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Local Artists to Watch: United Soul
By Clayton Ruley

At we hope to upload change in a variety of ways including music. We hope to show you some of music’s hidden treasures, as well as the hot and upcoming artists. With that we bring you the future, United Soul featuring the skills of Aziz and Josh Collins. These young crooners from the PHI bring an old school flava with new age presence. I caught up with them at Warmdaddys’ 4th Monday before the hopped on stage to rap about the start, their influences and where they hope to go. Remember people, you heard it here first! For the people, where are you guys from?

United Soul: West Philly!

GC: How long have you guys know each other?

US: We have known each other for about 8 years; we met at Parkway High School (in Philly).

Josh of United Soul in the booth

GC: So you are not related?

US: No, but the relationship we have feels like we are.

GC: So when you met was it music from the get go?

US: We’ll we started just as friends just kicking it, watching sports, listening to music. Then we along with a friend Omar Rice, who still writes some of our material by the way, formed a group, and tried to make something happen.

GC: What happened with the group?

US: When Aziz moved to North Carolina to attend North Carolina Central University, the group disbanded and we did our own things.

GC: Aziz, you joined the choir at school right?

US: Yeah, I was on the North Carolina Central Tour Choir, as well as the Jazz Ensemble. We toured and performed around the country and had some good times. The experience of performing helped me.

GC: And Josh?

US: Josh did some background vocals for local artists and also formed another group.

GC: So how did you hook back up?

US: When I came back home I did the solo thing for a while and was getting a little tired with the in’s and out’s. Josh was still in another group but luckily when I proposed the idea of getting back together he was all for it. It felt right and we’ve been back together for 2 years. Writing, and singing music!

GC: Who are your musical influences?

US: Stevie Wonder, had to make sure he was first, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Jodeci (especially KC), D’Angelo, The Isley Brothers and Prince.

Aziz putting pen to paper

GC: To those who haven’t heard how would you describe your sound?

US: We’d describe it as Urban Soul!

GC: Where have you guy performed so far?

US: The Trocadero, Soul Sanctuary, 1616, Temple University, Drexel University, Millersville, Warmdaddy’s of course, the Adam’s Mark, and a slew of open mics in the beginning!

GC: How else have you submersed yourselves in the game?

US: We not only write for ourselves but have also submitted songs and material to some of the industry’s upcoming and established. Trying to cover all the bases.

GC: So I’ve heard the unfinished demo (The demo has over 13 songs already!)and it’s hot! What’s next for you fellas?

US: We are going to add like 10 more songs to the demo and continue to shop it around. Also we are putting together a black college tour. We have big plans for the upcoming year.

GC: Whom have you worked with for the album? Who do you plan to work with?

US: We have worked with Clay Sears, Tekneek, Tangled Thought, Anthony Bell who worked with Vivian Green, Kenwood from Touch of Jazz, James Posner of the Axis Music Group and Roots fame. Were about to work with
88 Keys who did some work on Mos Def’s and Talib Kweli’s Black Star album. Things are finally starting to work out after a lot of hard work!

GC: How would you feel if you didn’t pursue your dream of making music.

US: I don’t think it’s a choice, its bred in us! We feel if we don’t pursue music and do music we’d die, at least on the inside! It’s a necessity, like eating, breathing. It gives us motivation to get though the day.

As the interview ends and the group starts to perform they bring together different walks of life, with crowd participation. LOVE is the word that brings the people together with a funky beat and an up-tempo pitch. The stage presence shows their youth but also their maturity. Josh engages the crowd stepping down off the stage to make sure the crowd is feeling it while Aziz gives his energy to belting out wicked lines. The crowd made the crowd know their presence was felt as they came to a big applause. With that United Soul was done. But in essence it was just one stop on a long road to great success.



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