It’s been five years since Winnipeg pop/R&B songstress Flo released her self-titled debut, but the girl hasn’t been sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Opening for the likes of Lauryn Hill, recording with Western Canadian Music Award-winning producer Arun Chaturvedi and writing up a storm, Flo’s sophomore disc, Pieces of Me is the culmination of a lot of positive things.
“I’m so glad to have this out,” she says. “Part of me was thinking that the second album would come out a lot sooner, but things happen when they’re supposed to happen.”
When writing for a new record, the hardest part can be trimming down the track list. Flo had a number in mind - 11 - but wound up with 14 tunes on the disc.
“I noticed that so many albums that I adore, like Justin Timberlake’s and both of Adele’s albums, have 11 songs on them. I thought, ‘There’s gotta be something special about 11’,” she says.
She felt strongly about all 14 songs though, and decided to include all of them.
All 14 tracks are definitely uplifting, giving the listener an hour of music that makes them dance but also makes them think.
“Obviously there’s fun songs, everyone needs a fun song,” Flo says. “I want my music to make a difference. It’s great if people can move and dance to it - bonus - but I want for there to be meaning behind that. When you listen to epic songwriters like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen or Lauryn Hill, they embody artists that not only have good production and great vocals, but there’s meaning behind their songs. It’s the full package.”
The substance of songs is important to Flo, as well as a lot of like-minded female singers such as Lady Gaga and Jodi King. They know that a lot of younger fans are listening.
“I really do believe that music is a powerful vessel,” she says. “So why not have some songs that are hopefully catchy and upbeat but really have positivity and brings strength to those that need it?”
The first single from Pieces of Me, Hateless, is one of many powerful, affirming songs that have a positive message. Recorded with the Winnipeg Youth Chorus, it gave Flo a chance to get some honest feedback from her young collaborators.
“That was a blessing in disguise,” she says. “Those kids are Winnipeg’s Mickey Mouse Club, they are the stars of tomorrow. I wanted to test out some songs on them, and some of them took me aside afterwards and said, ‘You are beautiful.’”
Being able to have a positive impact on listeners means a lot to Flo.
“I’ve had kids tell me horrible things like, ‘I have a hard time with stuff and if I play that song, I can look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I really am beautiful.’”
Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)