I’m not here to argue the merits and talents of Miley Cyrus. Love her or hate her, people are listening to her music and at the end of the day that’s what matters. I just want to take a moment to share with you some other phenomenal up-and-coming female artists that may be overshadowed by our current pop princess.
Dessa is a singer/rapper and poet from Minnesota. Her latest album, “Parts of Speech,” came out this summer, but I only stumbled across it recently. The album will resonant with anyone that has dealt with love and heartbreak or struggled with the ability to believe in themselves. Dessa impressively mixes the hard with the soft. Some tracks are tough and defiant. While others are delicate and full of vulnerability. Dessa is a great new voice and I look forward to hearing more from her. Here’s her tiny desk concert for NPR.
Valerie June is now based in Brooklyn, but her southern roots shine through on “Pushin’ Against a Stone,” her first major release. It’s hard for me to truly articulate the beauty of her voice. When I first heard it I found it utterly refreshing. She’s defies the pesky genre label by incorporating everything from rock and gospel to blues and folk. Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) co-produced the album and even co-wrote a few on the songs with her, but it’s June’s voice and style that make it a standout. One of my favorite songs is “Workin’ Woman Blues.”
Laura Mvula is a British soul singer with a very bright future. She released her debut album “Sing to the Moon” earlier this year. If you listen/watch any interview with Mvula, you’ll immediately discover how disarming and charismatic she is, and that charm oozes out of every song on her album. To really get an idea of the kind of talent Mvula possesses, I recommend listening to “Green Garden.”
Natalie Maines, of the once hugely popular Dixie Chicks, released her first solo album this past May titled “Mother.” On the album she covers Pink Floyd’s “Mother” and Eddie Vedder’s “Without You.” But she goes beyond just singing them, she makes them her own. Vedder’s original version backed with only a ukulele is captivating, but Maines’ rock rendition adds layers of grit and urgency that make the song’s meaning hit home that much more.