Lovecraft Country (HBO ORIGINAL SERIES)
Laura Karpman - Raphael Saadiq: Bio
A bold, incandescent talent, composer Laura Karpman creates powerful, imaginative scores that push the boundaries of storytelling. Her award-winning music, spanning film, television, theater, interactive media and live performance, reflects an audaciously creative, prodigious, fresh spirit.
Karpman collaborates with the most creative filmmakers of our time, including Misha Green, Steven Spielberg, Alex Gibney, Kasi Lemmons, Rory Kennedy, Sam Pollard, Laura Nix and Eleanor, Francis Ford and Sophia Coppola. The five-time Emmy winner's scores span the HBO hit series Lovecraft Country, 2020 Oscar-nominated Walk Run Cha-Cha, the Discovery Channel docuseries, Why We Hate, Miss Virginia, starring Uzo Aduba, the Netflix romantic comedy, Set It Up, Sony's Paris Can Wait, starring Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane, Lionsgate's The Cotton Club Encore, Fox Searchlight's Step and Black Nativity, starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson, the drama series Underground, Sony's L.A.'s Finest, Peabody award-winning series Craft in America, and Showtime's Sid and Judy.
Karpman received a Critic's Choice award for her song, Jump, co-written with frequent collaborators Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson, sung by Cynthia Erivo. Her animated work includes Sitara, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, executive produced by Darla Anderson and Gloria Steinem, released by Netflix. Her celebrated scores for interactive media include Guardians of Middle Earth, Everquest 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Project Spark, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, and Untold Legends Dark Kingdom.
Across concert halls, Karpman is well known for her Grammy award-winning album, ASK YOUR MAMA, a multimedia opera based on the iconic cycle of poems by Langston Hughes. For this Carnegie Hall commission, Karpman collaborated with The Roots, soprano Jessye Norman, performer De'Adre Aziza and jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon. Other notable works include All American, commissioned and performed by The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; Brass Ceiling, commissioned and recorded by The U.S. Army Band, and And Still We Dream, commissioned by Lyric Opera of Kansas City honoring 100 years of suffrage; Wilde Tales, commissioned by Glimmerglass Festival; Balls, an opera chronicling Billie Jean King's 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match with words by NYTimes writer Gail Collins; and a pandemic opera for Opera Theatre of St. Louis with words by Taura Stinson.
A fierce champion for inclusion in Hollywood, after founding the Alliance for Women Film Composers, Karpman became the first American woman composer inducted in the music branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, and was subsequently elected to be the first female governor of the music branch. During her short time as governor, Karpman has made indelible strides, advocating for Academy membership for dozens of underrepresented composers and songwriters, as well as spearheading the Academy Women's Initiative. Her leadership in creating opportunity and standing up for inclusion is unparalleled.
Karpman is an advisor for the Sundance Film Institute and on the faculty of the USC Film Scoring Program and the San Francisco Conservatory. She received a doctorate from The Juilliard School where she studied with 20th century icon Milton Babbitt.
She lives and works in her beachfront home in Los Angeles with her wife, composer Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, their son and two dogs.
Raphael Saadiq has continuously rejuvenated and reshaped aspects of traditional black music since his breakthrough with Tony! Toni! Toné!'s "Little Walter" (1988). In retrospect, that number one R&B/hip-hop hit -- with its modern sound and clever incorporation of the melody from the spiritual "Wade in the Water" -- seems like a statement of intent that has guided the stylish retro-contemporary singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer throughout a discography of tremendous depth. As the multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated Tony! Toni! Toné! wound down in the mid-'90s, Saadiq eased into a second life as an all-purpose collaborator. He didn't get around to making his first solo album, Instant Vintage (2002), until after hits with D'Angelo ("Lady," "Untitled"), Lucy Pearl ("Dance Tonight"), and Bilal ("Soul Sista"). Since winning a Grammy shortly thereafter as a co-writer of Erykah Badu's "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)," Saadiq has balanced commissioned work and solo projects, alternating between high achievements beside peers and inspirations and imaginative throwback LPs such as the Top 20 hits The Way I See It (2008) and Stone Rollin' (2011), and Jimmy Lee (2019).
Parade [Music From the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon]Raphael Saadiq grew up in a musical family and neighborhood. The Oakland native, born Charles Ray Wiggins, was engrossed in music as a child. He started playing bass at the age of six, taught by an older brother -- among a dozen other siblings in a blended family -- and received additional tutelage from some of the fellow budding musicians in his community. Before long, he was playing in groups, first as a kid with the Gospel Hummingbirds, and benefitted from the strong music program at Castlemont High School. Shortly after he turned 18, he successfully auditioned to join the backing band of fellow Oaklander Sheila E. for Prince's Parade tour. As a consequence, Wiggins, known at that point as Raphael instead of Ray, sometimes performed with the headliner at surprise after-show gigs.
The same year Wiggins was heard as a bassist and background vocalist on Sheila E.'s self-titled album, he debuted with a group of his own, Tony! Toni! Toné!, flanked by brother D'Wayne Wiggins and cousin Timothy Christian Riley. The trio appeared in 1987 with the independently released "One Night Stand" -- an uptempo 12" in the realm of Cameo and the Time -- and then signed with Mercury subsidiary Wing. From 1988 through 1996, Tony! Toni! Toné! released four distinguished albums, all of which went gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. Among 12 supporting Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hits beginning with "Little Walter" were "Feels Good," "If I Had No Loot," and the Grammy-nominated "Anniversary," crossover smashes that cracked the Top Ten of the Hot 100.
Higher LearningNear the end of Tony! Toni! Toné!'s decade together, Wiggins adopted the last name Saadiq and recorded "Ask of You" for the Higher Learning soundtrack. Issued as a single, the song entered the R&B/hip-hop chart in March 1995 and reached the second spot. Rather than capitalize upon that success to launch a solo career, Saadiq was content away from the spotlight as a collaborator and even dipped into A&R as the operator of Pookie Records. Sought out in the latter half of the '90s by artists ranging from John Mellencamp to Snoop Dogg, he charted highest with D'Angelo's "Lady" (number two R&B/hip-hop), followed by the Roots' "What They Do" (number 21), Solo's "Touch Me" (number 28), and Willie Max's "Can't Get Enough" (number 20). He also scored with a second solo single, "Get Involved" (number 21), off the soundtrack for stop-motion sitcom The P.J.s.
Still a couple years away from a solo LP, Saadiq had another hit as a co-writer and co-producer in early 2000 with D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" (number two R&B, number 25 pop). Later in the year, the short-lived Lucy Pearl, featuring Saadiq, En Vogue's Dawn Robinson, and A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad, delivered their lone, self-titled album. It went gold on the strength of "Dance Tonight" (number five R&B, number 36 pop), and like "Untitled" was nominated for a Grammy in the R&B field. Saadiq's songbook of early-2000s hits expanded with the likes of Bilal's "Soul Sista" (number 18 R&B) and Angie Stone's "Brotha" (number 13).
Fifteen years deep into an already remarkable career, Saadiq finally released his first solo album. Instant Vintage arrived on major-label Universal in June 2002. Evidently uninterested in being associated with neo-soul -- the marketing term turned subgenre he unintentionally instigated -- Saadiq branded the back sleeve of the expansive LP with the label "gospeldelic." Significantly wider in scope than any neologism applied to it, Instant Vintage still had mass appeal with a number 25 showing on the Billboard 200 and a number eight placement on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. No solitary effort, it involved Angie Stone and T-Boz, plus D'Angelo, the featured artist on "Be Here," the biggest single. Commercially, it was quickly eclipsed by "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)" (number one R&B/hip-hop, number nine pop), produced and co-written by Saadiq with long-term associates Glenn Standridge and Bobby Ozuna for neo-soul queen Erykah Badu -- the artist for whom "neo-soul" was termed. This hit prevailed over "Be Here" as the 2002 Grammy winner for Best R&B Song, nonetheless earning Saadiq his first award from the Recording Academy. He picked up more nominations that year: Instant Vintage was up for Best R&B Album, while "Be Here" was also among the first nominees for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
All Hits at the House of BluesSaadiq touched numerous additional recordings racked between Instant Vintage and second solo studio LPs -- high-charting entries by TLC, Kelly Price, Nappy Roots, Kelis, and Truth Hurts, for starters. In the middle of this flurry, released through Pookie, the two-disc live performance All Hits at the House of Blues, a career-spanning celebration with a short set of Tony! Toni! Toné! classics. Pookie was also the outlet for the proper Instant Vintage follow-up, Ray Ray. Issued in October 2004, the funkier, blaxploitation-inspired LP allowed room for a second Tony! Toni! Toné! reunion and drop-ins from Joi and Babyface. Teedra Moses, who had just debuted with the Saadiq-assisted Complex Simplicity, sang on two songs. The album entered the Independent Albums chart at number three. Saadiq soon picked up his third Best R&B Performance Grammy nomination, this time as the featured artist on Earth, Wind & Fire's "Show Me the Way," which he also produced and co-wrote.
Between solo projects, Saadiq expanded his side discography with contributions to another round of hit LPs, including titles from Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige, Kelis, and John Legend, as well as Lionel Richie, Joss Stone, and Musiq Soulchild. Saadiq co-starred on Blige's "I Found My Everything," nominated by the Recording Academy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. After he struck a deal with a second major, Columbia, Saadiq returned in September 2008 with The Way I See It. The number 19 Billboard 200 LP was the product of a deepening fascination with the classic R&B of his early childhood, from the construction of the songs to the equipment and recording techniques. Motown legends such as Stevie Wonder, arranger Paul Riser, and percussionist Jack Ashford were on-board. Three more Grammy nominations resulted: Best R&B Album, Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Love That Girl"), and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals ("Never Give You Up").
Supporting work continued apace with Stone, Blige, Ledisi, and Rick Ross the primary beneficiaries of Saadiq's free time. Faster than normal, even with touring and additional creative obligations outside music studios, Saadiq was able to conceive and complete his fourth LP, Stone Rollin', for arrival in March 2011. Retaining some of the same players from his previous session while performing more of the instrumentation -- not just four- and six-string guitars, but Mellotron, clavinet, and some drums as well -- Stone Rollin' was a comparatively immediate and rawer throwback synthesis. On a commercial hot streak despite a willful ignorance of commercial R&B trends, Saadiq found himself in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 again, achieving his career peak at number 14. The LP's "Trouble Man soul"-styled "Good Man," written with "Show Me the Way" songwriting partner and background vocalist Taura Stinson, was Grammy-nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
A Seat at the TableOver eight years passed between Saadiq's fourth and fifth solo albums. The artist still seemed occupied for the duration, as he surfaced on recordings by collaborators crossing cultures and generations, from Larry Graham, Booker T. Jones, and Elton John to Andra Day, Big K.R.I.T., and Miguel. Most prominently, he was a key factor in Solange's number one 2016 album A Seat at the Table -- the co-writer and co-producer of eight songs, including "Cranes in the Sky," and also credited beside the singer as executive producer. Saadiq and Stinson then worked with Mary J. Blige on the Academy Award-nominated "Mighty River," written and recorded for the 2017 period drama Mudbound. After Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, the Midnight Hour (Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad), and John Legend each took a number for his services, Saadiq knocked out a fifth album, Jimmy Lee, in August 2019.
Tulsa, 1921: Catch The Fire (feat. Janai Brugger) (Rewind 1921)
WaterTower Music is pleased to announce today's release of the 62-track Lovecraft Country (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series), featuring music from the first season of Lovecraft Country, which airs on HBO/ HBO Max, and is Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name.
In addition to 11 tracks performed by the show's cast in the first season, the album showcases original music by multiple Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman, whose career spans film, television videogame and concert music; and Grammy-winning, Oscar- nominated producer/ musician/ songwriter Raphael Saadiq.
Karpman discussed working on the show and the soundtrack. "I am so proud to be a part of this project along with my partner and brother Raphael Saadiq. We both owe a huge debt of gratitude to (Lovecraft Country Executive Producer) Misha Green who gave us a wide palette to musically explore every conceivable genre while focusing on the hearts and souls of our heroes. The album" continued the composer, "is organized by episode, hopefully taking the listener back to many visceral moments in this remarkable series."
Misha Green's Lovecraft Country has been a critical and cultural success, blending spooky sci-fi with hard-hitting commentary on America's history of racism and persecution.
Set in the 1950s, the show's music supervisor, Liza Richardson, makes extensive use of blues and R&B classics by B.B. King, Little Richard, Josephine Baker, and many more.
In addition to the soundtrack, Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq recorded the score entirely remotely on software like Zoom.
Lovecraft Country features a unique blend of genres and themes. One minute, it's giving us hair-raising horror, the next steamy, 1950s romance, all while delivering pointed, probing commentary on the racism deeply rooted in America's history. Created by writer Misha Green and adapted from a novel by Matt Ruff, the show has been a critical darling in its first season for HBO-and its music has caught viewers' ears.
While Lovecraft Country leans on popular music frequently, it differs from fellow HBO show I May Destroy You in that it also has an elaborate orchestral score. That comes courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Raphael Saadiq and Emmy-winning composer Laura Karpman. The score is unique because, though it uses 30 different musicians, it was recorded remotely and assembled digitally to create a seamless finished product.
"Who is it in sports who likes to have the ball, to take the shot? That's Laura. Our dynamic is always trying to diversify the sound of strings in music and mix analog with instruments like bass guitars," Saadiq told Variety. "We use a lot of different effects so you don't hear a guitar. It's really flipped out to sound like something else, like a string."
READ THE FULL OPRAH MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Lovecraft Country, though it is ostensibly a sci-fi/horror/fantasy show, has never been afraid to incorporate highbrow cultural elements into its melting pot of ideas. As far back as Episode 2, the show has used poetry, with that installment featuring on its soundtrack a Gil Scott Heron poem that gave the episode its name, "Whitey's on the Moon."
In Episode 9, "Rewind 1921," the HBO show ended with what its soundtrack composer Laura Karpman called, "a requiem," based on the poem "Catch the Fire," by poet and Black Arts Movement member Sonia Sanchez.
In an L.A. Times piece, Karpman says of the final song, which was titled "Tulsa, 1921: Don't Catch the Fire," "I think we need a requiem at the end. I want to write a piece of opera."
In the lead up to the song playing in Lovecraft Country, the episode was exploring the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, in which white mobs attacked and destroyed nearly three dozen blocks of what was at the time the wealthiest Black community in the U.S.
Fire had been a recurring theme throughout the episode, as houses and businesses were burned to the ground. While the episode showed fire used against the Black community, Sanchez uses fire as a metaphor to describe the passion and soul that she sees in the Black community even at its most oppressed. As one stanza of the poem puts it:
SEE THE Newsweek PAGE & WATCH THE VIDEO
For all of its gory, fantastical qualities, "Lovecraft Country" is, centrally, about the very real horror of being Black in America in the 20th century: Every tentacled monster in the HBO series has its roots in monstrous racism.
Sunday's episode - though it involves portals, time travel and magic spells - culminates in a re-creation of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, which received renewed attention last year after appearing in the pilot of HBO's Emmy-winning limited series "Watchmen." Composer Laura Karpman felt strongly about what sort of music would suffice to depict the event, during which white mobs terrorized the Black residents and destroyed the Black-owned homes and businesses of the city's Greenwood District.
"I think we need a requiem at the end," Karpman told the show's creator, Misha Green. "I want to write a piece of opera."
In their quest for the Book of Names, Atticus (Jonathan Majors), Leti (Jurnee Smollett) and Montrose (Michael K. Williams) travel back in time to Tulsa, Okla., in the summer of 1921. They can't change history, though - they have to suffer through it. And fire is the episode's most indelible motif.
READ THE FULL Los Angeles Times ARTICLE