Grammy Award-nominated Singer, Composer, Multi-instrumentalist and Mint Condition Front Man STOKLEY Brings His Romantic, Riveting and Rhythmic R&B to The August Wilson African-American Cultural Cente
With their velvet vocals, sharp wardrobe and synth-driven percussive arrangements, the St. Paul, Minnesota group Mint Condition has been one of the tightest ensembles on the scene since 1985. Discovered by producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, their lead vocalist and drummer Stokley, became a solo recording artist in 2017. He will perform in the latest installment of the Soul Sessions, a series of intimate concerts featuring some of the most talented artists today, at The August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC), 980 Liberty Avenue, on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available at www.awaacc.org.
Soul Sessions kicked off in October with Afropop diva Angélique Kidjo and also features the self-described "Gentleman of Soul, " Peabo Bryson, on February 11, soulful singer/multi-instrumentalist Meshell Ndegeocello on March 10, and singer/rapper/songwriter Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh) on November 18.
Drummer Questlove, musical director of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, co-founder of The Roots and Oscar-winning director of the documentary, The Summer of Soul, described Stokley as "a singer's singer, a drummer's drummer [and] a musician's musician…" Artist/producer Rodney Jerkins declared that Stokley was "a rare breed, " and writers/producers Carvin Haggins and Ivan Barias proclaimed that he is "one of the greatest talents of our time."
Born Stokley Williams on July 15, 1967, in St. Paul's Rondo neighborhood, Stokley was surrounded by Afro-diasporic culture. As a result of that exposure by his parents, he started playing drums around three years old, and performed with the Black Arts Midwest Drummers at the age of 10, where Prince, working in the teenage group Grand Central, first saw Stokley, encouraged him and later became a mentor. Stokley grew up influenced by a diverse group of drummer/percussionists including Olatunji from Nigeria, Afro-Cuban Congo masters Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria, and jazz greats Max Roach, Art Blakey, Dennis Chambers and Tony Williams. He also learned to play keyboards, guitar and percussion.
Inspired by Al Green, Stokley started singing in St. Paul's Central High School, where he and several of his classmates formed Mint Condition in 1985. Discovered in 1989 by the multi award-winning producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the group released nine albums in three decades, including Meant to Be Mint, Definition of a Band, and Music at the Speed of Life. The group garnered a number of Grammy nominations and also had several chart-topping hit singles including "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes), " "Forever in Your Eyes, " and "U Send Me Swingin'." Stokley, was the group's drummer and lead singer. He also was a sideman for a number of artists including Elton John, Janet Jackson, New Edition, Robert Glasper, Jill Scott and The Sounds of Blackness.
In 2017, after Stokley led Mint Condition for three decades, he launched his solo career when the group went on hiatus and released his debut album, Introducing Stokley, which featured the Afro-Brit singer Estelle, Washington, DC rapper Wale and included two #1 singles, "Organic" and "Levels." His second album, Sankofa, released in 2021, is percussive, poetic and profound, and guest-stars Wale, Snoop Dog and vocalist H.E.R. The single "She" is Stokley's scintillating tribute to the divine feminine.
Stokley comes to Pittsburgh, bearing soulful, sonic gifts born from a variety of musical perspectives. "I've had a very unique vantage point to see things from the back of the stage as a drummer, all the way to the front as a front-man…" Stokley tells Parlemag.com. "I tried to combine these worlds; the world of old and new, smiles and cries and everything in between… and, of course, I love to bend between genres…."
Tickets are $68.00 and are available at www.awaacc.org.
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh's cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119, 000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today. www.awaacc.org
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