Angelique Kidjo, Gary Clark Jr., PJ Morton Amongst 2020 GRAMMY Award Winners

— News — Editor

The 62nd annual GRAMMY awards took place on Sunday night, with Angelique Kidjo, Gary Clark Jr., and PJ Morton notable amongst the many winners. While the occasion was dampened by the awful news that recently-retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others had tragically perished in a helicopter crash earlier that day, performances by Kidjo and others helped to lift the spirits of those who had gathered inside the Staples centre – the same arena in which Bryant had once scored 81 points in a single game, a feat second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.

The energy, passion and unifying message of Kidjo’s performance was truly inspiring, and proved exactly why she was a worthy winner of the ‘Best World Music album’ award for her record dedicated to Cuban singer Celia Cruz, entitled Celia. While most artists are ecstatic with a single award, contemporary blues-rock artist Gary Clark Jr. walked away with three in recognition of his album This Land and its impactful title track. PJ Morton, who performed at Band on the Wall in January and appeared on the Tonight Show with rapper Rapsody this week, won the ‘Best R&B Song’ award, while Esperanza Spalding’s 12 Little Spells was victorious in the category of ‘Best Jazz vocal album’.

Find the full list of winners here and watch Angelique Kidjo’s performance below.

Repeat Listen: Kirsty Almeida – Moonbird

Through Moonbird, her first album in nearly six years, singer and songwriter Kirsty Almeida communicates her deep affection for music, songcraft, and collaboration. She sings with zest, writes with compassion, and produces with an openness that allows the contributions of her peers to shine brightly with each distinctive arrangement.

Third track Josie Brown exemplifies her ability to tell a story through song. It hears Almeida recounting her childhood interactions with old Josie down the road, paying attention to the minor details that paint a picture of their relationship, and sensitively addressing her eventual passing. Whether or not the tale is true is for the listener to interpret, but so vividly does she depict their time together that it’s impossible not to make an emotional investment in Almeida’s words.

Moonbird’s songwriting feels warm and familiar, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t contain subtle, clever unorthodoxies. For instance, the rhythm of the nylon string guitar and textured drum pattern on You Make My Heart reflects the nervous, excitable sensations we associate with new love; the mixture of joy, uncertainty, and disorientation – yet its use of meter and placement of strings capture that sensation in such an unusual way. The title track, with its Girl From Ipanema-esque chord changes, cycles of five, and psychedelic arrangement, shouldn’t feel as breezy and natural as it does, yet somehow these unusual elements slip so perfectly into place.

There’s much to uncover in Kirsty Almeida’s rich, mature and wonderfully-crafted new record, which shows her to be the consummate songwriter.

New Sounds and Visuals

Ethiojazz luminary Hailu Mergia announced a new album with Awesome Tapes From Africa earlier this week, sharing its first single, Abichu Nega Nega. With hypnotic repetition and psychedelic tones, the track gentle jam exemplifies his nimble organ playing and the absorbing qualities of his writing.

Manchester-based rapper J Chambers fuses roots reggae with hip-hop on his concise new cut, Escape The Kingdom. The track hears him rhyming eloquently about the legacy of British imperialism, with references to the seizure of resources in Africa, mistreatment of Windrush migrants and present-day political issues. A melodic verse from Koro Fyah wraps up this short, sweet and purposeful cut.

Extra Soul Perception, the multi-national project which sees UK, Kenya and Uganda-based artists collaborating on new original material, has dropped its first single. In My Soul hears Faizal Mostrixx and Karun working together on a layered electro-soul cut, with prominent drum programming, melodic vocal hooks and rapped verses.

Manchester-based four-piece Dead Sea Apes will release a new project featuring Nik Rayne of The Myrrors next week. Its opening track, a twenty-minute instrumental psych epic entitled No Friends But The Mountains, perfectly reflects the gentle flow and distortion-fed power of their work.

Pianist Alfa Mist has shared a new video for Withered, the first cut to be revealed from his forthcoming solo piano release. The honest, melodic acoustic piano piece has gentle contours and a warm presence, perfect for any mood or time of day.

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