Thanks to Chris Rizik, I just came across an amazing artist whose work should be much more popular. Indie soul singer, songwriter, and producer Whittington Still, who also happens to be a jewelry designer, actress, and talk-show host, has about half a dozen songs available and each one is a thrill. Her latest wonder is “Why Are You Here”, self-written like all of her songs. The mood of the track reminds me of the best sensitive soul pieces by the great Gary Taylor. Whittington’s voice is so suave and pervasive on this piece and her phrasing and diction can only be compared to the one and only Phyllis Hyman. She is certainly in the same league. She can get a little raspy where it’s needed, she can hold a note which cuts through and through and her backing vocals are sublime. She can sing a simple phrase like “tell me” and it speaks volumes. It’s our song of the year so far.
On “Don’t Be Afraid”, released last year, the tempo is slightly up. The warm keyboard sounds caress her incredible voice. When she sings “Don’t Be Afraid Of Me”, it feels like a warm embrace, a charming hug, an everything’s-gonna-be-alright affirmation. “The Chase” (2019) was written for the crime drama “Chase Street”, set in Camden, New Jersey, where Whittington comes from. The repeat phrase of “coming from where I’m from” simply hypnotizes. It’s another midtempo soulful gem, at times reflecting some Rachelle Ferrell, easily wrapping around you like a warm shell. On the uptempo “You Better Know What To Do”, Whittington shows her ability to work more dance-oriented stuff too. It’s an almost ambient-styled soul/dance track with some of the synth/key pads going back to “Getting Hot” from Gwen Guthrie‘s debut album from 1982. The repetitiveness on this one works extremely well.
Finally, “Missing You” (2019), another strong ballad, is pure latter-day Phyllis. Not meant to describe her as a mere copy, the similarities are certainly there in a lot of ways. This is rather meant as a huge compliment. On this particular track, Whittington’s voice is brilliantly haunting, yearning for what she’s missing, but also demanding. It’s another outstanding, powerful release. I just hope that we’re going to hear a lot more from her this year. Oh and another interesting fact: all of her songs clock in at 6:17 minutes. Check her out on her own Youtube channel right here. Or go to her official website.