Tag Archives: soul

Artist Profiles: Buika

Buika

Buika (pronounced BWEE-kah) was born Concha Buika on the Spanish island of Mallorca, to parents who arrived to Spain as political exiles from Equatorial Guinea. They lived in the island’s capital city, Palma de Mallorca, where, Buika remembers, the only black resident other than her family members was a man hired to stand in the doorway of a gift shop, like just another novelty on display.

She was a skinny girl with an afro hair style that curious neighbors would reach out to touch — hair which she later learned to style from photos of her early musical idols Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Her father, a writer and activist, left the family and returned to Guinea, and her mother raised Buika and her five siblings in a household “filled with people, food and music.” She grew up singing and playing instruments – guitar, piano, bass. She has recently taken up cello.

“I am African and an African does not have musical training,”she explains. “An African can’t live without music. When my grandmother was upset with someone and so mad she couldn’t speak, she would sing what she wanted to say to them instead. My first memories are of hearing music playing. Like meals, music was part of our daily life. There has always been music in my head and in my heart.”

Buika also found a second home among the community of Gypsy families who had settled in Palma. She played after school in that marginal neighborhood, and as always, music was a part of those long childhood afternoons, which are echoed today in Buika’s instinctive embrace of flamenco’s emotional deep song, and the copla. But as much as she is currently identified with the copla, and credited with reinventing that classic romantic Spanish style, Buika herself refuses to define music by genre or style. She considers all artists and all kinds of music to be “a gift from God,” but allows that she’s most drawn to music, borne on society’s fringes, that expresses her own desire to tell it like it is.

It’s not just about music, it’s a way of life,” she says. “It’s about not running away from yourself. Some people sing about what they would like to happen, but in the copla and el cante [flamenco song], we confront who we are, with all of our fears and all of our defects. In the United States there’s also a great tradition like this: it’s called the blues.”

When she was seventeen, Buika’s aunt recommended her for a job singing R&B in a hotel in Mallorca. Not ever having considered singing professionally, the teenager said no, but relented when she learned the gig paid more than she could make doing other jobs available to her. “Since I got on that stage I’ve never stopped working,” she says now.

Buika soon took off to the see the world. She spent some time in London, and in 2001 the singer ended up in Las Vegas, where she worked in casinos as a Tina Turner impersonator, with the requisite wig and platform shoes. She later divided her time between Mallorca and Madrid, where she found soulmates in a community of artists “more interested in the show than in the business.”

“Not all artists want to see ourselves as just sexy girls, some of us want to communicate what we have inside and practice our art,” Buika says. “I look for music that helps us live and that feels good. I want to keep giving love and passion to my music and my audience.”

In 2015, Buika released her eighth album, Vivir Sin Miedo, with vocals in English, Spanish and a mix of the two languages. Vivir Sin Miedo was recorded over four months in Miami, New York, London and Madrid, and features various guests, including Me’shell Ndegeocello and Jason Mraz.

Buiika currently lives in Miami, United States.

In 2019 she collaborated with rock star Carlos Santana. They recorded the album Africa Speaks.

Discography

Mestizüo, with Jacob Sureda (Blau, 2000)
Buika (DRO Atlantic/Warner Music Spain, 2005)
Mi Niña Lola (DRO Atlantic/Warner Music Spain, 2006)
Niña de Fuego (DRO Atlantic/Warner Music Spain, 2008)
El Último Trago, with Chucho Valdés (DRO Atlantic/Warner Music Spain, 2009)
En Mi Piel, compilation (Warner Music Spain, 2011)
La Noche Más Larga (Warner Music Spain, 2013)
Vivir Sin Miedo (DRO EastWest/Warner Music Spain, 2015)
Para mí (Warner Music Spain, 2017)
Africa Speaks, with Santana (Concord Records, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith

Singer-songwriter Hollie Smith is a leading vocalist in the New Zealand music scene. She has collaborated with Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Don McGlashan, One Million Dollars, Anika Moa and Boh Runga.

Hollie Smith has a deep, rich and soulful singing style. Hollie’s wide range of musical influences combine elements of soul, jazz, reggae, Celtic and R&B.

