The Pulse

Chris Tobin / WBGO

March is Women's History Month, and we take the time to honor the importance of women in our music and our organization. WBGO launched in 1979 with Dorthaan Kirk as a founder and Rhonda Hamilton as one of the first voices on air. Forty-two years later, the female voice rings clearly on WBGO: women are the X Factor that distinguishes us, just as they remain an essential force in the music.

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Although it wasn’t love at first sight, from the very beginning singer-songwriter April May and trumpeter Randall Haywood had a musical synergy that undoubtedly inspired their name. Sounds of A&R (aka S.O.A.R) took flight after their first single released in 2015.

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What started as a girls’ trip to the Palm Springs desert resulted in magic for säje.

For the four singers who make up the group — Sara Garazek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage — that creative bonding retreat resulted in a song that has now garnered a 2021 Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals. They’re the only ensemble of all-women arrangers/composers in the category.

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Jazz vocalist Melissa Walker founded Jazz House Kids 18 years ago, after her voice was severely affected and silenced for over a year due to an allergy. She had been pondering a way to give the gift of jazz to young people, as she strongly felt the guidance she received coming up was key to her navigating the business.

Fanny Delsol

On this episode of The Pulse, Sarah Elizabeth Charles and Jarrett Cherner (adorably joined at times by their cat, Raj), discuss the process of creating their new album, Tone; working creatively as life partners; and producing music in a “new normal.”

Russell Hall is a graduate of Julliard, and an acclaimed bassist and activist from Kingston, Jamaica. Although he has yet to assume citizenship in the United States, he feels there is so much at stake in this year's election.

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Grit. Depth. Maturity.

The mood of Brianna Thomas’ sophomore effort, Everybody Knows, embodies the experience of living in a climate wrought with polarizing emotions. Self-released and produced by the Grammy award-winning Brian Bacchus, with liner notes from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Miller, the album certainly finds Thomas in great company.

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Singer-songwriter Candice Hoyes carefully curates everything she presents to the world. She has made it her mission to perpetuate positive imagery of Black women and girls through her empowering creative content and social media footprint.

Robert Adam Mayer

JSWISS is a hip-hop artist who’s no stranger to the jazz club.

Michael Olatuja might as well be called “The Great Connector.”

His entire life story has comprised a series of connections, which converge on his latest work, Lagos Pepper Soup. The London-born, Lagos-raised bassist describes this album’s sound as “Cinematic Afrobeat,” and it’s a sonic experience of epic proportions.

Braxton Cook is a textbook example of what it means to blend genres while holding fast to the jazz vocabulary.

A self-proclaimed introvert, Nicholas Payton has found his “bag” while in quarantine.

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Miles Davis will forever be etched in history for the way he continually evolved musically. He effortlessly transformed with the times, moving from bebop to fusion — as did his style.

Elizabeth Leitzell

Lakecia Benjamin stepped out on faith to produce her latest work. So much so that she exhausted her savings to bring it to fruition.

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Warren Wolf has established himself as one of the go-to vibraphonists of his generation.

Whether working with the SFJAZZ Collective or with bassist Christian McBride, this Baltimore native has proven himself to be a master of the straight-ahead sound, in the vein of his predecessors Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson.

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For many, violinist Regina Carter set the blueprint for genre-blending. With nearly a dozen recordings in her catalog, she has been a major influence for string artists like Chelsey Green, The String Queens, Black Violin, Scott Tixier and more.

Shervin Lainez

Cecily is a vocalist whose instrument truly mirrors her demeanor: tender, honest, and powerful. Since her 2018 album Songs of Love and Freedom was touted by Bandcamp as “The Best New Soul,” the music industry has been buzzing about her.