Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Jay Burgess is part of a new generation of Muscle Shoals musicians continuing in the long tradition of the Muscle Shoals sound. Burgess is the founder and front man of the band the Pollies, known for their innovative and unique take on southern rock music. Jay got his start in a band called Sons of Roswell and toured the Southeastern U.S. before forming the Pollies. Together, they have released two albums: Where the Lies Begin on This Is American Music and Not Here on Single Lock Records. Individually, Jay has done session work, and together with the band, they have backed Browan Lollar on an EP as well as the late Chris Porter and currently serve as the backing band for Dylan LeBlanc.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/25/2020.
Birmingham, Alabama-based DJ/producer and local radio personality DJ Supreme has held many roles in the entertainment industry over the years. While he works in many genres, his classic sets fuse hip-hop with funk, soul, Motown, and classic rock as well as contemporary Top 40. DJ Supreme was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, but relocated to Birmingham in the late 1980s, when he began making his own beats and doing his own production. He is one half of the hip-hop performing duo Shaheed and DJ Supreme. The Birmingham-based Communicating Vessels record label released the group’s third album, Knowledge Rhythm and Understanding. Together, they’ve performed with major touring acts, including Raekwon the Chef, Stalley, Atmosphere, and Brother Ali. In the summer of 2014, Shaheed and DJ Supreme successfully toured the UK with Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/26/2020.
Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Damyon Jolley has been playing bass since 2012. He relocated to Muscle Shoals for school in the early 2010s, and starting in 2017, has worked as an engineer, producer, and bassist based in Florence, Alabama. Damyon Jolley is also the band manager for the Muscle Shoals-based band, Coffee Black. Founded by lead vocalist and pianist CJ Anderson, Coffee Black is a retro funk and soul band. Their sound is driven by the rhythm section of Damyon Jolley, Matt Pettie, Michael Rogers, Angelo Sandoval, and Taylor Edwards, and horn section of Nick Watford, Jaimy Murff, Eli Hart, and Chase Fowler. The Black EP, a solo project released by CJ Anderson in 2017, laid the foundation for Coffee Black’s sound and was further expanded with the release of their self-titled debut album in the fall of 2019.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/24/2020.
Birmingham, Alabama-based musician Ashley Sankey, a classically trained keyboardist and percussionist and a formally trained jazz and opera vocalist, has been performing in the Birmingham area for many years. She taught herself guitar, and although she works in multiple genres, she considers herself a soul musician. Sankey has her own in-home studio, where she also produces music and engineers studio sessions for other up-and-coming Alabama artists. Ashley has a long history in the church and started singing background for traveling gospel acts at the age of thirteen. She released her first studio album, Ashley Sankey Presents “Birmingham’s Here,” in 2013. She also performs as a percussionist at Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Birmingham.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/23/2020.
Originally from Alabama, Will Stewart spent many years living in Nashville as a songwriter, front man, and lead guitarist. When he returned to Birmingham, he released his full-length solo debut, County Seat, in 2017. “Caught somewhere between the worlds of country and electrified rock,” as a songwriter he tried to turn the landscape of his home state into music. Co-produced with Les Nuby (who also engineered and mixed the album) and recorded in a series of live takes, County Seat nods to a number of songwriters who sing about the beauty of their homeland without glossing over its imperfections. There are electrified moments influenced by Neil Young, guitar arpeggios influenced by R.E.M., some Dylan-style aesthetics, as well as the modern-day take on folk by Hiss Golden Messenger. Steward intended his first full-length release as a solo artist to be a rallying cry from a Son of the South who, having returned home after a long trip, looks at his birthplace with renewed eyes.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/18/2020.
Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, rapper and activist Shaheed Tawheed is one half of the hip-hop duo, Shaheed Tawheed and DJ Supreme, on the label Communicating Vessels. They say they don’t fit the mold of most typical dirty south artists, as they are practitioners of traditional boom-bap hip-hop. They released two early LPs: Health Wealth and Knowledge of Self and Scholar Warrior (The Remix Album), which showcases Shaheed’s lyrical prowess and DJ Supreme’s soulful production. As a group, Shaheed and DJ Supreme have shared stages with Atmosphere, Jurassic 5, the Jungle Brothers, Brother Ali, Raekwon, DJ Shiftee, Scarface and Stalley. Their albums include guest appearances from artists like Akil the MC (of Jurassic 5), Amir Sulaiman, and W. Ellington Felton. Their most anticipated album to date was Knowledge Rhythm and Understanding and The Art of Throwing Darts Prequel, released on Communicating Vessels.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/22/2020.