Tag Archives: United States of America

Artist Profiles: Sweet Honey in the Rock

Sweet Honey in the Rock

The all-female a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock began in 1973, a project put together by its founder Bernice Johnson Reagon. The name came from their first song, a parable that told of a land so rich that when the rocks were cracked open, honey flowed.

Combining the full range of the African-American vocal tradition, Sweet Honey’s repertoire incorporates original West African songs that were brought by slaves to the Americas, work songs, congregational spirituals, full-on gospel numbers, blues, jazz, freedom songs from the Civil Rights movement, love songs and rap.

Sweet Honey’s members come from a variety of backgrounds. Founder Bernice Johnson Reagon’s scholarly credentials include her appointment as Curator Emerita at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington DC. She has worked on several award-winning films and documentaries, including the series Eyes On The Prize, We Shall Overcome and Wade In The Water. She received a Presidential Medal in 1995 for her contribution to the humanities and is the author of several books on African-American History.

Over the years the lineup has changed.


Sweet Honey In The Rock (Flying Fish, 1976)
B’lieve I’ll Run On… (Redwood, 1978)
Good News (Flying Fish, 1981)
We All…Everyone Of Us (Flying Fish, 1983)
The Other Side (Flying Fish, 1985)
Breaths (Flying Fish, 1988)
Feel Something Drawing Me On (Flying Fish, 1985)
Live At Carnegie Hall (Flying Fish, 1988)
All For Freedom (Music For Little People, 1989)
In This Land (Earthbeat! 1992)
Still On The Journey (Earthbeat! 1993)
I Got Shoes (Music For Little People, 1994)
Sacred Ground (Earthbeat! 1996)
Selections (Flying Fish/Rounder 1997)
Twenty Five enhanced CD (Rykodisc, 1998)
Freedom Song soundtrack (Sony Classical, 2000)
Still the Same Me (Rounder Kids, 2000)
Alive in Australia (2003)
The Women Gather (Earthbeat, 2003)
Endings and Beginnings (2004)
Raise Your Voice (Earthbeat, 2005)
Are We A Nation? (2010)
A Tribute — Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center (2013)
Silent Night (2014)
#LoveInEvolution (2016)


Artist profiles: Steve Shehan

Steve Shehan

Born in Fort Eustis, Virginia, Steve Shehan spent his childhood in the Florida Keys. Later he moved to Europe, living in Sweden, where he started playing professionally as a recording and performing artist. He also worked as a music therapist before moving to France.

Before focusing on percussion and composition he studied drums, bass, piano and guitar. Steve has since played with great artists such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Cheb Mami, Sting, Simon Shaheen, Leonard Bernstein, John McLaughlin, Brian Eno, the Gipsy Kings, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Vangelis, Richard Horowitz, Michael Brecker, David Rhodes, and Akiro Inoue, with Peter Gabriel’s band, Paul Mc Cartney, as well as well-known European and Europe-based artists such as Ricardo Cocciante, Yves Montand, Zazie Liane, Foly, Veronique Sanson, Stephane Eicher, Wasis Diop, Khaled, Lokua Kanza, Nittin Sawhney, Geoffrey Oryema, Magma, Rokia Traore, etc.

Steve Shehan composed and produced personally various soundtrack albums of films: Bye Bye / Karim Dridi Le maitre des Elephants / Patrick Grandperret, notably participated in Kirikou & L’amant.

His album “Elevations” was realized in association with the singer musician and Iranian painter Reza Derakshani taken out in June 26 was selected by FIP in 26. The duet already occurred on stage repeatedly notably in one “live at FIP” in November 26 and in February 2007 at the Sunset in Paris. He is one of three members of the Hadouk Trio which performs regularly has a big success with “Utopies” and won the 2007 French music award: best artist of the year. The trio released “Baldamore,” a CD/DVD recorded live at the “Cabaret Sauvage” in Paris.

He is also profoundly interested in collaborative research on prehistoric instruments with the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.




April Orchestra Vol. 68 Presente Impressions De Voyages (CBS Disques 1986)

Arrows (Made To Measure, 1990)

Assouf, with Baly Othmani (Al Sur, 1994)

Indigo Dreams (Kvox, 1995)

Assarouf, with Baly Othmani (Triloka Records, 1997)

Safar – Journey (Al Sur Media 7, 1997)

Awham, with Youssef El Idrissi (Aia Music, 1998)

Alif – Love Supreme, with Omar Faruk Tekbilek (Narada World, 2002)

Elevations, with Reza Derakshani (Safar Productions 2006)

Assikel, with Baly Othmani (Safar Productions 2008)

Awalin, with Nabil Othmani (Safar Productions Naïve, 2009)

Far&Near (Sound Microsurgery Department, 2011)

Hang With You (Naïve, 2013)


Artist profiles: Solas

Solas in 2006

Solas is the most important Irish music band based in the United States. The group plays fiery instrumental medleys for which they’ve become famous as well as evocative songs.

