Considering that we are nearly half-way through February and that this is Black History Month in North America (it will come in October in the UK and we will likely revisit this theme at that time), we thought it was about time we got our act together to mark this occasion. Envisioned to look back on important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, today we present you a brief playlist commemorating this month, underlining some of the achievements and interesting facts about these brilliant artists.
The Veldt – Everlasting Gobstopper
The Veldt (once known as Apollo Heights) is one of the most dynamic bands from the last few decades and still existing today. Consisting of twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis, along with Hayato Nakao, their style is often called “alternative soul” or “soul-gaze”, and their sound has gradually evolved with the introduction of more electronica into their music over the years. They deliver a potent mesh of soul, shoegaze and ambient music with both RnB and Motown influences apparently clear. Counting Arthur Lee and Love among their influences, along with Otis Redding, A.R. Kane (see below), Echo & The Bunnymen and Cocteau Twins. They have persistently collaborated with members of two of these bands throughout the course of their career – Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins to a larger degree and Rudy Tambala of A.R. Kane to a lesser degree. Most recently, The Guardian quoted Doc McKinney (producer of Drake, Esthero and The Weeknd, among others) citing The Veldt as progenitors of the layered, atmospheric guitars-and-beats sound now “the most influential new sound in R&B”. Look forward to 2 upcoming releases for this band in 2016 – and EP and LP, which once again involve a bouquet of other celebrated artists.
The Veldt’s website
Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
When the Queen of Funk – Chaka Khan (real name Yvette Stevens) – was just 16, she enlisted in the Black Panthers. Her roles included selling the Black Panther newspaper and aiding in the launch of a free breakfast program for chiildren in Chicago. Her career began in the 1970s, when she was the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. Chaka Khan has won ten Grammys and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide. She has seven gold singles, seven gold albums, and three platinum albums. Khan was ranked at number 17 in VH1’s original list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll. In 2015, she was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time; she was previously nominated as member of Rufus in 2011. Khan was the first R&B artist to feature a rapper with “I Feel For You” in 1984.
Chaka Khan’s website
A.R. Kane – Green Hazed Daze
A British musical duo formed in 1986 by Alex Ayuli, who is of Nigerian descent, and Rudy Tambala, whose father is Malawian. The two first met as school children in an East London primary school. In 1986, A.R. Kane released their debut single “When You’re Sad” on One Little Indian, and eventually signed to 4AD. Despite originally being signed on the basis of a joke Tambala made at a party (about he and Ayuli playing in a band together), these two legendary creative souls pioneered an amorphous style that would become known as dream pop. Despite fairly limited commercial success—the group did score a surprise worldwide dance hit with 1987’s “Pump Up the Volume” as part of the one-off collaborative project MARRS—they have been characterized as among the most innovative groups of their era. A.R. Kane recently reformed and re-emerged on the music scene last year, mainly seen and heard on the festival circuit and in various media sources, but 2016 should be a new breakthrough year for them, as the band has already been allotted their slot at Barcelona’s Primavera Festival and will be recording their new album following that.
A.R. Kane’s website
Honeychild Coleman – Your Idea of Time (w/Mad Professor)
Honeychild (real name Carolyn Coleman) is a Brooklyn-based vocalist and a founding member of the Sistagrrl Riott Collective, who put together shows and front their own projects. She’s collaborated with many artists, including Apollo Heights (mentioned above), DJ Olive, The Slits, Gracefully, as well as many renowned artists on her 2008 debut album Halo inside (Come La Luna), including Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), NatureBoy Jim Kelly (New Kingdom / Morcheeba), DJ Olive, The Mad Professor, and Matteo Dainese (DEJLIGT). Coleman also has an electronic project called DEM. She has signed to Manchester UK’s Invisiblegirl Records (by Julia Adamson of The Fall) and is the subject of several documentaries: “Afropunk” (USA), “Firelies” & “Getting My Name Up There” (AUSTRIA). Coleman’s music has been featured in the Sundance award winning film “Pariah”.
Honeychild Coleman’s website
Tony Springer / Wild T & The Spirit – Midnight Blues
Wild T & the Spirit is a Canadian blues rock band, fronted by guitarist Tony Springer. Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Springer played with a number of reggae and calypso bands as a teenager. Upon moving to Toronto, he played local clubs in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band and joined the alternative new wave band Rough Trade in 1986. Following their breakup, he launched his own band, Wild T and the Spirit in 1990. The band released its Warner Bros. debut album, ‘Love Crazy’ in 1991. The following year, Springer was invited to play guitar on David Bowie’s album ‘Black Tie White Noise’. Following that album and tour, Wild T & the Spirit released their second album ‘Givin’ Blood’ in 1993 through the same labek, and then toured Canada as a supporting act for Bon Jovi to promote the album. ‘Givin’ Blood’ earned a Juno Award nomination for Best Hard Rock Album at the 1994 Juno Awards, and gave the band a Canadian chart hit with “Loveland”.
Wild T & The Spirit’s website