A. Scott Galloway Top 5 (Favorite) Albums & Singles of 2019
1. Life II - Vivian Sessoms
This album was my everything this year…soundtrack to the thoughts in my head and on my heart, my morning gym routine and journey to physical well-being, my beliefs about purposeful composition and that when you decide to cover someone else’s material (here from Coleman & Leigh and Stevie Wonder to Amerie and The Fixx) you do it in a way that is all yours, and that double win when a record so personal for the artist connects like a puzzle piece to the listener: me. Even the interludes were as essential as the songs! Love and Respect to Vivian Sessoms (and partner Chris Parks): Blood Legacy of Albright.
How was 2019 for you?
Vivian Sessoms: It was an unusual year but also a great year with a lot of highs points.
Releasing new music at the very end of 2018 (LIFE) and then again in the spring of 2019 (LIFE II). It was music that came from very deep places inside my heart and soul, and that I felt really reflected my view points. I directed my own videos, and was very involved in the editing and the look and feel of the whole process. That was a rewarding experience. It introduced me to filmmaking in a very small way, which was something I’ve always been interested in.
Song of the year?
“6 Summers” by Anderson.Paak
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
Start a new YouTube page on fashion, food and design. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but was never able to find the time. I’m gonna dig in this next year.
2019 - Part TWO of our (very) personal Selection - Soul, Jazz and more in no particular order - read more about it and listen to the music on www.sonicsoulreviews.com Vivian Sessoms Philip Bailey Tahirah Asha Memory Adrian YoungeMothers Favorite Child Luciel Ryan Hommel Alan Evans Lauren Desberg Sidibe
The 70 Best Soul Songs of 2019
(December 26, 2019) It is always fun at the end of each year to celebrate the best of that year. And 2010 had a lot of great music. And so we've gathered our music critics to each pick their favorites, which we've assembled below in our list of the 70 Best Soul Songs of 2019.
The toughest part of this is limiting the choices, but here are the selections from our staff, listed alphabetically. We also have a Spotify playlist below so that you can listen to the list.
You can’t go wrong with any of these. Congratulations to the artists involved!
ADE feat. Fatman Scoop - Something Sweet
Allen Stone - Look Outside
Althea Rene - Life on Mars
Amber Mark - What If
Anderson.Paak feat. Smokey Robinson - Make It Better
Angie Stone and Reel People - Don't Stop the Music
Ascendant - Gotta Get Up
Bashiri Asad - So Amazing
Ben L'Oncle Soul - Next To You (Acoustic)
Mike Blankenship feat. Sy Smith - I Can't Help It
Brand New Heavies - Getaway
Brandon Williams feat. Eric Roberson - Don't Give Up On Love
Brandy and Daniel Caesar - Love Again
Brian Owens & The Royal Five - Carry You
Bryan Andrew Wilson - Only You
Chaka Khan - Hello Happiness
Cool Million - Stronger
Daryl Anders Agapesoul - Kite
Eric Roberson - Leave It In
Fantasia - Enough
Frank McComb and Eric Roberson - High
Gene Moore - We Won't Be Moved
Hannah Williams & the Affirmations - I Can't Let This Slip Away
Incognito feat. Maysa and Phil Perry - For the Love of You
J Brown - Sunrise Sunset
Jacob Collier feat Daniel Caesar - Time Alone With You
Jam and Lewis - Til I Found You
James Biscuit Rouse - Igazi Panzi
Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant - Perfect
Jon B and Donell Jones - Understand
Judith Hill - Upside
Juewett Bostick feat. Denise Stewart - Sound and Rhythm
Junior featuring Luciano - Mama Used to Say
Kirk Whalum - Get Your Wings Up
Kygo feat. Whitney Houston - Higher Love
L. Spencer Smith feat Avery Sunshine - Hooked
Lasperanza - Under the Moon and Over the Sky
Lenny Harold - More
Lizzo - Juice (Breakbot Mix)
Lucky Daye - Ready for Love
Mamas Gun feat. Kwon Jin Ah - "Say You'll Be Mine"
Mary J. Blige feat Nas - Thriving
Maysa - You Are Not Alone
Michael Kiwanuka - You Ain't the Problem
Miles Davis feat. Lalah Hathaway - So Emotional
