Ty Causey reveals a new song and a few new “angles”

 

 

image

“Mellifluous, enticing, passionate and dexterous – these are superlatives most certainly appropriate for defining the style and sound of singer/songwriter/ producer, Ty Causey.”

“ . . . an artist that harkens back to the storied crooners of the past, but with a present day sheen that boasts a collage of R&B, jazz, and sensual soul.”

“ Causey’s warm tone, expansive range and superb delivery together with an obvious songwriting prowess that brackets the worlds of love and romance, is a joy to discover. And discover you most certainly will as he lays down poetic prose with charm and swaying sincerity on pleasing cuts throughout . . .”

imageThese are some of the things I wrote for marketing used in promotion of Ty Causey’s very first release in 2004, N-TYSING, during my time working with him. (Note: There will be more about how I came to meet and work with the talented artist in my first ever interview with Causey coming here to ISPYSOUL very soon!)

The project featured instant fan favorites and now classic Causey tunes, “Keep It Smooth”, “Your Love’s A Mystery”, “Everything About Cha” and “Reminisce In the Moonlight” as well as guest appearances from legendary, contemporary jazz sax man, Najee and talented bassist, Nelson Braxton know as part of contemporary jazz duo, Braxton Brothers and his work with the remarkable vocalist, Ledisi. The internationally acclaimed N-Tysing was a strong introduction to the Indiana native and instantly moved him to the list of elite vocalists in the adult R&B category.

Flash to 2017 and the words still apply as Causey is still going strong with his trademark sound of smooth R&B and sensual soul,  satisfying his legion of faithful imagefans as well as proving to be quite prolific, releasing twelve projects including Christmas and Gospel ones producing more acclaimed and chart-topping gems.

Well another one is on the way in a couple of days entitled, TYANGLES (You got it right?) and to get you ready for that and our upcoming interview with him, here’s a look and listen to the newest single release from the project, “Won’t You Be My Lady.” And as always, Ty provides a perfect script for the fellas to woo the special lady they’ve had their eye on and captures the intrigue of the female persuasion with affecting lines, infectious grooves, and the engaging, silky smooth flow he’s become known for.

Bert Caldwell

 

TYANGLES is available now. Check it out and purchase here

© ISPYSOUL 2017

Raul Midón – It’s all in a name 

image

Often the words used to describe singer, songwriter and guitarist, Raul Midón are likely along the lines of amazing, phenomenal, incredible or just plain “ridiculous.” That is to say, of course, you’re not just rendered speechless after hearing his music or especially witnessing his artistic wizardry and virtuosity live. However, for his many ardent fans those superlatives still may not seem to be enough.

Well, there is now a description that may best sum up the marvel Midón is or at very least be added as an apt “go to” on the list – “Bad Ass.” It’s half the title of his brand new release. The other half is a fact that may possibly get lost in the midst of taking in his brilliance – and Blind. The moniker is perfect because both parts are simply fact and cannot be denied.

Blind since birth, Midón is confident in his abilities and proud of his accomplishments, as well he should be. Bad Ass and Blind, his ninth project, is a proclamation he was comfortable making and believed was the right time.

We caught up with Raul Midón to talk about the new project, his influences and why he thought that title could be important for others as well. Check out our interview below:

 

Click here to check out and purchase Raul Midon’s Bad Ass and Blind

And to find out when Raul Midón will be performing near you and more go to Raulmidon.com

© ISPYSOUL 2017

 

 

Tomás Doncker shows us “The Mess We Made”

 

image

“Don’t push me/cause I’m close to the edge . . .”

Many will recognize those as the lyrics to the iconic Rap classic, “The Message”, from Hip Hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Emcee Melle Mel earnestly gives the warning because, as he eloquently goes on to proclaim in the hook, “It’s like a jungle sometimes/It makes me wonder/How I keep from going under”, describing the troublesome times, traps, and conditions facing a young black man living in New York City. That track was released in 1982. Fast forward to 2017 and for as many ways that we’ve advanced and come a long way, sadly, many of the same traps, biases, frustrations, inequity and volatility of the time that underscores The Message and even years before still exist today.

