ListN Up: Jordyn Davis (March 9, 2023)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Jordyn Davis (b. 1995) is an award-winning bassist, composer, songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit. In May 2019, Davis became the first African-American woman to receive a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition from Michigan State University, as well as the first Michigan State student to receive a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition and Jazz Studies concurrently. She has performed and worked with artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jerome Jennings, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lin Manuel Miranda, Shirazette Tinnin & Willerm Delisfort, in addition to recently completing a new orchestral commission for the New York Philharmonic & Juilliard Pre-College.

Hey, everyone, my name is Jordyn Davis. I’m a bassist, composer, singer-songwriter, and bandleader. I have my own ensemble, called Composetheway, and I also just started a publishing company called Composetheway Publishing. I’m so excited to share this playlist with you, curated by yours truly. This is a collection of music that is very near and dear to my heart, that has inspired me over the last few years to try new things and be open to new sounds, new stories, and new experiences in life, to help inform how I tell my own, through sound. Please enjoy the journey. I hope you take away some vibes, tunes, and perspectives, and some new ideas from different pockets and different genres across the board. Enjoy it.

“Grief” by Samora Pinderhughes (feat. Boom Bishop)

As someone who has gone through several extended periods of grief, this entire album & its title track are such a beautifully soulful expression of the many facets of the process. I have easily listened to this 100 times since I was at his live exhibition of the Grief Project at Winter Jazz Fest earlier this year.

“When an Angel Sheds a Feather” by Gerald Clayton

I love to live in a good fantasy & this composition takes me away to a place where I’m weightless, fully consumed by the lush, nostalgic journey this trio takes us on, lyrically & harmonically. Great tune to channel some highly reflective rainy-day vibes!

“Savior” by Kendrick Lamar

I listened to this song, album & artist more than anything else in 2022! Kendrick Lamar & the vulnerability he shares with us throughout this record & this song really helped me face a lot of emotions & perceptions I’d previously had of myself, as well as some of the leading voices in hip-hop currently. Endless respect for Kendrick & the transcendental power of his works.

“Sames” by Jaala

Jaala is one of my favorite bands that I was introduced to through another Australia-based genre-bending group, Hiatus Kiayote. This all-female trio kicks so much ass! Their music has pushed me to fearlessly explore my voice, my sound & the various ways I express myself through song without it feeling predictable or inauthentic.

“Proven Badlands” by Annie Clark, performed by yMusic

Next to the Ravel string quartet, this is one of my absolute favorite pieces of chamber music. Such a dynamic piece, composed by an incredibly dynamic artist, Annie Clarke, aka St. Vincent, who has inspired lots of my work as a songwriter over the last 10 years. Collaborating with yMusic is also a dream of mine; I love the intersectionality in all the work they do as performers & advocates for the arts.

“Bells (Ring Loudly)” by Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science (feat. Malcolm-Jamal Warner)

A soulfully harrowing piece that depicts the painful journeys Black mothers & families endure when they are faced with losing loved ones to police brutality. This entire album is such a powerful masterpiece that it actually inspired me to start composing my first musical theater project.

“Zora’s Moon” by Candice Hoyes (feat. Joel Ross)

I am honored enough to be great friends — sisters, even — with this incredibly majestic star. She was able to bring this beautiful song to life with the help of Pianist Sulivan Fortner & honor the great Zora Neale Hurston through this dreamy bop & it stays on repeat in my music library.

“St. Martin de Porres” by Mary Lou Williams

As a bassist, one of my major insecurities used to be my understanding of harmony & how to develop my harmonic language in a sophisticated & authentic way. Mary Lou Williams is a huge inspiration to me in many aspects of my life, but every time I get to hear this piece, I learn something new & feel more connected to her creative vision.

“Night Off” by Composetheway

Setting boundaries & advocating for your own wellbeing, especially in the context of love, can feel really challenging if you’re not taught how to do so. I wrote this song as an ode to self-love & self-care with my band Composetheway!


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, and is made possible thanks to generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF.

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