The first time I heard the music of AHI (pronounced "eye") was in the midst of listening to 120 other song submissions for the DIY Musicians Conference panel I was hosting in Nashville back in August. It simply rose above everything else I heard.
AHI's gruff but sweet voice and openly honest words were my gateway to this young Ontario-based singer. Later that summer night in Nashville, I saw him perform an uplifting set of original, soulful tunes, ending with a cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," a song AHI says he sings at the end of every set with a sense of hope. It was powerfully moving, without a note that felt clichéd or overly nostalgic. At that moment, I knew he needed to play a Tiny Desk Concert.
AHI's performance here at my desk didn't disappoint. In fact, it won over a roomful of NPR employees and some friends who came by to take a chance on a new discovery. With a tasteful band comprised of Frank Carter Rische on electric guitar, Robbie Crowell on bass guitar and Shawn Killaly (a man of a million faces) on drums, AHI put his heart into three songs in just about 11 minutes, all from his debut album We Made It Through The Wreckage, which came out a year ago this week.
AHI ended on the song that first attracted my attention this past summer in Nashville, the song "Ol' Sweet Day." With an uplifting beat and warm sentiment, it simply feels undeniable and universal in its expression of love.
"I've got a lot to learn
You've got a lot to give
We can go anywhere
Rebuild this broken bridge
You've got a heart of gold
I've got a mind that goes
On and on and on to places we'll never know,
But I just want to be with you when the day is done
When the darkness comes
When the ol' sweet day is done"
- "Alive Again"
- "Closer (From a Distance)"
- "Ol' Sweet Day"
AHI (vocals, guitar), Frank Carter Rische (guitar), Robbie Crowell (bass), Shawn Killaly (drums)
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri, Alyse Young; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR
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