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Esperanza Spalding’s new musical journey continues as she releases her single “Formwela 4”, created and recorded in her Songwrights Apothecary Lab last month in Portland, OR. Connected by their need to enhance the ability to say what is most difficult to say between loved ones, she worked with collaborator Corey King on the soaring and stripped back single, featuring arpeggiated acoustic guitar and duetting vocals.  

Watch/listen to “Formwela 4” via the Songwrights Apothecary Lab here. Esperanza will share two other new songs created in Portland with Corey King on Friday, June 18 and Friday, June 25.  

Esperanza launched the Songwrights Apothecary Lab in April with “Formwela 1” “Formwela 2” and “Formwela 3,” a suite created as a salve for the grief and loneliness brought on by the pandemic, featuring a number of musicians including Wayne Shorter, Phoelix and Raphael Saadiq.  

The Songwrights Apothecary Lab explores how songwriters may meaningfully incorporate therapeutic practices and knowledge into their process and production. Esperanza is creating music this way through consultation with researchers, practitioners, and musicians, creating music designed to enhance a specific salutary effect. Read more about the Songwrights Apothecary Lab in this NY Times feature, and more at Vogue, Pitchfork and KCRW.  

Esperanza shares that she crafted “Formwela 4” "for when an un-revealed current at the river bottom of your being needs to rise up and be made lovingly legible." 

Instead of coming in a plastic compact disc, or polyvinyl chloride record, songs created in the Songwrights Apothercary Lab will be sold with a functional object, collaboratively designed to embody the intended salutary effect and use of each formwela. Sales of these objects will help fund the ongoing experimentations and sharings of the Songwrights Apothecary Lab. For “Formwela 4” an iron-on patch in the form of a blue ear is available for pre-order. The purpose of this object is to cup the ear in your hands, and practice saying what you need. Alternative uses include ironing onto a sweater cuff, living room curtain seam, pillowcase, or any location you can readily reach with your saying apparatus to practice saying what you need, as well as practicing saying words into this ear while imagining you are speaking ease-fully at the lobe of a tenderly lapping sea, blue and glittering in its consummate receptivity.

On June 12 she will open an in-person installation of her Songwrights Apothecary Lab in New York City, as part of the River To River festival. Spalding will be working with in-house researchers and close musical collaborators for 10 days at the New York lab. She also looks forward to “shareback” sessions with the public, in which they will be able to experience the lab and listen to what is being worked on throughout this event. The “shareback” schedule is available HERE

“Formwela 4” Listening Guide:

For tuning oneself to expect and receive attunement when speaking intimately to the heart’s un-articulated needs. Use to remind oneself that loving and self-giving are not individual undertakings; that even in the most intimate circumstances, ancestors and earth’s support forces are in attendance, for the honoring of their beauty via the truth of how you really are, and what you really need.

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