Colie Williams
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Colie Williams

Bowie, Maryland, United States | INDIE

Bowie, Maryland, United States | INDIE
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Review: by Jonathan Widran

Making her impressive recording debut after establishing herself as a popular soul-influenced jazz voice on the scene in Washington, D.C., the versatile songstress Colie Williams explains the concept of this nine-track set by attributing the title she chose to both Genesis and a later urge for universal cooperation and peace by Bob Marley. It's no surprise, then, that the centerpiece of her multi-stylistic set is two renderings of the lilting, gloriously romantic "You/Reggae Love," one an atmospheric remix featuring more reggae/rap by Shannon Jah Pickley. Beyond the Marley influence, Williams offers an anthemic sweep of jazz history on the passionate, percussive, march-flavored opener "Ol' Soul for a New Day," which pays homage to the numerous jazz "ancestors" of a previous generation who inspired her. The singer is intent on inspiring world harmony in her own way, starting with the infectious and dreamy "Passing Day," and the bluesy, autobiographical "Black Love." Yet she also stirs up the heart on more personal expressions of love like "All You Need," "Everywhere I Go," and an easy funk run through Patti Austin's wistful "In and Out of Love." More than simply a powerful debut by a gifted new singer, Light Up the Darkness makes a case for Williams to become a voice of social consciousness for the new jazz generation.

- AllMusic.com



Collette "Colie" Williams starts her debut CD Light Up The Darkness by calling on her musical ancestors - Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. That song, "Ol Soul For A New Day," allows Williams' listeners to know where she's coming from spiritually, musically and stylistically. Williams' vocals have a mature, confident sound that recalls many of those jazz greats as well as R&B and soul singers like Roberta Flack and vocalists such as Nancy Wilson and Patti Austin who sing jazz and pop music. It's instructive that Williams makes the connection to jazz vocalists because she admits jazz is not her primary musical style. There are no jazz songs on Light Up The Darkness, but the refined, precise phrasing, clear intonation and the sass, vulnerability and wisdom that marked someone like Ella Fitzgerald as a great also emerge as a strong point on this solid album of seven originals and one cover.

Williams' primary theme is love in it's many manifestations. Songs like "Passing Day" and "Black Love" are about love of self and love of her people. "Passing Day" finds Williams engaging in a conversation with someone. That someone could be a child, a friend or a lover who may wonder whether Williams loves them, or even if the person is worth of love. Williams uses this song to assure the person that he or she is worthy or love, and that the love grows stronger daily. "Black Love" serves as Williams' way giving honor and respect to her parents and grandparents who played a key role in her musical, intellectual and spiritual development. The song also serves as a counter to the prevailing view that the black family is dysfunctional.

Affairs of the heart make up the balance of the tunes on Light Up The Darkness. Williams and her co-writers prove to be adept storytellers on songs such as "Reggae Love," a song that tells the story of losing touch with and then reconnecting with a high school flame. During the time she lived in Washington, DC doing musical theater . Williams clearly immersed herself into DC's local music scene, and that becomes evident on the song "Angel," which is a dance song that features DC's signature sound - Go-Go. A true music geek,

Williams leaves the well-trod path when choosing the albums' one cover - Patti Austin's "In And Out Of Love." Williams often has to remind listeners that this is Austin's song during live performances because the song is not as well known as Austin's duets with James Ingram. If this studio version is indicative of Williams' live work, listeners may think this is her song because the singer inhabits the record.

Williams' performance on "In And Out of Love" is filled with passion and it's clear that she enjoys singing this song. Of course, that can be said of her performance on every song on Light Up The Darkness. Sometimes I wonder what motivated an artist to select the title for an album. In Williams' case, the decision to name this album Light Up The Darkness is pretty obvious. The musical landscape often appears pretty bleak for soul music lovers. However, the world brightens considerably whenever soul music fans hear artists who understand and respect the rich musical history, and know how to give that classic sound relevance in contemporary music. In short, soul music fans want old souls for a new day. Williams proves that she fits that description on Light Up The Darkness. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes



Read more: Colie Williams - Light Up the Darkness (2011) (review) | SoulTracks - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews - SoulTracks.com


Every once in a while you come across an outstanding artist who is doing their thing right in your own city. That happened to me last week-end when I made it to The Islander in Washington DC to catch Colie Williams. I had heard about her and had conversations with her manager Keyonne Brooks who had been referred to me by my colleague David Nathan. I was quite pleased with the show Colie gave us that night.

Mixing carefully chosen covers with her own well-crafted original songs, Colie is my favorite kind of singer - one who knows a good melody when she hears it and then knows how to deliver it. Her voice is very soothing and smooth. Her notes are always clean and clear. She has a confidence about herself on stage that makes her performance more enjoyable because you feel you're along for the ride with her.

Originally from the Bronx, NY, Colie has been working the stage since high school and through college at Syracuse University. Since relocating to Washington DC, she has performed in musical theater and eventually formed her own brand and created what she calls "Holistic Soul,"? music to lift and inspire. That's what was evident this night.

Her original songs "The Rhythm"? and "All You Need" were definitely crowd pleasers. Also "Passing Day" is an inspirational song Colie offered with believable passion.

When she did Chrisette Michele's "Like A Dream," she infused the song with a sweet jazzy flavor. Corinne Bailey-Rae's "Like A Star"? was simply beautiful and intimate. She also reached for something unusual, turning to the Patti Austin song "In and Out Of Love,"? which was perfectly suited for Colie's style. She also did her own take on Patti LaBelle's "Love, Need and Want You" Not many singers would cover a Labelle tune! One thing in common with these songs are their beautiful melodies and only a strong, sure vocalist would step out and fearlessly master them the way Colie did.

Her four piece band Soul For A New Day (plus a guest soloist on trumpet) were the perfect complement to her vocal styling. The guitarist, D.L. Wotson, in particular stood out, ably supporting Colie and also stepping out with some style of his own that would make Wes Montgomery and George Benson proud.

If Colie is ever in your town do yourself a favor and check her out. And if you are in the DC area, she has a weekly gig at JoJo's on U Street on Wednesdays. I plan on being a regular.

- SoulMusic.com


Old school soul is showing its face it seems with more regularity as new artists are coming on the scene wrapped in tunes drenched in stylings reminiscent of some of our favorite soul artists from back in the day. New York-bred chanteuse Colie Williams is one of those singers. Giving us a sound that is an artful blend of Teena Marie meets Angela Bofill, Colie is a singer who revels in her love for classic soul and confidently presents music that she dubs "holistic soul." Performing regularly at Jojo's, a spot on the historic U Street corridor in Washington, DC, Colie is preparing for an upcoming tour to present her first collection of music, Light Up the Darkness, that she hopes to complete soon. Like many indie artists, she is using the convenience of Kickstarter to help her fund her project as she works to complete it. The upcoming album will feature this track, "All U Need." Give it a listen and tell us what you think.

- Soul Bounce


Every so often a light shines into the darkness of musical mediocrity and from the shadows emerges a fresh new artist with a gift that brings illumination and perspective to their listeners - Colie Williams is such an artist. Colie has had a very diverse background in music. From gracing the stage at the historic Apollo Theater and the Kennedy Center to singing in festivals and clubs nationally, Colie definitely has had her experience live and is ready to release her debut CD “Light Up the Darkness” in March 2011 to share her musical light with the world.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Colette Williams (affectionately known to her friends as Colie) took the stage after her junior high school teacher recognized her vocal talent. She encouraged Colie to attend Music & Arts High School in Harlem. After graduation, Williams continued her studies at Syracuse University where she participated in their musical theatre program. Although an education major, performing piqued her inherent love for music and provided her with a restorative experience that she would be unable to deny.

Colie’s devotion to music and theatre led her to Washington, D.C. There she began touring and performing with various professional theatre productions, most notably, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. After concluding her theatre work, Williams turned her focus to developing her own distinctive sound. “I’ve always felt a strong connection to legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack and Billie Holiday.” Spirited by the influence of these legendary greats, Colie began honing a melodious style all her own.

With an established vision for her sound, Colie and her band (Soul For A New Day) naturally complement each other with seamless precision during their performances of timeless covers and enticing originals. Though often compared to songstresses like Jill Scott and Teena Marie, Colie’s musical style uniquely blends sounds of sultry jazz and classic R&B with therapeutic elements that speak to the mental, emotional, and spiritual well - being of her listeners. This singer/songwriter creates music to lift, inspire and share her truth. Colie's performances intentionally set out to create intimate landscapes where she connects and shares her vision with the audience.

