When you hear Brian Owens sing, it’s hard to believe that anyone could find as much joy in music as he does. You would have to believe that his greatest goal is to thrill audiences and reinforce his reputation as one of America’s true soul music virtuosos.
You would be wrong. His goals are much higher than that.
Understanding this will open your ears fully to what makes Owens exceptional. On his new album, For You, scheduled for release in early 2017, he teams up with vocal superstar and close friend Michael McDonald for the project’s first single and title track. Written by Owens, “For You” is a spirit-stirring duet that extols a love so great that “I’d give up anything for you,” leaving it to listeners to interpret how they mirror this devotion in their own lives. It's a song that talks about God. It talks about love. And that gives me a perspective of how much I want to do that for another generation, to encourage them as Michael has encouraged me.”
Owens wrote all eight of the songs featured on the album, drawing from each one from his many influences — Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and other giants. But the foundation for all that he would process as a singer was laid in his church, specifically through its a cappella tradition of rich harmony and inspirational lead singing.
This allowed Owens to hear and learn from all genres of music. Even now you can hear traces in his phrasing, in the way he tells the truth through a lyric or a melody, of Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and even Johnny Cash. “Look at his pedigree,” Owens says. He sang a lot of traditional hymns and gospel, just like the folks in my church. Then you have people like Chet Atkins and Hank Williams — the way they sang and the way they wrote -- that’s American popular song.”
So even though soul music remains his base, Owens clarifies that the roots it shares with jazz, country and blues are the key to his style. “To me, it’s all American,” he says. “When people ask me what I am, I say I’m an American soul singer. It’s American soul.”
A longtime resident of Ferguson, Missouri, he has led by example in launching charitable initiatives. Through his L.I.F.E (Leadership, Innovation, Faith and Excellence) Cultural and Performing Arts, he offers education in music, art and technology with the aim of empowering youth in his community. As manager of the In Unison program and in tandem with the St. Louis Symphony, he connects young people with the city’s artistic institutions. And in October 2016, at the first of his Lunch and Learn events to connect young participants with veteran artists, he hosted a more than 100 students and some adults in a Q&A with the vocal group Take 6, in partnership with the Symphony and under the umbrella of Owens’ newly formed Sterling Bank for L.I.F.E. Community partnership and emerging All Star Clinics program.
Owens has accomplished a lot in his musical career. He has headlined his own tours across the country, performed at the World Series and for First Lady Michelle Obama, opened for Ramsey Lewis and Michael McDonald, and made numerous appearances on national television, including Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fox & Friends, The Wayne Brady Show and more.
Most people would call him a success. Not surprisingly, he’s learned from all this to see success in a different light.
“When I come home every day, I tell myself my life is successful because I can be home with my family, available to my church and involved with my students. Those things matter the most. So when I go to the studio or onto the stage to do music, that’s a platform for their success and for those who come after them so I can step back and let these young people take it over when they’re ready.”
Playing piano by age four, violin by nine, Utica, NY native, Angela Johnson was encouraged by her family during her formative years as an aspiring musician through college and beyond. Upon enrolling at the State University of New York at Purchase (SUNY) as a violin major, Johnson met her future Cooly’s hot-box bandmate, Christian Urich. Together the eclectic soul and acid jazz band released records with Polygram Records and Virgin Records. Simultaneously, Johnson recorded her solo debut, They Don’t Know (2002). It’s radio hit “Ordinary Things” helped to distinguish Johnson as a woman apart.
That distinction paid off as songs from They Don’t Know (2002) and her sophomore
album Got To Let It Go (2005), were licensed by HBO’s The Wire, UPN’s Kevin Hill, FX’s The Shield, and the WB’s Roswell. Johnson’s songs have also been licensed by A&E’s The Glades, HBO’s Oz, FOX’s The Mindy Project. the Nicole Kidman film Rabbit Hole, and several songs in the film Big Words. Johnson has also appeared in a Japanese car commercial for Nissan, and a featured spot for a national TV ad campaign for AT&T with Cooly’s hot-box.
A Woman’s Touch, (2008), Johnson’s producer album, would touch yet another milestone in her journey. The album features Maysa Leak, Frank McComb, Eric Roberson, Rahsaan Patterson, and Gordon Chambers, among others and nominated for the SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Award for “Independent Album of the Year.” In 2010, Johnson released It’s Personal and won the Soul Tracks Readers’ Choice Award for “Independent Album of the Year.” A high-octane remix project soon followed in 2012 with Revised, Edited & Flipped. Johnson’s sixth solo release, Naturally Me
(2014), proves that Angela Johnson no longer has anything to prove to anyone ever again. In doing so, she also lets you know neither do you.
Johnson has also penned songs for artists such as Reel People, Joey Negro & the Sunburst Band, Josh Milan, Micky More, Tim Bowman, Japanese R&B superstar Double, for whom Johnson landed a 2001, Top 10, gold-selling hit, “Angel.” In 2014, Johnson had collaborated with the legendary Wu-Tang Clan member, Ghostface Killah, on his critically acclaimed, 36 Seasons album (“Love Don’t Live Here No More” and “Bamboo’s Lament”) and had the pleasure of joining him on stage to perform on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
“Jasmine Mans will be your new favorite poet on the internet. ”
— Nylon Magazine
An author, performer, poet, teacher...yes to all of those titles, but more importantly Jasmine Mans is an artist...an artist who enjoys having various forums to express her thoughts, moods, opinions and a voice to speak out on behalf of others and the community around her. In 2012, Jasmine was chosen by Glamour Magazine, as one of their Top 10 Most Influential Woman in College. She has also successfully competed in HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voice and Knicks Poetry Slam competitions. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (2014), Jasmine received her BA in African-American Studies (Black Theory & Literature) and is the recipient of the Star Ledger – NJPAC; Arts Millennia; and (New York) Knicks Poetry Slam Scholarships and awards. Jasmine has opened for artists such as Goapele, Mos Def, and Janelle Monae. Her work have appeared alongside other artists such as NoMalice of Clipse and Pharrell. Her artistry has brought her to theatres and stages including the Kennedy Center, Broadway's New Amsterdam Theater, the Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion and the Sundance Film Festival, amongst others. However, Mans began stringing rhymes together as a middle-school student in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, honing those artistic skills while attending the first performing arts high school in the nation, Newark Arts High School.
“Jasmine’s work will send chills down your spine. ”
— Glamour Magazine
From Rolling Stone’s 2016 “Next Top Gun” to a collaborative secret weapon and considered to be a “Smoking Gun” on today’s best musical feature presentations. These days this former child prodigy is absolutely on fire as one of the world’s preeminent guitarist on the rise. With Marcus’ most recent musical feature being alongside none other than the multi-talented Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway for the “Mr. Soul” documentary; Marcus is proving his guitar line’s and eclectically influenced Jimi Hendrix style is an added essential to the completion of what will be lauded as a masterpiece.
From blues and jazz to rock and hip-hop, Marcus’ style brings an essence of flavor and originality all its own. With his most recent revered performances and collaborative offerings with Hip Hop Aficionado DJ Pete Rock and the Soul Brother project; along with drummer phenom Daru Jones; the treacherous trio have rocked select cities throughout the country. If that weren’t enough, Marcus, along with Daru Jones (Jack White, Slum Village) and legendary bass player Doug Winbush (Living Colour), established “DMD”, a supergroup of musicianship who’d even performed a remarkable halftime show in October 2017 before an audience of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden for the New York Knicks.
Moving well ahead of his time, Marcus has played all over the world professionally since the tender age of ten with many of today’s notable giants like, Buddy Miles, Marcus Miller, Ramsey Lewis, Sandra St. Victor, Zakk Wylde, Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, DJ Logic, Tony Royster, Kid Capri, Gary Hoey and many others. True to form, Marcus himself is on his way to following in the steps of giants as his works continue unfold. Marcus’ versatility of style as a guitarist is most recently showcased on “Goin’, Goin’, Gone”, a country song featuring Robert Glasper and Ro James for the new Johnny Cash tribute album called “Forever Words”; which reached #8 on the Billboard Country album charts.
Recognized as one of industry’s best kept secrets, Marcus is no stranger to the stage, with an in depth indoctrination to the world of music; Marcus Machado has been playing the acoustic guitar since the age of one and the electric guitar since the age of two. With one of the first of his performances as a kindergartner being a rendition of “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix on a guitar synthesizer; it’s no wonder he was dubbed the “Young Jimi Hendrix”. Coming full circle, Marcus had the esteemed opportunity to perform the Hendrix Flat Sessions in London on location at Jimi Hendrix’ old apartment; which can be viewed on YouTube. Although influenced by many greats like Jimi Hendrix, Marcus wants to be known for his original music, which contains influences of Jazz, R&B, Funk, Rap, Rock and Gospel; as displayed in his 2015 debut EP "29" released through Purpose Music Group showcasing his enormous musical talents.
Coupled with Marcus’ management team The A.R.T. Agency Group, Marcus Machado will delight audiences during the summer of 2018 with a number of pop-up performances hosting musical guests in the Soho neighborhood of New York City. These performance jam-sessions are expected to provide a lead introduction to Marcus’ long awaited single release, with a follow up album in the fall as part of soundtrack he scored for the upcoming short film “Blue Diamonds”.
Through his works and much anticipated sought after performances, Marcus Machado smoking style is proving he’s the necessary element for fire.
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