If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the ’60 and ‘70s, and it wasn’t just because his voice -- classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages -- was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped from a major label, and he went several years without releasing any solo material. Through evangelism from his peers and word of mouth from his early fans, Bilal gained an insatiable following and eventually landed on a sympathetic independent label, where he was finally able to thrive creatively.
Bilal Sayeed Oliver came up in Germantown, a northwest neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. A deep interest in jazz was fostered by his father, who took him to the city’s clubs. Singing eventually became more than an interest. Bilal attended Mannes College in New York, where he received voice training, as well as training in jazz and big-band arrangements.
A turbulent solo deal with Interscope resulted in Bilal’s debut album, 1st Born Second. An exemplary neo-soul release featuring collaborations with Mike City, Robert Glasper, and many of the Soulquarians, it was issued in July 2001 and reached the Top Ten of Billboard’s R&B albums chart. One of its three singles, “Soul Sista,” peaked at number 18 on the R&B singles chart, while “Fast Lane” -- co-written with Damu and Faulu Mtume, the sons of James Mtume and two of the singer's earliest supporters -- narrowly missed the Top 40. At that point, the closest points of comparison were D’Angelo and Maxwell, yet Bilal was more dynamic than the former and less mannered than the latter. 1st Born Second carried an energy that neither one of those singers, as hot as they were at the time, could boast.
Meanwhile, nine years passed without a commercially released follow-up to 1st Born Second. Bilal had been a featured artist on songs by Beyoncé, Musiq, Clipse, Sa-Ra, Jay-Z, and several others, including many of his fellow Soulquarians, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he released his second proper album. Airtight’s Revenge was released on the Plug Research label and saw Bilal working extensively with Steve McKie, along with Sa-Ra's Shafiq Husayn (Bilal had appeared on Husayn’s own Plug Research album, Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka), Nottz, Conley “Tone” Whitfield, 88-Keys, and several studio musicians who gave the set a loose, band-like feel. Andy Kellman, Rovi
Join us this Saturday, December 15th as Old SOUL Entertainment & Gentleman Jack presents Art, Beats & Lyrics featuring Bilal.
@ The Jazz Kitchen. 5377 College Ave., Indy 46220
Limited Advance Tickets available at $20 (This show will sell out). Purchase your tickets now at www.bilaljazzkitchen.eventbrite.com
9pm: The night will start off with an interactive art gallery in the back room of The Jazz Kitchen. This will feature local fine artist, break dancers and poets. DJ MetroGnome on the turntables.
10:30pm: Kool's Bazaar will take the stage in the main room.
12am: Bilal on main stage.
1:30am DJ MetroGnome on main stage.
This is a must see show. This is one of my favorite artist of all times. Sir Doug