By Geoffrey Rowlands
Bryson Tiller sounds like the name of a country music star. The Louisville, Kentucky, native even hails from an area of America that abounds with country musicians. But 24-year-old Bryson is very much the exception. Currently topping the Billboard 200 with his sophomore album, True to Self, it provides the perfect showcase for his hybrid style of R&B singing and rap.
“I suppose you could say I’m like Drake,” Bryson reflected. “We both combine singing and rapping in our work. I feel like there are some things I can say rapping that I can’t really say singing. I like to keep things in between. I try never to go too R&B or too rap, although I know I sometimes do go too rap.”
In saying he was like Drake, Bryson did not mention the Canadian superstar is a massive fan. So much so that Drake’s label was among those who competed for Bryson’s signature on a recording contract.
Their interest was triggered by the response to his 2011 mixtape, Killer Instinct Vol. 1, and, particularly, Bryson’s 2014 single, Don’t. The track was initially released on his SoundCloud page. It accumulated four million streams in six months and has now surpassed the 70 million mark.
The song was an obvious choice for Bryson’s debut single after he inked his deal with RCA Records. It peaked at number 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 while the accompanying video has now been viewed more than 224 million times on YouTube.
His level of success is a long way from Bryson’s first tentative steps in music.
“I lost my mother when I was four. My grandmother raised me and I grew up listening to her favourite artists like Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire. “It was really my uncle’s taste in music which set me on the road I’ve followed. He played those super R&B groups from the 1990s but it was him playing me Omarion’s ‘O’ album which made me want to sing. I started writing my own songs. They were terrible, but I kept writing and they gradually improved.”
Despite the interest in his mixtape, 2013 saw Bryson take a break from music. By now the father of a baby daughter, Harley, he took jobs with UPS and Papa John’s Pizza to provide for his child.
Fate took a hand the following year when friends gave Bryson the money to buy equipment on eBay which allowed him to make music again. Two months later, Don’t was posted on SoundCloud and stardom beckoned.
“Don’t is about a guy treating his women better. I’m referring to myself in the song though most listeners wouldn’t know that. I wanted women out there to know their worth and to never settle for less than what they feel they deserve.”
Bryson’s 2015 debut album, Trapsoul, rode on the back of his success with Don’t. It peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 and hit second spot on both the Top R&B / Hip Hop Albums and Top R&B Albums charts.
These numbers pale in comparison to those for True to Self. The album has topped all three Billboard charts. It has also debuted at number one on Britain’s R&B chart and number 11 on the UK albums chart.
Bryson believes the quality of his work has improved dramatically.
“I was only 17 when I wrote the songs for my first mixtape. If you listen to the mixtape and compare it to the music I’m making now, it would definitely show how far I’ve come. I’ve grown lyrically, vocally and just as a young man in general. I’m still growing, developing and learning more every day.”
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith/Sade
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has just completed a European concert tour. Her performances were so well received that she will be returning in August for another round of shows.
The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, vocalist and producer’s rural upbringing on Orcas Island in the northwest region of Washington state is reflected in the ambient style of her critically acclaimed music. Her last album, Ears, was listed among the best of 2016 in numerous end of year polls. It can be heard in full at www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUxM7KrUTOA
Kaitlyn recently released her cover version of Sade’s 2000 single, By Your Side. The original recording is the first track on Sade’s Lovers Rock album. This LP was highly influential in Kaitlyn’s initial development as an artist.
“Lovers Rock was the album I listened to most when I was 15 and decided to start writing songs. Sade has always been a favourite vocalist of mine. She is pure class, so emotive, honest and true. Her voice glides naturally across genders and genres, which is a quality I work to embody with my vocals.”
Kaitlyn’s version of By Your Side is available free of charge. It can be heard and downloaded at (no www.) kaitlynaureliasmith.bandcamp.com/track/by-your-side-sade-cover
Links to more of Kaitlyn’s music can also be found on this webpage.
For anyone who would like to hear Sade’s original recording, plus the other songs on Lovers Rock, the entire album is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiZEtZcKQUU&list=PL-UWPlRIl68oVKYGk7jA-yW27AR-8mKAO
The official video for Sade’s By Your Side can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8QJmI_V3j4
Music legend Cher used her Twitter account to announce the creation of a stage musical telling the story of her life.
Some major names are involved with the project. The show is being produced by Jeffrey Seller, responsible for Hamilton, and his partner Flody Suarez. It will be directed by Jason Moore, who previously directed the Pitch Perfect movie and Avenue Q stage musical. The writer is Rick Elice, who co-penned The Four Seasons’ smash hit stage musical, Jersey Boys.
Cher: The Musical will chronicle her life from childhood through her years as the wife and musical partner of Sonny Bono to her later emergence as a music icon and movie star. All songs will be from Cher’s back catalogue. The show should open on Broadway some time in 2018.
Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, recently shocked fans at the end of his performance at the Governors Ball music festival. He left the stage after saying “I’ll see you for the last Gambino album.”
These words certainly indicate he will end his time as Childish Gambino after releasing a fourth album. He later made further comments saying his music career was no longer necessary.
A multi-talented artist, Glover/Gambino’s various projects include acting, writing, producing, DJing and performing as a stand-up comedian. He is currently starring in the FX television series, Atlanta, which he also created. The show won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy while Donald won the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy.
If he does retire Childish Gambino after his next album, it would not be too surprising if Donald returned to music in some other guise. His last album, 2016’s Awaken, My Love!, was mostly funk tracks rather than his usual hip hop. He may simply want to make music in a style which is radically different from his work as Childish Gambino.
All three Childish Gambino albums can be heard in full online. The deluxe version of Camp is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXahuQhadV4&list=PL0Vznjqv_euCTZbF0RYC2lqjzPZCbM2gf
Because the Internet is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGMKKeTDBaU
The URL for Awaken, My Love! is www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0W3-QTOg2A
Anyone who remembers a 1980s punk band called Degenerates will have some familiarity with founding member Jimmy Haber. The American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has changed tack from his punk days and is now a forceful presence in the genre of power pop.
His 2013 debut solo album, New Bondi Hippies, so named because most of it was recorded in Sydney, Australia, is set to be released on a 12-inch vinyl edition. The entire album can be heard at www.jimmyhaber.com
Scroll down the homepage to the album cover. Click on this to reveal the track listing and each song is played by clicking on the titles.
Alongside New Bondi Hippies is the cover for Jimmy’s 2015 sophomore solo album, Joy Acid Pact. The songs on this album are also available to hear. Follow the same procedure as with New Bondi Hippies.
Jimmy’s third solo album, Blue Palms, is currently being recorded and mixed. It is scheduled for release late this year.
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