Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Indie Albums of 2011

So, 2011 brought us some nice albums that we can't leave this year without mentioning. Liberated Muse began with the intent of showcasing artistry not signed to big labels and it is only right that we showcase some of our top drops that not only showcase top-notch talent but the triumph of artistry over big-money and the PR machine. You may not have heard about all of the acts listed, but that should be an incentive to realize that real music-- great music-- may not necessarily be readily accessible on your radio, but that does not mean you have to look far for it. Kudos to places like,,, and other online spaces that make it easy to hear about artists who may fall under the mainstream radar. Remember, it's up to you to find music worthy of your money and your attention!

Here are some our picks, with videos showcasing a tune from the selected album. Your favorite indie album of 2011 not on the list? Add yours in the comments section below.

Little Dragon- Ritual Union

Little Dragon are more than just a band with a really dope name. They take music next level while always bringing to mind your favorite artist. A perfect blend of a little bit of Prince, a little bit of Rick, a little bit of quirk and a lot of spunk, their 2011 drop Ritual Union took them all over the world and to television screens near you. Peep this 2011 appearance on NBC where they sound even better live. If you haven't checked them out before, let this be your incentive.

Little Dragon 'Ritual Union' (Live on Fallon) from lentetijd on Vimeo.

 Zo!- ...just visiting three

Zo! is part of the musical clique that includes some of the hottest indie soul acts out right now-- from The Foreign Exchange and Yahzarah to angel-voiced Sy Smith. On his 2011 release ...just visiting three, the Detroit-born instrumentalist produces some hot tracks with his buddies, including this Barry White-remake that Anthony David lends his rich vocals to. This CD is one of the best of 2011 for its phenomenal cast of characters and its melodic renderings from the beginning to the end. A must-add to any collection.

Eric Roberson- Mr. Nice Guy 

Most likely the most popular indie soul artist out there, Eric Roberson did not disappoint his fans with his latest drop. Mr. Nice Guy follows his very popular Music Fan First with the same formula that works for Mr. Indie-himself every time-- honest lyrics, interesting arrangements and signature vocals.

Deborah Bond- Madam Palindrome

With a unique concept and impeccable music assortment, Madam Palindrome is a win from the beginning to the end. Couple that with a website that maintains the eclectic theme, this album is an experience that you won't regret engaging in. The first single "You Are the One" is our favorite of the year.

Rahsaan Patterson- Bleuphoria

What makes Rahsaan Patterson such a remarkable indie artist is his longevity. He has been in the music game for a while, had contact with mainstream success as an artist and actor and still carved a niche for himself once his affiliation with a major label waned. His latest offering Bleuphoria is jammed-packed with special guest appearances, but even those aren't the reason to pick this blickie up. This CD wins solely because of Patterson who engages in vocal gymnastics with ease, class and panache. 

Maimouna Yousssef- The Blooming

It's like we are writing about the awesomenss of Maimouna Youssef every week, but, for real, this lady is all that and then some. If you haven't picked up The Blooming yet, seriously, something has to be wrong with you.

Gloria Ry'ann- Just Glow

Gloria Ry'ann's voice is so angelically melodic that you instantly fall in love with this chanteuse. Her EP finally dropped in 2011 and we are anxiously awaiting videos from the EP to appear, particularly for some of the EP's highlights like the sexy "Wait a Minute" and the upbeat "Gravity". Here is a cover of vocal idol Minnie Ripperton's "Inside My Love".

Dionne- Living in the Music

When Deedee Kirby joined the Liberated Muse network in 2009, she was an emerging artist who was still defining her sound. Fast forward almost three years later, and she has dropped the nickname and last name and uses simply her first name Dionne. She has found her musical element, a new indie label home and re-released her first LP, re-packaged as Living in the Music. Melodic, uplifting and inspiring, this CD is classic, something you will be listening to years from now


Gods'illa- CPR BlendTape hosted by Erykah Badu

Gods'illa has to be one of the hardest hip-hop acts, for, less than a year after dropping a debut CD, they release the CPR BlendTape with the support of no other than the ever-popular Erykah Badu. The DC-based trio of brothers have created a brand with their music that has spilled into the cultural landscape of their home city, from their popular weekly open mic on the U Street corridor to their clothing line and events-- including bowling parties and cook-outs. A brand-- a movement, Gods'illa truly made 2011 a major win and this mix tape was among their top successes.

Les Nubians-- Nü Revolution

Les Nubians is composed of French sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart,  best known for their single "Makeda" from their Grammy-nominated album Princesses Nubiennes. After leaving Virgin Records, they started their own label Nubiatik which has produced their latest albums, including this year's Nü Revolution. 

