Singing, dancing, acting, and all that jazz–Verna Francis can do it. From playing Miss Sherman for two years in a West End production of Fame to giving Nathan Haines’ “Earth Is the Place” its distinctive vocal flair, Francis’ talent is as big and broad as her rich voice. Her range and emotive delivery make her sound like a house or broken beat cousin of Whitney Houston or Chaka Khan. Read more »
Charles Spencer’s studio–a few doors down from Jay J. Hernandez and Chris Lum’s famed Moulton Street complex in the Polk Gulch district of San Francisco–also houses a medical marijuana dispensary. Out on the street, the pedestrian traffic turns from midday casual café dwellers to nighttime bar revelers and finally, around 1 a.m., to a myriad of multi-gendered sex workers. Read more »
Although they hail from relatively opposite ends of the earth, The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Hollywood, CA) and Jaga Jazzist’s Lars Horntveth (Oslo, Norway) share quite a bit in common. Both are highly esteemed musicians, fronting genre-shredding outfits that offer up elaborate and cerebral musical explorations. Both released debut solo efforts last year–Omar’s A Manual Dexterity, Volume 1 and Horntveth’s Pooka–and are following suit with their respective bands in 2005. Read more »
At the end of 2004 a new voice exploded onto the roots reggae scene. The voice had an unworldly vocal timbre and sagacious, bitingly conscious turns of phrase that made you listen with your soul. The voice belonged to 24-year-old Jamaican singer I Wayne, whose consecutive singles “Can’t Satisfy Her” and “Living In Love” were the most astounding debut the reggae world has seen in decades.
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Thank Dizzee and The Streets–now that the pressure’s off Roots Manuva to save the soul of UK hip-hop, he’s gone Awfully Deep and come back with his strongest album yet. Fresh off a UK tour with M.I.A. and his eight-piece band The Manuvadelics, the man born Rodney Smith talked with XLR8R after lights out at his Waterloo, London studio.
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