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The Diva House Series: Adeva

June 10, 2011

To start on a personal note (and this statement is not going to be profound in anyway), I really love Adeva. Her 1989 album Adeva! is, if not my all-time favourite, definitely in the top three of my favourite dance records. It’s taken me all day just to stop jigging about and actually sit down to write this piece.

The message in Adeva’s songs are anything but subtle; from the complete reworking of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ to ‘Warning’, ‘In & Out My Life’, ‘Treat Me Right’, It Should’ve Been Me’, ‘I Don’t Need You’, ‘Promises’, every now and then she cools off with ‘I Thank You or ‘Beautiful Love’, but otherwise it’s a relentless musical slaughterhouse for the opposite sex.

Perfectly packaged, with a great sense of humour and style [the construction worker get up in the ‘Respect’ video is so, so brilliant], Adeva’s dancefloor gospel is glorious.  So glorious in fact, that I’m going to post every video [and even some extra tracks] that I can get my hands on:

Born Patricia Daniels, Adeva was, according to an interview in Spin Magazine from October 1989, christened ‘a diva’ by her gay friends at her high school in New Jersey who made fun of her deep, gospel voice. From a strict Baptist upbringing, her parents forbade her from going clubbing, a scene centred at the time around the Paradise Garage in New York, so it wasn’t until she met her production team at Smack [headed up by Mike Cameron] that she first set foot in a nightclub.

Though the scene had moved by this time to the Garage’s younger sibling the Zanzibar in Newark where New York’s KISS-FM DJ Tony Humphries took charge of the sound. His midnight sessions on the radio were keenly sought after bootlegs in  the UK, and as a result Adeva and her music was initiated into the charts much earlier on this side of the pond.

Adeva had all intentions of hitting it big, idolising Anita Baker and looking for Whitney Houston-level recognition, but her second album Love Or Lust was only mildly successful and she was eventually dropped by her record label. Don’t be swayed by this fickle behavior though, Love Or Lust is still good times. What with ‘Ring My Bell’ featuring Monie Love, her uptempo rerun of Yvonne Fair’s ‘It Should’ve Been Me’ and ‘(No Need To Get) Emotional’, this is just a selection of reasons not to sleep on it!

In 1995, Adeva teamed up with, producer and an influential DJ on the gay club scene, Frankie Knuckles for their collaborative album Welcome To The Real World. Not called the Godfather of House without good reason Welcome… has it’s feet firmly planted on the dancefloor for the most part. Apart from the Gladys Knight cover ‘You’re Number One (in my book)’ and ‘Tell Me Why’, it’s just one sweaty tune after tune after tune.

Two years later, when house music had firmly been replaced in the mainstream by swathes of R&B, and hip hop was finding out just how commercial it could be [this is the year Puff Daddy & Faith Evans sang the shit out ‘I’ll Be Missing You’], you could see why Adeva might try for something new. But despite called her album New Direction, switching up her edgy style and releasing the more mellow ‘Don’t Think About It’ (but only slightly), I don’t think an army could really have ever dragged her away from clubland.

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