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4 Soul Music Divas of the New School

H.E.R., Ella Mai, Jazmine Sullivan, Jorja Smith
Basim Blunt

One thing I love about my childhood was the music and held our family close together. It wasn't rap, pop or techno back then, just good old soul music.

Every Friday our family would have these fish fries and you could count on Aretha, Gladys and Diana blaring through the speakers at our house. Friends and family would always be there. Mom baking cornbread in a skillet. Dad delicately placing catfish into a hot, sizzling cast iron pan with soul music in the background. You can hear the grown-ups talking about who hit the number and us youngsters we’d put on talent shows.

We had this one neighbor, Mr. Haley, would come in cheerful and gay every Friday. But after three cans of beer and his song came on. Poor Mr. Haley would be crying with his head in his hands.

Soul music has the emotional power to dig deep into our psyche. But that's the past. I thought there would never be music like that again. Man, was I wrong. Let me turn you on to WHO I call the four divas of the new School of Soul Music.

That's the fabulous soul singer Jasmine Sullivan and her breakthrough single. “Pick up your feelings” Over the past several years, Jasmine has paid her music industry dues and survived the bad relationship to come back with a vengeance.

I invite you to spend 16 minutes in paradise by streaming Jasmine Sullivan's intimate Tiny Desk concert.

Next up is UK vocalist Ella Mai, who was named after the great Ella Fitzgerald. Ella got her big break when her homemade Instagram videos began drawing thousands of fans. Her music is organic, powerful, true and demands your attention.

Another UK soul diva is Jorja Smith. Born to English Jamaican parents, Jorja sings about the healing power in her music. If you just stop and breath and listen to her song “TIME” you’ll see what she means.

Finally, an artist the entire planet is falling in love with. And that's H.E.R.. The singer songwriter writes lyrics and melodies the way Stevie Wonder used to, the way Joni Mitchell used to. On “Girl Like Me," H.E.R. collaborates with Jazmine Sullivan to create a torch anthem about being vulnerable and heartbroken. It's a good thing that the soul music I was so fond of back in the day never really left it just got transported to a younger generation.

For WYSO Music this is Radio Basim, the Dark Dick Clark.

Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Thursday night from 8 p.m to 10 p.m., as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.