Ganessa James Music

News
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

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


October 2018

Greeting October with gratitude. It's fall season here in NYC, my birthday season (hello libras!), you feel the shift around here this time of year. And we've wrapped up another incredible Word Rock Sword, too. That was year EIGHT y'all. I feel like I get one of the best seats in the house, holding the bass down for all these beautiful artists. This time around, I got to lift my voice up too, with Tiffany James in Onliest - we brought a twinly sort of joy. We chose to offer our song 'Lovely One.' We'd been talking a lot about how important our deep connections are with one another - how they help us weather hard times, celebrate good ones. Deep connections of all kinds, with your family blood/chosen, with your besties/homies, your furry friends or creatures of other stripes. You gotta pick someone to love, and someone to stand with, especially now. It doesn't have to be romantic. Hence, lovely one - really about how connecting in a vulnerable and brave way makes us (and life) beautiful! We are grateful to have been part of the thread at WRS this year, which emphasizes community and showing up for one another.

Next up, you can catch me at BAAD's BlakTinX performance series on October 26th. This night is called Strings and Things and will showcase black latinx folks with a focus on us string-wielders! Excited to be a part of this convening, and hope to see you there! Following that... Spreading the word to the Bay Area folks: Toshi Reagon's BIG Lovely will be in your AREA doin two shows at Freight and Salvage on November 2nd and 3rd. Y'all showed us SUCH a beautiful time the last time we played this stage. Really looking forward to seein your lovely faces and making that special kinda magic that happens in a room full of open-hearted folk.

Lastly, hope everyone is taking good care as we lead up to election season. Make sure you're registered to vote as we approach these registration deadlines. Read up on the elections and go vote with a friend. Change happens when people set intention and take action together. Yeah, we can do this. LOVE!


September 2018

I'll be honest with you - I'm still sitting with the unbelievable feat that was the Black Women Rock Legacy Power Jam set at Afro Punk in the last week of August. We lifted up artist voices from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, to Betty Davis, to Skunk Anansie. The stage was opened and blessed by Nona Hendryx and Angela Davis. The Nova Twins came in and slayed the stage. The set was closed with a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Our magic carpet ride was beautifully curated and guided by Toshi Reagon. A brilliant vision manifested. I am grateful to every artist who graced that stage, the brilliant band of musicians, and for all the artists who have blazed this path.

So it's September, and it is YEAR EIGHT of the Word Rock Sword Festival!!! If you've been in past years, you already know the magic. So many beautiful offerings, readings, yoga, community gatherings, and of course the WRS Concert at Le Poisson Rouge. Each year, I think this show can't get any better, but then each year it is powerful and unique, the incredible artists offering their special something - and the room full of absolutely stunning humans with luminous presence and energy. This festival is brought to you by the powerful intention and action of Toshi Reagon. Do check out all the festival offerings, and please come be in the room with us on September 22nd at Le Poisson Rouge, where you'll find the culmination of the festival journey. You'll hear from Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Joan As Policewoman, Be Steadwell, Mishti, many other beautiful artists, AND this year my twin Tiffany and I are really honored to join this lineup with our project, Onliest! Find out more about the festival HERE.

So, as this summer inches closer to a close, I wish for us to find spaces to gather, witness one another, and support each other's wellness and work. The point is that we show up for the people and things that matter to us. Let's look out for one another! There are lots of interesting political possibilities surfacing for the fall and going forward. If you live in NYC, you have til October 12th to register to vote in the November elections. Let's think about the elections as a community project! Pick a few peeps, and agree to go vote. Find out what's brewing in the local elections especially, so your vote can have a bigger impact. We got this!!


August 2018

This summer I've been taking time to see shows and spend time in community. I feel like our connections are the thing that really matters. And seems to me that this is the place where inspiration springs forth. Taking a moment to express gratitude for the spaces and folks that have held me in these past few weeks.

This month I'm part of the house band for the AfroPunk Power Jam set, under the brilliant direction of Toshi Reagon. This set will uplift Black Women Rock Legacy, and it will be completely lit! Really excited to be a part of the festival and especially to work with these musicians. A joyful honor. If you've got your tickets for AfroPunk, come see us on the 26th - we're on just before Janelle Monae!

On August 18th, I am so glad to be hangin out on bass again with Shelley Nicole's blaKbushe! You might recall we celebrated her new record 'I Am American' (produced by Vernon Reid) in February. Stay tuned for more releases from that joint because it is amazing. On the 18th in Bedstuy, we gathering to make a sweet sound in a street concert hosted by our beloved friends at home-goods store Peace and Riot. Good stuff is happening all day, come by, check out the store, and catch the 'bushe at 5pm!

Oh and.. I am, as always, writing lots of music. It's all steadily percolating. I'm excited to share some of the new stuff soon, and grateful to you for hangin out with me on the journey so far. Folks are listening to Believer on Spotify! It tickles me. If you are looking for post-believer sounds ::laughing:: check out my soundcloud. More new sounds soon to come.

(Peeking ahead - Word Rock Sword is coming in September! This is an annual gift of goodnes, and this year my twin Tiffany James and I are making a song offering in the concert with our twinly band, Onliest. Get your tickets!)

As you move this month, I hope you find ways to take excellent care. Whether that's taking a moment of stillness, hanging outdoors, listening to your favorite songs, or kicking it with your favorite peeps. I wish you wellness and peace. Love!


For Your Ears:
Title track from my EP Believer