Ganessa James Music

February 2020

Last month took me over with its beauty. Highlight: five beautiful shows at Joe's Pub in celebration of Toshi Reagon's birthday. What a gift to be in circle and celebration with these fierce musicians. Toshi brings the word every time, clearly grounded and clearly expressed, the music is a call to gather and be moved to find what work we can each do to make the world right. A powerful thing to witness, and a word for the start of Black History Month here in the US - where white nationalism is rearing its head again, and so many areas where people should have the right to live their lives in peace and freedom are under attack. It's a good time to give if you've got it, to organizations and folks that are getting folk together to get free. RAICES is a favorite of mine. Also check out Morley's Borderless Lullabies project, an offering of music and readings on Bandcamp with all the proceeds going to KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), who is doing good work in support of children in unimaginable circumstances at the border.

This month I'm excited to get out to the Bay, joining Be Steadwell and Toshi Reagon for their gorgeous duets show at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Join us on February 15th for some goodness - I caught this show in New York and it was some kinda magic. Bay Area family, get your tickets!

Annnd in March I have the delight of joining singer-songwriter Rachel Friedman as she opens for three dates of Indigo Girls tour in New Jersey and Connecticut. Rachel's got some beautiful songs to share, and I'm excited to play some bass, guitar, and sing with her. Catch us on the 17th, 20th, and 21st tour dates. NY metro area family, come see us!

BIG love, familia.

January 2020

Welcome to the new decade, family! Maybe you're feeling like I'm feeling, great waves of change are just waiting to be brought forth by us. I believe we get a say in what it looks like. Do we focus our energy on that which inspires and lights us up? What brings for the best versions of ourselves? Say yes!

I am extremely glad to have brought in the new year (and the new decade!) playing music. I got to roll with the awesome musicians of Sinkane, playing tunes wiht an expansive vision of welcome and freedom. Giving folks the know about what's happening in Sudan - standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom from oppresive systems. A lyric that stays with me from the song 'Everyone' is: when you open your heart, you know it can't be shut. And isn't it so? Excited to make more music with Sinkane a little later this year - stay tuned!

As for this month, it's when we head down to Joe's Pub to celebrate the birthday of the one and only Toshi Reagon. Toshi is the quintessential artist using her gifts to spread the good word, make space for people to gather, and very generously uplifting other artists. The birthday concerts at Joe's Pub this year are January 22nd -25th with the sacred show on January 26th. If you already got your tickets, we will see you in the room for a beautiful convening and celebration! If I wasn't on stage I would be in the audience - every single time, you leave with somethin you didn't even know you were needing.

Beautiful friends, I hope your year is off to a good start. May your seeds flourish. I can't wait to see you out there. When we gather with intention, it makes us strong. Love!

December 2019

As the year comes to a close, it's all about gratitude.
Grateful for all the music I've encountered this year that lit me up!  For friends n family.  And for all the beautiful artists that I had the gift of collaborating with. Most especially to everyone who's come along for the ride - thank you for listening, for coming out to shows, for your time, your energy, and your ears.

New Years eve will find me with the *dope* musicians of Sinkane in DC, which I'm really excited about! And, in January, be on the lookout for Toshi Reagon's birthday shows at the end of the month. And so it goes! Next year, look out for more music from Onliest, more music from yours truly, and more sweet collaborations. Here to stir up joy, connection, and love! Take good care of yourselves and each other. See you out there soon, in love and music.

November 2019

So excited to kick off this month with an Onliest offering at the Underwater Sunshine Fest at Rockwood on November 9th at 7:30pm. This is a festival originated by Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows for music lovers. All kinds of awesome music is on this festival, from the Harmaleighs to Stew and the Negro problem. Check out the lineup at All the sets are free so get your FREE tix HERE, and come early for a seat!

Then on November 16th, I'm joining a beautiful night of music at First Acoustics house concerts in Brooklyn. I'll be opening for acoustic duo Nathans and Rondstadt. There's complimentary dinner at 6:30, and music at 7:30. Come join us! Reservations (required): HERE.