Morgan James - I Don't Mind Waking Up
Nao Yoshioka - Got Me
Nygel Robinson - One More Chance
Phonte feat. Lalah Hathaway - Ego
PJ Morton feat. JoJo - Say So
PJ Morton featuring Le'Andria Johnson and Mary Mary - All In His Plan
Rahsaan Patterson - Sent From Heaven
Randy Muller feat. Angela Johnson - Joy in the Rain
Raphael Saadiq - Something Keeps Calling Me
Rissi Palmer - Soul Message
Robert Glasper feat. Ledisi - Don't Turn Back Now
Simply Red - Thinking of You
Snoh Aalegra - I Want You Around
Southern Avenue feat. William Bell - We've Got The Music
Stokley - She
Such - Before Dark
Tahirah Memory - All The While
The Family Stand - Naima
The Hamiltones - Pieces
Tiana Major9 and EarthGang - Collide
Tony Momrelle and Maysa - We Had Searched For Heaven
Tyrone Hendrix, Jarrod Lawson, Farnell Newton - The Battle
Usher feat. Ella Mai - Don't Waste My Time
Vintage Trouble - Do Me Right
Vivian Sessoms - People
Von B and D.L. Wilson - She's Unbelievable
Yola - Faraway Look
Zo! feat. Carmen Rodgers - On The Four
The best albums in May, though – indeed, two of the year’s finest releases – were undoubtedly Philip Bailey’s Love Will Find A Way and Vivian Sessoms’ Life II. The former, probably the Earth, Wind & Fire man’s best solo project ever, sat beautifully on the cusp of jazz, included great new takes on Curtis’ Billy Jack, The Isleys’ We’re A Winner and Marvin’s Just To Keep You Satisfied [amongst other covers], and found our hero spending some profitable creative time with a bunch of younger jazz players.
Sessoms, meanwhile, followed up her previous set with a new collection that included the year’s fiercest ballad in I Can’t Breathe as well as a number of rearrangements of classic material by such as Stevie Wonder, Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, The Fixx and Amerie. A brilliant album - maybe my absolute favourite of the year. - Chris Wells
Last week I published my top 50 singles for the year. Now time for my 30 Top albums+1 for 2019. A special mention to Christos Tambouratzis for having 2 on my list
My top album of the year is Incognito and Tomorrow's dream
In alphabetical order below.. And I wish to thank all the wonderful musicians and artists around the globe for making 2019 an exceptional year. - Michael K Amil
Auteria Wally Winzer Jr- Sweet Deal: The A's Sensual Mixes
Billy Obam-Melodies and Memories
Chaka Khan -Hello Happiness
Change – Love 4 Love
Chic&NileRodgers - It's about time
Christine and the Queens - Chris
Christos Tambouratzis-The other side of my soul
Cornell CC Carter-Absolutely
Hanorah-For the Good Guys and the Bad Guys
Incognito-Tomorrow's New Dream
Is Evolution&Inohs Sivad-2nd hand smoke
Jayar Mack- Best of
Marc Staggers-Let's Go out Tonight
Miles Davis-Rubberband (various artists, Randy Hall, Leela James etc)
Mylene Farmer-Live 2019
Ola Onabule - Pointless
Rahsaan Patterson-Hero's and Gods
Special Formula band&Horny Horns-Elements of Life
The O'jays-The last words
The Terri Green Project – What A Feeling
The Undisputed Truth-Truth Gon' Set You Free
Vivian Sessions- Life II
Coming close to the end of 2019, time for my Top 50+1 Singles of the year, in alphabetical order. Thanks to all the wonderful artists for making 2019 such a magical musical year. - Michael K. Amil
My number one single of the year is @elusiv -The greatest love of all
Amber Mark - Love me right
Auteria Wally Winzer Jr &Pam Neal & Melecio Magdaluyo - Be as one
Ania Garvey-He asked me (Flaviano Lanzi mix/I tried to tell you)
Amé - Un fil
Bekka-I never knew
Boogie Wonderband - All Mighty
BBange- Comme dans les films de Wim Wenders
Billy Obam-Thank you Mother
Brian Cristopher – Make it better
Cameo- El Passo(remix)
Chic - Sober
Change – Hit or miss
Charlotte Cardin - Drive
Christos Tambouratzis&Vickybee -Do it
Coco Wade -Get loose
Chaka -Like sugar
Chromeo- Right Back Home To You (Doctor Soul Therapy mix)
Coldjack- Wait for you
Debbie Tebbs & Jacobus- le vent dans les voiles
Dee Dee Simon- If i leave you
Cornell CC Carter-Morning touch
DJ Tarek&We art the peole - Call me
E-Chris-let me show you
Firefly & Rampagerome-Love Medley
Gazzara- It's not over (Alex Di Cio remix)
Is Evolution & Inoh Sivad-Drive
Jay Nemor & Electrified - Mother got a way
Kea Michaels - Not my friend
Kingsman Dazz Band - Soul Jam
Lukas Setto - What turns you on
Marta Ren-Worth it
Michael J Calhoun - True love
Mike Champion - Bend the rules
Miracle Thomas-Undercover lover
Michon Young-His good thing
Miles Davis- & Randy Hall- I love what we make
Mind Electric & Kylie Auldist- I must be doing something right
Neversleepboy AKA NSB-Let's feel the night
Randy Hall-How do you like your love
Regi Myrix & Noel Gourdin- One wish
Soulutions-When you get there
Special Formula band & Horny Horns-Take the pain away
Stinger J-No romance
Storry- Leave my heart behind
The O'Jays -I got you
The Terry Green Project - Night to remember
Tiffany Bynoe-Shame (Trillionaires mix)
Tomi Jenkins - Naturally
Vivian Sessions ft Mark Whitfield - I Can't Breathe
LADIES OF SONG… Greta Matassa: Portrait, Rosana Eckert: Sailing Home, Vivian Sessoms: Life II
Vivian Sessoms has a honey toned soul feel not unlike early Aretha Franklin, and she displays it exceedingly well on this album that melds jazz, soul and modern R&B. She doesn’t even sing on all of the tracks, but she arranges everything, which includes a hip trio by Shedrick Mitchell/p, Chris Parks/b and Donald Edwards/dr on “In The Making” as well as some wordless voice with Parks on keyboards and programming on the pulsating “Eden”, “Sa Ra” and the dreamy “Rememberance.” Some Afro-soul is brought in with social rapping on “Fool Me Once” and Sessoms preaches with a gospel organ on a moving “I Can’t Breathe.” Vocal chants on the passionate ballad “As” and her hip VOX work on “One Thing Leads to Another” shows a wide range of thoughtful grooves and thought provoking lyrics.
Vivian Sessoms – Life II (Ropeadope) – Jazz-influenced with elements of R&B, spoken word, and hints of classical. Sessoms is a vocalist and composer who likes to push the boundaries. There is an immediate sense of urgency on this one amidst both the vibrant and mellow R&B. Sessoms is fearless, not shying away from some of the most difficult emotional subjects to write about, especially “I Can’t Breathe,” as emotional as any song you’ll hear.
She's spent her career enhancing the music of Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Chaka Khan, Pink and others. But, as with Lisa Fischer, when Vivian Sessoms leads her own project, her towering voice and sensitive musicality shunts many bigger names into the shade. Nor is she over-eager to reveal her wares. The opening track is essentially an instrumental merely flecked with the colour of a wordless vocal towards the end, and we are into the fourth song, I Can't Breathe, before she fully unzips a voice of such staggering power that you fear for the health of the air particles between the speakers and your ears. It's a 12/8 slow-burner, with a tasty Mark Whitfield guitar solo that wisely avoids trying to upstage Sessoms, while the great Billy Kilson imbues the laid-back drumming with his unique vibrancy. She can steam into funk (One Thing Leads to Another), soothe with ballads (joined by Gregoire Maret's peerless harmonica on They Only Knew) and intrigue with genre-crossing atmospherics (As). The sheer scope of what Sessoms attempts conspires to produce some inconsistency, but her best work lies near the pinnacle of the R&B/jazz nexus. -JOHN SHAND
A CD Review for Black Music Month: VIVIAN SESSOMS
JUNE 22, 2019
A CD REVIEW FOR BLACK MUSIC MONTH
BY Dee Dee McNeil/Jazz Journalist
VIVIAN SESSOMS – “LIFE II” ropeadope Records
Vivian Sessoms, vocals/producer/arranger; Chris Parks, bass/producer/arranger/electric piano/ programmer/keys; Shedrick Mitchell, piano/organ/arranger; Christian Gates, keys/programming;/ guitar/drum programming; Dave Archer, keys; Sherrod Barnes & Mark Whitefield, guitar; Donald Edwards, Eric Brown & Billy Kilson, drums; Kenyatta Beasley, trumpet; Vincent Gardner, trombone; John Isley, saxophone; Casey Benjamin, saxophones/Fender Rhodes; Adi Yeshaya, string arranger; Charisa the violin diva, strings; Meku Yisreal, conga; Gregoire Maret, harmonica.
