Exclusive Interview: Ester Rada Opens Up Before Her US Debut

 

Next week on March 11, we will be introducing folks in NYC to a major new talent from Israel named Ester Rada. In the meantime, we got some interesting bits on the unique artist in the interview below. Read up!

Giant Step: Your heritage is that of a very unique Ethiopian-Jewish people. How does this background and being raised in an Orthodox tradition affect who you are today?

Ester Rada: I was born in Israel, and my family raised me in a religious house and tradition, as this was what they were used to from Ethiopia. When my parents moved to Israel they were “put” in Kiryat Arba, a very religious city. We moved from there when I was 10 years old, due to the security issues there.

GS: Coming up in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, what it was like growing up?

ER: I was actually growing up near Tel Aviv, in Netanya, and it was a big change for me. Coming from a more religious village, you can call it the country side, to a bigger city, was a big move for me. I also became secular and not as religious as we used to be. But this change was blessing, and I started to know what freedom is like. In the neighborhood I had good friends.

GS: Your sound evokes qualities similar to Erykah, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae. Are these intentional influences? Who would you say are your influences?

ER: I am influenced by a lot of artists. Of course the ones you named, and also religious Jewish music from my early days, as well as Ethiopian and Amharic music such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulat Astatke, Muluken Melesse, Israeli music, jazz and soul legends such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, and contemporary music such as Corrine Bailey Rae, Nneka, Keziah Jones, India Arie and more.

Read the rest of the interview & get show details after the jump

Adele on VH1′s Unplugged, Covers “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin

On a yet-to-be-aired VH1 Unplugged episode, Adele gave a stunning version of Aretha Franklin‘s classic song “Natural Woman.” Any music fan knows that to cover Aretha is a bold move. But Adele pulled it off beautifully, and this video is making the rounds on the web as we wait for the new album 21. Don’t forget to visit the ’21 Days of Adele’ site for exclusive video interviews, performances and other goodies.

Ron Isley: Mr. I to be Released on November 30th

We’ve all heard Ron Isley‘s sensual, slow jammin’ voice before as he has been a groove-master of the first order for five decades now.  Ron, who was the original founding brother of the The Isley Brothers, has recorded his first ever solo album, Mr. I, which is set to be released November 30th.  The album has no shortage of baby makin’ tunes all with Ron Isley’s most distinctive voice.  Several artists also make guest appearances on the album including T.I., and The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Ron Isley- No More

 

Ron Isley- What I Miss the Most

 

Pre-order your copy of Mr. I on Amazon.

Diane Birch’s First Offering Bible Belt Out Today

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Daughter of a traveling preacher, former teenage Goth Diane Birch releases her intriguingly titled solo album, Bible Belt, today.

From the opening track “Fire Escape” to the closing “Magic View,” her voice – sometimes bursting with buoyant spirit, sometimes plaintive and world-wearied – is rich, soulful and beguiling. Written entirely by Diane and expertly produced by Grammy winners Steve Greenberg, soul legend Betty Wright and Michael Mangini, Bible Belt’s been described by Rolling Stone as, “Amy Winehouse-style retro pop, minus dysfunction… Her voice is strong and fetching… “Fools” conjures Carole King, “Nothing But A Miracle” echoes Aretha…the melodies stick, and girl’s got taste.”

As for the album title, Diane explains, “the very religious upbringing I had made a huge impact on my life, in a very restraining and constricting way. I’m constantly talking about heaven, angels, and forgiveness. I’m hugely inspired by church hymns — their chord structures, their colors. It was a form of constraint for me as a child but now I see that it has fueled my creative fire.”

Stream tracks from MySpace