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LISTEN TO HIL ST. SOUL - "SOULidified"



Soul-Patrol Newsletter Headlines

* PRESS RELEASE - Hil St Soul

* CD REVIEW - Hil St Soul - "SOULidified"

* CONCERT REVIEW - Hil St Soul @ Ramshead, Annapolis MD

* CONCERT REVIEW - Hil St Soul @ Grape St Pub In Philly




Welcome To The Soul-Patrol Newsletter

We wanted to devote this issue of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter to someone who has become one of my favorite artists. I had a chance to meet Hilary Mwelwa a few weeks ago when she performed at the Grape St Pub in Philadelphia. She put on a wonderful performance that brought the songs from her CD "SOULidified" to life for me. She did a nice selection of original soul/funk material from her new album "SOULdified" and a few Isley Brothers and Aretha Franklin covers as well. I got to speak with Hillary for a while after the show and she told me that she appriciates all of the support that everyone has shown for her since the release of her album "SOULdified". In my opinion, this is an artists to be reconed with for the future. She's jazz, she's soul, she's funk, she's hip hop. She represents the future and we need more artists like her...

--Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net


PRESS RELEASE - Hil St Soul

Hilary Mwelwa Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Hilary Mwelwa relocated to London with her family at age five. As a child she adopted her fathers love of music, as their home was immersed with the sounds of traditional Zambian music along with such American R&B/soul icons as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. As a graduate of Londons Westminster University, Hilary had early ambitions to go into the science field and earned a degree in biological sciences. She shares, While I was in school studying sciences, I started to explore my musical interests and I decided that I wanted to pursue music more seriously. I took a year off from school and during this time I recorded my first demo. I have never had formal music training but I was brought up on a diet of soul, R&B, Gospel and pop music from an early age. Luckily for us Hilary Mwelwa path has led her to follow her heart and her music. She concludes, I could have pursued a nice comfortable career path but music is where my heart is. I do believe that everything you do in life leads you to your ultimate destiny. My personal motto is live life to the fullest and to spend your time doing what you love. You have to enjoy each day as if it were your last.

Im a fan of good music. The kind that hits you in the heart, mind and soul! says Hilary Mwelwa, the next British R&B phenomenon destined to win over American R&B and soul devotees. USA Today declares, Mwelwas vocals are always enticing while Vibe Magazine heralds Mwelwas rich, velvety voice warms the inside like a spot of tea. The 20-something year-old chanteuse along with her musical partner Victor Redwood Sawyer (founder of the award-winning hip hop group Blak Twang), make up Hil St. Soul, one of the hottest groups to emerge from Londons underground music scene in recent years. Hil St. Soul has toured with such individual artists as Macy Gray, Angie Stone and DAngelo.

Hil St. Souls highly anticipated new CD, SOULidified, is a follow-up to last years acclaimed Shanachie debut Copasetik & Cool. People Magazine said of Copasetik & Cool, Mwelwas gospel charged vocals fire up tracks like the down-home ditty Ive Got Me, which highlights the positive attitude of the lyrics while The Boston Globe declared, Mwelwa has a beguiling set of pipes- a whiff of Whitney here, a scoop of Chaka there

Highlights on SOULidified include the steamy and sexy duet with Dwele, Baby Come Over, the endearing and catchy Sweet On You, the soulful and inviting Hey Boy and the first single, a strikingly beautiful, pensive and emotional ballad Goodbye.

LISTEN TO HIL ST. SOUL - "SOULidified"



CD REVIEW - Hil St Soul - "SOULidified,"

HILL ST. SOUL -  SOULidified In today's crowded field of artists where the sound of pop Black music has been so homognized, it's more important for vocalists to somehow stand out and show why "they're different." Hil St. Soul's Shanachie release, "SOULidified," is a little "schizophrenic" in the sense that it sometimes reaches strong points of individuality; but unfortunately, there are spots where the CD sometimes tends to sound downright "generic."

