There’s just something magical about the music that comes out of the Twin Cities.
Sure, other cities and regions can boast of their music scenes – Nashville, Austin, Texas, Seattle, St. Louis, etc. – but aside from New York and Los Angeles, the Twin Cities can argue its scene reigns supreme. There are the obvious pioneers of the Minneapolis Sound, but a multitude of current artists are demonstrating the sound lives on in new and unique forms.
While pop sensation Lizzo is gracing magazine covers and selling out arenas and festivals, it was a couple of years ago when her fans could have caught her on stage at the Icehouse. And even then, it was obvious that stages such as the Icehouse – a stage that has welcomed the likes of Grammy winners KING, as Prince watched from the balcony – would soon be a thing of the past for her.
But most recently the Icehouse played host to another star … SoloStar.
A lyricist with intricate wordplay and the flow of the Mississippi River during high tide, SoloStar commanded high praise from the likes of Sway and Heather B. when “Sway in the Morning” came to town for its annual pre-Soundset live remote. Branded an “absolute hyena” – hyena being the moniker given to the most vicious freestyle MCs – by Sway and Heather B., SoloStar showed the world what many in the Twin Cities already knew … we have a hyena on our hands.
“To have Sway say I was the best MC to perform (during the live broadcast) and to have Heather B. – a pioneer – say the world needs to hear me … it was both humbling and inspiring,” said SoloStar. “Heather B. was super impressed and she’s not one who’s easily impressed.”
Heather B. will most likely be more impressed by SoloStar’s recently release “#Lovehangover.” The eight-song collection is a moody autobiography of intimate thoughts regarding the artist’ rocky relationship with a longtime love. The entire project is a poetic hip-hop masterpiece, but “#Thecross” stands out as a one minute and 46 second verbal takedown and Solo’s take on a Sade classic, “#Strongerthanpride,” is a combination of pain, strength and truth-telling that only a select few MCs can attain. “#Lovehangover” is available on most digital streaming outlets. SoloStar will be performing the album in its entirety with a live band on Wednesday (June 19), 6 p.m. at Schmidt Artists Lofts, 876 W. 7th St., St. Paul.
Insight News has fully embraced the digital age, hosting a Facebook Live program, “Front Room Sessions” from the living room of the Marcus Garvey House in North Minneapolis, headquarters of the media outlet. The show is a free exchange of ideas and information, thus the song that opens the program is aptly titled, Liz Gre’s “Free Exchange.”
Gre (pronounced gray), a native of Omaha, Neb., and who currently resides there, is without a doubt a Twin Cities artist. Having lived here for five years, Gre said if it weren’t for her experiences in the area she wouldn’t be singing professionally.
“I didn’t really consider myself a singer until I came to Minneapolis,” said Gre. “My dad is a pastor, so I sang in church and karaoke and open mics, but that’s it. But the Twin Cities changed me. I was singing regularly at an open mic at Plums (Bar & Grill) in St. Paul and someone asked me if I had music on iTunes and that caught me off guard. It opened my mind to the possibility of writing and recording my own music.”
Gre began collaborating with the Soulflower Collective – an artist collection that included the members of Astral Black and PaviElle – and would soon release her own recordings. Now in Omaha, Gre has gravitated to the genre of “new music” – a contemporary offshoot of classical music. Earlier this year she debuted her new material at the Queens Museum in New York and later this year she will be collaborating with the Omaha Symphony.
“I was going to be in Minnesota for one year and that one year turned into five,” said Gre, who said she came to the area for a job opportunity via AmeriCorps. “For me the Twin Cities was the right place at the right time to explore and express my creativity.”
Gre’s music can be found on her website, www.lizgre.com.
Four Billboard No. 1 albums.
There are very few who can make such a claim … Minneapolis gospel star Jovonta Patton can. Patton’s most recent release, “Sanctuary,” an EP of three songs and two interludes hit No. 1 in May, thus adding to his string of hits. Patton said he is still coming to grips with his newfound fame.
“It’s something different when you’re on vacation with your wife in Las Vegas and someone sees you in an elevator and wants to take pictures with you and tells you how you inspire them,” said Patton. “I’m awed by that.”
Patton said he believes his music resonates with so many because his songs are relatable.
“It’s about a testimony in three minutes,” said Patton.
Patton will be performing July 7 at 6 p.m. during a tribute to Philando Castile, the motorist killed during a July 6, 2016 traffic stop by St. Anthony police officer Geronimo Yanez. The performance and tribute will take place outside of the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights – the site of the killing. In addition, Patton is planning a live recording for this fall, “Sanctuary 20/20.”
Oftentimes talent is sitting right under your nose. For us at Insight News musical talent comes in the form of 20-year-old Kelvin Kuria; or as his fans know him, Kelvino.
Kelvino is one of hip-hop’s newest voices, but he’s already garnered the attention of hot producer SG Kid, producer to 21 Savage and J. Cole. Kelvino describes his music as “ear-candy.”
“I play with sounds a lot and my lyrics are clever and easy to repeat and memorize so the fans take to it right away,” said Kelvino, who handles much of the digital production for Insight.
Kelvino’s most recent project, “The Moods” dropped this past January and he’s working on his new album, “The Suburban Reject Project.” On the cutting edge, Kelvino, along with his former college roommate, Eric Geisthardt, launched the music media outlet, www.waterwaveTV.com, which serves as a platform for artists to share their work.
Fans eager to hear Kelvino can catch him opening for Lerado on June 29 at the Skyway Theatre, 711 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. The 9 p.m. show is $10 and an 18-plus event. Kelvino’s waterwaveTV is presenting the performance.