The Defender issued a call for the names of local artists who deserve some shine; folk with insane talent, but who most people in the city, state and country simply don’t know about. Yet! We called, and you, our community, responded.
And Lord have mercy, did y’all respond.
My thinking was that I’d get enough names to compile a Top 10 or 15 “Local Artists You Need to Know” list. However, the number of responses received was both overwhelming and incredibly encouraging.
It was overwhelming because it meant one article wasn’t going to come close to covering the “underground” talent that exists in the Greater Houston area. It was encouraging for the same reason; i.e., Houston is bursting at the seams with incredible writers, photographers, musicians, painters, dancers, MCs and more, who deserve our attention.
Thus, “Local Artists You Need to Know” will be a regular feature on the Defender’s COMMUNITY CENTRAL channel in order to shine the spotlight on as many sisters and brothers as possible.
But, we have to start somewhere. So, here are five artists, listed in no certain order, you would do well to check out.
Wow. I’m cheating already. Though Soul Control is an individual entity, it’s made up of two local DJs, each of whom deserve their own spot on this list. But for now, let’s talk about what this dynamic duo pulls off together. DJ Elevated and DJ Anarchy (aka DJ Elevated and DJ Anarchy) came together on the spur of the moment to lay down musical tracs for an event years ago, and things went so smooth, it was as if their collaboration was meant to be. And, so it was. They have since come together for over six years hosting a myriad of events, like “Above the Clouds,” “ElectroBounce” and more. And every time they hop on the ones & twos, for these audio-soul therapists, it’s all about providing fellow experiencers with a healing moment. In fact, they literally label their events “Movement Based Healing.” And from what folk say, that ain’t even the half of it.
Instagram (DJ Elevated): https://www.instagram.com/djelevated/?hl=en
Twitter (DJ Elevated): https://twitter.com/djelevated
Instagram (DJ Anarchy): https://www.instagram.com/djanarchy/?hl=en
Twitter (DJ Anarchy): https://twitter.com/djanarchy
Talk about diverse. Lord have mercy. That’s exactly who and what Ashleigh Brae is. She will steal your heart whether singing gospel, Christmas songs, neo soul or country. How this sister isn’t a household name nationally is a crime that needs to be solved… or better yet, rectified by all who hear this sister’s soul-stirring voice, screaming from the mountaintops (or at least Hermann Park’s Hippie Hill) so that folk near and far become introduced to this powerhouse. And while we’re in this Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo moment, check out Brae’s song “Longhaul,” either the studio version or the acoustic joint. Both will put us all in touch with our Black cowboy legacy. Or peep her TikTok duets singing “The Best Part” and the one she does with the acclaimed actress/singer Cynthia Erivo. And if you’re in a Christmas mood, or even if you’re not, do yourself a favor and have a listen to what she does on the mic with gospel artist Kurt Carr during their rendition of “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull.” I guarantee, you will hear yourself saying what I said when I first heard Ashleigh Brae’s voice: Lord have mercy!
Full disclosure: I’m personal friends with Mike. I’ve known him and his incredible family for most of my life, beginning when we were in our goofy, nerdy Missouri City Junior High years. But make no mistake; Mike Meade is not on this list because he’s one of the best homies a brother could ever have. Mike is an insanely talented musician, and has been for decades. He’s a beast on the drums, but has made a name for himself professionally as a bass player. And as musicians know, expect for the biggest of the big names (i.e. Bootsy Collins, Marcus Miller, Larry Graham, Meshell Ndegeocello, Wayman Tisdale, Victor Wooten, James Jamerson, Charles Mingus, Esperanza Spalding, etc.), bass players rarely get any real public love or attention. And that makes no sense. Can you image life with no bass?!?! Me neither. And Mike Meade has been representing on the bass for a good minute. He’s played on stages around the globe (France, Belgium, Germany, Afghanistan, etc., and all across the U.S.) with countless headlining performers like Country & Western star Sheila Ray Marshall, and rockers Hamilton Loomis and Sammy Hundley, to name a few.
David Landry, who is a formidable artist/DJ/etc. in his own right, wants the world to know about an H-Town visual artist extraordinaire, Krista Davenport, owner of Kris D. Photography. And judging from her work which can be found on her social media spots, Davenport is not just making her presence felt locally, but also globally. Davenport has been featured by countless media outlets locally and nationally, including Houstonia Mag, Houston Press, Voyage Houston 2018, Fotofest 2014 Biennial, CW 39 News, Buzz Magazine, ABC 13, Blaffer Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum and many, many more. Still, I would argue that she doesn’t get enough press. Kris D. Photography was named 6th Annual RAWards RAW Photographer of the Year, but it could be easily argued that Davenport is an even better painter and digital artist. Suffice it to say, this sister’s mad skills need way more love and attention than they are presently generating. Hence, her presence on this list. But don’t take my word for it. Check out her work for yourself (credits for images below: Krista Davenport, Carrington Davenport)
According to Akinyi Adoyo, one local artist that requires the attention of music lovers is Ndovu Sasabasi. And when you check out his videos for “Chacha,” “Jolie” and “Lakini Bado” you’ll see why. But I should warn you. Don’t play these videos if you’re not ready and willing to get up and move somethin’.
Again, these are just five of the many local artists who have been brought to my attention. If you know of any artists whose work is worthy of celebration, forward that info (artists’ names, social media links, videos, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org. The more the merrier. Let’s do what we can to get the names and works of these crazy talented human beings out there for the world to see and enjoy.