Your Sunday iPod Add: Valerie June and Organic Moonshine Roots Music

val 1When Tennessee born, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Valerie June is asked about the type of music she plays she simply responds by saying “it’s Organic Moonshine Roots Music!” Of course it is! Valerie June writes and records music reminiscent of the serendipitous Seeger family re-discovery, Elizabeth Cotton. Cotton was indeed one of the many progenitors of turn of early century guitar based root blues and gospel music of the South. June easily fits in that genre with a little soul, country and R&B added in the mix. Her latest and first studio produced album Pushin’ Against A Stone (2013) is a grand example of her stated style of music–Organic Moonshine Roots Music (OMRM). Co-Produced by Dan Auerbach of the awesome Black Keys and features legendary artist Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The M.G.’s), this album is entirely grooving down a decidedly different road–a respite excursion from any terrestrial radio today. For me, it hits the spot on my quest of listening to good music this year!

June’s album features the song “You Can’t Be Told”. This is a bold and catchy mid tempo song that will make one hum its chorus long after the song has ended. It begins with a crunchy and gritty guitar riff as well as handclaps that keep the listener (well the indoctrinated listener) rooted in raw Southern gospel. val 2This establishes the chorus. You are instantly hooked! Junes voice, piercing and shinny, slides in to the verse to sustain the songs momentum. She soon takes a guitar solo that is skillful and compelling. This joint is rockin’!

Also not to be missed on June’s album are “Workin’ Woman Blues” and “Somebody To Love”. Yes I’m enjoying Valerie June’s OMRM! Add Valerie June’s “You Can’t Be Told” to your iPod and you will thank me later!


Check out June’s video for “You Can’t Be Told” and an awesome interview below:

Your Sunday iPod Add: Leela James is giving it to you!

Artist: Leela JamesWelcome to your iPod add.

Ever since I first heard artist, singer, songwriter, and soon to be reality T.V. star Leela James belt out a song I was hooked. James’ voice oozed a soulful and funky consistency that reminded me of more than a few of the best soul singers some decades ago. Her raw classic voice, when she first arrived on the music scene, was a welcome sound to my ears in 2005. Her first album A Change is Gonna Come was her own personal statement that her voice and her style of music (classic soul) was relevant and certainly need amid the pop music muck. In short, James was about the work of regenerating and maintaining classic American soul.

A few weeks ago, after reading one of my posts, a friend of mine (A.K.A. my soul brotha from anotha motha like no otha) asked me if I listened to Leela James as her music is a new discovery for him. I proclaimed in the affirmative and was immediately flooded with the memory of her music. Of course I binged on her music for the next few days.

Listening to James I was reminded of her determination to preserve soul music. She sings with a feeling and sincerity and a mission to make good music. Leela james 2She carries with her the vocal and attitudinal influence of luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and Mavis Staples to contemporary artists such as Jill Scott, Ledisi, Musiq, and Anthony Hamilton. James’ mission can be heard on all her albums from A Change is Gonna Come (her statement piece) to Let’s Do It Again (2009) (a celebration of soul and a little funk music of the 70s), to My Soul (2010) (her highest charting album), to finally Loving You More . . . In The Spirit of Etta James (2012) (which she dedicated to the memory of Etta James and her music).

Today Leela James is hard at work recording good music. At the moment James is working on a new album and has recently released a duet with fellow soul artist Anthony Hamilton called “Say That” and “Fall For You”-a nice soulful ballad that trumps anything you heard on the radio lately. [Listen Below]

Do yourself a favor and add Leela James to your iPod and binge on some excellent heartfelt soul . . . you will thank me later!

Your Sunday iPod Add: Joya Mooi. She’s all that!

Photo by Atlynn Vrolijk

Photo by Atlynn Vrolijk

Welcome to your Sunday iPod add.

I believe I make a decent effort to broaden my music listening experience from a global perspective. The entire world makes music. For me listening to music has become much more rewarding as I venture beyond the boarder of the U.S. and enter into international spaces. Although, at times, I am limited by language in terms of fully understanding the content of song, the music still speaks for itself. However, until I am able to understand more languages, I tend to gravitate toward artists who sing in English.

I’m so glad I came across the vocally well-schooled and former saxophonist Joya Mooi. Mooi is one of many great Afro-Dutch artists hailing from the Netherlands. Her latest album Crystal Growth finds Mooi fully immersed in the African-American jazz and neo-soul genres. Recorded with live instrumentation with a capable band the music draws the listener in to feel the what’s being played. Well, for me it does.

As you know I dig great voices. Mooi’s voice for me is hard to describe without getting it perfect. I fear I may miss the nuances that make her voice unique. Mooi’s voice has been described as “one of those crystalline voices that just leave you wanting for more” by Miss Awa’s Blog and in terms of her latest single “Way of Life” she has “effortless vocals” as mentioned by Ivory at SoulBounce, noting her ease and mastery in the genre. When pressed, ultimately, I describe her voice as boldly tender and humble. Her music is listenable. Her lyrics tell a story. Her singles “Beyond of You” and the up-tempo “Way of Life” are wonderful pieces of jazz and soul. However, her (not released as a single, yet) slow burner “Out of Love” evokes the feel of Billie Holiday (yes I said it!) in it’s pace and rhythm and Mooi and the band give it time to develop and breath. Yep, it is a must listen.Mooi 2 Joya Mooi is an amazing artist who understands and interprets the African-American genre well with a voice you need to hear. Add any one of her songs or her album to your iPod. You will thank me later. Check out Joya Mooi previous album Hard Melk, too! Listen to “Way of Life” and “Out of Love” below:

Marvin Gaye, Jr.: The Humanitarian (with a nod to Frankie Knuckles)

Marvin-GayeYesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Marvin Gaye, Jr. Hard to believe it’s been that long. Had he survived the tragic death, by the hands of his father, he would reached 75 years of life. Imagine that! Today we can remember and recognized Marvin as one of the most important music artist of our time. His music, his voice, and his lyrics are indeed timeless.

Marvin’s presence has not faded. He is often the central figure in academia and out in the streets among project aristocrats on issues of race, society, culture, politics, economic, and the musicality of it all. He is the litmus for soulful sexy R&B, today.   Marvin is perpetually relevant. He continues to influence art in all its forms. Marvin was the everyday man, commenting on the everyday experience with an unmatched passion, which marked him as a humanitarian. marvin-gaye 2During a 1971 interview with Phil Symes, Marvin speaks of the content on his then new album What’s Going On he stated, “The material is social commentary but there’s nothing extreme on it. I did it not only to help humanity but to help me as well, and I think it has. It has given me a certain amount of peace.” Marvin was talking to us. We are still listening and will continue to do so.

**In honor of Marvin Gaye and Frankie Knuckles, whom we lost yesterday, I submit the following Big Moses House mix of “What’s Going On”: