Cha Wa – My People

 

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.

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Jupiter & Okwess – Na Kozonga

 

Title: Na Kozonga
Artist: Jupiter & Okwess
Label: Everloving
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: April 23, 2021

 

Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jupiter & Okwess makes music that pulls together international musical influences in a stand against global injustice. Their newest release, Na Kozonga, is an explosive and energetic compilation of music featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band horn section, pioneer of Brazilian rap Marcelo D2, and the vocals of American Maiya Sykes and Chilean Ana Tijoux.

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Sunny War – Simple Syrup

 

Title: Simple Syrup
Artist: Sunny War
Label: Org Music
Format: LP, Digital
Release Date: March 26, 2021

 

Following a captivating NPR Tiny Desk performance and an acclaimed album in 2019, Sunny War became an artist to watch for fans of acoustic roots music. Since then, the L.A.-based singer and guitarist has certainly kept busy, founding a Los Angeles chapter of the nonprofit Food Not Bombs, marching for BLM protests, and recording her newest album, Simple Syrup.

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Nubiyan Twist – Freedom Fables

 

Title: Freedom Fables
Artist: Nubiyan Twist
Label: Strut
Format: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: March 12, 2021

 

Since their formation in 2009 at the Leeds College of Music, Nubiyan Twist has gone on to sell out major concerts and collaborate with iconic musicians like Ghanaian highlife king Pat Thomas and pioneering Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. The London-based collective is known for their captivating and unique blending of jazz, Afrobeat, and highlife music with electronic touches. Nubiyan Twist’s much-anticipated third album, Freedom Fables, builds on the group’s past success with the new feature of rising star vocalists.

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Alabama Slim – The Parlor

 

Title: The Parlor
Artist: Alabama Slim
Label: Cornelius Chapel
Format: CD, LP, digital
Release Date: January 29, 2021

 

Bluesman Alabama Slim of Vance, Alabama was poised for a late-in-life breakout with a scheduled appearance at the 2020 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Although the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Slim is moving forward with the release of his new solo project, The Parlor. On the album, the 82-year-old performer dives deep into the soulful blues that he grew up listening to in the South.

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Willie Jones – Right Now

 

Title: Right Now
Artist: Willie Jones
Label: The Penthouse/Empire
Format: Digital
Release Date: January 22, 2021

 

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, a 26-year-old Willie Jones has crafted a genre-bending sound that captures his Southern roots and incorporates the other diverse musical influences that he loves. On his debut album, Right Now, he secures his place as a next generation country artist, joining the small but growing roster of Black artists who are revolutionizing the genre by deftly adding contemporary elements of hip hop and R&B.

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Corey Ledet – Zydeco

Title: Corey Ledet Zydeco
Artist: Corey Ledet
Label: Nouveau Electric Records
Format: CD, Digital
Release Date: January 15, 2021

Grammy-nominated Zydeco artist Corey Ledet pays homage to his family and musical heritage on his latest release, Corey Ledet Zydeco. This is Ledet’s 14th album since releasing his full-length debut (3 Years 2 Late) in 2004, and features the multi-talented artist performing on vocals, accordion, drums, and washboard. Ledet’s unique style is influenced by multiple genres including early jazz, be-bop, blues, and traditional Creole music, as well as by musicians of Zydeco past and present.

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New Box Set and Books Commemorate Bob Marley’s 75th Anniversary

 

Title: The Complete Island Recordings
Artist: Bob Marley
Label: UMC/Island
Format: 11CD box set, vinyl reissues
Release Date: December 4, 2020

 

Fans of Bob Marley will have no shortage of Marley-related releases to choose from this holiday season. In December, UMC/Island will release The Complete Island Recordings, a new 11CD box set featuring all nine Bob Marley & The Wailers studio albums recorded for Island Records as well as two live albums (Live! and Babylon By Bus). The set spans a decade, beginning with 1973’s Catch A Fire and concluding with 1983’s Confrontation, a posthumous album released two years after Marley’s death. Additionally, on November 20, Universal is reissuing the same 11 albums and the compilation album Legend on vinyl as half-speed mastered editions. A third set of these albums, which are being pressed at the legendary Tuff Gong International headquarters in Kingston, will also be released on vinyl on December 11. The Tuff Gong set features the original Jamaica-recorded version of Catch A Fire, which is without overdubs, longer fades, and two extra tracks from the sessions.

