Louis York is the powerful duo and creation of multi-GRAMMY nominated songwriting and production team, Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony. Kelly, a 4x Grammy Award nominee, and Harmony, a 3x Grammy Award nominee and 2011 NAACP Image Award winner, both together and apart have written and produced hits for a long list of multi-platinum recording artists including Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, and Whitney Houston to name a few.
Formed in 2015, the duo first appeared on the scene with their well-received debut EP trilogy Masterpiece Theater: Act I, Act II, Act III. The projects earned praise from publications including Billboard and Los Angeles Times for their genre-bending sensibilities and creative aesthetic. In a relatively short amount of time, the pair has amassed more than one million cumulative streams on Spotify; given a talk as part of the esteemed TEDx Nashville program; and performed sold-out shows, most recently on their “Love Takeover” tour since the start of 2019.
Having been described as a cross between Outkast and Earth, Wind & Fire, the pair have unleashed their full-length debut, American Griots – The Album. An ambitious step forward for the group, the new project consists of 13 new songs, including “Don’t You Forget,” the group’s rich, sprightly new single replete with warm harmonies, head-bobbing grooves, and an instantly hook-filled chorus. This work of art expresses both Kelly and Harmony from the inside out as the album covers themes of love, wellness, and happiness.
“A Griot is a traditional West African storyteller and musician and historian,” explains Kelly. “It’s purposely harkening back to a legacy that Chuck and I personally relate to. It’s more, look at the state of the world right now, how much do we need light music, how much do we need things to inspire? Really badly. Rather than complain about it, we decided to be the solution.”
The track extends to the doo-wop bounce of “Glow”, and country-inflected ballad “Teach Me a Song” featuring Jimmie Allen, one of the more expansive tracks on the set. But American Griots also has heft and contemplation of the world at large, asking more from the experience of listening to it. “I Wonder,” which touts contributions from Nashville poet Caroline Randall Williams, W. Crimm Singers and countertenor Patrick Dailey, is a haunting meditation on the state of the world.
“These are the things I’m thinking about every single night,” says Kelly. “Most likely, if it’s not a music concern for us, we’re up because there’s something happening in the world that’s troubling us so much that it spurs us to turn to songs.” Adds Harmony, “We knew we wanted to make the new negro spiritual. It wouldn’t just be jazz or classical or soulful. It would be all of those things put together, so that’s what I did.”