LOS ANGELES When Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Raphael Saadiq and Dawn Robinson got together to record as the supergroup Lucy Pearl, they knew right away they were onto something, the trio said at a press conference Monday (Dec. 6) that was webcast online.
The hip-hop/soul threesome, former members of A Tribe Called Quest, En Vogue and Tony! Toni! Tone!, respectively, said the recording of "Good Love," a track from their forthcoming debut album, was full of good vibes.
"It still touches me, because we were just getting together and the vibe was just great," said Robinson, who recorded such hits as "Hold On" (RealAudio excerpt) with En Vogue before leaving the R&B group in 1997.
"It was a confirmation," Ali added. "It's like your life is going the way it was supposed to go. ... It made me feel like, the last 10 years, I've been paying attention to be able to walk into a studio and within a couple hours, bang something out." Lucy Pearl is Ali's first major project since A Tribe Called Quest disbanded last year after a decade of pioneering a form of jazz-tinged rap.
The conference was held in an office suite in Westwood, while fans watched online (http://www.broadcast.com/music/chat/lucypearl).
The members of Lucy Pearl are longtime friends, with Saadiq and Robinson's friendship stemming from their childhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ali and Saadiq met in the late '80s, when Ali came to remix recordings for Tony! Toni! Tone!
It wasn't until summer this year, however, that the three decided to form their own group at least temporarily and record an album.
"The great thing about Lucy Pearl is that you can leave, and no one will have a problem with it," said Robinson, who plans to record a follow-up to her recent solo debut.
"I'd like to think of it like when Tom Petty gets together with the Traveling Wilburys," Saadiq said.
Robinson and Saadiq share vocal duties on the album, often within the same song, while Ali handles the production. The members of Lucy Pearl said they have to finish about five or six songs for the album, which they plan to release in March. One of their most recent creations is a track called "Hollywood," which Robinson said after the conference "has the attitude of rock."
"It's about expectations ... that you can't be alternative if you're black, or you can't wear certain things if you're female," she said.
Another completed tune is "Remember the Time," which finds each member reflecting on childhood experiences. Other songs on the album include "Dance Tonight," "Trippin,' " "Don't Mess With My Man" and "Everyday."
Saadiq, who said the name Lucy Pearl came to him from "looking at the group all in one room at the same time," said they planned to call the LP Hey, Dawn, You Seen Raphael?, but Robinson did not seem in agreement.
The members said they're not concerned about the pressure that having three successful careers in their background could put on Lucy Pearl.
"I think we've been well-groomed," Ali said. "Any time you're so passionate about music, you don't look at it like [you might fail.] It's like, 'Well I'm making myself happy.' "