Special guests on this project range from Eric Roberson, and South African pop stars Freshly Ground, to Ghanian-American MC Blitz The Ambassador and Polish MC John Banzaï. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 Indie Artists to Watch Out For in 2012

With all of the artists out there, who do you know who to watch out for in 2012? 

Well, we thought about it and took some things into consideration:

Who had a stellar 2011 that was only a start to a career that is sure to promise longevity? 

Who has been absent from the spotlight for a while (after a whirlwind 2010 and before) but we know they have been working on some goodies that they are planning to drop in 2012? 

Who are some artists who have unparalleled talent that is sure to continue to mesmerize us in the coming year? 

All of the artists below fall into at least one category or all of the above. 

Some of the folks may be names you recognize as members of our network or artists who have performed in some of our past events, including the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest or theatrical productions. Some of the names you may recognize by their association with more mainstream acts that are either now defunct or still alive and kicking. Whatever the case may be, be sure to remember that you heard here first that these are some names to keep your ears and eyes peeled for in the coming year. For, if their talent is any indication of how successful their coming year will be, it is looking bright indeed.

Jesse Boykins III—Bending the Envelope
Add in a dash of trip hop, rock and acid jazz, stir and serve and you have yourself one Jesse Boykins III.  Having  perfect silken vocals was not unique enough for this New York-native. He has amassed a following that has taken to his eclectic style that is neither simply R & B nor Neo-Soul, bending the envelope into a whole new direction. In 2011, he delighted fans with an abundance of free downloads of his originals and remixes of his originals, including the sexy “High Demand”. Here’s hoping he keeps the innovation alive and kicking and keeps sharing the love in the form of more, more, music!

Jean Baylor—Leading the Pack
Jean Baylor does not have to rely on her association with the 90’s group Zhane to convince folks that she is the real deal. She is leading the pack of indie artists moving from independent local attention to underground super stardom.This review of her recent Christmas album exemplifies her ability to “get it” as an artist and to always stay true to her musical integrity. Partnering now with her husband Marcus Baylor, Jean will be dropping her sophomore album in 2012, giving her fans what they have been waiting for. Read this interview with her on to learn more about what she’s been up to and what she has in store.

Wayna—Intersection of Retro and Contemporary
In 2009 when Ethiopian-born Wayna earned a GRAMMY nomination for her track “Lovin’ You”, inspired by the Minnie Ripperton song of the same name, independent artists around the globe were inspired by the attention Wayna attracted and her personal testimony of choosing her music over a successful career as a White House correspondent. With her classic sound, reminiscent of Billie Holiday with a contemporary flavor (think Fantasia),Wayna is the intersection of retro and contemporary. Her story embodies the vision of many indie artists of moving beyond the radar of local audiences and gaining an opportunity to gain some mainstream shine. After spending most of 2010 transitioning into her new role as mom to a newborn, in 2011 Wayna updated fans via Twitter of her return to the studio and the intention of dropping new music in 2012. With GRAMMY attention already under her belt, this indie artist has only up to go when she returns to the scene, and we can’t wait!

Jhené Aiko—Taking it Next Level
After releasing her mixtape Sailing Soul(s) and thousands of hits on YouTube for her independently produced videos showcasing her original songs, Jhené Aiko is more than prepared to release her new CD Souled Out in 2012. The visually stunning Cali native is not new to the music scene and is kind of an urban hero among indie artists who know of her story. Starting out as a teen guest on a B2K album, to becoming an indie artist heavily courted by labels, but, choosing, instead, to stay indie and do the music she loves best, Jhené promises to keep the momentum going, taking it to the next level and beyond.

Carolyn Malachi- Onward and Upward
Fashion icon beauty and whirring aural sounds stamp the brand that is Carolyn Malachi. This DC-based songstress has taken off this past year after her unexpected GRAMMY nomination for her song “Orion”. You name it, she’s done it. From being the spokesperson for a campaign to stop driving and texting, to being featured on Microsoft Windows Media Guide, Carolyn is taking her music and message onward and upward.  Gaining much attention for her single and video “Beautiful Dreamer”, 2012 will surely be an amazing journey for this songstress who is already working on a new project.

Maimouna Youssef—Consciously Creative
Maimouna Youssef is a multi-talented singer/mc who has claimed her destiny as an innovator. She blazed through 2010 – first dropping an EP, then a full-length album –The Blooming—which resulted in a multi-city listening party tour and then a single of her hit “I Got a Man”. To say the least, this Baltimore-native  has been busy. Add this past year’s success to her resume which already includes work with The Roots, and other of hip-hop’s dopest and most illest and there is no doubt that Maimouna Youssef’s big news that she plans to release on Jan. 1 will promise to continue her trend of dropping all that is consciously creative and fresh.

