08/05/2011 04:32 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2011

Peace Go With You, Brother: Meshell Ndegeocello Pays Tribute To Gil Scott-Heron

Meshell Ndegeocello sounds relaxed on Friday afternoon as she drives down to New York City to perform at the Blue Note tonight and Saturday night.

"It's an exciting time to be an artist, to have that freedom to create and do your own thing," she says over the phone.

One of the most original and inventive singer-songwriters in the country, Ndegeocello, is at the legendary jazz club in the West Village to pay tribute to the recently departed music genius Gil Scott-Heron in a show produced by Jill Newman Productions. When she graces the stage, expect to be moved emotionally, inspired lyrically and impelled to move your feet.

Ndegeocello has defied labels throughout her career and her music has embraced soul, funk, jazz fusion, rock, dub and several other genres with lyrics that discuss romance, sexual identity, racial injustice and spirituality.

"I'm pushing ahead on my own -- you no longer need a large record company to make you a star," she adds. The iconoclastic musician just finished recording an album, produced by Joe Henry, to be released on a French label.

"People always ask me to play my old music at these shows and that made me think of the music that inspired me and it's definitely Gil," she says. "I'm from D.C. and he lived there. He was an amazing orator who influenced so many people. It's like what Cornel West said recently, 'Some people are the thermostat and some are the thermometer.'"

Though she never met him, Ndegeocello has been a longtime fan of Scott-Heron's socially conscious lyrics and jazz-funk rhythms. The venue is fitting for this weekend's show because the last place she saw him perform several years ago was at the Blue Note.

Meshell Ndegeocello "A Night of Gil Scott-Heron Covers"
August 5th and 6th
The Blue Note Jazz Club, NYC
Jill Newman Productions