A charming, empowering re-work of American pianist Herbie Hancock’s original tune, vocalist Poppy Ajudha has shared her version of ‘Watermelon Man’ as part of the Blue Note Re:imagined project. Bringing together the label’s musical past and future, the project features contributions from internationally acclaimed jazz, soul and R&B acts.
“Herbie’s ‘Watermelon Man’ was my first thought when asked to imagine a track from the Blue Note catalogue,” explains Ajudha. “It’s an iconic song and one that has been with me throughout my life. I based the lyrics on my research of Watermelon Men in America, aiming to capture what it may have been like to be a black man in America at that time – newly emancipated but still heavily oppressed – and the race relations that had brought him to this point.”
Through empathetic lyricism and effortless vocal delivery, Ajudha reminds listeners a “change is gonna come, don’t give up on yourself, don’t give yourself away”. In the accompanying video for the track, she continues to celebrate blackness and the strength of the black community by working with an entirely black and mixed-race team.
“I wanted the video for Watermelon Man to be a celebration of blackness in all its forms, I wanted it to show joy and community,” Ajudha explains. “I cast my sisters, my best friends, and my grandma amongst all of the other beautiful souls. It was a really special video for me, and the team captured this vision incredibly. The feeling was unspoken because they just knew what I wanted and why it was important, they felt it too, I’m so happy with how it turned out.”
Watch the video for ‘Watermelon Man (Under The Sun)’ below.