In a new series of articles, SOCAN will look at the ways that songs written or co-written by our members have been licensed (or “synchronized,” or a “synch,” in the parlance of publishing) to movies, television, streaming platforms, videogames, online, and other screen media. First up is Ndidi O, whose “Call Me Queen” was licensed to the Netflix series Self Made.
JUNO-nominated, WCMA Blues Award-winning singer-songwriter Ndidi O is recognized for wide-spanning work, from blues to jazz, and now trip-hop with her band BOGA (who recently released “Trigger Happy”). Her music has also expanded into the world of synchronizations, boasting song placements In True Blood’s final season (“May Be the Last Time”), where the episode was later named after her song; GAP’s denim campaign (“Move Together”); and Mary Kills People (“What Do You Say” by BOGA).
As her work is recognized for its signature mix of empowerment and vulnerability, it’s no surprise that her righteous, raucous track “Call Me Queen“ landed on the soundtrack the 2020’s Netflix series Self Made, a biopic inspired by historic African-American entrepreneur and activist Madame C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer, and directed by Kasi Lemmons.
What inspired “Call Me Queen”?
“Call Me Queen” was written about female empowerment. There’s a constant patriarchal struggle – patriarchy is exploding. Women have been minimized. We’ve been taught weird forms of competition [and] to overtly sexualize ourselves to get power. But none of that is necessary. All we need to do is to be in our strengths and form communities — that’s what women naturally do; we form communities to get shit done. So, the intention [was], let’s celebrate what it means to be a woman and get shit done.
I work with agent Mike Jansen [The Greater Goods Co.] and I have an excellent co-writer, composer, producer, and bandmate [Mischa Chillak]. He’s quite prolific. He’ll be like, “Let’s do a song. How are you feeling? Are you feeling empowered? Let’s do a song about empowerment.” Writing about deep emotions is what I do.
How did “Call Me Queen” land in the series?
This song was written and finished the year before. I had just released an album. I have a bunch of songs that are done, but I don’t want to release until I have a new album coming out. Mike has a lot of unreleased material from me, so when this show came up, he pitched this song and the music supervisor really liked it. It fit. [Self Made] was the perfect place for that song to come out, and it gave me a good reason to release it because I wanted to anyway – I tend to release music when it’s had a synch.
How did it feel to be picked for the series and then hear your music in the episode A Credit to Race?
The episode was so succinctly written. It moved at a good clip and there was a lot of development and growth. That scene was powerful. I was like, “Oh wow! This is a perfect usage for that song,” and I feel really honoured to be part of it. The music supervisor for that show is a woman of colour [Mikaila Simmons], and she was very specific in the music she picked. Almost all the songs are by women of colour. To be included in that roster of artists – for this Canadian Black woman – I’m proud and excited.