Cynthia Erivo, the London-born, Grammy and Tony Award-winning actress, singer and songwriter, will release her debut album of original music, Ch. 1 Vs. 1, on September 17 on Verve Records. It’s now available to pre-order.
Erivo is also an Academy Award nominee, and won her Grammy and Tony Awards for her work on The Color Purple. Today (4), she unveils her debut pop-soul single “The Good,” which she also co-wrote, accompanied by a music video addressing Black queer love, intimacy, and break-ups.
The entertainer will give her first performance of “The Good” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert next Monday (7) on CBS. She is also booked for the Today Show Citi Music Summer Concert Series on August 20 on NBC.
“In storytelling, chapter one and verse one is the way you always begin, and because I believe I’m a storyteller, that’s what I wanted to do with my music,” says Erivo. “That’s what this is about, just starting [and revealing] the human parts of me that you don’t often get to see.”
The 12-track Ch. 1, Vs. 1 is a window onto Erivo’s emotional landscape, revealing the person behind the stage and screen image, high fashion red carpet gowns and extravagant nail art. “Just as me, Cynthia,” as she puts it. She has co-written every track on the record, which she describes as “a duty to tell people something” at a time of such global uncertainty.
“The Good,” styled by Erivo as a “joyful breakup song,” has a cinematic-scale video directed by Mollie Mills which is notable for its sensitive and nuanced representation of Black queer love on screen. The artist portrays a woman remembering the positive memories of her failed relationship.
“I wanted to normalize seeing Black women in a relationship on screen, because often it’s really fetishistic,” says Erivo, who wanted it to be “something that felt full of heart” and told the story of a relationship that failed, but that had great meaning to the couple involved.
Ch. 1 Vs. 1, executive-produced by Will Wells (Imagine Dragons, Quincy Jones, Anthony Ramos), blends socially-inspired soul (“What In The World,” “Hero,” Sweet Sarah”), alt-R&B and pop (“Day Off,” “I Might Be In Love With You,” “Alive”) and vulnerable, gospel-tinged ballads such as “A Window,” “Glowing Up,” and “You’re Not Here.”
The album has co-writing and production contributions by Jamie Hartman, Sean Douglas, Kaveh Rasteghar, Shakka Phillip, Harold Lilly (Beyoncé, Brandy), and Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar), among others. “It would be a wasted opportunity to not express all that I am,” notes Erivo. “This is probably one of the first times I’ll get to just be myself, and be myself fully.”
The full Ch. 1 Vs. 1 tracklist is:
“What In The World”
“I Might Be In Love With You”
“You’re Not Here”