By Jennifer McKee
From to pop to country, classical to electro and everything in between, we’re loving this talented lineup of musicians and ensembles. Plug your earbuds into our favorite Fall 2020 discoveries.
Biber’s Mystery Sonatas/Boston Baroque
The lively Boston Baroque is the first permanent baroque orchestra established in North America and has been nominated for six Grammys. It’s known for its emotionally-charged performances under the direction of Martin Pearlman. In October, a full-length concert of Heinrich Biber’s The Mystery Sonatas, which depicts the mysteries of the rosary, was made available on the orchestra’s website; it features Boston Baroque concertmaster and soloist Christina Day Martinson in a Grammy-nominated performance. This piece is one that’s rarely performed in its entirety, so don’t miss out. Go online for a full lineup of Boston Baroque’s vast offerings.
The Seattle Opera long has been on the forefront of attracting diverse storytellers and engaging new listeners. It recently endowed a creation lab, for which it selected 16 new artists to create 20-minute operas that will be performed in 2021; the majority of applicants where women and/or people of color. The Seattle Opera is committed to racial equity and is known for its stimulating works such as “Blue,” a piece about love, loss and resilience in a Black American family. Check out its diverse offerings and listen to curated playlists here.
The Tina Turner Musical Original Cast Recording
A stage production truly befitting the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the powerhouse Tina: The Tina Turner Musical snagged with 12 Tony nominations in 2020. Among those nods is one for the sultry Adrienne Warren, who plays Tina; fans have reviewed her performance as “soul stirring” and as having an “amazing vocal reach.” This cast recording features everything we love about the musical legend: her edgy voice, her uncompromising style, her iron will and unyielding spirit. Be forewarned, you’ll get addicted.
Pop-dance sensation Audriix carries on the mantle of female empowerment in her newest single “Deep Breaths,” an unapologetic tune based on her own personal experiences. The singer/songwriter’s passion for music started at a young age, and it shines through all her singles. She’s worked with producers who also count Adele, *NSYNC and Armin van Buuren among their collaborators. Her upbeat, cheerful songs are salve for what ails you.
Shoes Droppin’, the debut album from popular touring artist Jessie Wagner is also intensely personal, written at a low point in her life. Part bluesy, part ‘70s rock, all courage, Wagner deftly moves between genres to keep listeners engaged. Wagner co-wrote most of the tracks with the musicians she collaborated with; six of the 11 songs were written with Sherrod Barnes, who has written for and recorded with Beyoncé, Queen Latifah and Whitney Houston.
Adored by Janet Jackson and signed to Jay-Z’s label, sibling collective Infinity Song honed its talents busking in New York City’s subways and Central Park. The “cocoa buttery” quintet recently dropped Mad Love, with eight singles imbued in R&B, soul and gospel. Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, who’s worked with Jennifer Hudson, The Fugees and Justin Bieber, collaborated with Infinity Song on the self-produced album.
A song that’s “specifically tailored to the dance floor,” Alex Moye keeps us moving to the beat with the hypnotic “I Wanna Dance.” The single came together organically as Moye was going through some samples; he came across an unforgettable guitar loop, and inspiration struck. His high-energy, up-tempo rhythms are guaranteed to give you a natural, feel-good high—a response he hopes to elicit with his music.
Electric pop-crooner Jeffrey James is known for infectious remixes and stripped-down piano ballads. For his single Like Love, he created two versions of the song—one that’ll get you up on your feet, one that’ll have you curling up with your emotions. Both are equally entrancing. Musical influences include Janelle Monae, The Talking Heads, John Legend and Chicago.
Modern pop and traditional country merge beautifully in Alyssa Trahan’s music. In addition to being a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, she’s also an audio engineer and producer. No wonder it took her only two short years to break through with her first record deal after moving to Nashville. Trahan truly blurs the lines between genres with her fresh sound.
Like Trahan, it took Drew Parker just a few years to break through the Nashville scene, a testament to the dedication that’s been part of his nature since he was a young child (Parker began singing at the age of 3). At 14, he taught himself how to play guitar and play songs from his role models: Keith Whitely, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Travis Twitt and Alan Jackson. Earlier this month, SiriusXM announced him as a “Highway Find”—when you listen to his feel-good music, you’ll agree.
This good-natured country-pop duo has had three songs featured on the show “Yellowstone,” has opened for countless country hitmakers and are no strangers to the festival circuit. Dani Rose and Sofie Lynn’s Southern storytelling is so compelling they were named as one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone Country. If you have any doubts, just listen to their new single, Cry Wolf.
A Holly Dolly Christmas
We’ve never met a Dolly Parton record we didn’t like, so even though it’s too early for Christmas music, A Holly Dolly Christmas keeps putting smiles on our faces—it’s her first in 30 years. As if a holiday album from Dolly wasn’t a treat enough, she’s teamed up with a tour-de-force list of collaborators, such as Michael Buble, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon and her brother, Randy Parton.