Arts & Leisure

Bristol folk icon releases new album

On three sun-dappled days last March, five voices of the musical group VOCO gathered in Mobile, Ala., to record in the beautiful Dauphin Street Studios. Little did they know the world would begin shutting down in response to COVID-19 the next day. Moira Smiley and VOCO scattered to shelter at home — Smiley came back to Bristol. Soon after, as cries for social justice echoed around the world, these 12 freshly-recorded songs took on a new urgency. 
From the sharp, shocked inhale that opens anti-racist anthem, “Sing About It” to the rhythmic ripple of the empathic “Refugee” and sweet banjo-driven protest of “Days Of War” and “Oh Susannah,” this album expresses communal grief and a call-to-action through music of the body — voice, hands and feet.
“As a white folk singer in North America, I feel the breadth of my privilege and my discomfort as I navigate dangerous information silos and seek to act responsibly,” Smiley said. “As a singer who inspires others to sing, I hold tight to our ability to listen, to fight ‘othering’ and to hold humility at the center when we use our voices.” 
This new album, In Our Voices, features choral-and-folk icon and New Haven native, Smiley; Canada’s queen of soul, Dawn Pemberton and silver-toned Karla Mundy; and gifted Long Beach-based creators, Gregory Fletcher and Jake Asaro. This collection of songs-for-five-voices wraps grief in harmony and thunderous body percussion. VOCO brings fire to 12 songs calling out racism, violence and inequality. The album releases tomorrow, Feb. 19. Check out addisonindependent.com to see an exclusive look at the beautiful and mesmerizing “Sing About It” music video animated by Christine A. Banna.

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