Sting brought along Beninese pop star Shirazee to his NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, which included their new duet on “Englishman/African in New York” as well as two other Sting classics, on Monday (March 22).
In his quarantine return to the NPR show, Sting strummed an acoustic guitar over a shuffling beat as he sat alongside Shirazee, who grooved along to the song from the former Police frontman’s 1987 sophomore solo album, … Nothing Like the Sun.
Shirazee took over the second verse, in which he gave the song his own spin. “Every day I wake up here’s a win/ ‘Cause I got here on a dream/ I still hear my mother praying every day/ I’m an African in New York,” he sang. “You dey see am from my pride and energy/ When I dey waka down the street/ You can hear it in my accent when I talk/ I’m an African in New York.”
The duo joined together on the chorus, trading off lines about their melting-pot origins in the big city. Sting graced Shirazee’s 2020 version of the song and liked it so much that he invited him to record it for his just-released Duets album — which includes songs with Eric Clapton, Cheb Mami, Mary J. Blige, Shaggy and Annie Lennox — as well as join him on the Tiny Desk show. The pair discussed the joy of sitting in a room with another person for the first time in a year, reveling in the warmth of singing and spending time together.
Moving over into the audience section, Shirazee looked on as Sting plucked out a meditative version of “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” from the singer’s 1993 solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales. Seated in a sun-lit lounge filled with recording equipment, the mono-monikered rock legend ended his three-song set with the more obscure, jazzy “Sister Moon,” also from …Nothing Like the Sun.
Check out Sting’s Tiny Desk (Home) concert below.