VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast / Ep. 19 - Devon Gilfillian
December 7, 2020
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VERSED is a bi-weekly podcast illuminating the heart and soul of music. Featuring in-depth interviews with songwriters and composers, plus tips and insights to help you navigate your music career. Brought to you by ASCAP, home of the world's greatest music creators.
Devon Gilfillian grew up in Philadelphia on a steady diet of hip-hop, rock, blues and soul music. While soaking up the sounds of his musician father’s favorite music, Gilfillian also developed an appreciation for the beats and vibe of modern rap. He combined it all into his own music and after releasing an electrifying EP in 2016, he got signed to Capitol Records and hit the road performing with the likes of Anderson East, Keith Urban, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, Brothers Osborne and more. Now he’s on a roll. Earlier this year he released his debut album, the Grammy-nominated Black Hole Rainbow; he followed it up with a track-by-track cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic What’s Going On, which helped raise funds for the voting advocacy organization Equity Alliance. We talked with Gilfillian just before he received The ASCAP Foundation Leon Brettler Award about getting creative in quarantine, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, finding new purpose in his music and more. PLUS: The ASCAP Foundation's Executive Director Colleen McDonough reveals why the charity's mission is more crucial than ever right now. Then, we get some Sound Advice from Whitney Phillips and Gian Stone, co-writers of the Ariana Grande/Justin Bieber smash "Stuck with U."
+Register for free to watch The ASCAP Foundation Honors 2020 event, December 8 at 6pm EST
+Watch Whitney Phillips & Gian Stone's entire Anatomy of a Song: "Stuck with U" panel from The ASCAP Experience: Home Edition
EP. 19 FEATURED INTERVIEW: DEVON GILFILLIAN
There is deep soul in the music of Devon Gilfillian—but for the talented Nashville-based singer-songwriter and bandleader, that descriptor goes way beyond a mere genre classification.
Growing up in Philadelphia on a steady diet of R&B, hip-hop, rock, blues, and soul music, Gilfillian gravitated to records that ignited his mind while making his body move. For him, listening to the towering icons of his musician father’s era—Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations—was just as formative and exciting as discovering the new sounds of his own generation, and the beats and rhymes made by rising rap stars like Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye West, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z inspired him in new ways. He began to recognize a connective thread in the sounds he loved best: from the golden throwbacks sampled by the hip-hop beat makers to the raw, emotional vocal deliveries of the Motown greats, for Gilfillian the key ingredient seemed to be the “soul”—not simply the genre, but the feeling and vibe.
Following his electrifying 2016 debut EP with upbeat singles like “High” and “Troublemaker” in 2018, Gilfillian signed to Capitol Records and hit the road––performing with the likes of Anderson East, Keith Urban, Gladys Knight, Kaleo, The Fray, Mavis Staples, and more. In early 2019, Gilfillian traveled to Africa to find healing and inspiration before headlining a tour in Scandinavia and opening for Brothers Osborne on their spring tour. His debut album, Black Hole Rainbow, was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, and garnered a 2021 Grammy nomination. He followed that up by gathering a stellar cast of collaborators for a track-by-track cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic 1971 album What’s Going On, with all proceeds benefiting the Equity Alliance. His most recent release is the single "Freedom" with indie rock band Illiterate Light. Now based in Nashville, Gilfillian was recently named the recipient of The ASCAP Foundation Leon Brettler Award.
Colleen McDonough is the Executive Director of The ASCAP Foundation, where she has worked for 20 years.
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and music lovers throughout the world.
Nashville Membership Associate Director Beth Brinker maintains ASCAP’s relationships with high-profile country songwriters and artists, and plays a major role in the ongoing success of monthly showcases and workshops. She coordinates ASCAP’s involvement in events such as the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, Luck Reunion, CMA Music Festival, Folk Alliance International and more. Prior to ASCAP, Beth worked in publishing and held roles as on-air talent with Spike TV, Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour, The Marty Stuart Show, and stints at GAC-TV and RFD-TV.