Music: Three Artists to Watch in 2024

Three musical artists

Jazz/R&B: Samara Joy 

Recipient of the 2023 Grammy Award for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album, Samara Joy is an exciting breath of fresh air in the jazz world. At 24, she has already drawn comparisons to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Her second album, Linger Awhile, released in 2022, was met with critical acclaim and led to her two Grammy wins in 2023. Joy’s interpretations of standards such as “Guess Who I Saw Today” and “Misty” highlight her vocal talents and suggest a wisdom and depth of emotion that many artists spend decades to attain. 

Although there aren’t any official releases from her just yet for 2024, she is beginning to announce tour dates both domestically and abroad. Along with Linger Awhile, Joy’s self-titled debut from 2021 and collaborations with other jazz artists, such as Ravi Coltrane (son of the famed saxophonist John Coltrane), are promising signs of what’s to come in her musical future. Joy is living proof that jazz, thank God, is alive and well. 

Country/Folk/Bluegrass: Sarah Jarosz

Hailing from Wimberley, Texas, a small town in the center of the state, Sarah Jarosz has been described as a prodigy by NPR and Rolling Stone for her abilities with the banjo and mandolin. Her skills on those instruments, coupled with heartfelt lyrics and vocals, make her one of the most exciting young artists in the cross section of genres she works in—country, bluegrass, and folk. 

Her most recent album, Blue Heron Suite, is a subtle showcase of her songwriting prowess. The opening song, “Mama,” is a testament to how music can powerfully touch the deepest levels of our emotional experiences. Against a backdrop of softly picked acoustic guitar, she sings: “Mama, where are you going?/You know I need you here/Mama, the trees are blooming/Blossoms of white and green/I see you in every petal/That flickers in the wind and blows away.” Channeling grief and other emotions through music can be cathartic for both the artist and the audience, and Jarosz has established herself as an expert in this regard. Look for her new album, Polaroid Lovers, later this month. 

Pop/Rock: Declan McKenna 

At only 25,  you might mistake English singer-songwriter Declan McKenna as a newcomer to the music world. However, he made his mark nine years ago with his first single, “Brazil.” Released as a protest song and commentary on the corruption surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it also calls attention to the stark economic disparity in the South American nation. 

McKenna, though no longer a practicing Catholic, was raised in the faith, and his fire for social justice issues in his home country and beyond is readily apparent. One of the things I love about his music is that, though it often carries strong messages on social ills, the songwriting comes first. If “Brazil” is any indicator, McKenna shows that commentary and catchy tunes can live in perfect harmony. Keep an eye out for his new album, What Happened to the Beach?, this February. 

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