Soul purpose: Local musicians unite for a quadruple album release

by Edwin Arnaudin

Laura Reed describes Asheville as “a fusion city” with an unapologetic, intuitive soul scene that brings in elements of jazz, hip-hop and funk. Juan Holladay, guitarist and lead vocalist for The Secret B-Sides, sees the genre as broader still: “For me, ‘soul music’ is the music that energizes a community to be what it can be and to move into greener pastures.”

Such label-defying spirit will be in full effect Friday, Aug. 29, at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall with the celebration of new albums by The Secret B-Sides, Reed, HoveyKraft (multi-instrumentalist Ben Hovey) and Slo_Gold (the side project of Secret B-Sides’ keyboardist Jeff K’norr). All four acts will perform original sets, as will legendary singer Sidney Barnes.

The show marks a homecoming of sorts for Reed, a former fixture in the Asheville music scene with her Boone-based band Deep Pocket. After relocating to Atlanta in 2010, the singer-songwriter called up her Grammy-winning producer friend Paul Worley, with whom she hadn’t spoken in nearly three years. While in the middle of recording Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, Worley invited Reed to Nashville. She drove up the next day and played him a demo. Worley said, “I can’t help you in Atlanta, but if you move to Nashville, I can help you.”

That same afternoon he called producer Shannon Sanders, with whom Reed would go on to write roughly 40 songs, 10 of which made it onto her new album, The Awakening. “I hit it off immediately with Shannon,” Reed says. “I wrote with a lot of people when I got to town – that’s kind of a Nashville thing – but I kept finding myself going back to the songs I was doing with Shannon. They were reflecting where I was the most.”

On records for India.Arie, John Legend and Pink, Sanders built a reputation for taking R&B and hip-hop elements and weaving in pop sounds. “He’d say, ‘Let’s talk about the world and make this bigger – make the message about humanity.’ He takes a personal song and makes it something people can relate to,” says Reed, who recently moved to the Raleigh-Durham area to be closer to family, but maintains Nashville as her musical base.

 

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