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 by vivrant thang on philadelphia soul singers

Last Friday’s trip down memory lane starring classic Philadelphia soul singers inspired me to think about all the music coming out of the City of Brotherly Love today that folks may not know about. As I said, first we gotta look back to move forward.

When people think about the Philly soul scene, the usual suspects that immediately come to mind are Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild. Think a little harder and you may come up with Kindred or Vivian Green. Absolutely nothing wrong with that because as you should already know I stan for Jill (preparing to buy tickets to see her for the second time this year and I CANNOT wait) and I’ll always love Musiq. They essentially put the Philly neosoul scene on the map. I just want to shine the spotlight on some other artists that deserve some recognition as well.

As I did in the last post, I have to start this off by talking about the man that has written for, produced, and performed with a lot of these artists I’m spotlighting.

James Poyser

  • Grammy Award winning songwriter, record producer, and keyboardist from Philadelphia, known for his R&B, hip-hop, gospel and pop productions.
  • Written and produced for Al Green, Jill, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Mariah Carey, and Musiq, and Lauryn Hill
  • Scored several films and television shows including “Chappelle Show” and “Brown Sugar”
  • Played on albums by artists like Roy Hargrove, Aretha Franklin, Prince, D’Angelo, and Queen Latifah
  • Member of the Soulquarians and The Randy Watson Experience

I’ll be attending a jam session in Philly this weekend with The Randy Watson Experience featuring Bilal. Here’s their interpretation of “Can’t Hide Love” and Radiohead’s “Morning Soul.”


Carol Riddick

Hailing from the South Side of Philly, Carol started out backing artists like Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, and Kindred. Once you listen to her sound, you’ll see why she couldn’t possibly stay in the background. I saw her live at Zanzibar Blue (RIP) a couple of years ago and she blew me away – a young Anita Baker in the making. Her album, Moments Like This, was released in 2006. She worked with James Poyser on some of the tracks.

“I Don’t Wanna”

Cover of Anita Baker’s “Angel”


Vikter Duplaix

Vikter is a singer, songwriter, producer, and plays multiple instruments. He’s released several albums and appeared on tracks by artists like Erykah Badu, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Incognito, Esthero, and Eric Benet.

Make A Baby


Jaguar Wright

I love Jaguar’s style. Straight, no chaser. Highly underrated. I own both of her albums and would love to see her perform live. She has worked with artists like The Roots, Bilal, and Jay-Z.

So High

Cover of Patti’s Love, Need and Want You

Ashley Phillips

Ashley is a Philly-born singer and songwriter. Her band formed in 2003 and they mostly perform locally. l had the pleasure of catching her acoustic set here in DC last year. Her stage presence is soothing, yet captivating. She reminds me of Dionne Ferris or Me’Shell Ndegeocello – especially with the way she handles that guitar. You can tell when she performs that it’s truly for the love of the music. I hope to see an album from her sometime in the near future.

Can’t Stop The Record

Kevin Michael

With a fro like that, you know he got soulllll! He calls his music a mixture of soul, pop, R&B, and funk. He’s a self-taught artist who has been singing since childhood. His mother was embarrassed to take him out because he would often randomly break into song. His song of choice? “Me So Horny!” His musical selection has evolved a bit since then. He released his first self-titled album last year and has collaborated with the likes of Wyclef Jean and Lupe Fiasco.


Jazmine Sullivan

I been hearing rumblings about the next coming of Lauryn Hill for a while now but never really investigated further. It wasn’t until I heard “Need You Bad” on Soul Bounce that I sat up and took notice. Evidently, I am late. Ain’t nothing neo about this soul singer. She sang on Showtime at the Apollo at the tender age of 11 and performed with Stevie Wonder at 13. She appeared on a couple of tracks on Fantasia’s album, Free, and wrote a couple of songs on Christina Milian’s album. This 20-year-old singer and songwriter is indeed one to watch. Look out for the album on J records sometime this year.

“I Am” with Kindred

Cover of “What’s Going On”

A true stan would never end this post without mentioning her favorite Philadelphia soul singer. None other than my man Bilal. He should be no stranger to my faithful readers. But for those that happen in here that may have never heard of him, I’ll let the music speak for itself.

Here are a couple of videos from the last show I attended. I’m thrilled to say I’ll be seeing him perform later today in Baltimore and then again on Friday at a jam session with The Randy Watson Experience. With President Obama finally delivering that knockout blow to Billary, can this historic week get any better?

“White Turns To Grey” from the never released “Love for Sale”

A NICE version of “Soul Sista”

Did I miss any underrated Philly soul singers that you think deserve some shine? Shout them out in the comments.