Tag Archives: Neo Soul

Old School Saturday: Groove Theory, “Tell Me”

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Happy Saturday Soulsters! Now this is a fabulous blast from the past. Groove Theory  consisted of singer, producer, Bryce Wilson and singer/songwriter, Amel Larrieux. This album changed the game as far as hearing something different from the “new jack swing” sound that was slowing moving out at that time. So much soul and melody, this album was a welcome breath of fresh air in R&B music.

“Tell Me” was their first single and introduced us to their smooth sound and Larrieux’s lovely and soulful vocals.  Larrieux went on to a successful solo career and has released five independent projects.  She is considered Neo Soul royalty among her fans that have been following her since her Groove Theory days.  Reminisce on this classic and check out the video below.  Enjoy!

New Music: Carmen Rodgers – Stargazer

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Singer, songwriter Carmen Rodgers has just released her new album, “Stargazer”!  Dallas TX native Rodgers who is currently based out of Atlanta, GA, has been blessing us with her sound for a few years now. You may mostly be familiar with her as part of The Foreign Exchange crew or you may have heard from her last two offerings, “Free” and “The Bitter Suite”, EP.  

Rodgers’ rich, full and soulful vocals stand front and center on each song of “Stargazer”.   She can sing anything and she proves it on songs like “Stay” and “Love Stories”.  These songs are the most beautifully arranged on the album.  Her voice soars along with a 14-piece string section in those songs and it is absolute heaven.  I loved that she incorporated this into her sound.  It just showcases her vocals even more.  Her lead single, “Heartless” is a banger and is what we have come to expect from her.  Soulful, funky vocals with a bumping track.  It’s very effective and has defined her sound overall.   “Beyond the Stage” is a nice groovy and smooth joint that is on constant repeat here at Soulster Vibes.  “Charge”, is a lovely duet featuring singer, songwriter, Anthony David.  It definitely should receive airplay on contemporary R&B radio.  Actually the whole album should receive airplay, but I digress.

“Stargazer” is a must-listen and such a well-rounded offering from Carmen Rodgers.  Another album from an indie artist that you can listen to straight through.  Support GOOD music people and go get this!  Also, she is currently touring in support of this album so be sure to check her out in a city near you.

If you already have heard “Stargazer”, share your experience below!

“Stargazer” by Carmen Rodgers is now available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

Official Carmen Rodgers Website

Carmen Rodgers and Anthony David performing, “Charge” in Atlanta, GA

Artist Spotlight: JazzMine Garfield

JazzMine Garfield

Hey Soulsters! Now, this is why I do this. I write this blog for the love of coming across the musical gems out there that have been overlooked. Boy, did a come across a soulful and eclectic gem in the artist, JazzMine Garfield. Ms. Garfield is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and soul artist out of Birmingham, Alabama. Her music is like nothing out there right now. A mix of jazz, soul, acoustic and folk, this Sista’s sound is in a genre all it’s own. Now this is what I call great music. I came across Ms. Garfield online and her sound captured me immediately! I have been stalking her SoundCloud page for the past few days listening to everything she has put out thus far (daggone, she has ALOT of music…GOOD music) and I am so excited about her sound. She already has an EP that was released a couple of years ago on Bandcamp called “Loves Bullet“. It’s available for download here and it is really an incredible listen.

JazzMine Garfield also has a forthcoming EP this year called “Write Every Wrong”. Can’t wait for that! In the meantime take a listen below to a few songs that she has released in anticipation of the new EP. Check her out and support this music and super talented artist. I am definitely a certified new fan and I’m sure once you take a listen, you will be too! Enjoy!

Let her know how her music makes you FEEL and hit her Facebook Fan Page here!

Top 5 Annoying Things I Encounter While Attending Indie Soul Concerts

zen-crowdNow don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to shows of some of my favorite artists. I love live music and enjoy the overall vibe of the people there as well as the performers. However, there are a few things that annoy the hell out of me when attending these shows. Since I mostly go to see independent soul artists, I noticed a few common things that I run into at quite a few of them. Here are my top 5.

5. Afros Galore – The biggest Afros are out in full force at these shows, no doubt. All naturals take the opportunity to show off their latest styles and try to outdo the other. They should have a competition on who has the biggest, most super fly hair. It would be an event in itself. Saying this as a natural Sista myself, I have no problem with natural hair. I LOVE being natural and appreciate seeing my fellow Brothas and Sistas wearing their hair and embracing the way it grows out of our scalp, towards the sun, the way God intended. What I don’t enjoy is it blocking my view while I’m trying to get a good visual of what I paid good money to see.

