Mawule Debuts "More than Music" Initiative Tonight at University of Denver

By: Jura Daubenspeck

 “Music is therapeutic. Music is healing.” -Mawule 

Last time we checked in with R&B artist Mawule, he had just released his striking music video for “Black is Beautiful (feat. Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en).” Since then, Mawule’s vision for creating powerful, meaningful music has continued to develop, with some exciting announcements on the horizon. Throughout the last few months, he has been working on his new More than Music initiative.

Mawule. Photo Credit:  Joel Rekiel

Mawule. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel

More than Music brings music, storytelling, and intersectionality to college campuses nationwide. Using a similar formula to TED Talks, More than Music is grounded in the mission to create dialogue, specifically focusing on topics such as diversity, identity, and individuality.  

Photo Credit: Jairo East

Photo Credit: Jairo East

The inspiration for the More than Music movement came after Mawule released his album, Chosen, last year. After talking with producer Glenn Sawyer (The Spot Studios), the idea to incorporate meaningful stories into his performance sets blossomed, and has since taken off.

Photo Credit:   Joel Rekiel

Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel

When he is not writing, recording, or performing, Mawule works in higher education. Through his role as Resident Director at University of Denver, he comes face to face with so many incredible individuals with powerful, unique stories. Here’s a bit more of what Mawule had to say on the topic:  

“My life experiences are inherent in my music. I write music with one intention: to help people. I use my musical talent to let those who might be going through similar things know they are not alone. We all have stories to tell, and those stories are pivotal to our learning and development. Whether our stories are rooted in pain, joy, anger, happiness, or sadness, there is inspiration found in each and every one of them. It is our responsibility as authors to share these stories, because people need to hear them.”
Photo Credit: Jairo East

Photo Credit: Jairo East

More than Music is set to become a nationwide initiative, bringing awareness to social, societal, and personal issues to college campuses. It will be a tool to help students connect on an interpersonal level using music and storytelling.

More than Music debuts tonight at University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts - Elizabeth Erikson Byron Theatre. This FREE event is open to all ages, and will take place from 7:30PM-8:45PM (doors at 6:45PM). The event page can be found here, and registration can be complete here.

Connect with Mawule on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Twitter.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

'Resolution As Revolution' - Give Our January Spotify Playlist A Listen!

By: Joliene Adams

Did I make a New Year’s resolution? Did you? Whether any of us did or didn’t, the fundamental spirit behind it is a worthy reminder. Every day is an opportunity to begin a personal revolution in all the ways you might dream. Here is a playlist that, for each of its own various sonic and lyrical reasons, can help you toward your own resolution for revolution in 2017.

Click here for our 'Resolution As Revolution' Playlist or play it below:

1. “Highways” - REIGHNBEAUSister Grotto – Blood (Deluxe) (2016)

“Highways” has audible ebb and flow. Electronic pulses fuzz and fade in close while ten words make up the lyrical content and are given constant return. The repetition begins to act on the ear and body/brain like a mantra. A collaboration between New Mexico’s REIGHNBEAU and Denver’s Sister Grotto (Madeline Johnston), this one is dream fuzz that occupies a space somewhere between the here and there of the slightly awake and half asleep. What begins with gentles sounds of a rainstick fades to what sounds like a resampling of the rainstick with more static and fuzz interlaced. Sophisticated subtleties keep this song interesting alongside its relaxed and meditative feel. Let this one help you develop your own mantra for the year to come. Open your heart throttle and imbibe sound poetry: 2017 is a wholly open road.

2. “When” - RUMTUM – Mystic Wonders (2013)

Sampling Vincent Gallo’s hauntingly wistful and imminently gorgeous 2001 “When,” RUMTUM puts a pip in Gallo’s depressive downtempo and melancholic step. RUMTUM takes it away and makes it fresh, fun, and comparatively light. Basically, they take Gallo’s frown, turn it upside down, and give it proverbial jazz hands. They take Gallo’s gentle cooings and splice them to a tune to tap your toe to. RUMTUM isn’t afraid to experiment with anything, and you shouldn’t be either. It’s the new year after all.

3. “Elevate” - Kid Astronaut – Moon Theory (2015)

“Elevate” is chalk full of takeaways. “We were not born to be complacent,” Shockness maintains. Agreed. His loungy R&B sound with a soft hip-hop thump to undergird here goads and uplifts you gently into that place of higher being. And, “We were born to be special.” The task is yours to become the most special version of yourself you can. The possibility to be that is the gift you are given at birth. You owe it to yourself, and the most fundamental things between you and better you at any given time is complacency if you’ve fallen into it. Shake yourself awake. “Elevate” is loaded positivity; it is, in other words, more than positivity for positivity sake. Kid Astronaut summons the best of you.

4. “Base” - CRL CRRLL – Wave (2015)

CRL CRRLL (Carl Carrell) successfully builds a musical jenga tower with “Base” one piece at a time. The song retains solid structure despite the increased pressure of newly added elements, balancing R&B notes in lead vocals, hip-hop in backup vocals, a jazzy quality to the drums and keys, and  then you already have several musical layers by the time her chill lead vocals come in clear. As the song chugs forward into jazzier fusion with all these elements, it ends with a sudden peaceful fade out of ocean shorescapes and the faintest mutterings of what could be voices at the wharf: “Lovin’ just what I am, lovin’ just what I ain’t.” The creed of self-acceptance will serve you well in the next year if you can abide.

5. “Into the Wind” – King Cardinal – Once a Giant (2015)

Remember that scene from Ace Ventura where Ace himself rips out a waiter’s heart and gives it to him in a doggy bag? Welcome to how it feels to listen to King Cardinal’s soulful alt-folk. This is a safe one to cry, mourn, long, hope, and remember to. Brennan Mackey gives the term singer/songwriter new meaning, and he wants your second chance. You enter without words, while Ben Waligoske’s steel pedal daggers you in the side. It continues to supplement, yet give that country-underbelly feel that allows heart pangs to echo through the room. Lean into life as you would gale force winds. Looking back too hard can get you depressed, looking forward too much can bring you anxiety. Just lean where you are, lean into the wind; trust your struggle and be not afraid.

6. “Just Don’t Stop” – The Kinky Fingers – Vagabond (2015)

Tone and message make this a happy, head-bop worthy (or inducing) tune. There is a delightful float in Taylor Doyle’s guitar, and soar in his vocals. Eventually, he stops crooning as he sends you off on a couple high notes, punctuated neatly with three steps back down and low, “Just. Don’t. Stop.” We take instrumental flight with Daniel Hogan and Travis Page’s soft rhythmic drums keeping it steady while the guitar takes surf rock-esque flight with reverb indulgences. This one’s a fun journey for the ear that never loses its path despite its wanderings. It’s a good one to get, or keep, you going in the new year.

7. “Get Loose Have Fun” – Dirty Few – Get Loose, Have Fun (2012)

Dirty Few touts warm beer and out-of-tune guitars; they never get too serious about themselves save two exceptions: partying and playing drinking man’s music. They want you to have a jolly good sullied blast of a night, and they shake it off with the tambourine whose sound drops into the background but propels the track forward from the get-go no less. Dirty Few here has that slight 60s pop beat in its pulse and the “ooh, ooh, OHH, OOH” backup vocals. It’s the kind of 60s vibe you can readily imagine leading to proto-punk on down the line, and then to skate rock. But we’ll call it dive-bar rock because no matter the acoustics of the place, any dive-bar is the best venue to catch Dirty Few in. It’s homecourt. Let’s get this 2017 party started!

8. “The Mtn Song” – Rayland Baxter – Ashkelon (2013)

Uh oh. We’re getting sentimental again. But Rayland Baxter could be singing about shoelaces and nonsense and get you to emote. Fortunately, he knows not just how to sing with all his heart, but to storytell both as musical abstraction and in literal lyrical composition. This is one to give you chills. It’s so soft and sweet. He whistles, serenades, and implores, turning over tender phrase after tender phrase as drums and guitar support this gentle, unhurried, and earnest offering of love. Love is all he has to give. Is that enough? Normally I’d say no. But syrup-ing from his earnest, low-lyrical valleys and high peaks, I’d say, “I’ll think on it. Ask again tomorrow,” and know I’ve already decided while falling asleep to the sound of those endearing whistlings in my own head. Even if love is all you have to give in 2017, it’s better than nothing at all, and is, quite truly, one of the best things in the world you can give. So take a note from Baxter and do it with all your heart, soul, and perhaps even your singing voice, should you be so inclined.

9. “Whistle While You Work” – Wheelchair Sports Camp – No Big Deal (2016)

You come in building off mixed whispers of Emcee Kalyn Heffernan. It’s a sheer drop at 00:20 into straight hip-pop thereafter, coming at you with melodic and rhythmic whistles and Joshua Trinidad’s synchronized trumpet horn on blast. Intermixed are, by comparison, callous, hard-cutting electronic beats. They all join together and maintain the BPM to make this track the banger that it is. From the first, Emcee Kalyn Heffernan’s vocals and lyrical delivery are all her own. She captivates. And when she turns the phrase, “they call me Little Miss Guided,” it’s just one of her many lyrical delights. In reference to Wheelchair Sports Camp, the Village Voice reported, “If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now.” It’s about time. Thank you 2017.

10. “Left Fist Evolution” – Bianca Mikahn – Left Fist Evolution (2010)

A low, thumping beat and hushed, bluesy choral vocals reel you into this tune. Bianca Mikahn weaves her story in poetic clips and fragments that suggest a certain story without really telling a story in the classic sense. But there’s a story there, for sure. She leads the listener to hear, see, and feel what she’s driving at unequivocally without saying who, when, where, or why. Lyrically, vocally, and stylistically, “Left Fist Evolution” is powerfully evocative. I’ve heard the word “fortified” used to describe Bianca Mikahn, and that is how the listening process and outcome of “Left Fist Evolution” feels. We all need fortification, and music is the next best supplement to vitamins. So take yours by taking this one in.

11. “No Worries” – Trigga ManThe Reminders – Hit Man (2012)

Sampling another old favorite, The Specials’ “Ghost Town” is featured in the background here, and their reggae and ska influence comes through beyond the sample in this song. Where it’s got a pinch of dance hall in the female vocal chorus, there’s a dash of hip-hop with male vocal delivery in verse. Where musical components blend samplings and reminisce on interrelated genres, the content delivery blends too, packed full of literary, cultural, and political references. “Get it twisted like Oliver, yo.” you hear. This is a composite piece of precocious stature that makes it easy to miss if you’re too busy getting down to it the first go around. But also, in 2017, tell yourself as often as possible: “Me no worry with what them say and me not goin’ to be afraid.” Hold strong with Trigga Man and The Reminders’ beats.

12. “Music Is a Gift” - Grim & Darling - Beauty Through Pain (2015)

Music is good for you: mind, body, and spirit. And Grim & Darling part with their musical gifts for your benefit as gentle organs and strings grace your entrance: “Create a song as a gift just to give it a way, royalty free, no fee, just in hopes to teach about loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, giving second chances lovingly. Nobody’s above the beat, in fact we need it to breathe. That’s the mentality. Give away your masterpiece as if we never had to eat, leave your ego as a casualty. I’m glad to be passing this to all of you, it’s all truth, try to use it, I will too. I hope we can all focus on the consequences of what we do.” Grim & Darling’s mindful tune serves as an homage to what you musicians do for us. This isn’t empty flattery. Being a musician isn’t easy work, but humans thrive in music, so thank you. Scaling up and down graduated xylophone bars with patience, the delicate clear sounds ring a victorious and encourage your feeling the same about your own power. Get after the new year.

13. “Ready to Live - Pt. 1” - Thug Entrancer - Death After Life (2014)

We start and end on a meditative note, only here we go pure electronic instrumentation. This one’s a sonic journey from sound artist Ryan McRyhew. Thump off to the pace of an electronic pulsating heartbeat as horn-reminiscent tones enter. Sounds begin to grind in and on top, creating an ever complex liftaway into layered reflections on itself. McRyhew does his personal sound poetry one to two new sounds at a time, letting you slowly take in the cerebral, but ready flow of this musical peregrination. Get work done or space out in daydreams to this one. It’ll get you where you’re going if you let it take you there. I hope 2017 finds you more ready to live than ever, and this playlist serves as a continued asset in your endeavor.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Moe's BBQ Has One Tasty Lineup Planned This Thursday

By: Jura Daubenspeck

This Thursday, October 13th, Amy Kress will performing at Moe’s BBQ on South Broadway in Denver, the perfect spot for tasty eats and even tastier tunes. With the release of her album Fly this past summer, Amy’s material is fresh, vibrant, and edgy.

Amy Kress.

Amy Kress.

Amy will be joined by special guests including Leigh West, Mawule, Pearls and Perelz, and Teal and Tangent:

Leigh West.

Leigh West.

DIY electronic pop artist Leigh West pushes the boundaries of her music, with floaty melodies that keep it hypnotic and strange. Self-taught, self-developed, and classically trained, Leigh’s obsession with her craft has proven to be successful at her many gigs in Denver and Los Angeles. Her debut single “Hello Estella” made it to college radio across the nation, and acquired almost 40,000 hits on YouTube. Leigh West’s music is a smorgasbord of color, synth, and in-your-face beats.

Mawule.

Mawule.

Denver R&B artist Mawule reminds us that so much of the beauty of music comes from its ability to strengthen, empower, and connect others. His recent music video release for “Black is Beautiful (feat. Bianca Mikahn & ILL Se7en)” is gaining momentum and serves as a powerful message for our country. Mawule’s soothing vocals, gentle yet powerful stage presence, and catchy electronic beats make his music a unique experience that always elicits good vibes.

