Owen Danoff, Crys Matthews, & Kwesi Kankam

Owen Danoff

An up-and-coming Washington, D.C. area performer and songwriter, Owen has song in his blood. Born into a musical family (his father, Bill, wrote such hit songs as Country Roads and Afternoon Delight, the latter earning him two Grammy awards in 1976), he has grown up surrounded by accomplished musicians. At age 16 he wrote his first song, but it was not until he was 20 years old, and soon to be a senior at Berklee College of Music (Class of 2011), that he began performing. He began the summer of 2010 with his first hometown performance at coffeehouse and venue Jammin' Java in Vienna, Virginia, and closed it out with a performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.
Owen's music has been described as a marriage of Jakob Dylan (& the Wallflowers) and Taylor Swift - lots of lyrical consideration, but with a healthy appreciation of pop and rock music. His other influences are many: Warren Zevon to John Mayer, Johnny Cash to Green Day. In live performance, his lyrical variety is obvious, a tongue-in-cheek number followed easily by a soulful ballad. On a solo show, Owen plays guitar, but prefers the bass and plays that when he is with a band. His ability to perform, combined with his comfortable, inviting stage presence form a talent that is not to be missed.

Crys Matthews

Although she is constantly referred to as 'the next Tracy Chapman,' Crys Matthews describes herself and her music as: "Imagine Jill Scott and Otis Redding had a daughter and Tracy Chapman was her god-mother... now imagine she spent summers teaching herself piano in Chicago and guitar in the mountains of North Carolina... that would probably sound something like the music I am fortunate enough to call my own." The music is an infusion of Americana/Blues/Bluegrass/Folk/Funk/Jazz, which, as eclectic as it sounds, is reaching people all around the world and causing them to stop and take notice.

A self-proclaimed old soul, the southeastern North Carolina native first popped onto the local music scene in Boone, NC in 1999 as a vocalist/keyboardist with the band Half & Half before breaking out with her own solo career. Since then she has been a permanent fixture at venues like Caribbean Cafe, Jimmy's Java, Cafe Portofino, and Higher Grounds.

"Music has always been a part of my life -- even before I actually took my first breath," she says. The daughter of a preacher, the 26-year-old admits that gospel music was her first love. "I'm always amazed at how much true soul music sounds like what I grew up listening to in church when I was a little girl," she says.

With a fan base that continues to widen and a second album slated for release in the spring, it seems that things are indeed going to be more than fine for this artist.

Kwesi Kankam

Searching for his path, and with a talent for athletics, his road East and out of Ohio was paved by a football scholarship to Lehigh University.

Soulful music runs through our life like water. It feeds a hunger, satisfies the heart, and reaches out for connection. Joy, passion, peace and pain are lifted through sound, creating a touchstone of emotion. For some, that well runs deep & wide; with the potential to transcend the moment. Kwesi Kankam's voice is a vehicle for that emotion; as clear as a running stream and as expressive as his story suggests.

Born within the glow of the northern lights of Anchorage, Alaska, Kwesi has seen much in his young life and time. From a West-African father of Ghanian descent and a mother from Ft. Wayne Indiana, his music is a tapestry of relaxed grooves and melodic hooks that stay true to his world view and artistic nature.

Raised in Ohio, Kwesi soaked up sounds from his older brother's cd collection – folk, soul, rap, alternative and rock, setting the stage for his musical journey. Lucky to have a sibling employed at a record shop, he would regularly co-op his brothers' discs, absorbing the styles of Dave Matthews, Boyz II Men, Rob Thomas and Alanis Morrisette in the process. From Disney soundtracks to 90s Hip hop, traditional Ghanian gospel reggae and his father's 70s and 80s soul music, it created a gumbo for Kwesi's early musical experience.

Searching for his path, and with a talent for athletics, his road East and out of Ohio was paved by a football scholarship to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Within the first year and a half however, his artistic nature took hold, as Kwesi put sports in the rearview, committing his energy and vision to photography, as well as writing and performing songs with friends at local coffee houses.

This creative shift, aided by his gypsy spirit, propelled him to Europe where he fell in with the bohemian life. As he explains, "I wanted to get out of town for a while so I studied abroad in Barcelona. I had been playing guitar more frequently, so I decided to bring it along with my camera. I fell in love with the Spanish-European culture. I learned the language, avoided all Americans, and documented the whole trip. When I eventually ran out of money, I started busking with my guitar. One day I found myself writing on the side of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, when I realized I wanted to, and could possibly become a songwriter."

" I like to sing for people, and feel that I can be a representative – a voice – for whatever situation I'm talking about or finding others in"

Blessed with a visual eye and an understated vocal presence, Kwesi Kankam speaks with a cool, clear voice in a world evolving at the speed of light. Bringing a 'less is more' approach to his art and music, Kwesi is beginning to make a name in the alt- indie genre with an acoustic /electric blend that is at once, compelling and relaxed, melodic and rhythmic, and ultimately can't be denied.


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