Six International Women Singers You Should Know

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In honor of International Women’s Day , here is a short list of women artists from across the globe whose music stays on repeat.  By NO means is this list all-inclusive. Just a small sampling of artists that I enjoy that you should consider letting take up a bit of space on your hard drive.

Alice Russell

I have loved Alice Russell long time and I have the receipts videos to prove it. The way she sang and shook her shimmy on stage in pink tights made me a fan for life.  This British powerhouse is criminally underrated, as her lane is a bit crowded. I’m hoping that her upcoming release, To Dust [read review] will finally put her on the map. It’s already one of my favorite albums of 2013. Take a look at a performance of “Hard and Strong,” one of my favorite tracks from the album.

Bonus video: cover of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley

Coco of Quadron

It was love at first listen when I heard the sweet vocals of the female half of the Danish duo Quadron, the lovely Coco. When they performed in the DC area a year and a half ago, I was front and center grooving to tunes from their self-titled album released three LONG years ago. While we wait impatiently for the release of some new joints, enjoy Coco performing with Tyler The Creator on Jimmy Fallon and sannnnging on this banging new track, “Hey Love.”

The video above is a performance at The Google a couple of years ago. I chose it because she starts to acts all the way up at the 2:30 mark and it is everything I will ever need in this life and the next.

Hollie Smith

If I wasn’t so lazy busy, I would dig through my Twitter archive and find the multiple tweets I sent out raving about the Band of Brothers Vol I  album featuring the sweet sounds of  New Zealand songstress, Hollie Smith. It was my first introduction to the ‘Kiwi soul sister’ and I accepted my late pass because she was hardly new to the game as you will see in the video above. I cannot get enough of her voice and you won’t be able to either.

Joy Denalane

Last time I blogged about the beautiful German singer-songwriter was when she joined Bilal, Tweet, and Dwele on the Dresden Soul Symphony album/DVD compilation. I have been a fan since I heard her first English language album, Born and Raised, back in 2006. Since then, she has released her third studio album, Maureen, which is entirely in her native tongue. Although I can’t understand a word of what she is singing, the album gets frequent play. After all, the language of music is universal. In the video above, she performs the title track in English.

Kimbra

I just can’t get enough of that Kiwi soul. My soul brother from across the pond, Soul UK, introduced me to the sweet sounds of GRAMMY winner Kimbra, who recently won Record of the Year for her collaboration with Goyte on “Somebody That I Used To Know.” I can’t imagine it gets much better than receiving your award from Prince and him saying he digs the record. I mean, it just don’t seem like he digs much so it’s really an even bigger deal than the Grammy. Last year, Kimbra released her debut album, Vows, and it topped many best of lists.  Enjoy this dope live performance of one of my favorites from the album, “Settle Down.” Kimbra, if you’re listening, DC awaits!

Tawiah

I have probably been a fan of British singer Tawiah the longest of all the artists I’ve mentioned in this post. I introduced you back in 2008. You’ve had five years to catch up! I hoped we would have gotten a full length effort since the EP, In Jodi’s Bedroom.  But still we wait. A ray of hope came just today in the form of a video for a single from her upcoming mixtape. Let’s hope this is a signal of good things to come. Enjoy the new video and the hauntingly beautiful acoustic performance above.

Please support woman artists near and far during women’s history month and beyond.

Put me on to some of your favorite international artists in the comments.

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Have You Copped Bilal’s New Album ‘A Love Surreal’?

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Watch: Bilal’s Musicians at Google interview and acoustic performance 

A few short months ago, I was gearing up for Bilal’s album release and it’s here!  During my blogging hiatus, he blessed us his third studio album, A Love Surreal, which immediately soared to the top of the  top of the Itunes R&B/Soul album charts. Three cheers for folks supporting real music.

I have been super impressed with the wide variety of promotion the album has received so far, which can likely be attributed to a change in record labels. His team is working it! As an online professional who would kill to be on Bilal’s online marketing team, I was also extremely excited to see that his official website is finally complete and his social presence is expanding. [Get all the links on his blog.] It’s been a long time coming!

The latest promotional effort for the album, Musicians at Google, was released today. He joins artists like Raphael Saadiq, Eric Roberson,  and Lady GaGa in being featured on this series. Very good company. Filmed a month before A Love Surreal was released, the showcase began with an interview, one that had its moments. However, where he really came alive was during the intimate acoustic performances of “Back to Love,” “Longing and Waiting” and “Never Be The Same” from A Love Surreal and “All Matter” from Airtight’s Revenge.  It’s definitely worth taking a look at, even if your ADD causes you to have to just skip ahead to the performances.

