There is always room for fresh artists to be recognized and Chicago is flourishing. Seeing an influx of soulful and R&B singers, we are introduced to yet another talented voice. Charmaine Makeda steps up to the mic with a debut self titled EP Project, after releasing a few singles. Adding to the already diverse plate of creatives in Chicago, she notes to social media there is only more to come.
Seven songs deep, the EP starts out with SEE YOU AGAIN, a passionate song of romance, with a chorus that will have you singing along by the second go. LONELY gets more sensual, with a touch of saxophone, slow deep bass and a catchy piano loop, keeping the vocals to a seductive whisper. As her EP continues Charmaine gets deeper into her mind and her thoughts, a deep thinking romantic, embracing her humanity. ANXIETY INTERLUDE and NOTE 2 MYSELF, is the back and forth in our head, the lows and highs, that happens to the best of us. Charmaine Makeda so eloquently, fluently and fearlessly expresses her mind, from beginning to end, resulting in a beautiful project.
Chicago recording artist Travie Austin links with Brad Kemp to drop an eight track record, in collaboration with a number of other artists and musicians. COME-BACK by Travie Austin and Brad Kemp, out September 18th, is an upbeat neo-gospel-soul pop record. Every track features complex melodies and harmonies laid down by Travie himself. Each song is produced and engineered by Brad Kemp, with five of the tracks featuring TomCat Trumpet, Davyd Reddyk, Anthony M. Rodriguez and Tim Burke.
The themes of empowerment, self confidence, moving on and getting through heartbreak are prevalent throughout the album. Travie Austin seems to channel Sisqo as well as soulful singers of decades further, archaic in its sound and tonality, but contemporary in his flows and melodies; his style is unique and refreshing! Track 3, MAKE A MOVE featuring Anthony M. Rodriguez, is a feel good, jazzy club record you can easily dance to, about making that first sensually strong move, falling in love, living in the moment and letting go. “If you don’t want me to leave you better make your move,” Travie sings, reminding his love interest not to waste any time. In LET GO Travie belts, “I know that it’s right for me, I’m not gonna call you back, cause you got a plane to catch,” further illustrating the theme of moving past a relationship and hoping for a better dynamic in a future partner. The feelings portrayed in each song are quite universal in their appeal.
“I don’t want to be that man anymore!” Travie croons in track eight, SAY GOODBYE, and the song sounds like he has a chorus backing him when the hook comes in. “Say goodbye to the ones who ain’t on your side, trying to tear your heart in two. And say goodbye to the ones trying to dim your light, they don’t shine as bright as you, cause you are so worthy, you are so special. Don’t let them see you fall, just keep your head up high, and say good bye!” This hook was quite powerful and exemplifies that theme of self confidence and moving on! A really inspiring song that will make you want to sing along as if you were in a huge choir.
Coming in with her second release of the year, Chicago pop R&B artist Kiara Lanier comes with a message of love. Not just known through music, Kiara also works as an actress on Fox‘s Empire, Showtime‘s The Chi, as well as being a finalist on American Idol. Always uplifting the black community, she takes it step further to address African American men. “We love you, we appreciate you, and stand with you, especially in these times.“
In times where male depression and suicide and becoming more and more apparent, often times POC take the heaviest punches. From being brutalized in the street, stressed as a child, and bullied online, in school, Kiara remembers the strength and resilience of Black men in her latest single, I CHOOSE YOU! Taking a line from one of her verses; “Ain’t no Black man that I don’t appreciate. Whole world wanna be they just mad they aint.” Introducing the first song off her upcoming album EMPRESS, with love and enlightenment, another milestone for this unraveling Chicago icon.
Lucky Iris welcomes you to sounds of electro-indie pop, debuting their music with their first EP, TURNS OUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME, with the help of Oliver Sekunda on production. A concept project based around a night on the town, and figuring it best to stay home sometimes! Coming from the Leeds music scene in England, they present a fresh perspective through their music. With influence from artists like Alt-J and Laura Mvula, Maeve & Jasper of Lucky Iris come with a unique sound.
At just four tracks, the project is short but full energy, starting out with GET READY WITH ME, an upbeat song about the curious energy of a young girl. Followed up with a more melancholic track over piano chords, TAKE 5 (WHY CAN’T YOU SEE ME) explores the feeling of being surrounded by people, yet being invisible to someone significant. GLITTER VISION is a favorite for its production, the track starts off like an electronic house beat, followed up with pop vocalization, and changes up tempo and ups the bass, flipping the energy around. Their debut gives us enough to see, Lucky Iris is dynamic and full of potential, and we cannot wait to see what they have for us in the future!
Still hot off his LISTEN IN HEADPHONES solo project, and his collaborative single, HAT/NO HAT, with Handsome Naked that premiered on NBC‘s Talent Show Livestream. The efforts lands him and proves his worth as an Artist of the Week in April. As a producer, Brad Kemp meets with a variety of artists, and on this occasion, Brad found vocal artist Eshé to work on a collaboration. They two worked together before on tracks produced for Chore Boy, now they got their own single flowin’, as apart of an album called LETTERS, filled with diverse artists.
Releasing a music video with each track individually and consecutively, until the album drops, the two the artists came up with a clever video for their latest track, WISH YOU WERE HERE. Eshé, who is currently residing in New York where she finished up a Masters Degree from NYU, worked on the writing and vocalizing while Brad, obviously, produced the music. The video illustrates the lyrics as they go with the song, highlighting each different line of a verse, with different colors. A very relaxing and upbeat track, using acoustic sounds over a hip hop beat. Very motivating from start to finish with lyrics like, “Hard work pays off, never thought I’d get days off, I remember being exhausted, workin 12 hour days days, stayin up makin demos on Halsted” and that is just to start!
LETTERS release date is scheduled for June 5th, with each track involving a different performing artist. Stay tuned for the live album premiere through their social medias linked below!
Music is the great motivator, many pick it up along the way and to others it comes naturally. For Jocelyn Garrett it seems to have been embedded within her from birth! With tales of being vocal during her own baptism and singing off the top of the head during her fathers jam band practices, music becomes more and more abundant in her life naturally. She then got into singing at church choirs for a while before sports and basketball became a priority, putting singing on hiatus. But a move into Chicago puts her focus back into music and this time she is all in!
Deciding to be proactive, Jocelyn takes her voice to the streets of Chicago, where she meets producer Justin James, who is inspired by her talent. This becomes a pivitol moment, as the two started working together. To follow up on her debut EP GOLD, Jocelyn and Justin complete an 11 track LP titled REBUILDING, which saw its release on the 18th of November this year. Combining Soul, R&B and Dance Music, Jocelyn does a good job delivering a mutual connection through emotion and energy with the listener. With a powerful and composed voice of a veteran vocalist, her message of self love and motivation will move and connect with you to your core!