The Soul Seen™ is a retrospective of past features that provide a snapshot in time in the careers, from fledgling to legendary, of these very 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.
The Soul Seen revisits the 2003 interview with acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright. It was upon the debut of her debut release, Salt. Her distinctive, soulfully rich and arresting voice had then as now won over scores of faithful fans and earned her chart-topping success as well as critical acclaim. Her recordings as a leader, now six deep (Salt, Dreaming Wide Awake, The Orchard, Fellowship, Freedom and Surrender and Grace), have seen her weave her instrument through a tapestry of Soul, Jazz, Gospel, Blues, and Folk while at the same time displaying an equally affecting writing style that provides a window to the travels in her life.
Accomplished singer/songwriter, Chandanie, describes her new EP, Intersections as a, “5 song conversation of Being that collides with Blackness, womyness & self-worth.” It perhaps seems like a far-reaching pursuit and weighty spectrum to explore in the space of five songs. However, it’s likely the purpose of this impressive collection is to not only be witness to a conversation in the moment, but to spawn further dialog or even more, to stoke your awareness. All is achieved by way of her artfully asserting you see the full picture in all of its complex simplicity. It’s an example of what she’s dubbed Soul Liberation Music where siblings, soul, jazz, R&B and more form the musical landscape for meaningful messages and societal commentary to thrive. It should be successful in garnering your attention with respect to the subject matter and to the very talented, thoughtful artist on the rise Chandanie surely is. Wonderfully backed by minimal instrumentation that centers you on her engaging voice and wisdom, she assuredly helms the discussion with a soulful vocal flow and tone that harnesses both nostalgia and newness – surrounded by supremely crafted harmonies.
Co-produced by the Maryland-born vocalist, who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, and frequent collaborator, guitarist/songwriter, Vo-Era, Intersections includes the first two, previously released singles, “I Win My Love” and “Make We Whole” featuring accomplished rap artist, JSWISS. Independently, the two served on their own as solidly fly offerings with ruminative statements. The first proclaims love of self as primary after someone proves no longer worthy of it. The second, she explains, explores and asks, “What are the possibilities when we’re not confined by a little box called gender?” But as part of Intersections the two fit winningly in Chandanie’s overall scope of conversation, joining three other stunning additions, “You Touch My Heart,” “Moonlight,” and “Miss Mary Mack,” the last track, which she describes as “exploring the experience of Being and Blackness.”
“During live shows, I’ve affectionately described the track as a shoutout to the colonizers,” says Chandanie of “Miss Mary Mack,” which recalls the title of a popular, old school clapping game and rhyme. “My intentional repetitions of Mary, Marie as pronounced in Spanish, English and French are an acknowledgement of the nations that colonized indigenous communities around the world.”
The lyrics poetically sound a call for deserved acknowledgement, change, and respect. “Black people show up to empower us all,” Chandanie maintains. “We show up to polling sites, we show up in the streets to protest, we show up with our wealth of creativity in society. The hope [is] that the world will show up for us too. A belief in an allyship that we can believe in.” That goes for being specifically a Black womyn as well, counting as a mantra of sorts for herself, “to live a life not based on exploiting my labor for profit and being able to own my beauty as a black womyn without being told otherwise.” It also speaks of true freedom with words like, I want to feel a real release/ been inhaling lies and exhaling grief/give me carefree, black feet carefree. “I’d like to think that Miss Mary Mack has hints of afrofuturism. It dreams of a future that we’re all striving for. A liberation that currently lives in our fantasies,”Chandanie admits.
For sure, Chandanie and Intersections will fetch high acclaim and encouraged the need for more spirited conversation, both from and about her.
Below is a live performance of the song, “Miss Mary Mack” at National Sawdust in NYC
Intersections is available on all major platforms including HERE on Spotify
Since breaking out on the scene with her stunning debut Free, vocalist and songwriter, Carmen Rodgers has garnered a very faithful fanbase of soul music-loving cognoscenti and accomplished peers. She emerged in the early 2000’s and became part of a top-tier class of vocalists and artists that fueled the already fertile resurgent or “Neo soul” crusade. Dropping subsequent winning projects like The Bitter Suite, which houses the arresting track “It’s me” and Stargazer, boasting amongst others the passionate and idyllic duet, “Charge” with soulful crooner, Anthony David, stoked the fires of adoration. Then there’s her work over the years as part of popular, Grammy-nominated unit, The Foreign Exchange, helmed by revered rapper and vocalist, Phonte and multi-instrumentalist/producer, Nicolay. Add to that, as well, her performances with fellow Exchange comrade, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Zo, and it’d be a fair guess that Rodgers has solidified her place in the hearts of those ardent fans. But that said, there’s still a chance you may not be one of those . . . yet.
As Carmen Rodgers shares in our video interview, she does want to reach you too and has released what will serve as a splendid introduction in the form of her new EP, aptly called, Hello Human Vol. 1. For many fans it will be a welcome reunion as this is her first project since the drop of Stargazer in 2015. The time in between is certainly a testament to how busy the talented artist has been performing and touring.
Really, be it newcomer or already snagged, Rodgers has something for you both on the project, offering her beautifully toned, wonderfully skilled, and mesmeric vocals in a context of hip progressive soul with a classic appeal. The collection keenly explores the very human condition as it pertains to relationships, something Rodgers admits is a favored subject, with tracks like the clever, role reversed, “No Good” and lead single, “Again and Again” produced by Nicolay. However, it also features in the epic track, “Say So” especially earnest advice in the wake of the adversity 2020 unearthed and the unknowing canvas the new year is still constructing. Carmen Rodgers, of course, hopes you’ll embrace all of Hello Human, Vol 1, but in the I SPY SOUL interview she explains why she believes, “Say So” is so important for us all, herself included, especially now. She also shares what inspires her writing and the kind of artist she isn’t afraid to be called.
Check out Hello Human Vol. 1 on all major platforms including HERE on Spotify
I SPY SOUL is not only excited to share the popular interview series with our audience here on our website via rebroadcast, but we’re also very excited to now be joining WBGO with the LIVE presentation of The Pulse. Presented live on the WBGO Facebook page, and subsequently available on the WBGO website, the interview series will now also be simulcast live on the I SPY SOUL Facebook Page! Now there’s no way to miss the splendid brainchild of host Keanna Faircloth and clear kindred platform of I SPY SOUL that presents an array of outstanding burgeoning and acclaimed artists with a common strand of jazz, but with a mix of other musical influences. Stay tuned for upcoming episodes!