Black History Month has been celebrated all across the country since 1976 to recognize the achievements of African-Americans and their cultural contribution to the United States and beyond. As music fans in Colorado, The Local 303 has chosen to elevate some of our state's most inspiring and up-and-coming Black artists.
Looking back at Colorado's rich history of influential African-American musicians, we have been home to 1970s jazz legend Dianne Reeves, longtime blues singer Otis Taylor, members from supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire, the "Jackie Robinson of Classical Music" Charlie Burrell, and modern jazz inspiration and cornetist Ron Miles.
Expect new singles this month from returning Local 303 artists Kayla Rae and Old Man Saxon. Rae who is an acclaimed R&B singer has been busy in Los Angeles recording; and hip-hop legend Old Man Saxon (watch him on Netflix series Rhythm and Flow) has also been working on new music, including a children's album. You can catch him co-headlining with Flobots on March 12th at Marquis Theater.
There's a few new, exciting music projects that you will hear this month including the newly formed R&B/folk/reggae duo PatchyDenseFog that debuted last year. J. Loryn who's new single gives off the energy of one of her influences, Aaliyah.
From the underground dance music scene we welcome electronic artist Sinistarr and his infectious collab with singer Morgan Neiman. Thanks to former Local 303 musician, Cat Evans, who tipped us off on the music of iies. we will get new singles from him as well as Kent Washington III, a self-professed "culture cultivator" who is getting ready to go out on his first headlining tour this year.
Rolos Rios, who's hometown is Colorado Springs, will bring his own flavor of boom bap to the airwaves as well as ReSrface, out of Aurora, who has really been inspiring the hip-hop community for rapping about mental health. We'll also hear from rapper Nay Renee, who recently made a move to Georgia and her latest single — we've been spinning her music since her 2020 release of a song about Mean Girls' iconic character "Regina George." And another hip-hop artist infusing pop culture into their lyrics is AJ 773, who recently put out a song called "Kat Dennings Freestyle."
Our youngest ever Local 303 artist rounds out this exciting month as we welcome the talented singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood, a 16 year-old pop artist from Fort Collins.
We hope you find a bit of discovery as we spotlight Black Coloradans you need to hear and see!
Are you a Colorado musician who wants to be featured in the Local 303? Send us your music.
Meet February's picks:
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: "W.T.F (will to fight)" feat. Cat Evans
About: iies. is a visionary musician/artist currently residing within Denver, CO. The name iies is coined from his birth name "Craig Northup II" which he takes the Roman numeral two, and applies it to symbolize the letter "i" to pronounce the word "eyes."
"eyes" was a childhood nickname given to him, for which he now embraces to reflect how "eyes" conjure many different perspectives. He has made this idea one of the main staples for his artistic mission today.
iies. wants to bring his following into a multi-sensorial experience by describing energies of our reality via visual art and music, to explain the vibrations of light and sound. His art is expressive, vibrant, and painterly with swirling lines, bending and twisting perspectives, and filled with motion; his music is lyrically complex, energetic, and thought provoking.
Far from his past persona and no longer held by the mental restraints of his own societal, parental, and internal shortcomings, iies. now expresses his fully realized identity proudly with his story of trauma, redemption, and spiritually.
iies. was recently featured in 303 Magazine.
Musicians That Inspire: Jean Dawson, puma blue, Wun Two, flying lotus, Kendrick Lamar
What's next for your music project in 2022: I have a couple music projects I plan on releasing in 2022.
Get Social: Instagram, Spotify, Apple Music
Hometown: Denver, CO
Formed: July 2019
Latest Release: "Coolin'" on July 8, 2021
About: Independent artist, sound cultivated at the age of 4 when introduced to the church choir. Soulful sound compared to Aaliyah, Jhene Aiko and Ella Mae.
What's next for your music project in 2022: 1st album to debut 2022!
Get Social: Facebook, Instagram
Hometown: Windsor, CO
Latest Release: "Material" (Single) on Jan. 17, 2022
About: Bubbly and infectious but grounded in soulful understanding and bold self-revelation, young singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood’s music merges pop with hints of jazz, indie, and rock. Snappy rhythms and bright guitar lines combine with vocals that range from bold to lilting, while Julia’s lyrics reflect a sense of purpose beyond her years, focusing on themes of self-realization and human connection. At age 16, Julia already has been performing for over a decade and composing almost as long. Her songs offer compelling glimpses into the inner world of youth in the thrall of discovery, conveying a signature energy that holds the promise of a bright musical future.
Musicians That Inspire: Lady Gaga, Elton John, Lizzo, Charlie Puth
What's next for your music project in 2022: I'm hoping to release another album, and hopefully I'll be out performing more this summer! Ideally I would like to begin collaborating with some other local artists, and branching out of my comfort zone to explore some new genres. I really want to bring some fresh tunes to the summer set and hopefully gain a better understanding of my sound as an artist.
Get Social: Instagram, TikTok
Kent Washington III
Hometown: Olympic City, CO
Latest Release: “CHILDREN OF THE INDIGO” album
About: Self-labeled as a "Culture Cultivator"... Kent Washington III is an emcee, poet, DJ, entrepreneur, lighting designer, event coordinator, talent buyer and cultural activist. Using Hip-Hop to bridge the gap towards societal healing and creative expression. The Colorado renaissance-man is known for his passionate wordplay, high energy and eclectic content. Inspired to inspire others through art. Music is his passion. Washington is involved in his communities across the State of Colorado. Former President of United Men of Color student organization of CSU-Fort Collins and more. Raised in Colorado Springs, CO, Kent has worked with some of the biggest artists in the scene. Opening for/booking artists such as Jhene Aiko, Lupe Fiasco, Waka Flocka Flame, J.I.D, Flatbush Zombies, Snow Tha Product and more. Making waves within the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.
Musicians That Inspire: Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Slipknot, Metallica, Childish Gambino, System of a Down, SchoolBoy Q, Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle
What's next for your music project in 2022: Releasing my second album, “OLYMPIC CITY”, speaking at TEDX and going on my first-ever headlining US tour.
Get Social: Instagram, Twitter
Old Man Saxon
Hometown: Denver/Park Hill
Latest Release: Rothkos, Chicken, and Waffles - 2021
About: I am a musician, father and husband. In no particular order. I like cheese a lot. While i was in LA I spent 13 months experiencing homelessness. I wrote an album about it and shot come really cool videos with the audio. People liked it and i liked the people. I was on that one show on Netflix Hustle and Flow...or no wait...Rhythm and Flow. That was a very fun experience because they had cheese in the green room.
Musicians That Inspire: Mac Dre, E-40, Casper Babypants, Rafi, The Pharcyde
What's next for your music project in 2022: I'm releasing a couple EP's early this year. I will also be releasing a kids album later this year.
Get Social: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: The Answer, Self-Release, Dec. 29, 2021
About: PatchyDenseFog is the brain child of Julius "Bad Juju" Henderson and Dan "Stanky" Swain. The duo has been a presence in the Denver music scene since 2009. The style is a cocktail of funk, soul and sometimes humor. Hope you enjoy!
Musicians That Inspire: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, James Brown, Jonny "Guitar" Watson
What's next for your music project in 2022: We are currently working on 2 more singles. More info to come!
Get Social: Facebook
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Formed: In 2015 I learned how to play piano and guitar and by the next year I was recording and producing my own songs.
Latest Release: "MIA" (Single), Self-Release, Oct. 15, 2021
About: ReSrface is a 24 year old rapper from Aurora, CO. He takes pride in his lyrics over anything else. He is ready to start breaking into the local, and hopefully national, mainstream rap scene and hopes that his music will change the way that rap is delivered to the national public.
Storytelling has always been the best part of music, and specifically hip-hop, for ReSrface and he hopes to re-incorporate more elements from the artists he's loved. After teaching himself to play the piano and guitar in 2015 ReSrface has taken pride in producing, writing, recording and mixing most of his own music.
Along the journey of his artistry he's been fortunate enough to meet some great people that have been involved with the conception of some of his other tracks. He wishes to eventually create a platform large enough to make a substantial impact for the better in this world.
Musicians that inspire: J. Cole, Drake, Logic, Cordae, Kyle, Tupac, OneRepublic
What's next for your music project in 2022: I hope to drop some of my favorite new singles. I will be orchestrating my own show for the first time, as a headliner as well. I hope to work with new people and expand the reach of my music. Later in 2022 I am hoping to spend some time and make some music in Chicago. I also have an album in the works by the name of "Lost and Found". I just want to see how far I can extend the range of people that enjoy and feel like my music is enjoyable and relatable.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Latest Release: Music I make, Got Control Now from Red Coat Kid. The Word Real Project
About: Pure and simple I breathe hip hop! I feel music before I hear it so I write to be felt rather than heard. Boom Bap is my natural flavor because it can be subtle and direct in perfect harmony. With every word measured and deliberately structured I use the mellow rhythm of smooth jazz and the bright undertone of pop blues spin to give my content the power to penetrate, but also to soothe and relate. It has a sense of putting the most impaired feelings in perfect order.
Musicians That Inspire: Murs, Mos Def, Cassidy, Mickey Factz, J.
What's next for your music project in 2022: Revamp of the website, merchandise, and social media profiles with the proper booking info and then just book, prepare, perform, and repeat shows!
Get Social: Facebook
Hometown: Westminster, CO
Latest Release: "Garden" feat, Morgan Neiman, out July 2, 2021
About: Jeremy Howard (aka Sinistarr) is among the most interesting and exciting names to hit the underground dance music world. He is known as an innovative and consistent producer, and a skilled and adventurous DJ. Jeremy's sound is an authentic extension of his Detroit roots and the pure talent he possesses, deftly exploring the soul of yesteryear in a modern context.
Jeremy's sound began in the world of Drum & Bass, with releases across the board on the genre's top labels. As his production prowess grew, his music branched out into many different tempos. Through it all, he maintains a unique sound exploring the realms of Footwork, Jungle, and Techno.
Sinistarr has recently put out music on the labels Hooversound, Defrostatica, Unchained Recordings, and the 70th release on dBridge’s iconic Exit Records.
Musicians That Inspire: Stingray313, DJ Minx, Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, J Dilla, Anna Morgan, dBridge, Rochelle Jordan, Aril Brikha
What's next for your music project in 2022: Touring some limited dates across the US in March, and quite a few new EPs and sound design projects on the way.
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