Updated: Feb 14, 2019
If Lana Del Rey is my devil on one shoulder, Natalia Laforcade is my angel on the other.
The Early Years:
When growing up, I listened to mostly contemporary christian music and classic rock, and motown from the 50's to 70's. In middle school I was introduced to pop music, the stylings of Britany Spears and Alicia Keys stood out to me. Most of the bands that I followed were still christian influence though. My favorites for a while were T-bone, Toby Mac and Lecrae (christian hiphop). T-bone mostly for his performance in "The Fighting Temptations". Lecrae for their lyricism and their good delivery in a market where it was hard to find cool christian hiphop. And Toby Mac for his diversity in songs and the fun catchy way he made everyone sing along and dance. Those were some good performances. Then I moved into the rock category. Skillet and Family Force 5 were some of the first shows I went to go see at a festival called Lifelight. I was blown away by their sound, their realness, uplifting lyrics, and showmanship. Family Force 5 remains to be one of the most fun shows I have ever been to. Their music is perfect to party and jam out and just have a good time. And Skillet will always have a special spot in my heart. Their songs got me through some hard times as a teenager. It was enough to keep me inspired.
Summer in the City:
In my spare time I watched a lot of TV and became a fan of The Lonely Island. How I do love the comedy!! I was lucky to meet some amazing friends in Wisconsin at a summer camp I worked at. Growing up in South Dakota, I mostly listened to the radio and didn't have much new music introduced to me. My new found companions, however, were very exposed to the new/indie music scene (keep in mind I was very sheltered). I moved to Chicago to stay with a friend and in that time I grew to know many great bands and artists. I listened for the first time to Beachhouse, Radiohead, Mute math, Norah Jones, Regina Spectre, and Flight of the Conchords (among others but these were the ones that really caught my attention). Beachhouse will always be my soundtrack to cruise down Lake Shore Drive. Radiohead showed me that experimenting with different sounds can turn out in beautiful ways. Mute Math hypnotized me with catchy and meaningful lyrics in a sound all thier own. Norah Jones soothed me with her stories of love and Regina Spectre let me know that singing the traditional way is not always the best way. And Flight of the Conchords... what can I even say? The connection I feel to the songs is straight from the heart. I know it may seem strange because they're a comedy duo, but they can perform in any genre they want and they always convey their message in creative ways even if the message is complete nonsense. I love it.
Even, or maybe especially, in hard times music can carry us through. I was influenced a lot by artists introduced to me by someone who doesn't deserve to be mentioned. Marina and The Diamonds, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey. Marina's lyrics are some of those that I can relate to on a level of morbid humor and acceptance of mortality. Of course I knew about Lady Gaga, but I was not a fan. After watching her live show The Monsterball, learning about her involvement in the community, her sentiment toward creativity, and seeing how hard she worked to do all that she does, my mind was changed. I respect her as an artist even if I don't always completely relate to the lyrics. Finally Lana Del Rey, this music is like a trance. I can put her album on a soundtrack to my life (and often times do --like i could totally describe to you what time gets what song and Ride just is the main theme--). I get really excited. The way she does it is so raw and open and it just reaches into my romantic soul.
It's not a secret, I'm not a huge fan of country music. But in saying that, there are some country songs that reach me. Concrete Angel will always be one of the saddest stories ever sung. And Carrie Underwood will always blow me away with her powerful voice and touching lyrics. I can dance to Taylor Swift and sing along to International Harvester. The song My Church is a testament to the reachability of spirituality, and I will always be Crazy for Patsy Cline. There is gold everywhere.
I met some really cool people when I went to Philadelphia and I landed on some new sounds. Beyonce, Kali Uchis, Lianne La Havas. I'll start with them because its one vibe... I never realized how much Beyonce did. It was another moment where I zoomed in on this woman and it was exposed all that I never knew. My respect has grown miles. Kali Uchis has a fun and chill thing going and it gets me all kinds of gooey-nostalgic when I listen to her. Lianne la Havas is an amazing vocalist that brings me in and holds me close with every little tiny wave of that gorgeous vibrato. Mmm me likey... but then. it happened. I started learning...
I can't begin to list all of the artists. But from Reggeaton to Rock I was learning to speak and sing with the greats.
This link will lead you to the "Aprender" playlist I used to jam out and learn. I love dramatic music and boy to they have some big beautiful songs to offer in other languages. It is so worth it just to be able to relate to another person. One of my favorite Spanish-speaking artists is Natalia Laforcade, because she sings such sweet melodies with a turn of phrase that really makes me want to be able to write as beautifully as her. She is not afraid to be herself and share her beautiful truth. I aspire to be like her.
As of Late
Currently I'm listening to a lot of Snoop Dogg, Amy Winehouse, and El Salvadorian Cumbias and gangster rap. Snoop is always a treat wether its his music or his movies I am happy to hear his voice. Amy Winehouse has never really been that prominent in my listening history, but when I was in Colombia I really started to pay attention to her and I wish I had sooner. As far as Cumbia goes I love to dance and jam out to it! I recently started listening to Chloe x Halle and H.E.R. The duo Chloe x Halle can harmonize and synchronize like I have never seen my jaw drops when I listen to them. H.E.R. is a soulful woman who really speaks to me with what she has to say. The construction of her songs is completely spectacular and really warms me from the inside.
I've also been checking out more local artists. my favorite local artist will always be Ntive Flora from Philadelphia. Her stunning lyrics always wow me and I adore her Jukebox sound. https://www.facebook.com/Ntiveflora/
Soleil is a performer in town here in Sioux Falls and I can see a BIG future for him. This dude has the crowd in the palm of his hand when he's on stage. https://www.facebook.com/SoleilBashaleMusic/
Eli Dykstra is another local to the Sioux Empire and he has me beyond impressed with his skill on the guitar. https://www.facebook.com/EliDykstraRocks/