In the mainstream, UK vocalist SARAH JANE MORRIS is probably best known for her passionate vocal on the Communards 1986 #1 version of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. Since then Ms Morris has made a name for herself as an innovative jazz singer with 15 acclaimed, solo albums to her name. Critics and fans celebrate her soulful, octave-vaulting contralto range and her original lyrical ability that shows a grasp of popular musical history and her unflinching personal/political drive that has put social and sexual liberation and human rights issues at the centre of many of her songs.

Hear all that and a lot more on her new, soon-to-be-released album, ‘The Sisterhood’. An ambitious and intriguing ten tracker, it’s Sarah Jane’s homage to her roots, inspirations, and love of contemporary music-making and its female, iconic pioneers. The long player celebrates ten female stars who bestrode singing and song writing of the 20th century  – Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Annie Lennox, and Kate Bush.

Sarah says: “For more than twenty years I have been thinking about projects to celebrate women and our contribution to the history of song. This, at last, is it. These are my ten singers, my essential lodestars. With these stories I tell my own, acknowledge my musical tutelage and identify the women who mean so much to me. This album is dedicated to all my musical sisters, to those who went before and to those still making music. Thank you for blazing the trail, for fighting for us all with your irresistible talent and your passionate resolve.”

What brings the real intrigue to the project is that rather  than record covers of songs made famous by her chosen trail-blazers, Ms Morris, in tandem with musical partner, guitarist Tony Remy, has crafted original songs that reflect the contribution, impact and relevance of the “heroines”. Helping Sarah and Tony deliver is a stellar lineup of sidemen…  people like sax man Courtney Pine, piano maven Jason Rebello, guitarist Dominic Miller and saxophonist Patrick Clahar. Themusic’s given an extra dimension via the string arrangements of  Sally Herbert, former Communard violinist.

The album opens in fine, funky style with the set’s title track – dedicated to Aretha Franklin. It sweeps along in the soulful manner of Stevie’s ‘Superstition’ – punchy brass and riffs a-go-go! Listen up to the lovely piano solo. As soulful – but much more laid back musically – is ‘Junk In My Trunk’  – inspired by Billie Holiday’s  determination to stand by the harrowing anti-racist message of ‘Strange Fruit’ in the face of  censorious pressure from the authorities.

Elsewhere there’s plenty of musical variety. ‘Jazz Side Of The Road’ (the Rickie Lee Jones tribute) is a gentle, country soul ramble that might remind you of the work of the lovely Terry Callier. ‘Miss Makeba’ (the source is obvious!) will take you down to the townships of South Africa – listen up to some sweet Hugh Masekela-flavoured horn. Offering a little more intrigue and possibly the album’s most ambitious track is ‘Rimbaud Of Suburbia’. This is SJM’s tribute to Kate Bush. As you can imagine it’s dramatic and features spoken word parts delivered in English and French . What is it about French poet Arthur Rimbaud that inspires serious musicians? You might know (and love?) Van Morrison’s ‘Tore Down A La Rimbaud.

The other “tributes” are ‘Couldn’t Be Without’ (for Bessie Smith), ‘Tomorrow Never Happens’ (for Janis Joplin) ‘For The Voiceless’ (for Annie Lennox, ‘So Much Love’ (for Nina Simone) ) and ‘Sing Me A Picture’ (for Joni Mitchell). The unity amidst this variety is  brought by the passion and commitment of the vocals.  

 ‘The Sisterhood’ is released on Friday 8th  March – appropriately International Woman’s Day. The CD comes with a 16 page lyric booklet packed in a digi pack format. The vinyl comes as a 2LP limited edition pressing of just 300 copies. Each with full colour inner bags and a gatefold sleeve, the fourth side contains two extra remixes of “Sisterhood’ the song for Aretha and ‘Junk in My Trunk’ the song for Billie. There’s also a  very special version of the double album is only 10 copies, each with a handwritten lyric sheet by Sarah Jane for one of the 10 songs. Each one is a unique collector’s item. If you pre order the vinyl you will also get a link to a free download of the album, that will be activated on release. Please note you will not be able to choose which song you receive the lyrics sheet for, as these will be picked at random. Learn more @