Andwele Gardner, better known by his stage name Dwele, was raised in a musical family in Detroit, Michigan. He played piano from the age of six, later learning to play trumpet, bass and guitar. When he was 10 years old, his father was shot dead outside his home; seeking inner healing after this trauma, Dwele learned to put his emotions into his music as a form of therapy. In 2000, he recorded in his bedroom a demo of his original rhythm and blues songs, and within a week sold all 100 copies from the trunk of his car. Dwele's sixth and most recent album, Greater Than One, was released in 2012.
Headlining at City Winery tonight, Dwele's performance was nothing but smooth. Whether his rhythm and blues styling leaned towards jazz jams or rap, it was always rooted in vintage soul. Tempos were often soft and slow, and emphasized the signature finesse of the contemporary neo-soul movement. Seated at his organ for much of the show, he invoked gentle moods and grooves, and through this foundation led his band into tasteful, spirited jams, much like the late Donny Hathaway. Frequently, Dwele moved away from his keyboard to the edge of the stage, injecting the songs with a more intensely expressive dynamic, and near the end of his set, he performed an extended song from the audience, dancing with his fans. Dwele is a class act.