The new RnB comedy King has arrived
MUSIK HEALERS SERIES
Uplifting communities to rise and win
By: Ky Meyer
HOUSTON, Texas - It was back in late February when musician Nick Gaitan returned home to the Bayou City, fresh off a run with blues singer Nikki Hill. He recalls the growing COVID-19 buzz and not knowing what to expect.
"I kinda felt the same as I do when I watch the weather during hurricane season in the Gulf region. You see it coming but hope something happens and the bad news changes course or reaches you with less intensity," says Gaitan.
That may have been the case for Hurricane Laura, but unfortunately, not the coronavirus. Conflicting reports flooded social media timelines and it wasn't long before life as a musician was deeply compromised.
"We were left to our instincts and drive to get creative and adapt," Gaitan recalls, "I knew it was time to improvise, using whatever technology was available to figure out how to keep a gig going."
Over the past 25 years, figuring out gigs has been the least of Gaitan's concerns. The seasoned bassist, songwriter, bandleader, and sideman has spent decades gracing stages with such notable hall-of-famers as Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver and Los Skarnales. He's been the frontman of his own band Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man and you may have seen him on The Late Show with David Letterman, among musik festivals and tours spanning the globe.
"The musik community came together in so many ways. Not only did we get going with digital shows to bring some sort of money in, some places were able to hire performers one last time before all the stages closed and we were forced to stay home," says Gaitan.
Life felt out of tune, but it didn't hold Gaitan back from figuring out how to make it work. He credits close connections within his musik family as his saving grace.
"Help was coming in, in many forms, like money to help eat and pay expenses. I was checking in on my people and the same was happening in return," says Gaitan, "Friends were calling to check in and remind me they were there if I needed them. That's what the Houston musik and art scene is all about."
Gaitan was determined to round up musician pals to collaborate and generate funds through streaming shows.
"Tips came in from online shows and fellow musicians shared advice on getting the best results without having fancy equipment. It was all so helpful during such a scary time and it was a very circular thing. It's an orbit I am grateful that I'm in," says Gaitan.
The goal for every working musician is to stay afloat doing what they love, but even Gaitan realizes when the heat is on to survive, you have to be flexible.
"Keep making music because without it, we aren't ourselves, but don't ignore those other things you are good at. Those talents can bring in some money too during hard times," advises Gaitan, "Many of the things I take on as side hustles I tend to do between tours. It's just how I am. In these hard times you just HAVE to do something, so look for whatever you can to get you by."
Equally important to Gaitan is finding balance outside of work to stand up against social issues impacting his community. He made time to attend protests in Downtown Houston against continued police brutality and racial injustice. He hit the streets and marched peacefully in a crowd to city hall.
"I'm glad I went, and felt blessed by the friends who I marched with and ran into," says Gaitan, "But it's crazy and it's not new. Things need to change. There are a lot of people that have been quite comfortable with murder, corruption, cover-ups, and blatant racism. Now is not the time to pump the brakes on the fight for justice. We have to do better. It's time, the time is now."
My conversations with Gaitan were a bold reminder of why it's important to keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on. What I love just as much is that he's quick to nudge focus on making self-care a top priority.
"Check in, invite collaboration, offer a hand, and just keep your ear to the street. But don't be afraid to turn off your TV, get off social media, and make sure you're okay first," says Gaitan.
Staying true to such advice the past several months has afforded Gaitan time and clarity to work in the background on a community platform he's deeply passionate about: Tejas Got Soul.
Several years ago, Gaitan co-created Tejas Got Soul with his friend Isaac Rodriguez. The two Houston natives share a love for history and musik which sparked their idea to create what Gaitan describes as "really cool Sunday hangs" for the East End community.
"Isaac has done some pretty extensive research on many Houston musicians, especially early Chicano Soul that eventually led to Tejano music," says Gaitan, "He's also quite the record collector so we pulled together vinyl and DJ gear to create evenings jam-packed with great musik, lots of dancing and buckets of beer."
After years of success spinning vinyl together, Gaitan and Rodriguez turned Tejas Got Soul into an even bigger community event. Last April they hosted Early Chicano Sounds of Houston outside Morales Radio Hall.
"Some amazing people came together to bring the idea to a bigger stage and audience. People like Mary Manning from UH Libraries, my rock star friend, folklorist, and all around badass, Pat Jasper, and Angel Quesada who is one talented cat who produces videos, paints murals, and loves to play music," says Gaitan, "The day-long block party was everything from live musik, a powerful panel discussion, and vendors who came together to honor pioneering musicians of Tejano Soul from Houston's East End."
Now, Gaitan and his crew are ready for Tejas Got Soul 2.
"We've started rolling out Tejas Got Soul 2 events, and planning performances in a virtual fashion because of the COVID-19 pandemic," says Gaitan.
Their latest spotlight is Houston Chicano legend, Marky Lee. Tejas Got Soul 2 kicked things off August 27 with a musik video release featuring Lee performing alongside Gaitan and Roberto Rodriguez III inside D&W lounge.
"It's a beautiful thing! I am so proud to be a part of all of this," says Gaitan, "It's our city, these are our passions, and we play to the pulse of our barrios. That's huge to me and this is all fueled by passion!"
Nick Gaitan is proof that using passion to fuel purpose is a mighty way to overcome fear. If you stay true to yourself and pour into the super powers you hold, anything is possible. Gaitan's relentless efforts to uplift Houston communities and navigate a path unknown makes him a musik healer of our generation.
Video by Narciso Palma + Ky Meyer
Musik by Mookie The Wizard
MORE NOTABLE MUSIK HEALERS
The hip hop legend's leadership never fails
HOUSTON, Texas - The Trill OG's celebration of 'Bun B Day' looks a little different than expected, but in true Bun fashion, he's pushing forward to make an impact and help the community.
"Most of the things we had planned were put on hold due to the hurricane. But one thing is still happening. I partnered with my brothers @estevanoriol and @misterctoons for this special tee honoring Vanessa Guillen," says Bun in an Instragram post he shared Sunday morning.
The team behind the charity t-shirt will donate all the proceeds to Vanessa Guillen's family. Guillen was a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier who authorities believe was murdered on April 22, 2020, inside a Fort Hood, Texas, armory by another enlisted soldier, Aaron David Robinson, age 20.
"Black and brown is standing together all over this country," say Bun.
Big ups to Bun and everything he does for Houston and beyond. He's a musik and culture legend who continues to keep communities connected, even during hard-to-navigate times.
"Black and brown is standing together all over this country," -Bun B
Making history healing Houston
Photography by Violeta Alvarez
HOUSTON, Texas - Looking back to March 2020, I distinctly remember how uncomfortably swift the coronavirus invaded Houston and pushed pause on everything around us. At a time when I was really trying to wrap my head around the madness, one incredible leader in Houston emerged like a guardian angel.
"Uncertainty about the future can create fear. Obviously, there are things about the future that we don't control, but I love remembering that the best way to predict the future is to create it," says Chuy Terrazas.
Terrazas is well-known in the city's art and musik scene. You've seen him rockin' out on his saxophone with the legendary Los Skarnales, but that's just one of piles (and piles) of hats this man wears. He's a leader, mentor and beacon of light with so much knowledge to share.
"You are in the Now when you are actively creating, and all artists know the beautiful feeling of having everything outside of us disappear as we are consumed in a flow state, passionately embracing the moment," says Terrazas, "For me, that's really what it's all about and why I love making art and musik."
But when the freedom to create was replaced with social distancing and nearly every musik venue in town was forced to close its doors, Terrazas payed close attention to the trickle down affect. His empathic energy tapped into the fear and pain looming in the city. Immediately, he was ready to help Houston heal.
It wasn't long before I saw concert posters popping up on social media and a growing buzz for Houston's first Drive-In Concert at Minute Maid Park. Terrazas' historical creation had come to life: Metamorphosis Festival - Music Healing Houston.
