After featuring several prominent alumni of the 2012 R&B Freshman Class including K. Michelle, Elle Varner, and The Weeknd, SoulTrain.com is back with a new crop of freshman soul singers ready to take the music world by storm.
Who could deny soul singer Luke James this year? Call it nostalgia, charisma, or just outright talent; whatever the case, the R&B crooner set himself apart from the pack with his powerful range and energetic live performance. His extraordinary falsetto on his breakout single “I Want You” garnered his first Grammy nomination for best vocal performance. With his debut album dropping in 2013, it almost seems redundant to classify Luke James as the next leading male of soul music. You can follow Luke James on twitter @whoisLukeJames.
I can’t speak for you, but I like my pop soulful. Apparently so does the industry, as it enlisted singer/songwriter Stacy Barthe to craft hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Rihanna. Never one to be complacent, Barthe released a series of EPs that slowly began to help redefine the sound of R&B in addition to redefining mainstream media’s definition of beauty. Her efforts culminated with a spot on the revamped Motown Record’s roster in early 2012. Stacy Barth is set to release her soulful debut next year. Follow her on twitter @Stacybarthe.
Speaking of the revamped Motown Recording Company, the label looked back at a winning formula to reestablish itself. This formula comes in the form of the four-man R&B group from Philly known as MPrynt. Sticking to the classic harmony style, MPrynt gives R&B groups the much needed edge that other groups may have lacked without going completely over board. Quite simply put, they are classy enough to meet your grandmother, yet edgy enough to drive your little sister wild. Find them on Twitter @MPrynt.
Mateo didn’t make this list last year. Looking in retrospect, it was the best decision; Mateo’s growth and development over the last 12 months has been nothing short of amazing. Whereas before he was a great single with a good niche, in this writer’s opinion he has become a full package. His 2012 was a year for growth and 2013 looks to be that breakthrough year for the vocalist. Catch up with Mateo’s tweets @Mateo.
Marcus Canty is the fact is, unquestionably, R&B. Coming from a wildy popular reality show like The X-Factor, it would be easy to follow a pop trend. Marcus Canty, however, stuck to his R&B roots and has enjoyed a slow, steady build of fans since. His recent appearance on the 2012 Soul Train Awards is an indicator that this soul man is aiming to be a mainstay in rhythm and blues for years to come. Catch @MarcusCanty on Twitter anytime.
What happens when you pair an incredibly talented demo singer with arguably the greatest songwriter of his generation? Ravaughn has worked her way through the rank of the music business and scored herself a deal with Ne-Yo’s Compound Entertainment and Columbia Records. The “Gentleman of R&B” knew what he had on his hands the moment he heard her and wasted no time bringing her into the fold. It’s safe to say that Ne-Yo knows what he’s doing on this one. You can find RaVaughn on Twitter @ItsRaVaughn.
Jake and Papa
I won’t lie. I was truly upset when R&B group Brutha disbanded. I had absolutely no faith that Jake and Papa would survive as a group. I had no reason to believe that their method of putting out mixtape after mixtape would work. I just knew that women would not respond well to their songs. I was absolutely sure that no one would go out to see their live shows. I definitely knew that they would not make the Freshman class list. I am so glad that I was wrong all the way around. Follow @JakeandPapa on Twitter.
BJ The Chicago Kid
It took me a while to get into BJ The Chicago Kid. He didn’t fit the normal format of an R&B singer to me. Eventually that’s what became his draw. He is against the grain. He’s raw. He’s everything the genre is missing for the most part. BJ the Chicago Kid brings the funk of the 70s to the hip-hop of the 90s. There’s a new wave of R&B that is redefining boundaries, and BJ fits right into the groove. His Motown debut is set for release in early 2013. You can locate BJ on Twitter @BJTheChicagoKid.
OK–she’s not new at all. In fact, Tamar has been in the music business as long as her legendary sister, Toni. So why does she qualify for the Freshman Class list? It’s easy. Tamar, as fabulous as she is, is the everyday person. She was told by critics that it was too late for her to start a career. She was told to just be happy being Toni Braxton’s background singer and being married to one of the most powerful men in the business. Tamar knew what she wanted. She knew what she deserved, and she wasn’t afraid to go for it. Her new hit single, “Love and War,” is quite ironic because it was a war to get music fans to love her for being Tamar Braxton, the artist. So far, she’s winning that war. Follow @TamarBraxtonHer on Twitter.
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and has recently appeared on BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new album Soul|Reloaded will be available January 2013. Experience his love of R&B at www.RnBLova.com and follow him on Twitter @nickeden.