Aloe Blacc will wrap up this year’s Big Stars concerts
September 4, 2015
Last February, Aloe Blacc earned his first Grammy nomination. The nod was for Best R & B album for his album "Lift Your Spirit" that was released in the United States in 2014.
The recognition changed his life.
"I will be forever known as ‘Grammy-nominated’ until I become a Grammy winner, if that ever happens," Blacc said cheerfully during a telephone interview from Los Angeles, California. "I am now part of an echelon of songwriters and artists who have achieved a status of peer recognition."
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that presents the Grammys, is comprised of musicians, artists, producers and engineers who all vote on one another.
"It felt great to get the nomination," Blacc said. "I really wasn’t expecting it, but I’m so happy to be nominated."
The Park City Institute will present the Grammy Award-nominated Aloe Blacc for the final St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert of the 2015 season at Deer Valley on Sunday, Sept. 6. The music will begin at 7 p.m. with Park City’s Mary Beth Maziarz.
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On his road to the Grammy nod, Blacc has picked up some musical hitchhikers along the way.
His first influence was family.
"My dad had a huge stereo system and a lot of records and my mom was also a big music lover," he said. "We had a lot of soul music playing in the house. Since my family’s from Panama, we also had a lot of Caribbean sounds reggae, soca and calypso music playing as well."
Much of Blacc’s early musical explorations were with hip-hop.
"The neighborhood kids would breakdance on the sidewalk and, through breakdancing, I began a relationship with hip-hop," he said.
the time he was 9, Blacc had already begun writing raps.
When he was 15, Blacc met Aleksander Manfredi, known as producer and DJ Exile.
"We started recording and producing our own music and have continued to make music to this day," Blacc said.
While hip-hop was Blacc’s first foray into music, he began experimenting with more styles and sounds and eventually became a vocalist.
"That’s where my career took off," he said.
The singer gained an edge with his songwriting after studying communication and linguistics at the University of Southern California.
"In hip-hop, I would actually cite studies and theories in my lyrics," Blacc said. "These days, those things are in the background, because it’s enough to understand communication theory, the language and being playful with the words, but it’s not much of a deliberate connection now."
Throughout his constant musical journey, Blacc discovered jazz, which influences how he writes his songs.
"Free jazz and the jazz sound has a lot of repetition and within that repetition, there are elements that aren’t repeated and this novelty is attractive to the ear," he said.
He turned to his early hit, "The Man," to illustrate his point.
"There are so many different elements that occur throughout that song," he said. "If you pay attention, you will discover something different each time. If you’re not paying attention, the listener will still feel something new."
Although Blacc’s lyrics do contain his personal and political views, his goal is to create fun music for people to enjoy.
"I think you can make it fun and still be political," he said. "Part of it is that the song can come from the energy of the production or the cadence of the vocal or style of the phrasings.
"Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, I could go on, were all masters of creating a message that was still enjoyable," Blacc said. "You might not really think of Michael Jackson’s music as being political, but if you read his lyrics, 80 percent of what he did as an adult was pretty political. He just wrapped the medicine up in a lot of sugar."
In addition to his music, Blacc is involved with charity work and raising awareness for organizations such as Malaria No More, the Chopra Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, among others.
"Artists have multiple jobs," he said. "One is to reflect reality through art. Another is to question the realities of the day and another, still, is to paint new realities and possibilities.
"As a citizen of a world or responsible human being, I think we all have a duty to contribute to make it possible for social change," Blacc said. "Artists have more visibility that most people have and people see more of the activities they are engaged in."
While most artists care enough to make the world a better place, some do their work in secret.
Blacc, on the other hand, like to share what he does, because more people will be directed to these organizations.
"This continues a tradition, a culture, of social activity," he said.
On the music front, fans may expect a new album from Blacc in early 2016, and that’s not the only thing he has thumping around on his to-do list.
"I’m always working on something new," he said. "The music industry works with a time schedule. If it were up to me, I’d be putting out music much faster than the label likes to operate.
"I’m still working with hip-hop music and I’ve got a mix tape and album ready for imminent release and several unreleased projects that I need to figure out how to release over the next few years," he said. "I think all of these will be fun to share with my fans."
The Park City Institute will present Grammy Award-nominated Aloe Blacc for the final St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert of the 2015 season at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Sunday, Sept. 6. Mary Beth Maziarz will open the show at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $85 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.