And on November 21st, come join us in Brooklyn for my favorite radical burlesque cabaret night, Compost Bin brought to you by the lovely folks at brASS Burlessque! This edition supports About Face: Vets against the war. Come be in a lovin room, get burlesqued and crooned to and support a powerful cause!

Lastly, I wanna shout out Karen and the Sorrows and their brand new record! Their release party in October was a total blast. Got blessed for the first time live by Ebony Hillbillies and learned a thing or two about life, including: it is possible to do the electric slide to pretty much any style of music! Look out for Karen and her crew, they are on tour, they will break your heart with their songs, and you will love it.

October 2019

And we're in full-on Libra Season! Thanks everyone for all the sweet birthday wishes. Tiffany and I had a twinly Libra weekend celebration, with highlights including seeing Bilal at the Iridum (OH MY GOODNESS!!!) and dancing to the incomparable spins of DJ Rimarkable at the season closer of JOY A Day Party. Not to mention the whole lovely month of performances - BIG love to Sisterspace for having Onliest! To the Real Sexy Variety Party (RSVP) for having us! For all the amazing artists and audience members at Word Rock Sword, and to the indefatigable Toshi Reagon for putting it on 9 years strong!

So September came and brought inspiration. Tiffany and I are so excited to reflect that back on October 18th at Littlefield in Brooklyn - where we'll be opening the night for Karen & The Sorrows new record release! I'm just telling you it's gonna be a great night of music and you should be there. It's Onliest, My Gay Banjo, the Ebony Hillbillies!! And then we all get to enjoy what Karen and the Sorrows have cooked up on this latest CD. Definitely come through, we want to see your faces and feel your energy, and fellowship. Get your TIX: HERE And if you're out and about in Brooklyn on the 19th, come by Peace & Riot, where Onliest will do a sidewalk acoustic set from 2:30-3pm getting lit with Open House NY weekend.

Then on November 9th (drumroll please)! I'm so excited we get to come full circle with the Underwater Sunshine festival, a beautiful ride that started back in April of this year. You can catch the videos we recorded then on youtube HERE, and come see us expand on this live at Rockwood Stage 3 on November 9th at 7:30pm. We'd love to be able to fill that room with FRIENDS n FAMILY - so save the date! See you out there, in love and music.

September 2019

September is all lit up with music! To start it off, Onliest returns to Sisterspace festival on the 6th. Down in the Delaware Valley with musical performances, workshops and fellowship, Sisterspace is a sweet weekend getaway. This year's guests include Ferron, Amythyst Kiah, Layla June and more! Got your tickets to the festival? Come see Onliest at the Late Night Blues Cafe on Friday night at 11.

Then on September 21st, comes one of my favorite nights of the year - Word Rock Sword concert at Le Poisson Rouge. Produced by the brilliant Toshi Reagon, the festival Celebration of Women's lives is in its ninth year. As part of the week's events, catch Jacqueline Woodson's book release featuring Rootstock Republic at Joe's Pub on September 17th. Then on Saturday the 21st, come get lifted at Le Poisson Rouge with musical guests from Nona Hendryx to Morley, to Alsarah and MUCH more. Circle up with us for a magical night of music and fellowship - see you out there! TIX: HERE.

Lastly, on September 25th, kickin off our birthday festivities, Onliest is joining a special night of performance at the brand new Real Sexy Variety Party (RSVP)! This month is the kickoff of the new monthly edition of RSVP at the sumptuous Norwood Club. Come for a night of dance, burlesque, comedy and music, then stay for the afterparty! Only 50 seats available for each show, so get your tickets early. Use code FAMILY for ticket discount, TIX: HERE. Thanks for hanging - stay tuned for more music!

