I SPY SOUL is an interview platform that champions genuine artistry. Consisting of both written and produced video interviews we introduce you to an eclectic mix of accomplished individuals from burgeoning to legendary. These artists convey through their work an integrity that comes from the “soul” and are creatively chronicling the world around them in ways you’re sure to enjoy. Our hope is that you’ll also be inspired by the stories and timeless insights they share.
“When I grow up I want to be like Omar.” When asked about that comment, England–bred, singer, songwriter and musician, Omar replies with a humbled chuckle and flattered lilt, “I take it with a pinch of salt because there was an obvious laugh when he was saying it.” The “he” in this case is the one and only, Stevie Wonder and although the statement was made with his storied comic flair it’s also obvious it packed a wealth of sincere admiration. Why you say? The legendary icon will appear on Omar’s next project and he made the call. “He called me up twice in two days in fact, to say he had a song for me”, recalls Omar. “I had to wait seven hours in the studio for him to turn up but hey, I would have waited two days. It was one of the most memorable times for me.”
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.
From the original I SPY SOUL feature segment, IN FOCUS, 2002
WILL DOWNINGThe Journey Continues
On a sunny afternoon in Manhattan, I realize that I’m sitting in a place where scores of women would love to be. Behind closed doors with a gentleman whose rich, silky-smooth baritone and seductive delivery seemingly mesmerizes ladies like a swinging timepiece. I’m here to talk music with vocalist, WILL DOWNING and about the release of his new CD,SENSUAL JOURNEY, but my guess is those women would have a far different agenda, if you know what I mean. After just a few minutes into our talk, I’m convinced his warm smile and easy-going flow, add to the appeal of this suave New York son, but the velvety voice is without question, the key.
Alvin Frazier is in the truest sense, a modern day Renaissance man. He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer who’s released two acclaimed albums Love & Faith: Vol. 1 and A Wonderful Love: Love & Faith Vol. 2 which produced the hit duet with vocalist Cassandra Stewart, “Something to Remember”. He’s also shared the stage with acclaimed artists such as George Clinton, Eric Roberson, The Ohio Players, Conya Doss, Kenny Lattimore, Avery Sunshine, and Angie Stone to name a few and is now the bassist for Grammy-winning, legendary R&B act, Dazz Band. Add to that, he’s also an experienced stage and screen actor who has appeared in films likeMiles Ahead with Don Cheadle and the Academy Award winning film, Judas & The Black Messiah.
As with many artists the year plus shutdown by way of the pandemic presented hands full of time but like many of them, for Frazier, giving in to it being idle was not an option. This time presented the pre-pandemic, always busy artist the opportunity to complete and release his latest project, RIVER
RIVER is a soulfully seductive and convincing case made for the parallels between the ebb and flow of love and relationships and the ever changing rippling flow of a river. Quite an astute analogy and concept for Frazier to come up with that he shares in our interview was kind of divine revelation. It’s also fittingly consistent with his penchant for genuine R&B where storytelling, infectious grooves and intimate vibes are the staples. Needless to say, engaging accomplished voices are a must as well and Frazier comes well equipped with that too. He’s also enlisted a few more by way of features from acclaimed soul-stirrer, Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter, Eric Roberson (“Gone Gyrl”) and talented, burgeoning vocalist Toni LaNiece (“Girl with the Broken Wing”). Check out my interview with Alvin Frazier to find out how the concept for RIVER was born, how the title track almost didn’t make the project and how an impromptu playing of “Gone Gyrl” during a car ride for an audience including acclaimed artist Robert Glasper led to it’s place on RIVER.
RIVER is available now to check out and purchase at alvinfraziermusic.com as well as all other major music outlets.
*If you like what you hear purchasing music from independent artists is the best way to support. Thank you! – I SPY SOUL
Marcus Machado is no stranger to the I SPY SOUL platform. Five years ago we shined a light on the virtuosic guitarist who since being acknowledged as a bonafide prodigy as a child, had been wowing audiences and notable artists alike. A suggested look back at that feature HERE will reveal why more high profile looks were likely on the horizon or have in fact, come to fruition. Before and leading up to the pandemic, the sought-after Machado was in addition to performing and recording as a lead artist, successfully juggling a dizzying schedule of work and performances with artists like vocalist Jose James, iconic DJ/Producer, Pete Rock, standout drummer, Daru Jones, Grammy-winning artist, Anderson.Paak, and with sibling, burgeoning producer Vicky Casis as part of their production team, Mach 7 Muzik to name just a few.
He’d also scored the music for the critically acclaimed hip hop documentary, Contact High as well as worked with Grammy-winning artist, Robert Glasper on the score for the Emmy-winning HBO documentary, The Apollo about the historic Harlem theater. He also worked with Glasper and Grammy-winning vocalist Lalah Hathaway on the NAACP Award winning documentary Mr.Soul which made it to the Academy Awards shortlist.
So when the pandemic arrived and brought everything to a sobering, screeching halt, Marcus Machado had no choice but to … seemingly be as busy as if nothing were stopped at all. The Mach 7 Muzik duo released two hip hop laced EPs, Black Summer Again, and Black Summer Vol.2. As part of the supergroup Th1rt3en he joined rapper phenomenon, Pharoahe Monch, and the Grammy- winning, Daru Jones to release the trenchant, rock/hip hop gem, A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism. The project, widely acclaimed, encouraged performances on the Stephen Colbert show and NPR’s popular Tiny Desk series along with several epic visuals. He performed live streams with Jose James and Pete Rock & The Soul Brothers whose project, Petestrumentals 3, on which he also appears, dropped late 2020. He and sister, Vicky Casis even created QSTV, a hip and innovative, bi – weekly program streaming live on YouTube that features a spectrum of accomplished creatives via live and recorded performances, DJ sets, music videos, interviews and more.
Oh and one more thing, Marcus Machado released his long anticipated, debut album, Aquarius Purple, on vinyl in late February of this year and just recently on all other platforms. It is a triumphant and comprehensive display of not only the consummate guitar skills for which he is known, but as a producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist as well. Featuring frequent collaborators, Daru Jones, Grammy-winning vocalists, Jermaine Holmesand Ahrel Lumzy, accomplished rap artist, JSWISS as well as producer and multi-instrumentalist, TFOX, it is being considered one of the best releases of the year thus far.
On the I SPY SOUL podcast edition interview, we talk to Marcus Machado about the new album, his near experience meeting Prince that inspired, “Her” and much more. BC
Featured Photo: Robert Adam Mayer
The following tracks were played during the course of the interview:
For his work over the last two decades, singer and songwriter, Jonas Winge Leisner has encouraged the designation as one of the most important voices on the danish soul scene. Leisner himself is noticeably humbled by and reserved at adopting that title. “Well, that status is of course not something I would say myself. That’s for others to judge,” says Leisner. But the accolade seems to be well earned with years of building a following through, amongst other accomplishments, extensive touring as a solo artist and as part of revered danish soul/funk orchestra, Ridin’ Thumb as well as the popular live music collective from Copenhagen, THE 5to8’S, known for its marathon concerts of improvised soul, hip hop, funk and r&b.