We have been following Brandee Younger, both her music and on Twitter @Harpista for several years now, and we realized we never posted anything about her. An oversight, and the release of her latest album last year gives us the opportunity to share with you this talented harpist.
A native of Long Island, New York, Younger began her harp studies as a teen, and has been performing across genres from traditional harp repertoire to jazz and other popular styles. If the harp dates back to antiquity, we often see it as an imagery from bygone times but it’s definitely not. The harp is an instrument of grandeur and beauty, the tones are graceful and elegant, and Brandee Younger illustrates perfectly that description, harpists pushing the boundaries and being more and more integrated into the contemporary music world.
Listen to ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice & Sing‘ performed and arranged by Brandee Younger, recorded live at Union Baptist Church, Hempstead, NY (2020):
You may have already heard of American jazz harpist and composer Dorothy Ashby or the great Alice Coltrane. In more recent times, jazz musician Jeff Majors, Park Stickney, Mary Lattimore, Zeena Parkins, or Welsh harpist Claire Jones have expanded the stylistic repertoire of the instrument.
Brandee Younger has, unsurprisingly, a strong connection with the first two famous harpists we aforementioned: we can read on her booking website (she has a private teaching studio in New York) that she began working with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane in a series of concerts honoring the music of the late pianist, organist and harpist, Alice Coltrane. The study of Coltrane’s music, along with the work of harpist Dorothy Ashby, would help Brandee Younger to begin to create her own sound and style as a harpist and musician.
Here’s a video of Brandee Younger performing ‘Blue Nile‘ by Alice Coltrane, filmed live at Jazz Standard, NY (2018):
We loved Younger’s previous albums ‘Prelude‘ (2011) and ‘Wax & Wane‘ (2016), and ‘Soul Awakening‘ released in 2019 doesn’t disappoint. Even though it was recorded in 2012, the self-released album is very well produced and it includes covers such as ‘Games‘ (Dorothy Ashby), ‘Blue Nile‘ (Alice Coltrane) or ‘Save the Children‘ (Marvin Gaye). But it also offers her own, original compositions with ‘Linda Lee‘ (smooth funk) or ‘Respected Destroyer‘ (fusion jazz). Don’t miss ‘Love’s Prayer‘ featuring Ravi Coltrane, and great musicians Dezron Douglas on bass, E.J. Strickland on drums…
Note that ‘Ma Foya‘ featuring Brandee Younger, the third single from bassist and composer Michael Olatuja’s ‘Lagos Pepper Soup‘ was released today. All the more reasons to listen to this talented artist! Visit her official website for more info (music, video, tour,…).
Last month, Brandee Younger and Dezron Douglas wished Stevie Wonder a happy birthday! 🙂