August 2019

Gratitude for a joyful July! Big love-shout to Nickel&Rose and SistaStrings. They hit NYC on the tail end of their tour at the end of July and on one of the hottest days of the year, and lifted the room with their gorgeous singing and musicianship. We left that room just as smitten as last time we shared the stage. If you see these fierce bands comin to your town, DO NOT miss their show! The following weekend, the Toshi and Pete Seeger sing-a-long, part of Joe's Pub's Friday night Cabaret and put together by the inimitable Toshi Reagon was a total blast. Folks came out! And sang along with us, creating a high vibration on a perfect summer Friday evening. Thanks to everyone who joined us!

On August 8th, I'll be playing some songs in the round at 'Live From The Vault: Songwriter Sessions' at Putnam's in Brooklyn. Come through, have some delicious food, drink, and hear some songs and stories behind the songs. This month's edition of the Songwriters Session features Lara Herscovitch, myself, and Carolann Solebello, a terrific songwriter. I'm excited to dig in the crates and share some 'rare grooves' from my original compositions. Then on August 11th, Onliest returns to Rockwood Music Hall! Last time we had a beautiful room full of folks hangin with us. Tiffany and I are excited to get back on this stage and make a lil music withya.

Comin up in September: Onliest is excited to join the Sisterspace Festival Lineup! We're playing the Late Night Blues Jazz Cafe on Friday September 6th. This year's festival line-up is epic, including Ferron, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, CC Carter, e nina jay, and one of our songwriter faves Amythst Kiah! So get your tickets for the festival and come through for an incredibly special weekend in the Delaware Valley. Sisterspace Festival is welcomes all folk who identify as female and non-binary folks as well. Be sure to register by August 20th for early registration pricing. Then on September 21st, the Word Rock Sword concert returns - year nine! This is the wild musical ride we take each year, a culmination of Toshi Reagon's festival celebration of women's lives. Look for readings, screenings, and other cool events - then join us Saturday the 21st for the concert!

So this August, the BELIEVER Ep turns TEN. Ten years of Believer! It took such a massive effort to bring that project forth. I'm still proud of this work. Believer is the first song I ever wrote on guitar. The rest of the suite reflects a hopeful state about life and love, in spite of the bumps and bruises I'd encountered along the way. You can hear Believer on Soundcloud, Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, all the places. Thank you for listening. Epic thanks to Lionel Sanchez Jr (Tranzitions) who mixed and mastered this work. Tiffany and I will be working with Lionel on our upcoming recording project, soon come!

July 2019

Summer is in full swing and July is coming through with so much music! This month there are several chances to catch Onliest (Tiffany James and myself) playing live - we hope you'll come join us! First, on July 5th, come check out The Slowdown, a very special evening of healing, sustenance, ritual, and song at House of Yes, produced by LAB/SHUL. The invitation of this evening is to shake of the rush and grind and just BE. Be present, fed, serenaded, be moved. More info HERE.

Then on July 6th, join us at the Wild Project for Pas De Deux: A Performance Summer Salon. This is a 3 day festival celebration of the power of love, running July 4-6. Curated by partners in art and life Oxana Chi and Layla Zami, you'll see performances of dance, music, theatre and more, all by partners, siblings, couples, collaborators. Details and schedule HERE.

In the second half of July, Onliest is thrilled to share a bill again with Nickel&Rose! These incredible musicians knocked us out when we played together last at C'mon Everybody. They've been touring with SistaStrings who'll also join this bill, a fierce sister duet who blend their classical background with rhythm and blues. On July 20th, all three pairs come to light up the stage at Branded Saloon. Not to be missed!

Then on July 26th, Toshi Reagon's GOODFolk presents the Toshi and Pete Seeger sing-a-long outdoors at the Astor Place cube (Near Joe's Pub)! In honor of what would be Pete Seeger's 100th birthday, we'll be offering songs from his catalog and songs that have served as a call to action. Including guests Taina Asili, Shelley Nicole, Onliest, Josette Newsam Marchak, and more. When we gather our voices together, change becomes possible. We hope to see you out there!

June 2019

Happy summer, happy Pride month! The past few weeks, I've been both startled by the news AND amazed by the capacity and efforts that people of conscience, activists, artists, and regular folks are putting forth. We resist harmful regimes of separation when we reach out to each other, when we donate to support efforts for communities in need. When we support our indigenous folks, young folks, trans folk - especially trans women of color, our migrant siblings. Just to name a few! There are many efforts underway. If you're not already engaged I invite you to find one thing and support it. A dear one is making this beautiful effort to offer care to migrants at the border, show some love if you can: HERE.

I get to kick off the month playing music with Nona Hendryx and Vernon Reid at BAM's R&B Festival at MetroTech on June 6th at noon. Nona and Vernon open the festival with a set they call "Respect", a musical celebration and elevation of women's autonomy. This is a free lunchtime concert, so come on through and enjoy the vibes!

And that's plenty of awesome for me, getting to play with these legends? Yes. Taking some time to reconnect with friends and family? Yes. Celebrating what there is to celebrate, because we will not let the small vision of others turn our world to bleakness? YUP. This month I also get to participate in a local sweat lodge that some fam has been putting on for the past few years, and wow - this is year TEN. I was there for year one! I'm so proud of folks who are doing work to keep giving us space to heal and gather. What can I say, I just feel joyful, witnessing y'all. :)

One more thing I'd like to share with you is about Onliest, which is this project with Tiffany James and myself. This year is us entering into double decades of making music in this project, with lots of interesting twists in the journey. In April, we were very lucky to be asked by Ehud Lazin to come in and film a few songs for a video festival called Underwater Sunshine, a festival that happens twice a year, hosted by Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows. The springtime iteration is the Garden Sessions. A marvelous thing where like 50 bands come in, play a handful of songs, and then the video is streamed, and the beautiful lights of the festival chime in about the work in writing and podcast. Katie Mullins writes some of the loveliest things I think that have ever been written about Onliest HERE. (THANK YOU!!!) And Adam Duritz shouts us out in his podcast with author and music journalist James Campion HERE in Episode 63! (THANK YOU!!!) A whole bunch of gratitude, in short.

Love blast to all. Friends and Family.

May 2019

Beaming with gratitude for the gorgeous music and community spaces of these past few weeks. Grateful to Toshi Reagon and all the change-makers in the community circle in North Carolina. Grateful to the sparkling gathering of folks who came to be with Tiffany and I at Rockwood - y'all made my heart sing for real. Grateful to all the artists that I get to work with and learn from. And that we get to say somethin, do something, move something with these gifts.

I'd like to invite my Brooklyn folks to Queer MF on May 3rd featuring awesome queer NYC artists. The night's brought to you by Pls Pls Me who will share some of their irrepressible tunes - you'll hear from other musicians and wordsmiths as well. We're gonna be hanging and sanging and more at Branded Saloon, starting at 8pm and we hope you can join us. I'm excited to be playing a solo set for this show - got some feelins to share!

Then on May 17th and 18th Onliest will offer some music in the Real Sexy Variety Party (RSVP) at Arlo hotel Soho! This is such a fun set of shows, burlesque, music, all varieties of sexiness in a really cool space. Come through and check this out it's a unique night out in NYC.

Beyond that, I plan to go n check out poetry, music, the works. T'ai Freedom Ford's book release, Toshi's curation of Carnegie Hall's migration festival, and, and... Hope to see you out there. Love!

April 2019

Come through, Spring! I'm seeing the blossoms coming forth here in New York. It comes with such a feeling of joy and hope. And along with that, gets me energized to be out in community, witnessing and sharing gifts. That said, if you are in the Chapel Hill or Durham North Carolina the weekend of April 12th, please do come and check out The Alchemy of Change: A Parable Becoming Three-Day Festival, curated by Toshi Reagon as a culmination of her work as a DisTIL fellow at Carolina Performing Arts. It features events including sound healing, film, a BIGLovely concert on Saturday the 13th at Memorial Hall, and a community song circle with selections from the Parable Opera on Sunday the 14th. So much that is good here. Please come join the circle.

Then on April 28th, Onliest (Tiffany and Ganessa James) makes a Rockwood debut! I'm very excited to make twinly sounds with my favorite person at this venue where we have seen so much music we love. Come catch us that Sunday at 5pm. The show is free with a pass the bucket donation offering. We'll make some sweet sounds and afterwards we can go shake a tail feather with the homies at JOY: A Day Party in Brooklyn - YES!

Also, the Centered Podcast is out! Check out this cool meditation centering a young person of color finding her own path. The theme song Waterside, written by your truly. I wrote a bit last month about this song's origination, and I'm super glad to have it connected to this beautiful work.

Next month, I'll be making some music at Branded Saloon as part of Queer MF and Onliest will play in the Real Sexy Variety Party (RSVP) at Arlo hotel - as always, hope to share space with you.

And circling back to the beginning. On April 18th, I'm honored to join brASS burlesque in a special Compost Bin show honoring the life of the beautiful DJ Chocodelish, Sean Mair. This is going to be a really special night with many different offerings. So let's be in community! Let's speak the words of appreciation to each other while we can, and let's gather and honor those who have transitioned. Let's look out for one another. With kindness and care.

March 2019

Starting off the month of March with a gratitude to the wonderful organization that is Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) and to all their fellow First Amendment Safe Spaces! Tiffany and I offered song as part of BAX's Arts and Artists in Progress Awards the first weekend of March. Honorees included some folks close to our hearts, like ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), Irondale, and Paloma McGregor's Dancing While Black. Gratitude to the artists and arts organizations that are making safe space for a multitude of voices to be heard, especially in the current political climate. The art space creates an opportunity for a different sort of dialogue to happen, which is critically important right now.

Excited to share that towards the end of March, the 'Centered' podcast will be released, with my song Waterside as the theme music. This fictional podcast follows a queer black protagonist who's making a choice between a 'sensible' career path and following her heart. Episodes will be starting on March 23rd running through May - I'll keep you posted with links.

So a bit about Waterside, it's a song I wrote a few years back, for which I thank my immersion in the songbook for 'Zinnas', the opera by Robert Wilson, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Jacqueline Woodson. The opera celebrates the life and work of Clementine Hunter, a self taught African American painter whose work often reflected on her experience of living/working on a southern plantation. I played bass for the show's run in Lyon France and fell hard for the voice-driven, acoustic guitar supported compositions by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon. When I got back from France I was inspired to start playing acoustic guitar again, and Waterside was one of the first songs to arrive. As much as anything, it's an incantation for respecting each other's freedom, an invitation to the place 'where we all lay our burdens down.' An early version of this tune is here on soundcloud: Waterside. This is a song I think I'll keep returning to, as it continues to evolve in my imagination.

In April: I'll be playing bass with Toshi Reagon's BIGLovely at UNC Carolina Performing Arts Center, followed by an offering at Current Art Space in NC covering some of the Parable Songbook. In late April, Tiffany James and I bring Onliest to Rockwood Music Hall. We'd love to see you there. As always, thank you for listening and following along on this journey!


February kicked of with a bang! Toshi Reagon, Juliette Jones and I played a set of activist oriented music at Brooklyn Musuem's First Saturdays as part of the closing celebration for the Soul of a Nation exhibit. One of my favorite moments was hearing Toshi sing Nina Simone's Young Gifted and Black in that beautiful clear ringing voice. The atrium was full of family and the vibe was a delight. Afterwards we headed upstairs to birthday-twirl for one of my favorite DJs - DJ Rimarkable! A hot night indeed.

So what's next? On March 2nd, Tiffany and I will be part of the Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) Arts and Artists in progress awards, as Onliest. We're so excited to be part of that night and offer some music in celebration. Later on in March will be the release of a new podcast that includes an original song of mine, Waterside. You can check out an early version of this song on soundcloud. I'll have more to share about this song and the the podcast release in March - so stay tuned!

