In Defense of My Own Happiness by Joy Oladokun

Raw emotions and deep insights are combined with catchy, hopeful melodies to make truly captivating music in Joy Oladakun’s (oh-LA-da-koon) most recent album, In Defense of My Own Happiness.

24 unique tracks are packed into the album, each with its own viewpoint delving into love, society, struggle, beauty, or some combination thereof. What all the songs have in common is Oladakun’s signature singer-songwriter style. She’s described on her website as “a new kind of american troubadour” and her music reflects that – while your toes are tapping, head bobbing along to the beat, your mind and heart are absorbing deeply intentional lyrics. Particularly powerful is the specific perspective she brings on the world.

“i feel like it’s not an accident i’m a queer black woman writing and making music,” says the Nigerian-American singer. Her singles criticizing religion and systemic racism, among other topics, have been widely acclaimed. However, as the album’s title suggests, the music at its core is about hope and happiness wherever and however it can be found. “when you listen to me, i want you to feel like you’ve taken an emotional shower. that’s what i’m trying to accomplish for myself. to me, music is a vehicle of catharsis. i write a lot of sad songs, but i always push for a sliver of a silver lining or glimmer of hope it could be better. that’s why i’m writing in the first place. i want you to be changed when you hear me, and not because i’m special, but because i make music with the intention to change myself.”

I was surprised, touched, and fascinated by this album; I kept expecting to find a track that didn’t hook me, something that I didn’t like, that I’d skip past, but I never did. Every song was gentle on the ear but persistently catchy, with lyrics that kept you waiting to hear what came next. There was nothing superficial or frivolous going on, and everything felt like an authentic, intentional celebration of life – the good and the bad. Whether you’re into the singer-songwriter style of folk music or not, I definitely recommend you give a listen to this powerhouse album.

Hidden Music Gems: Global Edition

You may not know that our “global” genre of music CDs incorporates not only great music from around the world, but also great folk music groups from the US. Here are some great albums you can find under Global:

Appalachia Waltz , with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor, which honors the legacy of fiddle and folk music in America. This is just one example of eminent American cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s dedication to folk and global music; he’s also made an album called the Goat Rodeo sessions, collaborating with Edgar Meyer and others, as well as several albums with the Silk Road ensemble, an intercultural collective of musicians, artists, and storytellers, tracing the trade routes and the impacts of the Silk Road, which ran from the Mediterranean to China and beyond.

The Civil Wars‘ self-titled album was the indie folk duo’s second and final, featuring Grammy-award-winning song “From This Valley”. Fun fact: the band’s name was not a historical reference, but actually referred to the battles each of us is fighting within ourselves – based on the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” The pair met in a songwriting workshop, and got early success when their song “Poison and Wine” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy in 2009.

Foreverly, featuring Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day duetting with jazz singer-songwriter Norah Jones, honors traditional Americana and folk music as recorded by country icons the Everly Brothers, while remaining true to the singers’ distinct styles. The Everly Brothers recorded Songs Our Daddy Taught Us in 1958, and it was their second studio album. When Billie Joe Armstrong fell in love with the album, he decided to remake it to make more people aware of it, and wanted to add a woman’s vocals to deepen the meaning. It was actually Armstrong’s wife Adrienne Armstrong who suggested he invite Norah Jones to partner with him – and their voices turned out to complement each other perfectly.

Album 1700 by iconic folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary was the band’s seventh album, featuring their last big hit, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (a John Denver cover). If this cover looks familiar, you might recognize that it’s styled after a promotional photo for the 1967 movie Bonnie & Clyde where the gang held machine guns. It’s an eclectic mix of tracks, standing outside the contemporary trends at the time. As well as the John Denver cover, there’s also a Bob Dylan cover and a song which was eventually turned into a children’s book, “I’m In Love With a Big Blue Frog”. The group itself was a big part of the 1960s folk music revival in the US after their debut album topped the charts for weeks after its release in 1962.

Songs of Our Native Daughters – a collaborative album by four Black female artists highlighting historical issues that influenced black women, using mostly the banjo to echo historically Black minstrel music. Rhiannon Giddens had the original idea for the project, after visiting the  Smithsonian’s  National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and watching Nate Parker’s 2016 Birth of a Nation, in which she felt the suffering of enslaved women didn’t receive enough focus. She then invited other Black female artists to collaborate, resulting in the final team of Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell. A major part of the album is devoted to songs about different aspects of slavery and its aftermath.

Lojo Russo: Discover Local Music!

Lojo Russo recently, generously, donated copies of her most recent CD Fresh Oil – Loose Gravel to the library for circulation! If you’re not familiar, Russo is a local musician who has lived in California and Minnesota, but currently calls the Quad Cities home. She’s influenced by folk, funk, jazz, jam, Irish and indie music, creating a unique folk rock sound. Learn more about her here.

