Fusion At Sunset Blog

Musings from FAS

CoM&L Episode 6 - Nicole Henry

Pennsylvania native Nicole Henry spent her early years studying ballet, practicing cello, and singing in church and elsewhere. In an interview with The Morning Call, Henry cites her mother as her motivator: “She encouraged us to express ourselves artistically, she encouraged us to play instruments in school. So I grew up singing in the choir at school, in the choir at church ….” Henry’s recording career began in the late 1990s and included work with the disco-inflected Westbrook Project. Jazz, she said in the same interview, entered the picture only after she graduated from the University of Miami in 2002. Her work that year, however, led the Miami New Times to honor her as “Best Solo Musician.”

Further honors followed quickly. The Nearness of You, Henry’s debut album, caught the ears of listeners in Japan and netted her laurels there as “Best New Jazz Artist of 2004.” Her follow-up, Teach Me Tonight, won “Best Vocal Jazz Album of 2005” from HMV Japan. By 2008, she was making an impression at home with her album The Very Thought of You, which reached single digits on the Billboard jazz chart.

In late 2013 Henry performed for a month of Sundays at New York’s storied Blue Note jazz club. During that residency she sang, among other things, a range of 1970s tunes—including Bill Withers’ classic “Use Me” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”—that she’d recorded for her sixth album, So Good, So Right. With her torrid vocals, affinity for the dance decade (she also sang dance songs during her college years), and her international appeal, Henry is proving to be a different kind of diva. And an ever welcome one.

CoM&L Episode 1- Navasha Daya

Join Host Marko Nobles and featured artist Navasha Daya this Saturday morning, 11a est.

Perhaps best known as the lead singer of the nu-jazz ensemble Fertile Ground, Navasha Daya has been making music all her own for half a decade. She was a founding member of that (initially three-member) group in the late 1990s, and Daya distinguished herself with vocals ranging from supple and angular (“Let the Wind Blow”) to sultry and assured (“Take Me Higher”). With its 2004 recording Black Is, Fertile Ground found, well, fertile ground, and the band toured for years in support of that project. Things changed by 2009, and the group’s members embarked upon their own paths in 2010. Daya released an EP titled Rebirthed Above Ground (2012). In an interview with The Baltimore Sun she called the move to a solo career “scary,” despite having made her debut as a professional singer at age 13 with her father’s Cleveland-based reggae band, Jah Word. “I had to figure out how I wanted to show up in the world,” she told The Sun.

Daya recorded four albums with Fertile Ground, so still having ahead of her a full-length and freestanding solo project could give her the appearance of a neophyte. Consider the following list of her other guises, though, and a different picture comes into focus: songwriter, producer, performing arts curator, certified holistic wellness practitioner. Her devotion to the simple art of human kindness shines through songs including “Iwapele.” With her husband, Fanon Hill, she operates the Youth Resiliency Institute, through which she teaches music to youngsters in places including East Cleveland and Baltimore. The initiative attracted recognition from President Barack Obama and won a half-million-dollar grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. In the aftermath of Fertile Ground’s breakup, which included a divorce from cofounder James Collins, she directed some of those aforementioned wellness practices at herself. As she told The Sun, “I had to heal … now … I’m ready to go to the next level.”

-Edward Austin Hall

Marko Nobles

Marko Nobles

Dir. of Programming, G2 Digital Media

Conversations on Music & Life (CoM&L) is a weekly program which presents relaxed conversations with artists from the Jazz and R&B genres for digital audiences. Host and producer Marko Nobles invites the greats and soon-to-be greats to join him for an hour of music and conversation. The artist selects the music: music they were, and continue to be, influenced by. The conversation about the music leads to a discussion of a myriad of topics including social issues, business and politics. Most importantly, he allows them to share what they think is important to them and gives us the listeners a deeper insight into the artist and the person that they are.

E A Hall

E A Hall

FAS Editorial Dir.

