Spotlight R&B - Interviews with Local R&B Artists

By Eva Davenport for Boston Compass Blog

January 4, 2021


Rey Royale


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

The way it makes me feel when it’s a soulful record, touches my soul.


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

We have come a long way in recent years, a lot of great talent.


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

I feel if we all stop competing and create awareness we will become even bigger in our journey.


4 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

It’s not the same. People don’t think of R&B the same as it was in the 80s and 90s.


5 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

(For my own music) Being in the group metro city and signing a deal with Interscope records. Then going on tour in 2006 with Keyshia Cole.


6 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

We have some real talent here. I’d like to see us all get out of our comfort zone and continue to grow as artists.


7 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

The feeling I got when I heard real vocalist sing is something I can’t explain.


8 - If you could ask any foundational R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

Me, I’m a student of the game so I wanna know from everyone not just a few people… What’s your drive? Do you love what you do, or is it a hobby?


9 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

I feel it’s expressing feeling from deep in your soul.


10 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

I think singers feel they have to rap-sing now and honestly I don’t like that. But whatever you’re expressing isn’t wrong.


11 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

David Ruffin, Marvin Gaye, Wayne Morris. They sing from the heart. I love it.


12 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

I would love to work with Brandy. I’ve always loved her voice and delivery, I feel we would have a dope connection.


13 - Name 3 of your favorite R&B artists and the contribution they made to your music or artistry.

JODECI, Boys to men, Michael Jackson. The artist I am today is because those men paved the way and showed me how to do it right!

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14 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

The whole scene inspires me in different ways. Not all artist are the same but I’m a student, I watch everyone.


15 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Get outta the cliques and really support good music, if you know them or not.


16 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

I gathered some of the best male vocalist in the city and did a Boyz to Men song for Mama and it was great, I’d definitely do it again.


17 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

Shout out to the whole city! I love you all. Thank you to all the radio stations, podcast, everyone that plays my music and everyone that rocks with Rey Royale, I truly appreciate you.


Karim


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

What I love most about R&B is the emotion it evokes, as well as the layers and textures it's made up of.


2 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

How I feel about the current R&B presence in Boston/New England is that it's not prevalent enough.


3 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

I feel that globally, it's underrepresented and underappreciated, but shaped so much of today's other music.


4 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

Rhythm and Blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. Funk, Ska, Doo-wop, Soul music, Rock and roll, Reggae, Disco, Beat music, & Dancehall are all derivatives of R&B.


5 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

R&B has evolved into many sub genres. I like that part, but a lot of it has become commercial, repetitive, generic, and oversaturated. And that's what I don't like.


6 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

3 R&B artists I connect to are Brian McKnight, Brandy, and Xavier Omär. I grew up on Brian, so there's a natural connection and sense of nostalgia. I started listening to Brandy in my later years in life and through studying her, I became a better overall vocalist. My control and agility improved a lot. I started hearing music differently and being more creative with arrangements. Xavier Omär is the perfect example of the positive evolution of R&B. He makes quality modern music, with the elements of the roots of R&B. He's consistent without compromising his artistic integrity. That's what I stand for and it's inspiring.


7 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

My ideal R&B collab would be with Brandy. I have no idea what the process would like, but I know magic would happen.


8 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

3 of my favorite local R&B artists are Miranda Rae, Eva Davenport, and Notebook P. They all make music that is genuine and from the heart and they stay dedicated to their craft. That inspires me and I love seeing us all grow together.


9 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

There are definitely ways to support the R&B scene more. Cultivating shows that are more singing based is one of them, being that most of our events are heavily dedicated to Hip-Hop. Coming out to/tuning into more of our shows is another way. And sharing our work on social platforms/through word of mouth.


10 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

What I've done to support includes going to shows, buying music and merch, and sharing artists I love on my social media accounts. What I will do in the future is buy more music when I can.


11 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

S/O Artz Underground, THRILL, and Most High Kingdom!


Ava Sophia


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

During one of my favorite conversations with local rapper Oompa, she said “R&B is POC vulnerability”. That sentiment has stuck with me ever since. Within so many Black and brown communities, our stories, emotions, and creative ideas are constantly facing erasure. The truth is, R&B gave me the tools to be vulnerable and let my vulnerability be central to what attracts listeners to my music.


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

I have never been more excited to watch the growth of R&B in Boston. For my entire career, I’ve hoped to see representation of POC musicians expand, and for hip hop and R&B to have a stronger presence in the Boston music scene. There is always more work to be done, but seeing the growth of the genre on a local level is a dream come true.


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

As proud as I am to be a Boston native, I would love to see more representation from smaller cities and towns across Massachusetts and the New England area like Worchester, Lowell, Providence and so on! I want to see those areas gain more access to the resources Boston has.


4 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

R&B has been the most meaningful genre of music to me as long as I can remember listening to popular music, but honestly, I don’t feel like I can claim it entirely. R&B has been defined as “a catch all term for any music that was made by and for Black Americans” and was originally called “race music” before the term was deemed offensive. As a non-Black artist of color, I feel that my job is to celebrate and honor the Black artists (the Black women artists especially) that have made empowerment through music possible for me every chance I get. But I don’t think the genre is for me to claim or take ownership of.


5 - If you could ask any foundational R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

I would ask Stevie Wonder:

  • How were you able to continue moving through so many decades as an artist and create a career with such longevity?

  • Which album was your favorite to record and why?

  • Is there anything in particular as a songwriter that you feel you have left to say, or parts of yourself you haven’t revealed to your audience yet?


6 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

I’ve been fascinated with how the introduction of hip hop has impacted R&B music, how the two genres are intertwined and how they are distinctly different. I think techniques like looping and sampling have been a positive addition to R&B music. I also think the evolution of recording and editing software has put a lot more pressure on singers to have crystal clear pitch, tone, runs, and so on.


7 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

Alicia Keys - For most of my life, I’ve always been able to see parts of myself in Alicia Keys. I’ve always appreciated her dedication to remaining her authentic self. Even when people around her were expecting her to be the next Mary J Blige or Lauryn Hill, she was not willing to sacrifice her identity and her unique sound to please anyone. Having a strong female role model who played piano, wrote her own songs, and could command a stage inspired so much of my sound and artistry.

H.E.R - I’ve always gravitated towards artists who are relatable, approachable, and deeply honest with themselves and their audience. H.E.R captures that in her artist persona to me. She is so versatile, and I love that her sound combines modern electronic production and real instruments that are all centered around her lyrics. She is another artist who I can identify with as a singer/multi-instrumentalist.

Jamila Woods - As a writer, Jamila Woods does everything I hope to do. She uplifts Chicago (her hometown), writes thoughtfully about all types of love including self love, makes political commentary and does it all seamlessly. She has a spoken word, and youth work background, so I find her inspiring as an artist who is able to make a positive impact with all her passions and creative disciplines.


8 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

As far as powerhouse vocalists go, I would love to collaborate with an artist like Ledisi Lalah Hathaway, or Brandy. Usually, I enjoy collaborative writing most when myself and the other writers are working off an already existing idea, and there is an equal balance of preparedness and spontaneity. But I would be most interested in learning their writing process and soaking in all the information I could!


9 - Name 3 of your favorite R&B artists

I’ve mentioned some of my all time favorites but here are three that I’ve been most into in the past few months; Alex Isley, Mahalia, and Giveon. I hope that my listeners can hear touches of their influence in my new music!


10 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

Eva Davenport - High Like This

Eva’s relentless positivity and power in her music is something I hope to embody someday!

Kaovanny - Riot

The way Kaovanny delivers this socio-political message in a way that is so conversational is inspiring to me. I’ve always had a hard time writing about my experiences with identity and I look up to Kaovanny for doing it so effortlessly.

Miranda Rae - Thinkin’ Bout You

I love seeing this particular genre of R&B/soul come out of Boston! Miranda Rae is the epitome of soul to me.


11 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Major publications: give us more media coverage! Write about us! Music listeners: Support R&B artists with your coin! Everyone: go out of your way to include us in your horizon! We are here, we exist, but we need visibility.


12 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

The most effective method I’ve found to uplift the local R&B scene is to tell others about it who might not have as much access or awareness to local music. Musicians and industry professionals are doing all the work to create spaces for R&B to exist, but it's unfortunate that those spaces don’t get the visibility they deserve. I would encourage everyone to do the same! Go out of your way to find local artists, and share their work with your friends!


13 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

I would like to take this opportunity to shout out the artists without whom, R&B in Boston would not exist:

Marcela Cruz, Nancia, Genie Santiago, Eva Davenport, KAE, Notebook P, Guyclaude, Miranda Rae, The Woo Factor and Kaovanny.

Artists are the center of the music industry. Without them, there would be no industry!


Eva Davenport


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

I love the fluidity in rhythm and blues, the honesty and soul provoking music it represents and calls for.


2 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

As for where I’ve performed (all over Boston, MA & RI areas) the R&B presence is strong. There are many recording and performing artists working and releasing projects. Also artists of other genres tapping into R&B. I would love to see more publications, podcasts, radio shows, and live performance platforms showcase and highlight R&B as a dominant genre. There are a number of artists that can sing and perform like nobodies business, but not enough platforms for them to be heard.

Also New England Mic Check radio has been one of my best sources for listening to and learning about other dope artists throughout New England.


3 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

I am excited to perform eventually in every state and have a good understanding of the overall music scene everywhere. As far as awards shows go R&B artists that are the most deserving typically do not win, and usually the award goes to an artist whose music would seem best suited for a sub-genre. R&B could be better represented on streaming platforms and in awards shows with sub-genres. There are so many artists that now make “Trap-soul” “pop/R&B” and even main genres like soul and funk should be separated from R&B so artists can receive awards that are truly reflective of the music they make.


4 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

Not exactly a historic fact but I absolutely adore the Iconic movies of the stories of James Brown, Ray Charles, Etta James even the fictional story of the Dream Girls. Those movies set a flame in my soul reminding me how music used to be recorded so honestly and with such limited resources. The fact that these artists were so incredibly talented to perform it live and kill it every time. That inspires me to never lose sight of the traditional way and always be at my best live and in the studio. No matter how normalized singing with vocal tracks or using auto-tune becomes; and only use those new music tools to enhance an already well-seasoned performance.


5 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

R&B is represented by the artists in Boston and Greater MA very well. It’s represented by artists across many genres. As for radio, podcasts, platforms, etc. There are many that have showcased/interviewed R&B artists… but few that promote and highlight R&B as a genre. My advice to these platforms is to put R&B in the title, claim it and name it all over Boston because the R&B music scene is very strong here. And more representation will only uplift everyone! Some dope platforms that showcase R&B well are New England Mic Check Radio, R&B and Chill, Mad Music Mill, Vanyaland, Allston Pudding,


6 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

Ultimately what drew me to claim R&B was the artists I listen to growing up. From Alicia Keys to Destiny’s Child to Stevie Wonder to 80s pop and reggae. I had a wide-range of musical influences but ultimately R&B stuck and was always prevalent in the melodies I sung and emotion I wrote with. I always crave the sound of R&B drums and melodies with instruments as well so even though I am influenced by many genres I can very truthfully say that R&B is one of the genres of my music and I love it the most.


7 - If you could ask any R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

  • Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Rihanna

  • Can we please write a song together? And release it!


8 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

Rhythm and Blues derives from Blues, combining jazz and blues with upbeat tempos. Originally R&B music was created by black and brown people and stolen by privileged folks so it’s extremely important that all artists who chose to make and claim R&B know their history and understand that this genre was the beautiful birth of the suffering of African-American people. And most of the foundational black artists never got the credit they deserved. We should all remember to honor the greatness before us, and work to ensure our brothers and sisters are not exploited or taken advantage of in this industry.


9 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

R&B music has transformed into many sub-genres and is so dynamic now. It went from only live instrumentation, a bunch of vocalists, full band and TONS of soul, to producers with 808’s and singers with auto-tune and catchy repetitive melodies. I can admire both ways of creating music and everything in between as I’ve experienced many, but I wish sub-genres were more clearly represented and that R&B was more often thought of as being very raw and real from the vocalist perspective.


10 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

Beyonce – Queen B is the inspiration. She has shown so many artists the endless possibilities of live music performances. Her voice is a well tuned and crafted instrument. Her presicion makes her a phenomenal dancer and performer and her work ethic is extraordinary and something I dream of emulating in my own music projects and performances.

Erykah Badu – Baduizm is like a bible to me, from the lyrical intelligence to the dynamic jazzy, soulful unique music. I am so inspired by the complexities of Badu’s approach to music. It seems she is always so carefree and trying things out for the first time. I love that freestyle mentality.

Kehlani – I feel like Kehlani’s sound is one of the closest industry sounds to mine. We are definitely inspired by a lot of the same more legendary artists like Brandy, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, etc. and her contemporary R&B sound is the epitome of mixing popular new music with R&B to me. I am a huge fan of almost everything she releases.


11 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

Beyonce, Legendary. Something about being boss women and inspiring the world.


12 - Name 3 of your favorite R&B artists and the contribution they made to your music or artistry.

India Arie (Neo-soul/ R&B) The lyrics of India Arie speak to my soul. Her lyricism is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard and I hope to articulate pain, love and growth in the ways she has. Digging so deep and speaking so truthfully and beautifully. No one inspires me lyrically the way India Arie does.

Jojo (pop R&B)– ‘The high road’ by 14 year old Jojo was the first CD I ever owned. I listened to it religiously and then forgot about her for years until meeting my partner this year. He reintroduced me to her music and I cried listening to some of the songs I remembered that I hadn’t heard in 10+ years. Currently I am majorly inspired by the “Good To Know” album. The fact that she dropped a full live version of the album as well has my brain spinning!! I just know because of how inspired I was as a little girl at 7/8 years old and how much I listened to her music that Jo is one of my biggest musical inspirations. Not only do I believe it but so many friends and fans have made the music comparison between us without knowing my personal connection!

SZA (contemporary R&B) – I listen to “CTRL” religiously when it dropped and the album was so special to me I dedicated an entire show to it at Berklee College of Music in 2017. I was the booker, lead singer and band leader of the show. I had 10 band members, we played an hour long set of just songs from the album, my whole family came out, and it was a really a pivotal moment for me as an artist, having been the first large show I organized myself! That album definitely influenced my EP ‘Letters to Self’ and a lot of my unreleased music as well.


13 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

I will go instead by song names…

“You Like it, I Love it” by Red Shaydez ft. Kae Alayah (This song was literally the first local R&B female collab I’d ever heard and I got to hear it for the first time on it’s debut night at Red Shaydez EP Release. This song is literally stunning periodt.

“Riot” Kaovanny, this song had me in tears several times after hearing it and still does! The lyrics “We climb higher than you, and you know that we run faster than you, we’re a lot smarter and stronger, because we have to work harder” are forever engrained in my memory and heart.

“Beggin’ “ Dalaun, I cannot even lie the first time I heard this song I wished I had wrote it. Now I’m just happy to sing along to it at the top of my lungs. It’s just such an INCREDIBLE Rnb record and the message is sung so endearing. From the beat to the melodies the entire track feels like something I would’ve dreamed up.

“Thinking Bout You” Miranda Rae, the melody of this song is just gorgeous. It’s a catchy beautiful love song. Definitely a Boston R&B classic.

“Restless” Ava Sophia, is one of me n my partners love songs forever! Just listen to it and you’ll understand. Any friendship turned relationship will feel and love this song in and out!

“Miss This Plane/Drifting” Karim, this song is not only melodically challenging and dope af but the beat is so unique and dynamic and different. Karim’s approach to Rnb has always seemed very abstract to me and I love and am inspired strongly by that.

“One Two” Terry Borderline ft. Sassy Destiny – The most beautiful, truthful, couple collab love song with hip-hop n Rnb that you will ever hear. Plus these two just got married and have a lil king on the way so listening to this song LITERALLY puts me in tears thinking of the unconditional eternal love that is real and possible in this life!

“All I Want is Everything” Papi Xampeux (Unreleased song) This song was literally written for me. The message resonates through my soul and the melody is so catchy and fun to sing I can truly never get this song 100% out of my head and I will never mind.


14 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Yes, I believe the people of Boston/ MA and New England can all do their small part by learning about/researching local artists; adding those artists’ music to their playlists and following those artists on Spotify, YouTube, IG, twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp, Bandsintown, etc.

I believe the publications of those areas can write about more RnB Artists and put artists together in published collective interviews to generate more attention and create a sense of R&B community.

I believe venues, promoters, event planners and bigger RnB artists on tour can support by creating more opportunities for singers and RnB artists. ALSO creating events dedicated to RnB and promoting them well to again create a sense of RnB community.


15 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

As an artist I support by collaborating mainly on songs, albums, music videos, just songwriting, promo and marketing ideas, vocal production, vocal lessons, music business advice, and so on.

As a fan I support by buying music, sharing content, following artists on all platforms, buying and downloading their music, buying tickets to shows (even when I cannot attend), and buying merch!

I’ve also supported with my resources by sharing by sharing paying gigs with other artists, starting Artz Underground (a platform for local artists) and putting on 5 incredibly successful live events and 3 online events, becoming a booking agent at The Jungle in Somerville and booking/hosting/planning an endless number of events while connecting the more local artists and musicians with an incredible venue that hosted free events and didn’t charge a fee host an event in the space! Leading to many artists first opportunities at event curating! Also creating all of the marketing/promo material for every event I organize and researching the artists I book to present them honorably.

And now writing an article to shed some light on the R&B scene here in Boston and share perspectives from artists in the same genre!

In the future I plan to have a non-profit business that supports other non-profits and artists by providing the entertainment for fundraising events. I also hope to gain more clients to work with vocally and creatively in the studio by collaborating and vocally producing their solo projects as well as the many collaborations I’ve been blessed with! I really enjoy working with others and will always continue to support people the best way I know how to!


16 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

So many I hope I don’t miss any!

Shout out Red Shaydez & Oompa (for teaching the people) Amanda Shea & DJ Whysham (for sharing the content) New England Mic check Radio, CWFTB Radio, LOPH blog, LFOD Radio, Vanyaland, Allston Pudding, R&B and Chill & Lunch is Ova @ Spark FM (for giving us a voice and sharing the music) Mega Mass TV, Good Music Showcase, QNC Entertainment, Artz Underground, LABS, The Jungle, DAP, Once Somerville, Bella Luna Milky Way, The Middle East, Sonia, Boston Music Awards (for giving a platform)


Najee Janey


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

I love the freedom R&B music gives me. The way it makes me feel like I can do anything, the way it makes me feel like I tap into a whole other person makes me happy. On top of the fact that listening to R&B can be really therapeutic, I enjoy the feeling and energy it provides as a listener.


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

The Boston R&B scene is definitely on a rise. My favorites out of the city are Miranda Rae, Currell, Notebook P, and $ean Wire


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

To be honest, I haven’t really dived into the R&B presence across New England.


4 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

I miss the 90’s R&B vibe where the artist is singing on his knees while it downpours. They generated so much feeling in their music, even the 90’s R&B music videos were way cooler visually.


5 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

I would be lying if I told you I knew some facts about R&B. The one thing I can think of is:

the fact that R&B stands for rhythm and blues.


6 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

I think MA is overlooked period, in all genres of music. The industry has to stop avoiding us and really tap in to what the state has to offer, especially within the city of Boston


7 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

I never really claimed R&B as a genre of mine because I’m a Rapper at heart and just an overall artist. I’m thankful that I was able to pinpoint my natural knack for singing and melodizing.


8 - If you could ask any foundational R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

I would ask Usher, Luther Vandross, and Donny Hathaway what their top vocal warm ups were, the craziest session they had, and who they looked up to for singing


9 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

I feel like R&B music came to be through black pain and struggle. We needed another way to express ourselves with movement and sound frequencies, and that’s how it came to be.


10 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

I feel like R&B evolved conceptually from conscious rhythm and blues that helped us get through trauma, then when the industry got involved I feel like it turned to something provocative, then it went to a phase of soul music, live instrumentation, to what it is now. 808’s heavy drums and weird concepts. The female R&B artists are killing it.


11 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

My favorite R&B artist are Nick Hakim, Khamari Barnes, and Teamarr. I met Nick Hakim at the boys and girls club where he recorded and engineered my first projects. I met Khamari there too within the same capacity. Both are incredible artists that you could easily look up and become fans of. Teamarr and I go way back. She recently got signed to Issa Rae. I’m really proud of them


12 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

I’d probably want to work with a Chris Brown or Ariana Grande, The Dream, Rihanna, and I would love to write for them. I believe we would come up with some real magic that’ll turn the world back into its groove.


13 - Name 3 of your favorite R&B artists and the contribution they made to your music or artistry.

Nick Hakim basically taught me how to sing and I learned just from practicing his songs. I would also have to say D’Angelo and Prince as well because they helped me find other ways I could express myself vocally.


14 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

Miranda Rae is one of my favorites because she’s mad authentic and her tone is crazy. She kills all her performances and is hungry for success. She recently performed a song I wrote and murdered it. That song is called Miracle.

Currell is another favorite of mine. Outside the fact that he’s my older cousin, he has amazing talent and the voice of an angel. I admire his drive and his willingness to be present. My favorite song of his is called Gas.


15 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Most definitely, I think if supporters really buy the art and spread the word and go hard for the artists anytime he or she is coming out with something or performing, then things could gradually change for the better.


16 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

I will continue to show up and show out for my favorite artists, and when the time comes for collaboration, I’ll be the first to jump for the opportunity


17 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

I’d like to shout out my management at DoItFoReal and Stupefye, because they definitely support the R&B scene. I’d also like to shout out my Most High Kingdom Family, and Family Famous because they definitely support the scene as well.


Nancia


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

What I love about R&B music is the soul in it. I just love the soul it possesses in telling emotions and feelings. It is a form of complete freedom. A way to express inner feelings and emotions. One that no one can't deny.


2 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

For the New England scene it still needs more to grow. It's making headway but definitely needs more of a lane.


3 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

Globally R&B is making headway.


4 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

My favorite historical fact of R&B music is the greatest voice of all! Whitney Houston!!


5 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

The current status quo of RnB music in Boston is making a presence. It is a lane that is continuously growing.


6 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

R&B has evolved in so many ways. Musically, subject matter wise, and more.


7 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

I connect with all R&B artists. We all have a story to tell and use music to express our emotions. My favorite artists that contributed to my music artistry are Whitney, Mariah Carey & Yolanda Adams. I have also been heavily influenced by gospel music as well.


8 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

All Boston RnB Artists are influential.


9 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

There are many ways Boston / New England can support RnB music. One is to keep providing opportunities to all. Two, provide funding so they can continue to produce content. Three, unite everyone to create a thriving community of RnB artists.


10 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

I would like to S/o Smokehouse Media, all RnB Artists, musicians and everyone who is making a contribution to the music scene. It takes a community of different skills and professions to create a music industry. We all need each other to make it happen.


Kae Alayah


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

R&B music is what I grew up to, its what made me see beauty in music. It’s really the love that comes out of the music that makes me love it so much. You surely can feel it!


2 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England? I feel like it’s not as common as rap, or hip hop. Which has a lot to do with the new music that’s running the charts in the industry right now.


3 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how it's represented?

It’s not as popular as it was, but it’s just as loved. Whenever you hear it, it brings you back to times of love. I think it’s not the highest genre of music, but it’s the most connecting one for me!


4 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

It’s not as represented as it used to be! R&B ran the world at a time. It was introduced in a lot of African American communities, which makes it more relatable to me than someone out of my race. I woke up to this type of music, and grew up on it.


5 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA? R&B isn’t the top genre, or the most played music in Boston, or MA. It’s not as heard, but I promise it’s just as good as hip hop, rap, country, rock etc. It’s made a great mark in history and for many artists in the industry now.


6 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

It’s all I know. The music I write is R&B not because I want it to be but because it’s what it is.


7 - If you could ask any R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

I would ask Jazmine Sullivan what she does on her everyday basis, because I know music is her life but I also know she probably does other things! I would ask what she does or did to continue to grow her knowledge and abilities within music and her own music. Lastly I would ask if she knew how many young black girls she has influenced!


8 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

It stems from rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, in urban communities. It was very much liked and many people of color added to the growth of it. From love songs, to sad songs, to beautiful ranging melodies and harmonies, R&B became a great thing of its own.


9 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

I think it has evolved to one of the genres on the back burners but still everyone who listens to it gets into a place of peace, happiness or love! It’s “too soft” or not “mumble rap” which is exactly what the top genre is at the moment. A lot of upcoming rappers have influenced many youth who are looking up to them. Like the R&B singers I watched that I wanted to be like. Change happens so I can’t be mad, but R&B will always be that and it’s always real genuine soulful music. Can’t take that from it ever!


10 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

Jazmine Sullivan - She is the reason I love riffs, she is the reason I love range, and she is also the reason I connect to emotions with my music and my voice. She has helped me appreciate sounds from within like never before.

Tyrese Gibson- He has the ability to make me want to sing with everything in me down to my toes. He made music that made me want to make it right in that moment. I wanted to learn how he sung and how he got me to feel everything.

Brandy- If you are an R&B artist, and you are also a black young girl brandy will always be an inspiration. Without any explanation she did R&B so well, and could never be left out!


11 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together. Jazmine Sullivan, I think it would be the most fun I’ve had in years. I also feel like the vibes would feed off each other so easily. Lyrics flowing almost uncontrollably, I would want to learn everything. I want to sing about love with her, damaged love, from the soul. So maybe “Pain”.


12 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

Punky the Singer, she sounds so beautiful, and her music is very much like mine! I appreciate her as well for acknowledging little old me! Patient is one of my favorite songs by her! She is a known artist in Boston who’s making her name, that is inspiration in itself.

Eva Davenport, her performances are maybe something I’ve never seen from a local artist and it makes me want to be just like her! She has stage presence that I’ve never seen before, confidence I’ve never seen and it just is inspiring. High Like this IS MY FAV.

Notebook P is someone I just met but has taken my whole soul with his voice. It’s so therapeutic, so soulful, and beautiful something you can’t take from him! My favorite song byhim is a song I heard him perform with Eva Davenport, and Amanda Shea. I forget the title because it hasn’t released but when I heard that I already wanted to learn from him and hear him more and more. Thank him for even providing that sound to the world, especially as a man!


13 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Just give us a chance to prove why we deserve to be supported, why we are a great community of beautiful music! Once you hear what we have you will want to be apart, that’s a promise! All we need is a chance to be heard!


14 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future? Play someone’s song, show up to a show, sharing their work, is always a way to support. It takes nothing to share someone’s music literally free! I will continue to support all who support me! It’s important to create connections with people, supporters, other artists, they all matter.


15- Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

QNC Entertainment, CWTFB Radio, 98.1 FM, Club 2Twenty2, Artz Underground!


Dalaun


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

I love the emotions and passion that fills R&B music. I love how heartfelt it feels and how the harmonies and melodies wrap around you like a warm hug.


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

I think the current R&B presence in Boston is growing. So many more artists are stepping out and claiming their spot and it is so magical to see the varieties of R&B coming from Boston. None of them are all the same but all of them are appreciated.


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

I think that R&B is growing in presence in New England. We are taking the steps but I can’t wait to see R&B get the love and attention and expansion it deserves here.


4 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how it’s represented? I think R&B globally has been in the

fore-front of music for the past few years, really making a comeback from its prominent presence in the 90’s. R&B has taken on so many forms and variations throughout the years and it seems now that it is evolving while also paying homage to the past. R&B music is doing a lot of great things within the industry and it’s making its way back in the limelight giving everyone those feelings of compassion and love.


5 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

Rhythm & Blues music was first coined as a genre in the 1940’s by Billboard. R&B was a descendant of blues and jazz music and was predominantly an “African-American urban sound”. It stood out for its ability to dance to.


5 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

I think that the representation of R&B music could be increased and more respected. It seems that people don’t realize R&B artists and musicians are alive and well here in Boston and have a lot to bring to the table. Boston seems to be known in the music industry for a variety of different genres, R&B not yet one of them. But that is changing as we speak.


6 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

R&B felt like the best genre for my music because it encompassed everything I wanted my music to be. My music includes speaking about the realities of everyday life, sultry vocals, melodies and harmonies reaching your soul, it is exactly what I wanted to give and R&B was all of that.


7 - If you could talk to any 3 (or more) foundational R&B artists, who would they be?

Stevie Wonder - Whitney Houston- Anita Baker


8 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

R&B/Soul music has evolved to include a variety of other genres. There is R&B with a trap influence, R&B with gospel influence, R&B with singer-songwriter influence. All of these are acceptable and welcomed evolutions of R&B music. I like that it has evolved and diversified, I hope that as R&B continues to grow, it does not all begin to sound the same.


Marcela Cruz


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

I love that it forces me to feel. Whatever emotion it is, positive and negative, R&B is therapy in a sense that it’ll push me to face certain things I might not realize I’m feeling until I listen to it. It’s also amazing to hear how other artists process and articulate their stories and emotions through the music…the way it’s told through production, vocals, riffs, tone, lyrically—everything.


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

There’s a lot of great talent in Boston and I feel as though it’s grown tremendously in the years that I’ve been in the area.


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

Admittedly, I wish I knew more about other R&B artists beyond Boston. I do feel like there’s a disconnect across not only state lines but even city lines across New England. Not sure if it’s naturally caused by the physical distance between people being able to go out to get familiar but I personally am not caught up with what the presence is like beyond the Boston area.


4 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

Globally I love the genre. It’s evolved, it’s grown and the diversity within how the genre is represented is beautiful. R&B is already a combination of musical elements and styles and it continues to grow into new lanes as artists and musicians develop new sounds and themes.


5 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

R&B along with other “urban contemporary” genres were originally referred to as “race music” meaning it was from the Black community.


6 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

For me it was what I grew up listening to and loving. As a 90’s kid listening to Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, Whitney, Christina, Boyz II Men, Usher…the list goes on… those vocal styles and elements became a part of me that will never go away. It’s true to who I am so why wouldn’t I claim it as my style?


7 - If you could ask any foundational R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

Lauryn Hill, NeYo and Missy Elliot.

  • How do/did you make sure the overall pressure of the business didn’t ruin your love for making music?

    • How do you deal with discouraging moments, months or years where you don’t feel like you’ve been able to find your true voice? How do you avoid gaslighting yourself?

    • What’s one thing you could tell your younger self as you worked to become a successful artist?


8 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

From my understanding, R&B was originally known as the less classy version of jazz for Black youth. It had it’s typical 4-beat measures for rhythm and somber or sad patterns in the lyrics associated with feeling “ blue.” Overtime, it kept expanding and morphing into different styles to where it was closely associated with genres like soul and funk. As it continued to grow and incorporate more elements, it became more of a super genre that covered many Black dominated styles of music. Now we have countless subgenres of R&B with new ones being created almost everyday with artists from all around the world.


9 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

HER, Jasmine Sullivan and Jojo – Vocally I’m a huge fan of all three and connect with their music so effortlessly but I also admire their resilience in this business even after getting into unsuccessful label situations.


10 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

Ahh I have so many that I’d want to work with but I’ll stick to the ones I mentioned above. I’d be SUPER intimidated but it’d be amazing. “You ain’t, no you ain’t seen nothing yet”


11 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

Also SO many I could list for local R&B!!

  • Ava Sophia – Love Is

  • Lisa Bello – Don’t Come Down (But really all of Tommy Boy)

  • Eva Davenport – High Like This

  • Lee Wilson – It’s Real

  • Miranda Rae – Prayer for Love

  • Maryann Murray – No Good

  • Jona Ferriera - Champana

  • Al Copeland – I Can Feel It

  • Tricia Reed – Waves

  • Genie Santiago – 2:22

  • Treva Holmes – Is You Down


12 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

I would love to see more music festivals and performance opportunities for both local artists and non. That way we could build better relationships with other markets and introduce our cities to wider audiences.


13 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

Attend shows, stream their music, buy merch, share/like content on social media and something that I’m really starting to enjoy is seeking out paid opportunities to help book artists ESPECIALLY during the pandemic.


14 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

Nelly ProToolz

Xperience Creative

New England Radio

87.7fm

Killer BoomBox

Matt Whitlock

Boston Got Next

Expozed TV

PerformanceBuild

Boston Music Awards

SparkFm

Big City FM


Treva Holmes


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1 - What do you love most about R&B music?

The melodies and vocals. The good feeling!


2 - How do you feel about the current R&B presence in Boston?

I feel the presence of RnB in Boston is on the rise. There’s a lot of dope talent but the showcases and radio’s can show more love a far as having more Boston R&B on jam’n 94.5 and showcases for Boston R&B.


3 - How do you feel about the R&B presence across New England?

I really look for R&B talent in New England and I found a lot of new young talent and veterans that are really creating movements. But still we need more promo and backing like hip hop.


4 - How do you feel about R&B globally as a genre and how its represented?

Globally I see the genre has changed. I love it because it’s more open to sing about different topics even people are singing about drugs, guns, etc. it’s authentic but it’s influenced a lot of people to change from what they used to sing about. I feel it’s not promoted in the way hip hop is but I feel like a lot of rappers do sing now or use auto tune to have the R&B vibe, but definitely haven’t been promoting the love and uplifting R&B since early 2000s.


5 - Please share a favorite historic fact or two about R&B music.

Favorite R&B fact: Bobby brown was born in my hood Roxbury and he is a legend also NEW EDITION was born in Roxbury BBD as well.


6 - How do you feel about the representation of R&B in Boston and Greater MA?

Original R&B music representation is usually small showcases that we the artist have to make ourselves. So in the same breath it’s moving forward with the times of artist independence and we are repping ourselves. Also I’ve seen showcases integrating R&B and hip hop together. I love that because most people love both genres.


7 - What drew you to claim R&B as a genre for your music?

I do it all! but I love singing the most. And I picked that genre because it is my music. The majority of my music is R&B, even if I’m rapping, my Adlibs, I’m singing in them. So I was drawn to call my style R&B. But it definitely has changed to R&B hip-hop. It’s all infused.


8 - If you could ask any foundational R&B artist 3 questions, who would they be and what 3 questions would you ask?

I would ask Usher, how would he do it if he had to start over now in this era?

If he could change anything about his career would you?

And can you post my album on your Twitter?


9 - Explain in your own words how R&B music came to be.

Different words in it are rhythm and blues and I feel like it was a very soulful, sultry, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, beautiful expression of music with rhythm, With Beats, with dancing, and even crying. To me R&B music is an expression of love, happiness, life, pain and music you feel through melodies and chords, and vocals and beats.


10 - Explain in your own words how R&B music has evolved and what you like/dislike about the evolution.

R&B music has evolved. It used to be about love and pain and break ups and sex. Now it’s mostly sex and you know sex sells so it became bigger and more promoted because of the streaming platforms. The masses love what they love an it shows that sex, hyper sexual women in a lot of pain, sometimes even guns and drugs and swearing and even gangsters are singing calling it hip-hop. But it became bigger, as long as we are being promoted I don’t see nothing wrong with it. But what I don’t like is that there’s a lot of people singing and they’re calling it rap and there’s a lot of people that I look up to as rappers like the Meek Mill’s, the Jay Z‘s, the Lil Wayne‘s and they are in the same category as people like Lil Uzi or Lil Tjay, Pop Smoke, Lil Keed, Tory Lanez. And all these artists sing and rap but they’ll call it hip-hop and you know I feel like you can put Tupac and Biggie in the same genre as artist’s that are singing and these guys don’t sing. I would call it trap-soul, R&B trap, R&B rap, R&B hip-hop or something like that because those artist are huge. But also I don’t wanna put those same guys in the same category as a Beyoncé and Mariah Carey or Usher or Chris Brown so there’s a very thin line between R&B and hip-hop and there are definitely spectrums where are you have someone soulful sultry like Mary J Blige then someone who is super trippy but still sings like Juice WRLD do you know so I guess I just don’t like the confusion and it’s hard to get these a deserving artist the credit they deserve because they don’t have a genre really do you know but it’s all good as long as all these artist are producing great music that’s all I care about.


11 - Name 3 well known R&B artists you connect to and please explain the connections.

I connected to T-Pain, Bryson Tiller, Miguel

There’s so many other artist that I also connect to but I thought long and hard to get this question right, and it’s never gonna be right. But the first time I seen an artist I want to emulate was T-Pain, I loved his career, I love his music, I love the sound, I love the vocal manipulation. He would do it with auto tune and he still had a charismatic personality, very positive even though he came from the bottom and still made hit records in music that you cannot forget forever In still is today after 10+ years. Bryson Tiller I loved his trap soul project top to bottom every song did not skip every word to every song and it’s taught me how to make a meaningful project how to make every song tie in storytelling relatability, quotable lyrics, beat selections especially in today’s 2020 vibes; And do you understand how hard it is to make an album and every song is good? So I’m really connected to that. That boy can really write music. And Miguel’s stage presence, relatability, crowd control, song writing, the notes that he can hit, the topics still be authentic, the style, the image, the detail, the live band, the showmanship, and the longevity to still have this ability to write incredible unforgettable music. So I connect to that immensely.


12 - Name your ideal R&B vocalist collab, how it would go writing and recording, and a lyric you would sing together.

My ideal vocal collab will probably be with T-Pain. I just want to do a song with him. I love high energy beat songs, just the energy alone in the studio will just be something I’d be looking forward to. And also the outcome of the record. I believe we can make magic. I believe the song will go something like……… “I can tell by the way that she walks that she wants me” And I believe with the talent we both possess specially with writing we can make a nice little hit with that.


13 - Name 3 of your favorite R&B artists and the contribution they made to your music or artistry.

I’m not gonna lie because I do R&B and hip-hop I do look at a lot of hip-hop artist that sing as well so I’ll call them R&B artist today and three artist that contribution a lot to me like I said…

T-Pain, Travis Scott, Tory Lanez

All three of these artists produce and write music and so do I. But the greatest thing is I seen all of them perform live and they are in the same live. Travis Scott and Tory Lanez they literally crowd stairs and there’s mosh pits and they can slow it down and sing to the crowd and serenade the crowd, like those artist have contributed a lot to my live show and a lot of people recognize me from the high energy in my live shows even though I’m too big to crowd surf, I think my vibe is big enough!


14 - Name 3 (or more) favorite local R&B artists, a song by each that inspires you, and why. (Or why they inspire you as an artist.)

Boston R&B artists I love…

Punky the Singer “Miscommunication” is this song she wrote and I just love the whole song, and she just came out with a song called “Unknown Caller” that I can’t get out of my head

Miranda Rae can sing about a roach and I’ll fall in love she so dope as an artist. Also her song “All About You” is my shit omg.

Treva Holmes when I hear this song “Agree” it’s like amazing and there’s so many other songs I love.

Najee Janee he has this song called “Cherry Blossom Pie” that I love and a lot of other songs as well.

Rey Royale has a song called “Ready” that I cannot get out of my head. He sold out and he has so many other songs and a great voice, unbelievable.

Siah!! He’s dope he has a song called “Eastside Girl” and a song that I did with him called “Dangerous”. The dude’s incredible, he has a great voice and he’s an amazing artist.


15 - Are there ways you believe Boston, greater MA, and New England can do more to support the R&B scene? And How?

Do you know how hip-hop shows have like, big rappers come and they have local artist perform before them? I think they should have that for R&B shows, where a big R&B type artist comes and local R&B artists open up for that act. So more opportunities for R&B artists to be promoted like having more R&B shows and more R&B radio play as a whole. And also R&B artists, get more independent and self-sufficient where you can just create your own network and have your own shows without anybody. As artist’s in general we have to promote our brand. So put the money that you spend on stuff that doesn’t help your career and start promoting your brand. Not just on social media, but everywhere you go you sing and you believe in yourself. Sing on the train, no one is gonna tell you to shut up, you sound good!! And it’s not gonna happen if you don’t lead the charge. Believe in you!! And also stop counting on your friends to support you. If they’re not gonna support you, your fans, the people who buy merch, buy tickets to your shows, like all your pictures, that are obsessed with your music, that actually listen to music, that you don’t even know. Those are the people you want to cater to. Your friends love you, they want you to do well. Your family loves you, they want you to do well, but they’re in a different support system. They don’t care what you do, they’re going to be there. But your fans want you to keep doing music. So literally cater to them.


16 - What have you done in the past to support your R&B scene and what will you do in the future?

I did host showcases at Milky Way lounge, also Wonder Bar, Middle East, Maggy’s Lounge and a host of other local showcases for R&B and hip-hop. So in the last couple years since I’ve been doing music I’ve been helping other artist get shows and studio time. I’ve done countless features to help artists move forward. I would have given advice countless times. On my personal time I’m up and I’m up supporting, going to shows, sending money, buying a ticket even if I don’t show up to the shows. But if you check my resume it will tell you I’m usually hosting the show, in the crowd at the show singing, on the show promoting the show, or if I’m not there I’m probably doing another show. If you check my resume I have not stopped promoting R&B music in Boston since I started.


17 - Shout out any platforms, stations and/or artists that support the R&B scene!

Dj Why Sham, DJ slick vick with DJ Alcide, DJ Papadon, DJ Jeff two times, DJ chubby chub, DJ decks, maze radio, CWTFP radio, sultry Sundays, R&B and chill, the mayors lounge, spark FM, DJ real P has crazy events for R&B, DJ TGIF comes down from New York just to have R&B night with us, BENT entertainment has nothing but the best events for R&B and that’s just to name a few. Kingston bar and grill R&B brunch, R&B and paint just to name a few. Play radio, mixtape chick, killer boom box, Vicky writes, Ain’t no hold up, Most high kingdom, are platforms that have these type of events and radio stations and blogs that support local RnB talent In the R&B music scene.


Photo Credits:

Dalaun - Allison Sepanek

Karim - K Freezy Fresh

Marcela Cruz - Ashley Nadeau

Eva Davenport - Afrolia Productions

Kae Alayah - The Bridge Eye

Nancia - Jay Hunt

Rey Royale - Michael Bryant

Najee Janey - Liv Slaughter


This piece was made possible through the Boston Arts and Culture Covid-19 Relief Fund. Thank you for supporting our local writers and creators!