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It's a New Year, New Blessings, New Opportunities!!
So, I wanted my first blog of the year to highlight some of the incredible people that I know personally and to remind people just how deep those music roots run in Memphis. Below you'll find 4 familiar or new faces that you must add to your playlist, 4 artist that are creating their own sound within two of my favorite genres of music, R&B, and Hip-Hop. The two genres that are responsible for starting movements and making babies, or at least that's what I heard! My mommy may be reading!
Song Bird, Keri Lee
First up, meet 27-year-old Memphis native Keri Lee! At the young age of nine, Keri discovered her musical gift and so did her family.
"As soon as my family discovered I could sing, I was singing all the time at church. It wasn't always fun singing at every church function, but it definitely made me comfortable with performing. I figured I was pretty good at it since they never wanted me to stop."
My first opportunity to hang out with Keri and get to know her was by invading her NYC apartment back in 2015. We have a close mutual friend and I was visiting from Baltimore for the weekend. I can tell you first hand that the beautiful voice has a beautiful spirit to match. Oh, and if you're looking for your best match for karaoke, Keri Lee is your girl!
Keri, who as of last year started singing background for the extraordinary John Legend and has recently started a showcase called Solo Sessions with her fellow (also extremely talented) background sisters. Solo sessions were created to give other background singers a platform to step into the spotlight and showcase their talents, giving the public the opportunity to know them individually. Dope, right?? If you're in New York or the surrounding area please check out the next Solo Sessions performances on January 27, 2018, located at Rockwood Music Hall 196 Allen Street New York, NY at 10:00 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $ 15 at the door! Check Keri's Instagram page for any updates or changes.
In between traveling all over the world sharing her gift Keri also started a Vlog to share her tour experience. I have watched them, and I must say they are inspirational and entertaining. You have to make sure you subscribe to her channel. Here is the link to the latest Vlog youtu.be/ui96JMii-5o so, go ahead and click it! As far as new music, Keri informed me that there is no new music as of right now but be sure to follow her on all social media outlets so, that when the music is released you will know.
When I asked Keri what advice she would give to someone pursuing their dream(s) she told me this.
"Go for it! You have to believe in yourself and trust God. Trust the gifts inside you."
Follow Keri on Instagram at Kerilee, Facebook at Keri Lee Music, and YouTube at Keri Lee.
Soulful Songstress, Zy Year
Next, allow me to introduce you to my old middle school homie, Miss Zaire love! It's no surprise that Zaire has taken the artist route. When we attended Hickory Ridge Middle together she was the charismatic friend with a huge personality and always entertaining. Zaire recently decided to accept that music and creating were her gifts to the world in 2017.
"Something clicked in 2017. I got this confidence. I was like...my voice, my vibe and my vision are pretty dope. Let the world know about these thangs!"
Identifying herself as a Southern Soul artist, Zaire is currently working on videos for her first project, "Beta Test", that was released in August of 2017.
"Nobody knew that I sang or wrote so, I called it Beta Test to see if folks would like it. I've gotten nothing but love on it and that makes my heart smile ya know."
If you're looking to see Zaire live she informed me that some Atlanta(Her current residence) shows are on the docket right now. Since she's just starting out she is focusing on getting on bigger platforms. She wants to be in the lineup for Memphis' Lyfe is Dope showcase this year so, we are going to aid her in speaking that into existence.
Be sure to download and listen to her first project "Beta Test", I have included the link below.
www.zyyear.com/BetaTest Also, show love on Facebook by liking Zaire's page, ZY YEAR, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @zy_year.
Zy's advice to the people:
"Do it, mane! You deserve to at least try. There's no room for regret when It comes to something you're hella passionate about."
Poetic Lyricist, Franceschi
Then, we have my annoying brother from another mother, Christopher Franceschi! The first time I heard Chris rap in front of a crowd was during a listening party that a close friend and I planned for Chris. I joked with him afterward and told him he was J.Cole's older brother, Jerry Cole, the Memphis in me can never just give loving compliments, but it was definitely a compliment. Listening to him rap reminded me of one of the most influential rappers of our time. Through his music Chris has decided to tell stories about the many realities of the black community, he has decided to tell his truth and the truth of others.
"I realized that I had the ability to capture thoughts, emotions, feelings, and transpose them into timeless music that people could vibe to."
He is currently working on an EP entitled Chixionary. This is a project that will take a deeper dive into relationships, identifying what women want vs what men think they want. He stated that the release of the EP will be slightly different than most as he will release a series of songs and visuals every other month starting February 14, 2018. February 14th will also be the debut of his first single from the EP. No other music out right now for Chris but be sure to check back in February for the EP and keep up with him on social media to see the dates for upcoming shows. Be sure to follow Chris on Instagram Twitter, and Facebook by searching Imfranceschi.
When I asked Chris what he would tell an aspiring dreamer.
"My advice would be to simply do it! Don't second guess yourself or don't be afraid.. Just Do it! Do it unapologetically!"
Lyrical Mastermind, Heavy Hustla
Last but certainly not least, Justin Pierre Reynoso! Justin and I go all the way back to da green Box (Green electrical boxes found in your local neighborhoods), firecracker wars, and e-mails before text messages were unlimited. Justin, who goes by the rap name of Heavy Hustla, is not only my friend but family and we argued as such as teenagers. I can remember being in his mother's home while beats were made, or sitting in the car with our other friends listening to CDs with burned tracks on them. Fast Forward to now and Justin is more involved in his music than ever before.
Justin just released a new project called, "Hieroglyphs". It was released on Monday, January 15, 2018 on all streaming platforms.
"I realized younger in my life around 11 or 12 years old that music was a passion of mine, but I truly realized this was my gift to the world during my first and only year in college. I released a song called, "Stay Fresh" which gathered the attention of a lot of people and shined a little light on me. To have people outside of my immediate circle recognize and relate to my music, it was instant motivation to continue to provide that experience and gift."
Although Justin no longer lives in Memphis he is still very aware of the issues the city faces and brings attention to them within his music. His second most recent release from his label, Black Roses Music Group, "Color of the Night" is a politically charged single that takes a stance on the war against the black race and the war the black race has against each other. Videos have been filmed for that single and another entitled "Too Involved" which are available on his Youtube Channel @HustlazPOV (https://www.youtube.com/user/HustlazPOV). Too Involved is also available on all streaming outlets for purchase. No upcoming shows, but after the release of his latest project on 1/15/18 he will be performing at every open mic available between Memphis and Atlanta. Follow Justin on Instagram, Facebook, & Snap Chat @HeavyHustla901. YouTube @HustlazPOV and Contact him at: MyBlackRosesMG@gmail.com
Justin's words of wisdom:
"Fearlessly chase your dream now! Wasted time shortens your clock for success"
Keri Lee, Zaire Love, Christopher Franceschi, and Justin Reynoso are four of the dopest and most hardworking artist to come out of Memphis, TN. I believe that soon their names will be mentioned all throughout the Hip Hop and R&B industry adding them to list of legends to be birthed here. These beautiful, black, socially conscious kings and queens are the definitions of using your platform effectively. They aren't just making music but are involved in their communities, understand the power of music, and the importance of following your dreams. Thank you for being a positive and inspirational representation of Memphis!
And thank you all for reading.Many Blessings, love, peace, and prosperity to you and yours!