'Floetic' Duo Draws On Philly Scene

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

The marriage of music and poetry is not a new phenomenon. But for London natives Natalie Stewart and Marsha Ambrosius, the union serves as inspiration for their musical mission. As Floetry, the duo brings that mission to life on "Floetic," due Oct. 1 via DreamWorks.

Best friends now, Stewart and Ambrosius first met as rivals on London's basketball courts. According to Stewart, they quickly became good friends, "but we had separate lives."

"Three-and-a-half years ago, Marsha called and asked if I wanted to put some of my poetry to the hook of a chorus she had," Stewart says. "She sang the hook for me, which was 'Fantasize,' and I wrote a poem to it. We didn't touch it for three months until I had a show that I was going to do with a performance poetry group called 3 Plus 1. The group was breaking up, so I asked Marsha to come down and do the song with me. It was the first time we performed together. When we opened our eyes and [saw] people crying in the back of the room, we knew we had hit on something."

Thus, Floetry was born. With Ambrosius as the songstress and Stewart as the "floacist," the duo left London to pursue its musical future stateside. After playing a couple of Atlanta dates, Floetry landed in the neo-soul melting pot that is Philadelphia when a promoter called them to do a show.

"We were drawn to Philly," Ambrosius says. "We didn't know a soul there, but based on one phone call we decided to move. From doing the Black Lily [local club] shows, we met the Roots, Jill Scott, Musiq -- we just fell in the deep end of that whole Philadelphia movement. We then developed a relationship with the producers from [production company] A Touch of Jazz, who had seen me at [Philadelphia's] the Five Spot."

Stewart adds, "We walked into A Touch of Jazz and just started building with them. They pressed play, and the beat to 'Floetic' came on. We walked into the booth, and the song was written and cut in less than an hour. After that, we cut 11 songs in seven days." Having penned songs for Michael Jackson ("Butterflies"), Glenn Lewis, and Bilal, Stewart and Ambrosius co-wrote all 14 album tracks.

The duo is currently on the road with the Tanqueray Soul Suite tour. Sponsored by Tanqueray gin, the multi-city trek serves as the group's official U.S. introduction. Following that stint, the group will join Motown's India.Arie on her tour, which begins in October.

Excerpted from the Sept.21, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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