There's a mix of the so-called "Neo-Soul" thing, mixed in with the overdone rhythm-dominated tracks. In many places, the musicality and feel of the instrumentation is effective; offbeat enough (in the "quirky" sense) to capture the ear of the listener. When there is use of instrumentation it leans to the former. That approach often feels fresh, given the fact that Black radio airwaves are pretty much overrun by bottom-heavy, rhythm-dominated tracks.

Unfortunately, the collection also contains what I call today's "typical lack of subject range" in modern Black music lyrics. You can pretty much guess that with female singer-led discs, generally speaking, you are going to get either songs that are mostly about, lyrically speaking: a) relationships, or b) self-affiramation. For the most part, "SOULidified" follows this path.

One of the outstanding qualities of this collection is St. Soul's use of tightly-voiced harmonies. It's most effective on tracks like "Sweet On You," which also boasts a great feel through its instrumentation. "It's OK" is sort of your typical "Indie.Arie-ish self-affirmation" track, but still enjoyable. "Goodbye" is a real fine ballad. Well-produced, with nice use of the guitar and piano. This track, in my opinion, could be St. Soul's showcase tune, as she shows some vocal talents that are amongst the high points of the CD. The duet with Dwele, "Baby Come Over," also has a great feel to it.

"One Of A Kind" gives me the chord changes that I'm looking for to show how St. Soul as a solo voice can handle them. It sounds challenging, and St. Soul proves on this track that, as a singer, she's can vocally negotiate tricky progressions successfully. Interestingly, it's on this track that she utilizes more unison/octive background vocals rather than the tightly-voiced harmonies evident elsewhere on the CD. Yet, this is the "distinctive" track that allows St. Soul to find her own voice. Well-done.

The rhythm-dominated tracks, such as "Can We Spend Some Time Together" don't always work--they tend to give the feeling of "I've heard this too many times before." The one rhythm-dominated track that has a chance to work, the ballad "We Don't Talk," is bogged down by a refrain and bridge containing a keyboard part that sounds like it's an electric accordion, no less. "Too Good To Be True" has a cliche-ic title and other "I've heard it before" elements; but gets saved by the harmonies that St. Soul employs.

Overall, Hil St. Soul brings forth a decent enough effort to merit attention. As a vocalist, the voice and the stylings are not distinctive enough to separate her from the pack of "today's typical R & B female singer; but it is packaged on this set with good production, and that alone makes this CD work. I'll give this three-and-a-half stars (out of five).

--Charles Duke



LISTEN TO HIL ST. SOUL - "SOULidified"

CONCERT REVIEW - Hil St Soul @ Ramshead, Annapolis MD

Hil St Soul @ Grape St Pub In Philly Nestled on the Chesapeake Bay is the capitol city of Annapolis, State of Maryland, recognized by many as "The Land of Pleasant Living". Here in my home town, excitement happens in leaps and bounds. For the African-American community in Annapolis, vocal acts, night clubs and hit records are frequently visited or/sought in near-by Baltimore or Washington D.C.
"The Rams Head Tavern-Where Great Minds Meet" (the actual full promotional name of our host club) our port-of-call in Annapolis, a "City By The Bay," occasionally known in other cities/states/countries as "Crab Town," what a special city, what a special night.

The night-life district in Annapolis was the focus of my musical wonderment on August 22, 2006, a night savoring the opportunity to float (a preferred-abstract description) on my "Home Turf," where I was introduced to members of "Hil St Soul", by manager Aaron Hercules and covered their Annapolis Debut performance as a member of their fast growing "Hil St Soul Data-Base".

Phenomenon British song stylist Hilary Mwelwa, is a Beautiful Brown Sista (smile) born in Lusaka, Zambia Africa. The London based vocalist and band on an East Coast Tour, engaged a one night stop at the Ram's Head in Annapolis, just blocks from the historic entry-port docking site of Kunta Kenta.

Hilary and her partner Victor Redwood Sawyer (founder of the award winning hip hop group Blak Twang) make up "Hil St Soul", an amazing group that has shared the stage with Macy Gray, Angie Stone, and DeAngelo. Vibe and People Magazine, USA Today and The Boston Globe Newspapers recognize Hilary's musical accomplishments, treating her richly and kindly with mellow descriptions of a vocal range that seems to hypnotize the ears with melodic vibrations, closely mimicking the likes of Phylis Hymen, Aretha Franklin, Micky Howard, and Chaka Khan.

On this special night, Hilary Mwelwa, birthed in the Mother-Land, is the "Marquee Star," enjoying the freedoms of the 21st century, where patrons pay to be captivated, pay to enjoy and become inspired listening to her "Vocal Tales of Whoa," a noticeable comparison to former African Females who (back in the day, circa 1753) were captured, shipped in chains from the continent of Africa, auctioned and sold into slavery at the Annapolis, Maryland's City Dock, five minutes walking distance from "Rams Head Tavern," to the nearby site of the Alex Haley Statue (which marks the historic arrival spot of Kunt Kente) facing her future to slave, and to slave, and to slave.

Minutes before the dimming of lights (a creative warning for show time) I flash backed long forgotten images of irony (which actually tingled my mental juices). I wondered if the "Hil St Soul" vocal Diva Hilary was aware of the historic significant of Annapolis, the past and present accomplishments of African Females who visited or settled in our capitol city. Was she informed "The Ram's Head Tavern" is only a few doors from the beautifully restored Reynolds Tavern, the oldest tavern in Annapolis and one of the oldest Taverns in the U.S.? Was there a whisper in her dressing room that back in the day (1751-1958) an African Female was allowed entry to a tavern only to wash dishes, empty spitoons, scrub floors, and bed-warm the Massa?

Patiently awaiting the "Hil St Soul Show" to virtually "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker," I silently mulled over personal mental comparisons of night club-activity in Annapolis "back in the day." Born and raised in Annapolis, I instantly recalled the "Juke Joint" atmosphere of names like "Susie's Tee Room" and "The Elks," both dubbed "Colored Clubs," both formally down the street and four minutes, slow walking distance from where I was seated. Immediately it came to mind that half a century ago, night life entertainment (club-entry) was out of the question for Afro-Americans and Africans on this very street the Rams Head now occupy (West Street, Annapolis) the two clubs I mentioned were never frequented by mixed races (a sign of the times) but on this night, I was surrounded by brothers and sisters of different hues and colorful skin tones. My companions in this fabulous showroom were an assortment of racial backgrounds and as colorful as a Mason Jar full of Skittles.
Even before the dimming of house lights, it seemed apparent everyone felt they would experience something special. Suddenly, the star-bright night gave way to a new order of musical sound called "Hil St Soul." As the syncopation of the band influenced pulsating finger-tips and tapping feet, the audience quickly realized refreshing entertainment of a tight five-member band in tandem with a memorable-mellow sounding male & female back-up duo.

The moment Hilary graced the stage, there was an instant "Sock It To Me" flow of non-stop action, the Diva impacted every inch of the "Ram's Head Showroom," transforming it into another dimension of musical wonderment. The London based vocal songbird effortlessly shared musical streams of lyrics that could not be easily ignored. Husbands sat closer to wives, lovers cuddled, partners linked with their significant other, and singles realized they were on their own. Hilary is a consummate professional and the moment her voice vibrated into the microphone, acoustics of "Rams Head Show Room" allowed the British Sister-Girl to take control, mesmerizing all in earshot.

Tight sounds of "Hil St Soul" maintained a constant relationship with Hilary, creating a September weave of Chocolate Drumbeats, with Carmel-Coated Lines and Spaces of Melodies mixed with guitar, bass and keyboard, captivating the entire audience as she sang triangles of lost relationships, past and present. Hilary, a graduate of London's Westminster University, educated the audience on a 101 about Love and Relationships.

"Hil St Soul"s set includes musical taste of their new CD "Solidify," including "Its OK " "Baby Come Over" and the emotional ballad "Goodbye". The audience joined in on the haunting, catchy melody (my favorite) a song called "Hey Boy".
Show opener for the set was male vocalist "GOVERNOR" (to be review a later date) host for the affair was "True", Morgan University's WEAA 88.9 FM, Baltimore MD.

