As performing songwriter*, a music writer/promoter** and a radio presenter/producer***, I come across a lot of music, I mean a lot. Making a list is therefore a bit impossible since I have a lot more than 21 musicians to thank for their beautiful contributions to music. But there it is, all the same, people whose tunes have played the most on my playlist in the last few months, the old and the new, the Folk and the Jazz, the nostalgic and the futuristic, and everything in between. I tried to do a chart once and found out I really don’t like to order people, I just love them all for the beauty and truthfulness in their lyric, the craft in their music and the integrity in putting it all together. So here is my list in no particular order.
- Karine Polwart (Scotland)– omg this woman would top my list if only i ordered it. Impressive mix of everything one hopes for in a creator and giver of music.
- Stromae (Belgium) – I discovered Stromae in France when I went to do a private show in Longwy. My hosts were playing this weirdly dressed guy and everyone from adult to child was singing songs that were in French and in English. Curiosity was awoken and that is all it takes to be sucked into his magnetism.
- Taffetas (Switzerland / Guinea-Bissau) – instrumental cross-border fusion to take you gently and with remarkable skills beyond your armchair.
- Youn Sun Nah (South Korea) – ok, this is for the voice virtuoso in me that loves it when human chords can embrace the difference in the world as if fusion had always been a pure affair 😉
- Paul Fogarty (Australia) – If this man lets me do music with him, I will be on the moon. Inspirational, full of integrity and inner melody.
- Ba Cissoko (Guinea) – Loumo is one of my favourite track of its release year and years after I am still in love!
- Fiona Apple (US) – Well of course! dwell in her lyric and partake in the originality of the music and you’ll know what I mean.
- Berber music (Morocco) – I know it is cheating since this is not a musician but on my trip to Essaouira Dec 2014, I took with me the wonderful sounds of Berber music that I was lucky enough to hear live while eating amazing Moroccan food. Various artists in this one and I really do not mind.
- Jo Bywater (England) – Believe it or not, she seems to think that it was an honour for her to feature on my track Free like smoke! Please, it is so obvious that the honour is all mine. Just looking at what she produces, I’d love to bathe once in a while in the pool of her inspiration.
- Marina Florance (England) – Velvet on the voice, no frills on the music, pure and simple… and beautiful
- Jonathan Tarplee (England) – I know I’m going to say Galleries and then forget everything else because I am going to play it “a few” more times!
- Little Sparrow (England) – I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with this lady. She is as lovely as her music and performances and that is even before you’ve heard her music voice.
- Ben Harper (US) – Releasing two albums in the past 2 years does play its part, but the quality of the resulting music, the softness of his voice and the skilful song craft play their parts. On his last album , he duets with his mum. Glorious.
- Noa (Israel) – I don’t think Noa has ever escaped any of my infamous mixtapes. Well, it is her own fault!
- Krista Detor (US) – Found out about this lady in 2014 when she sent me her CD. This is music to lay back to just like her voice, yet there is nothing boring in it, only a sense of peace.
- Sa Dingding (China) – I had been waiting for her third album for what seemed like forever. I was not as impressed as with the first two, possibly a case of great expectations so I consoled myself with Peacock, the brilliant 8th track on that CD and with overflowing excitement returned to the two treasured first releases.
- Lily and Madeleine (US) – US sisters that owned 2013 with no less than 3 releases. Then they had another release in 2014! Beautiful harmonies on a bed of minimalist musical background to savour at all hours.
- Pitch Feather (Singapore) – Ok I am stuck on one song, Elderflower fall but the whole debut album of Singaporean couple is their awesome folk/pop/alternative take on the human journey.
- Rowan Ross (Scotland) – It is unbelievable that I should still be stuck on that one song! “Time has the knack of overtaking you…”
- Herbert Groenemeyer (Germany) – I know, he is probably passé but then again have you heard “Marie” or “Halt mich”? They are among songs that positively “hold me just a little until I can sleep”.
- Lo-Fang (US) – I could have easily missed Lo-Fang and his LP Blue Film with all the releases of 2014 if he had not covered John Farrar’s classic You’re the one that I want.
This is why I don’t like making lists. It is obvious that there are more in my head and my playlists than that! For example, I just lately received new CDs (as usual) and so have started, for some, enjoying my future list (Daria Kulesh single, Kara’s LP, Sarah McQuaid fusions, the magic of Coco Mbassi, James Keelaghan’s First 25 years in music to list only a very few)! Didn’t I warn you? That is a list starting again already! Anyway, simply tune in to thethread.org.uk every Sunday 19.30 and hear the extended lists 😉
** publishing director of worldsingersongwriters.com and 1inmusic.com and Creative Director of VertiKal Life Magazine
*** on Canalside Community radio at thethread.org.uk