Nominations Include Brandi Carlile, Anaïs Mitchell, Molly Tuttle, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Angélique Kidjo, Marcus Mumford, Prateek Kuhad, & More
Kansas City, MO, USA (January 9, 2023) – Folk Alliance International (FAI), the foremost global nonprofit for folk music and the producers of the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), announced this year’s upcoming recipients and Best of 2022 nominees this afternoon.
The live awards show will be held February 1 in Kansas City, MO, USA on the opening night of FAI’s 35th annual conference, and will be broadcast online. Appearances are confirmed by GRAMMY nominee and Folk Alliance International Conference keynote speaker Valerie June; “really cool” (NPR Music) duo The Milk Carton Kids; Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist Leyla McCalla (who will also be honored at the IFMAs with the People’s Voice Award); and Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee.
The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year to honor the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures: one Living, one Legacy, and one Business/Academic. This year’s honorees are ten-time GRAMMY nominee Janis Ian, whose fives decades in music are “marked by literary lyrics, social activism and major hits” (NY Times); the “master” (NY Times) Josh White; and John Prine-founded Oh Boy Records, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year.
The following are the finalists for the 2022 Album, Artist, and Song of the Year, including beloved songwriter Brandi Carlile; Hadestown visionary Anaïs Mitchell; 2023 GRAMMY nominee Molly Tuttle; Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, each of whom has won an Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award; five-time GRAMMY-winner Angélique Kidjo; Newport Folk Fest alum Aoife O’Donovan; Jake Blount, whose album was named one of the best of the year by The Guardian, NPR Music, and Rolling Stone; Marcus Mumford of the platinum-selling group Mumford & Sons; Prateek Kuhad, who has been “headlining festivals attended by tens of thousands” (Billboard) and compiled over 240 million streams; and more.
Album of the Year (sponsored by Rounder Records)
Marchita by Silvana Estrada
Queen Of Sheba by Angélique Kidjo and Ibrahim Maalouf
Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee by Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
Anaïs Mitchell by Anaïs Mitchell
Crooked Tree by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Artist of the Year
Song of the Year (sponsored by Sound Royalties)
“Udhero Na” written by Arooj Aftab, performed by Arooj Aftab featuring Anoushka Shankar
“Vini Wè” written and performed by Leyla McCalla
“Bright Star” written and performed by Anaïs Mitchell
“How” written by Marcus Mumford and Brandi Carlile, performed by Marcus Mumford featuring Brandi Carlile
“B61” written and performed by Aoife O’Donovan
Final choices (nominees) for Album, Artist, and Song of the Year are compiled from US, Canadian, and international “best of” annual industry and media lists in addition to the year-end Folk DJ Charts. Award winners are determined by FAI’s voting membership with the ballot open until January 17, 2023. Winners will be announced at the International Folk Music Awards.
The People’s Voice Award is presented to an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers. Past recipients include Jason Mraz (2022), Jackson Browne (2021), Ani DiFranco (2020), and more. As an artist, People’s Voice Award recipient Leyla McCalla has always traveled through time and space, opening the channels between lost or hidden touchstones of roots music and the present day. As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters and in her solo work, the multi-instrumentalist and composer bring immediacy to long lost stories and shows how they survive and adapt through the flexible agents of rhythm, language, and intimate human connection. Her work is political and warmly welcoming, cerebral, and highly danceable. Based in New Orleans, LA after growing up in a Haitian family in New York, NY, McCalla makes music that adds detail to music’s maps and gives voice to people whose struggles and triumphs define its diasporic evolution. In 2022 she released the album Breaking the Thermometer, the culmination of her most complex project yet — a multimedia performance telling the story of the first independent radio station in Haiti. Breaking the Thermometer made best of 2022 lists at NPR Music, PopMatters, and Mojo, in addition to former President Barack Obama’s list of favorite music for 2022.
