I say yet because there is no doubt in my mind that all of these folks are destined for greatness. Sadly, the success of musicians and artists is dictated by how commercially accepted their music is. That, for the lack of a better term, sucks!
It is pretty much a fact that even on the most widely selling commercial CDs, the best songs never become singles. Think back to when they used to make cassette and CD singles (I might be telling my age here), usually, if the artist or singer had three or four decent singles, it made you want to buy the entire project. And, when you listened to the whole thing, you favorite song was usually NOT a single.
With that logic, I have, what I call a talent, for finding the best singers and artist that may have a deal but no commercial success or who have yet to secure a deal or are on independent labels.
Now, you lucky readers of my blog (and my black music month posts), have the good fortune of seeing clips and hearing songs by five of my favorite artists and singers that you haven't heard of yet. Let's get things rolling with some gospel because you know I got to give the Lord his do for creating these talented voices.
Up first is Greg Drumwright and the Singers & Musicians ALIVE!. I came across Greg's music while doing my weekly gospel show "First Light" on Saturday mornings on 90.1 WNAA-FM in Greensboro. (Yea, it is a shameless plug!)
Anyway, I remember Greg from N.C. A&T. I met him on several different occasions and he is a former student government association president from my esteemed alma mater. Anyway, Greg is the senior pastor at the Citadel of Praise in Greensboro, N.C. According to his MySpace page, he's been preaching for a minute and has been singing and performing for the past 15 years.
The choir's CD, "A Long Time Coming" was released last year and has sold out on the independent artist Web site CD Baby. You can still hear some of the songs on his page. My favorite song is "My Hope".
Since we're already here, let's stay in my great home state of North Carolina and introduce you to Kim Person. Now Kim, this girl can saaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg!!! I first heard her sing at my grandmother's church, Minter's Chapel First Born, Inc., down in Boardman, N.C. Trust me, that town is as small as it sounds.
Anyway, I had to be about six or seven and it was the church's annual homecoming celebration so we were in there for a hot minute. I remember getting restless and whoever the program's M.C. was called her up front to sing, her last name was McDowell then. Her grandmother requested that she sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." When I tell ya'll she sang the FOOL out of that song, that's what I mean!
She has since moved on from Minter's Chapel and is now singing at conferences and churches and she's put out a couple of CDs of her own.
She recorded her latest project, "Speak Life" in December. I was supposed to go but something came up and I had to miss it. I hate I did, but to pacify me until I get my hands on the new project, I listen to my favorite song by her, "G Double-O D God" and I got to You Tube to look at this clip:
Now, let's take a jump to the sole hip hop artist on my list, Ozy. First off, I don't hate hip hop, I hate the commercialized crap that has become of a lot of the hip hop artists of late. You know who they are so I won't bother to name names.
So anyway, I like Ozy because he reminds me of the hip hop artists of old, like De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers and Pharcyde. His flow sounds a little bit like Common but not exactly. He's not rapping about killing and disrespecting folks.
Listening to him is a breath of fresh air because I am not offended at the end of the song. It seems like he's having fun with it and that's what it is all about. Don't get me wrong, it is the music business so some money has to be made but you should also have fun with it and he seems to be doing that.
My favorite songs by him are "Fire Fly" and "Staywitchu." Go to his MySpace page and listen to some of his music.
Now we've come to the two people that you guys have simply GOT to hear. I have grouped them together because they've worked together before and I have a video of them singing a duet. It's priceless - simply priceless!
Since ladies are first, I have got to hip ya'll to my girl Shelby J. First off, Shelby can sang her face off and yours too! At the present, Shelby is singing back up for Mr. Purple Rain himself, Prince.
I'm not sure if she had to "purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka" but he's certainly recognized her talent. I'm not sure if you've had the great fortune of hearing Prince's "Planet Earth" in its entirety but if you have, you can hear her putting that "stank" in the background vocals of just about every song on there. The one that you hear her voice in the most is "Chelsea Rodgers".
I had the great fortune of meeting her long before her days with Prince. Her mom used to work at the same radio station where I do my show and Shelby used to come by from time to time. She used to sing background for Mary J. Blige, D'Angelo, fellow D'Angelo alum, Anthony Hamilton and Martin Luther.
That's the brotha she's singing with in the video. He might look a little familiar to you because he used to play with The Roots and his single "Daily Bread" did well. If you've seen the video, you might recognize Nona Gaye of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions movies.
Martin Luther has also appeared in the movie "Across the Universe" and on the TV Show "Love Monkey." That's where you might have seen him. While I think he's a decent actor, I'd much rather him him sing and play guitar.
The only CD I have by him is "Rebel Soul Music" and I lie to ya'll not, I still listen to it on a regular basis. There's something about his blend of R&B, Funk and Rock that is off the hook!!! "Daily Bread" is a nice song, but he's got this song called "Growing Pains" that talks about the things you go through immediately after you move away from home or graduate or whatever. My favorite line from that song is: "You kids don't know how good you got it, once you get grown, it's on!"
My favorite song on that CD varies from week to week, sometimes from day to day if I'm going through some things. Today, my favorite is "Sleep Walking".
Who are some of your favorites that I should be aware of but I'm not?
***All pictures were taken from the artists MySpace profile pages***