As Williams reaches back to call upon the classic styles of Ella, Sarah and Billie to inspire her music, her message reaches forward towards today’s audiences. - The Urban Music Scene


Neo-soul is one of those categories that sometimes is hard to figure out or dissect. But it is encouraging knowing there are many urban vocalists today who are embracing the past without sounding too outdated. From the veterans Jill Scott to the recent voices Colie Williams, old-fashioned smooth soul with a fierce attitude is more alive and well than ever. A junior high school teacher recognized Williams’ talent which ended up paving a secure road for the Bronx, New York born singer/songwriter from that day. Graduating from the prestigious Music & Arts School in Harlem, Williams pursued music and theater at Syracuse University, though she ended majoring in education; a wise move so she could further market her already formidable maturity as a business woman and musicality. Since she moved to Washington, D.C., Williams toured extensively in the theatre world, including The Kennedy Center for the Arts. Eventually, she started concentrating more on concert performing, where she currently is a popular attraction in the D.C. region. Williams’ debut, Light Up The Darkness on Wonders of Music, showcases the original material that she brings to the stage every night. In the spirit of Scott, the incomparable Teena Marie (Marie’s producer on Congo Square gives a certified thumbs up for L.U.T.D.) and other vocal heroes, Williams meticulous voice oozes soul all over the recording studio; creating a breathtaking collage of jazz, reggae, blues, go-go and R&B.

Light Up The Darkness begins on a resounding note. “Ol' Soul For A New Day” pays a fitting tribute to the classy jazz stylists who affirmed for Williams a reason to sing: “This is for the ancestors: Ella, Sara, Billie,” delivered with sophisticated orchestration anchored by marching rhythms. Laid back funk with rolling bass grooves flows over “Everywhere I Go” and “In and Out of Love,” the latter once recorded by a legend in her own right – Patti Austin. Demonstrating Williams’ respect for old-school music of different flavors, “You/Reggae Love” drops the soulful lover’s rock reggae along with a dub remix bonus. One of the first singles from Light Up The Darkness is “All U Need,” a justifiable choice for the internet music loyalists to experience that Marie and Scott vibe rub all over their ears. “Angel,” originally written as an R&B song, adds the lively go-go rhythms straight out of D.C. Many of Williams’ songs reflect the theme of being in and out of love. “Black Love” spreads gratitude to everyone who initiated the gift of love, in learning about her roots and in how her mother shaped her character: “She taught me to have an opinion.”

With Light Up The Darkness, Williams is off to an assured start as a recording artist who should be seriously considered on more adult contemporary radio play lists and tours outside the D.C. region. Extra props to her backup band - Soul for a Day, and co-songwriter Kawani Ali for lighting up the classic soul landscape on Light Up The Darkness.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene - The Urban Music Scene


Discography

"Light Up the Darkness"- March 2011

Photos

Bio

Every so often a light shines into the darkness of musical mediocrity and from the shadows emerges a fresh new artist with a gift that brings illumination and perspective to their listeners.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Colette Williams (affectionately known to her friends as Colie) took the stage after her junior high school teacher recognized her vocal talent. She encouraged Colie to attend Music & Arts High School in Harlem where she majored in vocal studies. After graduation, Colie continued her studies at Syracuse University where she participated in their musical theatre program. Although an education major, performing piqued Williams’ inherent love for music and provided her with a restorative experience that she would be unable to deny.

Miss Williams Goes to Washington

Colie’s devotion to music and theatre led her to Washington, D.C. There she began touring and performing with various professional theatre productions, most notably, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After concluding her theatre work, Colie turned her focus to developing her own distinctive sound. “I’ve always felt a strong connection to legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack and Sade.” Spirited by the influence of these legendary greats, Colie began honing a melodious style all her own.

Holistic Soul

With an established vision for her sound and a new band, Colie Williams featuring Soul For A New Day, naturally complement each other with seamless precision during their performances of timeless covers and enticing originals. Though often compared to songstresses like Jill Scott and Teena Marie, Colie’s musical style uniquely blends sounds of sultry jazz and classic R&B with therapeutic elements that speak to the mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of her listeners. This singer/songwriter creates music to lift, inspire and share her truth. Colie's performances intentionally set out to create intimate landscapes where she connects and shares her vision with the audience.

Since arriving to the District, Colie continues to gain popularity by frequently appearing in famous U Street corridor venues that include, Bus Boys and Poets, The Islander, and Jo-Jo’s. Colie’s audiences frequently request her original material during her performances. Melodic originals such as "Angel" and "All You Need" embody a balance of spirit, melody and rhythms. Co-written with producers The Crank Bros., her style fuses Go-Go, Latin, Classic R&B and Jazz to create a breath of fresh air to the urban adult contemporary music scene.

As Williams reaches back to call upon the classic styles of Ella, Sarah and Billy to inspire her music, her message reaches forward towards today’s audiences.