meta-scriptAlan Lomax Archives Partner With "Little" Steven Van Zandt's TeachRock On Teaching Resources |

Alan Lomax

Photo: Corbis/Getty Images


Alan Lomax Archives Partner With "Little" Steven Van Zandt's TeachRock On Teaching Resources

The cultural materials collected by one of the most celebrated folklore collectors and musicologists in America's history are on their way to a classroom near you

GRAMMYs/Dec 5, 2019 - 07:03 am

The legendary body of work collected during the life and career of Alan Lomax is about to reach a whole new generation. The Alan Lomax Archives have announced an exciting content partnership with "Little" Steven Van Zandt's TeachRock and Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. 

Under the new partnership, The Association For Cultural Equity in conjunction with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will provide content to TeachRock to be utilized in creating lesson plans and other teaching resources.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">All of Smith and Gladden&#39;s recordings are available via <a href=""></a>, along with the entirety of the audio and photographs collected on the Southern Journey. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Alan Lomax Archive (@CulturalEquity) <a href="">August 26, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Working directly with teachers and schools TeachRock incorporates music into core curriculum by distributing lesson plans and other educational materials.Van Zandt, who is best known for his role as longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, is an ardent supporter of music education. Perhaps the Boss describes the program best.

“[Little Steven’s] TeachRock program brings an essential curriculum of music and culture into school and makes it available at no cost to educators,” Springsteen said as he inducted Van Zandt into the New Jersey Hall of Fame last year. “In a time of cutbacks in arts funding, Steve’s programs are keeping kids engaged in the arts, and in school — this is his greatest legacy.”

Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation also offers teachers and school administrators workshops to introduce the concept of arts integration for culturally responsive pedagogy using their TeachRock curriculum. Wasting no time in their new partnership, the first four lesson plans developed from the Lomax Archive's resources are already available, and more are in development.

For more information about TeachRock, visit the organization's website.

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Bruce Springsteen performing in Philadelphia
Bruce Springsteen performs during his Born In The U.S.A. tour in Philadelphia

Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images 


How Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The U.S.A.' Changed Rock History — And The Boss' Own Trajectory

On the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's seminal album detailing working class life Reagan era America, reflect on the many ways 'Born In The U.S.A.' impacted pop and rock music.

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2024 - 01:39 pm

Bruce Springsteen himself might not be particularly enthusiastic about his seventh studio effort, Born In The U.S.A. ("a group of songs about which I've always had some ambivalence"). But for the record buyers of 1984 – and indeed much of the decade thereafter – it was a towering achievement in combining classic and contemporary American rock.  

Born In The U.S.A. was co-produced with Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt, and represented a complete divergence from his previous release, the acoustic affair Nebraska. Audiences didn't seem to mind the change in tone: The 12-track LP spent seven weeks atop the Billboard 200 and sold more than 17 million copies in America alone. 

It also equaled the record set by Michael Jackson's Thriller by spawning seven consecutive U.S. Top 10 hits, including the oft-misunderstood title track, "I'm On Fire," and his highest-charting, "Dancing in the Dark." (The latter netted The Boss his first GRAMMY Award, for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.) Born's themes of working-class life in the Ronald Reagan era struck a chord with homegrown audiences, albeit occasionally for unintended reasons, and picked up a coveted Album Of The Year nod at the 1985 GRAMMYs. 

But there's more to Born In The U.S.A.'s story than blockbuster sales and critical acclaim. It also changed the course of rock music in several ways, whether reigniting America's love of the genre, proving that synths and guitars could work together in perfect harmony, or simply popularizing a new way to hear it. Ahead of its 40th anniversary, here's a look at why the record fully deserves its status as an all-time great.   

It Revolutionized The Sound Of Heartland Rock

Already hailed as a progenitor of the blue-collar, rootsy sound known as heartland rock, Springsteen once again proved to be something of a revolutionary when he added synths into the mix. Born In The U.S.A. continually puts pianist Roy Bittan's skills to great use — whether he's echoing the whistle that haunts the narrator of "Downbound Train," giving "I'm On Fire" its ethereal sheen, or imbuing "Dancing In The Dark" with a glowing warmth.   

Born In The U.S.A. helped codify synths as a key component of the decade's rock sound. Within a few years, most of The Boss' peers had enjoyed synth-based success: Don Henley with Building the Perfect Beast, Tom Petty with Southern Accents, as well as Robbie Robertson's self-titled debut. Even The Boss' hero, Bob Dylan, went electric again on Empire Burlesque. And you can hear its modern-day influence in the likes of the Killers, Kurt Vile, and, most notably, proud Springsteen acolytes The War on Drugs.   