4. Is A Size Small Too Much To Ask For? – I run into this problem ALOT. Usually before, during and after a show, lots of artists are known to sell their CDs and paraphernalia. My concert ritual is to always check this out after the show is over. So here I go to wait on a long line of fellow soul fans anxiously waiting to support my artist. When I finally get to the table, to my dismay, I get “Sorry, we don’t have anymore smalls. We have medium, large and extra-large”. When I hear this a sudden attack of the eye rolls ensues. Then I get, “Well medium will look nice on you”. Then they proceed to pull one of them out and it looks huge for a medium. Happens to me every time.

3. Never Starts On Time – I hate to say it, but I have never been to a show that actually started with the opening act when the ticket says the show is supposed to start. NEVER. If it’s supposed to start at 8:00 PM, nine times out of ten it MIGHT start an hour later. I went to one show where the show started late and the opening act, not the headliner, started the show an hour and a half late and their set lasted an hour. Who does that?! I enjoyed that artist, however, I didn’t pay to see them. On top of that the headliner only performed for an hour at best. The guilty shall remain nameless here, but I’m sure you get my drift.

2. Can You Please Sit Down!?! – This makes me want to nash my teeth into a powdery substance! I understand that you may be feeling the vibe, the music, and the artist. I can appreciate that because I go can there too…but don’t think you are the only one in the daggone room! This kills me. People will stand through an entire song or two just swaying, oblivious to their surroundings, because this is their “jam”. I did not pay to see your ass swaying in front of me to the soundtrack of my favorite artist. Not cool. If you are guilty of this, please check yourself.

1. Standing Room Only – Really? – My number one pet peeve. I hate venues like this and unfortunately a lot of indie soul music concerts are held in these so called “intimate” dwellings. I understand that artists in this genre may have a smaller following and thought goes to filling these smaller venues with no seating. Some artists are not in a position to play in bigger and seated venues. I get that. However, my personal preference is to sit down and listen to my artist. If I want to get up and groove, I can go and do that too, without disturbing anyone’s view (see #2). I shouldn’t be made to stand for 3+ hours straight! Especially if I want to wear my cute shoes that I just bought to go with my outfit that I just had to wear to THIS show. I don’t want to have to wear unflattering flats to every show I go to. Can a Sista be cute in her heels and sit down? Also another problem I have with this is that these particular venues are not short people friendly. I am 5’2″, so ANYONE standing in front of me is a problem. I will say that this has kept me from going to a few shows. I have to REALLY want to see the artist if I go to a standing room only venue. Now if it’s a House music show, well hey, I’m all for standing up and dancing all night with my flats in tow.

What are your pet peeves when attending Indie Soul shows?

Whatever happened to…

I was going through my music collection this weekend and I came across some artists that put together some great music a few years back…but I haven’t heard anything from them in a long while. Now, these are underground soul artists that some of you may not be familiar with. Those of you that have been listening to indie soul for a while now may know these artists. If any of you know their whereabouts on the music scene, please help a Sista find them. Their debut albums were crazy beautiful to me and for whatever reasons they have dropped off the music radar…at least mine anyway.

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Nuwamba – Above The Water

This album was released in 2005 and is one of my favorites jams. From start to finish I just couldn’t stop listening to it. Even today, if I listen to this album it will stay in rotation for AT LEAST a couple of weeks! I discovered Nuwamba’s music while visiting my old hang out , The Apache Cafe, here in Atlanta. He happened to be performing and tore the house down! I bought the CD from him that night and I have been looking forward to new music from him ever since.
Here is a live rendition that I found on his YouTube page of “Heaven” off this album.

Nuwamba’s Above The Water is available on iTunes, cdbaby and at your local independent record stores.

Funk Jazz Kafé Film Festival and Music Conference

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Funk Jazz Kafé Film Festival and Music Conference at the SouthWest Arts Center here in Atlanta. This event had everything for true music heads and indie film lovers all in one conference. The early part of the day included panels of discussion on how to market yourself as an independent artist, finding success with Crowd Funding and the important discussion on the direction of radio today.

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Radio Today Panel

I found out about this festival at the last-minute so I dropped by to catch the “Radio Today: Terrestrial vs. Digital Radio” panel. This strong panel included Ken Rye, On-Air personality as Moderator, Wannique Shabazz, Operations Manager, WRFG 89.3 FM, Derek Harper, Program Director, WAMJ 107.5 FM, Terry Bello, On-Air Personality, WVEE 103.3 FM, Jamal Ahmad, On-Air Personality 91.9 FM and LaMont Carson, Founder & DJ, Basement Soul Radio Online. This panel couldn’t have had better representation of the Atlanta radio community. They discussed everything from what radio used to be and its legendary heroes (Frankie Crocker, Jack the Rapper), the current state of radio (the top 5 radio shows such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dominating the airwaves) and where radio is headed (digital and internet radio stations). The overall consensus of the panel was that the only way that REAL music can be promoted on radio today was for us to either seek out internet and/or digital radio stations (Pandora, Spotify, etc.) for the music or produce our own quality radio internet stations. Content is so important to gain listenership. Also, not only just playing the music but providing the story behind the music. People today want to know who these artists are, not just their music. Wonderful discussion and I could have sat there all day listening to the ideas of the panel. My background is in radio, so this particular subject had me at hello, ha, ha.

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Jason Orr, Funk Jazz Kafé, Founder & Film Director

After this panel was over, it was time to check out the screening of the award-winning documentary Funk Jazz Kafé: Diary of A Decade (The Story of A Movement). This movie is directed by the founder of Funk Jazz Kafé, Jason Orr. The film celebrates The Funk Jazz Kafé Music Festival movement in Atlanta that took place within a 10 year span in the 80’s through early 90’s. This music festival was an event which showcased the musical and artistic diversity of the city. Many soul artists from Atlanta and all over the world performed at this event every year. Artists would display their work during this event as well. People would attend these festivals on just the reputation alone for great music. They didn’t even know who would be headlining until the show started. That was the tradition of this festival. Many of the artists we know today have participated in the Funk Jazz Café movement and shared their accounts during the film. There are appearances from Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Anthony David, Joi Gillum, Goodie Mob, Eric Roberson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Bilal, Loose Ends, Talib Kweli, Dionne Farris, Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monae and the list goes on and on. This film is definitely a must see for everyone who loves music. I wish I was here in Atlanta at that time to enjoy what appeared to be an inspiring time in Atlanta’s musical legacy. Jason Orr is touring this film all over the country and the world, so it is not available on DVD or in movie theaters. You just have to check out his website http://funkjazzkafe.com/diary-of-a-decade-movie/ to see when it comes into your city.

There were also two other documentaries during the Funk Jazz Kafé Film Festival and Music Conference: Contradiction and Coming Back for More (Finding Sly Stone). I didn’t get a chance to check out those films but I hear they were just as great as Diary of a Decade!

This was an awesome conference and I enjoyed meeting the people and taking in the atmosphere. There was a live performance from a local group called “Soulstar” while we waited for the films to start. They sounded wonderful and I’m sure we will hear more from them in the future.

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Soulstar Performance

Video – Zo! “Count to Five”

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Hey Soulsters! Ok, I’m a little behind on this one, but when I found it I just had to share. Check out the video below for Zo!’s, “Count To Five” featuring Gwen Bunn. This song happens to be my favorite single from the album, “ManMade” released on May 21st. Whenever I listen to this album, I always play this song at least six or seven times. It’s that addictive. Zo! is part of The Foreign Exchange Family. If you are into the underground music scene like I am then you BETTER know who that is! If not, then this is a good introduction. Zo’s music is so fun and soulful. The beats and rhythms he creates as the foundation for his songs are like nothing you are hearing out here today. The concept of the video is clever, very creative and a little out there. I do get the concept and I am diggin’ it. It’s like an homage to Sesame Street and watching Phonte (Go on boy!) gives me life! He is hilarious in this! I enjoyed Gwen Bunn’s performance in this vid also since her presence matches the vocals to a tee. Her easy going style and soul child personality comes out at you. They just make you want to join in the fun. This song and video makes me smile 🙂
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The Foreign Exchange Official Website: http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com
ManMade is available on iTunes or at your local record store.

CD Spotlight – PJ Morton “New Orleans”

PJ Morton

PJ Morton is no longer in the category of Indie Music Artist, however, I just listened to his latest album “New Orleans” released on Cash Money Records last month, and I was absolutely blown away! I had to give him a mention, because every song on this album is GREAT for lack of a better word. You can ride this album out from beginning to end, and it lives up to its title. New Orleans is known for its Gumbo and Jambalaya and this album represents just that. It has every genre of music, R&B Soul, Pop, Jazz, Hip Hop and even Reggae. The featured artists on New Orleans also represent a tasty mix with artists such as Stevie Wonder (my absolute Music God), Adam Levine, Tweet (impatiently waiting for her next release), Busta Rhymes and Little Wayne. PJ Morton really “put his foot” in this release and it shows so much growth from his 2005 independent debut, “Emotions”. Please add this to your music collection. It is definitely a must have for any real music lover. “New Orleans” is a perfect mix of seasonings and spices for the ears. Enjoy!

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Video – “Only One”, featuring Stevie Wonder

Available on iTunes

Live Performance Review – Eric Roberson at Center Stage

Eric Roberson Performance Photo

Hey Soulsters!  I just had to talk about Eric Roberson’s show at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA last week.  He had two shows there on Friday, June 1st and Saturday, June 2nd.  I attended Saturday’s show after not seeing him perform for a couple of years.

Now, let me start this post with a little background about my discovery of Eric Roberson’s music and how my fandom got started.  Once again, driving around on a lonely Saturday night in Atlanta in 2003, I came across Eric’s “Change for Me” track playing on our local Jazz radio station, 91.9 WCLK-FM.  They were doing a House mix that night and me being the House fan that I am and a New York/New Jersey native, I turned that *hit up!  I was still new to town at that time and didn’t think I would EVER hear House music on the radio again while living here.  To my delight, some soulful House was playing on this station and Eric’s smooth vocals on top of this driving beat just hit me as I cruised down the busy Atlanta highway.  After hearing that song and waiting for the DJ to come back on the air to say who the artist was, I was on a mission.  I searched everywhere for that track.  I looked high and low without success for a few days after that.  I guess my internet searching skills were not up to par because I couldn’t find anything on this song or the artist.  Then finally out of the blue, I found an obscure reference on the internet that led you to his website where he sold his music.  There was also a forum in place where fans could interact with Eric and each other about their love for his music.  They also were chatting about their love for other music as well as grown folk’s issues and topics.  I was so happy I found him and I have been a fan ever since.  His accessibility to his fans as well as his music has reached hundreds of thousands of people over the years.  He is an independent artist in every sense of the word.  He writes, produces, performs and promotes his own music on his own label, Blue Erro Soul and tirelessly tours here in the states and internationally.  He has been recognized by the Grammys in 2010 and 2011 for his work and has independently sold over 80,000 copies of his 7 albums.

So, with that said, let’s get back to his concert last week.  What a pleasure it was to be reacquainted Mr. Roberson.  How symbolic was it that he actually opened the show with the song that introduced me to him way back then, “Change for Me”!  It was an energetic intro and when he walked on that stage, he had me and everyone else in the audience on their feet.  It gave me chills!  In his show, I was pleasantly surprised that he covered a lot of music that I had not seen him perform before.  I was used to the usual tracks from him from “The Vault Vol. 1” and “The Vault Vol. 1.5” releases, so I expected to hear those again.  However, he did a lot of his obscure songs from “Left”, “Music Fan First”, and of course his most recent album, “Mr. Nice Guy”.  Don’t worry, he didn’t leave the Vault songs out, but provided a medley of them for our nostalgic pleasure.  His band played every one of his songs majestically as they were a perfect complement to Eric’s smooth vocals.  I also really enjoyed how the vocal arrangements were performed between Eric and his background singer.  His background singer complemented his sound very well and also served as an announcer for Eric earlier in the evening and helped with some of the show’s lighter and fun moments.  Eric is known for showcasing his songwriting skills by asking the audience to provide words to create a “song on the spot”.  This time it was “Booty Meat” and I couldn’t figure out how something so hilarious could still be so soulful.  He had your head nodding and you were there jamming like it was a real song.  Only Eric could pull this off!  One of the many highlights of the night and he does it effortlessly every time.  Vocally, he sounded better than I have ever heard him and it was a pleasure to see him again after a couple of years!

I have all of his music, so I highly recommend you check him out live and of course go and get his CDs – all of them!  You won’t be able to stop listening to this brother’s music from beginning to end!  Right now you can find him on iTunes, his website (see below), and your local independent record store.   If you have never heard of Eric Roberson, this is the perfect opportunity to discover him.

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Eric Roberson Official Website

http://www.twitter.com/IamEricRoberson

http://www.youtube.com/BlueErroSoul

Eric Roberson performing “Picture Perfect”:

His latest CD:

Mr. Nice Guy Artwork