Heart Of Memphis is coming out on January 6th 2014 in Europe..

The new album is coming out tomorrow morning in Europe, make sure you get a copy this week at your favorite store or your digital outlet !! Recorded in Memphis, we are happy to offer original material from the band and a couple great covers…

New Website !

Check out the new website ! It needed a little lifting in order to be ready for the birth of our new baby ! « Heart of Memphis » ! This baby was made by me with the help of my dear friend Scott Bomar who produced it, with my fellows the Flytones, with the extra help of Marc Franklin for the horns & strings arrangements !

We licensed it to Okeh Records/Sony Music…The CD will come out first in France on January 6th 2014 and in the rest of Europe on Feb 24th. The US and Canada should follow soon after hopefully.
The vinyl will come out in France on January 20th ! Hope you enjoy our musical journey !

Please sign in to the newsletter so we can stay in touch…and check out our new video taken from the single Like a River

Blues Soul Magazine UK Feature Sept 2014


Described as “the most flavourful bucketful of soul dished up by a white female singer since Dusty Springfield invaded Memphis”, “Soul Flower” – the new album from singer/songwriter/producer Robin McKelle – finds the New York songstress’ powerful, expressive contralto voice delivering a contemporary blend of classic soul and rhythm’n’blues while also boasting two standout duets – one with resurgent soul man Lee Fields (an emotive cover of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”) and the other featuring fast-rising star of vocal jazz Gregory Porter (the melodically-gliding “Love’s Work”).

Born Robin McElhatten in Rochester, New York in 1976 and influenced musically by her church-choir-member mother, a teenage Robin first began to reveal her talent by performing in local R&B groups from the age of 15. Meanwhile, after taking up the piano and French horn, she would go on to study Jazz at the University Of Miami from 1994 to 1996 before attending Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music from where she graduated in 1999. Following which, after moving to the West Coast she would regularly perform as a backing-vocalist for both Michael McDonald and BeBe Winans before subsequently returning to Berklee as a teacher. However, it was not until after McKelle placed an impressive third in the widely-respected Thelonius Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington, DC in 2004 that she would finally begin her recording career – first coming to the public eye as a solo jazz singer with her 2006 debut album “Introducing Robin McKelle” and its 2008 follow-up “Modern Antique”, both big-band swing sessions which would in turn precede the 2010-released set “Mess Around”. Which, with its more soul-jazz direction, marked the first hint of Robin’s personal yearning to return to her original R&B roots. … Which neatly brings up back to today and the release of the aforementioned “Soul Flower”.

As – with said album being signed to Sony France – an immediately-friendly and chatty Ms. McKelle enjoys a revealing introductory chat with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis from her Paris apartment.

PETE: With you hitherto being best known for your solo jazz albums, what was the thinking behind you releasing your first straight-up soul LP at this point in your career?
ROBIN: “Well though in my teens I grew up singing a lot of this type of music – soul and R&B – after I went to college and studied jazz I kinda became interested in that TOO. And so the recording of my first album “Introducing…” was basically just me taking a bit of a break from soul by doing some orchestral JAZZ, and its actual release was a bit of an ACCIDENT – because I’d never really planned on putting that album out for SALE! But then while it WAS a bit of a surprise to me when things started happening, at the same time in many ways it was a GOOD surprise. Because it allowed me to go on tour, I sold quite a few CDs, I got with a good label – you know, things did really start to take OFF. But at the same time I was still afraid that I was gonna be labelled as purely a JAZZ singer and only do that for the rest of my CAREER. So because of that I started working carefully with my management and my team about how we could kind of slowly evolve into making THIS album, because this was the kinda record I’d always wanted to DO. In that I wanted to write the music myself, and I wanted it to be more in the kinda soul vein that I’d always loved and grown up LISTENING to… So yeah, in some ways “Soul Flower” is almost like a full CIRCLE kinda thing. In that soul is where I started and what I’ve now come BACK to – though in a different WAY. Because today, as opposed to just being a singer, with this record I was completely involved from beginning to END – from writing the music to working out the arrangements with the band right through to the whole PRODUCTION side of it all.”