Discography:

Light From a Distant Shore (Etherean, 1999)
Long Player (Soundsmith, 2007)
Humour and the Misfortune of Others (Soundsmith, 2010)
Band of Brothers Vol. 1 (Soundsmith, 2011)
Peace of Mind (Civic, 2013)
Water or Gold (Soundsmith, 2016)

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Meaningful Brazilian and African-American Alchemy

Alexandra Jackson – Legacy and Alchemy (2018)

Legacy and Alchemy is an impressive 2-CD album by American jazz and soul vocalist, pianist and arranger from Atlanta. Legacy and Alchemy brings together the rich traditions of American jazz and sol and Brazilian music. Don’t mistake this album with the slick smooth bossa nova Americans tend to record. Alexandra’s music has more depth and she incorporates progressive jazz, irresistible samba and other elements.

The list of guests is extraordinary, featuring current stars from Brazil and USA as well as iconic artists who have passed away. The list includes: the late Miles Davis, the late Antonio Carlos Jobim, the late Oscar Castro-Neves, the late Al Jarreau, and the late Rod Temperton, along with Ivan Lins, Dona Ivone Lara, Carlinhos Brown, Banda Black Rio, The Jobim Trio (Paulo Jobim, Daniel Jobim and Paulo Braga), Larry Dunn, Al McKay, Hubert Laws, Siedah Garrett, Robertinho Silva, Larry Williams, Arthur Maia, Ricardo Silveira, Darryl Jones, Teo Lima, Armando Marcal, Marco Brito, Marcelo Martins, Jesse Sadoc, Orquestra Atlantica, Max Viana, Pretinho da Serrinha, Chris Walker, Darryl Tookes, Curtis King, Paulo Calasans, Marcelo Mariano, and Maestro Charles Floyd conducting The Bossa Nova Noites Orquestra.

Legacy and Alchemy was masterfully recorded and produced and highlights the highly expressive, remarkable vocals of Alexandra Jackson who gracefully delivers soul and jazz vocal styles, singing in English and Portuguese.

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Humanity at the Heart of Eleanor Dubinsky’s Songs

Eleanor Dubinsky – Soft Spot of My Heart (Eleanor Dubinsky, 2018)

American composer, songwriter and vocalist Eleanor Dubinsky uses various musical genres to express her finely-crafted songs. She has a delightful, engaging vocal style and her lyrics transmit her concern for the marginalized, longing and understanding of human beings from diverse cultures.

On Soft Spot of My Heart you’ll find a captivating collection of songs that incorporate jazz, gospel, soul, Americana, pop and world music elements.

The album was recorded in Portugal and New York City, which allowed Dubinsky to collaborate with a group of artists representing different musical genres and nationalities, including musicians from New York, Brazil, Cape Verde, and Portugal.

Eleanor Dubinsky spent several years abroad in Europe, Argentina and Mexico, where she learned French and Spanish. She writes her songs in English, French and Spanish. Meanwhile, she was exposed to Cape Verdean and Angolan music. Portuguese-Cape Verdean singer Sara Tavares became a major influence. Eleanor Dubinsky met of the musicians Tavares works with frequently. Three of these talented musicians, bassist Rolando Semedo, percussionist Miroca Paris, and drummer Ivo Costa appear on Soft Spot.

Dubinsky sings in Spanish on two songs. “El sabor de la vida,” includes a fascinating mix of world percussion, soulful vocals and gospel. “Cuando voy a mi trabajo” features vocals in three languages and is the most world music-oriented track featuring global rhythms, great bass lines and acoustic guitars.

There’s a great blues-infused climactic song titled “I Let Go,” in which Dubinsky adds cello, which is one of the instruments close to her heart.

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Searing and Exuberant Robert Randolph

Robert Randolph & The Family Band – Got Soul (Sony Masterworks, 2017)

Robert Randolph puts his latest recording with The Family Band called Got Soul this way, “The music takes me back into the roots of who I am, where I came from. It’s got an upbeat, positive church/gospel/rock/bluesy vibe to it. I’m like a rock and roll preacher on Got Soul.”

Yeah, “rock and roll preacher” just about sums the indefatigable sparkle Mr. Randolph & The Family Band lays down on the Grammy nominated Got Soul. In the way of previous recordings like Unclassified (2003), Colorblind (2009), We Walk This Road (2010), Born Again (2013) and Lickety Split (2013), Mr. Randolph and company have listeners veering off onto a wild musical ride where the colors of soul, funk and gospel run deep and vibrant. Searing and warmly exuberant, Got Soul proves irresistible as it embraces elements of rock and roll, blues and jazz to create a flattering mix.

