Tag: John Legend

New Video: Acclaimed Scandinavian Soul Artist Jonas Releases a Joyful and Warm New Single

Throughout his 20 plus year music career, the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumentalist Jonas (born Jonas Rendbo) has been hailed by international press as the Godfather of Scandinavian Soul. During that period, the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter has released a ton of music. which he has supported with tours across the world, sharing stages with Omar, John Legend, Joss Stone, Lynden David Hall and Bilal among a lengthy and growing list of others. Adding to his accolades, Rendbo won Artist of the Year and Best Video at the 2016 Scandinavian Soul Music Awards. 

Since 2004, Rendbo has split time between Copenhagen and London, where he met his wife and started a family. And while in London, he started collaborating with London-based multi-instrumentalist and producer The Scratch Professor, who coincidentally is Omar’s brother. Rendbo and The Scratch Professor had an instant musical simpatico and a couple of songs they wrote together wound up on Jonas’ sophomore album 2009’s W.A.I.T.T. 

Interestingly, their collaboration also managed to produce a handful of songs that the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter had kept in his vault over the past decade — and have finally been released last month as the four song EP 4ward Fast To Future. Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered during COVID-19 quarantine lockdown during April, the EP is return to the warm, neo-soul sounds of his earliest work. 

The EP’s later single “Pick Me Up” is warm bit of 90s inspired soul, centered around shimmering Rhodes, boom bap-like beats, a sinuous bass line, a strutting horn line, an infectious hook and Rendbo’s sultry and plaintive falsetto. And while being a joyous, two step-inducing, radio friendly jam, the song’s narrator talks about desiring — and then having — the sort of love (and lover) that most of us dream of: that ride or die person, who’s with you and supports you through thick and thin, joy and heartbreak, sickness and health. Lucky and rare are those who find it. And if you’re one of those lucky ones,  I hope that you cherish it. Few things our morally bankrupt world live up to that. 

The recently released video features thermal imaging of Rendbo, The Scratch Professor, some of the track’s featured musicians as they perform the song — and we see Rendbo’s wife, dancing along the song with a enormous smile on her face. It may be DIY but it’s heartfelt.  
Throughout his 20 plus year music career, the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumentalist Jonas (born Jonas Rendbo) has been hailed by international press as the Godfather of Scandinavian Soul. During that period, the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter has released a ton of music. which he has supported with tours across the world, sharing stages with Omar, John Legend, Joss Stone, Lynden David Hall and Bilal among a lengthy and growing list of others. Adding to his accolades, Rendbo won Artist of the Year and Best Video at the 2016 Scandinavian Soul Music Awards. 

Since 2004, Rendbo has split time between Copenhagen and London, where he met his wife and started a family. And while in London, he started collaborating with London-based multi-instrumentalist and producer The Scratch Professor, who coincidentally is Omar’s brother. Rendbo and The Scratch Professor had an instant musical simpatico and a couple of songs they wrote together wound up on Jonas’ sophomore album 2009’s W.A.I.T.T. 

Interestingly, their collaboration also managed to produce a handful of songs that the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter had kept in his vault over the past decade — and have finally been released last month as the four song EP 4ward Fast To Future. Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered during COVID-19 quarantine lockdown during April, the EP is return to the warm, neo-soul sounds of his earliest work. 

The EP’s later single “Pick Me Up” is warm bit of 90s inspired soul, centered around shimmering Rhodes, boom bap-like beats, a sinuous bass line, a strutting horn line, an infectious hook and Rendbo’s sultry and plaintive falsetto. And while being a joyous, two step-inducing, radio friendly jam, the song’s narrator talks about desiring — and then having — the sort of love (and lover) that most of us dream of: that ride or die person, who’s with you and supports you through thick and thin, joy and heartbreak, sickness and health. Lucky and rare are those who find it. And if you’re one of those lucky ones,  I hope that you cherish it. Few things our morally bankrupt world live up to that. 

The recently released video features thermal imaging of Rendbo, The Scratch Professor, some of the track’s featured musicians as they perform the song — and we see Rendbo’s wife, dancing along the song with a enormous smile on her face. It may be DIY but it’s heartfelt.  

DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based band DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects, Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing some of the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work is generally centered around compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. Williams’ latest project, DJ Williams Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band,Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s forthcoming effort is a concept effort conceived as a four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for a Fall 2020 release through Color Red Records. Last month, I wrote about EP single “Iron Fist.” The track, which features elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. The EP’s second and latest single “Sunset Trails” is a homage to the black and white Westerns a young Williams used to watch with his father. Centered around shimmering guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, soaring organ chords, an enormous and expressive horn line, the end result is a strutting, hip-hop inspired take on Ennio Morricone/Spaghetti Western soundtracks.

 

 

 

DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based and DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects. Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work  boasts compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. His latest project, DJ Williams’ Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band, Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including the likes of Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s newest album, a concept album conceived as the four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for an August 2020 release through Color Red Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Iron Fist” depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. Centered around a looping 12 bar blues like structure, the song features a chugging two-step inducing groove, twinkling and arpeggiated organ blasts, shuffling drumming and an enormous horn line, the track is as swaggering and expansive composition that meshes elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk that feels as though it captures the band’s live show and energy with an uncanny and unerring accuracy.

