SXSW 2018: 8 R&B and soul singers who are aiming for your heart


Once a stomping ground for indie rockers, South by Southwest’s profile as a destination festival for urban music has grown over the last decade, benefiting lovers of R&B as well as their hip-hop head friends. Here’s a selection of smooth crooners and searing wailers who reach deep into their souls to make a mark on your heart.

Tinashe. She don’t want “No Drama” but the sultry R&B star’s second album is expected to drop soon and her new singles smoulder with the same blunted sensuality that made her a star. (11 p.m. March 15, Trinity Warehouse)

R.LUM.R. Once a classical guitar-playing singer-songwriter, these days the “Frustrated” artist also known as Reginald Lamar Williams will sweep you off your feet with his dreamy falsetto crooning and woo you with heart-on-sleeve confessionals that delve into the complexity of modern love. (10 p.m. March 15, St. David’s Historic Sanctuary; 9 p.m. March 16, Lustre Pearl)

Mélat. With airy harmonized vocals and a cascade of white-blonde curls, the Austin native carries an otherworldly mystique. She coaxes the listener into her clouds on “Move Me II: The Present,” her second collaboration album with L.A. producer Jansport J, which dropped last month. It’s a gorgeous collection of rainy day love songs and it might be the thing that elevates the rising local onto the national stage. (noon March 14, Waterloo Records; March 16: 4 p.m. on the Radio Day Stage and 8 p.m. at Empire Garage)

Sudan Archives. Inspired by Sudanese fiddlers, the singer and violinist layers strains of folk melody and plaintive vocals over electro-tribal rhythms to weave entrancing jams that ache with cross-continental longing. (8 p.m. March 12 at Mohawk Indoor; 4 p.m. March 14, Radio Day Stage; 11:30 p.m. March 16 at Empire Garage)

Lee Fields and the Expressions. If you like your soul big and brassy with a funky backbeat, this big band has the vintage sounds you need right now. Fields is a music lifer with a career that’s almost 50 years deep and his sound is made richer by blood, sweat and real world grit. If you’re nursing a Charles Bradley-shaped hole in your heart, this is the place to ease your pain. (10 p.m. March 16, Clive Bar)

Tje Austin. After a moment in the national spotlight as part of Team Cee-Lo on the first season of NBC’s “The Voice,” the Austin artist seemed poised for a breakout, but in the post-show lull he was dealt a devastating cancer diagnosis. He began three years of grueling chemotherapy in 2013. While in treatment he began to record, and in early 2017, finally healthy again, he released “I Belong to You.” The EP is a rich and varied collection that saunters between singer-songwriter earnestness and classic soul bluster, with Austin’s golden voice shining throughout. (1 a.m. March 14, Saxon Pub)

Kelela. On her critically acclaimed 2017 release “Take Me Apart” the 34-year-old singer unwinds her silky voice into a shadowy echo chamber that pulses with lust, love and regret. (9:30 p.m. March 14, the Gatsby)

Tameca Jones. What’s that? You’re over watercolor R&B and singers who run cool? The Queen of Austin soul burns hot, hot, hot. (Midnight March 17, Palm Door on Sixth Patio)



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Music

Fall Out Boy pairs sonic blasts with sensational visuals at Erwin Center concert
Fall Out Boy pairs sonic blasts with sensational visuals at Erwin Center concert

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy performs at the Erwin Center on September 23, 2018. ANA RAMIREZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN When you buy a concert ticket in the upper deck of the Erwin Center on the far end of the arena, it’s a given that you’ll be a long way from the action. Just being in the room is good enough if you really love the...
Fire department surprises 3-year-old with birthday party after guests cancel at last minute
Fire department surprises 3-year-old with birthday party after guests cancel at last minute

The Harrisburg Fire Department in North Carolina surprised a 3-year-old with a birthday party after several of his classmates canceled Sunday.  Melissa Reid said she received several text messages the morning of her son's birthday party from parents, letting her know her son's classmates couldn't make it.  >> Need something to...
This week’s music picks: Nick Lowe, Kali Uchis, Alejandro Escovedo, more
This week’s music picks: Nick Lowe, Kali Uchis, Alejandro Escovedo, more

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhVrnLVWZec&w=492&h=277] Monday: “Lazy Lester Forever” tribute at Antone’s. Among the many old-school greats who’ve played Austin’s home of the blues over the decades, Louisiana’s Lazy Lester was certainly one of the most beloved. Lester (born Leslie Johnson...
Webb Report: Farewell, and thanks for all the memes
Webb Report: Farewell, and thanks for all the memes

You won’t have this meme-hound to kick around anymore. I regret to report that this Webb Report is the final such report. After almost seven years at the American-Statesman, I’m stepping away from the paper’s social media helm. It’s been a wonderful, transformative ride — I still thought I was straight when I started here...
10 new shows to check out this fall
10 new shows to check out this fall

Oh, my poor, sweet television darlings, I hope you’re in the mood for lots of sighing and vague feelings of ennui this fall. Many of the season’s best new shows share a certain tone of sadness — sometimes grim, sometime subversively comic, but always a little overcast. Blame the times we live in. Blame “This Is Us.” In...
More Stories