Songwriter, vocalist and pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph is joined on Got Soul by a whole host of kick ass musicians like electric guitarist Johnny Gale, Hammond B3 organist Raymond Angry, electric bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Marcus Randolph, percussionist Bashiri Johnson, Hammond B3 Organist Shedrick Mitchell and backing vocalists Lenesha Randolph, Candice Anderson and Stevie Ladson. Guest vocalists Anthony Hamilton, Cory Henry and Darius Rucker lend their talents to make the soul stew even richer.

Opening with the fiery title track “Got Soul,” Mr. Randolph & The Family Band pulls out all the stops and dishes out a track that will have the most reluctant listeners jumping up and grooving to the music. Ramping up the goodness with “She Got Soul” with Anthony Hamilton on vocals, Randolph and company stokes the fire with some smoking guitar licks, sassy vocals and an irrepressible joyfulness. Darius Rucker takes his turn with vocals on “Love Do What It Do” backed by an intoxicating mix of pedal steel guitar, electric guitar, electric bass and Hammond B3 organ, not to mention some seriously fine backing vocals.

If that weren’t enough, Got Soul boasts the deliciously funk inspired “Shake It” edged by some sizzling brass lines laid down by saxophonist Jeff Coffin and trumpeter RaShawn Ross. The pedal steel guitar opening of Isaac Hays and David Porter classic “I Thank You” should not be missed and it just gets better with addition of organ and vocals provided by Cory Henry. Equally delightful are offering like “Be the Change,” “Heaven’s Calling” and the funk groove of “Find a Way.” “Travelin’ Cheeba Man is a raucous personal favorite. “Lovesick” and closing track “Gonna Be All Right” are just as delicious.

If you can listen to Got Soul without dancing, tapping a toe, raising arms skyward or at the very least nodding your head, seek professional medical or spiritual attention immediately.

Buy Got Soul

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Artist Profiles: Ivan Neville

The Neville Family is a gifted musical and creative family in the United States. Ivan Neville began absorbing the musical attitudes of his family at birth and learned to play keyboards guitar bass and drums.

It wasn’t long before he became a pivotal member of Bonnie Raitt’s band Rufus Keith Richards & the Xpensive Winos and the Spin Doctors.

Ivan launched his solo career with the acclaimed If My Ancestors Could See Me Now and Thanks. Ivan also wroteand co-produced Saturday Morning Music which includes a timeless hybrid of soul, rock and New Orleans Funk that translates into an incomparable modern musical gumbo.

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Artist Profiles: Billy Preston

Billy Preston

Billy Preston’s career spanned five decades, starting as a child prodigy playing the movie role of young W.C. Handy and then playing organ for Ray Charles and Little Richard. His accomplishments are highlighted by a seriesg of hits, including collaborating with some of the most celebrated names in the music industry, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, The Jackson Five, Sly and the Family Stone, Barbara Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones and perhaps the most famous of all, The Beatles.

Billy’s relationship with The Beatles led to his signing with Apple Records in the 1960s. Billy is widely acknowledged as the “Fifth Beatle” having been the only party to ever hand his name included in the label credits of the Let It Be and the Abbey Road albums as well as the landmark The White Album. Billy also appeared with them in the films “The Complete Beatles” and Let It Be as well as performing as part of them during their historic rooftop final concert.

In the late 1960s Billy worked with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their solo Plastic Ono Band album as well as Ringo Starr’s solo single “Oh My My” and he participated in George Harrison’s American Tour. In addition Billy Preston was a leading character in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band also featuring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees, performing a stunning version of “Get Back”.

Preston’s name and fame were solidified as a solo artist when he scored a series of Number 1 hit singles including the Grammy winning “Outta Space”, “Will It Go Round In Circles”, “Nothing From Nothing” and “Space Race”.

 

 

 

A prolific writer, Billy Preston composed the multi-platinum standard “You Are So Beautiful” that was performed by his friend Joe Cocker. He also wrote the title songs for a series of box office hits  including “Never Gonna Say Goodbye” “Fast Break” and “O’Hara’s Wide”. The title song from “Fast Break” became a Preston classic hit when performed as a duet with the late Syreeta Wright. Billy also co-wrote the score for the Sidney Poitier movie “They Call Me Mr. Tibbs” with Quincy Jones.

 

 

Billy Preston was the first black musical director of a late night television show “Nightlife” starring David Brenner, was a regular on the UPN series “Good News” and made a cameo appearance in “Blues Brothers 2” as part of the super group that included Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood and B.B. King among others.

