THE RIGHT TRACK: A peek inside the play lists of Phoenix’s most influential people | Camille Sledge

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If Camille Sledge’s name doesn’t ring a bell, her mother’s might. She was a founding member of Sister Sledge, the famed female disco trio behind the iconic hit “We Are Family.” But Camille is a tour de force in her own right. She is a singer, songwriter, MC and model. She is the vocalist for the soulful super group, the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (PAO). She also serves as the Phoenix-based, 16-piece outfit’s “leader of rituals.”

“We, as a band, have always come together in a ‘circle up,’ if you will, before each big show, recording, or event to combine energies and get focused,” she elaborates. “It’s a bit secretive because we have not really allowed anyone else to be a part of this, except for those who have been very close to the band in the past. I am the leader of that ritual.”

In 2012, Camille co-founded School of HipHop PHX, a nonprofit mentoring and music program that uses hip-hop as a framework to influence and inspire inner city youth. Whether she’s teaching a runway workshop or a vocal lesson, or captivating a crowd with her electric stage presence, one thing’s for sure: Camille Sledge has soul.

Catch her in her element at PAO’s Laugh to Keep From Crying album release party on Friday, March 16 at The Van Buren and check out the music that moves her below.

TOP 5 FAVORITE SONGS OF ALL TIME

“Dog Days Are Over,” Florence and the Machine
“(Florence) got me through some rough times when I first discovered her voice.”

“There For You,” Damien Marley
“My best friend and I make this our mantra.”

“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” Marvin Gaye
“This song held a place in my political heart, even in the days before I discovered Afrobeat. Plus, I’m in love with Marvin.”

“Life Is Gone Down Low,” The Lijadu Sisters
“It’s a song I wish I wrote. Love the harmonies and how unconventional the rhythms hit.”

“Jagger the Dagger,” Eugene McDaniels
“I’m a hip-hop head to my heart. This song gave me hip-hop and then took me back to funk and soul.”

PREFERRED WAY OF LISTENING

“I’m just on Spotify mostly. I really love vinyl; the sound and vibes are more groovy, but truly, I play my Spotify all day in the house.”

DESERT ISLAND ALBUM

“Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. This album would keep me lifted! Just ‘Working Day and Night’ and ‘Rockin’ with You’ ‘Off the Wall’ because ‘I Can’t Help It!’”

WHAT ARTIST WOULD PROVIDE THE SOUNDTRACK FOR THE MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?

“My mom’s albums. She is an amazing songwriter alone — for obvious reasons — but I think Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album really knows me… The story is that Nile (Rodgers) and Bernard (Edwards) really got to know the sisters before writing many of the songs specifically for them. Go figure, maybe I’m becoming my mother after all.”

FAVORITE SONG BY A LOCAL ARTIST

“I think this PAO song, ‘I Can’t Die,’ has been in my top faves now for a while. It’s chilling every time we do it. Shameless plug! But this question stumped me, really, because there is so much local goodness! I love a ton of local acts and go out as often as I can.”

GO-TO GUILTY PLEASURE OR CLASSIC KARAOKE TUNE

“I don’t feel guilty, but ‘Juicy Fruit’ by Mtumbe. My ish!”

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