British singer, songwriter and bass player Sting started his career in the 1970s as a member of the influential Anglo-American trio, The Police. He's acted in films, raised money for charitable causes, and has a million-selling solo career. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us about Sting's latest project, an album called Sacred Love.
Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, has just released his first album of new studio material since his 1999 multi-million-seller Brand New Day. He says the new collection was partly inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sting lost a friend when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York City. He then had to record an album in front of a live audience the very next day. In writing the songs for Sacred Love, Sting concentrated on the themes of love and peace, from personal and universal points of view. He comments, "I decided to talk about the microcosms of relationships and then sort of weave a pattern out of it. All the songs start in a very personal manner, and then spiral out to something bigger and bigger, reflecting the world.
Sacred Love takes a musically adventurous and cross-cultural path, with an array of guest artists. Mary J. Blige, "The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", impressed the British singer with her passionate vocal style, so he asked her to sing a duet. He was also anxious to work with Spanish flamenco guitarist Vincente Amigo, who Sting says plays his instrument "just like a machinegun." Sting spent an entire day recording with sitar player Anoushka Shankar, who added some intricate phrasing to the song The Book of My Life.
Sting's Sacred Love continues his signature mixture of jazz, blues, funk, ethereal rock and world music. After a slow start, his previous album Brand New Day, sold eight million copies and earned him two Grammy Awards. "I think my music takes a little bit of time to process, sort of the way it's constructed and layered. And I like the way people take their time with it," Sting admits.
In 2002, Sting received a lifetime achievement honor at the annual Brit Awards, and was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. This year, Queen Elizabeth made him a Commander of the British Empire, and on December 10, he'll receive Billboard magazine's Century Award for his career accomplishments.
Sting says, "My intention is to improve as a musician, forever." The A&E cable television network is currently featuring a documentary about the recording of Sting's new album, complete with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. He'll embark on a world tour in early 2004.