CoM&L - episode 5
with Maysa Leak

Maysa talks about her trip from Broadway love to love as a battlefield

Maysa Leak blames a Broadway musical for inspiring her singing career. At age six she saw a production of “Purlie,” an experience she describes on her website: “When Melba Moore came on stage and sang her heart out, I knew at that moment I wanted to make people feel the way she made me feel.” Maysa, who performs under her first name, sang backup for Stevie Wonder in the early 1990s. In the mid ’90s she sang lead for the ever-changing ensemble Incognito. Her self-titled debut album, “Maysa,” appeared in 1995. Nine albums later she had a musical reunion with Stevie Wonder, who wrote (and plays harmonica on) her 2011 tribute to Michelle and Barack Obama, “Have Sweet Dreams.” Now, with more than a quarter century as a soul singer behind her, the Baltimore native is paying tribute to her fellow musicians with an album of covers: “Love Is a Battlefield,” which includes a smoldering version of Pat Benatar’s 1983 hit of the same title, is slated to launch May 26, 2017. Hear her in this week’s episode of ‘Conversations on Music & Life”  Saturday morning, starting at 11a EDT/10a CDT/8a PDT. Click here to listen the stream.

—Edward Austin Hall

Marko Nobles

Marko Nobles

Host & Exec. Producer, CoM&L

Edward Austin Hall

Edward Austin Hall

FAS Editorial Director

CoM&L Episode 4 - Will Downing

Almost 30 years into his career, Will Downing keeps on earning his “Prince of Sophisticated Soul” sobriquet. With last summer’s “Black Pearls,” he put his own polish on songs previously recorded by legends including Chaka Khan, Angela Winbush, and Phyllis Hyman. That project had its roots in a conversation about Downing covering Hyman’s “Meet Me on the Moon.” Once he did, he saw an opportunity to honor some of his soul-music sheroes. Of course, this silken baritone and veteran composer is also an original in his own right. Among his songwriting credits are the anthem “I’ll Wait” and the lilting “Something Special.” Clearly, that last title also describes Downing himself.
Edward Austin Hall

Edward Austin Hall

Author

Marko Nobles

Marko Nobles, Host of CoM&L

Conversations on Music & Life (CoM&L) is a weekly program which presents relaxed conversations with artists from the Jazz and R&B genres for digital audiences. Host and producer Marko Nobles invites the greats and soon-to-be greats to join him for an hour of music and conversation. The artist selects the music: music they were, and continue to be, influenced by. The conversation about the music leads to a discussion of a myriad of topics including social issues, business and politics. Most importantly, he allows them to share what they think is important to them and gives us the listeners a deeper insight into the artist and the person that they are.

CoM&L Episode 3 - Phil Perry

This week host Marko Nobles welcomes Jazz and R&B great Phil Perry with his unique vocal stylings to CoM&L. Phil recently released his 12th solo album, “Breathless,” and is currently celebrating 48 years as an recording artist. Join us this Saturday morning at 11a est.

To listen to previous episodes, visit mixcloud.com/coml

Marko Nobles

Marko Nobles

Host of CoM&L

Conversations on Music & Life (CoM&L) is a weekly program which presents relaxed conversations with artists from the Jazz and R&B genres for digital audiences. Host and producer Marko Nobles invites the greats and soon-to-be greats to join him for an hour of music and conversation. The artist selects the music: music they were, and continue to be, influenced by. The conversation about the music leads to a discussion of a myriad of topics including social issues, business and politics. Most importantly, he allows them to share what they think is important to them and gives us the listeners a deeper insight into the artist and the person that they are.

Next week's artist - Will Downing

First Friday’s Featured Artist – Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd

 

FAS proudly presents its First Friday’s Featured Artist, Donald Byrd. Tracks from this Jazz icon are featured in today’s playlist. If you’re a fan of Donald Byrd and his Jazz/R&B group, the Black Byrds, click in and turn up the volume.