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Dara Tucker Gives Voice to Hopeful Protest on 'Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World'

Dara Tucker on The Pulse
Andreas Hofweber
Dara Tucker, who drew from enduring protest songs on her album 'Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World'

Vocalist Dara Tucker has always led with her heart, and has yet to be led astray.

After studying German in college, it was her heart that led her to move to Interlaken, Switzerland. It was here that she was inspired to first start writing songs. After hearing Wynonna Judd on television talking about how the world needs better songwriters, she decided to move to Nashville, Tenn. The stars were certainly aligned for her, because she started to make a name for herself on the music scene rather quickly.

Keb' Mo' caught wind of her songwriting skills and tapped her to write a song about her home state of Oklahoma. He liked the song so much that he decided to name his album after it, ultimately snagging the 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Americana Album.

The Pulse with Dara Tucker

Since committing her life to music, Dara has performed and toured with her own bands as well as with Charlie Hunter, and even opened for Gregory Porter. She has won several awards for her songwriting, and recorded six albums of her own. Her forthcoming project — Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World, releasing on Green Hill Music on May 28 — was produced by one of the first people she met when she made that courageous move to Nashville: her husband, WBGO's own Greg Bryant.

The album brings together some of the best musicians around, including pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Sullivan Fortner, bassists Dezron Douglas and Vicente Archer, drummers Johnathan Blake and Joe Dyson, saxophonist John Ellis, and trumpeter Giveton Gelin. Dara reimagines songs from the protest era of the 1960s and '70s along with original tunes that highlight the current sociopolitical climate in America.

And as if producing and recording an album in a pandemic weren't enough, Dara has also managed to amass an ever-growing following on TikTok — 250,000 and counting — as a burgeoning comedienne.

On this special Jazz Appreciation Month edition of The Pulse, we chat about her musical upbringing in the church, the development of her love of jazz, the road to birthing her latest album, and her new lease on life after battling COVID.

Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World will be released on Green Hill Music on May 28. For more information about Dara Tucker, visit her website.

Keanna Faircloth is a Washington, DC native and comes to WBGO getting her start on-air at WPFW 89.3 FM in 2003, most recently as the host of Late Night Jazz: The Continuum Experience. She is a graduate of Howard University having majored in Music History with a minor in Classical Piano. Keanna has written for NPR Music, and worked for Radio One as an on-air personality, producer and voice-over talent. She is also the creator and host of Artimacy Podcast, where she has interviewed artists like Wynton Marsalis, Matthew Whitaker, Jonathan Butler, and Dionne Warwick. As a result, she was recognized by Radio Ink Magazine as a 2019 African American leader in radio.