With the end of the pandemic in sight, but still nowhere close, Portlanders continue to miss live music opportunities. Though one thing to be grateful for is having the technology to keep us connected and entertained—particularly video streaming capabilities! Which brings me to an exciting announcement:
Our second edition of the Mercury Music Series will showcase the solo talents of Yawa, better known as singer/songwriter/producer/performance artist Amenta Abioto. In case you missed the first show featuring Blossom, the Mercury Music Series is a new virtual streaming showcase featuring locally-based artists, providing a rare chance to experience concerts (in some form) during the continuing pandemic.
The series, curated by yours truly, will also provide our featured Portland-based artists with an opportunity to earn cash from performing, while simultaneously raising much needed funds for the Mercury. And because we know that times are tough, ticket prices are available on a sliding scale. As a special thank you to those of you who have ever contributed to the Mercury, you will be emailed a passcode allowing you to view the performance for FREE. Thanks to everyone for continuing to support the Mercury and all the fantastic artists our city has to offer!
Through your support, the Merc hopes to continue producing this series until live venues are able to open again, while also supporting artists during this difficult time. (Psst: If you’re a locally based artist interested in performing in a future episode of the Mercury Music Series, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
While Yawa currently only has a couple releases available on streaming platforms under the Abioto moniker ("Wade" and "I Would Like"), and her 15-track improv and theater album Opening Flower Hymns on Bandcamp, the best way to experience her music is live. And boy, does she know how to tantalize audiences, win crowds over, and get all the hips moving with tracks like the playful and ever-changing "Kujichagulia," which translates to self-determination. Since COVID, Portland's really been hurting for chances to see Yawa's one-woman act live: Abioto loops her vocals live with synth, kalimba, drum machine, guitar, and atmospheric production resulting in unique song structures, soul-stirring vocals, and lyrics laced with ancestral energy from the African diaspora.
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, but having resided in Portland since 2010, Abioto often greets her audience with just a taste of Southern hospitality and typically incorporates one or two improvisational numbers into her live sets, as well as several solid staples that she performs a little differently each time. The ritual has assisted her in mastering the fluid nature of songs like the chill-inducing "Revolution," as well as the single "Plant It," which comes with a gorgeous music video inspired by the natural world. The artist, whose style ranges from jazz to gospel, has done some other noteworthy virtual performances during the pandemic. Most recently, the singer was accompanied by members of the Oregon Symphony for a stunning rendition of "Revolution."
For this installment of the Mercury Music Series, Abioto delivers a nearly one-hour set inside Polaris Hall. Watch the teaser below, and buy tickets for the Yawa (Amenta Abioto) show debuing Thursday, February 18 at 8 pm!