René Marie – singer, actress, writer. Earth Kitt – singer, actress, writer. Never before has there been a vocal recording tipping the hat to the divine Ms. Kitt and her fiery, sensual and clever interpretations of songs. With her incredible range of vocal ability, her powerful emotional resonance and strong independent streak, René is the right artist to conceive of this historic project, out November 12 on the adventurous, multi-Grammy®- nominated label Motéma Music. I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt) is René’s third recording for the label and her 10th career album. Eartha Kitt’s daughter Kitt Shapiro, who maintains her mother’s legacy via EarthaKitt.com and the company Simply Eartha, expressed her appreciation. It’s wonderful that such a talented artist like René Marie has recorded the first tribute album to my mother, helping to keep her memory and spirit alive. These classic songs deserve to be heard and loved by all generations. This brilliantly entertaining album burnishes René’s reputation as the most provocative risk-taker among today’s jazz divas. Featuring star turns by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, trumpeter Etienne Charles and Australia’s Adrian Cunningham on saxophone, clarinet and flute, I Wanna Be Evil opens with a cackle of mischief. Then René tears into “I’d Rather Be Burned As A Witch,” a powerhouse song that immediately signals the melding of the spirits of two audacious women. She changes gears dramatically with a sly arrangement of “C’est Si Bon,” one of the songs most associated with Eartha. Lesser-known gems “Oh, John” and “Let’s Do It” follow, both of which René imbues with sultry affection. She puts her scintillating touch on “Peel Me A Grape” – featured on her 1998 recording debut – before giving a classic rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” The title track is another barnburner that showcases René’s playfulness. The little-known Caribbean-tinged “Come on-a My House” – featuring a percussion turn by Charles – leads into probably Eartha’s best-known song, “Santa Baby.” René’s slow burn version is sure to become a new holiday favorite. She closes with her haunting original, “Weekend,” a favorite with fans, who adore René for her ability to enthrall. Produced by René and veteran producer/writer/programmer Mark Ruffin, I Wanna Be Evil features René’s longtime band: Quentin Baxter (drums, percussion, washboard); Kevin Bales (piano); and Elias Bailey (bass). René shares more about her inspiration for the project. Eartha Kitt is one of America’s strongest iconic figures. She was an inspiring artist, a strong woman and an essential activist in different ways. She was homeless when she first moved to New York City yet became a star. She was a sensual and powerful woman in a man’s world at a time when most women were background not front and center. She was a black actress in Hollywood at a time when most black actors were given subservient roles yet here she was – Catwoman. She challenged President Johnson on the Vietnam War and paid a price for her outspokenness. She unabashedly shared her sensual self and her fierce self and was just herself – simply Eartha. That alone, I have learned, can be the most radical act, especially if you are a woman. As Eartha states in one of her famous ‘Kittisms’: The price you pay for being yourself is worth it.