On June 17, 2021, the American Association of Independent Music — A2IM, for short — will once more bring the world together to honor the hard work and boundary-breaking vision of independent artists at the A2IM Libera Awards presented by Merlin and streaming exclusively on YouTube via A2IM’s official YouTube channel. This year’s Icon recipient will be soul and gospel icon Mavis Staples. Among this year’s scheduled performers are GRAMMY-nominated rock and soul duo Black Pumas, Grammy-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae, breakout British artist Arlo Parks, 3-time GRAMMY winner Fantastic Negrito, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, and Canadian-Colombian singer Lido Pimienta.
When you listen to the aforementioned Fantastic Negrito, you are invited to hear the story of life after destruction. Each song is a real story about a musician from Oakland who experienced the highs of a million-dollar record deal, the lows of a near-fatal car accident that left him in a coma and — in recent years — a rebirth that took him from the streets of Oakland to the world stage. Negrito burst on to the national radar by winning the inaugural NPR Tiny Desk contest in 2015, and has since won Grammys for his first 3 albums: 2017’s The Last Days Of Oakland, 2019’s Please Don’t Be Dead and 2020’s Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?. In the words of The Associated Press, Negrito “offers his songs for the soundtrack of the lives of those who won’t give up and are willing to carry on.”
On May 21, 2021, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fantastic Negrito again, as embedded below. We spoke about his upcoming performance at the A2IM Libera Awards, life during COVID-19, Oakland, writing for the Oakland Roots Sports Club, future plans and more. Additional information on Negrito and his A2IM Libera Awards performance can be found by clicking here here, here, here and here.