ListN Up: Seth Parker Woods (January 8, 2021)

ListN Up is a series of weekly artist-curated playlists. Born from a desire to keep artists sharing and connected during times of isolation, ListN Up offers an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Hailed by The Guardian as “a cellist of power and grace,” Seth Parker Woods has established himself as an in-demand soloist and chamber musician both stateside in the USA and throughout Europe and Asia. A fierce advocate for contemporary music and interdisciplinary arts, his collaborators have included: Seattle Symphony, Basel Ballet, Berlin Staatsballet, Ictus Ensemble, Lucerne Festival, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Tate Modern, Vanessa Beecroft, and Adam Pendleton. Outgoing Artist in Residence with Seattle Symphony, Woods is the new AiR with the Kaufman Music Center and on the faculty at the University of Chicago.

Hi, I’m Seth Parker Woods, cellist, curator, and educator based in Chicago, IL. I created this playlist as a way of trying to conjure joy, forms of ritual, place, and identity for an unprecedented moment in time. In the midst of darkness, uncertainty, and existential crisis existing around every street corner, hope is still abound. I curated this soundscape with hopes of bringing sunlight into our lives through grooves, ritualistic performances that experiment with darkness and light, and moments of deep reflection. I hope you enjoy this and discover something new.

“Don’t Kill Dub (Poem by Sonia Sanchez)” by Rob

I first discovered this work over the summer and was immediately taken by Sonia Sanchez’s speaking. Calm takes over while at the same time calling for people to wake up and be accountable.

“Solèy Midi” by Talie (feat. David Chavannes)

A new generation of Haitian artists that have captured my heart. Talie, an artist based in Philadelphia, has created a beautifully personal sonic tribute to the Sun that’s steeped in R&B and the mizik rasin (Haitian Roots music) lineage that you can trace to Beken as well as fellow contemporary Nathalie Joachim. For me, Talie represents strength and beauty. This is conjured in her lyricism and vocal inflection that allows you fall in love with her and her storytelling over and over again.

“Mpodol” by Blick Bassy

A native of Cameroon with a voice that pierces. I have been playing Blick Bassy’s tracks and albums for the last few weeks, and it’s sort of taken over my life. The arrangements–soulful, orchestral, reminiscent of big band–transport you.

“Moussolou” by Oumou Sangaré

Sangaré has been a voice of the times for me. I first discovered her in a world music class back in my undergraduate years. Since that moment, I have tried to listen and digest as much as I could find. For me, she is a voice of the present and the ancestors. Each song feels as if it’s a ritual and she conjures the ancestors. It’s both modern and vintage in style, and it’s always a pleasure to hear this voice of the people.

“Stay Up” by Adeline

I absolutely love this track. The groove and funk of the 70s mixed with semblances of Nona Hendryx, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers. Adeline’s voice also reminds me of Minnie Riperton. It’s been a track of major importance during this pandemic, and you can’t help but smile.

“Nerf Day” by Josh Johnson

At first, a weird psychosomatic dream, then the tides turn and reveal the beauty of a California sun. This track is perfectly executed. Josh Johnson’s sound is soulful and has that “human nature” quality. A new release for him, it has been a welcome gift when it felt like on every corner in 2020, there was despair and darkness.

Opus 3: In Seven Parts by Jamire Williams

I’ve know Jamire Williams since we were high schoolers, and it’s been amazing to watch his star continue to ascend and mutate over time. This latest work blends original sound works that “explore the depths of communication through ancient percussion and sampling,” as stated by Williams. It’s a conjuring, a ritual, a ceremony, and a sense of obscured but humanized memories. It is a beautiful array that showcases a sampling of Jamire’s prowess.

Zeher (Poison) by Reena Esmail, performed by Brooklyn Rider

A long time fan of Brooklyn Rider since their early years, this track by composer Reena Esmail chronicles a moment in 2018 when she suffered from an infection that left her voiceless. The main focus for me in this stunning composition is the beauty in the struggle and the eventual release as expertly narrated by Brooklyn Rider.

“Part One” from Winter Chapel by Dana Jessen

A true chameleon! Dana Jessen has been a long time inspiration, and I’m happy I can call her a friend and colleague. Her sound work with her reeds is otherworldly. Upon hearing this track, I was instantly transported inside the throat of some mega-aviary. A wild, rhapsodic, and sensitive journey is what takes place in “Part One” from her solo album Winter Chapel. If you’re unfamiliar with Dana’s work, I highly recommend you check out more of it. A true conjuring of the spirits upon high.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. A gift to ACF helps support the work of ICIYL. For more on ACF, visit the “At ACF” section or