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People's Picks: Johanna Samuels

People's Picks: Johanna Samuels
People's Picks: Johanna Samuels | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

This was such a heavenly treat to get to make this mix. What I love most about music and recordings in general is their humanity. I love cities, I love imperfect people and I love reflecting on why we are driven to make music or even make or record sound! I grew up in a cappella choirs singing old gospel spirituals and Gregorian chants so it was awesome to see the Tuskegee Institute Choir in the library. I also was thrilled to see Martha Schlamme and Pete Seeger who my grandma Tanya used to play piano with often in her day… and who doesn’t love a Bob Dylan impersonator competition? I heard recently that tears of sadness have more sodium in them so that they fall down our cheeks slower than irritant tears. This way a member of community is more likely to see them and give support. I think recordings possess the same quality: the more authentic pathos in it, the more universal the artifact. Connective to make sound, connective to experience sound. I tried to keep this all in mind while compiling! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Johanna Samuels is broadening the confines of pop music. The New York and Los Angeles based singer-songwriter’s work is lyrically and melodically driven, singing about the depths and dualities of life with her unique bell-like voice. Having already released a lush, complex debut (Excelsior!, 2021) and an sophomore album that’s as propulsive as it is insightful (Bystander, 2023), Johanna is currently recording a new LP with Jonathan Rado (Weyes Blood, Foxygen, The Killers). NPR described Johanna’s music as " compulsively listenable, and so smart in the way she assesses space and communication, it's just brilliant...what a voice." 
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