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Simon Lewis’ Gorgeous and Uplifting New Single

Simon Lewis is an emerging Austrian singer/songwriter, who according to his Facebook fan page cites William Fitzsimmons, Coldplay, Damien Rice and Kings of Leon as influences on his songwriting and sound. Lewis’ latest single, is the slow-burning ballad “Heaven Only Knows.” Centered around a seemingly simple arrangement of twinkling piano and Lewis’ expressive, pop star-like vocals, the gorgeous single manages to subtly nod at John Legend — but as he explains in press notes, “this song is about this particularly harsh feeling of loss we feel whenever we have to leave the ones we love — but it’s also about new beginnings and the hope that lies beyond. It’s not just about loving someone, it’s also about allowing yourself to be loved.”

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood. 

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

 

Livia Blanc is a French-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in a subtly modern take on 60s-inspired, cinematic pop that mischievously nods at the likes of   Edith Piaf, Portishead and Melanie DeBlasio; in fact, the French-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s second and latest single, “Mr. Hyde,” which was produced and cowritten by The Chevin‘s Coyle Girelli and Andrew Horowitz, who has cowriting credits with Jidenna, Verite and John Legend, finds Blanc cooing in a coquettish French over a breezy yet mischievously anachronistic featuring strummed ukulele, whistling, polyrhythmic beats and soaring synths. But despite the song’s ethereal quality, the song reportedly explores the inner duality of good and evil that we all have, reminding the listener that we’re all capable of good and evil at any particular moment. Fitting for the Halloween season, indeed!

 

 

New Video: The Cosmic and Symbolic Visuals for Cody ChesnuTT’s “Image of Love”

With the release of his critically praised 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, singer/songwriter and guitarist Cody ChesnuTT was universally hailed as a modern-day soul troubadour with many critics comparing his work to the likes of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, largely because of his frank and socially conscious songwriting focusing on modern Black life. Interestingly, The Headphone Masterpiece was released at the height of the neo-soul movement, which included Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and a lengthy list of others — all of whom proved that artists could still release deeply personal, thoughtful, socially conscious work that was fairly successful both critically and commercial successful. In the case of ChesnuTT, his closest brush with mainstream success was a collaborative remake of “The Seed,” “The Seed 2.0,” which appeared on The Roots’ Phrenology released at the end of 2002.

After the commercial and critically success of “The Seed,” ChesnuTT abruptly disappeared from public view for the better part of a decade, a period in which the singer/songwriter and guitarist spent time raising children and in writerly fashion, reflecting, observing, loving and living. Naturally, those experiences informed and influenced 2012’s Landing on a Hundred, an effort that linked contemporary Black soul and pop with the classic work of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, as Hundred thematically focused on a man’s road to redemption after years of womanizing, drugging and scheming, of the power of a love that eclipses superficial and material expressions of love and devotion and of the power of being truthful to one’s self.

Since the release of Landing on a Hundred, ChesnuTT has been rather productive as he’s contributed to the soundtracks of the Oscar Award-winning major motion pictures 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandela, and writing the material that would comprise his recently released third album, My Love Divine Degree. Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that I wrote about My Love Divine Degree‘s second single “I Stay Ready” an uplifting call to positivity in the face of tremendous adversity — and while further cementing his reputation for crafting frank, earnest songs, the production work of Anthony “Twilite Tone” Khan, a BMI Award, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and DJ, who has worked with Kanye West, Common, John Legend and Pusha T pushes sonic boundaries as it meshes beat-based hip-hop and soul.

The album’s latest single “Image of Love” continues in a similar vein as ChesnuTT’s soulful crooning is paired with a genre blurring production that features wobbling synths, big tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a slick hook in what may arguably be one of the funkiest and most hip-hop leaning songs ChesnuTT has released in several years. Interestingly, the single much like the material on the album is “inspired by a story of a Man and Woman that exercised their ability to rise about their arresting selfishness — to attain a higher level of communication — that they might willing share in the love of eternal life . . . all to simply win the hearts of men, woman and children to better things,” as ChesnuTT explains in press notes. And much like it’s preceding single, it’s a desperately needed bit of uplift in dark, fucked up times.

Featuring gorgeous, psychedelic and cosmic line animation by Konee Rok that includes Cody Chesnutt walking through the woods and the cosmos, playing his Gibson and singing, kids running and playing in the woods, while nodding at the album’s and song’s themes about the differences between selfish and superficial love, and the sort of love that truly connects you with others and the larger universe.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the last year or so, you’ve likely come across a reference to Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, a highly acclaimed, Chicago, IL-born, Brooklyn-based classically trained trumpeter, who has been mentored by Wynton Marsalis and Ramsey Lewis, and has collaborated with an incredibly diverse array of renowned artists including Santigold, Ski Beatz, John Legend, Talib Kweli, Cee-Lo Green, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Musiq Soulchild, Tedeschi Trucks Band (with whom he won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Blues Album), Wyclef Jean, Santana and a growing list of other equally impressive artists. And although he may be classically trained, as a solo artist and bandleader, Brown’s work draws from contemporary hip-hop, funk, neo-soul while nodding at jazz’s classical tradition — namely the work of Louis Armstong, as Brown will freely rhyme and sing during his compositions, essentially pushing the sound of contemporary jazz towards new directions without forgetting its origins.

The Mood is Brown’s latest album of original compositions and the album’s second and latest single, album title track “The Mood” is a swaggering composition that manages to draw from contemporary soul, smooth jazz, Miles Davis’ famous modal compositions — in particular, Kind of Blue, Davis’ jazz fusion period and hip-hop in a seamless and funky composition that allows enough room for each musician to strut, show their stuff and expand upon the composition’s smooth flowing melody. And if the one that that’s certain, Brown will cement himself as arguably one of contemporary jazz’s most exciting and ambitious composers and artists with an imitable sound and approach.