We first heard from Terry Blade in November of last year upon the release of his single, “Black Hurts.” That song introduced us to an immensely talented singer/songwriter with a deeply soulful sound rooted in Jazz and R&B. The Chicago-based musician wields his impressive vocal range and versatile talents to tell a real-life, firsthand tale of living life as a black man in modern America.
We now know that “Black Hurts” was but the precursor to Terry Blade’s debut album “American Descendant of Slavery,” released worldwide to all major streaming services on February 5, 2021. At the dawn of Black History Month, during one of the most contentious times in modern history of American race, sex and gender relations, Blade’s album is an unapologetically honest and heartbreaking account from the front lines. This is the sound of a smart and talented young, gay black man singing about the reality of his world. On “American Descendant of Slavery,” Terry Blade holds a mirror up to America and asks, “do you like what you see?”
Throughout the record, he uses historical recordings of freed slaves recounting their lives. These are interspersed with similar testimonials from those oppressed in our modern age. From the firsthand tale of a man recounting his abduction as a child in Africa, to the story of a young person suffering black on black homophobia, the record presents the inescapable realities of our nation. Before and after each interlude, the singer delivers heart wrenching and powerful performances, each recounting his own history of the same.
He observes society as a whole when looking at issues of cultural appropriation (“I Want it Back”) and Black identity (“Inward”). To powerful effect, he looks at his own life and family history as an example of Black life in America. “Mr. Robertson” examines the epidemic of fractured families in the black community caused by disproportionate incarceration. “Ms. Mizell” is an intimate look at the fear of coming out as gay to one’s family. At every turn, the album presents us with real world examples of the struggle, told from the perspective of a man living it in real time.
Musically, the album finds Terry Blade sliding effortlessly through multiple genres and moods. From the smooth Jazz sounds of “Black Hurts” and “Mtf,” to Hip-hop commentaries on tracks like “Reparations,” the singer slides through deep baritone lows and emotional tenor highs. All the while he accompanies himself with slick Jazz guitar, classical Fender Rhodes electric piano tones and hybrid mixes of classic and modern vibes. Tracks like “They Must Be Kin” and “Inward” create cool experimental moods mixing lo-fi beats, electronic instrumentation and traditional African percussion.
“American Descendant of Slavery” is a beautiful, powerful and honest piece of work. It is soulful and raw, and if it doesn’t make you think… then you aren’t listening. Check out the album below. You can also hear “Reparations” on the Deep Indie Beat playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Terry Blade. Get on his socials and get in the loop on all of the current and future projects from this talented and dynamic artist.