Next Step April Winner: Dezaray Dawn

 

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We are proud to announce Atlanta based future soul singer Dezaray Dawn as our April Next Step winner! The German-born gal has a voice of power, comfort, and euphoric healing – something like what you feel when listening to Fertile Ground’s lead singer, Navasha Daya.

Thus far, Dezaray has released two EPs, Chameleon and Deep, the latter being a collaboration with Marc Mac of the famed 4Hero. Dezaray’s latest single and video is for the sophisticated downtempo and soulful house style “Over It.” Easily repeat worthy – we won’t say how many times we’ve already ran this back. Be sure to grab the free download below.

Folks loving whey they hear can look forward to her debut album, The Dawning, out this summer. In the meantime, we’re very happy to premier “The Dawning” intro track. And look out for some tour dates to be announced very soon!

Dezaray Dawn – “Over It” [Download on Bandcamp]

Dezaray Dawn – “The Dawning”
 

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Next Step March Winner: Derek Dumont

 

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Congratulations to Pittsburgh bred, LA based producer Derek Dumont for being our March winner! His music is an earthy electronic with sounds inspired by “landscapes and weather patterns, sunsets and city lights dotted in the distance.” Derek shares:

“As much as I want to make music that is fresh and stimulating, I want to make music that communicates on a therapeutic level, without being boxed into any specific genre. A level that allows people to escape to their concentrations.”

The young producer is featured on two tracks for Wiz Khalifa’s new mixtape Taylor Allderdice, and as such, be sure to dig into “Number 16″ and “Mia Wallace.” But that’s not introduction enough for this self-made beat maker who’s just getting started. Derek has also composed the soundtrack to a feature-length documentary entitled Only God Could Hear Me. Watch the trailer for the documentary after the jump.

And we are so very excited to premier the video for the gorgeous cinematic tune, “Yesterday,” above – don’t you see yourself on an epic rode trip in the middle of nowhere?! Below, we have been graced with the opportunity to share an unreleased track, “Colored Coma,” yet another brilliant cinematic tune – we’d pair it with the breakdown the protagonist has after finding out the love of his life is gone forever. After that is a free download for the previously released “One Night In Charlotte” – put this over a scene of all-night teenage shenanigans on a coming of age indie flick. Yep – we could make up stories to his songs all day.

Derek Dumont – “Colored Coma”
 

Derek Dumont – “One Night In Charlotte” [MP3]
 

Watch out for this dude – he’s not playing games.

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Watch the trailer for Only God Could Hear Me after the jump

December Next Step Artist Spotlight: Awalé

 

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Congratulations to Awalé for being our December 2011 Next Step winner! The diversity of music that we have come in for this contest is impressive, and we are so excited to present a winner with such eclectic international influences like Awalé’s.

Awalé is a true testament to London’s diversity, with members from Tunisia, Cuba, France, Slovakia and England. Similarly, the sound is vivid and textured, skirting genre lines as it touches on Afrobeat, Balkan music, North African amazigh music, Congolese rhumba, Ethiopian funk, and Latin jazz.

Awalé’s debut album Just Have To Grow released in November 2011 and is incredibly pleasing to our ears. Co-produced by Nick Page (Dub Colossus), most of the album was recorded live in one room over the course of just two days. Preview the entire album below and experience the amazingness yourself. And you absolutely must watch the live performance video above as well – truly heartening music.

Londoners are encouraged to support the album launch, which will be a special all-star gig on March 14th at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. Tour dates will follow in the spring.

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Awalé band photo after the jump

Next Step August Winner: Iman Williams

 

Congratulations to Iman Williams for being this month’s Next Step winner!

The Alabama bred and Atlanta based neo-soul songstress Iman Williams is in fact known to many as a visual artist. That said, she’s managed to keep a healthy balance between her two passions and develop both.

Her vocal style/mood might be reminiscent of Seattle based Choklate to some. But Iman’s music is spacier and more experimental than Choklate’s, which then reminds us of Erykah Badu’s approach to her music – a quirky playtime in the musical sandbox. And yet still, Iman remains a brand of her own and we are so excited to get to share this gem of an artist with you.

Late last year, Iman release an album entitled Stupid Human Trick on Bandcamp. Within the last several months, she’s also released a handful of remixes for free download (check out her Soundcloud). There’s sure plenty of material to keep us busy for a while, but we won’t lie – we are super excited to see how Iman evolves next. And no fear, she tells us another project called Cotton will soon be underway and release sometime in 2012!

Below, we have two exclusive free downloads for the Giant Step community: “Float Away” and “Before.” After that, find a full stream of Iman’s most recent album, Stupid Human Trick, and be sure you don’t miss our favorite tracks – “All This Time (Down and Out)” and “Ordinary Love.”

Iman Williams – “Float Away” (Neo Soul Lumberjack Remix) [MP3]
 

Iman Williams – “Before” ft. Bobby Blunt [MP3]
 

Purchase Stupid Human Trick on Bandcamp

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Next Step Artist Spotlight: Tara Priya

 

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We’ve selected a winner for our Next Step Artist Spotlight Contest – congratulations to Tara Priya!

LA-based Tara Priya is really on a roll. The retro-soul singer/songwriter hailing from San Francisco has already been awarded several honors, including winning Billboard’s Annual Song Contest earlier this year. Beginning piano and poetry at age four, opera training at age eleven, and jazz training in high school, it’s clear that Tara has had her eyes on the prize for a long time. In fact, she breezed through undergrad at Columbia in two-and-a-half years, just so she could focus on her music full-time as soon as possible.

Since graduating, Tara returned to California and released her self-titlted debut EP in September 2010, which you can stream in full below. Make sure to take a listen to our favorite track, “Memories.” Above, you’ll find her adorable video for the infectious “Rollin,” which released last month. If you like Nikki & Rich, Tara may well be right up your alley.

We caught up with Tara over email and looks like she’s busy working on a second EP for this fall! Also, keep your eyes peeled for tour dates in LA, SF, and NYC! Tara’s current tour dates can be found after the jump.

Thanks everyone for your submissions! Heads up that round two of Next Step will be announced in a couple weeks along with some tweaks to the rules and an additional prize!

Tara Priya: the EP by TaraPriya

Purchase Tara Priya EP on iTunes | Amazon

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Tour dates after the jump