In September 2005 Solas performed a very special 1th anniversary concert in Philadelphia proving that even after a decade they were still as fresh and edgy as ever. 2006’s live CD release Reunion: A Decade of Solas vividly captured what many described as a once-in-a-lifetime show.

In 2008, Deirdre Scanlan replaced original vocalist Karan Casey, who left to pursue a solo career. From Nenagh County Tipperary Deirdre is an All-Ireland champion vocalist whose solo debut in 1999 Speak Softly confirmed her status as one of Ireland’s most accomplished singers.

Solas in 2010

About Solas’ founders:

Born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, Seamus Egan won All-Ireland championships on flute, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo, and wrote a score for the Irish stage show Dancing on Dangerous Ground.

New York fiddler Winifred Horan is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and was a member of both Cherish the Ladies and the Sharon Shannon Band.

Dublin guitarist and singer John Doyle performed previously with Susan McKeown and the Chanting House and has recorded with Eileen Ivers, James Keane and Liz Carroll.

From Callan County, Kilkenny, Mick McAuley plays button accordion concertina low whistle and also sings for Solas whom he joined in 1997 after touring and recording with Niamh Parsons and Ron Kavana.

In 2010, vocalist Niamh Varian-Barry from Cork replaced Mairead Phelan as lead singer of the band. In 2013, Niamh was replaced by Noriana Kennedy.


Solas (Shanachie, 1996)
Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers (1997)
The Words That Remain (1998)
The Hour Before Dawn (2000)
The Edge of Silence (2002)
Another Day (2003)
Waiting for an Echo (2005)
Reunion: A Decade of Solas (2006)
For Love and Laughter (2008)
The Turning Tide (2010)
Shamrock City (2013)
All These Years (2016)


Artist profiles: Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull

Sierra Dawn Hull was born September 27, 1991 in Byrdstown, Tennessee. She began playing mandolin at age eight and quickly became noted on the national festival scene for her fluid inventive picking, winning several mandolin and guitar championships in the process.

She self-released an instrumental CD, Angel Mountain in 2002. She recorded Secrets (Rounder) at 15 and released it in 2008 at 16. Among the musicians and vocalists joining her on Secrets are Ron Block, Barry Bales, Dennis Crouch, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Clay Hess, Rob Ickes, Chris Jones, Jason Moore, Tony Rice, Dan Tyminski, Jim VanCleve, and the banjo phenom Cory Walker who was seventeen years old at the time and had already played alongside Sierra for several years.

“What I’ve seen in Sierra over the months of working on Secrets is a passion for music in general, and specifically for bluegrass,” said Secrets co-producer Ron Block. “She has an intense desire for excellence a love of good songs and an attention to detail that is not often found in someone so young; she’s only going to get better and better as time goes on. It’ll be intriguing to watch how her vision and creativity affect the future of bluegrass in the coming years.

Sierra was a featured performer on the Great High Mountain Tour which included an all-star bluegrass lineup performing songs from the soundtracks of the hit movies O Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain. A seasoned performer, she has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry radio and television shows and shared the stage with various bluegrass legends such as Alison Krauss, IIIrd Tyme Out, Sam Bush, Mountain Heart, and Ricky Skaggs.

An active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Sierra has been performing in that organization’s annual convention showcases of young bluegrass talent since she was ten. As co-host (with Ryan Holladay) of IBMA’s educational DVD release Discover Bluegrass: Exploring American Roots Music, Sierra played an integral part in their effort to introduce young audiences to this uniquely American genre.

Her third album Daybreak was produced by Union Station’s Barry Bales and features some of the best singers and pickers in the bluegrass scene.


Angel Mountain (independent release, 2002)
Secrets (Rounder Records, 2008)
Daybreak (Rounder Records, 2011)
Weighted Mind (Rounder Records, 2016)


Artist profiles: Shabaz


Shabaz combined eleven generations of vocal history with a modern global sensibility and the wicked rhythms of the dance floor. Shabaz featured the voices of siblings Sukhawat Ali Khan and Riffat Salamat, the living embodiment of the ancient Sham Chorasi singing tradition. The pair can trace their lineage back to the court musicians for ruler Akbar the Great.

