Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Muddy Magnolias at the Mercury Lounge

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jessy Wilson was working professionally in musical theater by the age of 10. While in her teens, Wilson sang backup for Alicia Keys, then worked four years with John Legend, and then will.i.am, Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq and Babyface before she began writing songs for American Idol's Fantasia Barrino and others. Wilson left New York in 2013 with aspirations of making history as an African-American female songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. There she met Kallie North in 2014. North had lived in Texas and Mississippi, relocating to Nashville hoping to write country hits. Together they started writing what turned out to be country rhythm and blues songs, and there were no better singers to interpret them than themselves. Muddy Magnolias' debut album, Broken People, will be released on October 14, 2016.

Showcasing with a mere 33-minute set tonight at the Mercury Lounge, Wilson and North demonstrated that opposites can create a perfect musical storm. Muddy Magnolias' performance was born in familiar terrains, marrying the best of two formerly separate genres for a refreshing new spin. The country roots were as loud as the rhythm and blues was clear. Like rubbing two sticks together, they ignited heat. The two vocalists often sang separately, but frequently the choruses were electrified by gospel-rousing harmonies soaring to the heavens. The songs were as comfortable in a pickup truck as on the A train. Gutsy, rowdy and rocking, Muddy Magnolias proved that two traditions can be better than one.

Visit Muddy Magnolias at www.muddymagnolias.com.