It was a miracle. That’s how Grammy Award-winning musician Lani Hall describes it. Hall, who remembers singing songs from the radio in the backseat of his father’s car at the age of two, absorbing them, learning them, would later start singing them in his bedroom. They were mostly jazz standards at the time. And it was a transformative experience. Although she never thought she would become a professional singer, she couldn’t get enough of the music. But at the same time, Hall kept it all a secret. Until the day where. In her late teens, a friend who worked at a nightclub dropped by her house unannounced and heard her singing through her bedroom door. From this chance encounter, a career blossomed. And today, that career includes Hall’s upcoming sweet album, seasons of lovedue out April 22, his first solo album in nearly 25 years.
“I was singing in my bedroom,” Hall says. “And a friend of mine knocked on the door and I opened it and there she was. She said, ‘Who’s there with you?’ »
At first, Hall didn’t know what her friend meant. But then her friend said she heard singing. She started looking in Hall’s closet, around the room. Who was singing? Hall said it was a record, but it wasn’t, her friend knew. It was a person’s voice. Then she realized: it was Hall all the time.
“And I was taken!” said Hall.
Hall admitted it was her. Her friend’s gears began to turn. Then, as Hall was sipping drinks one night her friend had passed her at the nightclub where she worked, she heard his name on the speakers. Her friend practically lifted Hall from her seat at the bar and onto the stage. That night, Hall sang in public for the first time. The song? “Universal Soldier”, which is the one her friend heard her singing in the bedroom. After she finished, Hall was elated inside but outwardly she didn’t know how to react. So, as they were heading back to the bar to reprimand her compatriot, someone intervened.
“As I approached,” she said, “this man came in and said, ‘Excuse me, I own the cafe down the street and I would like you to sing for the next two weekends. ends and I’ll pay you for it.’ And my friend who put it together looked at it and said, ‘She’s gonna do it!’ And that’s how it went.
Really, it’s like a scene from a movie. Like divine intervention. Thus, Hall sang at the cafe for the next two weekends. But the owner wanted her to stay on two more, which she obliged. That’s when his life really changed. That’s when the now legendary artist Sérgio Mendes came into her life. His band at the time, Brasil ’65, was breaking up and the musicians were all going home. But Mendes wanted to give a new band one last chance.
“He had heard about me on the street and came to the club between shows and he just stared at me from the door entrance and after I finished he came up to me and said “I’m forming a band and I want you to be the lead singer. I said, “You’ll have to ask my dad,” Hall recalled.
At the time, Hall was 19 and living at home with his family. So Mendes came to her apartment and talked to her parents. At that time, her father knew how much she loved to sing, but he said that if something – anything – didn’t feel right, she should jump on a plane and go home. But she never needed it.
Hall, who sang with Brasil ’66 for years, including on the band’s huge success, “Mas Que Nadaalso met another musician on his path who would energize his life: legendary jazz musician and record label owner Herb Alpert. At the start of Brasil ’66, they got an audition with Alpert’s A&M Records. Previously, Hall had seen Alpert on TV one day when she cut school. She was watching a teenage dance show and there was Alpert playing his trumpet. Hall remembers thinking she had never seen anyone so beautiful. So when she found out that Mendes’ band was auditioning for A&M, she knew she would meet Alpert. A&M signed Brasil ’66 and Alpert, coming off a string of hits, was to record them.
“He asked to take me home that night after rehearsal,” Hall says. “I said no. I wasn’t going to do this. But we just had a lot of time together. We got his show opened to us and we were on the road together.
Today, Hall and Alpert are married. She talks about her generosity, her intuition and her kindness. Hall says she’s never been around someone so nice. It was Hall’s wit and talent combined with the support she got from Alpert and A&M that led to her greatest successes, including a Grammy Award and the chance to perform the theme song for the latest James Bond film – a great honour, indeed. Later, however, Alpert asked Hall to step away from Brasil ’66. He was housebound and she traveled 11 months a year. It wasn’t an easy transition, Hall says, but it was one she chose for love.
“I took the opportunity and followed the love,” she says today. “I see it as me following the path of love.”
Another thing that Hall, who has released two dozen albums to date, loves language, especially foreign languages. She learned to sing in Spanish and Portuguese (Brazilian). It’s a tactic she continues to employ to this day. Several songs from his upcoming album appear in languages other than English. For his new record, Hall started with a song: “Seasons Of Love” from the musical TO RENT. Alpert had put together a demo of it during the pandemic and Hall, who had started learning to cook and improvise in the kitchen, walked into his studio one day. Alpert wanted to play it for her and then asked her if she would sing it. It turned into the idea of an EP, which later turned into a full LP, now out in April, featuring headliners like the delicate “Here Comes the Sun” and the upbeat “Happy Woman.”
“It’s a love album,” Hall said.
As 2022 continues to unfold, Alpert and Hall have planned 55 spring and summer tour dates. But it remains up in the air if they will come to fruition considering the state of COVID-19 peaks and variants etc. Not to mention the state of the country in which every human right seems to be debated. These discouraged Hall and many artists, but she continued to persevere both in life and with music. Some may wonder why. But for Hall, it’s simple. It’s the same reason that inspired her to sing in the back of her father’s car when she was two years old.
“How it makes me feel,” Hall said.
Photo courtesy Grand Stand HQ