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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 "...so compulsively listenable, and so smart in the way she assesses space and communication, it's just brilliant...what a voice." 
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