Many Americans would agree that our nation is in turmoil. With a pandemic that’s worsening, racial injustice that’s crippling minorities and a high-stakes election that will determine the country’s future, it’s a pivotal time. Recording Artist Lydia Salett Dudley, a gifted jazz musician with a Master’s Degree in Jazz Composition from North Carolina Central University, felt compelled to share her heart about current events in a brand new song called “Whatcha Gonna Say?” Featuring the sounds of Dudley and her band, and the rap of K Hill, the new, up-tempo single is available now on all digital music outlets including Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify.
Although penned by Dudley last year, prior to the intrusion of COVID-19, the track accurately reflects the unrest that Americans are feeling everywhere. The complementary music video to “Whatcha Gonna Say?” showcases scenes from some of today’s most troubling events while asking the viewer what their response will be. Flaunting a catchy hook, a memorable groove and a riveting band, “Whatcha Gonna Say?” could easily become an inspirational anthem. The song came to Lydia while riding in her car listening to the news, which she found so disheartening. Knowing that any change must start from within, she wants to leave the listener with the realization that they can no longer sit on the fence; they must make a choice.
“Whatcha Gonna Say?” is a slight departure from the talented musician’s repertoire. Not one to normally tap into messaging about the political climate, most of the Raleigh-based artist’s tunes highlight her Gospel and Jazz influences. Growing up at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, her mother was the church pianist, her father was a deacon and song leader and she and her brothers were ushers. Gospel music was an important part of her life and it was there that she began singing. Finetuning her piano and her songwriting skills as well, later, she became a consummate performer, playing in lounges and churches alike. While a student, she was honored to become the Director of the Liberty University Gospel Choir.
Her success as a choir director helped her to realize she had a gift of teaching music. That realization inspired her to launch The Salett Art Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide music enrichment for underserved and at-risk youth. Lydia started the non-profit because she saw a need for children in urban communities to be exposed to the history of jazz, blues, and Negro spirituals. Providing a variety of educational music programs, the Salett Art Center aims to offer a culture of learning, inspiring creativity, and personal development through after school programs and summer camps teaching jazz appreciation sessions. Kids also learn about live music, jazz history, jazz songs and the blues. The Salett Art Center provides an online program entitled “Let Your Voice Be Heard”, specifically designed to uplift the spirit and inspire creative writing. For more information on the Salett Art Center, log on to www.salettartcenter.org.
A teacher as well as a recording artist, Lydia released her debut single entitled “Green”, an original composition written in the style of a jazz standard and in collaboration with her piano mentor. Stepping into the role of band leader as well, she formed the group, Lydia Salett Dudley & Friends in 2008. In 2019, after starting Jazz Xpressions, an ensemble of gifted musicians, who perform throughout the Raleigh/Durham region, she recorded projects like Jazz Standards (a collaboration with professors from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill), Jazz Xpressions (her jazz playing and singing debut) and This Is Christmas. In addition, she performed at the childhood home of Nina Simone, declared a National Treasure in 2018, in Tryon, NC.
Watch the video below;