Another year, and another list of breakout R&B stars. The SoulTrain.com Freshman Class list is not simply a gathering of hot singers. It is a collection, year after year, of the sound of a new generation. This year vows to be no different. A shorter list than previous years, the 2016 class is a very exclusive one. Take a look at 2016’s brightest new R&B stars!
SuCh is no newcomer to entertainment. As a matter of fact, she’s probably the most diverse artist on this list. Not only did she release her album Trial and Error on her own label, SuCh has also been nominated for the Henry and Broadway World Award for Best Actress and Best Acting Debut for her portrayal as Celie in The Color Purple. With a number one single on the UK Soul Charts already in the can, 2016 is wide open for SuCh.
You may not know the name, but you’ve definitely shared the videos. L. Young has amassed a huge following via his multi-picture a cappella videos. Over the last 2 years, he’s taken us on a ride through the ‘90s, ‘00s, and today with his classic R&B voice. All of his efforts have led to what seems to be a wonderful 2016. Already touring in support of his album 4Ever Young, L. Young is ready to show the world he’s much more than a cover artist.
Technically, Brian Angel is not a new artist; the former Day26 front man had a musical mentor in Mathew Knowles long before his Making The Band days. The Freshman Class list isn’t necessarily about brand new artists, but more about break-out years. Based on Angel’s “That Guy” single, 2016 will be that breakout year for him as a soloist. Brian Angel is a throwback to the R&B singer that puts his heart on his sleeve. With the upcoming release of his solo debut, DAYBREAK, he’s poised to have the hearts of R&B lovers in his hands.
Did you think Adele was the only international soulful singer? It may seem that way if your only outlet to new music is traditional radio. I challenge you to look a little deeper and see the burgeoning superstar that is Nao Yoshioka. A seasoned veteran in music, Yoshioka’s US debut The Light came via Purpose Music/Nia Distribution. In addition to wowing US audiences with her soulful sounds, she won the SoulTracks.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best New Artist. Watch out, world! Japan definitely has soul.
Neo-soul isn’t a tag a lot of artists today like to carry. For the duo Lion Babe, it’s a badge of honor. Formed in New York based on a mutual admiration and love for music, Lucas Goodman and Jillian Hervey (daughter of the legendary Vanessa Williams) came together to create a sound and amass a following of progressive soul lovers across the world.
I’m glad he’s here, but it’s a shame that Jacob Latimore is on this list. By now, the R&B singer should be on his 3rd or 4th major release. Finally parting ways with his long-time label RCA Records, the 19-year-old R&B star can now continue on the path he started in 2009. After millions of views on YouTube, critically acclaimed mixtapes, and sold out tours, Latimore is essentially starting from scratch as an independent artist. Luckily, he is taking his destiny in his own hands and will release his new EP in early 2016.
Nick Eden is a songwriter/blogger/R&B junkie/entrepreneur coach based in Atlanta, GA. His new book, ‘The Realistic Rich: A Guide To Financial Freedom,’ will be available fall 2016.