|L-R Chris Nelson, Ghetto Songbird, Pharoah S-Russell, Ese Okorodudu, Basile Petite, Sheena Ross|
5th July was one of the hottest days of the year! Why? Samantha Hollins, AKA Rock singer/guitarist 'Ghetto Songbird' who lives in Philadelphia, returned to the legendary Troubadour with Roxploitation band member- keyboard/percussionist, Chris Nelson.
This guys is stage one of my dream (-when we reach stage two I'll tell you.) When you see two of your favourite artists on the same bill it really is mind-blowing. Ghetto Songbird and Ese Okorodudu got in touch following Sam's visit to London two years ago. Both of these women are rising Rock icons who record and tour with extremely talented bands. Sam formed the Roxploitation Band, and Ese, The Vooduu People. It is exciting to note that both of these artists are currently receiving good levels of recognition in their home countries and extending internationally.
Back to the 'Enchanted Rock Goddess Tour,' specifically the show! Ese and the Vooduu People opened with a great set of songs from their debut album 'DYNAMITE.' I think the album title actually summarises the entire evening! Check out the link to hear how Ese's sexy 'Sade' tone suddenly explodes into a full-on rock voice. Included were 'Silver Spoon' and 'Fairytale,' both of which deal with the mysteries of life, stripping back to the sadness and disillusionment that we all experience at times. Ese has an interesting way of portraying the darker side of life and I am curious to see how her style expands throughout her journey. Dynamite threads so enticingly through her musical tapestry leading me to believe that the depth of her talent has an iceberg quality to it.
I find it interesting that both Ghetto Songbird and Ese have been liken to Jimi Hendrix, especially as their styles are far apart on the spectrum. Ese is very at home with a little Reggae or R&B whereas Sam is hardcore rock. I have to say, the first time I heard Ese sing solo her version of 'A Change is Gonna Come' cut right through me- the only other person who has achieved this is Wayne Marshall (of G.Spot fame.) When you can feel it you know it.
Whereas Ese has a mixed catalogue, I have only ever heard Sam sing original material. To me, this displays a different type of inner strength, guts and the confidence required to be 100% Ghetto Songbird. Sam has had a tough time in the industry and this has helped shape her material. Sam's powerful presence was fully complimented by charismatic Chris Nelson- which I truly appreciate due to the back story. I met Sam online the week she was coming to London and was lucky enough to see her perform live at the Troubadour last time round. Having Chris by her side quite literally provided 'more power to her elbow!' Sam's voice alone is pretty phenomenal leaving the dual effect we experienced difficult to describe. In the first instance Sam and Chris sang by themselves as a guitar and percussion duo; prior to Chris's move to the keyboard. They were joined by Pharoah S. Russell, Ese's drummer who had already played a full set. The fusion was such that you honestly would not know Pharoah was a guest drummer. I must add that Basile Petite, Bass guitar, did an awesome job too as did backing singer Sheena Ross, whose voice has a brilliant range.
Sam's repertoire covered many of her classics including 'Alley of the Earth' and 'MuthaSucka BloodSucka,' which are highly dramatic- but I'm convinced even the alphabet would sound dramatic by the time Sam's done with it! Unfortunately I can't upload to this blog, as it does not upload videos, the pure energy Sam generates throughout her entire performance. She is even energetic whilst sitting on a chair never mind when she is dancing- through which Sam reveals her cultural awareness. When vibing with her guitar Sam almost looks bewitched! She more-or-less does a whole workout so it is clear to see where the Hendrix comparison comes from- I really wish I could post this for you! To bond with your guitar and feel free enough to up the anti in a performance is a gift in itself.
Time for the last sector- all six artists jamming together onstage. I can only add that by this point the vibe in the room was intense. The audience was hyped up and the bands were in their element, creating a mega experience to round off the night. Even a guy in the audience grabbed the mic and started rapping along; which worked, no denying.
Last thoughts: A few years ago I wrote a poem called, 'Expressive, Explosive Fun' which will be included in my first poetry book. On Reflection, I think this is the best phrase to describe the evening and would just add- 'with a touch of genius!'
Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician