Bassist George Porter Jr. is best known as one of the
founding members of The Meters, the seminal funk band that combined New Orleans
street rhythms with a second line vibe and fatback drums to create their own
unique, laidback style. After several decades performing with The Meters (later
renamed The Funky Meters) and working as a session musician, Porter decided to
form his own band in 1990. Now, 30 years
later, George Porter
Jr. & The Runnin’ Pardners offer their latest release, Crying for Hope, that lays down 12 tracks
of heavy funk amidst themes of social justice.
Title: My People Artist: Cha Wa Label: Single Lock Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 2, 2021
Since the late 19th century, Mardi Gras Indians have
paraded the streets of New Orleans outside of the gaze of tourists that flock
to Bourbon Street. The Mardi Gras Indian community is a group of primarily
Black New Orleanians who pay respect to Native Americans through their wardrobe,
music, and dialect. The tradition of Mardi Gras Indian krewes is said to have originated
to pay tribute to the Native groups that sheltered Black New Orleanians fleeing
enslavement. Drawing on this rich heritage, Cha Wa’s
My People captures the sounds of Mardi Gras Indian street parades and
blends them with other New Orleans influences including the ‘70s era funk of
The Meters, brass band music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and African-inspired rhythms.
Valerie June’s The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for
Dreamers is an amalgam of genres, referencing 1960s psychedelia, 1980s pop,
gospel, Americana, and especially Memphis soul. The connection to Memphis,
where June began her career, is evident throughout, from an appearance by Carla
Thomas to sessions recorded at Sam Phillips Studio and Royal Studios. Like this
album, Memphis is a melting pot of styles, and the instrumentation on The
Moon and Stars is just as diverse as its stylistic influences—from lush
strings to horns, pedal steel, and banjo. Jointly produced by June and Jack
Splash (Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend), the fourteen tracks of
original music have all of the elements necessary to guarantee success.
Title: Baby I’m Hollywood Artist: Judith Hill Label: Regime Music Group Formats: CD, Digital Release date: March 5, 2021
Many may be familiar with Grammy-winning artist Judith Hill through her work with
Michael Jackson, or any number of other artists ranging from Josh Groban,
Stevie Wonder and John Legend to the late Andraé Crouch. Hill was also one of
the featured backup singers in the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet
From Stardom (2013), and that same year she made it to the finals on The
Voice. Yet despite these successes and a debut album co-produced by Prince,
the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is still struggling in her
pursuit of a career in music. Hill’s new project, Baby
I’m Hollywood, speaks to the highs and lows of life in the spotlight,
and so much more.
JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter Dominique Fils-Aimé
expresses her eclectic interpretation of soul music in her latest album, Three
Little Words. Produced, arranged, and mixed by the acclaimed producer
Jacques Roy, this project combines a multitude of sounds, themes, and cultures,
creating a album that is both powerful and thought-invoking. The 15 tracks
feature heartwarming melodies, inspired lyrics, and beautiful arrangements that
provide a window into Fils-Aimé’s soul while also seeking to enrich the soul of
the listener. Scheduled to release during Black History Month, the album is the
final installment in the artist’s trilogy exploring the roots of African
American musical culture.
Any Prince fan on your
holiday gift list would likely be thrilled to receive the new
edition of Sign O’ The Times, one of the Prince’s most memorable albums now offered as
a super deluxe box set. Featuring 92 tracks across eight CDs plus a DVD and a 120-page
illustrated hardcover book with essays by Dave Chappelle, Lenny Kravitz, and
various Prince scholars, this set can be considered a bargain. In addition to the
original 1987 double album remastered by Bernie Grundman, the other CDs include
63 previously unreleased tracks ranging from single remixes and B-sides to live
songs plus a complete concert performance recorded in Utrecht, Netherlands, on
June 20, 1987 during the Sign O’ The Times Tour.
Released last year as a vinyl box set, Craft has now issued the seven disc deluxe CD edition of Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection. Celebrating one of the most influential gospel and soul groups of all time, the box set features all of the Staple Singers’ studio albums recorded for Stax Records from 1968–1974: Soul Folk in Action (1968), We’ll Get Over (1969), The Staple Swingers (1971), Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972), Be What You Are (1973), and City in the Sky (1974). These albums were released after the Staple Singers had already transitioned from the gospel circuit to the stages of folk and rock music festivals, and they were well on their way to becoming musical icons of the Civil Rights Movement with albums such as Freedom Highway (1965) that preached a message of empowerment and racial equality.
Title: The RCA Albums 1977-1985 Artist: Evelyn “Champagne” King Label: SoulMusic Records (dist. Cherry Red) Format: 8-CD Box Set Release Date: September 24, 2020
This 8-CD release from David Nathan’s SoulMusic Records features the eight RCA albums recorded between 1977 and 1985 by the iconic Evelyn “Champagne” King. King is one of the primary purveyors of R&B and dance music that helped fuel the disco movement of the late 1970s. The RCA Albums, distributed by Cherry Red Records, is the first-of-its-kind deluxe box set including reissues of all eight albums, handpicked bonus tracks, and essays on King’s time with RCA by two renowned writers.
Con Funk Shun was one of the premier funk and soul ensembles of the ’70s and ’80s. Led by the vocals of Felton Pilate and Michael Cooper, the group produced eight Top Ten R&B hits and the No. 1 chart topping single, “Ffun,” in addition to four consecutive Gold albums. Confunkshunizeya, the first double CD career anthology of the supergroup, includes 32 tracks from Con Funk Shun’s golden years and the full 12” version of “Ffun.”
Title: This Far Artist: Sade Label: Legacy Format: 6-LP vinyl box set Release Date: September 2, 2020
This Far, the new Sade vinyl box set, offers brand new half-speed masters, courtesy of Miles Showell at Abbey Road. The first of its kind, this set includes all six of the soul singer’s acclaimed albums on pure 180-gram black vinyl. Showell worked from high resolution digital transfers of the stereo master mixes and from the original analog studio tapes, resulting in exceptionally clean and detailed audio that remains faithful to the band’s intended sound.
Title: The Power Of The One Artist: Bootsy Collins Label: eOne/Sweetwater Format: CD, LP, Digital Release date: October 23, 2020
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend Bootsy Collins is back, hitting us with The Power Of The One, his 25th album release. Bootsy has been a huge influencer in the popular music community for generations. As a bass player, he was one of the first to use effect pedals, particularly the MU-Tron III, which provided the envelope filter necessary to create the squealing synth-like sound featured on many of the songs he recorded as a member of Funkadelic. He was also a progenitor of the slide technique which is used in many of today’s different genres of music. Rolling Stone’s current list of the “50 Best Bassists of All Time”places Bootsy at #4, stating that he “redefined soul and funk bass playing in the Seventies, and, by proxy, rap and pop in the Eighties and Nineties. . . You can hear his influence in practically every bass player to come since…”
Title: Something To Say Artist: Cory Henry Label: Culture Collective Formats: Digital Release date: October 30, 2020
Singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Cory Henry
has released his much anticipated studio album, Something To Say.
Produced by Henry himself, the album wonderfully expresses Henry’s wide variety
of musical talents in each of its eleven tracks, which tackle subjects ranging
from love and breakups to injustices and the effects of being emotionally
drained, resulting in a project that artistically reflects the climate of the
world today. “I feel good because all of the songs came together and they mean
something to me,” Henry humbly advises, “so I hope they mean something to other
Title: All Love Everything Artist: Aloe Blacc Label: BMG Rights Formats: CD, Digital Release date: June 25, 2020
songwriter, producer, and activist Aloe Blacc
has released his fifth and latest studio album, All Love Everything. Full of warm, nostalgic sounds, soulful
vocals, and an inspiring chorus, Blacc delivers heartfelt, yet grounded,
melodies that pull the listener into emotions of love, loss, and many of the
Named the 2019 Emerging Act of the Year by Americana
Music Association, husband and wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya
Blount-Trotter are artists to watch out for as they continue to take the music
world by storm. Between their performance at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY
Awards back in January, the release of their newest album Hearts Town in
August, and their spot as an opener on John Legend’s upcoming Bigger Love
2020 Tour (rescheduled for 2021),
The War And Treaty have proven themselves to be a powerhouse R&B duo.
Title: Image a Nation Artist: Valvin “V” Roane Label: BBE Music Format: Digital Release date: October 2, 2020
Philadelphia R&B/soul singer, songwriter and producer Valvin “V” Roane is making his return with Image a Nation, his first full-length project with Barely Breaking Even (BBE Music) in 15 years. In collaboration with production partners Jontae Slade, Andre Capers and Yameen Allworld, V creates an album that colorfully illustrates the changes in the world around us through both the lyrical and melodic structures within the project.
Title: Classified Artist: James Booker Label: Rounder/Craft Formats: LP Release date: July 31, 2020
As part of Rounder Records’ 50th anniversary celebration, Craft Recordings is offering this remixed and remastered vinyl reissue of Classified, an unjustly overlooked 1982 release by New Orleans keyboardist James Booker, the iconoclastic disciple of the legendary Professor Longhair. On this record Booker performs an eclectic variety of songs, including tunes by R&B legends like Titus Turner, Fats Domino, and Lloyd Price. But he also covers “Hound Dog” (the Leiber & Stoller classic made famous by Big Mama Thornton and later by Elvis), the jazz standard “Angel Eyes,” the 1926 pop standard “Baby Face,” as well as the country classic “King of the Road” and two originals, particularly the scintillating “Three Keys” that concludes the record. Yet in spite of these disparate song sources, it all comes out sounding like Booker thanks to his inimitable musical talent and force of personality.
