Nadine Shah, Choklate, Kool A.D., and Lady Gaga.

Nadine Shah, Choklate, Kool A.D. and Lady Gaga.

This week’s Music Monday playlist features new tunes from Lady Gaga, M.I.A. and Kehlani with throwback tunes from Marlena Shaw, Ronnie Spector and Love. We also touch upon lesser-knowns Jane Weaver, Nadine Shah, Choklate, Bitch’n and many others.

Love her or hate her, Lady Gaga has had an incredible impact on the pop music scene since her debut in 2008 with critically-acclaimed and commercially successful The Fame. With the Born This Way campaign and foundation, Gaga has been an outspoken advocate of LGBTQ issues and anti-bullying. If it feels like it has been a while since you have seen or heard anything new from Gaga, it has been — since 2013, to be exact, save for a jazz collaboration with Tony Bennett.

Related: Oakland Singer Itoro Udofia: “Music Can Come From a Place of Joy and Resolve.”

She has recently spoken to the press, explaining that she needed time to stabilize after finding fame. In an interview with The Mirror, she explained her feelings. “I needed a moment to stabilize. When my career took off, I don’t remember anything at all. It’s like I’m traumatized. I needed time to recalibrate my soul.” While there is yet to be an official video release for her latest track, “Perfect Illusion,” she did perform it several days ago. Here’s the video!

When you think of Seattle, you may not think of an R&B or hip-hop scene, but you would miss out on some brilliant artists if you did not take a moment to dig a bit deeper. Choklate is one of the women breathing life back into soul music, creating a space for it in the drizzly Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Weekly writes of her album To Whom It May Concern, “When the album’s listened to in one sitting, it’s clear Choklate has matured and found a sound that can revive contemporary soul, just when others were questioning if it was dead.”

English-Pakistani songwriter Nadine Shah’s velvety voice can make just about anything sound like a revelation. Shah’s work is reminiscent of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey with hints of ’60s baroque artist Scott Walker and western chanteuse k.d. lang tossed in. According to Pitchfork, Shah’s Pakistani heritage informs a great deal of her music as well. Growing up, her father casually sang Urdu ghazals, a form of Arabic poetry about love and loss, a sound which is prevalent in her own songwriting. Mental health is also a recurring theme in her work, which makes it especially relevant in our difficult modern times. Shah spoke with Rookie, explaining that that the song “Stealing Cars” is about panic attacks and being haunted by irrational thoughts within her dreams.

Make sure to check out Music Monday every Monday for new Spotify playlists to keep you going all week. 

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