Rock On! Meet the women who are making vital new music in Atlanta

When the president of the Recording Academy suggested during the recent Grammy Awards that womend needed to “step up” if they wanted more recognition, the backlash was fierce. The tonedeafness of the statement flew in the face of women topping the charts and forging their own careers on the international, national and local stage.

Atlanta, for instance, has produced Indigo Girls, India.Arie, Janelle Monae and Jennifer Nettles to name just a few. Local stages are filled on a weekly basis by talented female musicians who are making their mark on the world. Here are three you should give a listen.

Chantae Cann

Chantae Cann
With an upbeat and soulful vibe, Cann’s work is a mix of neo-jazz, soul and R&B. “I call myself an ‘inspiration junkie’ because I can literally be inspired by the smallest thing,” explained Cann. “I’m also inspired by my own personal life lessons, so I do a lot of writing from that point of view. It is my continuous prayer that my listeners will feel encouraged, uplifted, and empowered, mainly because I’ve known what it feels like to not feel that.”

Cann has been singing since she was 5 years old, and was encouraged by her mother who was a music teacher at her school, and later she was inspired to break out of her shell by singing with a praise team at church. A diagnoses of Huntington’s Disease has given Cann a unique view of life and what it has to offer her as a musician.

“I absolutely draw inspiration from what some may say is an ‘end all, be all’ situation, but such is not the case,” explained Cann, noting that a strong faith in God has helped her to maintain a sense of peace and direction in her life. “If anything, it has allowed me to become more intentional and deliberate in my mission, which has been extremely life changing, to say the least. Always follow your purpose, and know that everything you’ve had to endure is all for a higher cause and will be worth every last bit of it.”

To hear Cann’s music and learn more about her story, visit chantaecann.com.

Celli

Celli
This quartet of talented cellists perform pieces that are mashups of classical music and other genres to create something altogether new. “We want rock music lovers to end up loving classical music, and classical music lovers to expand their horizons to R&B,” explained Erin Cassel Idnani.

You may have seen them recently when they partnered up with Jermaine Dupri for the new Falcons video, playing four cellos atop Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Celli was formed thanks to one particularly influential cello instructor by the name of Martha Gerschefski with whom they all took lessons and got to know one another. “We found ourselves sitting near each other in the Savannah Philharmonic cello section and had such a wonderful time playing next to each other that we thought to try some chamber music together,” said Jessica Messere.

All four members of Celli – Erin Cassel Idnani, Jessica Messere, Nan Kemberling, and Mary Beth Bryant – run private tutoring studios outside of performing with the group.

Highlights from their past shows include two TedX talks, many performances at Spivey Hall, which they generally refer to as their favorite place to play, and their crowning achievement of playing a six hour marathon to raise $10,000 for an organization called Peace of Thread.

“They help give refugee women hope in this country, and being able to hand them a check with enough money to sponsor 10 women’s job training was a completely humbling experience,” said Idnani. “If we aren’t going use our gift of music to help the world, what is the point?”

Celli continues to seek ways to give back to the community and connect classical music with other genres. Their next ‘Celli-thon,’ as they call it, will be a benefit for AWARE Wildlife on May 19.

For more information on Celli’s upcoming schedule, visit atlantacelli.com.

Adelaide Tai

Adelaide Tai
According to indie/folk/Americana musician Adelaide Tai, the time and place are right for women to create new music in the city. “Atlanta is a fabulous place to be making music. I’ve noticed an especially fun movement of women collaborating, sharing knowledge, and stages with each other in Atlanta music and that feels good to be a part of.”

Having grown up mixed race in the South in a strict religious community, Tai used her love of music and art as a means of communication. “I am such an introvert that I could easily become a hermit painting and hanging out with my chickens at home all of my days,” said Tai. “Music helps me go outside! I have to leave the house to play shows and it keeps me somewhat socialized. I couldn’t live without either.”

Musically, Tai is inspired most by “girls with guitars,” and lists Patty Griffin, Feist, Sharon Van Etten, and Valerie June as her current influences.

Before putting words to chords, Tai wrote poetry, and it was thanks to a college boyfriend that she felt encouraged to add a melody. Together the two performed at bars and small venues around town, and after the relationship ended she taught herself guitar so that she could continue playing.

In the years since, Tai has continued playing around town and she’s currently working on recording a solo album. While she is in the studio, she often references color palettes and visual aids as she develops her music. “There are things I can communicate through music that I can’t through painting,” she explained. “The opposite is true also of course.”

Find out more at hiadelaide.com.

Isadora Pennington

Photographer, designer, writer, & artist. FILA

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