In Your Ear: Kamilah Forbes

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Kamilah Forbes, the artistic director of Hip-Hop Theatre Junction, shares some of her favorite songs and why she likes them. Among artists included are: Eric Roberson, Janelle Monae and Fab Five.


And we end today's program with the occasional feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests about some of their favorite tunes. Earlier this year we caught up with Kamilah Forbes. She is the artistic director of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival. Her eclectic musical choices take us from soul to funk to reggae.

Ms. KAMILAH FORBES (Hip-Hop Theater Festival): Hi, my name is Kamilah Forbes. I'm the artistic director of Hip-Hop Theater Festival.

(Soundbite of song, "The Newness")

Mr. ERIC ROBERSON (Singer-songwriter): (Singing) Well, I guess I'm just caught up in the newness.

Ms. FORBES: Now, I am listening to, in my iPod on heavy rotation, is Eric Roberson's new album. You know, I just think he's a phenomenal musician, songwriter, composer and kind of one of the leaders of the, you know, neo-soul movement.

(Soundbite of song, "The Newness")

Mr. ROBERSON: (Singing) Dont know what tomorrow holds, but I hope shes holding on from this point on, yeah. Ever since shes signed on board we been going hard. So hard. Til like 8:45 a.m. Now Im at my 9 to 5. Half sleep. But never feeling so alive, yeah, yeah.

Ms. FORBES: I think that he has such an inventive ear when it comes to songwriting and a rich and approachable voice.

(Soundbite of song, "The Newness")

Mr. ROBERSON: (Singing) Check this for me 'til the newness comes.

Ms. FORBES: Who else am I listening to? Oh, Janelle Monae.

(Soundbite of song, "Come Alive the War of the Roses")

Ms. JANELLE MONAE (Musician): Tommy thinks the crazies are back in my mind. Tommy says the children are clouding my head. When everything is wrong I dance inside my mind. That's when I come alive like a schizo running wild. That's when I come alive. Now let's go wild.

Ms. FORBES: What I really like about her is her innovativeness, just as a performer.

(Soundbite of song, "Come Alive the War of the Roses")

Ms. MONAE: (Singing) We're kicking at your window and keeping you up. And if you come to find me I'll color you red. We dancing in the dungeon every Monday night. That's when we come alive...

Ms. FORBES: I've seen her perform live a few times and she's just so exciting to watch onstage.

(Soundbite of song, "Come Alive the War of the Roses")

Ms. MONAE: (Singing) Now let's go wild.

Ms. FORBES: And also a group by the name of Fab Five. There is a song that I absolutely love and it's call "Jamaican Woman."

(Soundbite of song, "Jamaican Woman")

FAB FIVE (Music Group): (Singing) Jamaican woman, a sugar and salt. Some a dem a ginnal an' will make you bawl. Jamaican woman, a sugar and salt. Some a dem a ginnal an' will make you bawl.

Ms. FORBES: They talk about what's special about the women that come from each parish, and it's sort of a parody on each of the parishes but it is super cute.

(Soundbite of song, "Jamaican Woman")

FAB FIVE: (Singing) Then some of the women is very kind, but doesnt wink your eye then broke a line. The (unintelligible) woman danced for the (unintelligible)...

Ms. FORBES: My family is from Jamaica and this was sort of the music in which my parents brought over and played on heavy rotation. They were a group that were popular in the 1960s in Jamaica and I've grown up with it and I've, you know, just become a big fan lately.

(Soundbite of song, "Jamaican Woman")

FAB FIVE: (Singing) Kingstown woman knows everything. Them love excitement and they love to sing. Jamaican woman...

MARTIN: That was Kamilah Forbes telling us what's playing in her ear. She is the artistic director of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival that offers a blend of hip-hop music and stage performances. If you'd like to hear our original conversation with her, please go to the Program page at and select TELL ME MORE.

And that's our program for today. Im Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Lets talk more tomorrow.

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