Saturday, November 30, 2013

NEW SOUNDS

VALERIE JUNE


The fact is that the number of African-Americans who have professionally performed country music can be easily counted on one hand. Although Valerie June may not necessarily be considered a country artist but there is a certain amount of twang to her sound.

The music that first inspired this Tennessee native was gospel and soul music as a child. She moved to Memphis as a teenager where she was exposed to bluegrass and folk. During this time, Valerie June learned to play many instruments including the banjo and ukulele. She began performing with her husband, Michael Joyner as Bella Sun and they recorded an album, "No Crystal Stair" in 2004.

After later separating from Joyner, Valerie June began to work as a solo artist where she first stared to combine country and the blues to her music. The artist recorded three self-released albums that brought her plenty of buzz and the attention of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. The musician co-wrote and produced her first album on a major label, "Pushin' Against A Stone". Valerie June is an amazing, unique artist who offers music that defies categories.  Have a listen to one of my favorite songs:

"Wanna Be On Your Mind" - Valerie June

FEFE DOBSON


Fefe Dobson has never wanted to follow any preconceived ideas of what type of music she should perform simply because of her race. This artist's style is more rock and punk and she's determined to follow what inspired her.

Born Felicia Dobson outside of Toronto in 1985, she began actively pursuing a professional music career at the age of eleven. At thirteen, Dobson learned piano and wrote songs which lead to serious interest from record labels. However, the labels only wanted to mold her in to a pop or r&b artist and Dobson wanted to rock. She rejected the offers and sought out the help of Chris Smith, the manager of fellow Canadian musician, Nelly Furtado. He managed to get her signed to a recording contract on her terms. The self-titled debut was released in 2003 and was a modest success with the single, "Everything" receiving the most attention.

Dobson has recently dropped a new single, "Legacy" that should be a part of her fourth album due sometime next year. Here is a great video that has been made for the tune:



JANELLE MONAE


Much like her musical idol, Prince, Janelle Monáe adds elements of rock and eccentricity to her funky sound. Originally from Kansas City, Monáe knew what she wanted to do since she was a child. She attended performing arts schools in New York and Philadelphia before heading out to Atlanta. While there, Monáe meet Big Boi of the hip-hop outfit, Outkast and formed the Wonderland Arts Society which was a safe haven for unconventional artists. She self-released an EP, "The Audition" in 2003 and although it didn't sell much, it did properly announce a fresh new voice in music. With her towering pompadour, skinny suits and ties, Janelle Monáe offers a unique look that is the polar opposite of the more common scantily clad female performers these days as well as delivering a refreshing prospective to r&b and pop.

Big Boi brought Monáe to the attention of Sean ("Puffy", "P. Diddy", whatever) Combs and quickly signed her to his label, Bad Boy Records. The album, "Metropolis" was the first part or "suite" of a series of seven concept records. The second suite, "The ArchAndroid" was released in 2010 and now the third and fourth, "The Electric Lady" is now out. This project is the most ambitious to date as it incorporates assistance from a wide range of fellow iconoclastic musicians such as Miguel, Solange, Esperanza Spalding, Erykah Badu and making a rare appearance, "the Purple One", Prince.

Here is a sample with the title track:

"The Electric Lady" - Janelle Monáe featuring Solange

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

First up, here are some interesting music videos I like: After taking some time off to get married and have her first child...