"Friends from our musik, art, and healing communities connected to generate much-needed positive vibes and joy for Houstonians. During this COVID-19 shutdown, some of us have lost family members and friends. Some have marched together in solidarity for change. Some have suffered financially and emotionally. Metamorphosis Festival was created as a coming out of the cocoon," says Terrazas.
Speaking of cocoons, Terrazas says it makes him cringe when he hears people say they want things to go back to normal. His reasoning is something to think about the next time you find yourself doing the same.
"Does it make sense for a caterpillar to move to the chrysalis phase only to return to a caterpillar? I hope that is not the case for our world. We have been through too much so far in 2020 to simply go backwards. Let's choose, instead, to evolve. Grab those wings and fly," says Terrazas.
And that's exactly what he did when he organized the Metamorphosis Festival in the wake of a worldwide pandemic. It was a very natural process for Terrazas because he's so well connected and respected. Silver Eagle Distributors agreed with open arms to supply their Budweiser stage and loved the idea of creating something positive for Houston. Same was the case for the Houston Astros and Minute Maid Park. With baseball season on hold, they were grateful to see their space being used for something wonderful happening in the community.
Also in the mix, Dash Speer, who owns Limitless Light & Sound and Silent Disco Vibe. Terrazas and Speer had already teamed up to serve the community during the shutdown with live-streaming services. When talk of the festival arose, Speer's idea was to use his multi-channel Silent Disco Vibe headphones for a higher quality experience compared to FM transmitters (which are traditionally used at drive-in movies and concerts).
"Since we had three channels on the headphones (red, green, & blue), that lead to the next logical choice of having three performance stages," says Terrazas, "It was exciting to create something unique that may actually set a higher expectation for future live musik concerts."
Speer co-signed that very sentiment and was taken aback by the special evening they co-created.
"It was a magical experience. The love and support of a community of creatives brought it to life. It was uniquely Houston in every regard," says Speer, "It brings true peace to my heart because we don’t always know where to turn when times get tough."
The personal stories Terrazas shared made my heart smile too.
"I had a Mom tell me that she went with her little girl and it was her daughter's first concert. She was so thankful and said she hadn't seen her daughter smile so happily in a very long time. It was priceless!" says Terrazas, "Another friend shared that his brother was in hospice care with cancer and has been given a couple months to live. Managing his grieving parents, being strong for his brother, and being a good uncle had understandably taken an emotional toll. He called to say thank you for the opportunity the festival gave him to step away and experience joy and much-needed connection with friends."
More proof of the restoration that comes from embracing the journey even when times get tough, something Terrazas understands very well.
"I got to learn about the amazing healing power that music, laughter, and dance has on our brain and our body when my Mom died of Alzheimer's a couple of years ago," Terrazas shares, "It's all vibration, and we choose (consciously or unconsciously) to surround ourselves with high vibration or low. Love or fear. It's funny how we say "That's dope!" when we like something. Music literally has the power to increase dopamine in our brains. Now that's really dope!"
Terrazas is a huge believer in using your creativity to solve problems for yourself and others.
"What are you good at? Do that! Serve others passionately with your superpower, whatever it may be. Believe in yourself and trust that whatever talent you were gifted with is more important to the world than whatever weaknesses you may have," reminds Terrazas.
After digesting my conversation and replaying his sentiments, I felt a huge weight lifted. There's something about Terrazas' transparency that is so comforting.
"Imagine what you want your future to look like and jump into action to make it happen. It's so easy to get hung up, paralyzing ourselves by obsessing over our weaknesses. Imagine a bird being depressed thinking 'If only I could swim like those fish over there... then I'll finally be happy and successful.' Stop it! Go fly!," says Terrazas.
Chuy Terrazas is a true musik healer with a heart of gold. His thoughtful actions are a stunning example of shining bright through the darkness. I'm grateful for his genuine heart and continued blessings for the Bayou City during these unresolved times. Thanks to him, I have a growing conviction to rise and win.
Musik by Mookie The Wizard
Because broken crayons still color
HOUSTON, Texas - Bayou City poet extraordinaire Outspoken Bean isn't letting the wacky ways of 2020 hold him back from bringing new creations to life. As a matter of fact, it seems such uncertain times have served as a muse for the performance poet, writer and entertainer as he rolls out more goodies for his fans. Friday, August 28 marks the debut of his new online show Coloring Outside the Lines. The 50-minute streaming performance weaves together poetry, multimedia, and storytelling. He describes his one-man show as a reflective and vulnerable open letter to himself. Bean's performance centers around his latest poetry pieces, reflections on family and explorations of the world.
Coloring Outside the Lines
Friday August 28 through Sunday, August 3
Produced by Stages Houston
Directed by Candice D'Meza
Sound Design by Russell Guess
Light Design by Bryan Early
The Coloring Book
"Now, I know that broken crayons still color and snapped pencils still sharpen," says Outspoken Bean.
Words that ring true about his new poetic coloring book. The book title mirrors his streaming show. Limited copies of his Coloring Outside the Lines book are available now.
More notable facts to digest about Outspoken Bean:
Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Artist in Resident and 2016 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Idea Fund recipient, Emanuelee Outspoken Bean is a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor, electric entertainer, and educator. Bean uses poetry to collaborate with other mediums and institutions, including being the first poet to perform on a main stage production of the Houston Ballet's PLAY. He also created his own festival, Plus Fest, the EVERYTHING plus POETRY festival.
His work ethic has taken him to such places as Trinidad to Miami, South Dakota and Off-Broadway. He's made an impact in 35 states, 200 universities, performing annually in front of thousands of people. Once back home in the vast Houston Metropolitan, he inspires people from all walks of life. Bean was also commissioned to write and perform a national campaign on diversity for Pabst Blue Ribbon and VICE.
He was the 2011 Texas Poet Laureate nominee, ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2013, ranked 2nd in collaborative poetry at Group Piece Finals 2013, and ranked 9th at National Poetry Slam 2014. He started performing spoken-word in 2005. In his senior year at Prairie View A&M, Bean founded and coached the University's first poetry slam team. In their first year, they won the title in their region and grabbed the 8th place ranking in the country at College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI '08).
Bean has also worked with many youth organization from across the country such as, Inside Out in Detroit, Youth Speaks in San Francisco, as well as coaching Tiger-Tail Production's 2016 youth slam and WordSpeak in Miami. While balancing a very busy touring schedule, Bean serves as the Project Coordinator, Lead Coach, and mentor for Meta-Four Houston, a project of Writers in the Schools (WITS) that works with professional performance/slam poets and encourages self expression and literacy among Houston's youth through creative writing and performance.
"An energetic pioneer for poetry, in all its different sizes and shapes, Bean is dedicated to making sure that poets get heard"
Creating balance to find peace
HOUSTON, Texas - "Music is the ultimate healer. It wraps us up in its waves and warms us. When we feel a certain way we look for songs that carry that same feeling and listen to them. It helps us understand ourselves."
Cristina Urquieta opened up about the healing power of musik and how it's impacted her life. She's the front-woman of Metanoia, a Houston-grown band known for its high energy performances fusing ska, punk, reggae, rock 'n roll, with a splash of latin.
"There have been so many times when I was hurt, sad, angry, depressed, and I didn't know what to do, but to grab my instrument and just practice. It is everything to me and I understand the healing powers it holds," says Urquieta.
But how do you heal when the "medicine" runs out?
Just a few months into 2020, the gigs stopped, venues closed and packed crowds became a thing of the past. The new reality for most musicians shifted to a virtual audience behind the record button.
"At first I was really anxious because there was no stage time to look forward to, but now is the time to create! Now is the time to adapt!" advises Urquieta, "Focus on what you are trying to accomplish with your music and see how you can channel that into a virtual world. This is a good challenge."
And challenge accepted at that. She may be petite in stature, but Urquieta packs an undeniable punch with the things she's passionate about.
