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The Charlotte-based NoteWorthy concert series, a collaboration of the FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative and WDAV radio, hosted its third livestream concert installment with Quisol at the Stage Door Theater. Co-hosted by David Dae-Lee Arrington of FAIR PLAY and Frank Dominguez of WDAV with video production by Hue House, the event was a true product of collaboration. NoteWorthy's primary goal is to elevate Charlotte's Black and Brown musical voices and pair artists with classical musicians, breaking down divisions in Charlotte's classical music culture by highlighting diverse voices.
Quisol (pronounced "key-SOUL") is a singer-songwriter and cultural organizer currently based in his hometown of Charlotte. Quisol's music occurs at the intersection of his Filipino and Puerto Rican heritage and his scholarly activist background. As he described in one of the NoteWorthy event's interview clips, Quisol aims with his work to build bridges for people of color by connecting to the resources of foundations and non-profits that often go underutilized. His artist moniker Quisol, his last name, centers his heritage.
For this livestream concert, Quisol performed songs from his 2019 debut album Revelations as well as several unreleased songs. Quisol's poetic storytelling was made even more atmospheric and dreamy by his collaboration with the Charlotte Symphony's own violinist Kari Giles and cellist Jeremy Lamb. "The Cards" contained interplay between English and Spanish lyrics, echoed by the interaction between Giles' and Lamb's languid string phrases. Quisol's voice, whispery and gentle at first, grew more insistent as the song progressed.
Quisol's music is a union of styles; "The World Keeps Turning," from his 2018 EP of the same title, blends his dreamy R&B vocals with a gentle bossa nova guitar rhythm. "Hummingbird," which carries inspiration from Quisol's grandmother, featured more rhythmic vocals, that in this arrangement were imitated with countermelodies in the violin and cello. Buzzing, slightly spooky cello tremolos built a purposeful chaos in the atmosphere that suddenly dissipated toward the end of the song, to great effect.
The program's final two songs, "In the Flesh," and "Cities," were unreleased previews of Quisol's forthcoming work. The storytelling here was effective, but most notable was the gorgeous instrumental interlude between songs, where all three instruments (with Quisol on guitar) transitioned from their independent melodies to a beautifully united rhythm. "Cities" concluded with Quisol's passionately soaring voice illuminating the final lyrics, "I'll start to dream again before you're gone."
The full concert performance is available at noteworthyclassical.org, and Quisol's Revelations is available anywhere you stream or listen to music – stay tuned for Quisol's upcoming sophomore album, In the Flesh.