Jamila Woods has an impressive resume: Brown University graduate, associate artistic director of the non-profit organization Young Chicago Authors, and rising R&B star. After making a name for herself singing the chorus of Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s “Sunday Candy” and Chance the Rapper’s “Blessings,” she released her debut album HEAVN exclusively on SoundCloud through Chicago label Closed Sessions. The album was so well-received that she has since signed to record label Jagjaguwar, who will be jointly re-releasing HEAVN alongside her original label Closed Sessions. With the impending re-release, she embarked on a July tour that included stops at Pitchfork Music Festival, Panorama Festival, and a sold-out DC crowd at Songbyrd.
Jamila Woods never fails to see the good in everyone, and she made sure that the Songbyrd crowd knew it. On songs like “Holy,” the crowd sang “My cup is full up, what I got is enough” with volume and confidence. The #BlackGirlMagic-referencing “Blk Grl Soldier” was another crowd favorite, where Woods listed all of the people that helped pave the way for her to get to where she is today, as was . And driving the beat of these infectious songs was her impressive backing band that reworked some of the studio production for the live circuit with delayed guitar licks and soulful, funky bass lines. In the end, the themes of the songs that night largely reflected what Jamila Woods aspires for young black women to be: confident, independent, and unafraid of the future. But no matter the background of those in the crowd, many undoubtedly left Songbyrd that night with a bit more confidence themselves.
Opening for Jamila Woods was Chicago-based singer theMIND, also known as Zarif Wilder. His music is reminiscent of Frank Ocean - his smooth vocals and honest, raw lyrics struck a chord with people in the crowd. By the end of the show, most in the crowd were singing along to songs they had not heard before. His latest release is the 2017 single and Da-P collaboration “Ms. Communication.”