It Bid Farewell To Rock's Most Iconic Backing Band  

With their uncanny ability to capture and expand upon his musical vision, The E Street Band have been as integral to Springsteen's success as The Boss himself. The likes of bassist Garry Tallent, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, and drummer Max Weinberg were responsible for the Wall of Sound that enveloped 1975 breakthrough Born to Run, while 1980's The River was a concerted attempt to replicate their prowess on the stage in the studio.   

But while they provided occasional backing on 1987 follow-up Tunnel of Love, Born In The U.S.A. was the last time Springsteen fully utilized their talents until 2002's return-to-form The Rising. It also proved to be a proper farewell to Van Zandt, who left the set-up halfway through recording to pursue a solo career. The constant whoops and cheers, however, suggests that all parties were determined to end things on a celebratory note.   

It Turned Springsteen Into An MTV Icon  

Springsteen had only previously released one music video, and he didn't even make an appearance, with 1982's "Atlantic City" consisting solely of austere images of the titular location. But keen to show off the muscular physique he'd developed during the following two years, The Boss made five videos for Born In The U.S.A., and bagged some impressive names to help him land that all-important MTV play.  

Scarface director Brian De Palma helmed its most famous, the "Dancing in the Dark" promo in which Springsteen plucked a then-unknown Courteney Cox from the crowd. Indie favorite John Sayles pulled triple duty, directing the performance-based video for the title track and developing the narrative treatments for "I'm On Fire" (Springsteen plays car mechanic tempted by affair with married customer) and "Glory Days" (Springsteen bonds with son via baseball). Boasting footage from the Born In The U.S.A. tour, "My Hometown" rounded off the whole audio-visual campaign which was twice recognized at the VMAs.

It Kickstarted A CD Revolution

Although compact discs had been around for several years, Born In The U.S.A. was — fittingly, considering its title and blue collar themes — the first to be manufactured in America. Within just a few years, the homegrown CD market had skyrocketed from virtually zero to more than $930 million. And with at least 17 million copies sold domestically overall, it seems reasonable to suggest that Springsteen's seventh LP was responsible for a significant percentage.   

No doubt that its iconic front cover — shot by celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz — helped the album stand in record stores. Shot from behind with Springsteen clad in denim, posing in front of the Stars and Stripes, Born In The U.S.A. provided audiences with one of the decade's most recognizable images. Explaining the creative decision to ignore his Hollywood action hero looks, The Boss told Rolling Stone, "The picture of my ass looked better than the picture of my face."  

It Spawned A Game-Changing Tour  

If you need any proof of how stratospheric Born In The U.S.A. sent Springsteen's career, just look at its accompanying tour. With 156 dates across North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia, the tour raked in approximately $90 million. (It remained the decade's highest-grossing rock tour until Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason concluded four years later.)  

Springsteen's success also appeared to convince David Bowie and Tina Turner that solo artists could handle a stadium crowd as well as any band.   

The Born In The U.S.A. trek was monumental for several other reasons: it was the first to feature new E Street Band member Nils Lofgren and Springsteen's future wife Patti Scialfa. It established his long-running love affair with the now-demolished Giants Stadium, a New Jersey venue returned to 23 times. The tour formed more than half of Springsteen's Live: 1975-85 album that topped the Billboard 200 for four weeks in 1986. Until Garth Brooks' Double Live 12 years later, Live: 1975-85 the highest-selling live album ever.  

It Celebrated Male Friendship  

Springsteen has never been afraid to be vulnerable when it comes to an area most rock musicians seem afraid to address: the importance of male friendship. "Ghosts," for example, is a heartfelt dedication to all the bandmates he'd lost over the years, while "This Hard Land" is a tale of brotherhood inspired by his love of western maestro John Ford. But it was on Born In The U.S.A. where The Boss first showed that songs about entirely platonic love can be as emotively powerful as the more romantic side.   

Indeed, the ambiguous gender on "Bobby Jean" has led many to believe the concert staple is a testament to his relationship with Van Zandt. And "No Surrender" appears to revel in the camaraderie they shared back in their younger days. Foo Fighters ("The Glass"), the Walkmen ("Heaven"), and Death Cab for Cutie ("Wheat Like Waves") have all since followed Springsteen's lead by opening up about their all-male bonds.   

It Ushered In A Wave of Presidential Appropriation  

It's not something that Springsteen will be shouting from the rooftops about. But Born In The U.S.A. — specifically its famously misunderstood title track — essentially ushered in the trend of presidential candidates co-opting chart hits regardless of the artist's political leanings. Indeed, long before the likes of George W. Bush vs. Sting, Sarah Palin vs. Gretchen Peters, and Donald Trump vs. Neil Young and John Fogerty (among many others), The Boss took umbrage with Ronald Reagan's plans to use "Born In The USA" for his 1984 reelection campaign.  

Despite Springsteen's flat-out refusal, he was still celebrated by Reagan in a stump speech, declaring that America's future "rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen." And both Pat Buchanan and Bob Dole, also seemingly mistaking its rally cry against the treatment of Vietnam War veterans for a patriotic anthem, cheekily used the track before its writer got wind and shut them down.   

It Revived America's Love Of American Rock  

While Eagles' Hotel California, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, and Boston's self-titled debut had all racked up colossal sales in the '70s, Springsteen's commercial opus was the first guitar-oriented U.S. release to achieve similar numbers in the '80s. By the end of the decade, Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Journey's Greatest Hits were also approaching the 20 million mark, while Bryan Adams' Reckless, Van Halen's 5150, and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet were just a few of the domestic rock efforts that immediately followed in its chart-topping footsteps.  

And while the use of synths brought Springsteen's sound into the '80s, The Boss didn't forget about his earthier roots. Born In The U.S.A. is also steeped in the classic sounds of American rock, from the honky tonk leanings of "Darlington County" and rockabilly of "Workin' On The Highway" to the front porch folk of "My Hometown." Its lyrical content might not always have been patriotic, but its accompanying music was as American as apple pie.   

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Van Morrison
Van Morrison

Photo: Bradley Quinn


Living Legends: Van Morrison On New Album 'Moving On Skiffle,' Communing With His Roots & Reconnecting With Audiences

"It's in the backdrop of everything I've ever done," the two-time GRAMMY winner says of the primordial soup of skiffle, a scrappy, street-level genre formative to 1960s folk and rock in the United Kingdom.

GRAMMYs/Mar 10, 2023 - 08:06 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, presents an interview with two-time GRAMMY winner Van Morrison, one of the most influential singers, songwriters and bandleaders of the 20th century, who codified "Celtic soul" for a generation. His new album, Moving on Skiffle, is available now.

These days, Van Morrison tends to be in the news for reasons that have little to nothing to do with music.

His irascibility toward the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, et al has been well documented — as have his public clashes with federal governments over pandemic lockdown policies. Sure, such policies have a lot to do with his livelihood; for a time, they precluded live performances for the master bandleader. In response, he released a string of protest singles with Eric Clapton: "The Rebels," "Stand & Deliver," "This Has Gotta Stop"; the topic made its way into his solo music as well. Robin Swann, the Northern Ireland Minister of Health, lambasted him as "dangerous" for his position on lockdowns; he cheekily responded with a song of the same name.

As such, the resultant discourse — and controversy — has lately earned him more attention as a political agitator than a still-vital musician. Which can threaten to obfuscate the ocean of output (or as he idiosyncratically calls it, "product") Morrison's released in the past decade and change.

That's a shame, because his recent run of albums has been fantastic; at 77, the two-time GRAMMY winner's talents remain essentially undimmed. 2016's autumnal Keep Me Singing was a treasure; so was You're Driving Me Crazy, his 2018 album with the late Hammond B-3 titan Joey DeFrancesco. Others, too, like 2018's rollicking The Prophet Speaks, which also featured DeFrancesco, and 2019's earthy Three Chords and the Truth are mightily satisfying as well.

His last two, 2021's Latest Record Project, Vol. 1 and 2022's What's It Gonna Take?, were charged with dark, sardonic energy as Morrison took shots at the government, marking the seventh or eighth Van's Mad epoch in his discography. 

Despite traces of said animus at the Man, everything about his latest album, Moving on Skiffle, out Mar. 10, signals a new beginning — from its premise (it's all from the skiffle songbook, reimagined to various degrees) to its sound (simple, breezy, ebullient) to its title, suggestive of dusting off and forging ahead.

In this edition of Living Legends, sat down with Morrison to discuss the making of Moving on Skiffle, getting back onstage after music ground to a halt, and why the folk-oriented genre of yore remains fundamental to everything he's made in its wake.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Skiffle loomed so large in the music flowing out of the UK in the 1960s — among so many other artists, it birthed the Beatles, the Hollies and, from what I understand, you. Can you lay the groundwork as per your relationship to this beautiful mishmash of an artform?

"Mishmash," yeah. I don't know if you've done any history research, but it basically started with: Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Josh White got together to make this kind of music. Someone called it "skiffle." It was pre- the British kind of skiffle. It was forgotten about in the U.S., but it made its way to the U.K. and was incorporated into this kind of music. 