"Music is one single mode. There are many ways to reach people and encourage healing and growth."
Urquieta has taken to social media the past several months to share the importance of balance during these hard-to-navigate times. She's opened up daily about healthy lifestyle choices that keep her best equipped to battle the uncertain days ahead. Now, she incorporates live musik as the warm-up to her online yoga and meditation sessions.
"Meditation and yoga and eating healthy and consciously are all a part of building the body, the temple that houses and supports the mind, which in turn houses the spirit," says Urquieta.
I've been very familiar with Urquieta, working closely with her at musik fesitivals and intimate live experiences. And while I've been fond of her talents behind the mic, getting to know the person she is outside of the musik has made me feel more connected than ever. Urquieta's actions speak volumes.
"It is very important for me to be rounded and share all aspects of growth and healing. Music will reach people faster, but inner work, innerstanding, inner healing takes time and can be accessed though these other modes."
Innerstanding. I love that. Understanding the inner you.
Urquieta's bravery to share the very life ingredients that define her flavor has boldly impacted my journey back to health.
"To the ones who are struggling, with everything going on, it's understandable. Do not be hard on yourselves. If you need a break take a break. There is never anything wrong with stopping to breathe."
Urquieta is a true musik healer who's dedication to make herself better is making a powerful impact.
She reminds other musik makers, "Use this [time] as a catalyst to revamp yourself. Yes, music is number one, but we need be diverse. We need to have many skill sets, so we can reach more people. Find what else you love and see what you can do with that. Be patient," says Urquieta.
Yes, because patience really is a virtue that can help us all tap into the true harmony that lies within.
I look forward to the day I see Cristina Urquieta shine on stage again, but in the meantime, she's glowing like never before.
(And to that I say, Namaste.)
CHECK OUT MORE MUSIK HEALERS
Calming the chaos to reclaim life
HOUSTON, Texas - 2020 has been a bummer, no doubt about it. But dare I say "good" is making a comeback? The last several months have drilled home powerful reminders of how the darkest, most confusing times lead to our greatest breakthroughs and discoveries.
One person to help me face such reality is Nick Greer. If you've in any way been plugged-in to the Houston music scene the last decade, you know this guy. And in case you don't, let me enlighten you. Greer is a legendary musik master who's made an undeniable impact through his creative sounds, style and soul. He's the legit Bayou City pianoman known for his knockout live performances and ability to bring to life a soundgarden full of ear worms. I challenge anyone to name a more skillful and passionate key-connoisseur in the city.
"Since I was a kid, musik has always been a healthy coping mechanism for me, it allows me to connect with something bigger than myself and gets me out of my head. It's where I meditate, alleviate, emote, fantasize. It's my medicine," says Greer.
But even the best medicine has a shelf life.
The past several years have been quiet on a musikal front for Greer and his battle with sobriety was a driving force. He retired his piano keys for house keys and evolved into a real estate agent and family man. His beautiful wife and adorable baby boy are a testament to his journey to getting back to himself.
"My secrets almost killed me, secrets cannot survive being spoken," says Greer, "That's a spin on a Brene Brown quote "Shame cannot survive being spoken" I try to live by that. I share about my family because I love them so much and I'm excited to share that love."
Interestingly enough, I started to find as much inspiration through Greer's sober truths as I have his musik.
"I decided to share my success with sobriety because it's important for other people who are struggling with it to know that it's possible. Sharing also helps me stay accountable. Addiction is perpetuated by keeping secrets. If the people that care about me know where I'm at then I have the support that I need."
*Cue worldwide pandemic and mandatory stay-at-home order*
"The music itself was a completely random thing that happened in March when the safe order went into effect. My friend sent some beats, I started writing to them cause that was better than focusing on what was going on outside," says Greer.
Slowly but surely, I watched Greer's posts on Instagram hint of a stir-crazed, creative monster brewing in the wake of the coronavirus takeover.
"Once we had like 21 songs recorded, which we did in about 15 days, we looked at it all and realized we had something very special."