Their father Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was one of the great classical Indian singers and an influence on the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sukhawat began singing at the age of seven and has performed around the world for presidents and kings. Renowned for his technique and passion, he shared vocal duties with sister Riffat who took Qawwali to places it’s never been before. American multi-instrumentalist and producer Richard Michos, the third member of Shabaz spent years exploring Indian music as both player and scholar.

With influences ranging from Zakir Hussain to Jimi Hendrix and dance music he brings an open Western sensibility to the band’s sound adding the colors and textures of electronic beats, dance, rock and ambient music to create a heady irresistible mix. As the Ali Khan Band, Shabaz (which translates as ‘Chief Eagle’) recorded two albums for City of Tribes. Their 1998 debut Tawsir appeared at the top of the CMJ New World Music chart and Zindagi (Urdu for ‘Life’) their follow-up disc reached similar heights in 2000.

Based in the San Francisco area, they played with artists like Femi Kuti and King Sunny Ade transporting crowds with every gig. They continued to work and shape their sound polishing and refining pushing their unique talents across more musical boundaries from the rhythmic richness of ̶Bhangra, to the experimentation of ̶Chela, where club beats frame intoxicating passionate vocals. They had their unique vision of a true world fusion where continents and histories come together in the music of the dance. As Sukhawat Ali Khan said, “It’s an extraordinary time for communicating through music. Music is becoming a melting pot a place where cultures cross.”

Sukhawat Ali Khan later formed a new band called Baraka Moon.


Shabaz (Ark 21, 2001)


Artist profiles: Seth Walker

Seth Walker – Photo by Angel Romero

Seth Walker is deeply influenced by guitar players such as B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and Snooks Eaglin. He’s also a talented songwriting in the blues and American roots music idioms.

Growing up in rural North Carolina, surrounded by a musical artistic family has lent itself to Seth’s natural ability to entertain audiences with his music and the ease with which he performs.

Seth continued to develop his skills in Austin, Texas playing among the best blues musicians in the world. His eclectic mix of outstanding guitar talent and rootsy soul-filled vocals appeal to many music fans.

Walker made his recording debut in 1997 following it with three more CDs, culminating in his eponymously titled recording debut for Jerry Hall’s Pacific Blues label.

Walker describes his music as “a different point of blue.”


When It Rains It Pours (1998)
Meet Me in the Middle (2000)
Restless (2002)
On the Outside (2005)
Seth Walker (Pacific Blues, 2005)
Leap of Faith (Hyena Records, 2009)
Time Can Change (Roe Records / The Royal Potato Family, 2012)
Sky Still Blue (The Royal Potato Family, 2014)
Gotta Get Back (The Royal Potato Family, 2016)


Artist profiles: Santiago Jimenez Jr.

Santiago Jimenez Jr.

One of the major figures in Tex-Mex border music, Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a singer and accordion virtuoso of the first rank. His father virtually invented the conjunto instrumental style and Santiago’s playing follows in that tradition while at the same time incorporating much of the more modern approach made popular by his brother Flaco.

Born in 1944, Santiago is the younger son of Don Santiago Jimenez Sr., one of the great pioneers of conjunto accordion style. Where his elder brother Leonardo “Flaco” Jimenez has helped modernize conjunto by bringing in jazz, rock and rhythm & blues concepts, Santiago has purposely fashioned his own playing after his father’s. He has dedicated himself to upholding the tradition his father helped develop via Spanish-language radio spots and recordings that date back to the late 1930s.

Some of Santiago Jr.’s first recordings were on local labels – Lira, Magda, Discos Grande, Corona — and were sold on 45 rpms. In 1960, at age 17 he recorded a full-length album with Flaco. Recordings including Corazon de Piedra and Canciones de Mi Padre have appeared on Watermelon Records based in Austin.

The songs in Spanish are lively and direct and deal with real-life situations — work love and dance. More than a revivalist, Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a living memory of a time when the Mexican-American people of South Texas were making their presence known amid social oppression forced assimilation and economic difficulty. The music represents the experience of a people and is celebrated for having helped shape a society that remains strong in its identity and cultural presence.


Familia y Tradicion (1989)
El Mero Mero de San Antonio (Arhoolie 1990)
El Gato Negro (1990)
Corazon De Piedra (1992)
Canciones de mi padre (Watermelon 1994)
Musica De Tiempos Pasados Del Presente y Futuro (1995)
Viva Seguin (1996)
El chief de San Antonio (Chief Records 1996)
Cama de Piedra (Les Nuits Atypiques 1997)
Tex-Mex Party (1997)
Purely Instrumental (Arhoolie 1998)
Corrido de Esequiel Hernandez: Tragedia de Redford (Arhoolie 1999)
Corridos De La Frontera (2005)


Artist profiles: SambaDa

SambaDa – Photo by Charlie Mixson

Formed in 1997 by native Brazilian Papiba Godinho and Dandha da Hora, SambaDa is a musical group out of Santa Cruz that is rapidly inspiring audiences with its unique mixture of Brazilian samba and funky Latin dance grooves. From the rhythms of samba to hip-hop riffs, bossa nova, ballads and salsa.

Performing many original and popular songs the band draws upon various musical styles of Brazil such as: samba bossa nova pagode samba reggae batucada and forro and incorporates funk salsa reggae jazz rock and hip-hop into the mix. Pulsating percussion uplifting vocals and rich melodies give SambaDa a distinctive and infectious sound.


Salve a Bahia (SambaDa, 2007)
Gente (SambaDa, 2010)
Ritual (SambaDa, 2015)


Artist profiles: Sam Bush

Sam Bush

Mandolin virtuoso Sam Bush is best known as the founder and driving force behind the legendary New Grass Revival, a band of inventive and aggressive high caliber musicians that for 18 years challenged the preconceived notions of traditional bluegrass instruments by fusing a wide range of styles that included gospel, rock, pop, reggae, jazz, country and bluegrass.

Today, Bush is the only artist who has performed at most of the Telluride Bluegrass Festivals earning him the title ‘Mayor of Telluride ‘ and ‘King Sammy ‘ among his fans.

Sam Bush was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in February 2006. One of his stage shorts and mandolins are displayed in the museum.

His 2006 album Laps in Seven (Sugar Hill Records) captures the energy of Bush’s live performances. The album includes guests Emmylou Harris, Jean Luc Ponty, Tim O’Brien and Shaun Murphy (Little Feat).


Together Again For The First Time, with Alan Munde (Ridge Runner, 1977)
Late as Usual (Rounder, 1985)
Glamour & Grits (Sugar Hill, 1996)
Howlin’ at the Moon (Sugar Hill, 1998)
Ice Caps: Peaks of Telluride (Sugar Hill, 2000)
Hold On, We’re Strummin’, with David Grisman (Acoustic Disc, 2003)
King of My World (Sugar Hill, 2004)
Laps in Seven (Sugar Hill, 2006)
Circles Around Me (Sugar Hill, 2009)
Storyman (Sugar Hill, 2016)


Artist Profiles: Roopa Mahadevan

Roopa Mahadevan

Roopa Mahadevan is a Carnatic vocalist. Born and raised in San Josem Californiam Roopa underwent her formative training under Smt. Asha Ramesh disciple of the late Sangeetha Kalanidhi D.K. Jayaraman and Sri Nanganallur Ramanathan.

In 2007 Roopa was awarded the highly-regarded Fulbright Scholarship by the U.S. State Department to receive advanced training in Chennai India under Smt. Suguna Varadachari, a senior vidushi and respected teacher of the Musiri Subramania Iyer tradition.

Roopa has been a regular performer in the major sabhas during Chennai December season for the past years and has received praise from the Carnatic music fraternity and notable press including The Hindu Indian Express Times of India The Week and more.

She has performed full-length concerts in several venues in India and North America including the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana where she has been awarded the first prize for raga alapana and krithi rendition in their annual competition in years past.

In 2010 Roopa was honored with the title “Kala Ratna” by the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana for her commitment to the pursuit of Carnatic music as a young American. Roopa is also an accomplished Bharathanatyam dancer who has done her arangetram and performed in India and Europe under the training of Smt. Indumathy Ganesh disciple of Padmashri Smt. Chitra Visweswaran.

Roopa is additionally adept at singing for Bharathanatyam productions; she has sung for such dance artists as Bragha Bessel Mythili Prakash Abhinaya Dance Company and Shakti Dance Company among others.

Roopa also enjoys performing R&B/soul music and has lent her voice to several contemporary art projects such as an Indian folk ensemble curated by Chennai’s Prakriti Foundation the Guadalajara International Book Fair and two urban/R&B music albums “Lovespeak” and “Bring Back the Nyte.”

She provided lead female vocals for the track “Sukle Krsna” on the album Calling All Dawns that won a Grammy for “Best Classical Crossover Album.”

Roopa received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Stanford University and currently works in the public health policy field while simultaneously pursuing her artistic career.