Featured in NPR’s inaugural Slingshot class in 2017, Jamila Woods stopped by NPR’s D.C. offices recently to perform an entrancing midday set. Joining Jamila is a 4-piece backing band, providing a more stripped down sound than those featured on her debut album, HEAVN. This arrangements allow more space for Woods to display her full vocal range and allow her lyrics to be at the forefront. Continue reading →
The artists in NPR Music‘s inaugural Slingshot class — Jamila Woods, Big Thief and Lo Moon — have had a busy 2017. In addition to recording and releasing new music and traveling the world on tour, they’ve been chosen as the featured musicians in the artist-championing collaboration between NPR and several of its member stations, including XPN. Slingshot was announced in September and will continue throughout the coming year as an effort to support and promote the work of some of the most promising emerging artists out there.
Until recently, Jamila Woods was known primarily as a frequent guest collaborator in hip-hop and R&B, appearing with the likes of Chance the Rapper. Woods has been touring behind her debut solo album HEAVN, and made a stop last week at BLK Wednesday in her hometown of Chicago, adding some unexpected covers to her set. Watch Woods’ take on Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana below, where she mashes up “Killing in the Name” with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Continue reading →
Chi-town indie outfit NE-HI has had a very successful year after releasing their second full project Offers back in February. To follow up the commercial success from Offers, the group reached out to R&B favorite Jamila Woods to sing on a reimagined version of their track “The Times I’m Not There” off of NE-HI’s 2014 self-titled record. The collaboration also benefits Chance The Rapper’s Chicago-based charity foundation SocialWorks; all revenue from the song will go to SocialWorks, an arts empowerment organization for inner-city Chicago children.
NE-HI took more of a modern route with this re-recording of “The Times I’m Not There.” The beat of the track is also notably slower, with Woods’ soothing vocals providing a perfect compliment, along with gorgeous keyboard accompaniment and the catchy riffs from the sole guitar. The intersection of neo-soul and indie makes for a great sound and Woods definitely adds a whole other layer to the track that was not on the original recording. Continue reading →
Teased this spring at the annual NonCOMM-vention, the new programSlingshot is an artist-championing collaboration between NPR Music and 18 VuHaus member stations — including founding stations WXPN, WFUV, KCRW, KUTX and The Bridge.
Over the summer, programming staff from the member stations each nominated a handful of artists to throw their support behind over the coming year. The submissions were reviewed, and the stations came to a consensus — Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon would be backed by Slingshot affiliates through interviews, editorial coverage, live performances and more over the next several months.
“Everybody in this room knows the impact of public radio on artist development,” XPN general manager Roger LaMay told the crowd at NonCOMM this spring. “It’s really been essential with NonCOMMs and public radio writ large to pool our resources and work together to grow our impact.” Continue reading →
Chicago singer, songwriter and poet Jamila Woods took the stage to a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s crowd last Wednesday night. Woods was on tour in support of her acclaimed 2016 LP HEAVN, and brought with her fellow Chi-towners theMIND, a production and multiinstrumental duo. Philly’s DJ Aura spun in between sets, and you can check out scenes from the evening care of photographer Koof Ibi Umoren. Continue reading →
Chicago native Jamila Woods makes some seriously smooth, empowering tunes. The soulful R&B goddess recently released a video for her song, “Holy,” off of her critically-acclaimed album HEAVN, and it serves as testament to self-love and acceptance. Continue reading →
After an introductory year introducing Big Thief, Jamila Woods, and Lo Moon to listeners across the country, public radio’s emerging artist spotlight Slingshot returns for a second year — and a seven-fold increase in artists.
Some of the class of 2018 will be familiar to savvy listeners of XPN — like Bedouine, who recently appeared on World Cafe, or Phoebe Bridgers, who was an XPN Artist to Watch (and who appeared onstage with Conor Oberst at XPNFest). Many of them will be new — and that’s the whole point of Slingshot. Continue reading →
The more of your life you spend consuming music, the more you realize an essential truth: the records deemed “the best” in any sort of ranking system — whether it be year-end lists or the Grammys — are not necessarily the ones you should be listening to.
Or not the only ones, rather. An as I said last year, the stuff everyone agrees on is a mere starting point. So while we brought you The Key’s top 15 albums of 2017 earlier this month, today we encourage you to dig deeper and further explore the spectrum of compelling music that was released this year. For this list, we highlight critics’ favorites from The Key’s staff of contributors; albums that topped individual lists but did not crack our overall top 15.
From the life-affirming punk rock of Amanda X to the eviscerating metal of Converge, the defiant electro rock of Fever Ray to the compellingly personal rap of Ruby Ibarra, our writers and photographers make their case for those albums: why they moved them, why they impressed them, why they loved them and why they’re important for you to listen to in 2017. Read (and listen) on for The Key’s roundup of 20 albums you should not overlook in 2017. –John Vettese Continue reading →
The ever-changing personnel and spectrum of recordings from Hiss Golden Messenger is anchored by the uber-talented compositional abilities of band leader M.C. Taylor. The Durham, North Carolina resident, whose instantly recognizable voice straddles Bob Dylan and Jim James, maintained his high level of songwriting and acoustic indie rock on Hiss Golden Messenger’s 2017 project Hallelujah Anyhow. Taylor writes of religious questioning, homesickness, and unexpected love on the new album with a bluesy conviction driving the project along. World Cafe Live hosts Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger tonight, and the set is sure to impress. Pick up tickets quick from the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
Raised on the Southside of Chicago, but born below the Mason-Dixon line (Huntsville, Alabama, to be exact), the blues lies at the center of Mick Jenkins’ music. Historically, it has been the blues (and its stylistic cousin, gospel) that have acted as the animating core of all black music that has followed it: jazz, rock and roll, R&B and hip-hop. Throughout the shifts in popular music, the blues has remained, like a ghost, giving voice to the struggle, pain and transcendent joy of black American culture.
Over the course of the past decade, hip hop in particular has evolved to a point where synthesis and advanced musical programming techniques have replaced sampling, with more emphasis being placed on creating futuristic soundscapes and less on repurposing the music of the past. For the first time in the history of American popular culture, we are witnessing a mainstream black music that isn’t reliant on the influences of the blues and the gospel sound of the church. Continue reading →