**Artists to Watch in 2014**

Here’s my prediction for 2014…take a look at 5 different artists/bands that I believe will be successful in the next year.  Feel free to take a peep to see if you agree and to discover some new music to add to your ever-growing collection..Enjoy!

1.  Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy

  • The band features a collective of nearly 40 musicians, referred to as “The Fam” on their recordings and tours.
  •  Snarky Puppy was nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best R&B Performance” category, with their cover of Lalah Hathaway’s song “Somethin”

Watch the video for “Somethin” below..

2.  Hiatus Kaiyote

  • From Melbourne, Australia
  • Nice blend of soul music with Jazz vocals
  • Currently nominated for a grammy for their song “Nakamarra”–listen to it below

3.  Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

I absolutely love this artist! Her first album was amazing and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for 2014.

  • Her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? was awarded the title of iTunes Album of The Year 2012.
  • She was nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll
  • Listen to “Elusive” below (one of my favorite records from her debut album)–the video was released this year

4.  Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr.

  • Influences:  Blues, jazz, soul, country, hip hop
  •  Clark’s musical trademarks are his extremely fuzzy guitar sound and smooth vocal style.
  • Currently nominated for a Grammy for “Please Come Home”

Listen to his live performance of “Please Come Home”

5.  Lorde


Lorde is only 17 years old and her debut album, Pure Heroine has received worldwide critical acclaim…

  • Lorde is nominated for a total of four Grammys, which include ‘Record of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’ for “Royals” and ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ for Pure Heroine.
  • Her musical debut was an EP entitled, whicThe Love Clubh was released in November 2012
  • Her first single, “Royals”, debuted at number one on the New Zealand Top 40, and also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013, making her the first New Zealand solo artist to have a number one song in the United States.

Lorde’s video “Royals”

FANIA: The Music Revolution That Started Salsa

In 1971 a small record label from New York gathered all its music stars for one concert. The band was presented as the “Fania All Stars”. After 2 years of shows they performed in front of 45,000 fans at the Yankee stadium. After 3 years, they achieved world stardom.

In 1930, the clarinet and trumpet player Mario Bauza arrived to New York running away from racism in Cuba. He became famous for playing the melody of the swing song “Stepping”. It was the first approach of the Latin soul and the American genres. Years later, in the 50’s the “Manicero” became the first Cuban success song in the U.S. Other important names by that time were Tito Puente, Joe Bataan and Machito and his “Afro Cuban”

In the decade of the 60’s, Harlem was “the barrio” where half a million latinos (mostly Puertoricans) became an important social group in the city. They call themselves NewYoricans. Musicians such as Mongo Santamaria, Joe Cuba and Pete Rodrigues started to mix their Latin music influences with the American music like R&B, blues and Funk. The result was a genre named Bugaloo, which was pretty successful. Some of the hits of that time were “Watermelon man”, “Bang Bang” and “I like it like that”.




Fania records was founded in 1964 for the Dominican musician Johnny Pacheco and the Italo-American ex police officer Jerry Masucci. In 1967, a sixteen years old-trombonistfrom New York Willy Colon, was sign for Fania. There was only one condition, that Hector Lavoe who was a “Jibaro”(mountain-dwelling peasants)  from Puerto Rico, became the singer of the project.  This reunion changed the Latin music forever. Willy Colon releases his first album “El Malo” which became the first great hit for the company.


Their music started to change taking every time more distance from Bugaloo style. Hector Lavoe started to make some his famous “skas” improvisation at the end of the songs. Thanks to his rural origins from in Puerto Rico and his particular voice, Hector was identified as an idol for the Latin music fans. In addition, Willy traveled many times to Puerto Rico and started to mix the Jibaro feeling by using “El Cuatro”. El Cuatro is a small guitar, similar to ukulele, which is played in many countries in Latin America. The best hit of that time was “La Murga”.



In the beginning of the 70’s the success of Fania was triggered thanks to one concert made in an old ice skate space.  The most important musicians of the Latin music history was gathered to play in a big orquestra conducted by Johnny Pacheco.  Some of the big starts in that concert were Pete Rodriguez, Santos Colon, Cheo Feliciano among others. That night was called “El Nacimiento de la salsa” (The born of the Salsa).


The concert was a huge success not only because the music. The event was filmed and the movie was produced and shown in theatres as “La Cosa Latina”. It was considered the Woodstock of the Latin music. The movie was a phenomenon in New York and in many Latin American countries.



This economical success led Fania to absorb some small competitor labels becoming the only salsa record label in N.Y. It importance can be compared with Motown as a genre and label. The Salsa started to be the symbol that develops an identity within the Latin people.

