Ben Williams declares people still need to know, “I Am A Man”


Bassist, composer and vocalist Ben Williams was one of the busiest and sought-after players on the scene prior to the pandemic. The Grammy-winning musician has been a first-call bassist for many elite artists for more than a decade with a sterling resume that includes work with Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Pat Metheny, Nicholas Payton, José James, Marcus Strickland and so many more.  So certainly, like most artists and musicians, the reality of the resulting shut down was mind-boggling, life-altering and incredibly disappointing.

But there was another layer of disappointment for Williams as well. That’s because he found opportunity and was in the midst of touring and performing as a leader in support of his instantly acclaimed third album, the compelling, I AM A MAN released in February 2020. Borrowing its title from the signs held high during the consequential 1968 Memphis sanitation strike where 1,300 black sanitation workers walked off the job, protesting awful working conditions, racism and discrimination, Williams’ project sought to shine a light on the continued racial injustice and inequality experienced by African – Americans in America. 

The pandemic seemed like it would steal the spotlight, momentum and most importantly, message of the project away. In the most twisted of ways that would have almost been preferred when you consider that the alternative would be some of the most alarming examples of what Williams’ I AM A MAN spoke to. There was news and video surfaced about shootings of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor and alas, the horrific scene shown the world over – the killing of George Floyd, which of course led to mammoth protest, unrest and conversation about racism and change. For us all the pandemic hit with huge, unicorn-like proportion and out of nowhere, but sadly the killings where an almost inevitable occurrence and Williams’ I AM A MAN provided a powerful and prophetic soundtrack. 

In addition to talking about what influences his bass playing; his emergence as a vocalist; the confines of being labeled a jazz artist and more, in this special I SPY SOUL podcast edition interview, Williams shares why pushing this project continues to be so very important to him and toward a continued goal of change.

The following tracks were played during the course of the interview. Click the title links for full track:

“Half Steppin'” from the album Coming of Age

“Promised Land” from I AM A MAN

“If You Hear Me” from I AM A MAN

“Take It From Me” from I AM A MAN

“High Road”(Instrumental) from I AM A MAN (Instrumentals)

For more about Ben Williams go to and to keep up on Instagram follow him @benwmsonbass

THE SOUL SEEN:Vocalist and songwriter, Lizz Wright

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.

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Chandanie’s Intersections lead us to where societal commentary and soulful sounds meet

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

For more about Chandanie visit her website at 

Carmen Rodgers wants to say “Hello”

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

And for more about Carmen Rodgers visit her website @

Conya Doss makes it CLEAR, she’s back . . . again

Acclaimed vocalist, songwriter and long affectionately proclaimed,  “Queen of Indie Soul,” Conya Doss has been featured on these pages more than once and for good reason. Every time she even hints at a new project her ardent fans want to know more. That’s because they know they’re in for another gem to be dropped from the Ohio native and since her debut CD, A Poem For Ms. Doss back in 2002, she’s been proving them right. 

She recently teamed up for the debut, EP release of Oscar Stiele aka Oskeyz called, 6019, just last month. Oskeyz is an accomplished keyboard player, producer and music director from the UK who has worked with a number of premiere R&B/Soul artists including Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Jazmine Sullivan, Tweet, Jon B, Eric Roberson, and Raheem DeVaughn, to name a few.

6019 is a fantastic outing that will certainly keep fans of Doss satisfied until her own next project hinted at coming later in 2021 and bring solid notice to Oskeyz as an out front artist.  Throughout the project the talented producer provides a canvas of fertile beats and soulful, affecting melodies for Doss to lay her now trademark genuine tone and skilled delivery upon.  The collaboration proves to be a winning combination that once again finds Doss submitting her classic, engaging sound through the lens of a fresh approach.

Check out the project 6019 from Oskeyz and Conya Doss on Spotify and all other major music platforms

We caught up with Conya Doss in 2018 upon the release of her last project, CLEAR, which is yet another, needless to say, standard winner from her. Hearing 6019 encouraged revisiting that feature as part of something we call THE SOUL SEEN. If you somehow missed this the first time this will give you a glimpse into what makes Ms. Doss the outstanding artist she is. 

Continue reading “Conya Doss makes it CLEAR, she’s back . . . again”