Tag: soul

Multifaceted Mvula experiences a swift rise

Boston Globe, May 16, 2013 Laura Mvula is only just catching up to what she’s done. Twelve months ago the 26-year-old singer was basically unknown, except in a few corners of the Birmingham, England, music world: the gospel a cappella group with whom she first performed, the conservatory where she studied composition, and, if you […]

Book review: “I Would Die 4 U,” by Touré

Boston Globe, March 21, 2013 “A woman who was in a relationship with Prince years ago told me that when he gave women baths he took total control.” This nugget exemplifies what’s engaging about “I Would Die 4 U,” Touré’s study of the protean pop star’s meaning and appeal. It’s gossipy and a little prurient; […]

Book review: “98% Funky Stuff” by Maceo Parker

Boston Globe, February 28, 2013 By his own account, 1974 was a good year for Maceo Parker. The saxophonist was riding high in his third stint with James Brown as a star soloist and the band’s MC, and also as leader of his own side projects, a hard-won privilege in Brown’s regime. He was earning […]

A singer at the busy crossroads of soul and jazz

Boston Globe, January 24, 2013 The singer José James grew up in Minneapolis and studied jazz in New York, but he’s made his career mostly out of the American mainstream eye: recording for overseas and indie labels, living a few years in London, working with recherché producers like Gilles Peterson and Flying Lotus. His recordings, […]

Nona Hendryx balances soul, conscience

Boston Globe, July 8, 2012 NEW YORK— Let’s say you formed your first band as a Trenton, N.J., teen in the ’50s. You helped invent funk in a trio, LaBelle, that found cult status in the ’70s. You pioneered sci-fi themes before George Clinton. Later, you forged ahead as a solo artist and in collaborations […]

For singer-songwriter Morley, it’s all about connections

Boston Globe, May 11, 2012 NEW YORK — There are lots of birds in the lyrics of Morley, the singer-songwriter who’s found an original place for herself at the intersection of the jazz, folk, funk, and world-music scenes here, and who flits between these worlds with the grace and ease of the winged creatures that […]

No masking his minimalist approach

Boston Globe, March 30, 2012 It’s never a bad idea to strip the clutter away. Valid from home upkeep to personal relations, the principle holds equally true in pop – particularly electronic music, where layers of effects and flurries of adornments threaten dissipating the signal into noise. This has been an issue of late, as […]

Soul is heavy, wisdom is sweet: Unraveling the mysteries of Nneka

MTV Iggy, March 1, 2012 It’s been three years since Nneka Egbuna moved back home. At 19, she had moved away from Nigeria to Germany, her mother’s country, where she studied anthropology and began her music career. But after releasing two albums and getting a little shine on the European circuit, she knew it was time to […]

George Clinton gets to the bottom of funk with Berklee students

Boston Globe, February 10, 2012 He started in doo-wop, then went psychedelic. Throughout the 1970s, his bands Parliament and Funkadelic carved out bold, crazy new spaces in rock and funk, deploying a cast of loopy, absurdist characters fresh off the Mothership – the UFO that for many years throned above their concerts. Samples of their […]

Best of 2011: Siddhartha Mitter

Soundcheck, WNYC Radio, December 22, 2011 This week’s year-in-review special continues with Siddhartha Mitter, a music journalist who contributes to the Boston Globe, MTV Iggy, MTV Desi and other outlets. Siddhartha Mitter’s list: Three Great Songs: Frank Ocean, “Novacane” Musiq Soulchild, “Yes” SBTRKT featuring Sampha, “Hold On” World Music that Isn’t “World Music”: Chamber Music (album) […]

Si*Se’s small output yields big following

Boston Globe, July 29, 2011 It feels like less is more for Si*Se. Ten years ago, the New York band broke out with a self-titled disc of downtempo grooves with lyrics in English and Spanish, foregrounding lead singer Carol C. and the production work of cofounder Cliff Cristofaro. It offered an artsy, bilingual sound at […]

Meklit Hadero, keeping it real and varied

Boston Globe, July 10, 2011 “On a Day Like This,” the 2010 debut album by San Francisco singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero, traces the arc of one day, its 10 songs sequenced to convey the moods and events of the passing hours from daybreak until time to sleep. It is a day of shifting weather, from “You […]

Soulphonics’ Ruby Velle: “Singing soul is like therapy”

MTV Desi, May 26, 2011 A few days ago we introduced you to Soulphonics and Ruby Velle, the vintage soul act in Atlanta that’s fronted by a young Desi woman. We caught up with Ruby to talk music, culture, history—and how 1960s-era soul music captured her heart. So what’s a nice Indian girl doing fronting […]

Her second act is true to her soul

Boston Globe, April 4, 2011 In the brand-new video for “Until U,” from soul singer Ashanti Munir’s album, “Soul of a Woman,” a couple in the fullness of adulthood are dressing and preparing for an event – their wedding, it seems – while black-and-white flashbacks picture a much younger couple walking in the rain, 25 […]

Straight from the Crescent City

Boston Globe, March 12, 2010 No city in America owns a musical tradition as rich and distinctive as that of New Orleans. The paradox of this state of plenty – with famous destination events like Mardi Gras and Jazzfest and a year-round cornucopia of restaurants and club dates – is that great New Orleans musicians […]

Pride in her heritage is easy to hear

Boston Globe, January 31, 2010 The best African act category at Britain’s prestigious MOBO (Music of Black Origins) awards last year was a heavyweight affair. Among the nominees were such global pop icons as Femi Kuti, Oumou Sangare, Baaba Maal, and Amadou & Mariam. And the winner was … Nneka. The waters are parting for […]