Something “pushed” multi-talented singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, imageTomás Doncker past that “edge” on June 17, 2015. The event took a huge emotional toll on the accomplished New York bred, musician and artist who in addition to his own acclaimed projects, has performed and worked with artists such as Madonna, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ivan Neville, Cory Glover, and James Chance and the Contortions as well as being at the helm of the label True Groove Records.

But to “keep from going under” this always busy, man on the run, stopped and cancelled everything. And as a way to just heal, he shunned the world- played his guitar and wrote. What came from that, quite without intention, was the framework for his new release, The Mess We Made, an incredibly impressive, provocative, no holds barred, scolding of our country – of our society- but not without a few suggestions of things we can do to get right. At the same time, Doncker masterfully manages to entertain with a stirring soundtrack of soul, blues and funk he calls Global Soul.

ISPYSOUL caught up with Tomás Doncker to talk about the The Mess We Made and what drove him to let us know. Check out our interview:

Click here to check out and purchase The Mess We Made

And to learn more about Tomás Doncker and True Groove Records go to Tomás Doncker.net

© ISPYSOUL 2017

The Soul Seen:KEM


The Soul Seen
is a retrospective of features that appeared on ISPYSOUL during its acclaimed initial run. These features provide a snapshot in time of key moments in the careers, from fledgling to legendary, of several creative and talented artists. The projects featured are older now, but no less significant. The insights and perspectives they shared, speak to their success and as you will find, still resonate today.

image

From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2003

KEM PUTTING THE RIGHT ELEMENTS TOGETHER

It’s a lucky thing that the prevalent mind set of the music industry to foster monotony and artlessness has not kept gifted souls from being heard. The recent rise of artists, “doing it for themselves” has brought forth a crop of talented folks furtively proving that a notable slice of the listening public pie still desires artistry and meaningful messages. Case in point, vocalist, songwriter, and musician, KEM.

A little more than a year ago the “Motor City” resident born Kem Owens in Nashville, Tennessee, released the splendid CD that is KEMISTRY on his own label. The aptly titled concoction of smoothed out hipness, sensual vibes, stirring words, and Kem’s superb vocal prowess that hints to the flavor of legend, Al Jarreau, was ushered to the masses with a seemingly lofty goal – Sell 10,000 copies. Well, not only was the goal met, it was exceeded – while at the same time sparking a watchful eye and eventual offer from Motown Records to promote and distribute not onlyimage Kemistry, but 4 other future releases as well. It’s indeed ironic that the legendary label that once set up shop in Detroit would zero in on his project. It’s also fitting when you consider its iconic history of discovering and grooming stars even as recent as that of the talented, young soulstress, India.Arie. But why, you maybe wondering, after confirming his ability to sell records on his own would Kem decide to hook up with Motown? “It’s a win, win situation for me,” says Kem. “Having the machine of a major label behind me would allow me to reach a lot more people and to get the music released on a national level. It also helps me build my fan base, my market base.” He then keenly continues to elaborate on his decision this way. “If for some reason this should not do as well [as planned], I will have expanded my base and I can always go back to selling records on my own. I think the type of music that I’m doing is such that people will continue to buy the records for as long as I choose to make them. I will have established that kind of base.”

