On the Rise: Jamila Woods Sings the Heart of Chicago

Chicago is in the midst of a musical explosion and Jamila Woods is definitely one to watch as a new generation rises in the wake of Kanye West and Common. Perhaps Chance the Rapper led the charge, along with friends Vic Mensa and producers such as King Louie, but poet/singers such as Woods are pushing it to the next level.

I talked to Woods about her new release and what it means to deliver her messages of black power merged with memories of the innocence of youth gone by. The story, Jamila Woods: Soul of a Protestor, appeared in Pitchfork. Continue reading “On the Rise: Jamila Woods Sings the Heart of Chicago”

Ledisi stopped by Mahalia Jackson’s grave before singing ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’

Image courtesy of Ledisi.
Image courtesy of Ledisi.

I was talking with Ledisi about her ongoing “Intimate Truth” concert tour, and I certainly didn’t expect for her to provide any extra details about the so-called Grammy snub. But she did. (You know the original story right? It’s from February 2015, where Beyonce sang “Precious Lord” instead of Ledisi, as part of the nod to “Selma.” Some fans got upset because Ledisi actually starred as Mahalia Jackson and sang the song in the movie.)

Anyhoo… Below you can read a portion of what the sultry songstress told me for a story that I penned for the Chicago Sun-Times:

I could not find a studio in L.A. to record the song! I couldn’t record in San Francisco. I had only one day I could do it. I had to go home. I flew to Louisiana because there was a studio there. When I landed I went to visit Mahalia’s gravesite, and laid flowers and thanked her for the opportunity. And then we recorded the song.

She never directly mentioned Beyonce by name, but did go on to say that she could respond to the issue with grace because she went about it in her own way and in a respectful way.  Asking permission of the dead. Can’t hurt, right?

The Intimate Truth Tour also features RaheemDeVaughn and Leela James, two stars that don’t get enough ink, adds Ledisi.  She also added that having drama shouldn’t be a requirement for getting ink in a newspaper.

“We don’t support our own enough,” she says. “Only when there’s drama is when we rise up… Can we rise up all the time?

And for the Chicagoans who like to go back to her very first songs and pretty much hear the entire catalogue, Ledisi (later, to me,) added a call for my South Side friends and fans to simmer down. “Chicago folk go all the way back to the very beginning. I’m not doing that. Please stop asking for it. I still have an album to promote yall!”