Video Interview: Singer/Songwriter Chantae Cann

chantaephoto

There are things that no matter what seem to always bring a smile to your face – A fond memory, dancing with your sweetheart or the eyes of that brand new fluffy puppy you just got.  You might also add to that list, a voice. In particular the voice of accomplished songstress and songwriter, Chantae Cann.  It’s the kind of voice that evokes a sense of calm and a rush of assurance that somehow, someway everything will be okay – Engagingly warm, beautifully comforting, and oh yes, highly adept.  Perhaps the perfect voice to console you in your time of despair yes, but also wonderfully ebullient when it wields words of inspiration and encouragement to pursue your dreams and love yourself.

chantaejgIt’s surely the quality noted and award- winning artists she’s collaborated with over the years like collective Snarky PuppyThe Foreign Exchange, and more were attracted to.  And many more came to discover it by way of her highly-regarded debut project, Journey to Golden that reached #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and #7 on Billboard’s Jazz Charts.

Cann’s followup, Sol Empowered, featuring guests looks from Snarky Puppy, and chantaesolTarriona “Tank” Ball from Tank and the Bangas, has garnered similar excitement and success because of course, it features that enchanting voice served up in an infectious, soulful vibe. But because it also offers even more messages of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-empowerment.  As she shares in our interview, it’s insight into her own personal evolution and process towards realizing those things. To hear about her being Sol Empowered, the joy of working with Grammy® award winning soulstress, India.Arie, and Grammy® nominated artist, Maroon 5 member and long-time friend, PJ Morton and more, check out the video above on the I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.

 

For more about Chantae Cann go to website Chantaecann.com

 

Check out the news of her new collaboration with Kia Motors America in promotion of her new Kia Sol Empowered Tour on The Soulnar

Advertisements

Video Interview: Shelley Nicole

Shelley-Color-19-72-dpi

The provocative, fiery sound and style of singer, songwriter and bassist, Shelley Nicole has through the years become trademark for the talented artist through her own work with band BlaKbüshe and the revered Burnt Sugar Arkestra. She’s bringing it hard as ever on her anticipated new project, I Am American, produced by guitar beast and founding member of legendary rock squad, Living Colour, Vernon Reid

On the doorstep of release in all its spirited, soulful and “no holds barred” glory, Nicole returns to ISPYSOUL for a chat, an overdue follow-up to our first meeting upon the release of her acclaimed debut, She Who Bleeds . . .,  to share the impetus for I Am American, the lure of “Punanny Politixxx” and more in the video below on I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.

For some background on Shelley Nicole’s BlaKbüshe check out our previous interview by clicking here

 

 

punanny p

The first single from Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe, Punanny Politixxx is out and available now iTunes and Spotify. Click the links to check it out or purchase

Video interview: Vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles

It is probably fitting to consider gifted vocalist, composer and producer Sarah Elizabeth Charles what once upon a time or perhaps even still, by the standards of many discerning folks, to be a quintessential artist – An immensely skilled and creative individual. One that is driven by their own inner voice and curiosity, but who also soaks up the goings on around them and artfully weaves an impassioned view or even call to action into their expression. In tandem with the tireless hours of honing the technical components of their craft those aforementioned tendencies are what we oft attribute to the continued and really ceilingless growth of the quintessential into the consummate artist.

red440Charles, since her early years coming up in Springfield, MA, has been building, growing by leaps and bounds into the exceptional vocalist and artist she has become. She’s studied and worked with a list of  accomplished musicians and artists including  Nicholas Payton, Geri Allen, Dr. Billy Taylor,  Sheila Jordan, Cecil Bridgewater, Reggie Workman, George Cables, Carmen Lundy, and Jesse Fischer to name a few.

secinnerUpon the formation of her band, once called the S.E.Charles Quartet and now notably referred to as SCOPE, made up of Jesse Elder, Burniss Earl Travis II, and John Davis, Charles’ exploration and hence her growth has continued.  Her impressive projects from her debut RED, to her winning sophomore offering, Inner Dialogue come off as thrilling chapters in a clever suspense novel leaving you wanting more and wondering what will happen next. The latest chapter in the musical story or evolution of Sarah Elizabeth Charles reveals yet another proclivity of the quintessential or consummate artist and that is to challenge, not only themselves and the audience, but convention as well.

 

sarahfof

With another co-production hand from acclaimed, visionary trumpeter, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Charles and band have given us the greatly impressive, emotionally charged and aptly titled Free of Form.   If there is anything right with the Grammys, this stunning project which features a haunting cover of the Cranberries 1994 release, “Zombie”, “Change to Come” inspired by the death of Eric Garner and “March to Revolution”,  should get at least a nod.

In our interview on the I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel with the engaging Sarah Elizabeth Charles she talks about her progression toward the release of Free of Form, breaking down boundaries, the impact of being a teaching artist and the desire to affect change.

 

Bert Caldwell

Photo/Matthew Pandolfe  Styled by Mia Wright-Ross

 

For more about Sarah Elizabeth Charles and her band Scope go to www.sarahelizabethcharles.com

Video Interview: Sly5thAve

Multi-Instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer, Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II or as many now call him, Sly5thAve is another of the young, highly trained musicians blasting genre boxes apart and winningly fusing an eclectic assortment of influences with jazz as a bedrock to the excitement of a legion of desirous listeners.  

The Texas born, New Yorker has racked up an impressive resumé of work with noted artists and musicians such as  Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Taylor Swift, Janelle Monae, James Carter,  Philip Lassiter, Maceo Parker, the whole Marsalis crew and oh yeah, Prince, to name just a few.

akumaBut in addition to his triumphant debut release, Akuma, inspired by a trip to Nigeria, the place of his family’s roots, that garnered high acclaimed and major looks, Sly5thAve has also become known for his lush, artfully cool orchestral takes on some popular tracks of the day. His interpretations of the Bruno Mars hit, “Uptown Funk”, Lil Wayne’s “Love Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” have been heralded by many of the “nets” hippest destinations and spun by tastemaker DJs because of his savvy approach that no doubt makes even jazz heads and the chamber music crowd smile.

slydreSly5thAve has now taken the concept full scale with his rendering of songs produced and associated with kingpin hip hop producer, Dr. Dre, first introduced live at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre with some of L.A.’s finest musicians which was attended by Dre himself.

We caught up with the affable, laid – back, incredibly talented artist to talk about the project, The Invisible Man: An Orchestral Tribute To Dr. Dre and more including his time touring with Prince, the impact of Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and what keeps his passion for creating music alive. Check the video above on the I SPY SOUL  YouTube Channel 

Photograph by Eric Coleman

Video Interview: Saxophonist/Producer Samir Zarif

Saxophonist/Producer Samir Zarif aka FKAjazz represents a hefty number of young, talented artists and musicians whose palettes, influences and paths, although heavily draped by the imperial musical idiom that is Jazz, also count Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop and more as pivotal to their overall stylistic outlook.

Jazz cats being moved by popular music of the day is not a new thing – Think Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd or Grant Green, just to name a few. The irony? Well there are many but here are just a couple- Jazz was America’s first “Pop” music ( a fact definitely not lost on Zarif) – The music that was once the influencer and incredibly cool to be known as one of the genre’s practitioners. Another irony refers to the last point – that for many both in and out of Jazz circles, that swag-filled cred of entertaining, popular, and infectious musical exploration has been stamped by a narrow stereotype only covering a facet of the genre and quite frankly, the makeup of its audience. As a result, the new breed that may have gotten their starts under the label of Jazz, but now dart throughout the musical landscape of their upbringing often get pigeonholed as well – Another reality Zarif is well aware of.

Zarif, an accomplished saxophonist who has studied, performed and worked with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, and Jason Marsalis as well as Jill Scott and Chrisette Michele is also a skilled producer who built his chops as one half of the electronic music production duo Pax Humana and beyond.  Now years removed from his acclaimed “Jazz” release Starting Point in 2010, Zarif as FKAjazz and with his upcoming anticipated release, musically and literally through the title confirms he’s one of the many on the scene like Robert Glasper, José James or Terrace Martin who challenge the label “Jazz” artist.