PETE: Musically you’re quoted as saying that with “Soul Flower” you wanted to create a contemporary blend of rhythm & blues but with the aim of “avoiding today’s retro tendencies”…
ROBIN: “Well, although I do love a lotta the soul music that’s happening right now – I’m a huge fan of artists like Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Mayer Hawthorne, Charles Bradley – at the same time I feel that those people already have their niche and I really wanted to stay AWAY from that. Because while that music is definitely inspiring to me, at the same time it is a very throwback kind of SOUND. So what was really important to me for MY record was basically trying to keep my individuality as an artist and as a singer and as a WRITER. And while it was definitely a challenge to make this album something new and to really try not to do the retro/throwback thing completely, in my eyes the best way to achieve that was to first and foremost focus on just having good SONGS. And I think by us doing that it was only when we came to work at the actual MUSIC that we started referencing what particular STYLE we wanted to record them in. Like the arrangement on “Tell You One Thing” for example was definitely inspired by those real hard-hitting, uptempo, late-Sixties ARETHA tunes… So yeah, a lot of it did come down to the treatment of the songs musically and the way we put it together with the BAND. Plus when it came to the actual recording process the ENGINEER was ALSO great. In that he totally understood the concept of capturing the moment musically in an organic way, but without making it sound TOO throwback or TOO retro.”

PETE: Having studied Jazz at the University of Miami before attending and graduating from Boston’s Berklee College of Music where you later also taught, how do you feel the academic side of your background has impacted on you as an artist?
ROBIN: “Well, I actually think the education part is really IMPORTANT. I mean, I think it’s really hard now to PROMOTE the fact that education is important because we have all these shows that we didn’t really HAVE when I was a teenager – “Idol”, whatever country’s “Got Talent” – where everybody can become a star OVERNIGHT. But for me I do actually think it was the education that made me the musician – and in turn the singer – that I am TODAY. Because I do kinda pride myself on the fact I know what I’m DOING! I lead my band; I write the music; I’m a very instrumental part in ARRANGING the music; I know what’s going on in the HORN section; I conceptually know what’s going on in the recording process when we have STRINGS… Because I personally think that it’s essential, especially as a singer, to understand what happens behind you MUSICALLY. You know, we have this singer-heavy stereotype that they’re kinda dumb and they don’t know what’s going ON. And though that may be true for some people, I’m definitely the complete OPPOSITE of that!… So yeah, I definitely think it was that experience in education – from both sides, as a student AND as a teacher – that did really help me and ultimately push me into what I’m doing NOW.”

The album “Soul Flower” is released through Doxie Records August 19. The double-A-side 7” single “Fairytale Ending”/”Love’s Work featuring Gregory Porter” follows September 2 through Expansion Records.

TO READ MORE FROM THIS INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN MCKELLE CHECK OUT OUR PRINT ISSUE – http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/865/robin_mckelle_born_to_bloom/

Interview on “Groove Loves Melody”

Groove Loves Melody talks with Robin McKelle

JW Richard
July 19, 2013

Robin McKelle’s fourth and latest album on Okeh/Sony Records is called Soul Flower and features original compositions inspired by the sounds of Motown and Stax Records in the early 1970′s. Robin McKelle began to show her talent in R&B groups from the age of fifteen. After taking up the piano and French horn, she studied jazz at the University of Miami (1994‐1996) before attending and graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston (1999), and won a prize in the 2004 Thelonious Monk competition in Washington, D.C. After bringing two big band swing jazz records, Robin began to move back into soul/jazz territory with her previous album, Mess Around in 2010. Soul Flower is the first record to introduce her as Robin McKelle & The Flytones. In our talk, we discuss vocal influences, her directions in sound, and the writing process for Soul Flower.

JW: I can definitely hear the Gladys Knight influence in your style. What influenced you so about the style, the delivery of Gladys Knight? What songs spoke to you the most as a girl? And of Nina Simone? How did you connect with her material? 

Robin: I grew up just listening to the radio with artists like Whitney, Micheal Jackson and Aretha and there was something that I loved about the sound of R&B music. I remember learning songs by ear to play and sing at the piano but I didn’t think much about it then, I just did it naturally. I think the sound of soul just sunk in and the exposure at an early age helped that nurture the natural talent. I loved “Respect” by Aretha and Stevie Wonder’s “Sunshine of my Life” and “I Wish”. It wasn’t until college when I was more into learning about jazz singers that I was introduced to Nina. She is so expressive and the thing I love most about her is that she is fearless. She really evolved as an artist and sang about unpopular things. She said unpopular things and was totally under appreciated in her time. I think she was very misunderstood.

