Here in Nashville (and across much of the country) we’ve had a bit of a climatic confusion this week, where temperatures in late January and early February have felt like Punxsutawney Phil came out a few days early and missed his shadow completely. I mean, can it possibly be spring this early on? Please Lord, let it be so. Ushering in this uptick in the weather, is an artist whose voice sounds like the warm thaw of winter making way for spring, one Michael Kiwanuka. His voice is about as memorable as his name, and once you’ve heard him channel Bill Withers over the course of his 3 EPs, you would swear the clouds outside have made way for the sun and the trees are ready to bloom. Maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but Kiwanuka comes closer to the sound of Gaye, Redding, Morrison and the like than any other artist I’ve seen. And as another blogger recently said, Kiwanuka’s voice just sounds like “home.”
His story is one that is sure to attract a lot of buzz as the son of Ugandan parents who escaped the Idi Amin regime and relocated to London. He’s now signed to Ben Lovett of Mumford fame’s Communion Records (which, by the way, may be one of the best labels out there right now) and has been prominently featured on Later With Jools Holland and BBC Radio overseas. On the heels of winning BBC’s Sound of 2012 award, he’s sold out every single show on his February tour in the UK and is poised to break through in a major way on our shores with an appearance at SXSW 2012 (there seems to be a recurring theme here with all these artists – someone get me to Austin in March!!). His debut album, “Home Again” gets released in March, perfectly suited to coincide with all the colors of spring and warmer temperatures that the month will bring.
I was recently asked to recommend music for a friend’s father/daughter dance at her wedding, and without hesitation my recommendation was a song by Kiwanuka. In my mind, his songs deserved to be played during the course of important moments in our lives, where you just have to have a soundtrack to your memories. Check out these videos of him performing below and tell me if you don’t agree.