Jerry Masucci started to make business of this boom and most of the time the contract were unfair sharing few revenues to the musicians. This businessman took advantage of his position and kept all the copyrights of the repertoire. Actually Tite Curet Alonso who was the composer of all the greatest hits of Fania had to work as a port man to survive. He died in poverty. One of his famous song is “Anacaona”.



On the other hand Masucci was a man with great business vision. He wanted to make a second film so he rented the Yankee stadium to make a huge concert. That nigh 45,000 fans enjoy the historic concert. One remarkable fact is that people started to go to the field and took the stage and the concert had to be suspended.

The film was incomplete so Masucci decided to make another historic gig. This time Fania All Stars flew to Puerto Rico. The song “Mi Gente” became the Salsa’s anthem. And it was the first time that the legend of the afro-Cuban music Celia Cruz joined the band. Her powerful rhythm and voice was the cherry on the top of Fania.



The second movie lack of commercial success. Nevertheless Fania All Stars and Celia Cruz started a world tour becoming the ambassadors of the Salsa. They made concerts in most of the counties in Latin America, Japan, U.K., Africa reaching huge success everywhere. Moreover the biggest success came when the young composer and singer from Panama Ruben Blades recorded his first album with Willy Colon. Blades brought to the Salsa style sophisticated lyrics full of social and political content. From that point the Salsa was not only to dance but to create conscience in the Latin society. By the time there was  a social and political instability in Panamá, Puerto Rico Nicaragua etc.

One of his first hits was “El Número 6”. Inspired in a New York’s subway train. It was recorded for “Bobby Rodriguez y la Compañía”.


Willy Colon and Ruben Blades recorded the album considered the “Sgt. Pepper” of the Salsa: “Siembra”. This album sold 500,000 only in Caracas Venezuela. The biggest hit of the album is the song “Pedro Navajas”.


By the end of the 70’s Fania was starting to break up. Jerry Masucci was fed up of the stress and decided to quit the company. Despite of the success the personal relation between Colon and Blades started to break down. In addition Pedro Lavoe started to have drugs and alcohol addiction problems. This song composed by Blades and sang by Lavoe became the most characteristic song for him: “El cantante”.


THE CITY HALL SESSIONS: Concerts Where Music Celebrates Freedom

Music is a universal language that brings together an entire social spectrum around human fairness. The City Hall Sessions is an annual musical festival that first came about to celebrate South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections in 1994. From then on, each 27th of April the City Hall Sessions take place to celebrate what today is known as Freedom Day. These concerts are definitely a taste of diversity, inclusion and freedom.

As an example of this cultural diversity, take a look at this beautiful performance of Amaryoni-Azapella. This South African-a capella band is strongly influenced by the Is’cathamiya and gospel styles becoming very popular amongst the people of townships.


On December 5th 2013 the Nobel Peace Prize and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela passed away. He was a man that changed the world forever achieving what no other leader could make possible in human history. In 1990 he was released from jail after spending 27 years in Robben Island. He ran for the presidential election in 1994 becoming the first black president of South Africa.

Built in 1905, the City Hall is not only the home to the Cape Philharmonic Orquestra but also the host of the music festival. This beautiful cultural space and auditorium has been seen across the world. It was the place where Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of over 100,000 supporters from its balcony after his release from prison in 1990. I’m pretty sure that the 2014 festival will be full of thrills and many events honoring Mandela’s memory.


These series of concerts started in 2011 bringing to the city a unique blend of the best musicians from Africa and the rest of the world. The objective of this program is to showcase Africa’s both social and musical diversity. The City Hall Sessions are trying to establish Cape Town as a center of cultural innovation and appreciation for people in Africa.  This local festival is becoming more global every year building stronger connections between musicians, music industry and the Capetonians.

The local-Capetonian composer, pianist and extraordinary jazz musician, Paul Hammer remembered in a comment the local social environment when he was music student during apartheid days.

“I was a music student at UCT (University of Cape town) and we used to get cheaper tickets to come on a Thursday night to the Philharmonic concerts in the City Hall. But my father didn’t want me to come. He said, ‘There’s a permit for this place to be open to people of colour,’ [people of colour needed to be permitted access to public buildings during apartheid]. And I retorted, ‘There is a permit at UCT for people of colour to be there.’ And he said, ‘Well, that is for your education.’ And I said, ‘This is also for my education”.

In 2013 he played his music for the city hall sessions. Enjoy this amazing performance:





The “City Hall Session” is a project developed for Creative Cape Town, which is a Cape Town Partnership program and supported by the National Lottery Development Trust Fund. The company Making Music is in charge of the technical and organizational production of the event. The prestigious local-producer and music documentarian Steve Gordon is the head coach of the festival.

The festival has had many performances of very well-known African and world musicians  such as Ray Lema (Democratic Rep. of Congo), Didier Awadi (Senegal), Steward Sukuma (Mozambique),  Chico César (Brazil), among others.