Title: Let’s Do It Again Artist: The Staple Singers Label: Omnivore Formats: CD Release date: June 5, 2020
In June, the reissue label Omnivore released four expanded editions of classic albums by the Staple Singers, including Family Tree (1977), produced by former Chi-lite Eugene Record; Unlock Your Mind (1978), produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett at Muscle Shoals; and Pass It On (1976), produced by Curtis Mayfield. The fourth release was another Curtis Mayfield production—the soundtrack to the 1975 film, Let’s Do It Again, which featured an all-star cast led by Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis and Jimmie Walker. Recorded three years after Mayfield’s critically acclaimed soundtrack for Superfly, Let’s Do It Again used many of the same personnel from his Curtom house band: Mayfield on lead guitar, Joseph “Lucky” Scott on bass, and Master Henry Gibson laying down the funky conga and bongo parts. The album represented the Staple Singers’ first post-Stax Records release, and features five songs and three instrumentals that Mayfield composed for the film.
with his first album in eight years, Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo.
Parker is best known for his work with the James Brown band and later with Parliament/Funkadelic.
Although his solo recordings date back to the 1960s and 1970s, his current solo
career really begins with the release of the Roots Revisited album
Title: No More Silence, Vol. 2 Artist: Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice Label: Bandcamp Format: Digital Release Date: July 3, 2020
As a part of the city of Austin, Texas’ response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless black lives lost to police brutality, Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice was founded by Kate Robberson and Ley Line. On No More Silence, Vol. 2, the project brings together over 30 Austin-based artists who use their music to contribute to the conversation around social justice and Black Lives Matter.
Title: One World Artist: Billy Ocean Label: Sony Formats: CD, Digital Release date: September 4, 2020
GRAMMY Award-winning singer Billy Ocean
has released his first new original album in ten years. On One World, he
reunites with producer Barry Eastmond, who was responsible for some of his
biggest hits, including “When the Going Gets Tough”
This release follows a spectacular few years for Ocean. In 2018, the
Trinidadian-British R&B singer-songwriter was awarded the Ivor Novello
Award for International Achievement in recognition of his international success
and the enduring popularity of his music. More recently, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honors list
for his contributions to music. Additionally, his iconic music videos
have all been restored from original tapes and released in HD. All of the excitement surrounding his long due
recognition can be felt in One World.
Title: b7 Artist: Brandy Label: eOne Formats: CD, Digital Release date: July 31, 2020
After nearly eight years since her last album, GRAMMY
Award-winning singer/songwriter Brandy has released her long awaited seventh
studio album, b7. Despite the lengthy period of time between projects,
Brandy has consistently been active in the R&B scene, creating tracks like
“I Wanna Be Down” and “Ascension,” as well as being featured in a plethora of other
artist’s songs and breaking the internet with her recent Brandy vs Monica
Verzuz Battle. This exposure has gone a long way toward helping Brandy hone her
truly unique sound and style, as well as a high level of production expertise. Her
colorful, yet restrained, 15-track project, which she executively produced with
assistance from DJ Camper and the late LaShawn Daniels, is truly the
culmination of her musical and life experiences to date.
Title: Intérimes Artist: Adeline Label: Self-released Formats: Digital Release date: July 10, 2020
Soulful and sultry vocalist, bassist and producer Adeline has released her highly
anticipated sophomore project, Intérimes, a collection of seven songs
that incorporates the sounds and styles of R&B, soul and funk. The title of
the French-Caribbean artist’s release is a mash-up of the French words
“intérim” (the time in between) and “rime” (French for rhyme), noting that each
track captures a specific mood as a day turns into night. The project is
completely self-produced, allowing Adeline to create music that perfectly
complements her style. “Producing my own music is when I feel most complete
artistically. Everyone’s process is the best process as long as it’s true to
them. Producing is just the way that I love to make music. And the biggest part
of it is that it’s fun!”