If Kem sounds confident, well that’s because he should be. Not only for his astute business acumen, but because he is in possession of the main element which has been key to his success thus far – Genuine, innate talent. In addition to being a completely self-taught musician, his vocal range goes 4 high on the octave scale and his emotive, creative style, which soars, bends, and soothes, employs them all. As to the comparisons made to renowned, multi-award winning vocalist, Al Jarreau, Kem considers himself in great company, but counts Jarreau and vocal wizard, Bobby McFerrin, as more like confirmations than necessarily influences. “I haven’t studied either one of those artists per se, but I am a big fan of Al Jarreau.” He explains, “A lot of things that I’ve been doing or have wanted to pursue musically, I’ve been doing all of my creative life, but those two artists helped validate it. You hear them and it’s like, okay, so that is cool and I’m not crazy for wanting to do this. But they’ve paved the way for it to be done.” And doing it he most certainly is -folding his brand of vocal artistry into a soul-rich collection with love as the dominant theme, boasting gems like, “I’m Missing Your Love” or the first single, “Love Calls.” The lean to love on Kemistry is, however, something he admits to happening quite by chance. “I think that, somewhat by default, it’s an album that’s centered on love and a lot of people get that the most. I didn’t set out to do that. I really just selected songs that were closest to me, I liked the most and,” he adds with a humble chuckle, “were ready to go.” However, he admits, “I’ve been known for writing love songs for the duration of my career and I take pleasure in that. I think that’s something people need, people want, and identify most with.” But you’ll quickly discover that although the intriguing and inventive voice that serves up the love stories is well suited for the task, there are other topics clearly close to Kem’s heart as well. Topics like spirituality and faith. Cuts like, “Brotha Man” and “Matter of Time” will bring you those with consistent hipness and stunning vocal flow. When asking Kem about his hopes for KEMISTRY, he goes back to why he got with Motown and what potential it creates. “I don’t want to be limited to or equated with being a “jazz” artist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I want to be able to move into other markets. And the fact that a label like Motown came and made an offer lets me know that it’s a possibility that we can move into other categories. I’m hopeful it can become mainstream.” However, he is quick to add emphatically, “But it ain’t necessary! I’m hopeful. [Basically] I’m not interested in the people who aren’t interested. I’m only interested in the ones who are digging me. Feeling me. Those are the ones I cater to.”

Seems like Kem might very well have the formula for success.

Bert Caldwell
© ISPYSOUL 2017

Needless to say, Kem did indeed find the formula and has been whipping it up on the regular, over the years, for those countless fans that are definitely “feeling” him and his music. He’s had four #1 hit singles, three Gold selling albums, three Grammy nominations, and is a four-time NAACP Image Award winner – not to mention, he keeps a packed out schedule of tours and sold-out shows.

For more about Kem and when you can see him in your town go to musicbykem.com

Raul Midon shows us how to “Fly Like An Eagle”

image

You know how you react when you see a magician do an incredible trick, right in front of your eyes? You stand there, with your jaw dropped, looking absolutely in awe at him or her, wondering what just happened? Wondering how in the world did they do that? If you ever see incredible vocalist, songwriter and amazing guitarist, Raul Midon, that’s how you’ll feel. But it’s no trick, just sheer, mind-blowing talent. One man, with a guitar, a mic and a flawless voice mesmerizes you with virtuosity, inventiveness and an engaging spirit that is beyond entertaining – its special – its, well, magical. imageSomehow, that enchantment translates to his recording as well with a spell that whips doses of Jazz, Soul and more into amazing musical moments. The highly revered artist, who has over the years fascinated audiences and legends of the music world alike, is about to release his ninth studio project called Bad Ass and Blind. Yes, he is, in fact blind, since birth. And yes, indeed he is Bad Ass – a description, it is said, was given an “amen” to by the legendary Bill Withers.

One of the tracks from the anticipated, upcoming release, dropping on March 24, is Midon’s wonderfully creative take on the Steve Miller Band hit, “Fly Like an Eagle.” Instantly, that magical moment appears as a slower beat creates a deeper pocket and a sequence of mesmeric chord changes under the opening verse have you asking that question- “What just happened?” And then there is the voice, his voice that soars like the title suggests.

Needless to say, Midon puts his own splendid spin on the classic, a song that holds a special place in his early music memories. He shares why that is along with the delicate task of making something your own while still keeping the essence of original:

Fly Like an Eagle is the first LP I ever bought with my own money. I was enthralled with the synthesizer parts and sparked by the message of revolution and hope.

Whenever I do a cover I am challenged by the fact that I like the original so much.
It is for me, a tightrope walk, to maintain the integrity of the song and yet make it my own. I changed the key to a darker sounding A flat, slowed down the tempo a bit, and re-harmonized the verses to give it a mysterious quality. This is in keeping with the linear model sound found throughout the record.

I also wanted the ending to feel wistful, sad, and soulful like you might hear on a Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield record. Fly Like an Eagle is a testimonial to the power of possibility. “

Check out Raul Midon’s rendition below to hear what he means:

Click here to preorder the anticipated upcoming release and  stayed tuned for our upcoming video interview with Raul Midon right here on ISPYSOUL!

