Sunday, July 28, 2013
“If folk as a genre can be simply defined as a story set to music and delivered with emotion and meaning, then Michael Kiwanuka is as folk as they get. Last year was a big one for this North London bred singer/songwriter, who garnered international attention after winning the coveted BBC Sound of 2012 award and releasing his impressive debut LP Home Again, which was met with critical acclaim both stateside and abroad.
Kiwanuka’s music has a multi-faceted appeal that gracefully traverses genre lines, shuffling through Folk, Soul, R&B, Vintage Pop and Psychedelia on the way to achieving it’s own distinct texture and character. Whether towering over uptempo horn-laden grooves or ruminating over sparse jazz chord progressions, his voice maneuvers effortlessly and confidently, without ever seeming to exult at its own considerable ability. Kiwanuka brings flourishes of Jazz, Blues, and Soul to age-old folk traditions in ways that recall a young Van Morrison or Bill Withers, and his voice is at times capable of achieving the fluid clarity of Sam Cooke or the mournful gritty sweetness of Marvin Gaye. These attributes make him a valuable and flawlessly suited addition to Newport Folk, a festival that celebrates the timelessness and interconnection of all music rather than trumpeting that which is merely current or appealing to a particular demographic.
There are few limitations to what Kiwanuka can do with his voice and a guitar, and at a mere 25 years old he seems poised to go far in virtually any musical direction he chooses to take his arsenal of talents. Fortunately for the Newport faithful, his path will intersect ours for a moment in July as his career follows its upward trajectory. I am am confident that Folks previously unfamiliar with Michael Kiwanuka will go home with his name in mind after seeing him perform. With a sound rich in traditional influence yet refreshingly devoid of imitation, Kiwanuka is sure to make a huge impression on those who appreciate the synergy of music old and new. On behalf of NFF devotees everywhere, I would like to welcome Michael to the family.”
– Justin McGowan
writer for the Baton Rouge, LA based music blog Surround Sounds and has attended Newport Folk for the last 6 years.
Artists and schedule are subject to change.