Musician and singer Seanloui is making sure Arizona will be well-represented this Black History Month by expanding his Black Renaissance project with a podcast and compilation album highlighting local creatives that will release throughout February.
Seanloui started Black Renaissance in May 2019 as an event series "spotlighting black creatives' influence on mainstream culture," whether that be music, film or dance. Since forming, Black Renaissance events have taken place in multiple locations throughout Tucson, such as Hotel McCoy and The Screening Room, as well as Phoenix.
Now, the first episode of the podcast and compilation album have been released and are exploring "the Black Artist community who reside in the Grand Canyon state." In the first podcast episode, Seanloui spoke with Marquez Johnson, a dancer and teacher at the University of Arizona (who was previously featured in the Tucson Weekly).
"This podcast was designed to continue to highlight Black artists all over Arizona during the month of February," Seanloui said. "We talked to a brand new bunch of artists and oh man, what an amazing, diverse group. From Marquez Johnson who is a top dancer in Arizona, Shannon Love, who has begun a revolution of love highlighting artists in Phoenix, Franchela Ulises, a revolutionary fashion designer changing the landscape of the fashion industry in Arizona."
The podcast covers everything from the artists' backgrounds and inspirations to advice they'd give to those just starting. In addition to the audio podcast, written interviews with Arizona artists are also available on the Black Renaissance website.
The album, simply titled Volume 1, includes music from artists in multiple genres and Arizona cities. The process of compiling all the tracks took more than six months, predominantly over social media, and resulted in finding some "gems of the desert" who have created music during the pandemic. Represented cities in the project include Phoenix, Tucson and Sierra Vista.
Black Renaissance has showcased musicians like Jae Tilt, Rozotadi, Mattea and Just Najima (whose work landed on Tucson Weekly's best local albums of 2020 list).
"The music on the album ranges from indie rock to pop to hip hop and R&B. The music made by the Black community cannot be contained into one avenue. We make everything," Seanloui said. "This is just a drop of the amazing talent we have here in the Black community and we will continue to search out and do another compilation album next year as well."
As a solo artist, Seanloui has released multiple albums and singles. Growing up with a musical family, he performed in churches and with friends on a variety of instruments. After multiple years playing guitar in an indie rock band, he began his solo project with the mononym Seanloui.
Seanloui plays guitar, bass and sings on his tracks, which blend rock, pop and R&B with clean, modern production—all elevated with his energetic personality and signature voice. His EP The Church Electric landed on the Weekly's best local albums of 2018 list for its balance of danceable rhythms, hit-worthy hooks and quality songwriting.
For more information, visit blackrenaissance.online.
A compilation album and podcast for Black History Month
Also available on Spotify