My Afrobella of the Week is normally a woman with naturally curly hair, but for this lady, I’m making an exception.
I promised a follow-up to my black rocker chicks post, and here it is!
One of my new favorite musical discoveries is Alice Smith, a gorgeous sista from Augusta Georgia with a fierce four octave vocal range.
She began her musical career as a lead singer for bands with diverse sounds, and became a member of the Black Rock Coalition in the early 2000’s. The title of her debut album, For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me, is inspired by theme song from the Muppets’ first film. As a fellow Muppet lover, I appreciated the title. “The Rainbow Connection” is an expression of gratitude that takes Kermit from the swamp to big time Hollywood contracts. It’s a powerful, lasting song and in choosing it as her album title, Alice Smith proves that she’s got a fantastic, funny, admirably wide range of musical influences.
I can’t begin to tell y’all how psyched I am about Alice Smith! If I could have a fraction of her singing ability, I would be ecstatic and proud. She’s an incredible singer/songwriter with musical influences that range from go go to country to classic soul and rock n’ roll. You probably won’t hear her on your FM dial anytime soon, her sound is just too rich, too expressive, too diverse for mainstream radio.
I can’t even quite define her genre. But who says any musician has to have a defineable genre? Alice certainly doesn’t feel that way, nor does she think her racial identity should pigeonhole her as an artist.
She addresses the stereotypes in this interview on AOL Black Voices.
When asked about being a risk taker with an eclectic sound, she retorted, “I’ve had a couple of people in the music business tell me stuff like, ‘You should be careful, people need something to hold onto. People want one thing they can identify you as.’ But I’m like, ‘Why?’ I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think anybody is one way. It’s just music. This other guy told me: ‘You need to be careful, what’s the common thread [in your music]?’ [I said] ‘Uh… Me?’ I think people get treated like they can’t handle it. ‘Oh, you’re black and you sing this? How are you gonna get to black radio? This is too eclectic for black people.’ You know, offensive s#%t! That’s rude. What are you really talking about? Are you saying that people are stupid? That’s how it feels to me. I have nothing against [record] labels at all, but some people at the labels don’t give people an honest chance, and trust that people can understand music. Why can’t my signature sound be, ‘Alice sings whatever…’?”
“Whatever” wouldn’t even begin to describe Dream, a lush promise of a song that builds to an undeniable force-of-nature crescendo. Alice sings whatever the heck she wants. For further proof, hit up her MySpace to listen to the dubby and dreamy “Do I”, and the cabaret-esque “Gary Song.” You can listen to her whole album here.
She’s been gathering big praise for her vibrant live performances (according to The Hotness Grrrl, she’s absolutely amazing in concert). She was recently named one of Rolling Stone’s Ten Artists to Watch, and now she’s getting a big-label contract that hopefully, will lead her to national stardom. I’ll be flying the flag all the way!
Congrats, Alice! You’re Afrobella of the Week!