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Evelyn “Champagne” King – The RCA Albums 1977-1985

 

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.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

Con Funk Shun – Confunkshunizeya: The Mercury Anthology

 

Title: Confunkshunizeya: The Mercury Anthology
Artist: Con Funk Shun
Label: Robinsongs
Format: 2CD set
Release Date: September 24, 2020

 

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.”

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Sade – This Far

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.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album

 

Title: Homecoming: The Live Album
Artist: Beyoncé
Label: Columbia
Format: 4-LP vinyl set
Release Date: December 4, 2020

 

The first African American woman to headline the Coachella festival, Beyoncé received immediate acclaim from fans and critics alike following her April 2018 Homecoming performances. Her concert celebrated Historically Black Colleges and Universities with over 100 dancers, a band, and special guest performers including J Balvin, Jay-Z, and a nostalgic Destiny’s Child reunion with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. This new 4-LP set includes over two dozen songs from the live performances that thrilled over 125,000 concertgoers on those April weekends.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

George Benson – Weekend In London

 

Title: Weekend In London
Artist: George Benson
Label: Provogue/Mascot
Format: CD, LP
Release Date: November 13, 2020

 

For the first time in 30 years, 10-time Grammy winning guitarist and vocalist George Benson has released a live recording highlighting his favorite hits and improvisational skills. Weekend In London, which harkens back to his groundbreaking 1978 Weekend in LA, pays homage to many of the guitarist’s career peaks that effortlessly fused jazz, R&B and pop. Although Benson has played at some of the biggest venues in the world during his acclaimed six-decade career, this newest release features his performance at London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, an intimate 250-seat venue with exceptional acoustics that has been hosting the world’s most influential jazz musicians since 1959.

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Roots And Tings – All of This

 

Title: All of This
Artist: Roots And Tings
Label: Truth’s Sound
Formats: Digital, Limited ed. 45s
Release date: August 21, 2020

 

Combining elements of dancehall, reggae, soul and hip-hop in a subversive genre that they call Revolutionary Culture Music, Roots And Tings is a new project of Lateef the Truth Speaker (Blackalicious, Lytrix, Quannum), acclaimed DJ-producer Jah Yzer, and multi-talented musician Winstrong. Speaking about their new project, Winstrong describes Roots and Tings as “a community of curious souls with a generous goal to engage with each other through the stories told.”

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Songhoy Blues – Optimisme

 

Title: Optimisme
Artist: Songhoy Blues
Label: Fat Possum
Format: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: October 23, 2020

 

Hailing from Mali, the African rock band Songhoy Blues has returned with their highly anticipated third album, a response to their homeland’s corrupt and oppressive political system. Entitled Optimisme, French for optimism, the album reflects the group’s desire to impact the world around them in tangible and positive ways through their music.

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Benin’s Star Feminine Band

 

Title: Star Feminine Band
Artist: Star Feminine Band
Label: Born Bad
Format: Digital
Release Date: November 13, 2020

 

You wouldn’t know it by listening, but the girls of Star Feminine Band had never touched a guitar or drumkit before meeting in 2016. Brought together by a local radio call out offering free music training, the girls, ranging in ages from 10 through 17, use music to channel feelings about equality and empowerment in a male-dominated society.

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Free Radicals – White Power Outage Volume 1

 

Title: White Power Outage Volume 1
Artist: Free Radicals
Label: RWE
Format: Digital
Release Date: September 15, 2020

 

One of the most diverse musical collectives in the country, Free Radicals includes over 50 musicians that range from 4-year-old attendees of Peace Camp Houston to 92-year-old vibraphone player Harry Sheppard. These musicians bring together their varied backgrounds and talents on White Power Outage Volume 1, a revolutionary album that demands an end to white supremacy in the arts, culture, and politics.

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The War And Treaty – Hearts Town

 

Title: Hearts Town
Artist: The War And Treaty
Label: Rounder
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: August 14, 2020

 

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.

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Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris – EarthSeed

 

Title: EarthSeed
Artist: Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris
Label: FPE
Format: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: June 26, 2020

 

They say that great minds think alike, and that seems to be the case with the new collaborative album between renowned composers Nicole Mitchell and Lisa E. Harris. The pair met at the New Quorum Composers’ Residency in New Orleans and were drawn together by a shared interest in celebrated author Octavia E. Butler, one of the best known African American writers in science fiction. Together, the two musicians took inspiration from Butler’s legacy of Afrofuturistic novels to create EarthSeed.

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