Seattle’s got alt-rock. London’s got Britpop. And Detroit, well, Detroit’s got soul. And so does Dwele (whose full name, Andwele, means “God has brought me” in Swahili), a native son of the Motor City.

Jessica Boullion
Dwele-ing in soul and style. (Courtesy of Virgin Records)

Following in the footsteps of Motown legends Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, Dwele has the perfect R&B voice – smooth, emotive, and pitch-perfect. Since his demo, The Rize, began circulating around Detroit, he has become a ubiquitous collaborator, appearing on tracks by the likes of Slum Village and J Dilla. His two solo albums, 2003’s Subject and 2005’s Some Kinda. have taken the R&B world by storm with their clean beats, distinctive character and jazzy instrumentation. In fact, his jazz influence sets him apart from his hip hop/R&B peers – Dwele venerates Miles Davis as much as Stevie Wonder.

A songwriter since childhood, Dwele’s lifelong calling has been music. “Music is what I do and who I am. It’s my release,” he once said, and that release is jaw-droppingly apparent when he steps up to the microphone. Beyond his sublime voice, though, Dwele is a talented multi-instrumentalist, having taught himself to play piano, guitar, bass and trumpet. Indeed, a highlight of his live show is when he takes to the keys, hat slightly tilted, eyes closed and soul bared. Dwele is an old-school soul musician raised on hip hop, and it shows. Also, watch Dwele for character changes – his on-stage persona has been known to change as he performs songs from each of his albums.

Dwele’s impressive showmanship, however, never overshadows the other key component of his performances – his band. Though the lineup frequently changes, Dwele’s backing band is always in top form. Energetic solos, keyboard duels and outstanding back-up singing are commonplace.

A performer who deftly blends the best of the old and the best of the new, Dwele does his hometown proud. Detroit has always been a hub of R&B and soul, and with artists like him continuing the tradition into the twenty-first century, it will continue to be for years to come.

August 11
Doors open at 9:30 PM
$18, 18+
Blind Pig

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