In 2012 one of the most representatives of the Pan African musicians, Ismaël Lo from Senegal played one of his most popular songs “Dibi Dibi Rek”.  He fills the stage with his Afropop and reggae rhythms in a sold out concert. This video shows his brilliant performance with the Cape Town group “Azania Ghetto Sound” in support.





I think this kind of festival provides not only the opportunity to enjoy the musical performances of a different bunch of musicians, but it also brings important benefits for the people of Cape Town promoting social cohesion. This remarkable effort of social and spatial reconstruction after apartheid is the main objective of Cape Town partnership.


We’re giving musicians a much-needed platform (medium-sized performance venues in the city are few and far between), creating jobs in the industry, and using the medium of music to help create new citizen memories in a historic city space” Cape Town Partnership CEO Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana.








The Grey Album: A Precedent For This New Music Era



As the color of the Album “Gray” I can say there is not white and black opinion. It is very difficult to set a clear point of view because the historic moment and the parties involved in the case. It depends on which side of the battlefield you are.

One side is those involved in the control of the digital distribution, the owners of the most important music catalogues, and those engaged with music copyrights (record labels). On the other side, there are the new artists seeking to take advantage of new technologies and social media and use them creatively (Danger Mouse, Remix Dj’s and supporters).


In 2004 Danger Mouse released “The Gray Album”, a 12-song set containing mash ups of samples taken from the Beatles “White Album” and the Jay-Z’s “The Black Album”. This was the first time someone used the Beatle’s samples without legal authorization. Although Mouse is using a small part of different samples he intended to produce a sound that directly relates the original Beatle’s songs. For instance in the song “What more can I say” he uses the original recording of the song “While My Guitar Gentle weeps” as the base of the song and the original chorus.



Mouse didn’t have the right to use these samples but he was aware that he needed the permission from EMI and Capital Records to use the Beatles recordings. He knew he was infringing multi-copyright legislation. At the beginning Mouse was only sharing this material with friends and his DJ colleagues, but once this had been shared with 3,000 people the work began to be copied and followed by a bigger number of fans.  EMI tried to stop the distribution of this album asking Mouse to “cease and desist”. They asked Mouse to pull out the album from the market but it was almost impossible due to the big number of illegal downloads on Internet taking place through peer-to-peer file sharing. On top of this, the Rollin Stone Magazine and the New Yorker had profiled the album and provided it with tons of publicity that made it even more sought after. The album was so successful it won the Entertainment Weekly award as Album of the year.


Although I am generally in favor of sampling, it is impossible to deny that Mouse did indeed take an essential copyrighted sound for his mash ups. Here is the example of the song “99 problems” that deliberated use the drums breaks, electric guitar, background voices of “Helter Skelter”.



The supporters of the project ignored EMI’s notifications arguing the fair use of sampling and started an unprecedented cyber activism. This reaction brought global awareness of the cyber, cultural and political protest in relation to music. The activist group Downhill Battle promoted the sharing of the album. On February 24, 2004 more than a hundred web sites allowed the free but “illegal” download of the 12 tracks.  Within 24 hours more than 100,000 downloads were done which is the equivalent of one million tracks. This day was known as the “Grey Tuesday” and both downloads and the weblogs helped to spread the word and support for the Grey Album.


In reaction to this movement, EMI letters to the web sites in order to stop the action taking place online saying that all who participated were potentially facing the risk of being sued by EMI. Although this did not happen and there are no suits against users or websites, nowadays some of the pages expose a legend about that on their main sites.



At the end, Sony/ATV didn’t want to take Mouse to court, as this would mean a large and expensive legal battle. Firstly, they would need to analyze how much of the original tracks of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison where used in each song of the Grey Album. Secondly, if they want to sue the protestors they would need to engage in a case-by-case scenario, which would have no beginning or end given the huge amount of people that were part of this process.




Amazingly the ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Star are not opposed or at least they didn’t react against the Gray Album. It was until 2011 when Sir Paul McCartney said that he is a supporter of sampling and Mouse creations. In the case of Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records, they didn’t want to get legally involved in the case. Jay-Z, as we all know, has been using many remixes in his albums for which it would be contradictory for him to be part of this case.

Mouse didn’t ask for the right use of the samples he smashed up. Based in this situation he was committing copyright infringement no matter how many copies he wanted to release. In my point of view The Gray Album changed the music industry and the way all the digital distributors understand copyrights. It became a new way of think in creativity. As Danger Mouse said in the  “Alternative Freedom The movie” (min 1:02:20) when gives his opinion about copyrights: “ Maybe it change the people perception about how they thought about rock ‘n roll music, or The Beatles and hip hop, Jay-Z…  it is just perception.