A respected staple in the Baltimore hip-hop and spoken word communities, as well as a performer in our successful series of events Baltimore Plays, Creative Alliance is thrilled to host the release of Black Root’s new album, Root Canal! Accompanied by the dynamic live band Black Root Underground, his solo sets meld the sounds of hip-hop, funk, and reggae with irresistible energy and positivity.
Returning to our stage to celebrate is the funky, righteoeus J Pope & The HearNow with a lively opening set.
About Black Root Underground
Black Root Underground is a hip-hop and funk based band from Baltimore, MD with the goal of reviving the inclusiveness of participation-based performances. Comprised of multi-genre rooted musicians (see what we did there?), the band was formed in 2014. Since that time, the band has taken their crowd engaging high-energy performances to such notable Baltimore stages such as The 8×10, The Ottobar, Metro Gallery and The Windup Space.
Modestly establishing themselves as a headliner in their own right, Black Root Underground has been the opening act for such national artists and musicians as Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles and Nelly’s Echo (The Voice). It’s easy to grasp the addictive infatuation each band member has for music individually once realizing that every band member is a multi-instrumentalist. Not only has their chemistry on stage led them to be featured in front of 4,000+ people at one of Maryland’s largest food truck gatherings but they have also been featured on WMAR Channel 2’s daily segment “Midday Maryland” for their collaborative efforts with WTMD radio and the Baltimore School for the Arts. “We love the kids!”-B.R.U.
If you’ve ever heard the funk song “Make it Funky”, that chant embodies the authentic sound of The Black Root Underground. “…the easiness comes from the fact that I’m a large child with a really nice beard.”-Black Root (lead vocal) In their original recordings, you hear the funk influences of artists such as “The Godfather of Soul” (James Brown) and George Clinton while digesting groovy content driven messages like Bob Marley. “It’s a party! We just happen to be on the stage.”-Maurice Carroll (music director) How many bands can feature the diverse tonality of a didgeridoo, 2 drummers, a blue trombone, bass and keys with beat boxing and rhyme schemes to match? The Black Root Underground can.
About J Pope & The HearNow
J Pope and the HearNow hope that their music will do two things for you: 1. Improve your day, and 2. Refresh your perspective about the lives we all live and the spaces we share. The HearNow’s sound is a musical exploration into the deepest pockets of soul and hip-hop, lined with the dirty sonic lint of funk, as well as the sudden, sometimes unexpected twists of bebop and funk fusion. The music is topped with the lyrics of front woman, J Pope, who ziggs and zaggs between clever lyrical melodies and rapid-fire rhymes with a free-feeling flow and a sophisticated swagger.
J Pope fell in love with music in the church… “like a lot of people”, she admits. The semi-regular Sunday morning appearances by The Fleming Sisters in J’s church inspired her to want to connect with people through musical performance, “the way they would perform, the emotion they would give, and the emotion it would evoke in the people who were there” made her want to become a performing artist. At home, her parent’s often played the records of classic soul artists like Curtis Mayfield, and Sam Cooke. As she grew up, she was greatly inspired by the quintessential DC Go-go artists like Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, and The Junkyard Band. All that said, when you watch and listen to J Pope, its hard to not connect her to trailblazing black female vocalists like Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Lauryn Hill and fellow DC-area native, Me’shell Ndegeocello. “I think there is an internal rhythm and spirit that we all have inside… and that’s what brings us together as people”… it brought the members of J Pope and the HearNow together, and its what they hope brings the listeners of their music together, too.
When J Pope and the HearNow’s debut album, Soul Searching (2017), came out, Baltimore Magazine said that it perfectly “…highlights the fast-paced finesse of frontwoman Jasmine Pope and showcases the masterful improvisation of her dexterous band mates. From the highs of frenzied funk rhythms to the lows of slow burning jazz numbers, the HearNow touches on the ups and downs of living as a working artist. This Album is Exhibit A of the talent, dedication and hard work it takes.”
The band started in Baltimore around 2010 playing open mics, house parties, community events, and small clubs. Their head-turning live show has led to shows for thousands of people on The National Mall, on tour from North Carolina to Colorado, as well as requests to share the stage and open for acts such as Esperanza Spalding, Robert Randolph, The Wailers, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as Tank and the Bangas. Eventually a phrase started getting tossed around calling the band “one of Baltimore’s best kept musical secrets”. Humbled and honored by this recognition, the band is making it part of their mission to get the secret out.
FRI APRL 5 | 8PM | $18, $15 MEMBERS (+$3 At the door)