then she has released the two-disc set Tunin' Up & Cosignin, which focused more on a live and jazzy sound and contains new versions of several songs from her debut. After this, in 2005, she released A Weird Kind of Wonderful, which contained funkier and more rock-influenced tracks. It was released in Japan only, which made it a very sought-after collector's item on eBay. These projects were released independently by N'Dambi. Her debut album for the Stax Records is called Pink Elephant and was released in 2009.
Little Lost Girls Blues
N'Dambi debut soul album Little Lost Girls Blues was recorded in 1996 in Oak Cliff, a community in Dallas. It was independently released in 1999 and went on to receive critical acclaim throughout the world. It sound scanned over 20,000 units and sold over 70,000 units worldwide. The album was primarily marketed via word of mouth lifestyle marketing, press and college radio.
Tunin' Up & Co-Siginin'
This two disc set contains live recordings from Little Lost Girls Blues and new recordings. The album was recorded in Dallas with a group of local musicians. It featured Ode 2 Nina, was a tribute song to Nina Simone.
A Weird Kind of Wonderful
This album was released as a physical disc exclusively in Japan (though it was subsequently offered for sale as downloads through several online music retailers). It was recorded with a live band in Los Angeles, California. It has a more funk, rock, soul vibe with more influences of Mother's Finest and Tina Turner.
Pink Elephant was recorded in Santa Monica, California with producer Leon Sylvers III. N'dambi insisted the record have a modern sheen yet adhere to the sturdy influence of classic R&B and soul artists like Slave, Heatwave, Michael Jackson, Betty Davis, Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, and The Sylvers. On December 2, 2010, Pink Elephant was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album.
|Little Lost Girl Blues
|Tunin' Up & Cosignin'
|A Weird Kind of Wonderful
|"Call Me" (Yam Who reworks)
|"Can't Change Me" (Ron Trent Remix)
|"If We Were Alone" with Keite Young (AaronCarl Mix)
- "N'Dambi". biography. soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
- Eustache, Joanne (February 2000). Hard Rock: Nas, Eve And Sisqo Take It To The New Millennium. Vibe Magazine. p. 169.
- "Meet N’Dambi! Badu’s Back-Up Singer Makes A Name For Herself"
- "Dallas singer N'Dambi nominated for a Grammy"
- RNation, March 23, 2000: The Spirit Of N'Dambi
- Marc Baptiste, Beautiful, Nudes, 2001, ISBN 0-7893-0646-8
- Dallas Observer, 2001: Soul Alone
- discogs entry for Call Me
- 12 inch N'dambi Can't Change Me
- discogs entry If We Were Alone
- N'dambi interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' August 2011
- Dallas Observer, 1999
- Dallas Observer, 2001
- discogs.com N'dambi Discography