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Bruce Hornsby Debuts 'Bright Star Cast' Featuring Jamila Woods and Vernon Reid

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Bruce Hornsby Debuts 'Bright Star Cast' Featuring Jamila Woods and Vernon Reid

Finding inspiration from The New York Times Magazine's "1619 Project," James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" as well as the work of historian Taylor Branch, Grammy-award winning pianist, singer and songwriter Bruce Hornsby debuts "Bright Star Cast." The song features vocals from Chicago-based Jamila Woods, guitar from Vernon Reid (Living Colour) and several of his new musician friends from Eau Claire, WI and Minneapolis. "This attempt marks the seventh song of my career that deals with the issue of race in America, a deep, seemingly intractable problem that never seems to be solved in any satisfactory way- until, hopefully, now," notes Hornsby.

Listen below!

The song was produced by Hornsby, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Brad Cook (Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger) and Wayne Pooley (Bon Iver, Jack DeJohnette). "Bright Star Cast" appears on Hornsby's forthcoming album, Non-Secure Connection, out on August 14 and now available for pre-order at https://orcd.co/nonsecureconnection.

Most recently, Hornsby released the album's lead single, "My Resolve," which features James Mercer (The Shins, Broken Bells), to critical praise-Billboard proclaimed, "The Shins mastermind James Mercer doesn't make guest appearances often, but when a fellow genius beckons, he answers the call," while Stereogum called the track, "a gleaming and cinematic song." Consequence of Sound furthered, "The collaboration with James Mercer is gloriously old-school."

Hornsby's music changed when he started having the genesis of his songs be from film music. Through composing for writer and director Spike Lee, Hornsby would often feel that the certain atmospheric quality of a "cue" he'd written should be developed into a song. About this unique approach, Hornsby notes, "It takes my music to a place that I like that sets it apart from other things I've done. I'm often looking to make a sound that I haven't heard before and find a place in what I guess is the context of popular song for some new information." Hornsby's continued growth as a musician enables him to build upon and explore new musical techniques. On Non-Secure Connection, he's created something different that touches on a broad range of themes, from civil rights to computer hackers, mall salesmen and the Darwinian aspects of AAU basketball.

"The new album's chromaticism and dissonance quotient is exactly twice as high (three songs featuring that language compared to one and a half on the last record)," says Hornsby of Non-Secure Connection. "I feel like my music has never been a part of any trend that defined any era of music during my 34 years of doing this. I may be wrong, but that's how it feels to me."

Predominantly produced by Hornsby, the 10-track album includes added production from Justin Vernon, Cook, Pooley and Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Andrew Bird, Aimee Mann), who Hornsby credits as the album's "aesthetician and ombudsman." Non-Secure Connection also includes musical contributions from Mercer, Vernon, Woods, Reid, Leon Russell, Rob Moose and Hideaki Aomori of yMusic, The Orchestra of St. Hanks (Frost School/Univ. of Miami), Hornsby's longtime band The Noisemakers and more. The tracks "Non-Secure Connection" and "Porn Hour" were co-written with Chip deMatteo and "Anything Can Happen" was co-written with Russell, who appears thanks to a demo that he and Hornsby recorded together more than 25 years ago.

Based out of Williamsburg, VA, Hornsby first rose to national prominence with The Way It Is, his 1986 Grammy-winning debut album with The Range. The title track became the most-played song on American radio in 1987 while Tupac Shakur's timeless song "Changes" builds on "The Way It Is" and set the stage for many subsequent versions of the track, including Polo G's current single "Wishing For A Hero." In 1991, Hornsby collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, playing on her iconic hit "I Can't Make You Love Me." Additionally, Hornsby was a part-time member of the Grateful Dead from September 1990 to March 1992, performing over 100 concerts in America and Europe. He has written six full film scores for Spike Lee including his recent Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, and contributed music to four others, including 2018's BlacKkKlansman. Last year, Hornsby released his acclaimed album, Absolute Zero, which featured collaborations with Vernon, yMusic, The Staves, Blake Mills, Jack DeJohnette, Sean Carey and more.

The 13-time Grammy nominee has solidified his status as a highly sought-after collaborator. Hornsby's own 21 albums have sold over 11 million copies worldwide, and he has appeared on over 100 records including releases with Bob Dylan, Don Henley, the Grateful Dead, Ricky Skaggs, Bob Seger, Chaka Khan, Brandon Flowers, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Mavis Staples, Willie Nelson and more.

photo credit: Sarah Walor



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