JW: Seems like from your bio that R&B/soul, gospel, and jazz were intertwined? As you began recording, did you feel any pressure to pick just one style for marketing sake? Was there pressure from your label then, if not from you?

Robin: Yes, there was absolutely a pressure to choose a path and a style which was difficult for me to understand then but I understand why now. Never pressure from a label because I license and fund my albums so that I can own my music.
It is important to get into a niche for example jazz or soul and then you can find your way. To me, music is totally intertwined because of my particular background of soul, jazz, rock, music theater, opera and all the different musical experiences I had. They are all present in who I’ve become as a performer and musician so it can be difficult to separate them because it’s why I am who I am.

JW: Two things happened on Soul Flower that I’d like to talk about: 1) the formation and development of the Flytones in working with you on the album, and 2) the development of your songwriting. First thing, what unique quality did these jazz musicians (The Flytones) bring to this session that the album had to include by name?

Robin: The Flytones are a group of musicians that I’ve been putting together for a long time. Derek Nievergelt (bass) was playing upright with my when the band was transitioning from a jazz sound to more of a soul sound. He heard where I wanted to take the music and he started to help me put together a band of musicians who came from a similar background and were looking to play soul music. It’s a very specific thing and it’s not really easy to do if you are not familiar with the music. I wanted to give the band a name to differentiate this soul project from my previous jazz albums and because they were an part of creating the sound of the band as you hear it!

Inspiration for the writing came from the Motown sound and others from Stax but we tried to create our own sound and just write good songs. Influences came from artists like Alice Clark, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, but the list goes on and on.

JW: You could have done an album of soul music covers, and I’m sure it would have sounded fabulous. Why was it important to pen original works for this record? Was it, in any way, more of challenge than you thought it was going to be?

Robin: I have been writing music for a long time so and I really wanted to do an album of original music. I like to sing covers but it’s important to keep on creating new music. It was a good challenge but not more that I thought because I already put way too much pressure on myself.

JW: “So It Goes” deals with society issues as represented in the media and coping with it daily? Any particular set of issues that  inspired that song?

Robin: It was mostly inspired by the tough economic struggle that many people are experiencing. It’s everywhere! Although it’s a tough thing to deal with, I tried to spin it to a positive sentiment in the chorus in hopes that if you did connect with it in your life, you could try to look at all the good things in life and keep your head up cause tomorrow is a new day and “so it goes”. Just knowing that there are other people dealing with the same struggles can help!

Robin: Right after the show I usually have a glass of wine with the band ( we have a great time on the road) and then the fun part happens….I get to remove ALL the makeup and hair (it can be a long process)!

It’s very relaxed on the road, not too much drama so nothing too crazy ever happens. When I’m not on tour I love to cook and I work out a lot! I feel good when I’m strong and in shape and it helps me to be a better performer! I spend time with people I care about and my little dog, Ella! ( yes, named after the amazing Ella Fitzgerald)

Soul Flower by Robin McKelle & The Flytones is available at iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

From Groove Loves Melody.

New review from Soul Bounce in the UK

Robin McKelle & Gregory Porter Put In ‘Work’ On This Duet

SoulUK  |  06/28/2012 at 12:30 PM  |

Lightroom (IMG_4305-Modifier.tif et 1 autre)

Robin McKelle was a name I had never heard until this morning when I stumbled across some footage of her and SoulBounce favorites Alice Russell and Sharlene Hector giving an impromptu live performance of Dionne Warwick‘s “Walk On By” at La Defense Jazz Festival last month. I was intrigued enough by the performance to do a little digging on Ms. McKelle and found that she is somewhat of a veteran, having released a handful of jazz albums over the past few years. Her latest release, Soul Flower, is a bit of a departure from her jazz roots, and sees the New Yorker exploring a more soul-orientated sound alongside her band, The Flytones. The inclusion of “& The Flytones” on the album’s front cover immediately had me pigeon-holing this as a “retro” rehash a la Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings or Laura Vane & The Vipertones, but after pressing play that isn’t strictly true. Sure, there are (sometimes strong) retro influences, most notably on the cover of “Walk On By” and the Lee Fields-assisted cover of the Bee Gees “To Love Somebody,” but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that McKelle and her band are certainly no one-trick ponies. I’ve already listened to the album twice today and it’s her collaboration with fellow jazz-soul crossover success Gregory Porter on the tender “Love’s Work” that stands out.

From Soul Bounce, June 28th, 2013.

  1. No Ordinary Love Robin McKelle 1:49