I’ve mentioned ONUTSS (One Nation Under The Soul Shack) in a few of my posts, and some may have wondered, what in the world is an ONUTSS?!! Many of you already know; for everyone else, here’s the back story!
ONUTSS was co-founded by Detrel Howell and Pamela Nichols (that’s me on the left) late one night in the summer months of 2006 while comparing our calendar of planned outdoor events, which were surely plentiful back then, up until a few years ago. I will get into that in another post.
Rahsaan Patterson’s music touches our soul and the love and passion we have for it brought Detrel and I together in 2005 and we have been friends ever since.
I joined a few online forums where I saw a post by Rahsaan’s sister on Giant Step that said there was a Yahoo group for him, which lead me to new friends and music heads such as Detrel and the rest of the folks
From there, Detrel invited me over to MySpace where everybody hung out–long before Facebook! This is also where all of the musicians, singers, bands, etc. had a place to share their music upon landing on their profile page, (I wish this feature was available on FB). Detrel and I were familiar with a few of the same artists’ music and some we would turn each other on to. This exchange of music and the artists who created it made us question why there weren’t more people who knew about them and the great music they were recording.
We talked about the Sista Factory which was a female indie soul promotion company that produced shows at Joes Pub, NYC. I remember my introduction to the Sista Factory in 2004. Their focus was on featuring female artists performances by Kelli Sae, Karen Bernod, and Ledisi to name a few. Detrel and I were excited to find a way – similar, yet different than Sista Factory to showcase artists and share their music with others; we just couldn’t keep it to ourselves. Hence, we gave birth to ONUTSS, One Nation Under The Soul Shack. We had no idea of exactly what to do with this baby but we knew something good would come of it. In August 2006, ONUTSS scheduled a meet and greet and invited our music, mutual, personal and a host of new friends from MySpace.
The introduction to the ONUTSS concept at our first event; a Meet and Greet at Mocha’s – Harlem, NYC
The following month we received a call from our good friend Tracy Freeman and she asked us to host a listening party for singer/songwriter Choklate. And as the saying goes, “The rest is herstory.”
After the September 2006 event, we began to host listening parties every month for indie artists non-stop for almost a year straight!
Myspace, word of mouth and other soul related outlets were a huge supporter of the ONUTSS brand that helped to catapult our company to a well respected, sought after indie soul promotion company.
Although ONUTSS’ mission was to help shine light on underground/indie artists by giving them an additional platform to showcase their talent, a few of the artists we worked with were already established. They included: Two-time Grammy nominated saxophonist and flautist, Najee; Singer, MC, self-taught keyboardist, and prolific songwriter, Angie Stone; multi-talented, platinum-selling recording artist, KeKe Wyatt; Elisabeth Withers who appeared on Broadway in The Color Purple as Shug Avery; and Gordon Chambers the award-winning/hit-making songwriter for artists you love like, The Isley Brothers, Witney Houston, Brownstone and Anita Baker. When he decided to step out on his own, ONUTSS was one of the promotion companies that worked with him on multiple occasions.
ONUTSS Celebrates Their 1st Year Anniversary!
ONUTSS receives the “Making a Difference in Music Today” Award
The ONUTSS Ladies sincerely appreciated Jeanine Antoinette (Vibes of Soul Ent.) and Silawn Lewis (Agape) recognizing the work we put into “spreading good music to the masses!”
Kendra Ross and Ty Causey were the featured monthly artists when we received the award
ONUTSS Presents the Luther Vandross Tribute
One of mine and Detrel’s proudest moments was the Luther Vandross tribute show to celebrate his 58th birthday! It was simply amazing to see Kenny Wesley’s vision come to reality. Detrel and I were ecstatic to be the promotion company to bring this event to life! It was the first of it’s kind for us because it was the first time we hired artists to perform, no less than at the legendary Blue Note, New York City! ONUTSS sends a special thank you to Kevin Harewood for the video footage, that keeps these memories very much alive and unforgettable!
The featured artists were:
Valvin Roane aka “V”
Our lovely hostess with the mostest, Lorenda Robinson of Brown Baby Girl
Assistant Vocalists, KiKi and Tess
Band Members: Music Director, Kelvyn Bell on guitar, Kim Davis on Bass, Daru Jones on Drums and Alex Marcelo on Keys.
Luther Vandross Tribute
Detrel recaps the evening, blow by blow, and I must say how the smile across my face was wider than the Mississippi River while reading it again, after all these years have passed. Detrel included photos in the blog and I captured some video footage…
Luther Vandross Tribute Show Finale
In particular, Detrel and I are extremely proud to have presented the following artists to our ONUTSS audience: Liv Warfield and YahZarah excelled in their careers to perform with two giants in the music industry–Prince (Liv Warfield) and Lenny Kravitz (Yahzarah). Eric Roberson was nominated for Grammy Awards in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category two years in a row–2010 and 2011!! PJ Morton earned a Grammy nomination in 2014 and two prior Grammy nominations as a member of the pop/rock band, Maroon 5. In 2002 PJ won a Grammy Award for writing and producing India.Arie’s song “Interested.”
We wish all of the artists ONUTSS has worked with the very best in their journey to the top!
Go straight to 31:43 to see Liv’s performance
Go straight to 1:43 to see YahZarah in the mix!
Here are a few ONUTSS hosted event highlights from 2006 – 2010; raw, unrehearsed, and uncut:
Karen Bernod has recorded with one of my favorite bands of all time, Incognito! Please forgive the darkness, it was the very beginning. The camera picked up really good on sound but not so much in this low light…
Kevin Harewood’s Book Signing for “Make Your Move”
Angela Johnson’s “A Woman’s Touch”Pre-CD Release Party
Thanks to Randy Thomas, Universal Music Group, ONUTSS had the opportunity to also work with Angie Stone and Najee at our second home, Billie’s Black in Harlem.
Before I end this post, I’d like to say that it was an emotional ride looking through the videos and pictures that brought back so many wonderful memories. I don’t know how else to explain the feeling. By just loving music the way I do, lead me to work with artists whose music I loved for a long time and would never have dreamed of being in the same room with them, talking face to face.
Other artists I admired, heard of and had seen on the tv show, the BET J List with hosts, Myoshi Marilla and Maven Huffman. I loved that show because it gave a platform to indie soul artists so that they would be seen–the show put a face to the voice. ONUTSS proudly worked with many of the artists who were featured on the BET J List! Unbelievable!
RIP to the artists and supporters ONUTSS had the pleasure of connecting with through the love of music
Detrel and I have so much to pride ourselves on for bringing ONUTSS together as a unit!
To view more videos of the artists ONUTSS worked with, go here ONUTSS Videos