Reprinted from Baltimore Magazine, April 1999

Miss Thang, a.k.a. Lorraine Whittlesey.

naughty by nurture

Word up. Lorraine Whittlesey is giving a shout-out to her peeps. Or something like that.

The Roland Park musician has worn a lot of hats during her long career—New Wave chanteuse, intellectual composer, avant garde performance artist—but this is the first time we’ve seen her in a ski cap pulled down over her eyes.

Thirteen years ago, Whittlesey released a tape of her compositions. Included was "an honest-to-God ballad," as she describes it. The tape drifted into relative obscurity, and Whittlesey forgot about it.

Until she got a letter last April on behalf of Arista Records. Turns out, the successful hip-hop band Naughty by Nature had gotten their hands on the tape and wanted to use part of it in one of their songs, an early version of which they sent along with the letter.

"I got this thing in the mail," says Whittlesey. "And I’m thinking, ‘What?’ It was a different tempo, and a different key, but that was my line."

It seems far-fetched. But today’s rap artists will listen to hundreds of tapes a year to use as samples in their recordings. Naughty by Nature re-recorded one of Whittlesey’s riffs and looped it throughout their song.

Just for the record, Whittlesey’s ballad was called "How Can You Live Without Love?" The Naughty by Nature version, due out this month, is called "Wicked Bounce."

Uh, so what did she think?

"Well," she hedges, "it’s not something I would have written myself. But it certainly takes my music to a new level."

What’s more, Whittlesey stands to make some "mad dough" (that means a lot of money) if the song’s a hit. And there’s even one more unforeseen advantage: "I have credibility with my nephews now."

• Catherine Pierre

return to Press