Interviews

JAZZ FM AWARD WINNER JARROD LAWSON TALKS EXCLUSIVELY TO SJF

Thursday, 11 June 2015 12:22 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

jarrod-lawson-slide-2It's been a memorable whirlwind of a year for America's rising soul star JARROD LAWSON. Just over twelve months ago the 37-year-old singer and pianist was unknown to the public at large and working as a piano tuner in his home town of Portland, Oregon. Today, in June 2015, he's just picked up an award - no doubt the first of many - at Jazz FM's awards ceremony in London, beating D'Angelo and Lalah Hathaway in the process to pick up a prestigious Soul Artist Of The Year trophy. SJF's man-on-the-spot, Charles Waring, managed to grab a few moments backstage with the amiable Dome recording artist before the winners were announced...

Were you in the UK already or did you come over specially for the awards?

I flew in from Chicago. We were doing a little US tour and we were right on the tail end of the tour when I got the call: 'we'd really like to bring you to London for this award show,' and I was like (laughs) okay, I'd better not go home then. So I literally flew straight from Chicago.

What does it feel like to be nominated for Jazz FM's Soul Artist Of The Year?

It's a huge honour. For me to see my face on this little marquee right here next to D'Angelo and Lalah Hathaway, it feels like I'm living somebody else's life (laughs)...

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 12:30

 

VAN'S STILL THE MAN - avant-funk trailblazer Van Hunt talks about songcraft, the record business, Thelonious Monk...and finding inspiration in a Kent graveyard.

Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:55 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Van_DoorwayFunk is in Van Hunt's blood. That's no surprise, perhaps, because he is, after all, a son of Dayton, Ohio, which to those among you who are clued up on rhythm and blues history is recognised as America's undisputed capital city of funk music. Over the years it's given us a host of key funkateers, including Zapp - and the band's leader, Roger Troutman, who enjoyed a successful solo career - Slave, Sun, Aurra, Lakeside and, of course, the group that put Dayton on the music map in the first place, the mighty Ohio Players. "My father and his brothers played their music all of the time," laughs Van Hunt, acknowledging the group's importance to his own musical upbringing. "They bragged about the fact that these groups were from their area and in some cases right from the next street."

It was, then, almost impossible not to be infected by funk fever if you lived in Dayton and given his heavy exposure to R&B music, it was no surprise, perhaps, that Van Hunt became a musician himself. Initially he gained renown as a songwriter in the late 1990s when he wrote material for ex-Arrested Development singer, Dionne Farris (he penned her 1997 Top 30 US R&B hit 'Hopeless') and neo-soul man, Rahsaan Patterson. In 2004, he signed a deal with Capitol Records and released his self-titled debut album which fused soul, pop and funk elements into a fresh and distinctive individual sound. The set yielded the noteworthy singles 'Dust,' 'Seconds Of Pleasure,' and 'Down Here In Hell (With You)' and received a Grammy nomination. His second album, 2006's 'On The Jungle Floor,' took a rockier turn (it included a cover of The Stooges' 'No Sense Of Crime') and in 2007, Hunt scooped a Grammy with John Legend and Joss Stone for his part on the Sly Stone tribute album, 'Different Strokes By Different Folks.'

His third album, 'Popular,' was originally recorded for Capitol but was scheduled for release by Blue Note in 2008 who then mysteriously shelved it. That could have seriously derailed Hunt's career and although he lost some of the momentum that he had been building, three years later, Van Hunt was back on track with a new long player, 'What Were You Hoping For,' released via his own label, Godless Hotspot. For those expecting orthodox R&B and funk, it proved something of an unexpected stylistic curve ball with its prominent distorted rock-style guitars.

Fast forward to 2015 and Van Hunt returns to the fray with a new album, 'The Fun Sets, The Fun Rises.' Though not as radical or challenging as 2011's 'What You Were Hoping For,' it's nevertheless trying to take funk and R&B forward into the future. It also contains some brilliant ballads. In a revealing interview with SJF's Charles Waring, he talks about his new project as well as the legendary lost Blue Note album, the ups and downs of the music business...and getting the inspiration for a song in a Maidstone churchyard...

