The Phoenix – The Journey

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The Phoenix - Vinyl- Full Gatefold

King Britt and I had been having ongoing conversations about music for quite some time when he asked me if I wanted to collaborate with him. Two years ago he sent me a track, “Tension Remains”, for which he wanted operatic vocals.

It was an interesting situation: although I had trained classically, I hadn’t been interested in devoting my musical career to opera. I couldn’t marry the art form—I wasn’t in love. I did love the art of the song, however, in whichever incarnations it manifested, whether it was a chanson by Debussy, an exotic folk tune, a jazz standard, or even an aria from an opera standing on its own. I also loved improvising melodies and harmonies over any purely instrumental music whether it was orchestral, electronic, or perhaps solo piano–it didn’t matter. I was most interested in classical technique serving simple, honest, and beautiful singing devoid of histrionics.

I took this as the perfect opportunity to compose a vocal line(s) that would harken to the operatic beauty of the aria “Oh, giusto cielo!…Il dolce suono” from Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, sung by the character, Diva Plavalaguna in the movie The Fifth Element. I had no interest in caricaturizing the “blue alien”. I was guided first and foremost by the music that King had composed. Its story dictated every nuance of my phrasing and sound rather than any genre-specific tradition.

For the first time, with King, I felt like I had the sonic soundscape with the proper breadth and range to support and inspire my more “operatic” voice. With “Tension Remains”, King had scored an epic scene of post-apocalyptic ruin within which I would represent the beauty of the human spirit and also the pain, sadness, and longing, all of which are part of the human experience. My mother had just died some months before, and the ache was fresh. I drew on it to translate devastation and beauty through my voice and melodies.

 “Letters of Past” and “Its All About” followed. With these tracks King had scored more of the tale, and I sang to suite the sonic vibe of the scenes.

It’s so wonderful to see the release of King Britt’s amazing work and to be a part of it alongside Rachel Claudio, Natasha Kmeto, and Marlo Reynolds. I’m very excited for the world to share in Fhloston Paradigm through this recording and Fhloston Paradigm live performances!


“Ave Maria” – Red Hot + Bach – The Process

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Red Hot + Bach Cover


Red Hot + Bach:

J.S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major…

All I heard was luscious and articulate perfection.

Recording the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria” with King Britt brought me back in time to my childhood piano lessons, and my very first encounter with Bach’s original prelude. My teacher introduced it to me, and I listened with the fresh, virgin ears of a child; not expecting “Bach,” “baroque music,” or any of the connotations that might be anticipated by a more seasoned student, but relishing each note and harmony on a purely musical basis. All I heard was luscious and articulate musical perfection. I was moved to sing…

At home, my parents played for me a recording of a soprano singing the gorgeous vocal solo composed by Charles Gounod, which he had superimposed above Bach’s original prelude and to which he later assigned the Latin text “Ave Maria”. Later that year, I played the prelude in my first piano recital. And then…I spontaneously played it again, singing the Gounod melody as a vocalise. I hadn’t planned to, and I didn’t know if my strict Russian teacher would approve, but I wasn’t concerned, mostly because I was intoxicated by the piece having just played it, and, well…I was eight…and I didn’t really care.

Two years ago, I started working with producer King Britt as part of Fhloston Paradigm, both in live performance and for the upcoming album The Phoenix. When he asked if I wanted to be a part of the Red Hot + Bach project, I couldn’t believe how the Bach prelude and Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria” had come back to me now in such an unexpected and beautiful way.

As King and I recorded the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria,” I approached it with respect for the specific styling of a more classical interpretation, and at the same time I was open to the voice called forth by the sonic palette and polyrhythms of the track. King encouraged me to sing harmonies over the main vocal line, and I began to feel the piece in its jazzy, sensual realm…enveloped by the sounds of analog synthesizers and their rhythmic permutations. (It’s nothing new that Bach’s music translates seamlessly across genres spanning centuries—this album as a case in point.)

