The Roots’ Dice Raw brings MLK / Nina Simone homage The King of Love to New Freedom Theatre on Juneteenth

Dice Raw | photo courtesy of the artist

Karl Jenkins, better known as Philadelphian hip-hop artist Dice Raw, has written and produced The King of Love, a theatrical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It will be performed by the New Freedom Theatre for one night only on June 19th at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). It coincides with the observation of Juneteenth, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.  Continue reading →


The Skeleton Key: From Amanda X, Break Free Fest, and Eugene Chadbourne to Nina Simone, Sun Ra, The Trocadero, and Yarrow, we’ve got you covered this May

Break Free Fest | flyer by @goodestboylili

A friend of mine who has been playing in bands for more than two decades recently asked me, only half-joking, where I find the energy to go to as many shows as I do. While I wanted to protest or at the very least get humorously defensive — “I don’t go to that many shows! Whatever!” — I realized it was a good question because, well, I do end up at a lot of shows every month. I mean, duh, I was asked to do this column for a reason.

Truth be told, I didn’t have a great answer for her. I found a home in music when I was 18 and moved to Philadelphia after spending five long, boring, and lonely years in South Florida. My first proper show was a couple weeks after getting here in September of 1997 — Helmet, The Melvins, Today Is The Day, and Hovercraft at The Trocadero — and I haven’t looked back since. It’s just what I do, for better or worse.

But while I didn’t have a good or even clever response to her question, I did have the realization that part of the reason I spend so much time watching live music is because there’s so much going on. Jazz, punk, hip hop, klezmer, chamber music. Eastern European choral bands. Indian classical. Harsh noise, catchy indie rock, techno DJs spinning all night long. If you wanted to, you could see a different type of music just about every night in our city and I think that’s amazing. Continue reading →


Watch Lauryn Hill and Andra Day honor Nina Simone at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2018 class induction ceremony


Andra Day and Lauryn Hill at the Rock Hall induction | photos by Theo Wargo | via

On April 14th in Cleveland, Ohio, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held an induction ceremony for the 2018 class, and among the honored were soul goddess Nina Simone and legendary guitarist and gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Mary J. Blige had the honor of inducting Nina Simone into the Hall of elites, talks about the late singer’s songs in her speech saying, “songs about injustice, struggle, and black life resonate to this day.” Simone served as an activist during the Civil Rights Movement, using her voice as a tool to make a difference. Her work influenced many of today’s famous artists including Lauryn Hill who did a split tribute with Andra Day to honor Simone, who died of cancer in 2003. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jaguar Wright plays Nina Simone at Ardmore Music Hall, Arto Lindsay at Boot & Saddle, Amanda X at PhilaMOCA (Get Better Fest 4) and more

Jaguar Wright | via
Jaguar Wright | via

Jaguar Wright & Gerald Veasley perform the music of Nina Simone tonight at the Ardmore Music Hall. Wrapping up the Philadelphia Jazz Festival, this Unscripted Jazz Series show unites two renowned soul artists to celebrate the life and legacy of Ms. Simone. The show is 21+, and more information/tickets can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Pay tribute to the great Nina Simone in Eville’s album, House of the Rising Sons

House of the Rising Sons EP cover | photo via

For local rapper, Eville, authenticity is not an option, but a necessity. Curating a collection of four albums and a number of collabs, Eville produces meaningful, retro-leaning rap that he describes as “firmly attached to the golden age of hip-hop when you had to actually rap to be a rapper.” In his recent Bandcamp release, Eville returns with frequent collaborator, German mixer, Zpu Zilla, on the prolific album House of the Rising Sons, which is a tribute to the great Nina Simone. Continue reading →


Listen to Jazmine Sullivan put an urgent reggae spin on Nina Simone’s “Baltimore”

Photo by John Vettese
Jazmine Sullivan | Photo by John Vettese

Yesterday the music blogosphere was abuzz with the announcement of Nina Revisited… A Tribute To Nina Simone, a new compilation honoring the jazz / blues vocalist and songwriter with new interpretations of her recordings – including Lauryn Hill’s much-shared, 7-minute rendition of “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair.”

Ms. Hill’s epic cover is  certainly worthy of the attention, but a handful of other teaser tracks are afloat in the ether as well, including a lively version of “Baltimore” by Philly’s Jazmine Sullivan. Continue reading →


Watch a Root Down In The Shadow #CoverClub session featuring Kate Faust covering Aaliyah and Nina Simone

Photo via
Last March, Philly singer/songwriter Kate Faust released her debut album Crucial Companion. Kate has been featured in Season One finale of #CoverClub performing a medley of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” In Faust’s rendition of the two classics, she sits at her organ belting out the two R&B songs, begins with “Are You That Somebody” and slowly transitions into “Feeling Good.” Both songs are sultry in their own right and Faust puts a jazzy/pop spin on the songs.

Kate performs at The Grape Room on July 17th along with Kwesi K. Watch her #CoverClub via Root Down in the Shadow session below: