By Matt Cosper
December 24, 2017
Vocalist and instrumentalist Blanche J was steeped in Christian music during her youth in central Florida. She was born into a family of musicians and vocalists who had her singing in the choir when she was only three years old. In spite of her study of various brass instruments, it was always her voice that was front and center. As a young woman she moved into solo and lead positions in her family and church choirs, and continued to develop her distinctive alto voice at Florida A&M, singing in the concert and gospel choirs while working with churches in the Tallahassee area.
The months after graduation found Blanche relocating to Charlotte, where she began to expand her musical palette. Finding a new mentor in local artist Paul Whitley, Blanche has been collaborating with musicians in the jazz and soul world, reaching out to a larger audience along the way. Her 2013 EP I Am Muziq established a storytelling voice a step removed from the themes of gospel music and grounded in the everyday hopes and earthly dreams of regular folks. Straightforward lyricism and production serve to frame Blanche J’s rich, easy voice.
Her new single “Grey Skies” is a more sophisticated effort, featuring more depth in writing, which neatly captures the emotional impact of realizing a new love affair might be the real thing. The brightness of the lyrics are an interesting contrast to the woozy production style. Vocal delay and tripped out organ lines are used to disorient, reflecting the narcotic effects of a maximum strength love jones. The overall feeling of the track moves from an unabashedly optimistic groove into a realm of dopamine overload, when the love is maybe too strong. When the track ends suddenly, cutting off midline, you have to wonder what has become of the singer. This is the depth that can come from blending interesting, forward-thinking production with a vocal talent as warm and engaging as Blanche J’s.
Listen to “Grey Skies” by Blanche J: