Tag: PBS

Throwback: Black History Month: The Meters

Today is February 20, 2021. It’s the 20th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Mardi Gras was the other day and as a result I began thinking of New Orleans-and the city’s importance to American music and culture: an incredible and diverse array of artists have called New Orleans home. The Meters and their strutting, swampy funk came to mind. Countless acts have cited The Meters as an influence on them and their sound — and they’ve been sampled heavily by hip hop acts.

As I was looking for some live footage, I came across Dr. John’s TV special, Dr. John’s New Orleans Swamp, which coincidentally was the season finale of the Chicago-based PBS series Soundstage. Dr. John serves as an emcee and as a performer for the proceedings — and from what I understand, the show came on the heels of that year’s Destively Bonnaroo, the second consecutive album produced by the equally legendary Allen Toussaint and featuring The Meters as a backing band. Anyway, the show features a who’s who of New Orleans including Professor Longhair and Earl King. Of course, this is Nite Tripper-era Dr. John. Every single performance is amazing — and let it be a reminder of that New Orleans is the cradle of all of the music we love.

New Video: The Artfully Surreal Visuals for Tolliver’s “Emmanuel”

Born to a Baptist pastor father and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver is a Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based electro R&B artist, who played in a number of Stax Records-inspired acts, including Black Diet, an act that received best new band nods from a number of publications and filmed a nationally syndicated PBS special at the end of 2014. Since then, the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist has been supporting himself by editing Mormon gay porn while his solo work — notably his solo debut EP Rave Deep received attention for focusing on late night partying, getting high and anonymous sex; however, his forthcoming EP Rites reportedly focuses on the sacred and the profane, capturing who had a deeply religious childhood and now is living in a sin-filled, ungodly present, and is tormented by his guilt.

Now, as you might recall earlier this year, I wrote about “I Gotchu,” an atmospheric and moody track that draw from gospel, neo-soul and jazz and centered around an aching expressing of guilt, shame and vulnerability that felt all too human and familiar. The EP’s latest single “Emmanuel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring fluttering, arpeggiated synths and Tolliver’s aching falsetto soaring over the production — and in some way, the song expresses and evokes a longing for someone and something just out of reach and perhaps in some way forbidden.

Much like the visuals for “I Gotchu.” the Kellen Malloy-directed video for the song employs the contrasts between light and dark, as it features Tolliver sitting alone in an empty studio — except for the cameraperson — as he puts on a bright jacket, preens in front of a mirror and distractedly cuts an onion, and spends the rest of the video in front of a flashlight. And while possessing a feverish and surreal logic, the video evokes a man trapped in a vacillating cycle of loathing and guilt.

New Video: Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based Electro R&B Artist Tolliver Releases Surreal and Symbolic Visuals for Atmospheric EP Single “I Gotchu”

Born to a Baptist pastor father and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver is a Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based electro R&B artist, who began his music carer playing in a number of Stax Records-inspired acts, including the renowned Black Diet, an act that received best new band nods from a number of publications and filmed a nationally syndicated PBS special at the end of 2014. 

Supporting himself as a Mormon gay porn editor, Tolliver’s solo work thematically focuses on release and recovery, breakdowns and getting high; in fact, his solo debut EP Rave Deep was about late night partying, anonymous sex and juking — and his upcoming EP Rites finds the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist focusing on the sacred and the profane, and the guilt-filled torments of a man, who had a religious childhood that is currently living in a sin-filled, ungodly present. 

Rites’ latest single “I Gotchu” will further cement Tolliver’s growing reputation for collaborating with and creating a genre-bending sound with the atmospheric and moody single nodding at gospel, neo-soul and jazz centered around deeply confessional lyrics sung with Tolliver’s aching vocals, expressing guilt, shame, and vulnerability within the turn of a phrase.

While feeling like a feverish dream, the video hints at larger religious themes with the first portion of the video shot in inky and moody blacks and dark colors before ending in brilliant light, creating the sensation of redemption.  

Texas-born, New York-based singer/songwriter Melany Watson has been performing music for as long as she can probably remember — but she can trace the origins of her music career to two particular events: performing in school choirs and touring the Southeast Texas Ol’ Opry circuit alongside her mother, as the mother and daughter country music duo Melva Lee and Melany. According to Watson, her own artistic self-discovery was inspired by Whitney Houston and The Bodyguard soundtrack, and a lengthy list of 90s R&B vocalists, which naturally opened a new world of expression to her. After singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at a local karaoke bar when she was 12, Watson had what she has called an epiphany — that she was singing and performing the music she had to devote her life to. And as a result, Watson realized that she needed to set out on her own path.

So far Watson has had quite an accomplished career, as she’s performed at PBSChristmas at Belmont with Trisha Yearwood while as an undergrad at Belmont University, was a Top 100 Finalist during Season 6 of NBC‘s The Voice and she recently backed YouTube pop sensation Tori Kelly during Kelly’s performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy FallonAnd among some within the music industry, Watson has been compared favorably to Etta James, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and others — but with a country music leaning towards lyrics that tell stories informed by her own experiences.

“Illuminate,” the first single off Watson’s forthcoming EP, Lilith in Virgo pairs Watson’s effortlessly soulful vocals with a slick, modern production comprised of skittering percussion, shimmering synths, swirling electronics and twinkling piano chords in a way that meshes 90s inspired R&B and soul, contemporary electro pop and a very subtle nod to the country music that Watson grew up listening to and performing. While possessing a dramatic and moody heft, as the song thematically discusses what it truly means to be in a relationship and to be someone’s soulmate, the ethereal production suits Watson’s vocals perfectly, as the arrangement allows room for Watson’s vocals to soar and dart through and above the mix.

If you’ve been following the blogosphere over the course of the past year, you’d likely know that this year has been a big year for pop music — and an even bigger year for women artists, as a number of women artists have dominated the attention of the blogosphere. And with the release of “Illuminate” Watson adds her name to a growing list of artists that are making a name for themselves.