Since the earlier part of the century, the sound of saxophones and soul-heavy vocals have been heard coming out of Deep Ellum bars. In the history of Dallas’ music scene, funk and R&B have always enjoyed a prominent position. The nominees for Best Funk and R&B for the 2020 Dallas Observer Music Awards honor that tradition, and certainly stepped up for the city this year, mostly through original releases. Here are this year's nominees.
Bree & The Fellas
Bree & The Fellas released their sophomore album It Be Like That Sometimes on Nov. 6. It had been four years since we'd heard a collection of new works from the band, but it was well worth the wait. At this point in her career, lead singer Breanna Parker says, the most important thing is the message she can convey through lyrics. If she were to die tomorrow, Parker says she wants her friends and fans to remember her music as relatable and positive.
It Be Like That Sometimes is loaded with emotional messages. “Dear Society” and “Somebody” speak about Black empowerment, while “Snakes in the Grass” and “Don’t Try to Catch me” are tales of lost friendship and love.
Musically, at least, Lavoyce had a strong year — and an emotional one, too, as reflected in her output. The singer-songwriter released LV. Tape Vol. 1 in August and doubled-back with a couple of singles that hit just as hard. As a result of her growth and hard work, Lavoyce is nominated for five Dallas Observer Music Awards, including Best EP, Best Songwriter, Best Vocalist and Best Solo Act.
Her soft voice, just like her songwriting, is full of confidence and conviction. On “Privilege,” she tells her man to remember that it's a privilege to be with her — before she sends him off to the friend zone.
The Goth-soul singer blends the two genres together with ease. She is also pretty funky, too. The artist released her debut five-song EP Leave Me Alone in January, followed by a single titled “Love Is Blind” in April. It took two years of consistent studio sessions for Leave Me Alone to come to fruition, but Loners Club says she fell in love with that process.
"Leave Me Alone is an ode to the harshness of reality,” she says. “It was about leaving me to feel how I want to feel without the constant notion that some of these thoughts aren’t things you usually speak on or talk about 'cause it’s taboo, weird or 'inappropriate.'”
Loners Club says she is now more preoccupied with making it to 2021 than she is about her art — but her art is a priority soon to follow.
Even through COVID-19's chaos, Kaash Paige had a lit 2020. Her debut album Teenage Fever peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Heat Seeker chart. On the album, she sang and rapped her way through stories of young love and the pain that comes with it.
Paige wrapped up the year with collaborations with music industry figureheads like Don Toliver, 6lack and Travis Scott. Def Jam seems to be putting in a lot of effort to help drive Paige’s career, and that speaks to her talent; hip-hop labels have a history of “signing then hiding" their artists.
TryMore MOJO is a funky electronic band that’ll have you grooving all night with a cup in your hand. The band's debut EP, First Contact, has three songs that never end — or are at least longer than seven minutes apiece. When the band isn't performing, they can be found spending time in the woods on writing retreats. First Contact is and energetic-but-stable mixture of jazz and rock with hip-hop breaks and tight melodies.
Angel White is another artist making music smoothies with multiple genres, but he landed on Best Funk/R&B for his first DOMA nomination. On his debut single “A Lovely Place,” White shows his range in the soulful story about finding strength alone after losing someone you care about.
White kept his growing fanbase entertained during the pandemic with live performances of some new and old records, releasing “Who is Jesus?” and “Poison.” The music video for “Poison” is a one-take cinematic piece of art. The artist says he "pretty much" wrote the video's script himself, while Dallas filmmaker Tramaine Townsend handled the visuals.
“We had the perfect location, which was a ranch I used to live on with some of my best friends,” White says of the shoot. “It all happened super naturally, it being a one-shot video there wasn't too much that could go wrong, so we walked through it a few times, started shooting and boom, we had it.”
White is currently working on a full-length project accompanied by music videos and potentially a short film.
“It is all very 'storytelling' and, most of all, a look into the world I have created for others to be a part of.”