It was basically a mixture of mostly American folk music and Black American folk music, stemming from Lead Belly and a guy in the U.K. called Lonnie Donegan. He came out with a record ["Rock Island Line"] and it was a big hit. So, that started the ball rolling.

How did it come into your life?

Well, because I heard it. It was all over the radio. There were programs that had people on Saturday mornings, and Lonnie Donegan was on the radio quite a bit. I got hold of the 78 r.p.m. with "Rock Island Line," and "John Henry" was on the B-side. But it was all over the place then, sometime in the '50s.

**When I listen to Moving on Skiffle, I get the sense that these songs have been floating around your consciousness through all your eras, phases and decades. How did you boil down the skiffle songbook into this curated sequence of 23 tunes?**

Well, with a lot of work.

I'd like to home in on a few tunes that stand out to me. Can you talk about your connection to "Sail Away Ladies"?

Yeah, well, I mean, again, it's one of those songs that's been in various versions, and it's an old song. I think it's from the Appalachians or something. It's also called "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O." It came out as that. It came out as "Sail Away Ladies." There's, like, hundreds of versions of this song, you know? So, it's just part of the genre.

Another favorite is "Gypsy Davy," a Scottish ballad that runs so deep in the tradition, from what I was reading. My wife, who grew up on Celtic music, immediately recognized it. Can you talk about what appeals to you about that one?

Well, it's the same thing; it was part of the repertoire. I did it in a band I was in in 1963. It was also part of the folk memory, and it's also been under various titles. It's been done as "Black Jack Davy." In fact, there's a book that goes into all the history of that song, and other songs. I forget the title right now.

"Gov Don't Allow" also resonates with me. I connect to its anti-authoritarian message, which feels harmonious with some of the messages in your recent albums.

Well, that comes from the old song "Mama Don't Allow." I just changed the lyrics. It's what it says in the song. If you follow the lyrics, the lyrics can explain it better than I can right now.

Lastly, I want to bring up "Green Rocky Road." I was pretty blown away by it — it's nine minutes long. I've always known and loved it — Donovan and Tim Hardin's version in particular — but you brought it to a completely new space.

Again, it was one of those songs where there's loads of different versions of it. But I just stretched it out and made it longer, and added some lyrics. I put a few chords in it that I haven't heard before.

When you sing these songs live or in the studio, how does it make you feel to make these new connections with tunes you've known for 60-plus years?

[Slightly taken aback] How does it feel!


Well, it feels like the word you just used: connecting. But it's in the backdrop of everything I've ever done. I mean, this is what I came out of.

There was a book that came out in the UK when I was a kid called American Folk Guitar, by Alan Lomax and Peggy Seeger. Lomax and Seeger were both living in the UK then, and they were actually in a skiffle group themselves. So, it's all connected. This is where I'm coming from. These are the roots.

This is a 23-track album, and you've made so many in recent memory. More than that, they're really good. I listen to Three Chords and the Truth and Latest Record Project, Vol. 1 all the time. I feel like you don't get enough credit for bringing quality and quantity. What's been galvanizing you to make so much music lately?

Well, just 'cause I can do it, and the obvious reason is because of [chuckles] the obvious thing we're staring in the face, this plandemic that stopped the gigs.

You couldn't do gigs. Live gigs were banned. I don't know if you know about all this, but you couldn't travel. It was a couple of years where you really couldn't do gigs. So, the other thing is writing and recording.

It must have taken an emotional toll on you to not be able to connect with audiences. But I can feel that release in this music.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Van Morrison

*Van Morrison performing live. Photo: Bradley Quinn*

Now that you've taken a trip through the skiffle songbook, what's next for you?

Well, there's other product, but it's pointless to talk about it now, because I don't know when it's going to come out. But if and when it comes out, we could do another interview about that, because there's so much stuff I have. I couldn't tell you when the next one's going to be, but we'll let you know when we put it out.

When I think of the throughline of your entire career, I see you as the consummate bandleader. Your interplay and telepathy with a large ensemble seems central to your art in some ways. Are there any musicians on Moving on Skiffle that you'd like to pay a token of appreciation to?

Well, all of them, because they work really well. Especially on this product, this album. There's Colin Griffin on drums, Pete Hurley on bass, Stuart McElroy on piano, Richard Dunn on organ, Dave Keary on guitar. Plus, there's backup singers like Crawford Bell, Dana Masters and Jolene O'Hara.

Don't forget "Sticky" Wicket on washboard! All these people need to be commended for doing such a good job.

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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