Billy’s participation in the tribute concert “Concert for George Harrison” at Royal Albert Hall and his performance of “My Sweet Lord” received critical acclaim. Billy recorded on the last album his mentor Ray Charles was to record, toured with The Funk Brothers and Stevie Winwood in Europe in early 2004 and then hit the road, touring extensively and garnering rave reviews for his performances with his dear friend Eric Clapton through Europe and North America. Billy’s keyboard dominance was highlighted with the release of the “Let It Be–Naked” album issue.

With his extensive touring and studio involvement Billy Preston found the time to create special project tribute to his dear friends The Beatles. He even wrote two new songs, one in tribute to George Harrison and another to all four of the fab fellows, “John, Paul, George and Ringo”.

Billy Preston died June 6, 2006.

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Artist Profiles: Pitingo

Pitingo

Antonio Manuel Álvarez Vélez, better known as Pitingo was born into a seafaring family in the city of Ayamonte in Huelva, Spain, in southwestern Spain.

After going to school locally, he moved to Madrid where he started performing in underground flamenco clubs, eventually ending up with a weekly gig at the flamenco bar El Mago (The Magician), a regular spot of flamenco’s greatest vocalists, such as Enrique Morente and Carmen Linares. He soon debuted at festivals and theaters across Spain and was signed to Universal Music.

Pitingo’s first album, Pitingo con habichuelas, brought together the singer with worldclass guitarist Pepe Habichuela. Pitingo quickly distinguished himself from other flamenco singers with his unconventional R&B and Gospel approach to flamenco.

Pitingo

In 2008 Pitingo released his first major effort to fuse flamenco with soul and gospel traditions, Soulería. The word-play of the title refers to the flamenco musical style called bulería. Pitingo followed that release with 2010’s Olé and Amén that featured the London Community Gospel Choir.

Pitingo’s Malecón Street (named for the famous Havana seaside promenade) expanded his flamenco soul style to the streets of Old Havana with a collection of classic Cuban songs from decades past.

Discography

* Pitingo con habichuelas (Universal Music, 2006)
* Soulería (Universal Music, 2008)
* Olé and Amén (Universal Music, 2010)
* Malecón Street (Universal Music, 2011)
* Cambio de tercio (Universal Music, 2014)
* Soul, bulería y más (Warner Music, 2016)

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A Remarkable New Voice from Cuba

Daymé Arocena – Cubafonía

Daymé Arocena – Cubafonía (Brownswood Recordings, 2017)

If you haven’t heard yet about Daymé Arocena, her new album Cubafonía is a great opportunity to listen to one of the best voices that has come out of Cuban in recent years.

Winner of the significant Marti y el Arte award in 2007, Daymé Arocena demonstrates her formidable talent by crossing musical boundaries with her voice. She shows her mastery at Cuban traditional genres like mambo and changüí, Afro-Cuban chants, and ballads, as well as the more modern timba. However, her repertoire is more extensive as she explores American soul and jazz effortlessly.

Cubafonía is Daymé’s second album and very different from her debut album. While her debut Havana Cultura Sessions focused on electronic dance music culture, Cubafonía features an irresistible acoustic rhythm section and more conventional instrumentation.

 

 

 

Most of the songs are in Spanish, although Daymé also sings a couple of songs in English and has a trilingual song titled “Valentine” where she inserts some English and French.

 

In recent months, Cuban musicians have released a series of dazzling piano-based albums. Cubafonía focuses on vocal talent and Daymé Arocena is one of the best and equally spectacular.

Buy Cubafonía in the Americas

Buy Cubafonía in Europe

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Louisiana Soul Revival’s Persuasive Grooves

Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey - Louisiana Soul Revival
Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey – Louisiana Soul Revival

Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey – Louisiana Soul Revival (2016)

Composer and keyboardist Doug Duffey takes you back to the classic sound of 1970s soul and funk on Louisiana Soul Revival’s debut album. The self-titled release features funk beats, a splendid brass section, wah wah guitar and some northern Louisiana spice.

The band features up to 11 musicians on stage, representing several generations, from twenties to sixties. The lineup includes Doug Duffey on vocals, piano and keyboards; Daniel Sumner on guitar; Ben Ford on bass; Adam Ryland on drums, percussion; Cody Holder on baritone saxophone; Jonathan Patterson on trombone; Mason Howard on alto saxophone; Bert Windham on trumpet; Betsy Lowe on backing vocals; Naomi Holder on backing vocals; and Alex Noppe on trumpet.

Louisiana Soul Revival delivers a tight set of persuasive soul and funk songs.

Buy Louisiana Soul Revival

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