Abiah jazz Jeremiah Abiah Life as a Ballad music new releases New York pop Rochester United States

Singer-Songwriter Abiah releases “Life as a Ballad” on August 28

Photo credit: Matt Furman

Ever since the untimely departure of Luther Vandross, the American pop scene has been absent of a Black American male balladeer possessed of chops beyond belief, staunch lyricism and emotional maturity. Abiah (pronounced Ah-bee-yah) more than adequately answers the call of that absence with an album and a presence that is sensuous, soulful, honest, grown-up and quite passionate about restoring vocal excellence to the contemporary airwaves.

Who is Abiah? These are the bare facts: he is a seasoned balladeer possessed of a five-and a half octave range; an established vocal coach and former Universal Republic recording artist; and he is of Ghanaian, Cuban, Native American descent, though raised in Rochester, NY.

While that background remains a part of his roots and identity, 2012 marks a musical, professional and personal evolution for the singer-songwriter. Previously known as “Jeremiah” in the music world (full name Jeremiah Abiah, the latter of which means ‘God is my father’), Abiah sets forth his highly anticipated sophomore album, Life as a Ballad, reflective of a long journey towards his intensely personal sound and overall musical growth – consisting of nine self-penned originals.

Growing up in a musical home – his mother an accomplished concert pianist – induced a love for learning about the nuances of the singer’s art and craft that found him studying at the Eastman School of Music as a young teen where he studied with legendary chanteuse Renee Fleming’s mother, Patricia Alexander. Afterwards came enrollment at Syracuse University and The New England Conservatory for operatic training. Abiah‘s pre-undergraduate obligations were completed while on the road, where he quickly found work as a backing vocalist for George Michael and while in college he also landed a steady gig with Yolanda Adams.

“There was a moment when I thought I had lost my voice. “I was experiencing growing pains which were hard to decipher at first but eventually they helped me to trust my heart, sound and aesthetic again. I thought I would never record again. I even toyed with the idea but the music perpetually tugged at me. Changing my stage name was the impetus of a new beginning,” says Abiah in a news release. “This is how Life as a Ballad was born as I dealt with the idea of finding beauty in the dark, that glimmer of light when all hope seemed lost.”

A move to New York City in the early 2000s saw Abiah “hitting the pavement hard” and eventually playing Central Park SummerStage and the world renowned Blue Note on a regular basis; though a turning point came when Abiah started gaining the attention of major labels. As is frequently the case for ambitious but not yet quite industry-savvy young artists, Abiah‘s fledgling recordings fell through the cracks. An entire album, brought to the verge of a major label deal, got shelved because the song the major label executives favored most was the only one not produced by a very major and deservedly much lauded producer.

“I’m not opposed to major labels. I just believe an artist needs to keep his finger on the pulse of everything. It’s hard to be artist and business, but it is necessary,” says Abiah. “Initially I was angry and came out pointing fingers, but the healthier aspect became, what did or didn’t I do? Taking that responsibility has given me power and greater perspective.”

This recording is the result of Abiah‘s steady and patient march over a decade in New York, finding the perfect songs and session mates to support his vision. Like any astute young artist in pursuit of a unique bespoke career path, Abiah wisely sought out collaborators who were of highly skilled and veteran pedigrees, and of course, simpatico. Notable among those collaborators are very well regarded young pianist Robert Glasper, who is Abiah‘s cousin who he met in earlier days while they cut their musical teeth in the New York’s music landscape. Marvin Sewell, the album’s stellar guitarist, has been a frequent flyer in Cassandra Wilson’s ensemble since the late 1990s as well as Jack DeJohnette.

indie Mercury Lounge music New York New York City pop Sami the Great United States

Sami the Great kicks off 2012 with sell-out CD release party

Sami the Great 
Indie-pop songstress Sami the Great celebrates the New Year with her new album at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Mercury Lounge in New York City. Alongside Sami will be fellow New Yorkers, Tony CastlesSlowdanceThe Sanctuaries and many more. The show  is sold out. The anticipated, self-titled CD is Sami’s first full length project.

Sami Akbari, known musically as sami.the.great, is driven by her overwhelming desire to write and play music. She frequented open mic nights in college, often taking home cash prizes for her highly anticipated performances. She moved to New York City two weeks after receiving her degree in 2005, and quickly began landing gigs at local venues, including The Living Room, Joe’s Pub and Mercury Lounge as well as other venues around the country.

Her latest EP, “Nothing Left to See,” features five original songs written by Sami and a cover of Sting’s “Roxanne.” The disc not only reveals the trajectory of Sami’s songwriting career, but also her deft combination of emotion and wit, of melancholy and humor. Like her live show, the album reflects the notion that great things come in small packages and showcases a small-framed singer whose impassioned voice fills the spaces and lives around her.  

jamie lynn hart music new releases pop United States

Jamie Lynn Hart releases “Anticipate”

For her fans, topping their 2012 “Let’s dance!” playlist is sure to be Jamie Lynn Hart’s latest CD.  But unlike the other pop songs on iTunes, the aptly named “Anticipate” is driven not only by catchy riffs and powerhouse vocals, but also by soul baring lyrics.

After releasing two EPs, Jamie Lynn Hart (2007) and Contract Called Love (2009), the full length “Anticipate” truly flexes Hart’s musical muscles, showing her fans what she’s really made of. 

“By opting for a full length release, I was able to open the window of who I really am so much wider,” said Hart in a news release.  “Both of my EPs are definitely expressions of who I am, but ‘Anticipate’ examines my personal and artistic growth in a more complete view.”    

The album plants its roots in Hart’s lyrical pop voice and a steady rock groove, sprouting in sounds ranging from retro-blues and pop melodies to soulful acoustic ballads while maintaining a consistent direction.  Heavily influenced by her personal experiences, her songs are relatable stories that shine brightly with an authentic light.

“It’s important that my lyrics strike a balance of originality and accessibility,” Hart said. To reach a bona fide level of storytelling, Jamie Lynn Hart collaborated with band members Kevin Eldridge, Steve Belleville, Eric Finland, and Attis Jerrell Clopton and produced the album with Zach McNees (The Gregory Brothers, Coldplay, Björk).