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GFM Spotlight Interview ENCORE 2016: Anthony David Talks About the “Now” Moments That Inspired His New Album

Posted on December 4th, 2016 by

Anthony-David

Anthony David is set to release a new album called The Powerful Now on Shanachie Entertainment TODAY. The Powerful Now is a nice mix of soul, R&B, rock, jazz and afro beats. As he mentions in his interview with us, the album doesn’t stay in one mood for long and that’s its strength. “Charge” featuring Carmen Rodgers is reintroduced on this album and that’s a good thing ’cause we feel it deserves a second look. We caught up with David and he told us about the moments, or the “nows”, that inspired the songs on the album. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: You have a new album coming soon. I’d like to mention a few of the tracks from the album. Maybe you could talk a bit about them and the inspiration behind the songs.

Let’s start off with the title track– “The Powerful Now”. You say [in the song] “This is the one and only moment that matters.” Talk about the inspiration and the feeling behind “The Powerful Now”.

AD: [I was] just inspired by the track and inspired by the now for me– this particular time in history that we live in and [it is] also a lot about the specific moments we live in that transform. It’s kind of micro. I’m what you call a futurist and I’m fairly optimistic. There’s a word called protopian, not that you want to be living in a utopia or a perfect state, but I do think that things have continually gotten better, so it’s kind of coming from that perspective– a protopian viewpoint. But, in the specific moment… remembering to live in the now. The sport I watch is UFC. I get inspired a lot by watching people in sports and entertainment or whatever it is and you can see when they’re inspired or living in that moment and they’re in a state of flow.

GFM: The next song I’d like to ask you about is “Booed Up”.

AD: That’s just a little winter time joint. [laughs] I haven’t done an album in four years so I kind of took my time and wrote whenever I felt inspired and that kind of goes with the powerful now, because there’s a lot of different moments. That’s why I ended up naming the whole album that because it doesn’t stay in one place or one movement. That was a winter or two ago when I had the hook and did it on my laptop. I just wanted to have something simple and cool. You know how that goes in the winter time. [laughs]

GFM: It’s the cuffing season.

AD: Exactly. That is the cuffing season anthem.

GFM: I noticed a bit of sentiment in “Road To Baxley”.

AD: I’m from Savannah, Georgia, but the records state that our first ancestors here were over in Baxley, Georgia– on my mom’s side anyway. We go back there at least once every two years for our family reunion. I wrote another song a long time ago called “Kinfolk” about a family reunion. The mood hit me again. I was planning on going that year and I wanted to write about it. I wrote about the roads to it. It’s something about tradition and passing on “stuff” to generations.

GFM: The last one I want to ask about is “Ayodele”. What does that mean?

AD: It’s a Yoruba word and a Yoruba name that means joy comes home. That came from another moment. I put it right behind the other song (Road To Baxley”) because according to my DNA on my mother’s side, there’s a large percentage of Yoruba ancestory, which I didn’t know until a couple of years ago. Also, it came directly from friend of my named Ayodele who is not Nigerian, she’s American but her mother named her that. She had gone to Africa and had some complications. We had to have a GoFundMe (account) to contribute to her medical issues. It sounds a little somber, but it was inspired by the fact that so many people gave money. I was saying her name in the song mostly based off her smile because she has a really pretty smile, then I found out what the name means. I thought it was really interesting because she was coming from Mexico at the time, so we had to get her transported from Mexico back home to get the proper care. It just all fit. Again, I just kind of went off of different moments over these last four years.

GFM: You call your songs secular hymns. What do you mean by that description?

AD: Some songs. I throw a few in on every album. I’m non-religious and I guess you could say I qualify as a secular humanist. I actually took that from James Taylor who did an album full of those years ago. I thought that was pretty clever. [They apply] when as a secular person you want to deal with the larger principles. Religious people have that. That’s what songs do anyway. I think nearly all of them are odes to love, or you sing about a mountain. You sing about things bigger than you. Religion has a whole lot of those– a whole lot of things that talk to the hugeness of stuff. For those (who don’t have religion) they don’t have anything sometimes to deal with that feeling. I’m a writer, so I’ll fill it in.

GFM: You started out releasing your music as an independent artist. Do you think that allowed you to be your authentic self artistically coming out of the gate as opposed to some artists who start out immediately with a major label and sometimes have to conform to the vision of the label? Do you think that starting out independent helped shape your career the way you wanted it to go?

AD: I don’t really know. I’ve seen it done a few different ways. I think there must be something to it. I’ve been on majors. But like you said if you start it out a certain way, maybe people [labels] do  approach you. It must have something to do with it. Every artist that comes out– from Drake to whomever– he came out independent and I think if you just make money, then other people who come along to get involved in your business tend to think you know what you’re doing. Chance the Rapper– when I think about him he just gets to do what he’s doing and if you can prove that your model works then of course they don’t wanna obstruct that.

GFM: You talk about the different flavors and the different moods on the album. If you could describe or define it, what’s feeling that you want people to get from your album?

AD: Good question. I don’t know. [laughs] Whatever you want. I get a generally thing from music that I like and I don’t really want to pinpoint what it is, so I would just hope people get the same thing. The music that I grew up on and I listen to now there are so many different emotions I get from those. It feels kind of crazy to narrow it down so it’s whatever you wanna get out of it. I don’t think I say anything about killing anybody so obviously not that [laughs].

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

AD: Something you can lose yourself to and not worry about the content per se. You can close your eyes, throw your head back and not have to decipher what’s going on the whole time.

Anthony David’s new album, The Powerful Now is out NOW. Get it at iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

anthony-david-the-powerful-now-cover

 

Connect with Anthony David:

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About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#WatchThis: Urban Inspirational Songbird Bri (Briana Babineaux) to Perform on BET’S Joyful Noise This Sunday, December 4 @9:00 AM EST

Posted on December 3rd, 2016 by

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Urban Inspirational Songbird and social media sensation Bri (Briana Babineaux) will perform her current Top 30 smash “Jacob’s Song” on BET’s Joyful Noise program this Sunday, December 4, 2016 @9:00 AM EST. The soaring ballad is in the Top 30 on both Billboard Magazine’s Gospel Airplay chart and the Mediabase Gospel Airplay chart. The former college athlete wrote the dramatic anthem that brilliantly showcases her spine-tingling vocal prowess. “It came from a place of determination,” she says. “I was going through so much in my personal life that I was determined to be just like Jacob was in the Bible and I told God that I’m not letting go until you bless me.”

About Briana Babineaux (from the press release):

The 22-year old Lafayette, LA native is returning to college in January to finish her undergraduate degree at The University of Louisiana and she will then pursue her law degree while maintaining her music career. Bri’s debut single “I’ll Be The One” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Songs chart and peaked at No. 6 on the Gospel Airplay chart earlier this year. Bri’s inaugural album Keys To My Heart (Marquis Boone /Tyscot Records) also came in at No. 1 on Billboard Magazine’s Top Gospel Albums sales chart when it was released this past spring. Music isn’t the only thing on the beauty’s mind these days. She recently wrapped production with singer Mali Music in director Joel Kapity’s dramatic film I Am Your Keeper that will release in 2017.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

From the GFM Archives (’14): Montell Jordan Talks Unsung, Skeptics, Healing Marriages & Creating Music Under A New Covering

Posted on December 3rd, 2016 by

montell pic

Not long after his (TV One) Unsung episode at the end of July, Grown Folks Music caught up with Montell Jordan. We talked about why he felt it was time to share his story, the music business, skepticism now that he’s in ministry, healing marriages and how he’s continuing to do music– under a new covering (the covering of God, and the upcoming album is called Covered) at Victory World Church as the worship pastor. Read and enjoy.

GFM: Your Unsung episode kicked off the current season. Why did you feel the time was right to share your story in such detail and with such transparency?

MJ: They reached out to me… the producers of Unsung. A young woman name Sade (Oyinade)… she produced that episode. They were interested in… I guess kicking around the topic and one day “This Is How We Do It” came on the radio in the office and they were like, ‘Well where is he?’  They thought I would be an interesting topic to cover and they reached out to me. Really I had kinda been flying under the radar in ministry for the past four years and had no desire really to tell the story, but the way it was positioned was a lot of the stories that they show on Unsung maybe end more tragically. They were hoping that…  seeing I was doing ministry… to see a story that had a little more redemptive value to it. So when they came and asked if I would be a part of it, I went to my family and my wife and said, what do you guys think? Should we tell the story? My family overwhelmingly felt like we were healed enough and in a place to be able to be vulnerable and transparent with people.

GFM: A lot was shared about your personal life on the episode, but musically do you feel unsung? Do you feel that you were unsung when it came to your talent and what you did or did not get to do with your R&B career?

MJ: I feel like there are great successes that I had in my R&B career and in pop music. At the same breath, I feel like there were places that I never reached as far as what I thought in my mind success would entail. So because of that, I always strived to be greater and to be more famous and to do things in that business just simply because I felt like there was a level that I never reached. I looked at other artists and I envied them. There were certain places that I thought well why is this guy getting this attention? Why is he getting the album cover here? Why is he getting the magazine cover here? Why are they talking about this guy as opposed to my story? One of the things I understood is that I don’t believe God designed us to carry fame. He wants to be famous and he can make our names great. But I think when we try to make ourselves famous, we basically try to create ourselves into this version of God. I think he allowed me to see success and see fame, but not allow it to consume me. So never fully reaching my potential as this superstar, big, artist that I thought in my mind was what I wanted would probably have rendered me unusable for ministry later down the road. I feel if I am unsung, it’s for a good reason, because I needed to be able to be used for ministry in today’s… in the season I’m in now.

GFM: You used the word consume. Consumption is good word because part of what I took from your story is that an artist gets signed for who they are, but then the label determines who they want you to be, what they want you to sound like and you seemed to be caught up in this machine that almost consumed you. Do you think that it’s possible for an artist to be himself, both morally and artistically, in the entertainment business without being consumed?

MJ: I think whatever you give your whole heart to is what consumes you. And let me just put this disclaimer because I think through Unsung, a lot of people can look and be able to say, ‘see that’s the record business’. Or, ‘that’s labels’. Or, ‘that’s what they do to you’. But understand the label is just a conduit, or the label is just an avenue or the opportunity to shed a light on who we are, or the parts of us that we’re willing to compromise. It wasn’t just the label that said, ‘You’re going to do this.’ It was me being willing to compromise and say you know what that’s a good idea and you guys own a label so I understand that. For example, I can go to somebody who’s a hungry artist today, or anybody can, and they can say,  ‘Hey, I know you’ve been striving to get on… to get into the music business. Here’s what I need you to do: just change your name because this is a cooler name– and people change their name all the time. I’m gonna give you a $100,000 to go in and start recording an album. I’m gonna take a percentage. I’m gonna get 70 percent of what comes back in until I get my money back and then I’ll drop that down to 60 percent, but you know I’m gonna fund this for you and you’re gonna be famous. Your music is gonna get out into the whole world.’ There’s not many people that wouldn’t take that deal. Because they’re getting a hundred thousand dollars. They’re willing to change their name. They’re willing to give up 75 percent of everything. Because the way it’s posed is, I’m going to help you be famous. So really, it’s what you’re willing to compromise to be famous. And it’s not just labels that do it, but people ask us on our job everyday, ‘What are you willing to compromise to be famous or to be popular?’ In your friendships… what are you willing to compromise for people to like you?

You asked me about being consumed. I think I can be consumed in ministry. I think we can be consumed on our job or we can be consumed with the internet– anything that has our heart and vies for our affections is what ultimately consumes us. To answer the question can someone actually do both? Can they keep their integrity and be who they are and still be famous or still create music or do what they do? I think if they find their identity in Christ over their identity in what they do, yeah, I think it is possible. Do I think most people can or are doing it? I think not.

GFM: If you had been in this new platform that seems to be emerging for artists– the MySpace and the YouTube and social media– where people are just kinda creating their music and putting it out for themselves and it’s kinda authentically what they wanna write… what they want to sing about. I remembering watching (Unsung) and you talking about the songwriting, you giving songs away and giving life to songs that may not have ever gotten life. Do you think in this atmosphere if you were doing music– R&B in this atmosphere– that you would’ve gotten out the type music that you wanted to put out?

MJ: I don’t think so. The reason I say that is because I think there are hundreds if not thousands… maybe more… of incredible songwriters right now who are all over Spotify and all over the independent place that are incredible songwriters, incredible vocalists and no one knows who they are. I have a daughter who is headed to college and she’s got a very eclectic music taste and she plays songs all the time. I hear some of the most well crafted, incredible songs that’ll never be played on radio. You have to be an artsy type of kid or type or person to seek out that type of music to even hear who that type of person is or to understand their music. I think the platform is now out there to be able to at least get it out there. That has changed, but at the same breath it does not necessarily mean you could still receive the same amount of acclaim or notoriety just by having the avenue to distribute it. Because in order to distribute it, you also have to be able to market it and put in the faces of people where they can actually see it and hear it until it catches and then becomes something that becomes viral. I think it’s still difficult, but you do have the avenue now if you’ve got something bottled inside you can put it on a platform for people to hear it where as before that didn’t exist.

GFM: Coming into the present… talking about the music ministry… you’re still creating music. Tell us about your music ministry through Victory World Music and tell us about the new project you have on the horizon.

MJ: Thank you. Victory World Church is our home church. We do worship music here at our church. It’s a multi-cultural ministry in Atlanta, Georgia with over 110 different nations of people represented here. We do songs a certain way that we wanted to capture the sound of the house here and how we worship, so we did an album called Covered. That Covered album is a ten-song worship album that is being released on Tuesday, September 2. It’s our second album following our Shake Heaven album release that happened in 2011. That was nominated for a Dove Award. This new album Covered, was simply created because we covered songs, we’re covering the house with worship and we want people to hear the music and feel like they’re covered by God as well. That’ll be our latest release coming up in the next four weeks.

GFM: We do birthday shout outs on our Facebook page where we post a pic of an artist and we wish the artist a happy birthday. We did shout you on your birthday with the caption ‘Happy Birthday Pastor Montell Jordan’, and we got a lot of comments on that. Do you get surprise reactions from people? Have you ever gotten any skeptical reactions from people when they hear you’re a pastor or that you’ve reentered Christian music. I say reentered because you came from the church and you came from Christian music, but do you ever get any surprise reactions now that you’re in ministry?

MJ: What’s interesting is there often are surprise reactions. Some people don’t know what I’ve been doing the past couple of years. Normally, it’s surprise reactions from people who knew me from R&B music that will hear that I’m now in ministry. If there’s any skepticism that may come, that mostly comes from the church a lot of times. ‘Is that Montell Jordan that used to do R&B? He’s a pastor now? I don’t know about that.’ Most of the skepticism comes from ministry, but I’ve got tough skin and I’ve been having a nice journey in ministry so far. (I’m) just trying to walk what I’ve been speaking with my mouth so that people can judge and say whatever they want to say, but ultimately just know that I’m comfortable and confident with who Christ called me to be and what he called me out of and into… that I’m making an impact on his behalf… for him.

GFM: For some reason I feel led to ask you also about… I feel like part of your story was helping people about the marriage aspect. You and your wife do marriage ministry as well. Is that correct? Can you talk about that a little bit? Not only just the music part– I don’t think that surprises people. You just kinda changed genres– but the marriage ministry part of what you do.

MJ: My wife and I, we believe that if bad things happen to you and you keep it to yourself, it’s just a bunch of bad stuff that happened to you. But if you’re able to share those bad things to help somebody else, then it has purpose in you going through it. One of the things that we’ll say is that when you achieve at something, they call that success. When you fail at something, they call that experience. And my wife and I have a lot of experience because we’ve had a lot of failures, but yet God redeemed those failures and we’re still together. We believe if he would do it for us, then he can do it for anybody. So we take that stance and have put something together called Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace, and we spell masterpiece master p-e-a-c-e. We take scripture and life experience and put those things together and just tell our story and believe that anyone that has the desire to save their marriage, or to understand what the promises are based on a covenant relationship according to scripture, by applying that marriages can be redeemed and they can be restored and revived. We believe that.

From that, I can say that lots of people from Unsung… I thought it was a “This Is How We Do It” story, but really it kinda seems like it became a story about redeeming marriages. At least that’s what I got from after Unsung aired– floods of calls and emails from people saying, ‘Can you save my marriage?’ ‘Can you and your wife just come talk to me?’ ‘If y’all just email me, you can help save our marriage.’ The thing is, Jesus saves marriages. We’re just an example of what can be done if we apply his wisdom and his principles to our marriages and allow him to be that thing that knits us together. He did it for us. That’s what Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace is basically based on. If life is a puzzle, then we’re trying to put together where does marriage go? Where does church go? Where do children go? Where do my friends go? Where do my hobbies go? If it’s a puzzle…  and (we have) all those pieces…  trying to figure out how we put this thing together… we believe marriage is the masterpiece in that puzzle. If we can manage putting that in its proper perspective, then we can master peace in our lives.

Covered Live, the new Victory World Music album drops September 2. Pre-order it at Amazon.com

Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace is a book planned for release in 2015

Connect with Montell Jordan

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On Twitter

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#NowPlaying: Goldlink Feat. Ciscero: “Fall In Love”

Posted on December 2nd, 2016 by

goldlink-ciscero-fall-in-love

Hey #Growns, just wanted to put you up on some funky goodness from rapper Goldlink featuring Ciscero. Click on “Fall In Love” and tell us how you vibe.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight Interview: Dave Koz Celebrates 19 Years of his Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour

Posted on November 30th, 2016 by

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Dave Koz has been doing his Christmas tour for 19 years now with the help of some friends. This year joining him will be Valerie Simpson, Jonathan Butler and Kenny Lattimore. Dave chatted with us about what has now become a Christmas tradition that has earned him the nickname Santa Koz. Read below and enjoy, and catch Dave Koz and friends Christmas Tour 2016 in a city near you if you can.

GFM: This years marks your 19th annual Christmas concert [tour]. Tell us who will be joining you this year and what special treats we can look forward to.

DK: Very excited to have back with us my brother from another mother– Mr. Jonathan Butler. Jonathan has been with us for probably close to about ten years now. We have a very wonderful and familiar relationship onstage and off. He’s a great friend and really, truly like a brother to me. We have two people joining us for the very first time. In all these years of doing it, I think one of the reasons why thankfully people come back year after year is because the show changes from year to year and that’s largely due to the cast changing. This year we have Mr. Kenny Lattimore, the romantic balladeer, and his voice just seems like it was made for Christmas music. It’s just perfect hearing his voice sing all these classic songs. Joining us for the first time as well is a true, living legend and music royalty– Ms. Valerie Simpson of Ashford and Simpson. Hearing her sing and all the classic songs that she and her late husband Nick wrote [and] adding that to all of the Christmas music really makes this show very, very special and musically rich.

GFM: Take us back to the first one when you decided to put this show together. Where did the idea come from? How did it come about?

DK: Family is in the DNA of this show. I would’ve never expected this to happen for so many years. The first one happened because I was talking to a good friend of mine named David Benoit– the great piano player. David and I were kind of commesurating in this conversation because he had just lost his mom and I had just lost my dad. This was 1997. He actually came up with the idea. He said, ‘Why don’t we go out at Christmas time and play some shows and that way we can be focused on making music for our parents that we miss.’ I said that was a great idea and we did it. We probably had six or seven shows that year. It was good enough that we got invited back the next year. Brenda Russell was there with us and Peter White came in year two. Then it just started to grow. Every year it started to grow, and we’d get more and more shows. Now it’s a head scratcher [laughs]. I don’t know how we actually got to 19 years, but here we are. I’ve seen kids who have come with their parents and now are parents themselves. I’ve seen families every year and it’s such a beautiful feeling to know that we’re a tradition for a lot of families across America.

GFM: How do you decide who you want to join you? Or, at this point are artists begging you to come along?

DK: [laughs] I don’t think that’s there’s a lot of begging. I’m the one who does the begging. I think it’s an inspirational thing. In a lot of ways it’s like casting a movie. There’s so many talented people, but the main thing is we’re on the road for a solid month and we’re with each other every single day. So, above and beyond the talent you wanna be on the road with people you really like that share the same intention of what the show is, especially this year with all the craziness we’ve been through with post-election nuttiness and divisiveness. I can tell you that the four of us– the four artists— really share a common goal which is to use this tour to help heal people and bring our country together, and there’s no better way to do that than with music.

Jonathan has been with us for a lot of years. Kenny and I had done a summer tour together and I always knew that I wanted to invite him for Christmas and he was available this year. I sat down at a birthday party that Valerie Simpson was at and I was seated right next to her. This is was exactly at the time when we had to make decision on our line up. We had three out of the four all set and here I was next to her. It hit me so hard that night– ‘Here is the person!” She’s amazing with all these songs that she’s written, her voice and [she’s] just a very powerful woman of legendary status. I tried to keep it cool that night because I didn’t wanna come on too strong. We’ve known each other for a very long time but when I sat down I was like, ‘Oh my God! She’s it! Keep it cool, Dave. Don’t say anything tonight.’ But, at the end of the night I said, ‘Valerie I’m going to call you in a couple of days when you get back to New York. I’ve got this crazy idea up my sleeve and I want to walk you through it.’ She said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to hear it.’ We had a bunch of conversations about it. I walked her through how it would go and she said yes, which was such an amazing thing just to take this to another whole, complete level.

GFM: Next year is number 20. How big will you go?

DK: We’re going big. We’re actually going to go back to the basics. It’s already solidified that David Benoit, Peter White and Rick Braun will be joining me. We’ll also have one other vocalist that’ll be announced later, but the core nucleus of year 20 is the nucleus that basically started this tour in the very early days. For our 20th anniversary to go back to the beginning is kind of special. I know it will be a wonderful tour next year, but that’s seems very long off right now [laughs]… especially since we have a whole tour to go this year.

Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour 2016 Dates:

NOV 30 WED
7:00 PM
Sunrise Theatre
Ft. Pierce, FL

DEC 1 THU
8:00 PM
The Florida Theatre
Jacksonville, FL

DEC 2 FRI
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Atlanta, GA
8:00 PM

DEC 4 SUN
Scottish Rite Auditorium
Collingswood, NJ
7:00 PM

DEC 6 TUE
Town Hall
New York, NY
7:30 PM

DEC 7 WED
Andiamo Celebrity Showroom
Warren, MI
08:00 PM

DEC 9 FRI
Palace Theatre Columbus
Columbus, OH
08:00 PM

DEC 11 SUN
The Chicago Theatre
Chicago, IL
8:00 PM

DEC 13 TUE
The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center
El Paso, TX
7:00 PM

DEC 18 SUN
Balboa Theatre
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM

DEC 22 THU
City National Civic
San Jose, CA
8:00 PM

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

From the GFM Archives (’14): Will Downing Talks New Album, His Internet Radio Show & Why He Won’t Be Doing A Greatest Hits Album Any Time Soon

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by

Grown Folks Music had the pleasure of catching up with The Prince of Sophisticated Soul Will Downing. Will talked about his current album Euphoria, his smooth-as-silk internet radio show Wind Down and the reason he won’t be making a greatest hits album any time soon. Enjoy!

For all things Will Downing, including the new album, visit his website at www.willdowning.com

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Live Pics: Maxwell & Mary J. Blige in Atlanta on The King + Queen of Hearts World Tour!!

Posted on November 28th, 2016 by
Mary J Blige performing at the Philips Arena on the King & Queen of Hearts World Tour (2016)

Mary J Blige performing at the Philips Arena on the King & Queen of Hearts World Tour (2016)

Grown Folks Music was in the house at Philips Arena on November 25, 2016 for the King + Queen of Hearts featuring Mary J. Blige and Maxwell with special guest Ro James. Enjoy our coverage of the show. Photo Credits: Hope West/Grown Folks Music

After rising artist Ro James‘ opening performance that included the song “Greenlight“, a favorite with the #Growns, Mary J. Blige graced the stage and gave the crowd an hour and a half long performance that can only be described as unapologetically MJB. She gave heart, soul, energy and transparency. The realness started straight out of the gate with a video introduction featuring actual headlines about Blige’s challenges or struggles that have played out publicly including her divorce.  It’s as if she wears her pain as badge of honor– not to present herself as a victim– but as an empowered woman. What has endeared her to her fans (particularly women) for the last 24 years is how she’s put it all into her artistry and produced a soundtrack for a generation. Blige performed quite a few songs from that soundtrack– from “Not Gon’ Cry“, “I’m Going Down“, “My Life” and “No More Drama” all the way to her new track “Thick Of It“. Mary J. Blige has matured and developed as an artist and a person. The Queen of Hip Hop Soul is also a bona fide grown woman.

The “grownness” did not end there. Maxwell‘s full-time return to recording and performing has included a style evolution into a full on, sharp-dressed man much to the delight of the female fans.  He was smartly dressed in a tailored suit and backed by a six-piece band that came to put in work.  Maxwell went through the favorites from “This Woman’s Work” (which was accompanied with a tribute video to Muhammed Ali, Prince and David Bowie), “Fortunate“, Sumthin’, Sumthin‘” and “Ascension” to “Pretty Wings” and “Lake By The Ocean”. The only thing that seemed to take away from his show was the ending. The crowd was hoping for encore, but there wasn’t one.

Overall, it was a satisfying concert with a the right pairing of veteran artists who continue to carry the mantle of that precious thing we call grown folks music.

 

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About WestStyle Chronicles

My name is Hope West but you can call me WestStyle Chronicles. From video, photography, interviews and blogging, my music adventures always leave me juggling a lot but I wouldn't have it any other way. Whether being funny, opinionated or just plain entertaining, I always keep it 100% WestStyle. To see my wild ride in the world of music, catch my adventures at the one & only....Grown Folks Music!!!! 🙂

GFM: Spotlight Interview: New Artist Annale’ Talks Finding Her Musical Colors, Working with Stokely Williams & Her Debut Album

Posted on November 26th, 2016 by

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Grown Folks Music chatted with new artist Annale’ about finding her style as a musician while she was a student at Berklee College of Music, her musical influences and working with Mint Condition front man Stokely Williams on her upcoming debut album.

GFM: You’ve actually trained to be in this industry as a student at Berklee College of Music. Do you feel that attending school to work on your craft perhaps sets you apart as an artist or gives you an advantage?

Annale’: Definitely because I went to school for five years and I did a dual major in contemporary writing and production and singing basically… it’s called performance there. I got five years of education. That’s a lot. I feel like it’s definitely helped me to grow as a musician and a singer and also find my color and my style as a singer. All the teachers that I had lessons with and that I learned from all taught me so much and defined who I am as a person and as a musician. It definitely helped me and crafted me during the five years.

GFM: Speaking of defining your flavor and your sound, your single “Roses” is doing well and it has a soulful, jazzy sound. How did you arrive at being a soul artist.

Annale’: What’s funny is I did music growing up, but I started out [doing] classical music and then middle school is when I started singing. I played piano first. When I started singing I was only exposed to the early ’00s pop rock… whatever was on the radio at that time. I had no way of being exposed to the neo soul genre, R&B or any of the artists that I look up to now. It’s interesting because I was exposed to only that. Then when I got to Berklee, that’s when I was introduced to all of these soul artists. I was like, ‘Wow. This is what I love and this is what I feel.’ So, that’s who I am as an artist and that’s how it eventually defined me as a R&B and soul artist.

GFM: What artists were you exposed to who had the biggest impact on you?

Annale’: It’s really hard for me to just pick one, but I did grow up listening to a lot of Beyonce’. I was really inspired by her performance, her stage presence and everything that she’s good at. So, I grew up watching her, listening to her and singing her songs. But, throughout Berklee when I was introduced to all of these soul artists I was introduced to neo soul through Erykah Badu. When I first heard her I was like, ‘Wow. This is what neo soul is.’ I learned about the style more and that’s how I was basically introduced to it. After that it was Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Lalah Hathaway… there’s so many. I could got on and on with the list. But, Erykah Badu was the introduction to neo soul and then everyone just kind of came after and I discovered them throughout school.

GFM: How did you come to work with Stokley Williams and were you a fan of Mint Condition prior to [that]?

Annale’: Mint Condition is a legendary group in the R&B and neo soul genre. I definitely knew their songs, I definitely looked up to them and I learned from them throughout school. With Stokley… my management team thought us working together would be a cool idea… us doing a duet, doing a project together and collaborating would be really cool and a good idea. Our voice colors and our styles match really well, so it was actually my management team’s idea. When Stokley heard my song Roses and heard my voice he really liked my voice and he really wanted to produce for me. So, that’s how we got in touch and got to collaborate on a project together.

GFM: Speaking of your upcoming project… what can we expect? Is this your debut album? What can we expect in terms of the flavor or the sound. Who’s producing [it]? Are there collaborations… what can we expect?

Annale’: Yes, it’s my debut album. If Roses was considered more neo soul and R&B and almost jazzy, I would say there’s a good variety of styles in my upcoming album. There will be something that sounds pretty [much] like a pop ballad. There’s gonna be more neo soul and R&B stuff too, but it will be very infused with pop sounds, ballad sounds and acoustic ballad sounds where it’s just my vocals and guitar. So, it’s going to be a nice variety of styles, but as a collection and as a whole it makes sense. Stokley Williams is on it as well. He’s featured and he also produced a track.

I was part of the whole writing process and the production for every single track except the one with Stokely Williams. It was a really good collaboration with a lot of people. We all just came together as a team even though we’re all from different backgrounds. That’s what was cool about this project. We were all united even though we have different history, different backgrounds… different everything.

GFM: What’s your definition of Grown Folks Music?

Annale’: It depends what age group you’re in. I grew up in the ’90s and early ’00s. When I think about grown folks music, it’s basically the early ’90s stuff for me so Erykah Badu would definitely be grown folks music… Lalah Hathaway… her first album would definitely be grown folks music.

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About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.