Artists You Probably Haven’t Heard of

There’s so much music out there, sometimes I feel like artists can go amiss. They stand out but aren’t getting buzz because maybe they don’t have a label, or radio stations aren’t giving them a chance, or whatever else may be the reason. But my ultimate focus is that I love to hype up those artists that you may not have on your radar. Artists that deserve some recognition.

Cal (from Timeflies)

You may know this fella if you were a follower of his band, Timeflies. But Cal recently has been dropping some solo music that is absolute FIYAH. He recently released his solo project called “The Identity Crisis,” a song titled “Dressed Up in White” that he wrote & sang to his now wife at their wedding. His latest release is called “Catch” and my goodness, you have to check it out. He made it really hard to search for him on music platforms (love you Cal!) so try looking him up by his song titles, lol. Definitely worth the listen.

Christian Burghardt

So I discovered Christian when I went and saw Phillip Phillips on tour years ago. He was absolutely amazing, & his songs were so catchy. Except, I never think he got the recognition that he deserved. I’m pretty sure he had issues with his label & seemed to go quiet the past couple of years, but he recently put out a few new songs, “Pineapple Rum” & “Throwback,” which are absolutely perfect for the summertime. They also have a more sultry vibe than his old songs (“Safe Place to Land” got some good traction) that I am absolutely here for. You HAVE TO add these songs to your summer playlist.


You may already know them, as they have a good following & are really hip in the festival scene, but I always like to shoutout Misterwives, because they just are feel good vibes. I’ve been keen on them since they released their first project “Reflections” which featured my favorite song of theirs, “Kings & Queens.” They’ve released some more recent music, an EP titled “Minibloom” with their next album releasing in July, titled “Superbloom.” Two of the members of the band had gotten married a couple years ago & recently decided to split, so I anticipate a lot of break up songs / songs relating to this break up. Hopefully some strong, independent hype up songs that encourage us that we can in fact, get over it! I’m excited for it, to say the least.


I’d say Coin got some major radio play for their single “Talk Too Much,” which is how I found out about them on a local Nashville radio station. But but but, their album, “How Will You Know If You Never Try” really got me hooked. They’ve got the quirky, alternative, hipster ish vibes. I’ve seen them a good amount live & they kill it every time. I even got to meet Ryan (on the right) the last time I saw them at Red Rocks (which was so dope, btw). They just released an album, “Dreamland,” which I still need to dive into but YOU SHOULD TOO!


Wowza. These two are something else. I saw them open for Camila Cabello when she was on tour in 2018. Little did I know, they seem to write songs for some big artists, Demi Lovato being in there. They have a song called “High Without Your Love” that I am sooo obsessed with it’s insane. They just released an EP titled, “heart eyes,” so give that a listen, I INSIST.

Spencer Sutherland

Guys. If you don’t know Spencer, I’m not sure we can be friends. He has the most amazing voice – his high notes KILL ME. He has appeared on UK’s X-Factor (THAT’S CRAY) & gone on tour with In Real Life. He has accomplished so much, but still think he deserves a lot more love than he gets credit for. It seems he recently-ish opened up about trying to fit a mold when it comes to this industry, trying to make his music sound like others, dress like others, etc. His latest music has really given us a different sound & he’s been upping his style game, giving me a mad 70’s vibe (photo does not reflect, just check out his instagram). But ultimately, listen to his music, PUH LEASE.

Shy Martin

Originally from Sweden, she came onto my radar by collabing on a song with Timeflies, titled “Raincoat.” Her voice gave such a magic to that song that it’s one of my favorites. Someone else did an acoustic cover of it, & it just didn’t sound the same because it wasn’t her voice on the track. She’s got loads of streams on Spotify, so I ain’t lying when I say, you gotta listen. Her latest release is a single titled “Nobody Likes Moving On.”


Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Public provides a fun-loving music vibe, also perfect for summertime. Ironic, as their latest single, “Honey in the Summer,” just dropped & is already on my playlist. Perfect for a day by the pool (or on the beach, if you wish). I came across them at a college show I went to years ago, and fell instantly in love. I’m almost guaranteed that you will too. They definitely are talented & you should love on them, will ya?

So there you have it, folks. I hope you have some new artists you can (& will) be listening to from here on out. If you’re not satisfied or need more, feel free to caruse my Spotify playlists to find more: here.

Is There Space for More Black Executives in the Music Industry?

The obvious answer to that question is, yes. But let’s have a conversation. I wanted to look into the diversity of the music industry higher ups. Billboard puts out a list every year acknowledging people working in the industry who have made big strides, accomplished big things that past year, or are just shining at what they do. There are only 19 of 212 people listed that are black, which is 8.9% of the list. THAT IS INSANE.

There are only 19 of 212 people listed that are black, which is 8.9% of the list.

Looking at the major record labels (Sony, Universal Music Group, & Warner Music Group), all 3 CEOs are white.

  • Sony executives, out of 12, 1 is black.
  • Universal executives, 1 of 11 is black.
  • Warner executives, none of the executives are black.

Jumping over to other facets of the industry, the biggest radio name being IHeartRadio, their CEO is white. Ryan Seacrest is also a heavy influence for that company. Carson Daly has also been a player in the industry, having hosted TRL and I believe the forefront to (a quick google search shows he left radio in 2017 to focus on family). Spotify & Apple Music are run by white men. The major music magazine(s) – mainly Rolling Stone – is headed by a white male.

But let’s not forget, there’s some big names who represent the black community who have made waves in the music industry: Beyonce & Jay-Z created a music platform called Tidal, have sold out stadiums/tours, and Jay Z has a music entertainment business (Roc Nation). We also have Drake who has his own label (but under the umbrella of Warner Music) & Lil Wayne does as well (but under the Universal umbrella).

These artists have been given some control and have been influential in bringing talented artists into the music scene, but they still have to answer to the white man & power that this country was built on. I am not saying that is how these labels are run, but if you look at who is in charge, there is not even close to enough executives who represent the black community. If we want to get anywhere in this country, we have to give opportunities to those who can speak for the community, who can stand up for what’s right, who can put out content/music from personal experience to fully represent the diversity in our country. If we continue to stay divided, and a majority of the space at the top is coming from white voices, well we aren’t going to get very far are we?

If we continue to stay divided, and a majority of the space at the top is coming from white voices, well we aren’t going to get very far are we?

Billboard has some great information about what labels, executives, artists, are doing to support the Black Lives Matter movement & helping to dismantle & fight systemic racism. Check it out here: Artists Urge Music Companies to Donate to Fight Racial Injustice: Here Are the Ones That Have


Post Concert Depression

How Black Culture Has Influenced Music

It seems like a lot of the music we know and enjoy today was influenced and started from the African American Community. White culture seems to like to use black influence and spin it to use as our own. That may be a bold statement, but it’s time to stop taking from the black community & start enhancing it: their sound, voice, artistic abilities, creativity & so so so much more.

Considering all we are facing currently (& how in the world are we still here), I wanted to do a little digging, some research, to educate myself on what genres were influenced by who & by what. For the most part, music was inspired by the black community. Hip Hop. R&B. Jazz. Motown. Rock & Roll even. But looking at the music industry today, it doesn’t look like much progress has been made to allow space for black artists, producers, executives (that’s a whole other blog y’all, coming soon) to have a major influence in the music community.

I wanted to dive into the history a little bit about where, who, what influenced each specific genre of music:


One, I want to start by saying genres are so interesting because I had these all separate and then when I was reading more into Blues, R&B, & Soul, they all seemed to be tied together, so here we are.

Starting in the 1950s, you’ve got artists like The Kings of Rhythm, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles & James Brown, who were big influences when it came to R&B/Soul music. One article I read stated: “…white artists such as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly adopted the sound, removing most of the gospel message but keeping the same musical techniques, instrumentation, and feeling.” And here we are: white artists adopting black influence.

Aretha Franklin also seems to have been a big influence when it comes to R&B/Soul – okay, maybe a lot as she is pegged the “Queen of Soul.”


I have never actually followed or listened to Jazz often, but whenever it is on, I am never mad about it. The ease of the instruments in my ears is just so peaceful to listen to. “The evolution of jazz was led by a series of brilliant musicians such as Louis Armstrong [1923 until 1971], Duke Ellington [started in 1923], Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis,” all black musicians who heavily inspired this kind of music. Ellington’s influence seems to have made the most impact, “…his inventive use of the orchestra, and thanks to his eloquence and charisma, Ellington is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other more traditional musical genres.”


This is probably one of my favorite genres on this list, having enjoyed hefty amounts of this music when I lived in Nashville, attending a night called “Motown Monday” at the iconic 5 Spot in East Nashville. Looking into the influence behind this music is a man named Berry Gordy. He seems to have dove into many facets that accompany being in Hollywood: producing, record executive-ing, & even seems to have been involved in films/TV. He helped bring artists such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, & Marvin Gaye into the scene, “their music [having] communicated and brought together a racially divided country and segregated society, around the world, touching all people of all ages and races.”

Rock & Roll

I’ve always heard for the longest time that Elvis is the king of Rock and Roll. But, is he really? We can look at some influences from artists before his time (and even mentioned above with the influence from Blues) where the African American community had paved the way for Elvis to receive that title. Coined the Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was known for playing the electric guitar and “her originality played a pivotal role in the conception of Rock & Roll as a genre of music.” Chuck Berry is also said to have been a big inspiration when it comes to “Rock & Roll guitar.” We also have The Kings of Rhythm (as mentioned above), who released a song titled “Rocket 88,” in 1951 “and is often cited (and debated) as the first rock ‘n’ roll record.”


Two words: Bob Marley. He is the soul person or artist I believe to be responsible for this category of music, which I still love to listen to to this day. Reggae stemmed heavily from Jamaica in the late 1960s and “was considered a rag-tag, hodge-podge of other musical styles, namely Jamaican Mento and contemporary Jamaican Ska music, along with American jazz and rhythm & blues, something like what was coming out of New Orleans at the time.” I also was reading that the term reggae was stemmed from a word that means raggedy which makes me sad because that’s not at all how I see reggae music. Reggae is so flowy, mellow, and good vibes. It breaks my heart the genre was named after a word with such negative connotation.

Hip Hop

I think this is the most interesting genre, especially when it comes to how & why it was started. The direct ties to the racial divide in our country is alarmingly loud when we’re speaking about the origins of Hip Hop. “During the 1950s and 60s, many white, middle-class people left the cities to move to the suburbs. The African Americans and Latino Americans that were left behind in cities (or who moved to the cities in the intervening years) encountered many challenges in their neighborhoods, as budgets were slashed and resources diverted to the wealthier, whiter communities. Faced with a lack of economic opportunity, as well as rising crime and poverty rates, the young people in the Bronx and nearby communities began creating their own kinds of cultural expressions. These forms of expression would come together to form the four pillars of hip hop.”


I’m not even sure I have to say much about this category because of the iconic names on the list of pop influences: Michael Jackson, Prince, & Whitney Houston The one thing I will point out in this category has nothing to do with how or why this genre was started, as I honestly didn’t do much background investigation here. Buuut! Whitney Houston’s most popular song, in my opinion, is “I will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton. White writer, Black singer. It’s the little things back in this time where you’d think the roles would have been reversed, but Hallelujah that is wasn’t, as Whitney CRUSHES.


If you know me, you know I am into my faith and love listening to worship music. I never had any idea the origins of where that may have come from. I guess Gospel could be considered a different genre than what we consider worship music today but I still enjoyed learning a little bit more about this. Anyways, some history for you: “In conjunction with gospel music, spirituals were used to express the oppression that still plagued blacks 100 years after emancipation. Often, music historians consider Negro spirituals to be folk music, which, by nature, must tell a story — a clear legacy of African oral tradition.” I also never knew Gospel and Folk could be considered influenced and inspired by the same sounds.

I want to first start by saying that I am certainly no expert on this topic. I am trying to learn here in a space that I love: music. I found a lot of my information from the following articles who have provided details to help me along this journey. I may have gotten some things wrong. I may not have quoted the articles correctly. I may not have said things in the right way, as to the correct language, terms, etc that are not offensive in this sensitive time. But I promise, I am here to support. To listen. To learn.

A Timeline of History Making Black Music

30 Times Black Music Changed the World

What is Soul Music

Soul Music History

What is Jazz

Duke Ellington

Motown History

Hip Hop History

Songs of Struggle & Spirit