Soul Artist of the Year (Sponsored by RCS)
Jill Scott is an artist with an abiding, deep commitment to lyrical honesty and musical integrity. Simply put, if she feels it, she writes and sings it. While Scott uses vivid imageries and metaphor analogies her music is honest and touches on all the right emotions in true soul fashion. Her first album “Who is Jill Scott?” released in 2000 reached double platinum in the US and placed her among the great soul singers of her generation. Since then she has gone on to produce four more albums culminating in the release of her latest album “Woman” in July of last year, four years since the release of 2011’s “The Light of the Sun”.
“Woman” debuted at number one on both the US Billboard 200 and eventually topped the R&B Albums charts, showing that her voice is as important and relevant now as it was on her first album. Her voice strikes a chord with fans of soul whilst avoiding sounding retro by regularly making use of R&B and funk influences to ensure her music is fresh.
The Fort Worth, Texas native and Columbia Records singer songwriter and R&B artist, Leon Bridges is currently enjoying a sold out headline tour. The tour comes on the heels of his Grammy nominated debut album Coming Home, featuring breakout singles "Coming Home", "Better Man” and his calm and emotional "River". The album received wide appraisal and was featured in ‘Rolling Stones’’ ‘Best Albums of 2015 so far’ whilst debuting at number 6 on the Billboard 200 in the US and at number 5 in the UK. “Coming Home” was also nominated for Best R&B Album at this year’s Grammys. Bridge’s nostalgic musical style rests upon his soft and smooth yet powerful tone that slips perfectly into today’s musical landscape as a welcome throwback to the true soul of the 50’s.
Lizz Wright has been the recipient of nonstop critical acclaim and ever-increasing audiences since her Verve debut. Like so many vocal greats, Lizz began her singing in the church. For her, it was a small church in Hahira, Georgia where her father served as musical director and where she soaked up the sounds of songs of faith. She was also surrounded by varied types of secular music at home especially jazz and soul.
Wright’s debut album “Salt” topped the contemporary jazz charts and became one of the most acclaimed albums of 2003, mixing standards with new material and styles ranging from gospel to soul to jazz to blues with ease thanks to her clear, deep voice. Wright’s newest album “Freedom & Surrender” comes five years after her last release “Fellowship” and draws upon her gospel background to create a record that flows beautifully including a feature from Gregory Porter. Her signature vocals have received a welcome return to the soul stage.