Pearls and Perelz.

Pearls and Perelz.

Solo artist Olivia Perez, otherwise known as, Pearls and Perelz is a mystery yet to be unveiled. Her ethereal, abstract sound strays from congruity and encourages the exploration of the mind’s dark corners. Pearls and Perelz keeps it cool, slow, haunting, and trance-like. Her music creeps up slowly and brings out the moodiest of feels.

Teal and Tangent.

Teal and Tangent.

Dubbed as “dark indietronica,” Teal and Tangent represent the half-dream half-awake fogginess that occurs in the depth of the night. Made up of rocker Adrienne Osborn (vocals) and Alex Moroz (keys, Ableton), this duo casts their dreamy poetry onto an effervescent journey into space. Teal and Tangent invites you to get lost in their rhythms, and listen with closed eyes.

Thursday night’s lineup is a downright interesting, eclectic combination of varying electronica artists, all sent to bring an added boost to the tail end of your week. So if you’re feeling moody and groovy, be sure to make it out to Denver’s Moe’s BBQ this Thursday at 8:30PM! Tickets are on sale now; grab them while you can.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Mawule's "Black Is Beautiful" Music Video Premieres This Thursday at The Walnut Room Denver

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Months of grinding have finally led up to this moment: Mawule’s music video for “Black is Beautiful” is set to premiere this Thursday, September 29th at The Walnut Room near Denver’s RiNo Art Districtand it is bound to astound. 

I’ve already had a chance to take a sneak peek at the music video, and even after multiple viewings, I am still blown away by the artistry and depth of it. The video was filmed at Creative Cultures Studio in Arvada, CO, and was the creative brain child of Garrett Hayes, owner of Square Visions. Hayes and Mawule, who have been friends since their days at Colorado State University, teamed up to create this passion project, which will no doubt inspire anyone who watches it.

A scene of Mawule from his upcoming video.

A scene of Mawule from his upcoming video.

“Black is Beautiful” features fellow artists Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en, as well as two Colorado State University students, Zelle Moore and Jhasmyne Cooper, who did interpretive dance in various scenes. After much anticipation, it’s time unveil the final product that so many creative minds have contributed to.

The night will also feature spoken word pieces by renowned poets. Slam poet maestro Theo (Lucifury) Wilson, who was been featured on TEDxMileHighSalon for his beautiful piece “Woman: An Ode to the Feminine”, will perform. Alejandro Jimenez, who cuts to the root of the matter with his piece, “For Brown Boys”, will also take the stage. And so will Marthè Ndongala, whose “A Collection of Wild Flowers” page showcases his vivid written pieces that will come to life Friday. Mawule will also be joined by artists Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en, who will speak their mind to their own respective tune.

Bianca Mikahn.

Bianca Mikahn.

There’s no denying the overwhelming amount of pain our country is undergoing currently. News sources are teeming with stories of hatred, paired with the desperate cries of, “Why?” I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use a night of cathartic release through creativity.

For every piece of evidence pointing to poisonous thinking, there’s ten more pieces pointing to empowerment and connectedness. Mawule’s “Black is Beautiful” music video is being released at a time in which we need it most. Its message rings loud, and will reverberate far and wide for all to hear.

ILL Se7en.

ILL Se7en.

So if you’re like me, and want some respite from the outside world for some time, join Mawule for the “Black is Beautiful” music video premiere at The Walnut Room this Thursday at 8PM. Tickets are available and can be purchased here. Stay in the loop about Mawule’s upcoming announcements, and check out the “Black is Beautiful” teaser trailers on his Facebook and website. The "Black Is Beautiful" music video will drop online for public viewing on Friday, September 30th, so if you miss the party this Thursday, make sure to view it then!

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Mawule's "Black Is Beautiful" Is A Poetic Platform For Empowerment Through Dialogue

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Throughout these difficult times in our country, we all search for empowerment, for hope, and for something that will help us see the light in humanity, however dim that light may seem. We turn to political leaders, celebrities, and religious figures, in hopes that they will help us with the change that must occur. But in actuality, we must turn to each other, and ourselves, for this change.

Music is often a powerful platform for individuals to share their message, and Mawule is one of those individuals whose music creates a path for integration and dialogue to occur. His fascination with human relationships combined with his passion for building connections shines through not just his music, but also his work life as a Resident Director for college students. Mawule recently released his debut album, Chosen, and his subsequent release party was a wild success.

Bianca Mikahn.

Bianca Mikahn.

All nine songs on this album are noteworthy, but one that beckons particular attention is Black Is Beautiful”, which features hip hop maestros Bianca Mikahn and MC ILL Se7en. As usual, Mawule’s lyrics urge us to reflect on the human experience, and his beats are invitingly rhythmic. “Black Is Beautiful” was one of the final tracks added to the album, and is a personal tribute to the challenges that people of color face due to the systemic racism and oppression in our country.

Listen to Mawule's "Black Is Beautiful":

The lyrical and melodic combination of Mawule, Bianca Mikahn, and ILL Se7en is brilliant, as each artist brings their unique sound to the song. Mawule and ILL Se7en sing their truths and piece their rhymes like poetic puzzles, while Bianca powerfully takes hold of the chorus, repeating:

“Let’s make this useful/Our lives are fruitful/Change what we’re used to/Black Is Beautiful”

Above all else, “Black Is Beautiful” is a call to action. It emphasizes pride and empowers people of color who experience adversity every day. It encourages individuals who do not directly face the institutional discrimination to use their privilege to take in knowledge and create positive change, even if it induces discomfort.

Mawule.

Mawule.

We must think critically about the country we live in and the hateful actions we choose to accept, through ignorance or inaction. “Black Is Beautiful” urges us to stop authorizing overt racism, covert micro-aggressions, and comfort in privilege. For those who face this systemic injustice every day, the track encourages you to stay proud of who you are. Mawule reminds us of the significance behind Black Lives Matter and challenges us to recognize the injustices currently plaguing our country.

For an inside peek into the making of “Black Is Beautiful,” check out the 'Behind The Story' video, filmed at The Spot Studios. And get the inside scoop on the creative genius behind Mawule’s music through his personal blog. Chosen is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Mawule's "Chosen" Album Release Party Was The Perfect Sunday Funday Start to the Summer

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Mawule's release party for Chosen was thumpin'.

This past Sunday, the walls of Denver’s Lost Lake were bumping in celebration of Mawule’s release party for his album Chosen, which dropped on June 10th. The good vibes were palpable, and the music was paired perfectly with the “Sunday funday” feel of the crowd.  

Mawule.

Mawule.

Mawule was accompanied by some pretty stellar and diverse musical acts. Denver hip hop artist Jerney warmed up the crowd as it trickled in, prepared to round out the weekend with a bang. Singer/songwriter Amy Kress graced the stage afterward, and had what I believe to be one of her best performances yet. She moved gracefully around the stage, switching between strictly vocals and piano with vocals, sharing her story with the crowd. Amy truly shined under the red and blue lights of Lost Lake’s stage, and belted her heart out. Rapper/MC ILL Se7en followed, hyping the crowd with some killer lyrical flow and classic hip hop beats, thanks to the lovely Bianca Mikahn. Together, the two created a combination that was impossible not to move your muscles to. DJ Zenas was the last performer to kick up some dust before Mawule took the stage. It was a delight to watch him, as this was his very first performance as a rapper/singer. To say his set was just downright fun would be an understatement. Zenas’ confidence on stage and rapport with the crowd got everyone fired up right before Mawule, and he proved that he is just as talented of a performer as he is a DJ.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Mawule brought an entirely different vibe than his predecessors, rounding out the evening with some R&B/soul sounds and dance beats produced and co-written by Glenn Sawyer at The Spot Studios. When it comes to Mawule, the meaning behind the music is just as important as the music itself. His unveiling of Chosen felt incredibly personal, as he shared bits and pieces of his journey behind each song. It’s no mystery that he is passionate about the community, human relationships, and working to bridge the gap between the performer and the audience. Personal favorites from the night were “Chosen”, which featured local MC A Meazy, “Anything” featuring DJ Zenas, “It’s Not You”, “Get Your Name”, and of course, the soulful tribute “Black Is Beautiful”, featuring the vocal magic of Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en.

Listen to Mawule's Chosen for yourself:

It was incredible to see Mawule celebrate the hard work he’s put into Chosen, and also to see the talented musicians and friends he surrounds himself with. Everyone was supportive and enthused about what was being shared with them, and that, I believe, is what truly makes a show great. The walls of the Lost Lake were filled with eclectic poetry, funky beats, and friendly faces who did not seem to care that it was late on a Sunday night. It was personally awesome to revisit one of my favorite musical enclaves in Denver, and with summer just around the corner, I’d advise everyone to get to Lost Lake for a show in the near future.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Chosen can be found on Spotify and SoundCloud, and will be released later on iTunes, for your listening pleasure. Stay in touch with Mawule on Facebook to keep tabs on his upcoming performances and announcements.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.