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 @ https://www.iamcarmenrodgers.com/

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”

Nick Rolfe has found another way to lift people up

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. 

Bert Caldwell

feature photo: Nick Drukker

For more about Nick Rolfe visit nickrolfe.com

Bradd Marquis shows where one chapter ends, a new one begins.

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 helped raise 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. 

Continue reading “Bradd Marquis shows where one chapter ends, a new one begins.”

BIGYUKI is summoning angels with 2099

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. 

Continue reading “BIGYUKI is summoning angels with 2099”