It’s been quite a year for soulful Chicago singer Jamila Woods, whose vocals happen to have been featured on Chance the Rapper’s fantastic “Blessings” and whose spotlight has finally arrived in the form of debut solo album HEAVN. Woods’ work, which can also be heard on Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” and The Social Experiment’s “Sunday Candy”, has already catapulted her to the upper echelon of Chicago artists, and HEAVN may just put her in darkhorse contention for end-of-year lists. The album is a fascinating blend of soul, hip-hop, R&B, and even folk rock. Above all, it’s hopeful — the kind of music we desperately need in a time when chaos and struggle and hatred dominate the headlines. Here’s what Woods had to say about her work:
HEAVN is about black girlhood, about Chicago, about the people we miss who have gone on to prepare a place for us somewhere else, about the city/world we aspire to live in. I hope this album encourages listeners to love themselves and love each other. For black and brown people, caring for ourselves and each other is not a neutral act. It is a necessary and radical part of the struggle to create a more just society. Our healing and survival are essential to the fight.