In.the meantime, to find out more about him and performances in your area go to RaulMidon.com

© ISPYSOUL 2017

DMD brings “After Dark” to light!

image

One third of the dynamic trio DMD, guitar phenom Marcus Machado, featured here on ISPYSOUL, recalls the impetus for the three stellar musicians ultimately coming together as a story of Kevin Bacon like connection and sheer admiration. Last year after finishing up his acclaimed EP, 29, Machado got to talking with one of his collaborators on the project, the renowned music mixologist and producer, DJ Spinna, while in the imagestudio about whom he might be thinking of to bring the outstanding project to life in performance. “We were just talking about musicians and stuff,” says Machado. “And he said, wow, when you finish this album, who are you going to get to be part of your band? And I said man, it would be crazy to get Daru Jones on drums because he’s one of my favorite drummers – he reminds me a lot of Buddy Miles, kind of like with Jimi [Hendrix] and the Band of Gypsys and that whole type of vibe – a power drummer, just an incredible drummer – that would be crazy to get Daru Jones to play.”

At that point is when the “dots” started to collide because as it happened, Spinna knew the drummer Jones whose impressive resume boasts work with an eclectic mix of noted artists such as guitarist Jack White, Nas, Talib Kweli, Slum Village and Esparanza Spaulding to name a few. Spinna wasted no time and called Jones on the spot and needless to say, Machado and Jones immediately clicked. Machado sent Jones some of the tracks from the EP and he was not only hooked and down to play in support of that project, he opened the door for that last “dot” to be brought into the fold. “ I sent [Jones] some of the songs off of 29, and he was like, yo! We gotta do something together! And then he goes, matter of fact, I just got out of the studio with Doug Wimbish and we just did some jams together- we just recorded some different ideas. And then he goes, would you be down to record some stuff? And I go, of course! Just send it to me.”

As it turned out, Machado had met and known standout bassist Doug Wimbish of the legendary rock squad, Living Colour, through noted multi-instrumentalist, producer and co-founder of eclectic soul group, The Family Stand, V Jeffrey Smith, who Machado counts as a major mentor. The two groups were part of the Black Rock Coalition and Machado, as a young guitar prodigy, was performing as a member of The Family Stand. Jones sent Machado those ideas as he describes as “killin” and ultimately laid down his own magic on them.

“After Dark,” is the first single from those ideas and the highly- anticipated DMD project coming in the Spring and serves as a funky, cool and groove–laden taste of what’s to come. Check it out below and stay tuned for more here on ISPYSOUL when it drops!

Click the link to get “After Dark” on iTunes

Or Apple Music

In Focus: Artist Tom Christopher

image

It is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that you’ve seen or come across the work of highly -accomplished, venerated artist, Tom Christopher, even if you’re not an art enthusiast. Over the years you may have seen the music posters and covers he created for CBS, Verve, or RCA records. If you’re into cars you might have seen his work in Motor Trend magazine. Read the Wall Street Journal or New York Times? Yeah, his work’s been there too. How about those very cool ads for Absolut vodka? Yep, he’s done some of those as well that not only graced the pages of magazines, but also graced billboards and are now housed in a museum. And, there’s much, much more, you know like, paintings that have wound up in private collections and galleries around the world and stuff. But if you’re a New Yorker or visited New York City, what Christopher might be most known for is what you’ve likely seen and marveled at and didn’t know he was responsible for. It’s his amazing Expressionistic renderings of the “city that never sleeps” in all its rambunctious, hip, cool, gritty and magnificent glory – In subway cars and stations around the city – on the cover of the official tourist guides that steer excited visitors all around town- on huge murals in places like Rockerfeller Center and on the side of the Roseland Ballroom. The Hollywood, CA born, but long time New York resident has been tapped to represent NYC frequently, no doubt because of the way he masterfully captures the swag, the attitude, the organized confusion and yes, the heart and soul of the city, so well you can darn near hear taxis blowing in the background. But again, there’s so much more. We caught up with Tom Christopher at his studio in NY to find out more about his journey, his process and his objective as an artist. His insights are like his paintings- intriguing and genuine. BC

Tom Christopher on ISPYSOUL:

For more on Artist Tom Christopher go to tomchristopher.nyc

© ISPYSOUL 2017