New Orleans hip-hop artist and activist Truth Universal may not be one of New Orleans’ most popular rap artists, but he is certainly one of the best. He appeared at the Recording Academy celebration in conjunction with cultural guardian and percussionist Luther Gray and with notable New Orleans DJ E.F. Cuttin. His amazing show opened with a libation ceremony for the ancestors, including poet Amiri Baraka who died recently.
Robin Barnes is a relatively new neo-soul singer in New Orleans, backed by an excellent band known as the Soul Heirs. Her performance at the Recording Academy event on January 13 at the U.S. Mint was especially impressive, as was the musicianship of her band members.
Immediately after Black Water Bride, Valcour Records’ artists Bonsoir Catin appeared. They are an all-female band playing traditional Acadian music from Lafayette, Louisiana, and like all Valcour artists, they are really good.
The service region for the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy also includes Shreveport, which is a city with a recording past and which seems to be experiencing something of a musical rebirth since the opening of Brian and Brady Blade’s Blade Studios. Black Water Bride is one of Shreveport’s hot up-and-coming new bands, blending elements of country, rock, soul and other Louisiana music styles, and they were a natural opening act for our Recording Academy party at the Old Mint.
On Tuesday December 16, the Memphis Music Foundation and the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy sponsored a Memphis Music Holiday Party at the 1884 Lounge of Minglewood Hall in Midtown. The event featured some great barbecue and desserts, as well as live music from the Steven Lee Trio featuring trumpeter Johnny Yancey and his son, drummer Nigel Yancey, and the Hill Country blues inflected rock band Turchi. Over a hundred people came to get in the festive spirit, including legendary producer Boo Mitchell and Elizabeth Montgomery of Ardent Records.
For 20 years, Cutting Edge has been the only comprehensive music business conference in Louisiana. Although it has seen some changes, like a move from August to September, and a couple of changes of location, Cutting Edge offers music industry professionals in Louisiana an opportunity to network and learn, and it offers local musicians a chance to showcase their talent to the larger music industry.
This year, Cutting Edge’s daytime panels, workshops and showcases were housed in the Historic U.S. Mint, in the French Quarter at the foot of Esplanade Street. The new location was extremely convenient, and parking was relatively cheap and plentiful compared to some of the past years. I was also thrilled to see that our Memphis chapter of the Recording Academy had agreed to sponsor some of the events, since New Orleans professionals are members of the Memphis chaper, as there is no New Orleans chapter.
In the afternoon, I ventured out around the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street, and ended up meeting my fellow panelists Rico Brooks (an artist manager from Atlanta) and Travis McFetridge (a New York-based publishing executvie) at Drago’s for dinner.