On the last Friday of every month, She Shreds shares our staff picks of what we’ve been grooving on lately. Here’s our September staff favorites!

A podcast episode about how black music is the often forgotten backbone of American music, Tawiah and Brittany Howard’s latest (and epic) releases, a look back at Aldous Harding’s artful Designer, and Tegan and Sara’s recent memoir, High School—we’ve got you covered with our September Staff Favorites.

Fabi Reyna | Founder & Editor in Chief

1619 Podcast, Episode 3 – “The Birth of American Music”

1619 is a New York Times podcast hosted by writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, and I came across this particular episode through a post from LA-based multi-instrumentalist Sasami. She urged everyone—especially white and non-black people of color—to learn about the often forgotten and commonly swept-under-the-rug reality of American music history.

This is a must for any music or history lover! 

Cynthia Schemmer | Managing Editor

Tawiah – “Borders”

Today, Tawiah released “Borders,” the second single off her upcoming debut album, Start Again, to be released by First Word Records on November 1st. Despite this being her debut, Tawiah has had a full and successful career in the United Kingdom, including two self-released EPs and a mixtape, as well as working with Blood Orange, Cee-Lo, and Mark Ronson, among others. 

On her debut, Tawiah explores being a queer woman of color who was raised in a Pentecostal family, and the struggle of working with a major label and the freedom of breaking free. In her She Shreds Issue 17 interview, Tawiah talks about how a family trip to Ghana was also a huge catalyst for Start Again:

“I went to Ghana to celebrate my great grandmother being 100 years old. There’s a track called ‘Mother’s Prayer’ on the album. When I was out there, I got my Dictaphone [voice recorder] and we had a whole conversation. I asked her what her favorite song ever was and it was a hymn, obviously. She sang it for me and when I got back it was in the same key as ‘Mother’s Prayer.’ It’s the intro to that song. It’s one of those magic moments.”

“Borders” takes the listener on a journey of a long distance romance through soulful vocals and an uplifting resilience to be with the one you love. It’s a glimpse into the beauty, hard work, and incredible craftsmanship to come from this amazing recording artist and songwriter.

Processed with VSCO with g7 preset

Check out the video for “Recreate,” the first single from Starts Again:

Hannah Soffa | Creative Director

Aldous Harding – Designer

Aldous Harding’s third album, Designer, was released this April on 4AD and produced by PJ Harvey and John Parish. Everything about the album is artful and ambitious, from the way Harding manipulates her voice and the thoughtful contours of the lyrics, to the instrumentation—Harding truly paints with sound.

“Weight of the Planets,” “Barrel,” and “Picture Fixture” are some of my personal favorites, but each track on Designer is so beautifully executed on every level—you just have to hear it for yourself.

Harding is currently touring the United States before she heads over to Europe.

Ashley Vaughn | Social Media Director, Junior Designer

Tegan and Sara – High School

I LOVE BOOKS. And I especially love memoirs. Maybe because you’re trying to find yourself in writing, in someone else’s life and experiences to make sure you’re not alone in your feelings. So when it was announced that Tegan and Sara were writing a memoir, naturally I was over the moon and promptly put the release date on my calendar.

Credit: Trevor Brady

Last week, their memoir, High School, and corresponding album, Hey, I’m Just Like You, were released. As their mom puts it, “High School provides a purview of the queer adolescent experience. It is a story of two resilient young women who found their voices through authenticity, connection to others, music, and apparently a lot of experimentation with psychedelics.” I’m ready to find my copy. 

Catch them on their mostly sold-out tour starting this week!

Peter Condra | Operations Manager

Brittany Howard – Jaime

This month, Brittany Howard released her debut solo album, Jaime, on ATO Records—an eclectic and powerful album of songs written by Howard over the span of many years. As the lead vocalist and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, performing beloved American genres through a vintage filter became her signature sound. On Jaime, the dynamic reach is even wider, while the message is more personal. With keys performed by Robert Glasper and vocal takes that would make Prince cry, the songs collectively lean into futuristic R&B more than the homie Americana of Alabama Shakes.

Jaime is dedicated to Howard’s sister, who she lost to cancer at a young age:

“I dedicated the title of this record to my sister who passed away as a teenager. She was a musician too. I did this so her name would no longer bring me memories of sadness and as a way to thank her for passing on to me everything she loved: music, art, creativity.”

Read our cover interview with Brittany Howard in Issue 11!