Self-portrait by Brenda Nicole Moorer
Vocalist/actor Brenda Nicole Moorer may be young, but she’s been a force in Atlanta’s artistic community for more than a decade. A former member of the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta and a graduate of both the DeKalb School of the Arts and SCAD’s Master of Arts Program, Moorer started singing professionally at the age of 16. Since then, she’s graced the stage alongside locally based musical luminaries like Russell Gunn, Julie Dexter and Khari Cabral Simmons, among many others. In 2011, she dropped her debut solo album, the jazz/folk-centric “Songbird,” and in 2015, she released the acclaimed full-length follow-up, “Brand New Heart.” She’s also worked with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre and garnered spots acting in TV shows like “Greenleaf,” “Star,” “American Soul” and more. On top that, she found the time to serve as the creator and artistic director of Touch x Agree, a nonprofit music organization dedicated to creating space for emerging musicians.
Fast-forward to the COVID-19-tinted landscape of 2020 and, although too many artists are seeing gigs disappear, it appears that some of Moorer’s most game-changing work is about to see the light of day. For one: She’s playing a role in the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, “Respect,” which stars Jennifer Hudson and is slated to hit theaters this December. And two: This summer, she’s unveiling her brand-new jazz album, “Marrow,” which she co-wrote with ATL’s own Kenny Banks Jr. and guitarist Trevor Wolford. To get more details, we recently checked in with Moorer, and she schooled us about what she’s got on tap.
House singer/dancer Cortney LaFloy
Cortney LaFloy — “No Time” + “Crossroads”
Since debuting on the scene in 2014 with hit track “Dance4You,” singer/dancer Cortney LaFloy has become one of the most consistent voices for house music coming out of Atlanta. She’s been dropping new cuts on an almost annual basis, and her latest single — “No Time” (written by LaFloy and produced by Rick Lenoir) — was released just a few months ago, along with a slew of remixes. We’ve even caught wind of yet another single, titled “Crossroads,” that she recently dropped. So, make no mistake, she’s been putting in work.
India.Arie — “Worthy”
One of the most (hell, perhaps THE most) prolific and influential artists to rise from the Atlanta soul scene, India.Arie returns to the world’s collective earholes in February with her eighth studio album, “Worthy.” And, taking a listen to the 10-track project’s first two singles — “That Magic” and “What If” — it’s apparent that “Worthy” is a return to the straightforward and soulful sound she made famous on early albums like “Acoustic Soul” and “Voyage to India.” That said, she could release a country-rap album, and we’d be down to snag a copy. In other words: Go buy it.
More info: soulbird.com.
Regular readers of Slo*Mo may notice that the focus of this article — Kameron Corvet — has graced the front of our print magazine more than any other artist since we hit the scene in 2013. His frequent appearances in our publication, however, aren’t due to favoritism or payola or anything ethically skewed like that. The fact is, the Atlanta-based singer/songwriter/musician just always has some dope stuff on tap.
Khari Cabral Simmons: “Soulbossa”
If you’re in the market for some breezy, tropical sounds for the summer, look no further than “Soulbossa” — the new EP from celebrated ATL musician/producer Khari Cabral Simmons. Music heads probably recognize him as the bassist who plays alongside India.Arie, but he’s garnered a reputation for crafting Brazilian-influenced soul sounds via his band Jiva, alongside singer Julie Dexter (on the album “Moon Bossa”) and as a solo artist (on albums like “Clementine Sun” and “Heaven and Earth”). With “Soulbossa,” Simmons continues his exploration into the sound — paying sonic homage to cats like Sergio Mendes, Quincy Jones and more.
Atlanta-based singer Tasha LaRae
If you catch a glimpse of — or take a listen to — singer Tasha LaRae, there’s a good chance you may recognize her as a member of the famed hip-hop crew Arrested Development or as a vocal contributor to noted producer DJ Kemit’s most recent album, “Together.” But it turns out those collaborations paved the way for a project of LaRae’s very own: her debut solo EP, “Light,” which dropped in March. On the new six-track collection of original material, the Atlanta-based Nebraska native (and the entrepreneur behind the “Racism Sucks” clothing line) presents lyrics that explore a range of human experiences, and music that’s dreamy and ethereal but still danceable. We recently sat down with LaRae to talk the science of going solo and to get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Light.”
Janelle Monáe: “Django Jane” + “Make Me Feel”
You probably don’t need us, the good folks at Slo*Mo, to tell you that Janelle Monáe released two new singles — the Prince-flavored “Django Jane” and “Make Me Feel,” a hook-less, boasty rap tune — in late February. But, hey, she’s one of Atlanta’s most celebrated music matriarchs (overseeing her Wondaland label/clique) and these new tracks take her into sexy, dangerous realms that she has yet to truly explore, so we had to drop a dime on ’em.
More info: www.jmonae.com.
When you’re an indie artist, getting your music into the hands of fans can be a helluva feat. Case in point — Kameron Corvet: The Atlanta-based singer/musician has been releasing acclaimed pop- and rock-tinged soul music since 2006, but without the backing of a label, he’s been forced to wear a multitude of hats — artist, publicist, A&R, etc. — making the task of dropping albums extra tough.
Despite the obstacles, Corvet has steadily cranked out new sounds on a regular basis … as evidenced by his newest EP, “Early Riser,” which hit the streets Dec. 1, 2017. The album is a continuation of the guitar-driven brand of music he’s become known for, and once again, he brought the project to life via the hard work of his-own-damn-self and that of his team. We recently checked in with Corvet to get a look at the challenges of making of his latest project — from a creative and a business POV.
Tasha LaRae: “Light”
Atlanta-based singer Tasha LaRae is known by many in music circles as an acclaimed collaborator: She’s a member of the legendary Arrested Development crew, recently provided vocals for DJ Kemit’s “Together” EP, etc. But in January, LaRae is stepping into the spotlight with the release of her new solo project, “Light.” She describes the six-track EP as a “blend of soul, house and R&B music with lyrics that echo real life situations of love, loss, and living the human experience” — but we see “Light” as a fitting showcase for a talent deserving way more shine. More info: tashalarae.com/light-project.
Photo: Dejah Greene. Model: Raven Best.
The year 2017 is gonna be a big one for Slo*Mo Media. Now, that’s not some flippant prediction or straight-up boast — it’s just a fact, based on some carefully considered strategy. In other words, we ain’t bullshittin’ you.
Looking forward to next year, although we can’t reveal all our plans, we can safely say that you’ll be seeing a lot more of us: in print, on the web and in the flesh. Keep your eyes and ears peeled to all the stuff we make (the zine, the Mo Audio podcast, the website, our social media content, etc.) to stay in the loop on all of the newness and expansions.
But before we go knee-deep into 2017, we thought it would only be right to look back at the year in music — specifically the soul music that came out of Atlanta this year.