Hot Grrrls, Cool Music - KELIS, IMANI, JOI & AMEL
Last Sunday as usual I was amped to watch my favorite TV program—CBS Sunday Morning. On this particular Sunday their resident music expert, Bill Flanagan, was giving viewers his picks for best new songwriters:
Musical styles come and go but no matter what year it is, there are always new singers/songwriters baring their souls and, if they are good at their job, ours, too.Knowing that Hot Grrrls are skrate killing it on the musical front here lately, I was so disappointed that (again) Bill’s picks were all Wonder Bread white and folk and mellow--Beth Orton, Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rhett Miller and Mason Jennings. Where was the diversity? Are the only folks baring their souls from Midwestern and Southern suburbs, Seattle coffee shops and England? I think not. So as a rebuttal and as a form of affirmation for all theHotness Grrrls the world over, here are my picks for this year’s freshest singers and songwriters— Kalifly style:
New York-based (by way of North Carolina, Indiana and the Bay Area) singer-songwriter Imani Uzuri is releasing her debut solo album, HER HOLY WATER: A Black Girl's Rock Opera this summer. Having seen her perform a gazillion times, I know this joint is going to be the unadulterated hotness. Sun Moon Child is more than a song, it is a summoning of all forces beautiful, righteous and unafraid. And talk about someone baring her soul, Imani’s Love Story is dripping with the bloody matter of a heart that’s been broken but can’t stop beating for the promise of new love.
Kelis is finally back with a new album and a funky fly coif. Her lead off single, Bossy, is straight gullilicious. Featuring Too Short and a virgin tight beat, Kelis looks like she may be doling out a whole new bag of tricks on her next album and will give us more than one great song about lovin lactose.
Having just separated from Gipp--her husband of many years, Joi’s new album is brimming with the disappointment, pain and wistfulness of a woman still in love, but far from being down an out. The title track, Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb couldn’t be more in the socket of Joi’s groove— it’s sexy, playful and funky. On Gravity when she sings “gravity makes me wanna fly away” and states staunchly that “the rap game done stole my man away,” you know this former Star Kitty has become a cat who realizes her manicured claws not only can catch rats, but they can claw you out from under the deepest reaches of heartache.
I had a chance to finally check out Bebek-- a Philly-based band fronted by Lynn Murphy-Michalopoulos (a comrade of mine from college and former Gypsy Melody vocalist). I’m really digging their album especially the cut 807 Dub.
India.Arie also has a new hairstyle and she’s singing about it in her new single.
We already know about the quirky fierceness of Alice Smith and Macy Gray who both have albums dropping this summer.
MeShell NdegeOcello is taking a departure from the jazz of her last joint as she dips her bass down into the deepness of dub and reggae. Grrrls, this is going to be some real baby makin music!
And I schooled y’all years ago on Amel Larrieux’s gift for songwriting. She’s dropping her new joint any day and the single, Weary, is classic Amel—smart, graceful and full of soul.
There may be a lot of female singers and songwriters, but there’s still a lack of women producing beats. Why is that?
Well that’s my roundup of hot grrrls, cool music. Hopefully Alexis and the crew behind Central Park’s Summer Stage will have better picks than the folks at Sunday Morning.