'Hello, I'm Britti' showcases Louisiana singer-songwriter's 'gumbo' of musical influences

Singer-songwriter Brittany "Britti" Guerin's mainstream musical career begins with her being adjusted, grown, married and meeting standards set by timeless inspirations.

Had the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native arrived in Nashville's Americana-inspired soul community any earlier, her debut from Easy Eye Sound, "Hello, I'm Britti" — released on Feb. 2 — wouldn't sound as locked into roots pre-ordained by growing up in a pop-aimed jazz lineage (her uncle is world-traveled bass guitarist Roland Guerin) and listening to blues, classical, gospel, Motown, Stax, pop and Zydeco music.

The album showcases her musical roots, plus maturity bittersweetly earned from many factors: growing up as the daughter of a hard-working single parent and primarily raised by her grandparents, years of deferring her dreams while she sold musical instruments, surviving a life-altering breakup and losing employment during a COVID-19 pandemic furlough.

Brittany "Britti" Guerin's debut album, "Hello, I'm Britti," was released Feb. 2.
Brittany "Britti" Guerin's debut album, "Hello, I'm Britti," was released Feb. 2.

It also highlights how those inspirations and maturations blend with her childhood love of ethereal performers like Donna Summer.

The star-making alchemy that allowed the "Love to Love You Baby" vocalist to achieve 10 million albums sold by the time she was roughly Britti's current age has finally taken its deepest rooting in the 2013 graduate of New Orleans' Loyola University, with degrees in both the business and performance of music.

Connective potential 'off the Earth's plane'

While seated in a posh downtown Nashville music label listening room, Britti tells The Tennessean, that she could sing before talking, read copious amounts of Maya Angelou, and had Otis Redding's intense, yearning ballad "These Arms of Mine" committed to memory by age 9.

Precociously extraordinary abilities and interests like these are commonplace in the music industry. However, because of the Venn diagram of Britti's roots, they appear in fascinating ways on her Easy Eye Sound release.

The current album single "Nothing Compares to You" arrives as a syncopated funk groove adorned with jazzy, Sade-style vocals.

"Ella Fitzgerald meets Allen Toussaint," says Britti, whose three-plus decades swaddled and raised by music avail themselves in the conversation with a casual name drop of a jazz icon and the performer and producer most widely associated with mainstreaming New Orleans' second-line funeral sounds with pop.

Don't let her easy-smiling, spiritual and thoughtful demeanor fool you. She's a wellspring of innate musical inspirations who more than can deliver unparalleled creations.

Working with Dan Auerbach and the crew at Easy Eye Sound — like Britti, known for having a scholarly understanding and genuine appreciation of blues, folk, pop, rock and soul music's history — allowed Britti to work with an ideally suited who's who of musicians key to the work of her fondest-held musical heroes.

Alongside working with Auerbach as a songwriter, bassist Nick Movshon (Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse), drummer Jay Bellerose (Aaron Neville, Toussaint), guitarist Tom Bukovac (Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks), and keyboardist Mike Rojas (Yola, Miranda Lambert) are all present on the recording.

She has "genuine gratitude" for their work's "palpable and beautifully potent energy" on her album.

"Because of their work, I have a special album that is intensely connective and off the Earth's plane (as far as its) inevitable potential to be a timeless recording," Britti says.

A 'gumbo' of talent

Louisiana-born singer-songwriter Britti poses in January at a music label office in Nashville.
Louisiana-born singer-songwriter Britti poses in January at a music label office in Nashville.

"Hello, I'm Britti" was arrived at after an intense and objectively personal quest to discover the rawest flavors of what she refers to as her "gumbo" of talents.

She makes a metaphorical grocery list of her gumbo's ingredients: butter and flour for the roux, Andouille sausage, okra, dried shrimp.

"This album showcases all of the ingredients in my gumbo in balance and on point. (Metaphorically) it tastes delicious."

Early album favorites include the classically countrified, Dolly Parton-hearkening and ear-warming pop of "Back Where We Belong," the neo-soul-inspired love ballad "Silly Boy," and what an album press release refers to as a "triumphant love letter" to her Louisiana roots, "Save Me," with its powerfully soulful groove.

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Calling back to "Nothing Compares to You," Britti describes hearing talented players jazzily re-format what she believed to be a mid-2000s pop-crossover indie R&B-type track as akin to "rocketing to the Northern Lights." Matching her improvisational leanings to those playing the backing track live in the studio made the track "pour like honey" from the minds and talents of all parties involved.

"Once I heard what we could accomplish (on "Nothing Compares to You"), it made me believe that we could create an album where its colors, motions and tastes would make a listener fall in love with it."

'The bridge between heaven and earth'

"Music is the bridge between heaven and earth — so singing, because it's like breathing to me, allows me to attempt to embody that bridge," Britti states.

"Walking in what I imagine is a career-as-shoes only meant to fit my feet is me in the middle of a surreal moment where I'm able to (actualize) something that I feel like I was ([born to achieve). Like walking in new boots, there are many unfamiliar moments, but those circumstances actually uniquely mold you into your highest self."

Britti's a wide-eyed dreamer grounded in a relentless passion borne of hard times and successful creativity yielding seemingly limitless joy.

She summarizes her lifelong quest for artistic freedom with a gratitude-filled statement:

"I prayed that I would be able to live my dreams and the desires of my heart and be genuinely and creatively seen. What I received (empowered) everything that I ever wanted."

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville singer-songwriter Britti releases debut 'Hello, I'm Britti'