Dara Starr Tucker presents her eponymously titled sixth album, Dara Starr Tucker. Referred to as “a fighter for social justice wielding music as a balm,” (Morgan Enos – Grammy.com) the acclaimed vocalist and songwriter melds her presence as a jazz and roots singer-songwriter with her growing notoriety as a social media commentator on race, cultural equity, music, and film on her hotly-anticipated new release. Over the past 18 months, Tucker has amassed an astounding combined audience of one million followers with the largest delegation arriving via the TikTok platform. Her video commentary and original songs have been featured with HBO, FX, OWN Network, Revolt! TV and Ebony/Jet.
On Dara Starr Tucker, the versatile artist showcases six lively original compositions alongside inspired arrangements of modern and classic songs by writers such as Billie Eilish, Bill Withers, John Denver and Kurt Weill. Tucker’s sonority and lyricism arrives with a “penetrating yet comforting, lullaby quality that is awake and assuring.” (Marc Myers – Jazzwax) Her sound is supported by the dynamic musicianship of pianists Aaron Parks, Mike King and James Hurt, bassists Vicente Archer and Greg Bryant and drummer Marcus Finnie.
Tucker’s evocative new project provides needed catharsis in a post-pandemic world with emphasis on self-reflection, mental wellness and, ultimately, healing. “It’s my hope that the songs would speak to others who are experiencing similar things,” Tucker said. “The TikTok platform is unique in that it has given me the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people — numbers that are almost unheard of in the jazz world.” Tucker also acknowledged that her expansive and comprehensive social media reach has the power to reach a much broader audience, including young listeners. “I feel uniquely positioned to connect with people who rarely listen to jazz. When they’ve experienced my social commentary or my satirical videos, and suddenly find out I’m a singer, it sparks their curiosity, and oftentimes, they want to hear more.”
Tucker’s striking compositions are equal parts contemplation and commentary – an approach that has been integral to her artistry well before her social media stardom. One of the highlights of her previous album Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World (2021, Green Hill) was “Do We Sleep?”, a thought-provoking, musical response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, which received praise by American Songwriter. On her self-titled, Tucker ups the ante by presenting six finely-wrought original compositions that undoubtedly elevates her standing as a premier contemporary songwriter in the jazz space.
Of the original compositions, highlights include the album opener “Scars” (and the closing reprise), which is a reminder that past hurts can be instructive and “Falling”, a floaty reflection on the passing of time from the point of view of a loved one who has moved on. The groovy “If You Ask Me To” is a fun, upbeat tune that Tucker wrote on a dare and features the punchy horns of trumpeter Giveton Gelin and saxophonists John Ellis and Stacy Dillard.
A truly multifaceted artist, Tucker displays her mastery at reconfiguring works by others as well. She takes on the emotional Billie Eilish hit “Everything I Wanted” with the empathetic accompaniment of Parks, Archer and Finnie, making it her own with every note. Often used as a concert closer during her live shows, Tucker soars on the traditional roots-gospel hymn “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, recase here in a buoyant, New Orleans second-line feel.
As evidenced on Dara Starr Tucker, the Philadelphia-based musician is making her mark in the world of organic, heartfelt music by blending the melodic and lyrical richness of the central plains with the soulful strains of the Black American experience. Her eclecticism is guided by the diversity of her narrative. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a family of singers and ministers, Tucker and her siblings traveled across the U.S. singing with their parents.
From there, Tucker has experienced a diverse array of locales that she has called home including Interlaken, Switzerland; Nashville, Tennessee, New York City and now Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tucker is an alumna of The Woodshed Network, sponsored by 651 Arts and founded by NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater. Tucker has toured with her own bands and also with renowned hybrid guitarist Charlie Hunter. In 2020, she teamed up with blues & Americana artist Keb Mo’ to co-write the title track to his GRAMMY-winning Best Americana Album, Oklahoma. She has appeared on NPR’s Jazz Night in America and made her national television debut on The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. Tucker’s 2021 album, Dreams of Waking: Music For A Better World reached #7 on the JazzWeek National Radio Charts. Her newest album is recorded by GRAMMY-winning engineer Mike Marciano and produced by Greg Bryant.
“My desire is that people would sense a unity between the content I share online, and the music I make — it all comes from the same place,” Tucker shared.