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 13:39

 

A NEW DAY DAWNS - CASSANDRA WILSON TALKS

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 12:49 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

cassandra-wilson-apollo-652x367Some musicians are boxed in by the demands of their record company as well as the expectations of their fans and therefore find it hard to grow and evolve as artists. But that's never been a problem for Cassandra Wilson, the husky-voiced Mississippi-born singer who has never been afraid to take risks. "I've gotten into trouble for it but it's been a great ride," declared the 59-year-old two-time Grammy winner to SJF's Charles Waring recently. "I'm proud of the work that I've done. I'm happy and can look at myself in the mirror." Above all, she thanks jazz saxophonist Steve Coleman - an early key collaborator in her career - for opening her eyes and ears. "He was the one who really steered me clear of doing standard repertoire," she reveals. "He said to me it's very important that you develop your own voice for your own time."

And that's exactly what Cassandra Wilson has done since she began her recording career back in 1986. Since then she's been forging her own singular path and though some people describe her music as being jazz-based, in reality it's is a seamless synthesis of different genres that cannot be comfortably pigeonholed. There's jazz DNA, certainly, in her music, but there are also elements absorbed from soul, folk, blues, country and world music. The singer's latest opus is 'Coming Forth By Day,' intended as a tribute to mark the centenary of iconic jazz chanteuse, Billie Holiday, but in true Cassandra Wilson fashion, it's nothing like a straight-ahead jazz vocal album...

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 13:19

 

ANNASTASIA’S TURN. THE ANNASTASIA BAKER INTERVIEW

Sunday, 10 May 2015 14:52 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

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TV's X Factor has its critics but despite the brickbats, it has created some "names". One is London-based soulstress ANNASTASIA BAKER. Annastasia was a finalist in the 2010 series and since then has gone on to become a star on the London gospel circuit. Indeed she was nominated for a MOBO in the Gospel section of the awards and now she's set to turn more her heads when her first solo album, 'You Turn' wins release in June. What better time then to find out a little bit more about Ms Baker.....? Let's start with some personal info......

I was born in Jamaica and raised in the UK, residing in South London. I left Jamaica when I was 8 months old and I am the eldest of four children; one younger brother and the rest of us are girls. We grew up as a fun family, lots of jokers and a lot of our day to day life was full of laughter as well as music. I didn't realise that I had a musical gift though until I was in college and that's when I began to enjoy it so much more and pursue it seriously.

And what about your musical upbringing... growing up who were your influences... your heroes?

Growing up I loved Tina Turner and Whitney Houston. Kirk Franklin has also been a great inspiration. I would look at them and the effect they had, how they rocked the stage. I used to watch DVDs of my parents and I would be mesmerised by their stage presence.

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 May 2015 15:11

 

LOOKING CLOSER AT SAUN AND STARR

Sunday, 19 April 2015 13:27 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

SaunAndStarr.PhotobyKyleDeanReinfordEven before its official release the Daptone album 'Look Closer' by SAUN & STARR is being lined up by soul tastemakers and fans alike as THE album of 2015. Those lucky enough to have had a preview will have heard an authentic brand of organic soul music rarely heard in these days of stereotyping and sonic airbrushing. Hardly surprising though... the Saun & Starr duo (Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Lowe) were raised in the gospel tradition and are currently (as the Dapettes) working as backing singers – live and in the studio - for the dynamic Sharon Jones, who herself knows a thing or two about proper soul music. Time then surely to find out more about soul's newest dynamic duo. Refreshingly enthusiastic and honest, both girls wanted to talk with SOULANDJAZZAND FUNK.... so let's go..... What about some personal background.....

SAUN: I was born in Harlem and raised in The Bronx, New York. Growing up in The South Bronx was beautiful to me because my neighbourhood was comprised of people from all over the world so I would hear music in different styles and languages coming from the windows on the weekend or from behind my neighbour's doors. Mostly though, the music that I heard in my own home was the music that opened my ears, head and heart to the worlds of soul, jazz, gospel, the blues, pop, folk and rock. This device called, 'the radio', changed my life at a very, very early age.

STARR: I was born in the South Bronx in the fabulous 60's when the pioneers of music were paving the way to soulful sounds. Music was the thriving force in the home where I lived. My family had a huge album collection at that time. 78's, 45's, LP's, you name the group we had it! Even classical music! My family always had music throughout the home and through that I was always singing.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2015 19:04

 

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