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From The Archives (2016): Jamila Woods Talks Debut Album And Creative Journey

Written by on September 10, 2021

Jamila Woods has been exploring the language of music and poetry since high school. Five years after the release of her debut album, she’s taking stage at Pitchfork Music Festival in her hometown.

Exposed to poetry just before her senior year at St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago activist, singer, songwriter and poet Jamila Woods found community in the arts world.

“When I performed my first poem, I felt like I found a language,” she told NPR in November 2017. “Gwendolyn Brooks said, ‘I’m a writer, perhaps because I’m not a talker.’ And I feel that way a lot.”

After further developing her poetry skills and poignant lyricism, Woods released her highly-anticipated debut album HEAVN in 2016 and second record LEGACY! LEGACY! in 2019. Throughout both works Woods’ songwriting abilities shine brightly, and the two albums were met with critical acclaim — Pitchfork labeled both as “Best New Album” at the time of their release, with respective ratings 8.4 and 8.5 out of 10.

The relationship Woods shares with Chicago is a key theme in her work, and she has collaborated with fellow Chicago musicians Saba, Noname and Chance The Rapper.

Four months following the release of HEAVN, Jamila Woods sat down with Vocalo content director and host of Reclaimed Soul Ayana Contreras in November 2016 to discuss her creative journey and the themes behind her music. Leading up to her performance at Pitchfork Music Festival, we wanted to revisit the conversation to reflect on Woods’ artistic evolution and her impact on the Chicago music scene as a whole.

Jamila Woods will take stage at Pitchfork in Union Park at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Follow Jamila Woods on Twitter and Instagram, and stream her music on Spotify below.

Written by Erik Anderson

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