Marvellous Musicians that I Met at Open Mics

I can’t tell when last I went to an open mic night, but having recently realised that most of the musicians that I’ve befriended are as a result of one, I think I’ll be making an effort to go to more of them in the future. You never know what you’re going to find, but it’s a beautiful thing when you make these connections, and not just for the sake of collaboration. As someone whose music is literally her life and career, it’s such a relief to know people like you who just get it. The creative process, the tussle with perfectionism, the independent hustle – all of it – and in that way, we are all able to encourage and inspire each other. Above all, the artists featured in this post are really nice people, which matters a smidgen more to me.

Where I can, I’m going to avoid attempting to define them by genre; you’ll just have to taste and see for yourself. In one way or another I have had the great pleasure of working with these music-makers, and so I think that you should know a little more about them too.

Saskia Maxwell

For some time, Saskia Maxwell has been a far more experienced performer than her young age would suggest. Having already racked up a gig count in the hundreds and opened for artists such as JP Cooper, Ralph McTell, Rae Morris and Rachel Sermanni, she is a very skilled guitarist, with clever, bewitching lyrics and the hauntingly ethereal voice of an angel.

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JoJo Takes Us Back To The Future With Vintage Re-Recordings

Christmas came early for pretty much every adolescent of the mid 2000s, when pop/R&B singer-songwriter Joanna “JoJo” Levesque celebrated her birthday on Friday 20th December by re-releasing her first two albums JoJo and The High Road – and to a vocal army of touched, nostalgic, and appreciative fans.

“Why?” is the obvious question. Well, the story behind it is quite remarkable and inspiring.

Most of us remember the young Bostonian singer’s big, attitude-filled arrival in 2004 with the hit “Leave (Get Out)”, which was followed up in 2006 by “Too Little Too Late” (both recorded when JoJo was just 12 and 15, respectively). But many don’t know that soon after those early successes, Levesque, now 28, began to experience many difficulties with her former label Blackground Records, which delayed the release of a third album, and kept her for over seven years in a recording contract with seemingly no way out.

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IN RETROSPECT: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – 20th Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that an album can turn 20, when it sounds as fresh as the day it was born.

On this day, 25th August 1998, Ms. Lauryn Hill released her debut and thus far only solo studio album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Ruffhouse/Columbia Records).

Following her years with hip-hop group Fugees (also featuring Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel), Hill, born and raised in New Jersey, used every ounce of her creative intelligence to curate something that would not only go on to win Grammys, or receive acclaim from critics and peers alike, but would serve as an educative tool for (but not limited to) her people – hip-hop in its truest sense, and at its most important.

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Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes: A Brief Guide to JoJo’s Unofficial Releases

Fresh from touring in Japan and Okinawa with Armed Forces Entertainment, Joanna “JoJo” Levesque recently announced that she is ready to get back on the road for a new tour with a distinct twist. Hold on to your wigs…

Those well-accustomed to the R&B/pop singer’s journey will know that after crashing onto the scene at the age of 13 in 2004 with arguably her most popular song “Leave (Get Out)” and subsequently releasing two successful albums JoJo (2004) and The High Road (2006) on Blackground Records, Levesque hit what we shall now call a blip in the form of label troubles, which for seven years prevented her from releasing a third studio album. During that time, having tired relentlessly to put together several versions of a full LP with hopes of starting the next phase in her music career, she stayed proactive and released mixtapes to tide her loyal fans over, performed various covers… and unfortunately had a lot of the material that she was working on leaked.

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LIVE REVIEW: Julia Turner “Fifteen Times the Moon” Album Launch

Last Friday I attended an important gig for a good musician friend of mine. Jazz, blues singer-songwriter Julia Turner, whose new album Fifteen Times the Moon is set for release this year, hosted a pre-release album launch at the Bristol Folk House.

The show took place downstairs past the cafe in the medium-sized hall, which had a surprisingly really intimate feel. People sat in groups around tables or on a line of chairs off to the side of the stage. Lighting was dim (obviously, that would be pretty harsh to make people eat and drink in the dark now, wouldn’t it), which added to the cosiness – I felt as though I were in a living room. A big one, of course.

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