An (Open) Love Letter to Laura Mvula

Imagine an artist with the feminist philosophy of Beyonce and the vocal prowess of Nina Simone. A woman with the style of Erykah Badu and the badassery of M.I.A. Someone with talent, power and a message that transcends typical pop music.

Laura Mvula is that artist. A British vocalist with years of classical music training, Mvula gained international fame after releasing her debut album "Sing to the Moon" in 2013. Two albums and nine awards later, Mvula has collaborated with the likes of Snarky Puppy and Esperanza Spalding. She has lent her voice to events aimed at positive political change and recently composed the music for an entire Royal Shakespeare Company production.

Mvula is the sort of artist who heals through music-- the depth of her emotional toil is evident in the lyrics of her compositions. "I'm flying without you/I'm fine now without you/I've found something better/I love more than ever", Mvula proclaims over a mounting crescendo of string instruments in a rerecording of her first album. Released in 2014, Laura Mvula & the Metropole Orkest features thirteen of Mvula's original compositions backed by 52 classical musicians. Each track on the album has the feel of an epic film score with richly layered melodies that support Mvula's impressive vocal chops.

Her second studio album, The Dreaming Room, is both a musical and emotional feat. Comprised of twelve original compositions, Mvula continues her tradition of collaborating with musical heavyweights, including funk genius Nile Rodgers, as well as jazz legend John Scofield. Signs of personal struggle and turbulence are also evident in this music. In a year when the singer's marriage fell apart and her long-term battle with severe anxiety finally bubbled over, Mvula describes turning to these dark moments as a source of inspiration. In an interview with the Guardian, Mvula described The Dreaming Room as "a beast of an album", noting that "music has been a way to grieve about my marriage, and make sense of what it means that my life has changed”. Having emerged from that strife stronger than ever, Mvula also released a short documentary about living with anxiety and how it has impacted her life and career.

In January of this year, Laura Mvula found out via email that her contract with Sony Records would not be renewed. After some initial shock, Mvula reflected on some sage advice she received from a dear friend, the late R&B powerhouse Prince: "find the means to own your own thing and do it yourself... It's now time for a new season for me, as an independent artist, which is really more true to who I am and what I do." There is little doubt that Laura Mvula will continue to do incredible things, since she really is a phenomenal woman.

Joy the Baker: The Only Cooking Blog You'll Ever Need

Cooking blogs are a funny thing. On one hand, they are a virtual recipe book filled with somebody else's tips, mistakes and beautiful pictures. There is an endless stream of them online and regardless of dietary restrictions, you can find a food blog that caters to your tastes. On the other hand, they can be complicated and esoteric, calling for tons of ingredients we can't find or expensive kitchen machinery we don't have space in the pantry for. Worst of all, our final products never seem to look quite as beautiful as the pictures we drool over online.

Enter Joy The Baker, a cooking blog centered around the life and adventures of Joy Wilson, a hilarious thirty-something baker (and self described donut enthusiast) living in New Orleans. She has written several cookbooks, including a new one all about brunch, and updates the blog, which she started in 2008, every few days with a thoughtful post and new recipe.

Joy's website is full of ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks and general entertaining. Having made several of her recipes (my favorite being her mushroom risotto), I really can't say enough good things about them. The instructions for each dish are concisely written, easy to execute and the serving portions are such that there are always leftovers, which is a plus. The listed ingredients are also really manageable, rarely calling for anything weirdly expensive or hard to find.

Give her blog a look for some excellent inspiration.

Images courtesy of


Dissecting "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

My love for Amy Sherman-Palladino runs deep. As someone who grew up watching “Gilmore Girls” every Tuesday at 5pm, I have missed the incredible wit and pace of ASP’s dialogue and the quirkiness of her characters. While the Netflix reboot of my beloved childhood show was more or less satisfying (a whole other blog post in itself), I think the Amazon pilot The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is Sherman-Palladino’s finest work in a long, long time.

The show is set during the 1950s on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a world filled with family secrets, gossipy neighbors and Chanel-clad facades of perfect domesticity-– not completely unlike Lorelai Gilmore’s childhood. The two concepts differ most obviously in that ASP’s new heroine Midge Maisel does not have a community of outlandish, sympathetic characters to commiserate with. Instead, it is the lone responsibility of Mrs. Maisel to break free from the grasp of this suffocating society. She is an unapologetic rebel, albeit a reluctant one at first– and Sherman-Palladino couldn’t be any more perfect to write such a role.

In a media landscape now saturated with women taking charge of their careers, home lives and body images, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a historically-accurate departure from that. Midge Maisel is a woman who wakes up hours before her husband to brush her teeth, wash her face, style her hair and sneak back into bed-- all to maintain the illusion that she actually wakes up looking like a Neutrogena ad. And she enjoys it, no less. This woman is reveling in her housewifery, loving her calorie-restricted existence. It’s when her life stops following the plan she, her parents and the entire Jewish community have mapped out for her that Midge is awakened to the real possibilities of life. That she can do more than bake brisket and bribe MCs to benefit her husband’s creative outlets is a stunning realization for Midge, furthered by her friends and family's continued narrow-mindedness for the trajectory of her life. Midge finds creative solidarity in the incomparable and horribly unfashionable Alex Borstein (perhaps now filling the lesbian-before-her-time role that Sookie St. James was originally envisioned to be).

Since the pilot is the only episode currently available, I can only speculate that the series will continue to unfold in more outlandish ways over the coming years. It is important to note that Amazon has signed for not one but two seasons of this show based solely off the pilot, making this is the first show in Amazon streaming history with a multi-season order — an enormous but unsurprising achievement for Amy Sherman-Palladino.

Chargaux & Meditations of a G

I first came across Chargaux while reading this article and the first thing I thought was, damn I want green eyebrows, too.

If you haven't heard about the Brooklyn-based art/music/fashion duo Chargaux by now, you're seriously missing out. Comprised of two classically-trained string musicians (violin & viola, respectively), the band first rose to fame after years of busking in the New York City subway stations and publishing covers of pop songs on YouTube.

Since then, the insanely-stylish duo have collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and J. Cole. They also played an Opening Ceremony fashion show, covering tunes by Kanye West and Beyonce.

Musical achievements aside, Chargaux creates unique mixed media visuals, which serve as their EP covers and have been featured in art shows around New York. You can peep all of their editorial photographs featuring their truly unbelievable style, eclectic makeup & ever-changing hairstyles on their Instagram. 

Listen to their most recent project, Meditations of a G, here.