As for my thoughts on A Love Surreal: I listened to it three times before it was officially released thanks to the First Listen series on NPR. I didn’t fall in love with the entire album from the time I pressed play. Although I have stanned for Bilal since before the term existed, I can admit that. There were certain songs like “Slipping Away,” “Never Be The Same,” “Longing and Waiting,” and “Butterfly” that drew me in right away. Others it will take more time. Seeing them come alive on stage in a couple of weeks will surely have me listening to the album with new ears. Watching some of the performances that have popped up on YouTube have already done just that.

One thing that immediately struck me about the album is the live instrumentation. It’s simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, it’s a rarity to hear real instruments on albums today. You will find them here. I appreciated hearing about the process of making this album on the two-part (very well done) video series, Welcome To A Love Surreal [Watch Part 1 and Part 2]. Bilal breaks down everything from where he goes to write, what inspires his creative process, the evolution and maturation of his writing, and working with King and Robert Glasper, the only two guests on the album. He also shares how he likes to record by the beach because it calms him. Me too! Twinsies!

Listening to Bilal talking about the road to the making of this album, which was originally supposed to be just a five song EP, enhanced my appreciation for his growth as an artist. Although the long lost Love for Sale remains my favorite, I am more than willing to let him move on. Bilal is at the top of his game and is hands down one of the most gifted vocalists making music today. I may not like every song he releases but as long as he stays true to his art and takes care of that voice, he will have my eternal support!

Be sure to cop the album. Spread the word to your music loving folks to buy it and to support him on tour when he comes to your city.

When You Gonna Get Up

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amel-larrieux

I know you’re down, when you gonna get up
I see you down, when you gonna get up

Forgive me for the lack of posts over the past couple months. At least it wasn’t two years this time! To say I’ve had a rough start to the New Year would be an understatement. To put it in perspective without spilling all my guts, one of the two traumatic events I was dealing with only happens to two out of one hundred people and I still have no explanation as to why I was a statistic. I can only imagine that it was a message, one that I am still waiting to receive.

During this time, I just couldn’t find the mental (or physical) energy to write here. I’m not the type that can “tweet through it” although I  tried to maintain some presence on Twitter so I wouldn’t totally destroy what I am trying to re-build. When I’m going through, I have to retreat and be still.

I also wasn’t attending any shows or listening to much new music so I didn’t have much to write about. So you know shit was serious.  I missed two epic shows that I had been looking forward to — Jessie Ware and Big Daddy Kane performing with a live band.  When I purchased those tickets, nothing but God was going to keep me from it! In a way, I guess He did.

This whole experience also taught me that you never truly know what people are going through. I have been walking around every day for the past couple of months carrying a lot. Just because folks are made up and smiling doesn’t mean their lives aren’t completely falling apart in the background. Check up on the folks that mean something to you. You may just save that person’s life with one phone call.

Moving on.

I am slowly but surely beginning to feel like myself again. Before all this happened, I didn’t know my own strength. I’m a bad mama jama and all but I will still likely end up in therapy, which you know I strongly advocate for if you’ve been with me for any length of time. I have so much to do this year and so much good music to share with you. I need to “get up” so I can give it to you.

As I start to get back into the groove, it helps that my musical new year has been off to a smashing start.  If Jose James comes to your city promoting his latest  release, No Beginning No End, run to get tickets. It was my first time seeing him and he and the band were absolutely amazing.

Check out my recap of the Jose James show containing my live tweets and some videos.

A couple of nights ago, Queen Erykah Badu came through to celebrate her birthday and blessed us with a performance of the entire magnum opus, Mama’s Gun. When the show was first announced, as I tripped over myself to cop a ticket, I side eyed her touring on old music when she needs to be up in the studio bringing us the new new.  When I tell you that woman  gave the best performance I’ve ever seen from her, that is an understatement. I have seen Erykah live many times over the years, dating back to the Baduizm days. Some performances are better than others but there was something magical about this one.

I may be biased because she was performing from the album which I consider her best to date. She simply owned that stage. She was having fun. “Orange Moon” [watch] and “Green Eyes” [watch] were  spiritual experiences. “Green Eyes” literally punched in my gut and knocked me off my feet. I was back there.