To another place: Somi

Boston Globe, November 15, 2009 Somi’s new album, “If the Rains Come First,” glistens with the sheen of an almost impossibly perfect cosmopolitanism, but that shouldn’t be held against her. It could hardly be otherwise. Recorded in Paris and New York, with a group that includes a Senegalese guitarist, Herve Samb, a Japanese pianist, Toru […]

Her time has come: Lalah Hathaway

Boston Globe, November 7, 2008 Patience. Perseverance. Acceptance. They’re among the cardinal values of soul music, black America’s soundtrack of struggle and faith and economic striving. And they suffuse not just the latest album, but the whole career of Lalah Hathaway, one of soul’s most elegant and gifted exponents today. Now nearing 40, the perpetually […]

Try, try again

Boston Globe, November 3, 2006 Since the days of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, the male-female duet has held a special place in R&B. Part of the mystique is that the great ones have been rare. More than just artistic compatibility, they demand a deep emotional connection, whether as lovers or friends, for the output […]

Rolling “Thunder”

Boston Globe, September 22, 2006 Cassandra Wilson has long since cemented her place as one of America’s great singers. Hers is a music of confluence, in which the blues, jazz, and pop provide aesthetic guidance that’s all the more powerful because it’s so free-ranging and loose. On her latest album, “Thunderbird,” the Mississippi-bred, New York-seasoned […]

For Pyeng Threadgill, freedom to experiment

Boston Globe, June 25, 2006 The shimmering new album by singer Pyeng Threadgill, “Of the Air,” features eight original songs and two covers that, it’s safe to say, had never been juxtaposed before. One is “Close to Me ” by the Cure; the other, Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.” They may seem like strange bedfellows, drawn […]

Epicenter of soul

Boston Globe, May 28, 2006 LOS ANGELES—Of all the neighborhoods in this vast entertainment capital, the yuppie haven of Santa Monica is one of the last ones where you’d go in search of cutting-edge anything. Much less anything to do with soul music and the black experience. Yet if there’s a secret laboratory where the […]

On haphazard night, Cole barely bothers to show

Boston Globe, March 15, 2006 It was 1:30 a.m. when Keyshia Cole took the stage last Wednesday night at the Roxy, and the copious security presence made it clear that her set had zero chance of running past closing time. In any event, Cole, a popular choice for Next Big Thing in R&B on the […]

Mixing old songs and new, Fagen finds the groove

Boston Globe, March 13, 2006 No one has taken the place of Steely Dan. A generation ago, guitarist Walter Becker and singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen built an unmatched creative hub connecting rock, jazz, blues, and soul. Their taut sound, technical yet warm, and their lyrics, crucial vignettes of ’70s dystopia and Reagan-era dyspepsia, sped them into […]

Jones’s soul revue is stuck in overdrive

Boston Globe, November 19, 2005 Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are immersed in ’60s soul, down to the band’s stage moves, retro hairstyles, and “young-fogey” outfits. They came to the Middle East Thursday to deliver an old-fashioned, gut-bucket, right-on soul revue. And they did, sort of. The Dap-Kings play crisp, rump-shaking funk in the spirit […]

Soul mates

Boston Globe, October 23, 2005 Every Sunday morning from midnight to 2 a.m., sweet soul music seeps from an MIT campus basement into the city’s bedrooms, taxicabs, and prison cells, in a ritual of black Boston life that has gone on for years, even generations. The songs are pure ballads, lush and syrupy as they […]

Not your ordinary 70s soul group

Boston Globe, October 23, 2005 Amid the pantheon of musicians who took soul music to its creative peak in the 1970s sits the Average White Band, a bunch of white guys from Scotland who made their mark on the genre behind classics such as “Pick up the Pieces,” “Schoolboy Crush,” and “A Love of Your […]

Zap Mama: often path-breaking, always funky

Boston Globe, October 5, 2005 World-music tastemakers are divided on Zap Mama. The Afro-funk outfit, led by Belgian-Congolese singer Marie Daulne, broke out in the early 1990s with a roots a cappella sound before throwing off the shackles of ethnic categorization with more international pop and funk efforts. While the pundits debate authenticity, the band […]

Hathaway returns home in triumph

Boston Globe, September 26, 2005 She is blessed with what may be the most perfect voice in R&B and soul today, yet singer Lalah Hathaway has appeared far more often on other people’s records than she has under her own name. Three albums in 15 years does not a major-label, commercial career make. Hathaway’s quiet […]

Still ubiquitous

Boston Globe, July 29, 2005 Roy Ayers is happy. At 64, the vibraphonist, singer, and jazzy soul pioneer is still at the top of his game. His mallets, as they stride across the vibes, conjure openness and possibility, with a dash of insouciance. His voice infuses the uplifting themes of his songs with an undercurrent […]

Ndegeocello puts the groove front and center

Boston Globe, June 27, 2005 At this moment in her career, Meshell Ndegeocello is not a singer. She’s an expert electric bass player whose sense of groove and sonic construction sustains an all-star ensemble she calls Spirit Music Jamia, assembled from across the jazz, Latin, and R&B scenes. Her voice, however, is limited to introducing […]

Bilal is back, mixing jazz and soul playfully

Boston Globe, May 14, 2005 For the hybrid genre called “neo-soul,” 2001 was an exceptionally strong vintage, with Erykah Badu’s second album and debut efforts from Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, India.Arie, and Musiq released in the space of a few months. Somewhat lost in the shuffle was the young Philadelphia singer Bilal, whose witty, groovy […]


Boston Globe, January 28, 2005 To a younger generation of music fans, the rootsy multi- instrumentalist Olu Dara is better known for his progeny than for his output. The father of acclaimed rapper Nas, he has appeared several times on his son’s records, most recently on “Bridging the Gap,” an enthusiastic genre-crossing duet that vaulted […]