(schedule of performers is subject to change)
Virginia-born singer/songwriter Nicole Wray has everything you’d want in a singer: an infectious Jackson-5-family-member flare, a range like Aretha’s and a church upbringing that’s brought a pure, healing texture to her voice. At the age of fifteen, on the rumored strength and quality of her voice, Missy Elliot gave her an impromptu audition and signed her on the spot, setting the course for her musical path in and out of the music industry for years to come.
After some hints of success, including powerful background vocals on The Black Keys’ Grammy-winning LP "Brother", she breaks out with her own debut showcase her impeccably strong and unique voice as well as her succinct poetic prowess for song writing.
Born in Chicago to Indian Muslim immigrants, Zeshan Bagewadi’s musical identity was formed at the junction of two different worlds. His parents’ nostalgic hankering for the sounds of their native land gave him a deep exposure to Indo-Pakistani music — film, folk and classical alike. However, his father, having been one of the few journalists in India to cover the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and 70s, was immensely fond of Black artistic expression. As such, Zeshan grew up with the sounds of his father’s blues, soul, and R&B collection as well.
These two worlds collide on his new album ‘Vetted’, set for release on Chicago's Minty Fresh Records. Zeshan pours his heart out on 10 tracks and in 3 languages — English, Urdu and Punjabi. Tempestuous soul arias, urban love dramas, Memphis blues, and civil rights anthems are performed with an idiomatically Indian feel — blaring tanpura and harmonium exist alongside hard grooves, delicate strings, and riveting horns. Produced by Lester Snell (Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Mavis Staples), the album is a mixtape of Zeshan’s originals and lesser known 1960s and ‘70s deep soul gems. The album was recorded in Memphis at the famed Ardent Studios (Leon Russell, Big Star, Led Zeppelin) with a wrecking crew of Stax Records’ sidemen.