I'd also like to shout out some cool events coming up through the rest of February that are very much worth checking out. On February 12th, catch the spectacular Martha Redbone and her band at Joe's Pub for the early set, then stay for Xavier Smith's annual Ladies of Soul Tribute on the late set - this is a whole night of awesome. Then on February 17th, catch Toshi Reagon at the Park Ave Armory with some incredible artists in a symposium on Culture in a Changing America. And on February 28th, you won't want to miss Tariq Al-Sabir, an incredible young artist bringing a special gift of music to the stage at the Rubenstein Atriuim. Go get you something good!

See you out there, in love and music!

January 2019

HELLO 2019! We are so here! Calling forth wishes of all that's good as we swing into this cycle. We get things off to a bangin start with Toshi Reagon and the Word Rock Sword Musical Celebration of Women's Lives family joining "We Resist!" This night features a host of artists including Fandango at the Wall with Arturo O'Farrill, Marc Ribot's songs of Resistance, Samora Pinderhughes Transformations Suite, and so much more. WRS featuring music from Toshi Reagon, Allison Miller, Misthi, Onliest, and other special guests. If you're goin to the fest, be sure to come check us out - Sunday January 6th, 6pm at Le Poisson Rouge.

Come the end of the month, it's Toshi Reagon's Annual Birthday Concerts at Joe's Pub - YEAR 35! Toshi has such a special gift of music weaving community. Like always, you gotta be in the room to feel it. Come celebrate: January 23rd and 24th, All Women All the Time band, 25th and 26th with the BIGLovely OG's, and Sunday the 27th for the Sacred Music show. I'm playin bass on all the shows this year and I'm so excited. Toshi's just released some new music: SpiritLand. Get yourself a copy and be moved. Then come rock with us at Joe's!

When we gather and allow ourselves to be present with one another, there is an alchemy that shifts something within us. These are challenging times, and a way through is together. It will be an honor to be in the room with you, at these shows, wherever we gather in community. We keep sight of our own beauty in resistance, witnessing each other with love.

December 2018

Happy December fam! The year's coming to an end and I find that I have all sorts of things to be grateful for. My dad was in town for a while and got to hang through some Onliest rehearsals. He came to check us out in the International Human Rights Art Festival, which was a terrific joy to be a part of! He said often how much he loves the songs I've written. And charged me with doing more to share them with the world. So I got my homework, yeah?

Before we turn the calendar into the new year, I'll invite you to two happenings in December. On the 12th, Onliest will joining the lineup at the Resistance Revival Chorus' Holiday party at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The Chorus is phenomenal AND there will be Special Guests, so you're around, you'll wanna check this out! Then on the 16th, Onliest will be playing a set at C'mon Everybody opening for Nickel and Rose and Karen and the Sorrows. We're excited to put down some twinful harmonies and to check out these amazing bands. Hope to see you out there!

Grateful to everyone who's been hanging out with me on this musical journey so far. Thank you for listening and for coming out to see me play. There's more to come next year!

November 2018

I'm kicking off the month of November in the Bay Area with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely! We're playing two fantastic shows at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Each night'll be something special. I'm so glad to be out on the west coast again and to be playing with this incredible band. If you're in the Bay, please come out and hang with us. We all have somethin to give each other.

Later on, I'll be doing some cool stuff with my band Onliest. We're doing a special private house concert this month that I'm really excited about. I got songs on my heart and I can't wait to sing em with my twin Tiffany James. Then on the 17th, Onliest will be playing in the Internation Human Rights Art Festival at the Wild Project. This festival is a week of events starting on the 12th - please check out the events and come hang with us on Saturday for a night of performance including dance and song.

Sending out a blast of love for us all. Let's all hit the polls on November 6th and show em what a wave of love can do - whatcha think? <3

For Your Ears:
Title track from my EP Believer