As followers of this site already know, the independent artist movement is an ever-expanding market. If you find an undiscovered artist you like, by the time you finish listening to their track, you’ll find that there are four more artists with the same or similar flavor that you’ve never heard of. It is impossible for me to highlight every new independent artist. As a matter of fact, the list of artists I have in my queue to review is two pages long. So with only a few weeks to go until the lazy days of summer, I’ll highlight 5 artists per week, every week and continue that throughout the fair-weather season Let’s go!!
I came across this next artist’s music in late 2016 and I an very glad I did. With one song, gave me a perfect anthem with which to change my outlook on life. He goes into the regular simple structured groove with very nice musical “chops” and background vocal parts. Although the song is very heavily orchestrated, the message is definitely clear. No matter what, “Praise Him”! The tune even features a dip into the traditional Gospel sound before its ending – which came too quickly for me.
I’d love to hear a light, acoustic version of the same song (hint, hint) because I think the singer could easily pull it off. With the release of a full project that expresses who he is as a lover of God, “A Worship Heart” is an audible feast from Jeremiah Hicks that gives me the impression that he is cut from the same cloth as an Anthony Brown & Group Therapy or Kurt Carr – a great musician and vocal arranger/writer. The time has been taken to produce a noteworthy project and it shows.
Songs of note include “Simply Praise” (and its refrain “The Overflow”), “Better” (feat. Juanita Contee) and the reprise “Juanita’s Testmony” a powerful and uplifting live experience. The artist cleverly chose not to break from the momentum of rhythm, but instead, allows the project to flow effortlessly from track to track as in the case of “Remember” which wafts right into “Jesus”. Without disturbing the melody one bit, the easy-listening rhythm has captured you and you are already six minutes in before you realize it is another song. Genius. I am certainly glad that I came across this artist – and I am sure you will be too. I recommend Jeremiah Hicks as an Artist You Should Know.
“Jesus” by Jeremiah Hicks
I was smitten with “Pour Me Out” and the haunting simplicity, so heartfelt, so pure. While preparing this article, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a full project had been released. Naomi Raine is a consummate worshiper. She just cannot hide it; it comes across in her music and even in the sincere and docile tone of her voice.
Her current offering is called “Heart Songs, Vol.2: Adoration” on which, the singer speaks her intent with tunes like “Celebrate” – an acoustic opener and “Definition Of Good”, a powerful song interwoven with Scripture that – I feel – every believer must hear. Its reprise has knocked me off my feet! I was so smitten by this project and remorse that I missed “Heart Songs, Vol 1” My Heart” that I went back and listened. After hearing “Open Heaven” and “Wet Cement” I concluded that Naomi has not moved from her original convictions.
Apologetically, I must say that I liked the original “Definition Of Good” a little more than the sequel. Naomi Raine is a worshiper with every ounce of her being. You can’t produce music like hers and not be authentic. She is an Artist You Should Know.
“Definition Of Good” by Naomi Raine
I was taken aback by his rousing rendition of The Caravans’ classic “Show Some Sign”. I enjoyed the fact that this young man captured the essence of the genre without sounding sacrificing youthful exuberance. His tone and verbiage are an homage to the trailblazing group and reminiscent of a good ‘ol quartet singer from way back when. When a male singer doesn’t have the range of say, an Earnest Pugh, it is sometimes a letdown when they go to the rafters and get stuck. They end up doing more screaming than singing to get their point across in the clmax. Such is not the case with MarQuez Curtis.
He knows where he belongs and fills his spot comfortably. Giving us glimpses of excitement with the out-of-your-seat call-to-worship song “The Blessing Is On You”. Curtis keeps his lower range crisp with razor-sharp riffs and subtle tones. I’d like to hear a ballad done by him in the key of F# or maybe even D. I’m sure he would pull it off brilliantly. Without knowing him personally, his professional presentation and careful production tell us that this isn’t the last we’ll hear of him. Pick up a copy of the “Believe” project from this gifted young Artist You Should Know.
“Show Some Sign” by Marques Curtis
I hope this doesn’t come off as a slight to Donnell Russell, but the background singers on his new single “Holy” are so polished and sharp that I listened to it many times just to hear them again and again. Russell has assembled an all-star team of vocal support that elevate his new song to amazing levels.
That is not to say that Russell doesn’t hold his own with efficient and beautiful lyrics and a plain CCM approach, I find his singing pleasing to the ear. The single is a testament to a commitment to a life set aside for God and gratitude for the honor. That is as good a statement as any for a Gospel artist. When you incorporate the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” with such fresh and uncluttered music, I am almost upset at the rather abrupt ending (but hey, many artists don’t know how to end a song. Donnell shows us how — end it!).
Mixing and mastering is high quality as is the artist’s presentation of the product. I’m thankful that bold statements like “Holy” are still being sung today. Proclaiming the cause of Christ and producing quality music while doing it makes Donnell Russell an Artist You Should Know.
“Holy” by Donnell Russell
There is no doubt about, I am in love with “Glory To Your Name“
From her jazzy phrasing to her crisp riffs to her well-timed climaxes, I just find more and more ways to enjoy Tiffany Boone. Her unruffled lower register with a hint of rasp is refreshing. There is no shortage of singers who can reach the rafters, but not many who can master the lower registers. Tiffany shows us that the left end if the piano works just as well.
This worship leader at House of Hope, Macon is an amazing testament to the rare commodity that is females who can sing in dulcimer tones eloquently. In addition to her range, I can feel the joy in her voice. Boone carefully flows with the rhythmic changes in the song and by the time we get to the vamp, we are in for a wonderful treat of energetic riffs that rise with the mood of the song. I am now a big fan and I give thanks to my friend, Stephen Anderson for guiding me to her music. Tiffany Boone is a name from which I hope more music is to come and an Artist You Should Know.
“Glory To Your Name” by Tiffany Boone
There you have it! Another installment of AYSK is wrapped up and a few more people are connected with 5 more amazing artists uplifting the Kingdom through song.