Most concerts start with a heady strum of guitar or the clash or bang of drums, but next Tuesday, September 27, WTMD will host a live show of Baltimore musicians with an unlikely twist—no instruments allowed.
A celebration of the human voice, Embody is a long-running series curated by vocal artist and beatboxer Shodekeh. It has previously featured area artists like Victoria Vox, Joyce Scott, and Sam Herring of Future Islands, and the upcoming lineup is no less impressive: local soul sensation Brooks Long, hip-hop artist Wendel Patrick, classically trained soprano Melissa Wimbish, singer-songwriter Ms. Sara, and the ever-popular electronic artist Dan Deacon, among others.
“When Shodekeh and I were putting this lineup together, we wanted to draw from all corners of Baltimore’s music scene,” says Sam Sessa, music coordinator at WTMD. “Baltimore has the best music scene in the country right now, and part of that is because local musicians want to experiment—to push themselves out of their comfort zones. [Embody] presents artists at their most vulnerable, with no instruments, no effects pedals. Just their voices.”
Besides showcasing Baltimore’s best, Shodekeh believes creative vocals show something fundamentally more important than just skill. He sees Embody as a way of connecting people in a deeply creative and personal level.
“The music scene here is pretty segregated,” he says. “But when everybody has access to the same instrument, it's kind of easy to break down those walls.”
Although he intentionally curated a lineup diverse in both style and technique, Shodekeh still believes one of the most important parts is the personal and creative connections made between the artists as well as the audience. The show strives to be interactive—picking out audience members and encouraging impromptu collaborations.
“I think Baltimore is a good place to experiment with context and different contexts, as long as you're mindful of the fusions.” In the future, he hopes to direct an Embody show for Baltimore youth expand, and maybe one day, bring the series to different cities.