What better way to keep my fall hot than with these end of summer music releases, from Raphael Saadiq and Jidenna—bonus, my fave new artist Lizzo is on tour. I’m extremely engrossed with The New York Times podcast series 1619, the audio component to their deep examination of slavery’s legacy in America (stop anything you’re doing and listen to it now). There’s plenty of new offerings on stages to fall love in with, up first The Met’s Porgy and Bess, and a juicy book waiting to be read. Below are six things I’m giddy about this month.
The New York Times’ 1619 podcast
“They say our people were born on the water.” Host Nikole Hannah-Jones drew me in immediately with this stirring imagery as she began narrating The 1619 Project podcast, the audio component of The New York Times’ dexterous examination of the legacy of slavery. In this multi-episode series, which runs throughout the fall, Hannah-Jones, an award-winning journalist, will unpack how enslaving Africans shaped American democracy.
In February 2018 Tessa Thompson signed on to star in and produce Doris Payne’s life story. A quick search let me know why: For 60 years, Payne had bested jewelry stores around the world. Her biggest score? Stealing a diamond ring worth half a million dollars in Monte Carlo. Now Payne tells her own tale in her memoir, Diamond Doris.
Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You Too Tour
“Missy Elliott walked so Lizzo could fly” is one of my favorite lines from Lizzo’s June digital cover story for ESSENCE. Her skyrocketing debut as “100 percent that bitch” shows no sign of slowing down as Lizzo crisscrosses the country on her national tour from now until October 28.
Jidenna’s 85 to Africa
My appetite for African infused bops has spiked thanks to Jidenna’s 85 to Africa. Start to finish, I’m transported between the rapper/singer’s dirty south swag—dripped in tailored Ankara suites and cornrows no less—and his Pan-African hot stew of Afrobeat, highlife and fuji styles. And it jams, especially on tracks “Babouche” feat. GoldLink and “Sou Sou.”
Porgy and Bess
It’s been nearly 30 years since The Metropolitian Opera staged the timeless and heartbreaking musical set in the Gullah Island backdrop of Catfish Row. Starting in September and ending in early 2020, the opera is presenting the Gershwin classic with an all-Black cast. (From far left) Eric Owens and Angel Blue star, along with the incomparable Denyce Graves. But there’s even more Black folk magic tied to this epic production: BET cofounder Sheila Johnson is chairing the opening night gala.
Raphael Saadiq’s Jimmy Lee
During Spotify’s house of Are & Be in New Orleans last July, I had a front-row seat to Raphael Saadiq’s musical genius. Although he’s been busy working with artists such as Solange and on TV shows such as Insecure, it’s been eight years since he released original music. The wait is over with Jimmy Lee, a soulful love letter to his brother, who lost his battle with drugs. On repeat: “So Ready.”
ESSENCE entertainment director Cori Murray wrangles celebrities (a nice way of saying she answers a lot of questions from publicists) across our platforms and cohosts the Webby-nominated Yes, Girl! podcast.