And just like that, Greer welcomed another new birth.
Introducing... Saint Nick.
He explained that "Saint" represents everyone's attempt to be perfect and "Nick" is a reminder that we are just human.
"We put a team together that consists of some extremely thoughtful artists who have elevated the entire project from just Saint Nick, an alter ego I developed about 10 years ago but was never brave enough to embrace, to this super beast of material that's going to start getting unleashed in the coming months," says Greer.
New musik from Nick Greer!
*does running man*
"It's going to be a lot of sex, violence, sociopathy, integrity, family values and I've got a song about drowning a dog," says Greer, "People should expect to get pulled in a lot of different directions the same way your mind works or how you might feel when watching one of those violent scenes in a Martin Scorsese film with a Rolling Stones song playing in the background. It shouldn't make sense, but it does."
YAHTZEE! It shouldn't make sense but it does, just like the uncomfortable times we've had to navigate through this year.
Greer's best advice: "Don't hesitate to ask for help, connect with the people you care about, they want to hear from you. Be as easy on yourself as you possibly can. You are allowed to feel alone, frustrated, angry and depressed. Nothing is normal about this moment in time, don't judge yourself for not being or feeling 100%."
Greer's words helped me hone in on the importance of life outside the glitz and glam, recognizing that slowing down to make sure you're okay is the first step in getting back to the things you truly love.
Greer's newfound solace from recovery led him to the fresh sounds of Saint Nick. The healing power of musik meets a true musik healer.
"I've never been more excited about anything else I've ever worked on."
And that makes me the most excited I've been to follow Nick Greer's journey ahead.
Video by Narciso Palma + Ky Meyer
Musik by Mookie the Wizard
CHECK OUT MORE MUSIK HEALERS
Finding beauty in destruction
HOUSTON, Texas - Let's time-travel for a moment, shall we? Back to August 6, 1945. The very day a little boy would change the course of history. Ring any bells?
The place was Hiroshima, Japan and that "Little Boy" was actually codename for the atomic bomb that would soon destroy the city during World War II. It was first time a nuclear weapon was used in warfare, and it's said the 9,000-pound bomb destroyed 5 square miles and an estimated 140,000 lives.
Okay, now hold that thought and fast forward to 2020 in Houston, Texas.
There you'll find a six-piece band called Priests of Hiroshima, named after that historical day. You see, when the U.S. dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, there was a group of Jesuit priests who not only survived the blast (when everything around them was leveled), they miraculously never got radiation sickness.
The priests incredible story of survival struck a chord and became a muse.
"We use their story as a symbol for an indestructible message," says Flux, Priests of Hiroshima bass player.
Priests of Hiroshima's unique sound fuses hip hop, industrial, and metal with lyrical focus on social change. The band was born 4 years ago in response to the socio-economic and political climate of the nation.
The diverse group of eclectic musik makers identify as such:
"We consider ourselves reporters, who make observations and then report them into songs. Where some may have seen plentiful bounty, many people were suffering, and have been for a very long time," says Flux.
Words that ring true during a worldwide pandemic with daily reminders of continued racial injustice.
"This is music for a revolution, this is music that unapologetically demands to be faced."
I was taken back by Flux's words and the passion behind the band's purpose. Staying true to their mission, the band recently rolled out a musik video for "Say My Name". The song boasts a unique and powerful sound paired with perfect reflections of the current state of society. The video caught traction quickly upon release, landing thousands of views.
"Say My Name" is a special song for us, because of how it's layered," explains Flux. "It is actively anti-racist, from both the perspective of a black man (Steve G's first verse) and then the (respectful) perspective of an enraged white ally (Nino's second verse). In between it all are breakdowns, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s eulogy for the 6 black girls murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Robert Kennedy's eulogy for Dr. King and Ted Kennedy's eulogy for his brother Robert."
Flux describes the song the same way a torch gets passed. The band turns pain into passion, fueling a powerful message.
"The ending still gets to me almost every time, with its melodic grace and desperate cry to simply want peace and equality for everyone."