Title: The Album Artist: Teyana Taylor Label: G.O.O.D. / Def Jam Formats: Digital Release date: June 19, 2020
Dancer/choreographer, actress, model, and R&B superstar Teyana Taylor has released her long
awaited and highly anticipated third studio album, The Album. With a
host of producers, including Taylor herself, this album truly showcases her personality,
sexuality and vulnerabilities that lie under her persona. The Album features
collaborations from a plethora of artists, such as Rick Ross, Erykah Badu,
Quavo, Kehlani, Missy Elliott, Future, Big Sean, Ms. Lauryn Hill, King Combs,
Davido, and Taylor’s husband and daughter, Iman Shumpert and Junie.
Keyboardist, songwriter, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Chris Jasper has had a very extensive and successful career, recording 12 albums as a member of the Isley Brothers, in addition to 16 self-produced solo albums. Jasper has now taken a step back to reflect on some of the greatest compositions he wrote for the Isley Brothers from 1973-1983 in his most recent solo album, For the Love of You. This project is comprised of some of the group’s biggest hits, such as “I Once Had Your Love,” “Go For What You Know,” and the title track “For the Love of You,” a smooth and romantic rendition of the original mid-tempo track. The album also contains covers of R&B and pop classics including Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love,” Marvin Gaye’s “God Is Love,” Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful,” and Diane Warren’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
The Cleveland, Ohio-based funk and soul collective Mourning [A] BLKstar is a “multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture dedicated to servicing the stories and songs of the apocalyptic diaspora.” Boldly confronting themes of racism, oppression, and injustice, the group’s albums reflect the reality of living in a world that is all too frequently hostile to people of color. Their previous release, The Garner Poems(2018), was a eulogy to Eric Garner and the many other victims of police brutality past and present. M[A]B’s new double album, The Cycle, is yet another epic and thought-provoking addition to the group’s catalog. Set as an 18 movement song cycle featuring vocalists James Longs, Kyle Kidd and LaToya Kent, the group envisions the work as “a humble addition to the long legacy of James Baldwin’s adage of the artist as witness.”
Two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated R&B singer Kehlani has released her long-awaited sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. The former America’s Got Talent star’s debut album, SweetSexySavage, was inspired by TLC’s CrazySexyCool, providing fun, rhythmic, and exuberant sounds Kehlani’s best known for putting out. Kehlani’s new album is much more pared down, expressing slow and sensual narratives, as much indebted to SZA as it is SWV. For this project, Kehlani collaborated with a multitude of guest artists, from the likes of Tory Lanez, Jhené Aiko, Lucky Daye, James Blake, and Masego, all of which do an exceptional job helping to convey her R&B eclecticism—as well as contributions from producers Boi-1da, Andrew “Pop” Wansel, G. Ry, and many more.
Title: Grae Artist: Moses Sumney Label: Jagjaguwar Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: May 15, 2020
Singer-songwriter and producer Moses Sumney has dropped his second studio album, Grae, a generous double album released in two parts covering 20 tracks. Back in 2017, Sumney’s previous groundbreaking, genre-less album Aromanticism was well-received, but saw the musician widely labelled as an R&B artist – much to his dismay. He recently said in an interview: “People always look to define you to understand you, but my identity is this kind of patchwork. It’s not something that can be – or that I want to be – defined.” And now with his second project, Sumney places a great emphasis on this message and his artistic vision.
Title: Satirifunk Artist: Junko Beat Label: Drumparade Format: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: June 5, 2020
Trance-inducing, cutting-edge, and improvisational: all are terms that have been used to describe the newest release from the New Orleans progressive funk outfit Junko Beat. On their sophomore album, Satirifunk, the group presents an innovative musical fusion of New Orleans funk and West African tribal jazz with electronic and Latin-Caribbean influences. The result is a powerful, rhythm-heavy sound that truly captivates the listener.
After 50 strong years of music making, Tower of Power is back with their 30th album, Step Up. Known for their wall of sound horn-driven funk, the multi-instrumentalist ensemble has been performing and creating music since the late 1960s under the direction of bandleader and tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo. A Detroit native, Castillo moved to Oakland, CA where he met baritone sax player Stephen “Doc” Kupka, and they formed a band that would soon become known as Tower of Power. After famous concert promoter Bill Graham heard the group perform at the Fillmore in 1970, he signed them to his label and their debut album, East Bay Grease, was releasedthat same year.
Title: It Is What It Is Artist: Thundercat Label: Brainfeeder Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 3, 2020
Electric bassist and singer/songwriter Thundercat, aka Stephen Lee Bruner, has released his fourth studio album, It Is What It Is. Executively produced by Bruner and Flying Lotus, the project features collaborations from artists such as Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Ty Dolla $ign, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and comedian/rapper Zack Fox. The new album is the follow-up to Thundercat’s ambitious Drunk (2017), which cemented his genre-defying reputation and provided an evolutional framework for It Is What It Is, which continues the versatile artist’s experimentation with sound and compositional technique.