Kenny Wesley--On the Radar

In 2011, Kenny Wesley made it clear that he was here to stay. Whether he was headlining a sold-out Luther Vandross tribute show at the famous Blues Alley or opening for mainstream celebs at concert halls, Kenny Wesley was shining his light, attracting new fans old and young. Oozing with mild-mannered charm and a warm stage presence that pulls you in, Kenny Wesley is poised for major super stardom. As we eagerly anticipate a 2012 drop of a new album, he has teased our senses with his sporadic drops of free downloads, from his recent Christmas offering to his tender rendering of a Michael Jackson classic. Kenny Wesley is on our radar, not dropping off anytime soon.

Teisha Marie--Only Gets Better

Thoughtful lyrics, melodic arrangements and a stunning vocal tone describe the sound that is Teisha Marie. Using 2011 to self-produce her sophmore release, Teisha has laid low during the year, with the intention of dropping her new work once it's baked perfectly. The teacher-by-day indie singer is sure to be pushing boundaries with her upcoming drop, promising in a recent interview that she is trying new things. But, would we expect any less? Her debut album, Addicted to Life, three years ago delivered the goods on quality of sound and content and we are sure it will only get better.

Quineice--Doing it Big & Fabulous

R & B singer J Holiday's sister Quineice has more than a famous brother to her credit. With soulful vocals and a professional resume that has included everything from theater acting to songwriting, this songstress has been on watch since 2009 when she first started talking about dropping a new album. Whether she's being compared to fellow petite singer Stephanie Mills or being cheeky on covers such as her recent Christmas cover of "Santa Baby", Quineice is always doing it big and doing it fabulous. As she demonstrates when she opens her mouth to sing, good things usually come in small packages. Enjoy below her rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic "Mercy, Mercy, Me". Visit her on Reverbnation HERE.

The Bangladesh Project-- Sonic Superiority
What started as a motley gathering of musicians and producers quickly manifested into a band of eclectic groovers headed by musician/MC Bangla-El, becoming the outfit known as the Bangladesh Project. Releasing their first EP in 2011, this tireless Baltimore-based band--performing for everything from a crowd of four to a sold-out club of hundreds-- also went on to become the 2011 winner of the Baltimore Crown Award for Best Band. The grind hasn't stopped. Creating music of sonic superiority and consciousness (peep their cut, "The Learner" about No Child Left Behind") this band is sure to expand outside of the confines of their local scene and be touring soon in a club near you, wherever you may be.
Check out below their cover of Jimi Hendrix' "Hey Joe".

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 10 Women in Social Media in 2011

While this list of women highlights some of the best people to follow on Twitter, it should be said that their presence in social media extends outside of the confines of 140 characters and a link. Whether they are making you laugh out loud over hilarious tweets about pop culture or hipping you to the newest new media available for the tech guru or novice alike, these women are using their influence to engage, connect and inspire.  As you read more about each woman, keep in mind that it’s not about the number of followers they may have on Twitter or the “likes” they may have on their Facebook page. Their mention on this list has everything to do with how they have chosen to use their influence and recognizing the value they add to the cyber world. What makes this list particularly compelling is that all of these women, while vastly skilled in their use of social media, are artists as well, excelling in an artistic realm, from literary art to the visual. We here at Liberated Muse love that fact most of all!

So check out our list, add your feedback and be sure to check these women out as you get ready for 2012 to make its entrance.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul- @tinu
Whether you are trying to get new traffic to your site, or learn what new tech tools are available as you try to integrate your business into social media, Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the one to follow. Funny, approachable and encouraging, she is not at all what you would expect from someone who is at the top of the list when it comes to online tech gurus. This internet dyanamo has over 15 years of experience on the net and is one of the leading experts in SEO in the country. Editor at Women Grow Business and founder of Free Traffic Tips, Tinu is one of the innovators on the web who is a first-class example of longevity in the world of social media. While at the top of her game in social media, Tinu is also a renowned poet and creative writer, a contributor to the Def Poetry Jam book Bum Rush the Page.

Shireen Mitchell- @digitalsista
Shireen Mitchell is the maven of social media and tech, in the game since the game started. A web designer who has used her art to extend outside of the box, she knows what’s hot, what’s not and what is not even worth mentioning. Her tweets are ever-upbeat, informative and always connected to the tech and social world, sharing news beneficial to the least savvy onliner  to the tech addict alike. The original creator of the term “web goddess”, Shireen is a dynamic speaker, winner of numerous awards that recognize her online awesomeness and a well-rounded organizer  participating in the producing of various tech events including the Digital Community, Techno Rodeo, Feminism 2.0, Shes Geeky, TechAdventure DC,  Nonprofit 2.0, Computers, Freedom and Privacy, Gov20 Expo, TEDx Potomac and more.

