Tag Archives: Gospel

Certified: Damon Locks Sketches the Blueprint for a New Nation

Certified-Damon-Locks-1244.jpgCertified is a series on Bandcamp where we spotlight artists whose work we think is worthy of additional attention.

In 2014, Damon Locks was teaching art to prisoners at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois when Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, was gunned down by a white police officer. That incident set off a wave of local and national protests; it also set off something in Locks. He began researching the U.S. criminal justice system, which imprisons black men at a rate six times that of white men, and allows law enforcement officers to get away with murder.

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Album of the Day: Mavis Staples, “We Get By”

Mavis Staples has never shied away from making a statement, going all the way back to the raw vocal power and unshakeable commitment of The Staple Singers’ 1965 civil rights anthem “Freedom Highway.” The records she’s been making on ANTI for the last 15 years — the overt examples being We’ll Never Turn Back and If All I Was Was Black — have been increasingly oriented toward raising consciousness and, considering our country’s current state, we need Staples’ fiery forward momentum more than ever.

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This World is Just a Dressing Room: A Guide to Gospel on Bandcamp

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Rev Johnny L Jones

Classic black American gospel remains one of the building blocks of contemporary popular music. The style that developed in black American churches combined emotive, improvisatory lead vocals with energetic call-and-response singing from the choir, and was driven by hard-charging rhythms. It was a major influence on everyone from Ray Charles to Al Green, and you can still hear it in Beyoncé’s powerhouse testimonies, in serpentwithfeet‘s soaring vibratos, and in the rhythmic flow of rap, which harkens back to the declarative delivery of black American pastors.

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Mariam Finds Her Voice

Mariam. Photo by CK Goldiing.

Mariam. Photo by CK Goldiing.

When asked what her next steps are, now that her EP Heart to Heart is finally out, British singer-songwriter Mariam replies: “To keep dreaming.” And indeed, it’s truly been dreams—and faith—that led Mariam to return to creating music after two years away from the spotlight. Prior to Heart to Heart, she’d recorded tracks for a planned R&B EP that didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. Eventually, she returned to her roots in gospel music, which helped her find her voice again as well as a renewed passion to create.

Influenced by soul-stirring art, the South Londoner began singing at the age of ten. She wrote poems that became song lyrics, and later taught herself how to play the guitar. Though she was born and raised in the U.K., Mariam cites her Nigerian heritage as a powerful influence on her sound and ideas. American musical influences like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, and Lauryn Hill also broadened her palette, inspiring her to bring gospel’s buoyant energy and soul’s introspection into her own unique brand of pop-folk music.

Bandcamp spoke to Mariam about second chances, learning to accept help, and weaving hope into her music.

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The Glimmering Ghanaian Gospel of Alogte Oho Jonas

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Three years ago, on a dry January day, Max Weissenfeldt was waiting for a bus in Bolgatanga, a huge transport hub in northern Ghana. The former Poets of Rhythm drummer was in the country to record with Guy One, a prominent local musician who plays the kologo—a sort of two-stringed banjo—and sings in a raspy, magnetic voice. Weissenfeldt eventually signed Guy to his Philophon record label, but at the bus station, the German soul musician had another artist on his mind.

Between announcements, the station’s PA system played a handful of bright, upbeat songs led by a voice singing in Frafra, a language prominent in northern Ghana and neighboring Burkina Faso. “Tell me,” Weissenfeldt asked his fellow travelers, “what is this Frafra reggae band?” This isn’t reggae, they told him. It’s gospel.

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