My experience with "Hil St Soul" was a night to remember and my best advice:
When "Hil St Soul" is in or near your town, don't just meet me there, beat me there.

Uh-Huh Arthur Takeall
Soul-Patrol - Annapolis


LISTEN TO HIL ST. SOUL - "SOULidified"

CONCERT REVIEW - Hil St Soul @ Grape St Pub In Philly

Hil St Soul @ Grape St Pub In Philly Know what I liked best about the emergence of Erykah Badu a few years ago?

Sure I loved her cover songs, which harkened back to the 1970's and caused me to place a nostalgic smile on my face whenever I heard them. Of course I loved her original songs just as much; they were fresh/funky and seemed to connect across generations. However the thing I liked most about Erykah Badu was that she had some serious "tude". The live version of "Tyrone" will forever make her the patron saint of all of the "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired" Black women that have ever lived on the face of this earth. The song "Tyrone", clearly inspired by Marlena Shaw's 1977 masterpiece "Go Away Little Boy" takes things to the next level. "Tyrone" inspired much needed discussion between Black men and women accross the country. So what do Erykah Badu and Marlena Shaw have to do with Hilary Mwelwa/Hil St Soul?

One of the things that has been my observation about female "neo soul" artists is that they all seem to be afraid of taking on the "800 pound gorilla" in the room, named Erykah Badu. In 2006, Black men need to be taken to task. We certainly aren't doing a very good job of holding up our end of the bargain in the struggle for unity. And in reality we need to pay attention to what Black women are trying to tell us, after all if we can't trust them, who can we trust?

Hilary Mwelwa doesn't mind discussing these issues; however different from the caustic style of Erakah Badu, Hillary does it with a British accent and a friendly/helpful manner, that is totally "copasetic and cool". Therefore the words don't sting as much; however the message is clearly the same. I got that from the album "SOULdified", but it's reinforced when you see her perform the songs from "SOULdified" LIVE!!!

As I sat in the audience of her show on 8/19/2006 and listened to her perform the songs from her stellar 2006 release called "SOULdified". I couldn't help but think about Erakah Badu and Marlena Shaw as Hillary not only sang the songs, but also introduced in a very skillful manner, each song and defined to the audience, the impact that each had for her. For example as a prelude to the song "Goodbye" she said: "I'm not hating on men, I just want to relate an experience to you". Well guess what? It was the very same "experience" that Erakah Badu and Marlena Shaw were talking about!!! Or take for example her introduction to the song "Pieces", where she says: "My heart was broken again".

In addition to her well crafted original songs, Hil St Soul also threw in a couple of covers by Aretha Franklin and the Isley Brothers and sucessfully made that important connection between Black music of the past and of the future. (Ahe's not scared of those artists either.....)

Black women and children need more than anything else, for Black men to be "leaders" in their own homes. Many times the reason why we get disrespected in our own homes is because as Marlena Shaw said: "we act like little boys".

Sometimes it's not "what you say", it's "how you say things" that is the difference between being an "effective communicator" and being a "b*tch". Hilary Mwelwa seems to have mastered the art of being able to communicate her displeasure with her man in such a way that he might actually be able to change negative behavior to positive behavior.

I left the concert smiling and hoping that over time more people will get to experience seeing Hilary Mwelwa perform her songs live. They will be treated to an evening of wonderful songs about the complexities of relationships, with strong R&B singing, backed by a nice jazz/funk aggregation. Next time I get a chance to see Hil St Soul, I think that I'll take my wife with me. And hopefully other folks who go to see Hil St. Soul, they will also go as a couple. It's a whole lot cheaper and more enjoyable than therapy (or divorce court)...

Check out Hil St Soul on her MySpace page at the following link: http://www.myspace.com/hilstsoul

--Bob Davis


LISTEN TO HIL ST. SOUL - "SOULidified"


If you have a news item, update, review, commentary, etc that you would like to submit to the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, please send them via email for consideration to:

Hopefully you enjoyed this edition of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter.
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If you have any comments, questions, etc feel free to drop me an email and let me know what's on your mind.
Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net

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