The vocal line of Gounod’s “Ave Maria” actually came from an improvisation that he had played over the Bach prelude (which had been written 130 years earlier!). Gounod’s fiancé’s father overheard the improvisation and insisted on writing the melody down in musical notation so it would not be lost and forgotten. Knowing that this beautiful melody was birthed from improvisation, I followed King’s encouragement to improvise. My voice and vocal styling followed suit.

I’m so honored to have been a part of this project, alongside so many colleagues for whom I hold the deepest respect. This project, by design, will raise money and awareness to fight AIDS around the world. And, although they since have passed away, I smile to know how thrilled and fascinated my parents would have been to witness the evolution of that tiny seed of inspiration that they planted so many moons ago.


“AVE MARIA” (Bach/Gounod) King Britt & Pia Ercole

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Red Hot + Bach

29 Original Bach Reinventions

1 Interactive iPad App


Rob Moose and Chris Thile, Dustin O’Halloran, Mia Doi Todd, Shara Worden, Paul de Jong, Julianna Barwick, Kronos Quartet, Victor Axelrod, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Daniel Hope, Ron Carter and Gary Bartz, King Britt feat. Pia Ercole, Om’Mas Keith, Francesco Tristano and Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Max Richter, Pieter Nooten, Jherek Bischoff, Stephane Wrembel, amiina, Prefuse 73, Burnt Friedman, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Stuart Bogie and Grey McMurray, Cameron Carpenter, Gabriel Kahane

Over the past 25 years Red Hot has changed the way people think about great composers such as Cole Porter, Tom Jobim and Fela Kuti, as well as raised money and awareness to fight AIDS around the world. Now, Red Hot has joined forces with the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and Sony Masterworks to pay tribute to one of the greatest composers of all time—J.S. Bach.

The idea for the project was simple, explore the way Bach’s music has influenced modern musicians and allow audiences to adjust their view of classical music by seeing Bach through the lens of many other genres. These recordings re-think Bach, much in the way that artists have perpetually reinterpreted Shakespeare by adding contemporary touches while remaining true to the integrity and beauty of the original. This approach is true to the way current indie rock and serious musicians are studying, performing and composing new music that transcends labels such as “classical” or “rock.”
The iPad App allows users to listen and interact with Bach’s music in a totally new and immersive way.

  • The “Play” section allows you to hear great Bach recordings while you create abstract drawings inspired by the music.
  • The “Perform” section let’s you interact and transform the music based on different layers and instruments.
  • You can also “Discover” an illustrated life of Bach, the Kronos Quartet performing in Edison’s original recording studio onto wax cylinder and more!

4/13/14 MOONDANCE at MoMA PS1

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On Sunday, April 13th I will be performing with King Britt as part of Fhloston Paradigm at MoMA PS1.
I’m beyond excited and honored, and I would love to see all of you. Performing in the sonic realm of Fhloston Paradigm, I look forward to sharing with you the exploration of the divine union between the beauty and love that exists in the human experience and the mysterious future of all that exists which continues to unfold into infinity.
Working with King as part of Fhloston Paradigm, I have felt that I finally have the sonic soundscape with the proper breadth and range to support and inspire the range of my voice and own composition. At MoMA PS1 we will create a sonic tapestry that is both vast and intimate, pre-written and improvised.

Also performing:
Shabazz Palaces
Ras G
Ursula Rucker
Hank Shocklee
Dr. Alondra Nelson
Ytasha Womack
D. Sabela Grimes
Mike Todd

MOONDANCE is a celebration of the blackness in future contexts. The journey is in three parts, lecture, dance and music.

Curated by King Britt – Sponsored by Red Bull Studios

For more info and tickets, go to:
$15 in advance / $20 day-of starting at Noon
Age restrictions: All Ages

“Fhloston Paradigm is a manifestation of afro futurist ideals, based in an electronic music landscape. It walks the line of duality, both science fact and science fiction. It is the future of the now moment. The purpose is to transmit the omni-versal message of divine abstractions into aural pleasing tones.” –King Britt
Fhloston Paradigm – Signed to Hyperdub by Kode9.
The debut album transmits in 2014.