Friday, September 18, 2020

"Love Is Contagious" by Taja Sevelle

Song#:  3261
Date:  05/12/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  62
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Soul



Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter found herself in the Prince camp around the time he was recording 1985's Around the World in a Day. Sevelle would end up supplying background vocals on the track "The Ladder." From there, Prince decided to get the singer signed up with Warner Bros. through his Paisley Park label. Unlike a lot of Prince protégé projects where he would do most all of the writing and recording, save for a couple of songs he gave to Sevelle, the Purple One was largely hands-off on the recording of her self-titled debut. Instead, Prince got one of his new hires, Chico Bennett, to head up the project. The album got recorded and this first single was issued out. It didn't get very far missing out on the top half of the Pop chart while only getting to #58 at R&B and #48 AC. A second single, the Prince-penned "Wouldn't You Love to Love Me?" only made the R&B chart at #61. The lack of a bigger single kept the album from reaching the charts. After that, it seems Prince lost interest in Sevelle and she moved over to Warner's Reprise Records for her second album, 1991's Fountains Free. It failed to gain attention and disappeared quickly as did a third LP, 1997's Toys of Vanity for Sony's 550 label. Later in 2017, Sevelle would get on the Dance chart with "Little Diva." The tune would get to #30.

ReduxReview:  Sevelle was a talented singer/songwriter (she composed this song) and it's a shame her career didn't fully take off. Although she was young, she had a more sophisticated adult sound, as apparent on this single, and it may have been difficult to promote her to a demographic that was eating up catchy Madonna and Whitney Houston tunes. I like the mid-tempo groove of the track and the production fits it well. Sevelle has a voice that might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I like it. She shows off her range without being to "screamy." This silky track was going to be a hard sell and indeed it had troubles trying to catch on in the US (other countries dug it - see below). Had I heard the song back in the day, chances are I would have bought the single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While this song didn't make an impression in the US, the news was different over in the UK. The song became a hit reaching #7. The album then sold a few copies there and made it to #48. The song was also a Top 10 hit in the Netherlands.  2) In 2005, Sevelle took $5,000 of her own money and founded Urban Farming, an organization that plants food gardens in urban areas. The first Urban Farming gardens were created in Detroit. From there, the organization grew significantly and had a hand in developing over 65,000 gardens in over 60 different countries.

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