Shekinah 13 Artists (Epic)
Created as a jumping-off point for individuals to learn about the music business, the Heavy Rotation Records student-run record label at the Berklee College of Music has released its first commercial recording. A compilation of female Berklee students, the musical styles represented include folk, pop, rock, hip-hop, and R&B.
The Essence of Nancy Wilson (Capitol)
Celebrating her 65th birthday this month, this traditional jazz singer is giving fans a gift by releasing this 80-track, four-disc boxed set. Each CD is arranged with a different theme: disc one: “Spanning the Decades,” disc two: “From the Vaults,” disc three: “Nancy’s Choice,” and disc four: “Hidden Gems.” If you love old-school jazz, pick this up and celebrate along with Ms. Wilson.
Before The Beginning (Extasy Records)
This debut from the singer named after a 1977 Steely Dan album reveals several sides of her talent. While "Maybelline" and "Shadow of the Saints" focus on pop rock, “Help Me” and “Three Wise Men” have nice piano work and lean more toward the softer side. Aja fits in well with the new school of singers out today (Dido, Jewel, Gwen Stefani) who believe in being honest and open with their lyrics and music. — J.E.M.