On Saturday, October 6, get ready to experience the sites and sounds of Maimouna Youssef and Martin Luther, two amazing and talented music artists who will be anointing the stage at Restoration Rocks.
She stopped through Bed-Stuy briefly last year in September for a quick performance at "For My Sweet" on Fulton Street. But the last time we heard from singer, emcee and poet Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef in a big way in Brooklyn was around eight years ago, at the Dave Chapelle Block Party on Quincy and Downing streets.
At the time, she was a neophyte artist on the scene, but already Youssef's talent had made a big enough impression to secure her a spot on stage alongside of an impressive list of seasoned soul music heavyweights, such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, the Roots and Erykah Badu.
Since then, the Baltimore native has remained busy. She toured for a few years with the Roots before receiving a Grammy nomination for her contribution on the Roots's hit song "Don't Feel Right." She then went on to tour with Zap Mama for another few years before finally completing her first solo project, "The Blooming" in September 2011.
"It's been a journey, but I think I've come into my own more as a performer," said Youssef, comparing herself as an artist then and now. "I've improved my stage performance dramatically from touring with two of the best live performing groups out there.
"And because I'm an independent artist, I've had to be involved in every aspect of the writing, production, mixing, design, marketing, packaging, everything. So I've grown as an artist also, but I've met a lot of people along the way who have helped to nurture me."
Soultrain.com calls Youssef "a game-changer in a crowded musical marketplace," while Okayplayer.com compares her voice and lyrical style to Lauryn Hill. Soulbounce.com says of Youssef's debut album, "The Blooming will stand proud amongst them, potentially making it onto a few "best of" lists come year-end."
But amidst all of the accolades, what Maimouna Youssef says she's most excited about now is the opportunity to play for Restoration Rocks in a community like Bedford-Stuyvesant:
"The whole idea of restoration and restoring our communities is always something I will want to get behind," Youssef told Bed-Stuy Patch. "But I'm also very excited to playing alongside of hip hop and soul music legends MC Lyte, Brand Nubian and my friend, Martin Luther.
"I love brooklyn, and I love performing there. I remember the block party as one of the most memorable experiences of my lives. The community was receptive and there was a certain amount of unity present you don't find too many places except Brooklyn. I look forward to making some memorable moments on stage once again."
Martin Luther McCoy, bka "Martin Luther" began writing songs at age six, by rearranging the gospel songs he learned at church. The cultural diversity of his native San Francisco upbringing introduced him to the sounds of gospel, soul, R&B and hip hop, along with rock and punk.
Martin Luther learned to play the electric guitar, blending all of the sounds of his early development to create his own signature brand of rock, an eclectic sound that may not have won over the ears of all of the homeboys on the block, but definitely caught the attention of true music aficionados across the country.
By 1999, he was creating quite a stir with his debut release of "The Calling." Already, Brooklyn was hearing him "calling," and Martin Luther' s name began to spread fast on the East Coast. He moved to Brooklyn, and by 2004, his sophomore release, "Rebel Soul Music" produced the hit "Daily Bread" and a video that made VH1's top-ten.
"Bed-Stuy is like Hunter's Point in San Francisco for me. When I'm in Bed-Stuy, I get the same love as I do at home; I see the same fellas on the block; I feel the same blitz-- all of these," Martin Luther told Bed-Stuy Patch. "Even what's going on in the neighborhood-- I'm seeing the same gentrification, same increased police presence, the same sort of development. So Bed-Stuy is just like home for me, in many ways."
But in 2005, Martin Luther left Brooklyn to return suddenly to the West Coast, and for years it seemed, disappeared off the music scene.
I [returned to San Francisco] because I had to bury my brother," said Martin Luther. "The family needed me in a big way, so I had to set up an infrastructure. My family was the wind beneath my wings when I was trying to build my music career, so when it was time to make my contribution, I stepped in."
In 2007, Martin Luther landed a starring role in the Academy Award-nominated film, "Across the Universe," where he performed the new definitive version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
In 2011, he released a third opus, "Extra Terrestrial Brother Vol. 1," off his independent label Rebel Soul Records. The album is available only from his website, featuring special guests Tupac and George Clinton, including a funked-out cover of Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box.
Martin Luther says his upcoming performance at Restoration will showcase the same artist that his fans have come to know, as far as approach and purpose. But this time, his music repertoire is broadened with more electronic and hip hop-driven elements and songwriting that provides an escape into fantasy (versus a political sojourn into his own world):
"What I've come to find is that music is what people choose to escape from their realities, as oppose to listening to something to face them," he said. "The more you can provide a fantasy, a place of joy , I find my reaction from my general audience is much more robust and engaged. So, I'm the same guy, but I've adjusted my frequency."