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".

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