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Meshell Ndegeocello at Siren Mountain Jam

By Jesse Campbell (

Article Published: Jun. 20, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 22, 2013
Meshell Ndegeocello at Siren Mountain Jam

Meshell Ndegeocello will headline the inaugural Siren Mountain Jam’s Friday festivities.

Photo by Charlie Gross

Meshell Ndegeocello said it’s hard to classify her style of music, and the genre it falls into is equally elusive.

“It’s not genre-specific,” Ndegeocello said, while trying to pinpoint her sound.

Ndegeocello and her backing band will appear June 21 at the Siren Mountain Jam. The music festival, to be held June 21 and 22, is a celebration of women’s music and art.

Ndegeocello will headline the event alongside other notable performers, like Joan Osborne, who takes to the stage Saturday night.

For Ndegeocello, the jam will also be her first visit to Boone.

“My mother is from Kitty Hawk, but this is my first time in that part of the state,” Ndegeocello said. “I’m quite excited. I heard the topography is quite amazing.”

Ndegeocello will share the limelight with the Mountain Laurels, Sole Schaefer, Melissa Reeves, Toshi Reagon, Rising Appalachia and other prominent acts.

Ndegeocello, who is a bassist, will take to the stage at 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 21.

In her 20 years as a performer, Ndegeocello has performed alongside several major headliners, including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alanis Morisette, Chaka Khan and Billy Preston.

“All of them were quite interesting,” Ndegeocello said. “It’s always exciting to play with people you have admired. All of them are great, but I’m more into what I’m doing now. I’m excited to play with the people that I’ve played with.”

When asked what concertgoers could expect from her act, Ndegeocello said the experience is intangible and one that must be experienced firsthand.

“Even if you don’t know the music, it will be a good sonic experience,” she said.

The versatile performer did relent in revealing her band will play music popularized by Nina Simone, to whom Ndegeocello dedicated her 10th studio album.

“Simone was unusual, unruly, unparalleled,” Ndegeocello said. “She has an unmistakable voice and an unavoidable spirit — she’s terse and angry and expressive of her despair and her joy and her sexuality. She is not an industry player. She was obviously difficult and volatile. She wanted success, was pressured to make hits, but her own sound was still irrepressible. She had things to say. She protested. She was a loud, proud black, female voice during a time when black female voices were not encouraged to make themselves heard.”

Along with drums, keyboard and guitars, Ndegeocello said her quartet also encompasses sounds of rhythm and blues.

“I try to get people interested in the music, so they come out with no expectations because everything we do is so different,” she said.

Along with music, the Siren Mountain Jam will also feature a variety of arts, crafts and healing arts workshops.

For tickets and more information, visit For more on Meshell Ndegeocello, visit

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