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A One Woman Show with 3 Different Voices.

A One Woman Show with 3 different voices.
 Spirit in Pittsburgh
photos and story by Dan Locke
Anna Wise

It is Sunday night and I am in need for a pizza.  Where can I go.  Spirit in Pittsburgh is the place you need to check and see.  Yes It is a pizzeria, a bar with a small stage and a second floor which can have wrestling matches.

The truth is,  I was there to see Anna Wise.  You ask who is Anna Wise?  She a Grammy winner.  You have seen her name on the liner notes for Kendrick Lamar's studio debut Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and his recent sophomore release To Pimp A Butterfly, but hear her is a different story, you can see why Kendrick pick her for background vocals throughout TPAB, and is featured on "Institutionalized" and "These Walls."

But more on her later.  Lets me talk about my night.        

As I say it was 3 women who performed that night.    We have Anna Hale (Swampwalk) and Madison McFerrin.

The first woman was a young girl which went by the name Swampwalker Anna Hale (aka Swampwalk) is a soul-searching singer-songwriter born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Grungy guitar over gameboy basslines and beats topped with lyrics about life’s toils and beauties. Might haunt you, might inspire you, might get stuck in your head. 

Hale started her music career in 2009 writing songs and playing violin for an all-grrl band called Critter. Her song and love for manatees persists/remains to this day. Post-Critter, Hale started a two-piece bedroom-pop folk duo called Nothing Special, which would eventually get plugged in and transform into the solo project Swampwalk.

With the release of the first Swampwalk album Sweatin’ Out the Small Stuff, Hale shed her acoustic skin, picked up an electric guitar, a gameboy, and started experimenting with vocal effects and sequencing. After sweating out the small stuff, and being called sweet and cute one too many times, Hale has taken to the task of sweating out the big stuff in her new, politically charged, loop-based album Us vs. Them.

Beyond being a songstress and composer of heartfelt melodies, Swampwalk has helped score stage and film productions, accompanied other artists in studio and on stage, and has even played beats for (and occasionally hopped in) hip-hop ciphers. This multi-instrumentalist, genre-hopping explorer will make you turn your head, and always keep you guessing.

This was the first Pittsburgh artist I had a chance to check out. She was a delight to hear It was just her a her gold fender with effects and Gameboy.  She was very positive in her perform.

The next person was Madison McFerrin. Ms. McFerrin is from a showbiz family.  One of her brothers is performing in Hamilton (the lead) on Broadway and the other her father, jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin. 
Madison McFerrin is a born and bred Soul artist who combines the story telling once revered in the past with the sound of the 21st century. Currently living in Brooklyn, New York.  As the co-founder of the funk/soul group Cosmodrome, she spent her college years touring the Eastern US playing venues large and small, from legendary NYC club The Blue Note, to Bonaroo, opening up for Emily King and Hiatus Kaiyote, all of which helped land the attention of artists such as Chick Corea and Questlove of The Roots.  She then joined the SpiritYouAll band led by her father, jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin, as a background and featured vocalist from 2013-15 for his global tours. She has since sung with greats such as Aretha Franklin, George Clinton and the PFunk All-Stars, as well as for hip hop legends De La Soul backed by The Roots. With the hope of bringing old soul into the popular music of today, Madison has gone about curating her own individual sound while honoring the many influences that came before her. Using these elements, she independently released her debut EP, and first installment of her fully a cappella series entitled Finding Foundations December 2016.

It was just her and her keyboard with loop.  Her performance was built with the her keyboard and just her voice. As I listen to her, I could see other female artist using her technical to be a superior musician.

The third artist was Anna Wise.

Anna Wise is a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY.  If you are in NY you can still find her in small clubs around NYC.  Ever since Anna collaborations with Kendrick Lamar her reputation has garnered a dedicated following amongst musicians and music fans alike. If you have not heard her collaborations with Kendrick Lamar on good kid, m.A.A.d city check them out (“Real,” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Money Trees”), To Pimp a Butterfly (“These Walls,” “Institutionalized”) & untitled unmastered ("untitled 01 | 08.19.2014" & "untitled 05 | 09.21.2014."). Their song “These Walls” won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2016 Grammy’s.

In 2016 Anna releasing her first solo project, The Feminine: Act I. The EP, described as both outspoken and therapeutic, lead Vogue to describe Anna as "Trailblazing Feminist Pop".

As she steeped on the stage I known that she was going to own it.  And she did. As she stood behind her equipment,  it was incredible to she her at work. Getting sounds out of the sound equipment which I am sure even the sound person was amazed. As she sang the crowd were just listening to her every tone of her voice.  And I have to tell you she is not one who not afraid of her public.  She came out to the crowd as she performed to get closer to them.  She has won one Grammy already.  I am sure she will have more coming her way. 

In closing there is one more talent she has.  She directed the above music video for Madison McFerrin's single "No Time to Lose" off of her debut EP, Finding Foundations: Vol I

- More at UnRatedMagazine.com

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