The Rising Tide Award was launched in 2021 to celebrate a new generation (under 30) artist who inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice. Award recipient Alisa Amador points folk music toward its future — a future that’s cosmopolitan, multifaceted, and multilingual; qualities that have in fact been at the community’s heart all along. Amador, who comes from a folk music family, grew up in Boston, MA, Maine, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, and her songs show the influence of all of those places. A native Spanish speaker who’s spent most of her life in the States, Amador moves easefully between the two languages in her songwriting. As a high schooler, she studied jazz, and is known for sometimes scatting during performances. Amador’s ability to blend all of these influences within sharply rendered yet gently flowing songs helped her win NPR Music’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest; and Folk Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.
Shambala Festival will receive the Clearwater Award, which is sponsored by the Levitt Foundation. The Clearwater Award is presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production. Shambala Festival is a four-day contemporary performing arts festival in Northamptonshire, England, UK. The festival is completely and utterly committed to being sustainable, circular, regenerative, net positive, earth- and life-respecting, and future-thinking. They have reduced the festival’s carbon footprint by over 90%; achieved 100% renewable electricity; became meat, fish, and dairy-milk free; and eradicated single-use plastics. They’ve received many awards for their sustainability work, including the Innovation Award at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, the International A Greener Festival Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Creative Green Awards in 2017, and more. The festival is Creative Green Certified and has committed to measuring and transparently reporting all of its impacts to provide an honest evaluation of its efforts. They work with independent third parties like Julie’s Bicycle to assess their performance and carbon footprint.
The Spirit of Folk Awards are presented to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership. The following are 2023 recipients:
Steve Edge has been presenting folk music in Vancouver as a DJ on CITR since 1985, and concerts and festivals throughout the city since 1986, initially independently, and then as a co-founder of The Rogue Folk Club in 1987 where he continues to present Celtic, folk, and roots music as its artistic director. Steve was an inaugural member of FAI in 1989, is an inductee into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Unsung Hero award from the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs is the co-founder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation, an online music magazine and promoter of roots, folk, and Americana music and culture. She joined the board of FAI in 2015 and was instrumental in refining and codifying the recruitment process for board elections as chair of the Nominations Committee. Amy served as board president through the pandemic, and supported FAI’s recent strategic plan and executive director transition.
Marcy Marxer is the creator of All Wigged Out, a poignant and witty musical theatre production (and now film) recounting her harrowing triumph over breast cancer. Painfully funny, it is an example of the power of music and humor to inform and heal. Marxer, along with her partner Cathy Fink, is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner and eleven-time nominee, and together they have been recognized with over 60 Washington Area Music Association Awards for their folk, bluegrass, and children’s music recordings.
Adrian Sabogal is an acclaimed musician, producer, and researcher who founded Marimbea, an organization dedicated to the well-being of the Afro-Colombian communities from the country’s South Pacific coast. By arranging music-centered cultural tourism excursions, Marimbea strives to generate alternative sources of income, knowledge exchanges, and support networks for artists in marginalized and remote communities. Adrian’s work has had an impact on the economic development in the region, and the preservation of a vibrant and unique musical tradition.
Pat Mitchell Worley is the President and CEO of the Memphis-based Soulsville Foundation, which oversees the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School, all with a mission to perpetuate the soul of Stax Records. She is the long-time co-host of Beale Street Caravan, a syndicated roots radio show broadcast, and she regularly hosts artist Q&As for the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and Oxford American. She is a former development director for the Memphis Music Foundation, and a past employee of the Blues Foundation.
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame was established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field. Inducted DJs include the following:
Robert Resnik has been the host of All the Traditions, Vermont Public Radio’s folk and world music program, since 1996. Hooked on music since the 1960s, Robert previously spent many years on-air at WRUV at the University of Vermont. All the Traditions is as eclectic as Robert’s musical taste, but is dedicated to promoting music created by people living in the VPR broadcast area, which includes all of Vermont and parts of New Hampshire, New York, and Quebec. Robert also plays more than 25 instruments, and has performed and recorded CDs with a variety of musical combos for kids and adults.
Marilyn Rea Beyer hosted her first concert in junior high as the school band emcee. She got on board The Midnight Special listening to WFMT as a Chicago teenager. She has had careers in education, PR, and high tech. In 1995, Marilyn became on-air host and music director at Boston’s premiere folk station, WUMB-FM, and served on the board of the legendary Club Passim. Returning to Chicago, Marilyn joined WFMT in 2020, hosting The Midnight Special and now Folkstage. The Midnight Special launched in 1953 and maintained legendary status under Rich Warren’s stewardship. She says that judicious risk-taking, nurturing artists, and falling in love with new music make the job fun.
John Platt has hosted the Sunday Supper (formerly Sunday Breakfast) for 25 years at WFUV New York, NY and has curated On Your Radar, a monthly showcase for emerging artists at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC for 17 years. He has founded the not-for-profit New Folk Initiative, which has extensive resources for the folk community at newfolk.org. He began his career at WMMR Philadelphia in 1969, programmed WXRT Chicago and WRVR New York, worked at WNEW-FM and WNYC, and produced national radio programs.
Harry B. Soria Jr. was known as a radio personality and walking encyclopedia of Hawaiian music history. The musicologist, award-winning liner notes writer, and record producer was the son of prominent local broadcaster and songwriter Harry B. Soria Sr. Ironically, Harry B.’s interest in Hawaiian music was sparked by hearing “cool” old records far from Hawaiian shores while at college in San Francisco. Upon returning to Hawai’i, he bonded with his dad over his vintage Hawaiian records. Harry B.’s passion for music from this period led to guest spots on KCCN in 1976 and his weekly “Territorial Airwaves” radio show of recordings from his personal collection. In 2019, Territorial Airwaves became the longest running Hawaiian music show in radio history. Soria’s record collection and archives are being donated to the Hawaii State Archives.
Presenters at the ceremony will include acclaimed author and NPR Music critic Ann Powers and NPR Alt.Latino’s Catalina Maria Johnson as well as Ashley Shabankareh, Chris Porter, Sara Leishman, Ayappa Biddanda, Reid Wick, Michael Kornfeld, Laura Thomas, and Brandi Waller Pace, all Folk Alliance International Board of Directors members.
The Awards will take place at the Westin Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, MO, USA. Folk Alliance International had previously announced the lineup of Official Showcase performances at the conference: www.folk.org/programs/conference/2023-official-showcase-artists
About Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. Today FAI is the leading international voice for folk music with a network of more than 3,000 members: a worldwide community of artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.
From its U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, FAI produces the world’s largest conference for the folk music industry, the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), an Artist in Residence program, the Folk ExChange market development program, the Ethno USA gathering (on behalf of JM International), community outreach, and a Finest Folk concert series.
FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, strives to ensure gender parity in all its programming, celebrates multiple languages and cultures, and actively welcomes participation from marginalized, disenfranchised, and underrepresented communities.
FAI defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” (reflective of any community they are from), and programs a diverse array of sub genres including, but not limited to, Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Global Roots, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Traditional, Zydeco, and various fusions.
About Janis Ian
Janis Ian is a music icon whose songs and performances have resonated with the public for over five decades. Much of her music has poignantly focused on social issues, as Ian is a pioneer of both confessional singer-songwriters’ music and social protest. Her first hit, “Society’s Child” — written when she was just fourteen — spoke empathetically about interracial romance, and her indelible song “At Seventeen” remains the anthem for “ugly duckling girls” maligned by false beauty standards. Her music defies easy categorization, with albums like Stars and Between the Lines becoming classics in both the adult contemporary and folk rock idioms. Ian was also a pioneer of artist-run labels with her Rude Girl Records and, after coming out with her groundbreaking 1993 album Breaking Silence, she’s been a beacon for LGBTQIA+ awareness in the folk community. Ian has just retired from performing, making this the perfect time to honor this living legend.