Stereotype Threat is what its aptly called and Samir Zarif explains the catalyst and concept as well as what FKAjazz means in our video interview on ISPYSOUL! 

DBC

For more about Samir Zarif aka FKAjazz go to fkajazz.com

Video Producer: Drummer/Vocalist James “Biscuit” Rouse

If your belief has been that drummers ONLY keep time, well for starters you may not truly understand how crucial that is to the vibe of a successful song or live performance. When you check the impressive resume of James “Biscuit” Rouse it’s pretty clear he’s quite adept at setting the “pocket” just right based on the array of notable artists who’ve tapped his talent like Bilal, Chaka Khan, Pharell, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Kelly Clarkson, Talib Kweli, or the recently lost to soon, Prodigy of the famed rap squad Mobb Deep. Some others who are boasted on that lengthy scroll of accomplishments are examples that firmly illustrate how truly pivotal the drummer’s role is and because of how very, very good “Biscuit” is at it, his duties are expanded to include the title of Musical Director as is the case with Lauryn Hill or Vivian Green.

But there is something else a number of fine drummers over the years have been known to do and do well and that is sing. Aside from legendary vocalists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass or Jeffrey Osborne – who few may know were drummers early in their careers, but gained fame known more as exclusively singers – Rouse is more akin to renowned artist Phil Collins or super talented contemporary, Anderson Paak, drummers who often share their vocal prowess from behind the kit.

Oh and there is another thing – Leader. Drummers are often that too! And somehow between the steady stints holding the beat down for A-list artists, Rouse is performing with his own stellar band and putting out projects like his recently released EP, Biscuit Street, a strong offering that adroitly flaunts his eclectic musical palette and ability.

In our video feature ISPYSOUL caught up with James “Biscuit” Rouse to find out about the new project and more

Check out the new EP, Biscuit Street on iTunes  or Spotify

biscuit+street

And for more about James “Biscuit” Rouse go to JamesBiscuitRouse.com 

 

Video Interview: Killiam Shakespeare

killiamgrp

Cheesesteaks, Rocky, and the Liberty Bell aside, the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA is chock full of rich history that rivals if not surpasses many other cities in the good old U.S. of A and that includes its phenomenal legacy of soulful music and incredible artists. It flaunts luminaries and pioneers like Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, architects of the renowned Philadelphia International, key in establishing the Philly sound – As well as legendary talents like Thom Bell, McFadden & Whitehead, MFSB, Bunny Sigler, The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle and so many, many more from its past – To the heralded catalysts of the resurgent soulful scene that exist today like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, and The Roots.

A crew quickly carving their name into that hefty log of rich Philly music legend, powered in great part by the city’s storied soulful lore, is Killiam Shakespeare. Drummer Steve Mckie and keyboardist/bassist Cory Bernhard are at the helm of what on the face is a multi -faceted unit that’s part extraordinary band and part equally impressive and growing in-demand production team.

But there are other parts. Those that make what they are really as hard to define as their crazy cool, eclectic sound that molds elements of soul, jazz, hip-hop, funk, rock and more together with incredible energy and musicianship that’s off the chain.

With the release of their killer, self-titled debut project, Killiam Shakespeare and equally impressive follow-up, Killiam Season 1, plus a slew of production, performance and collab credits between them with artists that include Philly natives Jill Scott and Bilal, Common, John Legend, Snarky Puppy, Talib Kweli, and Marsha Ambrosia – and made even more stout by being personally plucked by turntable wiz, producer, soul music impresario and another Philly bred star, DJ Jazzy Jeff, to be a part of his noted Playlist Collective which graced us with the incredible Chasing Goosebumps – Killiam  Shakespeare has got the radars of cool music heads humming loudly and is absolutely capable of keeping the Philly rep high.

ISPYSOUL caught up with Steve and Cory at their studio in Philadelphia to find out what makes Killiam Shakespeare tick.

B. Caldwell

 

For more on Killiam Shakespeare go to KilliamShakespeare.com