A quote from Toni Morrison inspired the title of Jamila Woods‘ latest record: “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

Speaking at a library in New York, Morrison was referring to the Mississippi River, which always finds its natural shape in spite of human manipulation. On Water Made Us, Woods charts a different kind of pathway, through the emotional stages of a romantic relationship.

“It’s such a comforting idea to me, that we are always routed back to our source, whether it’s a higher power or how we were born into the world,” Woods tells World Cafe during a video call. “You weren’t born into the world with insecurities or heartbreak. You were just breathing and wanting love, and we are always rooted back to that.”

Jamila Woods - Tiny Garden (Official Video)

Woods’ latest effort is a shift in focus for the songwriter and poet. Whereas Heavn and Legacy! Legacy! explored Black girlhood and iconic Black artists like James Baldwin and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Water Made Us is decidedly more introspective. As Woods guides us through the life cycle of a relationship, you get a deeper understanding of who she is as an artist and an individual.

In this session, Woods talks about sticking to tried-and-true creative methods, adapting her music for live performance, and the viral Allen Iverson moment that inspired her song “Practice.”

This episode of World Cafe was produced and edited by Miguel Perez. Our senior producer is Kimberly Junod and our engineer is Chris Williams. Our programming and booking coordinator is Chelsea Johnson and our line producer is Will Loftus.

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