Here are some other QC musicians whose CDs are in our collection:

The Candymakers

Centaur NoirLet’s Start A War

Three Years Hollow Ascension

Meth and GoatsLeisure Time

Lewis KnudsenJoy, Pain, Love, Songs

Broken Social SceneHug of Thunder

MetrolitesIn Spy-Fi

Pro Tip: you can also search the term “local music” in our online catalog to get a list of all the local musicians’ CDs available at all the Rivershare libraries. Don’t forget to use the filters along the left side of the results page – if you check the box for “Music CD” you’ll narrow your results down to just the music.

Can’t play CDs? Then make sure to check out QC Beats, our online streaming audio collection including the original music of Quad Cities musicians and artists. If you’re a musician, submissions are open once a year to add  your music to the collection, so please share!

Upcoming Albums from LGBTQ Artists

Don’t miss these albums from iconic artists of the LGBTQ community, coming soon!

The Lockdown Sessions by Elton John is a collection of collaborations that the British singer recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Stevie Nicks, and many more. The tracks cover a variety of genres and moods for a truly eclectic mix. Personally, I can vouch for this album because I’ve already heard a few of the tracks, including Chosen Family (absolutely gorgeous track with a great message) and Nothing Else Matters (gives me chills every time). If you, like me, spent time in quarantine singing along to everything and making playlists, you might relate to this album!

Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep by Mykki Blanco is the new album from non-binary boundary pusher Mykki Blanco, melding hip hop and rap with club and trap sounds as well as experimental elements. I’m excited for this one because I love more publicity for non-binary artists, AND I just recently discovered this artist through their essay in The Queer Bible (an excellent book!).

 

To discover other LGBTQ artists, try:

Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power – their most recent album which was accompanied by a film released on HBO Max, and which wrestles with the suffocating side of love, pregnancy, creation, destruction and how we claim and use power.

 

 

Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days : the 2021 offering from a country and folk rock staple. Encompassing both intimate contemplation and defiantly rollicking tunes, it’s an album exploring the full breadth of Carlile’s skill and power, with echoes of Elton John and Joni Mitchell, according to critics.

New CDs for November

Sarah Bareilles — What’s Inside: Songs from a Waitress

With her fourth full-length album, Sara Bareilles offers up a taste of the music that she has created for an upcoming Broadway musical, which is based on the 2007 film. Included is the single She Used to Be Mine.

 

 

 

Justin Bieber — Purpose

The highly anticipated album features Justin Bieber’s recent hit singles, What Do You Mean and Where Are U Now, and draws influence from an array of genres and collaborations. The iconic album chronicles Justin’s personal and artistic growth as he solidifies his place among the biggest stars of the time.

 

 

Kurt Cobain — Montage of Heck

Along with serving as an aural complement to the acclaimed documentary about the late Nirvana lead singer, this collection allows a rare and unfiltered glimpse into Kurt Cobain’s creative progression.

 

 

 

Enya — Dark Sky Island

Enya’s latest album is inspired by lyricist Roman Ryan’s work on a series of poetry books themed around islands, specifically the island of Sark’s decision to be designated as a dark sky island.

 

 

 

Kirk Franklin — Losing My Religion

On his eleventh album, Kirk Franklin once again establishes himself as the frontrunner in Gospel music. The thirteen song project explores timely themes and classic sentiments, while offering renewed testimony to Franklin’s status as a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer.

 

 

 

Ellie Goulding — Delirium

Ellie Goulding’s bold and brilliant new album represents an almighty step change, shaping a new narrative for the next stage in this remarkable singer’s journey. It also includes the single On My Mind.

 

 

 

 

Ceelo Green — Heart Blanche

Atlantic recording artist CeeLo Green’s eagerly awaited new studio album which is the superstar’s first full-length release in nearly five years. Singer/songwriter, producer, performer, TV personality, fashion icon, entrepreneur, and so much more, CeeLo Green is among the most creative and unique artists of this or any era.

 

 

 

 

Hunter Hayes — The 21 Project

Four-time Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes releases a unique and special collection. Each disc on the three CD set includes seven songs, each one performed differently-acoustic, studio, and live. It gives fans a special look into his creative mind.

 

 

 

 

Tim McGraw — Damn Country Music
In a year that has seen him performing at the Academy Awards and named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Tim McGraw releases a brand new album. Included is the new hit single Top of the World.

 
One Direction — Made in the A.M.

One of the world’s biggest pop bands returns with their highly anticipated fifth album, their first since the departure of Zayn Malik. The album features Drag Me Down, which has quickly become one of their biggest singles to date.

 

 

 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra — Letters from the Labyrinth

The latest album from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the first since 2009’s Night Castle, is being released just as the band heads out for their highly anticipated Ghost of Christmas Eve winter tour.