Sep 142020

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Dozens (hundreds?) of young artists fell for the 2015 song of the year, Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” and posted their own version of the hit on social media. But only one of them found herself taking a call from Prince, who saw enough talent and originality in her post to want to hear more. That was just one early “lift-off” moment in the career of singer, song-writer, pianist, and Blue Note recording artist Kandace Springs.

The calls to collaborate kept coming, from artists in diverse genres, locations, and generations: Ghostface Killah, Daryl Hall, Black Violin, and David Sanborn in the U.S., Aqualung and Metropole Orkest in Europe. (We highlighted her Metropole Orkest hook-up in our Charles Mingus celebration back in April.) Springs’ vocal stylings are varied enough, and her roots are deep enough, to deal with all of it: her work reveals clear hip-hop, soul, and R&B influences, but classical music and straight-ahead jazz are her true loves. Her life-long hometown of Nashville may be synonymous with country music, but that’s one form Springs hasn’t taken on. Yet.
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Aug 242017

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 150 versions of this timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. We’ve talked about the ’60s and the ’70s; now it’s time for…

Part III: The ’80s

Were it not for Naked Eyes, the highlight of the ‘80s may have been Sandie Shaw’s re-recording of her own classic work for the 1985 British romantic comedy Letter to Brezhnev. Sure there were a few disco/dance cover versions produced, but the inventive duo of Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher helped kick off a “new wave” of worldwide popularity for a song that was nearly 20 years old at the time. In all, verified cover versions released during the decade barely broke double-digits. But the all time low output belied the quality and power of Naked Eyes’ 1983 release. The few attempts made weren’t (really) bad; they were just dwarfed in comparison by an 800-pound gorilla. Here’s how the decade looks…

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