Dancehall and Tropical House has an allure that is reaching the masses. But Grammy-nominated neo-soul singer/songwriter Anthony David, a frequent collaborator with India.Arie, may be the first American artist to record a straight-up Afrobeats track. His “I Don’t Mind” single, taken from his latest album The PowerFul Now, features a rap by Mic-O, a Nigerian based in America.
“The first Afrobeats song I really heard and fell in love with was probably ‘antenna’ by Fuse ODG. There may have been something before that but that was one that grabbed my attention enough to know there was a whole genre out there,” says Anthony David. “I go to African clubs to check out music more than American clubs now. They party, drink, rarely ever fight, like to dress and the girls are hot..lol,” says David. He continues, “For years I was doing a few remixes, or adding my own verses to songs like ‘Chop My Money’ by P-Square. I decided I wanted to do an original. Luckily I got Gypsy into it enough and he figured out how to make the beats swing just right.” Through the grapevine David was told that Afrobeats artists Rayce and D’Banj have both heard “I Don’t Mind” and have given it a ‘thumbs up.’ “Word?” Anthony exclaimed when he was told of their appreciation. “I’m a fan of both! Funny ‘cuz I was just talking about Rayce!”
David explains the allure of Afrobeats, “It’s fun, it’s great dance music and it’s not limited to just ratchet topics like what we have. They’re constantly creating dances to it but the topics can be anything from regular club stuff to spiritual stuff. I crack up when I see people going crazy to a song like “fada fada” – in America. A group like Mary Mary can have a song with a hard beat but if the lyrics are about God, it just won’t get played in a club. Plus the production and sounds hit as hard as hip-hop and dancehall now.”
Check out the video for Anthony David’s “I Don’t Mind.” The video was done at an event called TRIBE in Atlanta held by David’s designer and curator friend Jevwe. David explains, “He’s Nigerian born and recently moved here. There are a ton of African born folks (from all over the continent) here who before, kinda had to just blend into African American culture but just like Caribbean folks some years back, they’re really proud of their cultures and showing us what they got here and abroad. I love to see it. His event expresses that and I was glad to be a part of it so the video is kind of a representation of that.”
Growns, soul flautist Jef Kearns is back with a new single for the lovers, “N2U” featuring Ms. Paige, check it out.
R&B flautist Jef Kearns is pleased to announce his new single, N2U (Into You), the latest addition to his repertoire of chart-topping contemporary romantic Quiet Storm ballads that include his original compositions Soulfisticated, Lavender, and How Soon, along with fresh and engaging covers of such classics as Ciara’s “Promise”, Ne-yo’s “Let Me Love You”, and his viral take on Warren G/Nate Dogg’s “Regulate.”
Describing his creative process, Jef says that the melodies “just come out of my fingers” and the compositions “appear in my head.” N2U mirrors this enigmatic essence of its composer with the flute commanding the lead position while sultry and gently enticing female vocals by Ms. Paige highlight the melody, creating a mood of romance and intrigue.
Grown Folks, you may know George Tandy Jr. best from his piano driven, soul-stirring anthem “March”. We caught up with George to talk about his debut album The Foundation, where the song “March” came from, growing up with musical parents and he dropped some wisdom on us about the honor, yet the danger, of being compared to other artists.
GFM: Let’s start off with the album. The debut album is out now. Can you talk about the meaning behind the title and the vibe of the album?
GTJ: I’m super excited about the album. It took me quite a bit of time to get it together. I’m very grateful about it. The title is The Foundation. It represents a few things for me. First off, nothing lasts without a strong foundation so I figured it’d be an appropriate title for my debut album– you know being a new artist and people not knowing who I am and where I’m coming from. Also, I feel like when you listen to the music on the album you can hear all the different musical influences that I’ve had in my life– jazz, classical, R&B, hip-hop–everything. I snuck all of it in there in a subtle way. I’m really proud that I’ve been given the opportunity to express myself freely with regards to the type of music that I like to make and the type of music that I like to hear. Thirdly, I feel like the relationships that I’ve built along this journey– it’s taken about nine or ten years to get together–are also the fabric of the foundation of not only my career, but of my life and everything I believe in. I feel like my relationships– if I can keep those in tact, then I’ll have a very strong foundation and a nice future. We’ll be able to share a lot of victories together.
GFM: Speaking of a nice future, you’ve had some nice moments already. You’ve gotten to play the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards and you’ve been at Essence Festival. What’s the biggest thing you can imagine happening to your career in the future?
GTJ: I try to stay pretty practical about things. I mean I have big dreams. I want the whole world to be Team Tandy you know, so I guess my first show outside of the country will probably be significant for me. Other than that, I’m just happy to be able to do what I love and do it with a group of people that I feel like have my best interest at heart and do it in a really honest way. It would be cool to be recognized for the music. I’ve always wanted to get first place in something … in sports in school … so if I can get an award or something for my music that would be pretty cool. Something to tell the story. Add some zest to the story I guess. From Starbucks to a Grammy or something like that. (laughs) That would be cool. I don’t know, we’ll see. I just love performing so as long as I can do that I’m happy.
GFM: What was your reaction the first time you heard your music on the radio or went somewhere and your music was playing in the background?
GTJ: I was in a radio station doing an interview and they were about to play it. They played it, so I heard it from within the radio station. It was emotional ’cause it was unexpected. I mean I knew they were gonna play the song, but I didn’t really know how I was gonna react to it. Up until then everyone else had heard the song on the radio and I hadn’t. So to be inside the studio and watch them press the button I was like, ‘woooow.’ You know?
GFM: I know “Jaded” is the second single now from the album, but I wanna personally thank you for the musicianship on display on” March”. You spoke earlier about being able to make music from an honest place. Can you talk about where “March” came from, because it’s so organic to me. It’s so authentic. Not to be cliche’, but there is something that is just very honest about it. There’s not a lot of production going on as far as a lot of sounds and smoke and mirrors. It’s just you and your voice and the piano and I just appreciate … like I said … the musicianship on display and the honesty of it.
GTJ: I appreciate that. Thank you. I’m glad you feel that way. That always feels good to hear. “March” came about naturally. I was sitting at the keyboards. I was just playing a couple chords. I was like, ‘this sounds nice.’ The original version of the song had a different back beat to it. I’ve had multiple recordings of the song and it had a militant back beat so I was just kinda whispering, ‘march,’ to myself. I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do with this. I don’t really know why keep saying march,’ but I usually don’t ignore my first instinct. So, I tried to find a way to make the song romantic… romantic and about love and relationships just because that’s how the chords felt. And since I was putting march in there, I was like well, ‘how many different ways do we march in life? All of us? What do we have in common?’ Alright, well then I’m gonna dedicate the verses to romance and I’m gonna dedicate the choruses and the bridge– I’m gonna dedicate those things to some more universal idea of marching through obstacles. Because I feel like as I was writing it and as I was performing it, I was realizing how our own internal struggle with realities … our own unique realities… is what determines whether we’re able to sustain the meaningful relationships we have in our lives. And somehow that’s what that song became a representative of.
Hearing people’s feedback as I performed it, and watching people’s reactions and kinda attributing it… going through my own struggles while I was performing the song… it just turned into it’s own… it just kinda came alive on its own. Even with the whole album, as far as the musicianship, I just wanted to make sure I took an approach where people could hear my voice clearly. I’m very honest about my skill set. I’m not a powerhouse vocalist. I’m not a classically-trained pianist. But what I am… I’m an artist and I’m really passionate about what I do and I understand space and time. It’s kinda like when I’m making music… it’s kinda the same way when you set up furniture in your house. You put things in places so that it works for you… so that it’s effective… so that it sets a certain tone. I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t over do it or I guess… under do it. You know? I just wanted it to be just right– just enough for the message to be conveyed for people to be able to hear where I’m coming from and feel it, so it could be more than a song and more like an experience.
GFM: It takes a lot of confidence to put your skill set on display that and not have it be so production driven or beat driven. It takes a lot of confidence. Especially for a new artist in this generation of other artists who are being played on the radio so I commend you for that… for just giving us a song that just breathes and we can just breathe to.
GFM: Speaking of musicianship, you come from a family of musicians. Tell us about your musical background.
GTJ: I’m fortunate. I basically grew up on stage. My dad is a jazz keyboardist and a producer. (He is) an amazing performer. When he gets on those keys… when he gets on stage, I’ve never seen anybody as passionate as him. He’s probably my primary influence as far as being passionate about music. My mom is a singer. I have two sets of parents. My biological mom is a singer and my love mom, as I like to call her, is a vocal coach. My step dad also just loved music and was always playing music around the house. All my siblings played an instrument at some point or just loved music. I just grew up in it. I was fortunate. They put me in band. I was always just attracted to rhythm and sound. I wanted to be like my dad so when I got my first keyboard I broke down and cried like I won the lottery or something like that. Music has always just been a safe place for me–even within my own household. You know we all have challenging times in the household when we need something to go to that feels like a journal or a safe place. That’s where I went. I would go to my keyboard and it would all make sense to me. And it still does. Anytime I pick up any type of instrument, I just feel like I’m able to express myself freely. It feels like a dialog with me, the universe and the rest of the world– even though they might not know that they’re gonna listen at some point. (laughs)
GFM: I read that you didn’t want to be compared to other artists in terms of being labeled the next… and you can fill in the blank of whatever artist you’ve been compared to… that you said that you’re the next you. With that being said, who is George Tandy Jr.?
GTJ: First off it’s always an honor to be named in the same sentence as other artists that have made a huge impact on the world with their music or their art. So I’m always honored, but at the same time I would be doing myself and everybody an injustice if I didn’t make sure that I was clear about there not being any imitating going on. And I understand (that) psychologically for people when we come upon something new we have to compare it to something to know how to find its value. So I get that. But myself as an artist… I feel like first of all I am a human being, and I use music as a tool just like anybody else to express themselves. I think as an artist… if that’s what the question is about… as an artist I am honest and accessible. I’m emotionally accessible within my music and I’m on a journey. I’m still figuring that out. So I’m not gonna let anybody else figure that out before me. I don’t think that would be fair. I don’t think that would be fair to them… or fair to me… or fair to the end result. So, I just love music. I love people. I love performing. I just hope to make the best music possible and really use it to open up dialog with the world that I might not otherwise have had a chance to do. I used to say, ‘you know I am music.’ But really I am a human being. I’m fortunate because I have a platform now, so now I can represent groups of people that I care about in certain situations that might affect some significant change in the long run. So, I’m kinda trying to keep my eye on the big picture if that makes any sense.
GFM: I think it’s okay to… and I think that’s very profound what you just said… I think it’s okay to want to define who you are for yourself and not let anybody else do that. I remember when Venus and Serena Williams were very young players– still in their teens. I remember them having an interview with Bryant Gumbel and saying something to the effect that ‘we are the best,’ or they’d said that maybe earlier and he asked them about that. One of them said, ‘well if I’m gonna compete and if I’m gonna win, I have to think I’m the best. I can’t walk on the court thinking my opponent is the best. I’m the best.’ So, I’m just saying that in terms of how you were saying that you don’t think it’s fair for anybody else to define you. You need to come up with your own definition and I think that’s a wonderful perspective… and a very honest perspective too.
GTJ: I like this topic. I think that one of things that we do sometimes as human beings on a day-to-day basis– whether it’s sports, art or just everyday living– is that we find ourselves comparing ourselves to each other. And in that process we can lose ourselves, and we take away from the opportunity to create ourselves. I agree, like in hip-hop– the battle rappers, and the emcees and all the rappers– they have to go in thinking, ‘yo, I’m the best rapper,’ because that’s the nature… that’s how it all started. And in art in general for me– I’m not necessarily gonna go in saying I’m the best “this”– but I am gonna say there’s room for me on this stage. There’s enough room for all of us on this stage. There’s enough light for all of us on this stage. And when it’s my turn, it’s truly my turn. You know what I mean? I’m always gonna see it that way.
Get to know George Tandy Jr. His debut album, The Foundation, is available RIGHT NOW on iTunes and some retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy.
After over two decades as the lead vocalist for the incomparable hit making R&B band Mint Condition, singer and two time Grammy Award nominee Stokley Williams charters a new course with his breathtaking debut solo album Introducing Stokley. Featuring guest appearances by the likes of Grammy winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper and Estelle as well as production from multi platinum duo Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barrias (Ledisi, Tamia, Kenny Lattimore), Introducing is long awaited by fans.
While Stokley was content with his band of brothers in Mint Condition as well as his outside collaborative endeavors, he realized that the time had come for him to embark on a musical voyage in a vessel meant for him to steer. Introducing Stokley finds Stokley stepping into the spotlight, a vibrant portrait of an artist on a quest to cultivate a creative statement as an individual. The album offers listeners a fresh perspective of a dynamic voice that has resonated with core fans around the world for over two decades.
Stokley enlisted the efforts of Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barrias. Responsible for the success and hits by such multi platinum acts as Musiq, Jill Scott, Ledisi and Faith Evans, the Philadelphia based duo contribute to the fabric of Introducing Stockley in a way that superbly compliments Stokley’s mellifluous vocal style. Introducing Stokley also includes co-writing contributions from Sam Dew and Los Angeles based songwriting group The A Team.
The album’s groove laden lead single “Level” finds Stokley wielding his mighty pen as a songwriter, weaving lyrics of affirmation over a propulsive rhythm guitar driven track.
Stokley says, “We all seek to find someone or something that fits just right for us. Everybody wants something that fits with them comfortably. Something on their level.”
The singer notes that the title of another Haggins & Barrias produced track “Organic” is also a nod to his newly vegan lifestyle. Partially inspired by current sociopolitical events and the deliberateness and critical commentary of Marvin Gaye’s landmark 1971 hit “What’s Going On,” “We/ Me” finds Stokley reverberating with the times in an earnest yet piercing take on various sociopolitical state of affairs buoyed by undertones of the Motown sound “Art In Motion (featuring Robert Glasper)” is a wondrous sonic hybrid of eras and production techniques. Shifting gears, the dancehall flavored Stokley produced “Wheels Up” exudes maximum island vibes and features Jamaican singer Omi (of the 2011 triple platinum hit “Cheerleader”).
While working on his solo project, Mint Condition’s Christmas album Healing Season, was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Stokley also co-produced several tracks on Wale’s critically acclaimed albums The Gifted and The Album About Nothing – both of which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts.
It has been said that good things come to those who wait. For more than 20 years, fans have been patiently biding their time in hopes of a solo project from the lead vocalist of one of the most important R&B bands of the past several decades. With the bowing of Introducing Stokley, it’s safe to say the wait is over. “Obviously some of it is going to be familiar, because of my voice. I’ve just expanded my sensibilities a bit more. Introducing is a look at the past and the future. The fresh and the familiar.”
As always I was trolling You Tube last night and I came across this documentary I had not seen in years. Back in 1995 I had the pleasure to meet CJ who is the host/tour guide on this trip around D.C. circa 1984/1985. CJ was kind enough to give myself a copy of this doc as I was preparing to open a youth center where the focus would be on music as a tool to provide safe and productive activities in the afterschool hours.
My hometown located 112 miles south of D.C. has always had an affinity for Go Go music and this doc served as a fantastic teaching tool for me because the younger musicians that I was working with had come of age in a different era of Go Go. ’84 was still the era of the big bands with horn sections, faster tempos and more virtuosic ensemble and solo playing.
For my money the BBC puts together very well produced documentaries and you will hear from some of the seminal players of the era both musically and on the business and cultural side of the music.