Carlitta Durand has a heavy weekend ahead of her.
The 30-year-old R&B-singing Durhamite, who has previously served as a hook girl for some of the Triangle’s hip-hop/R&B elite (Little Brother, Chaundon, The Foreign Exchange), will be playing the Art of Cool Festival late Friday evening. As someone who has done a show or two in the past for the Art of Cool Project – the nonprofit collective that organized the festival – Durand is psyched about this year’s lineup.
“I think it’s awesome,” Durand says from her Durham home. “Roy Ayers is a legend, I guess. A friend of mine – I know Jesse Boykins III. I’m a fan of Robert Glasper. Anthony Hamilton – another North Carolina artist. He’s from Charlotte. So, I think the lineup is great. I’m excited.”
Unfortunately, she won’t be in Durham long enough to check out the rest of the fest. The next day, Durand will be in D.C, playing the Broccoli City Festival. She’ll be on a bill that includes Erykah Badu (performing as DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown) and Willow & Jaden Smith. Durand will stick around D.C. on Sunday as well, for a listening party for her latest album, “I’ll Be Gorgeous When I’ll Die,” which will be officially released on iTunes, Amazon and her own website that day.
Her first full-length release since “Songs From Carli” in 2011, Durand started working on “Gorgeous” in 2012, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $5,000 to fund the album. (She raised it, along with an extra $24.) “My idea was to make the album kind of like a live album, and working with local musicians and musicians I know from around,” she says. She got together with reliable folk like Vaughn Garcia (who produced her “Doug & Patty EP” in 2009) and her longtime backup band, Fat Snacks. “So, most of it is like a live album – it’s like half-and-half.”
For family and friends
Somewhere in the middle, Durand took a break to take care of another situation: her daughter, Solace, who’s now 11/2 years old. “I just wanted to take some time to get myself together and enjoy my daughter,” she says. Durand says taking on motherhood certainly gave her more inspiration to finish the album. “I did a lot of songwriting. But, yeah, I was anxious to get back into the studio. I felt refreshed and, you know, just ready to get back into it.”
She also wanted to finish the album so it could be released April 26. Eight years ago, a good friend of Durand’s died, and Durand wanted to release “Gorgeous” on her late pal’s birthday. “I just wanted to do something to celebrate her,” she says. “She was a really good friend. She was a best friend to me, like family, and she passed away suddenly. It was unexpected, and I miss her a lot.”
Durand says if it wasn’t for her dear friend, she probably wouldn’t still be in the music game. “A couple of days before she passed, she just had a conversation with me,” she remembers. “And she just wanted me to continue to do music, no matter what happens. So, I’m just kind of keeping that promise with her.”
Judging from the itinerary she has planned for this weekend alone, it looks like Carlitta Durand is holding on to that promise and then some. She’s also looking to touch people the same way people in her life, whether it’s a dearly departed friend or a bundle of joy who just showed up, have touched her.
“I just want people to know that I’m genuine, and the only music I make, especially this album, is very special to me,” she says. “When I perform, I just want people to feel how genuine I am and just leave with happiness.”
Who: Carlitta Durand
When: 10 p.m. Friday
Where: Durham Armory, 220 Foster St., Durham
Cost: $65/1-day pass; $125/2-day pass
Info: 919-864-8161 or aocfestival.org