"Most music only tells a portion of what love can be. We hope to broaden the conversation," says Allison Zatarain, GM of Instant Records.
That's the mission behind the label's latest project, Instant Love, a collection of classic love songs that comes with a twist. Traditionally sung by men about women, the featured tracks are reimagined with female vocalists to make a statement about love and admiration between women as mothers, sister, friends and lovers. Officially launched on International Women's Day (March 8), Instant Love premieres its second track today: soul singer Irma Thomas' cover of the Van Morrison gem "Crazy Love."
Listen to "Crazy Love":
"Our culture is engaged in an open dialogue about the gray areas in gender and sexuality, and music felt behind the times," adds Zatarain. "Why do singers always sing to 'you' or a member of the opposite sex? There's so much more to feel, to daydream and to unlock."
For Thomas, who won her first Grammy in 2007 for best contemporary blues album after an estimable career working with such icons as Allen Toussaint and Randy Newman, the decision to participate in Instant Love was a no brainer. Nicknamed "Soul Queen of New Orleans," Thomas tells Billboard, "I'm in the business of singing. So when I got a call from a fellow New Orleanian [Zatarain] to sing a classic love song, I jumped at the chance. The lyrics resonate with me; I was happy to express the feeling of love between women in a song."
Created by Zatarain and Richard Gottehrer, founder of music and video distribution company The Orchard and Instant Records, Instant Love launched with first single "Kind Woman" covered by Brooklyn folk artist Erin Durant. Durant and Thomas are just two of the growing list of global artists encompassing various genres that Gottehrer and Zatarain have invited to participate in the project. Nearly a dozen tracks are currently in the works.
The Instant Love rollout will include the global release of a new digital single every two weeks. And Zatarain says a "living album" will also be created on Apple Music via Instant Love playlists.
As the collection grows, digital and physical albums will be released as well, along with bonus content. Sale proceeds from the physical release will be donated to charities that support women, including Studio Samuel which empowers young girls in Ethiopia. "In our current political climate, now more than ever women need to come together," says Zatarain. "It's been fascinating to see how a new vocalist can offer such a fresh point of view on sisterhood without changing a single word of the original song."
Learn more about Instant Love: