I caught this great performance from Cécile McLorin Salvant with Sullivan Fortner accompanying last Sunday on a rebroadcast of one of my favorite Public Radio Shows Live From Here. I actually caught the performance halfway through but as I gathered my bearings to realize what I was being presented with, I made a mental note that this would have to be featured on next Sunday’s edition of this series.

As a lifelong Stevie fan whenever I hear of his work covered(especially from the oft celebrated “Genius Period”)it can be met with a certain amount of cautious skepticism. But my encounter with this cover was special because I had no way to prepare myself. I turned the car on and was met with “Milk and honey land…” but the music and melody had been re-contextualized in such and beautiful and original way I had to calibrate to understand what was going on. I believe.

This cover is just what the doctor ordered for me, especially with the week I had. This performance brought some specially needed joy and the understanding that there are many musical pathways to be explored. So many and yet because the larger conversation is so entirely programmed and the natural human tendency is to just follow the prescribed path, gems like this often don’t even make it to the conversation. That needs to stop. The best way that can happen is to challenge yourself to go on a journey. Make a conscious effort to listen to music and artists you aren’t familiar with. Research their body of work, their influences, their contemporaries in an effort to aid you in getting off the path. A vision for all of us to benefit from.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.