it's 2016... we're living in the future folks! and while i'm all about moving forward, creating momentum, figuring out my next move, i want to take this post (the first in many months!) to recall my musical inspirations from 2015.
1. D' Angelo. (top row, left) D' Angelo released his debut solo album in 1995, another in 2000 and then surprised the world and released a project without warning, (a la Beyonce) without promotion without anticipation... 15 years later! well, there was plenty of anticipation, he just kept his fans in the dark until the day of the release! His new record, Black Messiah, was released at the very end of 2014 and i count it as 2015 inspiration because as i sat in the studio with my production team in December of last year (2014) we listened to both his old stuff and new stuff just drinking it in... unless you're a musician or hardcore music fan/listener it may be difficult for you to wrap your head around this. but with Questlove and so many other stellar musicians involved on this project, i was totally inspired by the level of musicianship and feel! AND by the courage it took for him to release an album the way he did, having waited so long, the industry having changed, fans potentially having moved on, age being a factor.... i could relate to so much.
2. Erykah Badu (top row, middle) i first started listening to Erykah in 2000 with the release of her album Mama's Gun. that album, in addition to a song she did with the Roots, were in heavy rotation for me this past year. she's only 2 years younger than me, and as a woman/mother trying to find and keep her place in the industry while figuring out how to balance other's expectations with your own calling and purpose, i respect her, her writing and sound.... oooh and STYLE!
3. Emily King (top row, right) I was introduced to Emily, who's from Brooklyn, by my producer Peace (we are going to see her live next month!!). she released a new album this past year and both her new release as well as her first record were in heavy rotation all year long!! as an independent artist i completely relate to her DIY situation and am inspired not only by her music... which is so unique and creative and fun... but by her go-get-em attitude.
4. Jill Scott (middle row, left) oh my what can i say about Miss Scott?! i've been a fan for a long time and, like a lovely and fine wine, she just gets better. again, relating to her being an industry veteran, i'm inspired by her 'i'm still here, i never left' attitude. her songs are honest and fun, and her mix of spoken word is so different and beautiful. she sings with freedom. she came out with a new album this past year as well....
5. Izzi Ray (middle row, middle) my girl. my favorite. she is the new artist of the bunch, being the youngest. yet she writes and creates and sings like someone that's been around much longer. izzi is learning and applying things it took me a decade to figure out. and is coming in to her own as a musician, player AND vocalist. i'm sharpened as a person, as well as an artist, when i'm around her.
6. Lianne LaHavas (middle row, right) i was introduced to Lianne's music by my long time friend/brother/designer/stylist Stanley Hudson. Lianne is a darling brit with on point style and uber creative music. i wore her first record out... just listened to it non stop! she recently released a second and i can't get enough. literally we play it on repeat. her sound is so unique and soulful. i get to see her live next month and i absolutely can't wait.
7. Hiatus Kaiyote (bottom row, left) i saw Hiatus live 2 times in 2015. they are punk rock meets jazz meets soul. completely out there, completely brilliant. each member brings massive talent to the table. i probably listened to their most recent release, Choose Your Weapon, more than any other this year. it's the opposite of the cookie cutter pop you'll hear on the radio. it's very different, but full of passion and creativity.
8. Lalah Hathaway (bottom row, middle) I've been listening to Lalah since the release of her debut record in 1989. I've always been a diehard fan, but a year ago i had the pleasure of seeing her perform live for the first time, and i felt like i was in school. i literally felt like i was in a vocal master class.... and my fan status went up a few notches! she's the daughter of legendary singer Donny Hathaway, but is a true legend in her own right. She released a live record in 2015 and it didn't disappoint.
9. Esperanza Spalding (bottom row, right) Esperanza is my most recent discovery. my husband, Brian, sent me a link to a youtube video where Esperanza is singing and playing upright bass and i was immediately hooked. i predict she'll be on this list a year from now as well. she's accomplished as a musician and creative in her production. taking an 'old' genre (jazz) and breathing young life into it. utterly inspired by her.
i hope to write each monday on music related topics... stories behind my songs, other artists, new discoveries, music education, vocal technique, the industry.... happy new year!