Complimenting the success of "Say My Name" is the self-titled album it's featured on. The nine remaining tracks are also packed with messaging intrigue.
"The album follows the theme of the Ragnarok, which is the philosophy that the gods have a war in the skies, some of them die, and humanity is left to rebuild with the ones who are left. Our album follows this concept completely," says Flux.
"Today, we have our own gods who need to die. Greed. Systemic racism. Lust for power."
As we dig deep to discover our own truths and navigate the madness, this up-and-coming band from The Bayou City reminds us of the healing power of music. If used correctly, it can be an undeniable tool to help mend wounds and discover beauty in destruction.
Priests of Hiroshima's authentic impact during this revolutionary time, without a doubt, makes them true musik healers.
HOUSTON, Texas - Several months ago when Covid-19 was uncharted territory, everyone was looking to the interwebs to find comfort and answers. Trying to navigate the digital media dump of a worldwide pandemic paired with continued racial injustice was both taxing and frustrating.
Having battled anxiety and depression throughout my adult life, I couldn't help but wonder how the pandemic was going to play on everyone's mental health, including my own. I knew deep down it was important to stay positive and inspired. But how? As I struggled to find that within myself, I'm grateful for the brave souls around me who didn't let fear hold them back. Enter Kam Franklin.
I'll remind you that Kam Franklin is the powerhouse lead singer of The Suffers, a Houston-based Gulf Coast Soul band that's dominated nationwide and internationally for nearly a decade. You've seen them on Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, among major music festivals across the country.
I can easily say Franklin is one of the most special and talented people I've had the honor of knowing, interviewing and watching perform. She's a stand-out singer-songwriter, performance artist, activists, and orator; and over the past four months she's earned a new title in my eyes (one I'll happily add to her Wikipedia page): musik healer.
Franklin's fearless commitment to set a new tone in the midst of all the white noise, brought inspiration and light at a time we needed it the most.
"I recently wrapped up 15 weeks of livestream concerts on The Suffers' Facebook and Twitter," says Franklin.
Yes, FIFTEEN. Back to back.
*stops typing, claps several times*
Franklin led the way for nearly four months straight with authentic virtual music from the magical livestream sets she brought to life. She used her voice not only for songs but to speak on racial divides, offer resources and raw advice. She was constantly dropping reminders to trust the process and turn pain into purpose.
"Times are weird," says Franklin, "But it's inspiring us to create."
Now that the livestreams have come to an end, Franklin says her new focus is finishing The Suffers' third album.
"During the quarantine I have written three solo albums. In addition to that, I have been working on the third full-length by The Suffers. We went through a lot last year, and those stories translated into 70 songs. After a few cuts, we've narrowed it down to 16."
Exciting as it all may be, recording during a pandemic comes with its own set of challenges for the band.
"We won't be able to finish the way we like (all together)," says Franklin, "But we are looking at this and every other challenge we've been through the last few years as an opportunity to learn and grow. We all came into this pandemic with wild a** expectations of what would come from it, how long it would last, and how it would affect us, but if I've learned anything, it's that humans don't run sh*t."
Fingers-crossed, Franklin says new album is set for a Spring 2021 release. Helping make the wait less painful is their new hit single.
"We just released our first single, "Take Me To The Good Times". If you are needing a mood adjustment, that's the song for you."
Franklin is also embracing her role with the Recording Academy as newly elected Texas Chapter Governor.
"My role with the recording academy is a new one, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference how and where I can."
It seems each new hat she acquires, she wears well. Kam Franklin is a true reminder of the power we each hold, even in the darkest times.
"I encourage anyone out there struggling to simply do the best that you can. We're gonna get through this."
So for now, in Kam Franklin fashion, I'm gonna bet on me. Something Franklin so kindly reminded me to do when we talked. I challenge the very eyes reading this to do the same. My hope is that each of us digs deeper and finds our true selves during this revolutionary time. It's the one cure we don't have to wait for.
Video produced by Narciso Palma + Ky Meyer