About Josh White
Josh White was an immensely talented guitarist and singer who had a prolific and greatly influential output of Piedmont and country blues music over a 40-year span. He was the most popular and influential Black folk singer of the 1930s and 1940s and one of the most prominent Black celebrities in any field. Originally a blues artist slotted into the “race records” category, he became a major star through his appearances at New York’s Café Society, on Broadway, and in films. He was the first Black singer to give a White House command performance (1941), to perform in previously segregated hotels (1942), to get a million-selling record (“One Meatball”, 1944), and the first to make a solo concert tour of America (1945). White had a profound influence musically on hundreds of artists of different genres. In particular, his songs of social protest, which were grounded in personal experience growing up in Jim Crow South Carolina, had a huge impact not only on performers like Harry Belafonte and Odetta, but on politicians like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was inspired by White to begin exploring how to desegregate the U.S. armed forces. Often overlooked in histories of folk music due both to his cabaret-singer style and his decision to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s — though he did not name anyone as a Communist — White nonetheless remains a titan of not only folk music but American culture in general.
About Oh Boy Records
Oh Boy Records was founded by the late John Prine, Al Bunetta, and Dan Einstein in 1980 when, after moving to Nashville, Prine decided he wanted to be a genuinely independent artist. It’s rare that an artist-founded record label becomes iconic, but Oh Boy arguably did as it not only was a main marketing vehicle for most of John Prine’s recordings (he being one of the founders), it has also promoted and nurtured the careers of other very notable singer-songwriters such as Kris Kristofferson, Todd Snider, and Janis Ian. From the beginning, Oh Boy has evolved to be not only a powerful example of one artist taking charge of his career, but a hub for creative and independent-minded musicians in Nashville and beyond. In the 2010s the label experienced a renaissance largely through the efforts of Prine’s wife, Fiona, and son Jody Whelan, signing some of the most exciting new voices in folk and Americana music: Tré Burt, Kelsey Waldon, Arlo McKinley, and Emily Scott Robinson. Oh Boy is a strong presence in the Nashville music scene, a home for those who cannot or don’t want to play the bigger label game, and a model for anyone doing the music business thing in the 21st century.
About Brandi Carlile
The recent Saturday Night Live performance adds to yet another monumental year for Carlile, who is nominated for seven awards at the 65th GRAMMY Awards: Album of the Year (In These Silent Days), Record of the Year (“You And Me On The Rock” feat. Lucius), Best Americana Album (In These Silent Days), Best Americana Performance (“You And Me On The Rock” feat. Lucius), Best American Roots Song (“You And Me On The Rock” feat. Lucius), Best Rock Performance (“Broken Horses”) and Best Rock Song (“Broken Horses”). Already a six-time Grammy Award-winner, this year’s accolades bring her total number of Grammy nominations to 24.
About Taj Mahal
“The blues is bigger than most people think,” Taj Mahal says. “You could hear Mozart play the blues. It might be more like a lament. It might be more melancholy. But I’m going to tell you: the blues is in there.” Taj is a towering musical figure — a legend who transcended the blues not by leaving them behind, but by revealing their magnificent scope to the world. Quantifying the 77- year-old’s significance is impossible, but people try anyway. A 2017 Grammy win
for TajMo, Taj’s collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and other honors punctuate his résumé. Taj appreciates the accolades, but his motivation lies elsewhere. “I just want to be able to make the music that I’m hearing come to me — and that’s what I did,” Taj says. “When I say, ‘I did,’ I’m not coming from the ego. The music comes from somewhere. You’re just the conduit it comes through. You’re there to receive the gift.”
About Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder is an American musician, songwriter, record producer, and film score composer best known for his unparalleled skill on the slide guitar. Cooder has been the recipient of six GRAMMY Awards including Best World Music Album, Best Pop Instrumental Album, and the 1997 Best Tropical Latin Performance GRAMMY for his work producing the classic album Buena Vista Social Club.
His wide-ranging discography includes over 20 classic albums, such as Boomer’s Story (1972), Chicken Skin Music (1976), Bop till You Drop (1979), Get Rhythm (1987), Borderline (1980), My Name is Buddy (2007), Election Special (2012), and Live in San Francisco (2013), which was recorded during a two night stint at the famous Great American Music Hall and featured Joachim Cooder, Arnold McCuller, and Flaco Jimenez.
About Silvana Estrada
Silvana Estrada sings from down deep, telling her soulful coming-of-age stories in a voice that embraces the legacy of Latin American song and carries it into the 21st Century.Called “one of Mexico’s greatest young talents and vocalists” by KCRW’s José Galvan, Silvana, who is 23 years old, is the new voice of a movement of independent female artists who have characterized Latin Alternative music over the past decade. She has also been recognized internationally, performing and recording with artists including Uruguayan singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler, Chile’s Mon Laferte, Catalan singer Silvia Pérez Cruz and Spanish group Love of Lesbian, as well as Natalia LaFourcade and other well-known Mexican artists.
A multi-instrumentalist, Silvana most often plays the Venezuelan cuatro guitar, whose small body and warm sound suits her hands and syncs with the rolling variations of her vocals. Raised singing Mexican son jarocho and baroque choir music, and schooled in jazz, she is an iconoclast who dismisses musical trends for a personal, poetic style that goes straight to the heart of listeners.
About Angélique Kidjo
Four-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with sixteen albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”, and named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2021. The BBC has included her in its list of the continent’s 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the 2018 German Sustainability Award.
About Ibrahim Maalouf
Hailed as a “virtuoso” by The New York Times, trumpet superstar Ibrahim Maalouf has spent his career crossing borders and blurring genres, mixing jazz, pop, classical, electronic, Middle Eastern, and African influences into an explosive, cross-cultural swirl. Born in the midst of a deadly civil war, Maalouf escaped Beirut with his family as a child and spent his formative years in France, where he first fell in love with music’s power to transcend geography and language. After winning a string of prestigious international trumpet competitions, Maalouf began composing his own music, releasing more than a dozen acclaimed albums and establishing himself as a household name in his adopted homeland. Over the past decade alone, he’s performed in 40 countries, sold out arenas from Paris to Istanbul, been scouted by Quincy Jones, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, raised millions for charity, and collaborated with everyone from Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste to Josh Groban and Sting. In 2021, Maalouf performed in front of the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day for an audience of six million, and in 2022, he teamed up with Angelique Kidjo for Queen Of Sheba, a seven-movement symphonic suite with lyrics sung in the Yoruba language of West Africa. Maalouf’s newest collection, Capacity To Love, finds him breaking down barriers yet again as he collaborates with a host of hip-hop and R&B artists from around the world for a revelatory exploration of identity, community, and unity.
About Anaïs Mitchell
Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont-based singer-songwriter and the Tony and Grammy award-winning creator of the Broadway musical Hadestown. She was named to TIME’s prestigious TIME100 list in 2020, and her first book, Working On A Song – The Lyrics of Hadestown was published by Penguin/Plume in the same year. Dubbed by NPR as “one of the greatest songwriters of her generation,” Mitchell comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. Among her recorded works are the original 2010 studio album of Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; 2012’s Young Man in America, which was described by the UK’s Independent as ‘an epic tale of American becoming’; 2013’s Child Ballads, a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, which won a BBC Radio Two Folk Award, Bonny Light Horseman (as part of the band Bonny Light Horseman) and Anais Mitchell (2022). Mitchell has headlined shows worldwide and her music has featured in year-end best lists including NPR, Wall Street Journal, MOJO, Uncut, Guardian, Sunday Times, Observer.
Mitchell’s stage show of Hadestown, which was over a decade in the making, was first produced off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop and in Canada at Edmonton’s The Citadel, with record-breaking runs at both. In 2018 the show opened at London’s National Theatre, before transferring to Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in April 2019. The show went on to win 8 Tony Awards, the highest of any show that season, including Best Musical and Best Score for Mitchell. The New York Times called it “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding” while Vogue declared that “Hadestown will be your new theater obsession.” If there’s a common thread in Mitchell’s work – from her earliest acoustic records to the Hadestown show – it’s that she’s as interested in the world around her as the one inside her. She has a way of tackling big themes with the same emotional intimacy most artists use to describe their inner lives. That’s perhaps why the New York Times noted that her songs “address contemporary angst with uncanny vision…. a formidable songwriting talent.”
