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Oct 15th 2003


Turning heads - Rhian Benson Rhian Benson - Gold Coast (Top Sail)


There's not a lot to be said about singers who's beautiful, who's got the right body but can't sing a lick let alone write, produce or perform their own instruments but in the case of Rhian (pronounced Ree Ann) Benson, not only is she strikenly beautiful with the body to boot but she wrote, produce and played several instruments on her debut set 'Gold Coast' as well.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, Rhian grew up both in England and India as a youngster and studied at the London School of Economics and Harvard University. She was surrounded by music her whole life as her grandfather is trumpeter, her father is a guitarist and her mother is a singer. She took up the piano as a child and has been writing songs and poetry ever since.

The album itself is a beautifully well constructed piece of modern soul music from top to bottom. Reminiscence of a young Sade, Rian is delightfully smooth in her delivery and comes up trumps on all facets of the set - very evident in the lead off single Say how I feel. Also as delightful is Invicible tapped with a solid base line and keys Rian voice is masterful in both range and effort giving this track a nods up for me. Other notable are the sultry ballad 'Soul boy', 'Stealing my Piece of Mind', 'I'm in a Bind', 'Sing to a Child' (dedicated to the children of her homeland in Ghana) and the soul searching 'Spirit'.

Gold Coast has already received critical acclaim from top publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Performing Songwriter and Billboard. All tracks were written by Rhian and composed by her on the instruments she plays (guitar and keyboards). In addition, she also co-produced the album along with Grammy Award-winning producers James Poyser (Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Jill Scott) and Bob Power (D'Angelo, A Tribe Called Quest, Me' Shell Ndegocello) so this is one album you might want to have in your collection in the near future. A TY-D Pick indeed. 

Listen to Rhian Benson's 'Say How I feel'

Listen to Rhian Benson's 'Sing to a Child'

Sir TY






Solid output - Dennis TaylorMarlon Saunders - Inspiration (Black Honey)


Truly a man of significent talent, Marlon Saunders has been developing his natural skill lets say from an early age. Born and raised in Maryland, the classically trained singer/songwriter was naturally drawn to music. He started singing at age 5 and studied playing the saxophone at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music.

When edged on by his teachers to enter competitions in Europe, Saunders said that's not for me, he wanted to take a different and more direct route - he just wanted to sing. Deciding on what direction to take was aided by the singer Sarah Vaughn - on vinyl, at least. "I listened to a Sarah Vaughn record that Id played millions of times before," recalls Saunders, "and suddenly, I heard it. I knew I wanted to sing. "

The track I'd like to review is the excellently written and produced Inspiration. Sounding a lot like another talented singer in his own right track (Donnie's - Cloud 9), Inspiration is driven by Marlon's masterful baritone that cradles the lyrics and bring them to life. With a soothing base line throughout Inspiration is idealistly stylish and poised to do damage on the 'Quiet Storm' formats across the country.

Although he's best known for his work with Jazzhole, his debut set see his gift shine even more. Marlon's smooth and seductive vocal approach to music really takes us back to 70s feel good soul of The Isley Brothers, The O'Jays, Donnie Hathaway and Marvin Gaye -- classic-styled vocals that has a strong universal soul appeal

Be sure to give this song a listen to and request it frequent and often because once it's released as a single I'm sure it will occupy the charts top ten - A TY-D Pick indeed. 

Listen to Marlon Saunders 'Inspiration'

Sir TY




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