For the last year, pianist and singer-songwriter Calvin Brown has been working on a solo project under the name Calvin Presents. Best known for his work with artists like Kenneka Cook, Angelica Garcia, and Steven Boone, he said the inspiration for his solo work comes straight from the headlines that he tries to ignore.
“As much as I try to avoid the news, I can’t help but feel a certain gravity and darkness hovering over this time in our country’s history. ‘Spin’ was just my attempt to capture that feeling,” Brown wrote in an email. For his first official release, Brown has premiered “Spin” on RVA Mag.
“Spin” features a rap verse by Marcus Tenney, who also plays in Richmond-based Butcher Brown and No BS Brass Band. The song was mixed by Brown’s sometime bandmate Scott Lane, who also produced Kenneka Cook’s debut album, Moonchild.
For a debut, this is a moody piece. The song was written by Brown in response to the increasingly toxic and polarizing political discourse that has gripped the United States for the better part of three years. The dirge-y, monolithic piano lines in the song absolutely reflect the heavy-handed subject matter, as does the theatrical vocal melody. The message is clear: this a surreal moment in our country’s history, and the search for an adequate response isn’t as straightforward as anyone wants it to be. “Spin” is an earnest attempt to capture the undercurrent of anxiety that many people are experiencing due to the seemingly endless Trump presidency.
“I think a lot of people will be able to feel and relate to what I’m singing about,” he said.
To hear Brown live, head to the Richmond Jazz Festival, where he’ll be performing on Sunday, August 12.
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond