Picture our beautiful blue Earth as it appears from outer space, and you’ve entered the world of Kenji Williams’ Bella Gaia, or “beautiful earth.” Williams’ celestially lush tracks were inspired by the life-changing experiences astronauts had when observing Earth from space. NASA’s photographs motivated the award-winning director and composer to musically explore how humans and nature, art and science are all connected. In his exquisite, ethereal arrangements, Williams blends classical, electronic and world music with stirring violin and soaring vocal lines, expressing our heaven on earth. And yet, we are also grounded with the jazz-influenced track “New York City” and in the Middle Eastern, reed-dominated “Egypt—Nile Crossing” and “Dance To The Evolution.” Bella Gaia, the Live Performance, is an audiovisual experience that combines NASA satellite imagery, timelapse nature photography, and cultural heritage footage with live performances of music and dance from around the world. He invites us to be aware of the ground we walk on while simultaneously taking us high above it into the atmosphere and beyond. This album is a beautiful and powerful reminder to understand earth’s fragility and the importance of taking care of this wonderful place we call Bella Gaia. (Remedy Arts)
Rocky Dawuni collaborates with Ben Harper and ukulele artist Tom Freund in his latest album, Branches of The Same Tree.
Listen to international music star and humanitarian activist Rocky Dawuni’s latest album, Branches of The Same Tree and you’ll be enveloped in an uplifting groove-mix of reggae, Afrobeat, and global pop. Dawuni’s infectious songs invite us to move, sing, and dance. In his sixth album (and first on the Cumbancha label), Dawuni has a special quality of inspiring unity and inclusivity without sounding preachy.
Opening track “Shine A Light” is an uplifting anthem that introduces us to what appears to be his primary philosophy: “Every day in every way I’m going to let my whole life shine.” Immersed within the pulsating percussion, sing-along chorus, and electric guitar flourishes, his welcoming baritone inspires us to see our light.
“African Thriller,” with tight back-up singers, bouncy horn section, and reggae guitar beats, begs us to stand up and move. The thought-provoking messages in “Children of Abraham” examines present-day global issues as does “Nairobi” and “Black Star.” In “Island Girl,” he offers a sensitive peek into his heart, accompanied by lilting Caribbean beats, beautifully expressed through collaboration with Ben Harper and ukulele artist Tom Freund.
Listening to Branches, it’s easy to understand how Dawuni unifies his passions for music and social change. He’s a spokesperson for Product (RED), UNICEF, and the Carter Center, among other activities .
Branches of the Same Tree is a groovy album of our times with appealing messages sure to get you up on your feet. For more information, visit: rockydawuni.com.
BRANCHES OF THE SAME TREE
By Rocky Dawuni
Only Love Is Real moves, grooves and pulses us through the stories of our modern world. In MC Yogi’s latest and most exciting work we are enticed to taste the universal flavors of loss, peace and love as the artist expresses his view through rap and melody. A fantastic blend of world, hip-hop, and alt-rock make this album intriguing, provocative and fun.
The lyrics are deep and poignant, yet the fluidity of MC Yogi’s vocals and the infectious world beats keep us floating above the moving music and poetry. He has an inviting way of introducing his messaged opinions in a friendly melodic context that encourages you to dance and groove or just sit and listen intently to the lyrics.
In track 4, “Road Home” (featuring Trevor Hall), MC Yogi raps about the angst of adolescence above an East Indian world beat and chant while we’re moved into inner discovery, acceptance and equanimity. “Had to find out what it was about, had to find a way for my soul to break out… travel east to find inner peace… God bless every child traveling the road home…” At a time when so many in the world are displaced persons seeking a place to live in peace, these words take on a broader meaning.
This work is expertly produced by multi-platinum producer, Mike Green (All Time Low, Paramore, 5 Seconds of Summer), with appearances by artists Matisyahu, Trevor Hall, Dominic Balli, Golden Youth and Marti Nikko. Only Love Is Real can be enjoyed with friends at a dance event, in an energized flow-yoga class or while you’re driving on your own road home. (Black Swan)