Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers Bring Jazz to Wu-Tang Classics at ‘Mo’ Betta Wu’ Show in NYC

Killandra Bea

Words by Korby Benoit

Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers recently debuted their live collaboration Mo’ Betta Wu at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York.  Mo’ Betta Wu is a one of a kind show where the artists reinterpret hip hop classics by the Wu-Tang Clan as jazz standards. It all results into a spirited and comedic performance that will amuse hip hop heads and jazz cats alike.

Backed by an accompanying 4 piece band dubbed The Shinobis, Seales handles all the vocal duties as the character Killandra Bea (the name is a play on the term ‘killa bee’). Killandra is a long-time resident of Staten Island’s Stapleton housing projects. She is bold and quick witted, as she engages the audience with clever quips in between the reworked Wu-Tang bangers. Songs like “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shimmy, Shimmy Ya” and “Triumph” are presented in a manner in which most hip hop fans would never imagine.

Seales flexes some impressive vocal range, while the arrangements of jazz pianist Kris Bowers  manage to retain the head nodding appeal of the original Wu-Tang material. The beats are easy to recognize yet unfold in new ways. This was a significant challenge for, Bowers as he explained, “That was a worry of mine as an arranger. Whether or not people were going to hear the samples through what we were playing. So I was glad that the audience picked it up.”

Much of the show is driven by the chemistry between the artists and the audience. Amanda Seales displays a certain awareness which allows her to be playful and improvise much of her performance as Killandra Bea.  She states, “It comes from a genuine connection to the audience. I’ve been really lucky to have that intuition and to be able to feel.  And this is going to sound really existential, but to be able to feel beyond what people are showing me. It’s what helps me be a good comic. It’s what helps me be a good DJ and good performer.”

With the 20th anniversary of  Wu-Tang’s seminal Enter The 36 Chambers upon us, as well as other hip hop masterpieces such as NasIllmatic, it is refreshing to see artists pay homage. Perhaps projects like Mo’ Betta Wu are a way to remind us of hip hop’s limitless potential.

Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers Discuss Upcoming ‘Mo’ Betta Wu’ @ LPR, NYC – April 10

Words by Korby Benoit

In 1994, the Wu-Tang Clan emerged as a collective of nine gifted emcees from Staten Island, NY. Their musical contribution has been unparalleled and this year marks the 20th anniversary of their seminal release, Enter The 36 Chambers. Undoubtedly the Wu-Tang style, slang and sound has left a permanent impression on hip-hop fans across the globe.

Amanda Seales is an artist known for her various work as a television host, visual artist, DJ and vocalist.  She is also someone with an appreciation for Wu-Tang’s cultural impact. This week, Seales will perform a show entitled Mo’ Betta Wu at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City. Together with pianist Kris Bowers and additional band members, she’ll be performing an assortment of jazz standards over reworked and reinterpreted Wu-Tang classics.

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