Thirteen Kinds of Desire

"It was like finding jewels, like opening a box of gems..."
Internationally acclaimed jazz singer Pamela Knowles and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa join forces in this collection of thirteen distinct and evocative tracks.

Since the album's release in 1999, Pamela has performed the jazz-theatre piece around the world, accompanied by a sextet of skilled musicians.


Pamela Knowles and Yusef Komunyakaa...

...met in 1996 at a jazz festival in Sydney, Australia where they were both performing. 

While backstage, Knowles heard Komunyakaa recite his poetry backed by a jazz pianist, and was inspired to take her music in a new direction.

Knowles asked Komunyakaa to meet for coffee, and the two did so regularly over the next six months. They spoke about jazz, art, and life — their conversations becoming poetry in the hands of Komunyakaa and lyrics in the mouth of Knowles. This unexpected collaboration became "Thirteen Kinds of Desire".


"It had movement, energy, vitality, shadows, metaphors for nature – it had all the senses: auditory, visual, kinesthetic.

It was like taking a ride with the senses and different rhythms.
It had mindfulness, understanding, faith, concentration, love."

IncantationPamela Knowles
00:00 / 08:10

"They say
There are thirteen

Kinds of desire

One's lit by fire
All the others
Will break your heart

If you take away the fire

The ice burns beneath

The moon glow
Need ignites

Since I last saw you
It has come and gone
And I'm left alone Weighing right in one hand

And wrong in the other
A euphoria
At daybreak"

Praise for Thirteen Kinds of Desire

Knowles, an uncommonly good singer, sets Kommunyakaa’s deep lyrics with casual precision.

The tracks shift by - husky, mysterious, playful, clear and swinging. It’s thirteen kinds of engagement.

                                                                              -Steve Rathe

Thirteen Kinds of Desire was released and its brilliance is unmistakable: whether wondering aloud in a hipster’s guise about being “shot down by love” or wistfully recalling “a night....all lit with indigo and mist,” Knowles serves up perfectly some of the most arresting lyrics ever penned with a knowingness borne of a “grown woman’s love”.

-Thomas Staudter

...Knowles boasts an impressive range, clarion timbre, and excellent intonation... The music runs the gamut suggested by the poems, elegantly simple here, darkly bluesy there.  Not since the mid-80s... has a poet's work lent itself so well to jazz.                                                                       

                                                                                 -Neil Tesser

While the entire recording is a collaborative effort of many artists, Knowles brings the whole thing to fruition and puts vibrancy into Komunyakaa's words. Her strength and range carry the day. She will make an impression on you.

-Frank Rubolino