Had enough of Kesha and Rihanna yet? Great vocalists know the power of listening to every genre – and sometimes that means turning off the radio and doing some exploring. Mainstream music culture may have strayed a bit from the sultry sounds of singers like Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, but it doesn’t mean the days of blues and jazz powerhouses are gone!
To help you out, Mother Jones recently compiled a list of 5 female vocalists to watch in 2013, and we’ve had them on repeat ever since. Here are a few of the singers the article features:
Rachael Price (of Lake Street Dive):
Australian by birth, Nashvillian by pedigree, Price earned a degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and performed with T.S. Monk Sextet at jazz festivals around the world. After hearing a recording of Price in 2003, actress/singer Kathryn Grayson deemed her “the best young voice I’ve heard, period. No one around her can even touch her voice and style.” While Price mostly stuck to standards in her early career, she’s now departed from strictly jazz as a member of the indie group Lake Street Dive.
Price’s voice soars with clarity and classically trained precision. She can make the most of a Motown cover but also glides easily into blues, country, and pop. The video above, featuring Price belting out a relaxed cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” aptly showcases her glamor and command. But also make sure to listen to the band’s original song “Bad Self Portraits” (below), which has Price sounding like a young Bonnie Raitt. Bonus: Her band mate Bridget Kearney rocks it on the upright bass and has a lovely voice, too. Lake Street Dive just finished touring with Yonder Mountain String Band, will soon be touring with Josh Ritter, and has a date this week opening for Mavis Staples in Iowa.
Aluna Francis (of AlunaGeorge):
AlunaGeorge, featuring chanteuse Aluna Francis, is quickly becoming one of the breakout bands of 2013. Consisting of Francis and producer George Reid, the electronica group combines intimate vocals with synthesized pop, house, R&B, and dub-step. Though already pretty big in the UK—the duo nabbed second in BBC’s Sound of 2013 contest—Francis’ voice will likely get way more air time in the US in the coming year.
Francis, who is half Indian and half Jamaican, worked as a reflexologist and previously sang for the band My Toys Like Me. She first met Reid when he remixed one of My Toys’ songs, and they paired up and released their first commercial single (“Your Drums, Your Love,” above) late last year. Though minimalist and futuristic, AlunaGeorge’s songs are made human by Francis’ velvety touch. She imbues the pulsing drive of a late-night dance tune with soulful emotion, and her high-pitched timbre balances well with Reid’s beats, to a mysterious but alluring effect. “You can’t say I’m going nowhere, when you don’t know where I am from,” she croons. On the contrary, I’d say she’s barreling straight toward stardom. AlunaGeorge’s debut album, Body Music, is due out in June.
Luz Elena Mendoza (of Y La Bamba):
Portland-based band Y La Bamba draws from Mexican folk songs and mariachi singers as influence for its eerie tunes. Emerging in 2003, the band has enjoyed limited success in indie circuits, but never much widespread attention, apart from becoming one of NPR Music’s darlings. That could change this year, as they just wrapped up an East Coast tour alongside the Grammy-nominated Lumineers.
Lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza has a distinctive and charged voice, filled with nostalgia and mourning. She often manages to sound both completely in control and completely unhinged. Y La Bamba’s recent EP, Oh February, showcases her chilling vocals, and also demonstrates how she continues to evolve and experiment. While she may never be an American Idol-type star, she’s an original and wise artist who will continue to turn heads at her live shows.
Continue reading the article here.
Readers, what do you think? What new artists have inspired you recently? Leave a comment below!
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Photo by Jay Adan