10 African American Musicians on Hoopla

By , February 7, 2014

Alright music fans, if you have a library card then you have no excuse not to try Hoopla, the library’s brand new site for streaming content and downloads.  It’s being hailed as the library’s answer to Netflix, but it’s also a killer source for discovering new music!  (Here’s how to sign up)  Since it’s Black History Month, I thought I’d feature some of my favorite African American musicians that you can find on Hoopla.  You get 10 albums per month with your library card, so…I present to you a top 10 list for the month of February.  I am going to start off with some modern music makers who are carrying on the torch, and circle back to a couple of those innovators (of which there are too many to list, and would just scratch the surface of Hoopla’s expansive back-catalog.)


10) Janelle Monáe : You saw her at the Super Bowl, now catch up quickly and pretend like you knew her all along.

Album: The Electric Lady 



9) Valerie June : Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, from West Tennessee.  Her new album was co-produced by (Nashville resident) Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. Excellent.

Album: Pushin’ Against A Stone 



8) TV on the Radio : Great rock band. They’re working on a new album to be released this year.  Catch up on Hoopla, start here and work backwards.

Album: Dear Science



7) Carolina Chocolate Drops : It is Nashville, after all–an old-time string band with a hip twist.

Album: Genuine Negro Jig



6)Esperanza Spalding : Virtuosic upright bass player and singer that draws on a lot of modern influences.

Album: Chamber Music Society



5) Reggie Watts : Don’t let the comedy tag deceive, the guy loops and layers beat-box and vocals  into side-splitting post-modern compositions.

Album: A Live at Central Park



4) Black Star : Quality, socially conscious hip hop.  The duo continue to collaborate, but this album set a bar.

Album : Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star




3) Bobby McFerrin : A vocal innovator and composer who moves fluidly between genres. For those expecting more of the same from the singer of “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” you’re in for a surprise and a treat.

Album : VOCAbuLarieS



2) Ted Hawkins : This man never had his due.  Sly and soulful, the song “Sorry You’re Sick” is a good introduction.

Album: Cold and Bitter Tears: Essential Recording



1) Ornette Coleman : No doubt one of the innovators.  But the inventor of free jazz continues to be cutting edge in his old age, having collaborated with the likes of Lou Reed and director David Cronenberg. Also a great example of the depth of Hoopla’s classics (25 of his albums available)

Album: Something Else!!!



Why wait? Listen now!


5 Responses to “10 African American Musicians on Hoopla”

  1. Chase says:

    Great list! Look forward to using Hoopla to check out Valerie June and Carolina Chocolate Drops.

  2. Greg says:

    Thanks! Don’t forget to check out Hoopla’s audio book selection either.

  3. Kara says:

    Great review! Love using Hoopla and will check some of these out!

  4. Phil K. says:

    Nice! Thanks for pointing out the deep music catalog options we now have via Hoopla (Could give Freegal a run but that has the great 3 hr streaming option and playlists going for it now!).
    Coltrane, Monk, Miles and Eric Dolphy nicely represented too. No Alabama Shakes but there is a piano tribute to them available…

  5. Greg says:

    Yes! I was floored by the 60+ T.S. Monk albums. Hoopla is where I would send die-hard fans first, who wanted to dig into an album. Freegal is obviously better for single songs, and now streaming. For now, I guess you’ll have to check out the Shakes on CD!

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