About Molly Tuttle
One of the most compelling new voices in the roots music world, Molly Tuttle is a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter with a lifelong love of bluegrass, a genre the Northern California-bred artist first discovered thanks to her father (a music teacher and multi-instrumentalist) and grandfather (a banjo player whose Illinois farm she visited often throughout her childhood). On her new album Crooked Tree, Tuttle joyfully explores that rich history with bluegrass, bringing her imagination to tales of free spirits and outlaws, weed farmers and cowgirls resulting in a record that is both forward-thinking and steeped in bluegrass heritage.
About Aoife O’Donovan
Grammy award-winning songwriter and musician Aoife O’Donovan is one of the most sought-after singers and songwriters of her generation. She has released three critically-acclaimed solo albums, is co-founder of the bands I’m With Her and Crooked Still, is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, and spent a decade contributing to the radio variety shows “Live From Here” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
About Jake Blount
Jake Blount (pronounced: blunt) is an award-winning musician and scholar based in Providence, RI. He is half of the internationally touring duo Tui, a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, and a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop). A specialist in the early folk music of Black Americans, Blount is a skilled performer of spirituals, blues and string band repertoire. Blount has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Newport Folk Festival, NPR’s Tiny Desk, and numerous other venues across and beyond the United States. He has presented his scholarly work at museums and universities including the Smithsonian Institution, Berklee College of Music and Yale University. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, No Depression, and NPR. His most recent album, The New Faith, is the latest installment of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ African American Legacy Series.
About Leyla McCalla
Leyla McCalla finds inspiration from her past and present, whether it is her Haitian heritage or her adopted home of New Orleans, she — a bilingual multi-instrumentalist, and alumna of Grammy award-winning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops — has risen to produce a distinctive sound that reflects the union of her roots and experience. McCalla’s music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary, sonically blending New Orleans influences and Haitian rhythms, with lyrics sung in English, French and Haitian Creole. McCalla’s widely-acclaimed collaborative project, Songs of Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell), released via Smithsonian Folkways in 2019. The album pulled influence from past sources to create a reinvented slave narrative, confronting sanitized views about America’s history of slavery, racism, and misogyny from a powerful, modern Black female perspective.
About Prateek Khulad
For just over a decade, Prateek Kuhad has been quietly carving out a unique role for himself as a globally recognized pop musician from India. Originally from the northern city of Jaipur, Kuhad, who sings in Hindi and English, easily connects with fans of all ages and backgrounds. Praised by Rolling Stone India as “one of the country’s leading singer-songwriters,” Kuhad found a new wave of global recognition in 2019 when former President Barack Obama added the heartfelt breakup ballad “cold/mess” to his annual list of favorite songs. Following his acclaimed 2021 Hindi EP, Shehron Ke Raaz, Kuhad now arrives with his third studio album, The Way That Lovers Do, via Elektra Records.
Kuhad, who cites Elliott Smith as a major influence, did not necessarily set out to shatter conceptions of popular Indian music, which is generally embedded in Bollywood film culture. Growing up in Jaipur, Kuhad began playing guitar as a teenager and listened to his parents’ Cliff Richard and Harry Belafonte CDs. Through his older sister, he found contemporary pop tapes and CDs of the Backstreet Boys and other ‘90s Top 40 radio fare, but it wasn’t until he moved to New York to attend college where he really began to blossom as a musician, playing local shows around the city in the early ‘10s.
About Arooj Aftab
Arooj Aftab is a semi-classical, Hindustani, minimalist composer, songwriter and singer who grew up in Pakistan and is now based in Brooklyn. She was recently awarded the GRAMMY® Award for Best Global Music Performance for her song “Mohabbat” and is the first ever Pakistani artist to receive a GRAMMY® Award. She transforms ancient Urdu poetry and ghazals into genre-defying and contemplative compositions. Her album Vulture Prince was released in April 2021 and has received unprecedented critical acclaim and coverage including Pitchfork Best New Music, TIME Best Songs of 2021 so far, The Guardian Best Albums of 2021 so far, New York Times, BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour, Uncut, Mojo and lots more.