I SPY SOUL is excited to now share popular interview series, The Pulse, with our audience. The Pulse is the splendid brainchild of host and WBGO Afternoon Jazz radio personality, Keanna Faircloth who presents an outstanding array of burgeoning and acclaimed artists with a common strand of jazz, but with a mix of other musical influences. The Pulse is presented live on the WBGO Facebook page, and subsequently available on the WBGO website, but will now also be available to check out while you’re here if you miss it.
This special Valentine’s Day episode features talented husband and wife duo, vocalist April May Webb and trumpeter Randall Haywood aka Sounds of A&R or S.O.A.R. They are acclaimed, award-winning artists with several of their songs topping the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. In this episode, in addition to a exclusive live performance of the track, “They Keep Saying No” from their new release,Questions Left Unanswered, Keanna has a great conversation with the newlyweds about their success; how they craft their music; working with drummer T.S.Monk; their penchant for vintage clothing and more.Check it out below:
We’ve made it to 2021 or perhaps better said, out of 2020. Although there are some significant changes in place and progress has been made on the virus front, we’re still in the midst of some very challenging times and issues that need to be addressed.
Few have gone unscathed by the enormity of the situation we’ve been in. Included in that count of the greatly impacted are artists and performers of all kinds. When the virus reared its ugly head and eliminated a slew of performances for them around the world the blow was swift, mind-blowing and for the vast majority, life – altering. What to do was the universal question and the answer for most of them after the initial “dear in the headlights” pause, was somewhat the same. Survival economically and mentally was, needless to say, paramount as well as to immediately ponder how long this would last.
Many have seized the time to reflect, refocus, practice and create to varying degrees. Some, like the greatly accomplished keyboardist, singer and songwriter Nick Rolfe have done that and more, like rescue people and save lives. Yes, you read the last part right. Rolfe, who has over his career released impressive projects as a leader and performed with the likes of Sting, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Idina Menzel, Busta Rhymes, India Arie, Ledisi, and the incomparable Aretha Franklin, has been part of a search and rescue team tasked with braving the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and removing folks from life – threatening situations. That included, this past summer, the added need and danger brought on by some of the worst wildfires the west coast has seen in years. But this is not something new for Rolfe. He actually became part of the volunteer rescue team before the pandemic. However, what he knew before but became even more evident with his ability to devote more time was how much he loved doing it. It’s understandable. Imagine losing something as rewarding as bringing smiles to faces ( including his own) through live musical performance and getting to replace it with bringing smiles to the faces of family members ( and yes, his own) with the return of loved ones rescued from wild fires or life – threatening injury in mountainous terrain. What’s not to love?
With the uncertainty of just what the new normal will be for artists and performers, Rolfe knows first hand from speaking with fellow musicians that for many of them options beyond music will have to be a consideration when the “smoke” clears. But for some, because of discoveries made during this dormant time of performing, they now may have choices not explored before.
In the video interview below Nick Rolfe speaks about doing and missing two things he loves a lot and allowing himself to make a choice about what the future holds.
We often wonder why things happen in life the way they do and when they do. Why when you least expect it things – life altering things happen. Needless to say, all of us during most of 2020 in particular, have been racking our brains to figure it all out. Loss of some kind and the distress it causes has unfortunately been a hallmark of these times for sure. So much so you can’t help but wonder if it’s masking lessons, signs of hope or a divine plan – The irony that out of the most unlikely places and times inspiration and opportunity often comes.
Singer/Songwriter Bradd Marquis has gone through this process of wondering, navigating loss and both discovery as well as rediscovery over the last several years. It was a big part of the reason for his three year absence from the music scene before releasing earlier this year his very relevant single, “No War.” During this time he lost his grandparents. Grandparents who raised him. His grandfather or “Pop” as Marquis calls him was first after a bout with cancer and later, “Mom”, his grandmother followed. Being very close to them both, a substantial focus was on providing the care they needed. “Both of them at separate intervals needed twenty-four hour care,” Marquis shares.
But the talented vocalist who’s music and mellifluous tone have garnered him Billboard – charting success and acclaim with projects like Finding My Way, Authentic, and Thank Youwas frankly also during this time going over the viability of his music career. That pondering especially significant because of the responsibility of also raising a young son. “I felt I had reached a peak and I was looking for some more doors to open and looking for some more opportunities to continue to grow and to advance,” Marquis confesses. Those opportunities “just never showed up” and he had to “take a step back and say okay, ‘What am I doing here?’’ So in the midst of this very challenging time he had to make choices that included taking on other work outside of music for some stability. That’s a choice many accomplished artists have long been faced with and now especially. But the love was never lost and timing would prove to be everything.
Keyboardist and artist BIGYUKI has been described as “NYC’S musical secret weapon.” For many prominent artists and musicians, as the saying goes, ‘that cat is out of the bag’ and to further expand it, is running rampant all over the place to parts way beyond the city’s borders. The talented musician, who hails from Japan but dwells in NYC, has over the years become a much sought after player being called upon to add his virtuosic skills to the mix on recordings and live performances for a long list of premiere artists – Q-Tip, Bilal, Talib Kweli, Jose James, Busta Rhythms, Ben Williams, Kamasi Washington, Lauryn Hill, Matisyahu, J.Cole, Marcus Strickland, Meshell Ndegeocello, and many, more. You can hear his work on the historic last release from A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service and on the recently released Petestrumentals 3 from hip hop producer, icon Pete Rock and The Soul Brothers stellar crew.
BIGYUKI is still a bit of a secret to music fans by name, but that too is hanging by a thread. In combination with his work with others he’s also been wowing burgeoning audiences with his splendid, high- spirited performances as a leader and has released a few of his own projects that have garnered deserved high acclaim. Needless to say, the busy keyboardist doesn’t get much time to do the latter. Even during this time of closed venues and cancelled performances his calendar has still hummed quite steadily with recordings and virtual gigs.