I can’t believe I made a desperate plea…
Never knew what a friendship was
Never knew how to really love
You can’t be what I need you to
And I don’t know why I fucked with you

LISTEN. She sang that like she was still there.

The encore found Erykah rocking “Danger” from Worldwide Underground to a go-go beat. Watch some not so great video that captures the fire she lit within all 2432332 people at the show.

If that tour comes your way, you should be there. I’m so thankful to these two artists plus a few more that have released  stellar music in early 2013. Look out for posts about that soon!

Vivrant Thang’s Top Songs of 2012

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I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! Mine has been pretty cool. I spent time with love ones and did some GOOD eating. This time off work has been just what the doctor ordered. Praise HIM!

Life has come at me fast over the past couple of weeks, just when I was getting my groove back. I haven’t been able to bring you many of the holiday posts that I intended to. However, since I have been documenting my favorite songs of 2012 throughout the year, I just had to share them with you before the clock strikes midnight on January 1.

Last time I did this, in 2009, I brought you several different year-end listicles. This year I’m keeping it simple by sharing the songs that had me pressing rewind. Most of them were supposed to be on that ill-fated mix I was going to relaunch the site with.

Moving on.

There won’t be any explanation on why I like each tune because with listicles ya’ll know you don’t read it anyway! As a good friend told me, “Just give me the link!” Just know that if it’s there, I think it’s worth a listen. You’ll find a little jazz, a bit of hip hop, some electrosoul and a LOT of plain ole great music.

As you can see, I have found 2012 to be a stellar year musically. Most of these songs many of you won’t have heard before. When I peruse these listicles, that’s always my end goal. I want to see what music I should have had on repeat.

Without further ado, here are my favorite tunes from 2012. Note: Be sure to scroll down the player. Lots of music there I don’t want you to miss.

Here are some loose joints that Spotify isn’t up on yet for whatever reason. Click the link to listen to each track:

Aaradhna– My Boo (Remake) Yes, that “My Boo”
Allen Stone– Six Years
Austin Brown – Groove 92 ( Definitely checking for MJ’s nephew with this joint here)
The Botaniks + Bernhoft: Fond of Jane
Deborah Bond – Say It (Nicolay Remix)
Deborah Bond – Nothing Matters (Soulpersona Raregroove Remix)
DJ Spinna featuring Eric Roberson – Butterfly Girl (Casamena Remix)
Gwen Bunn– Death of Me
Jamie Lidell – What A Shame
Jesse Boykins III – Limit To Your Love (Feist/James Blake Cover)
Jessie Ware – Running
Joey Negro & The Sunburst Band – In The Thick of It
Little Dragon – Sunshine
Luke James – Heartbeat
Martin Luther McCoy – Sara Smile (DAMN good cover of one of my all time favorite songs)
Meshell Ndegeocello – Petite Mort (Miguel Migs Moody Downtown Remix)
Moses Sumney– Lost & Found (Acoustic Cover of the Lianne La Havas song included above. He does this justice)
Staycen x Koen – Never Too Late
tUnE-yArDs + Angelique Kidjo + Ahmir ‘?uestlove’ Thompson + Akua Naru– Lady
Tweet – Proceed

I also invite you to check out picks from some of my most respected music blogs and bloggers:

Chasing Soul
Soul Afrodisiac
L Michael Gibson
SoulBounce and here
Soul Tracks

Are any of your favorites on this lists? Any new favorites on this list? Be sure to support the artists you have enjoyed when they drop new music or visit your city on tour.

Have a safe and wonderful new year, real music lovers! Let’s get ready to set it off to the left and the right in 2013!

This Week On The DC Area Live Soul Music Scene

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The Roots

No better way to bring in the New Year than rocking out to live music! The calendar is a little light on quantity of shows this week but big on quality.

♫ The Roots are doing their annual New Years Eve set at The Fillmore in Silver Spring. If I had my way, this is where I would be! There are still tickets available. You should be here. Get tickets.

♫ It’s good to see Jon B back on the scene. Forgive him for the title of his latest album and let’s hope he keeps to his late 90s/early 2000s swag instead. Get that slow grind on to “I Do (Whatcha Say Boo)” for me one good time. Get tickets.

Check out the concert calendar for more music events in the DC area in the new year.

Outside the DC area? Attending a hot show this week? Put your fellow music lovers on in the comments.