10 Black Women Who've Put Out Great Albums in 2014

by Brittany Dawson

2014 is projected to be the year without one platinum selling album. Yes, you heard us right: zero. According to Forbes, album sales are plummeting across the board, leaving many artists’ goal of achieving platinum status a difficult accomplishment. With Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, Beyonce, and Lorde leading the sales race, it is difficult to determine the future of album sales. Artists who go platinum status are suggestive of a dedicated fan base, but as demonstrated by these 10 talented Black musicians, you don’t need platinum selling albums to create a powerful musical experience. 

Laura Mvula: Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest

Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios is a spectacular live experience coupled with symphonic harmonies and a whir of crystalline lyrics. Laura Mvula bares only a piano, voice, and an accompanying orchestra at the historic Abbey Road Studio in the United Kingdom. Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios will not disappoint!

Purchase Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios on iTunes or Amazon.

FKA Twigs LP1

FKA Twigs is music’s living enigma. LP1 haunts and smudges the murky line between conventionality and reality, producing a peculiar sound equally idiosyncratic as it is aesthetically pleasing. Tracks like “Lights On” and “Video Girl” give LP1 its trademark sound. Dive into the hazy world that is FKA Twigs.

Purchase LP1 on iTunes or Amazon.

SZA joins an elite group of millennial musicians changing the game.  Z features guest appearances by Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and Isaiah Rashad, making Z an instant classic. Prepare to go on a nostalgic musical journey, airy 80s-styled tracks mixed with gritty, sultry elements of modern rap make Z an impeccable album.  

Purchase Z on iTunes or Amazon.

Goapele Strong as Glass

Goapele’s funky, soul-empowering Strong as Glass could be Goapele’s best album to date. While Strong as Glass sounds significantly different than 2002’s Even Closer, Strong as Glass is a balance of contemporary R&B dressed in a slight hue of 90s soul. From appearances by Snoop Dogg to Eric Benet, prepare to be in awe as Goapele reminds us why she’s regarded as R&B’s most influential artist. 

Purchase Strong as Glass on iTunes or Amazon.

Macy Gray The Way

Macy Gray’s highly anticipated album The Way is everything you could envision in a blues-pop album. The Way is embedded with plenty musical gems: radio friendly ballads “Stoned”, “The Way”, and “Need You Now” alongside more revealing tracks like “Queen of the Big Hurt” and “First Time” glow amid Macy’s unique voice. 

Purchase The Way on iTunes or Amazon.

Meshell Ndegeocello Comet, Come to Me

Looking for a new addition to your iTunes library? Meet Comet, Come to Me, Meshell Ndegeocello’s 11th studio album. Comet, Come to Me begins with “Friends”, a track popularized by 80s artist Whoodini. Meshell’s raw, multifaceted talent pours from track to track, particularly in “Good Day Bad” and “Shopping For Jazz”. Meshell is a musical virtuoso, you won’t be disappointed. 

Purchase Comet, Come to Me on iTunes or Amazon.

Leela James Fall For You

Leela James’ soulful extravaganza Fall For You will set your soul ablaze. Dynamic tracks such as “Who’s Gonna Love You More” and “Set Me Free” make smooth, grandiloquent lullabies “Stay With Me” and “Everything” glow. Set sail, Fall For You takes listeners on a tour across many bodies of R&B seas, all aboard! 

Purchase Fall For You on iTunes or Amazon.

Kelis Food

Kelis is bringing more than boys to the yard in her retro, funky, and cured album Food. With the help of TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Food is as smooth as Merlot, crisp and pleasingly tart at the end of the musical pallet. Steering away from her bossy persona, Kelis’ Food feels like a contemporary soul train. 

Purchase Food on iTunes or Amazon.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Give People What They Want

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’ Give People What They Want deluxe version of their 2013 album includes videos and exclusive, never before released content. Sharon Jones’ soaring vocal range mirrors blues pioneers of the mid-20th century and Motown legends, consider “Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again)”. Give People What They Want is undoubtedly, one of the best orchestrated albums of 2014. 

Purchase Give People What They Want on iTunes or Amazon.

Marsha Ambrosius Friends and Lovers
Former Floetry singer Marsha Ambrosious wows again with Friends & Lovers. With great equanimity and control, Friends & Lovers transforms sullen to sultry and taboo to tasteful amid a flurry of evocative tracks. Several songs definitely appeal to the so-called grown ‘n sexy (I’d recommend skipping a few tracks if you have kids in the car!). Nonetheless, Friends & Lovers is a must have!  

Purchase Friends and Lovers on iTunes or Amazon.

Photo Credit: Linda Brownlee

Brittany Dawson is a regular contributor at For Harriet. She is a senior at the University of South Carolina who is passionate about equality, social justice, and education. You may follow her on Twitter: @BrittanyJDawson.