Vivian Sessoms is a composer, producer and vocalist. She has made her mark in the music business after years of preparation and practice. As a young talent, at the tender age of nine, Vivian was already doing television and radio voice overs. Her parents saw her artistic potential and she received classical training in voice and piano. Her first major tour was with Ryuichi Sakamoto, a pianist and composer. On the road with this brilliant artist and mentor, along with a band of awesome musicians including Manu Katche, Victor Bailey, and Darryl Jones, this fledgling songbird blossomed and took flight. She even learned to sing in Japanese. Her amazing vocal ability has impressed both in the studio and ‘live,’ such artists as P. Diddy, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Sinead O’Connor, Pink, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder, to list just a few. You probably have heard her vocals on any number of commercial jingles including Adidas, Afrosheen, Burger King, Calvin Klein, Campbells Soup, Coke, Dark & Lovely, Hersheys, Hyatt, even the IRS.
Listening to her lovely vocals on “The Best Is Yet To Come” I hear shades of Chaka Khan phrasing and a penchant towards Rhythm and Blues grit. She makes the song hers, far from the Frank Sinatra version, reinventing it to a more smooth-jazz production.
There is a Hip-Hop rap interval that follows this song featuring Major TRUTH Green that protests police violence against innocent-until-proven-guilty victims. This is followed by Sessoms’ gospel fused, R&B tune, “I Can’t Breathe.” Sessoms’ vocals soar, powerful and sincere like queen Aretha. Mark Whitfield is prominently featured on guitar and Shedrick Mitchell is effective and notable on organ as the lyrics mirror the heart-wrenching plea from Eric Garner as police choked him to death. It is clear this is a political statement triggered by the continued institutional, racial violence against people of color in America.
“There are so many things happening in the world that I care about and want to see change in, but none so much as halting the killing of black people,” Vivian Sessoms states.
“If They Only Knew” clearly shows this artist’s amazing vocal gift. It’s a beautiful ballad that features the sweet harmonica solo of Gregoire Maret. This song is a fusion jazz arrangement where Sessoms showcases her perfect pitch, awesome range and spectacular ability to deliver a lyric with an abundance of recognizable emotion.
The idea of segueing into Vivian Sessoms songs with musical interludes and hip-hop rap is interesting, but on the whole, distracts from Vivian Sessoms’ talent and delivery. It breaks up the flow of this production. Stevie Wonder’s composition, “As” is painted with an unusual minor-keyed, rhythm arrangement, but Sessoms holds true to the melody with her powerful vocals. This is obviously an experimental project that sounds more like a group effort than a single artist’s project. I definitely don’t see it as a jazz project. However, I admire Vivian Sessoms talent and her artistic desire to bring about change and political protest with her voice and musical choices.
The bass propels this project, thanks to the mastery of Chris Parks, who is also her partner in this production. Additionally, they have collaborated to songwrite and produce for a number of celebrity artists on other projects.
On the composition, “Thing” I hear shades of Esther Satterfield and at times, a throw-back to Minnie Ripperton’s style and grace; not the range, but the phrasing. The echo effects and over-lapping voice-overs on many of the songs can become a distraction. This vocalist doesn’t need effects to enhance her already powerful vocals. I would love to hear Vivian Sessoms featured in a more authentic jazz production, perhaps like the Jean Carn and Doug Carn original project or maybe celebrating Nancy Wilson. However,I recognize this album is a mixture of many musical styles and genres.
Although I rarely review this type of production, because my column is all about jazz, I was still smitten with this artist’s incredible voice and political character. There is no doubt, Vivian Sessoms is a stunning vocalist and a voice to be heard throughout the generations. Consequently, I wanted to feature her talents during Black Music Month. - DEE DEE MCNEIL
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