Dream Hampton-@dreamhampton
At the point where arts, culture and intellect meet, there is dream Hampton. If she’s not one of the most retweeted people on Twitter, she is probably pretty close. Her incredible insight, forthright statements and six degrees or less of separation from some of the most high-profile folks we know make Dream one of the most compelling follows on Twitter. A prolific writer and filmmaker, she co-authored the unreleased Black Book with Shawn Jay-Z Carter and collaborated with him on Decoded (November, 2010, Spigel and Grau.) She's co-authoring Kamal "Q Tip" Fareed's memoir, Industry Rules, to be published by Random House .

Kyra Gaunt-Palmer-@kyraocity
Vocalist, college professor and anthropologist Kyra Gaunt-Palmer pushes the thinking envelope, transforming your social media experience into an exploration of concepts, ideas and experiences. She is not hesitant to present content that pushes the boundary you may have constructed between the superficial and the authentic. Her tweets, blog posts and Facebook content all revolve around thought—encouraging you to use your brain, have an opinion and share. From religion and parenting to the arts and academia, Kyra is a rich resource of information and an approachable person to engage with online. She trains groups in the anthropology of listening and is a 2009 TED Fellow.

Regina Holliday-@ReginaHolliday
Phenomenal visual artist Regina Holliday has used the tragic death of her husband as a platform to advocate for the rights of citizens to have access to their medical records. Whether she is creating murals on the backs of jackets and creating a walking mural or tweeting the latest news on health advocacy issues, Regina is heavily involved in changing the world and using her art and her online presence as her springboard. A dynamic speaker as well, Regina is a shining example of the intersection of arts, social media and politics and how its effective application can truly transform minds and policy.

Tracy Chiles McGhee-@womanifesting
Emerging writer Tracy Chiles McGhee has used her own interest in bettering the world as an impetus to create her own nonprofit organization, Womanifesting, to encourage the philanthropy and dream imagining of other women around her. In its short existence, Womanifesting already boasts a strong online presence on Twitter and Facebook, encouraging women through thoughtful and inspiring messaging to dream big and recognize their divine power. In addition to Womanifesting, Tracy's blog "Passionate Self by Tracy" provides a place of respite and inspiration as she shares her path as a published writer, attorney, and mom.

Luvvie- @luvvieig
A humorist with a twist of satire and savvy, Luvvie has virtually created her own brand of incredible that has snagged thousands of readers who tune-in everyday to read about what is in Luvvie’s head. A true artistic word-smith, Luvvie’s artistry also extends into the realm of fashion and web design as she helms brands in both areas in addition to her highly popular blog “Awesomely Luvvie”. On her blog, she speaks to everything under the sun—from the comical antics of reality stars to the horrendous outputs of some of our biggest celebrities.  Recently selected as a blogger for the Academy Awards, Luvvie’s tweets are some of the funniest ones you’ll read in any given minute, so be sure to read with caution and hopefully with no food in your mouth, for you will surely be laughing out loud.
Jamilah Lemieux-@JamilahLemieux
Formerly known as Sista Toldja, Jamilah Lenieux is a smart and sassy writer who puts into perspective the thoughts of many new millenials as they navigate the world and beyond. The recipient of many awards for her compelling blog and Twitter feed, Jamilah, the new content editor for has been featured on radio shows and in articles for her insight on issues ranging from relationships to identity.

Dr. Goddess-@drgoddess
Always in the middle of what is hot on Twitter, Dr. Goddess is one of the most engaged social media users on the web. Whether she is promoting her appearances as an actress and speaker or schooling an ill-informed reality show guest that planking is not a slavery term, Dr. Goddess does it with a certain panache that very few can emulate. An emerging social media guru and a highly educated culture critic, Dr. Goddess has created an online community with her brand, connecting people to the insightful and the controversial and making sense of it all.

Bassey Ikpi-@basseyworldlive
Poetry seeps from the pores of Bassey Ikpi.  A world-renowned performance poetry artist and a mental health advocate who has amassed a large following in the past few years as she courageously shares her personal struggles with depression, Bassey has found a niche in social media that fits perfectly with her artistic spirit and her humorous shares about culture, parenting and relationships. Her most recent creation is The Siwe Project, a global non-profit with the goal widening the public dialogue regarding the lived experiences of people of African Descent with mental illness.  A Def Poetry Jam poet, Bassey is all over the web—whether you are watching her seemingly effortless talent on a YouTube video, reading her posts on sites like Huffington Posts or reading her often hilarious Twitter feed, you are sure to fall in love with Bassey Ikpi’s brand of life that is a mix of quirky and incredible.