Simon Woolcott

Thursday 20th October

Today was the day we were split into our two groups for the Music Radio programme and shown the choices of music radio genres from which we are to pick.

I’m in group B and we have chosen the Soul/Funk Pop Smooth. Easy listening soul and funk including music that can be said to have been “influenced’ by funk and soul. It targets a local / national audience aged 35 to 64.

We chose the genre by a very fair system of voting and there is a general feeling we have chosen wisely.

Although we haven’t yet chosen our specific roles there have been volunteers for news, imagining, adverts, social media and perhaps a decision that we will have a joint editor role and a joint head of music role with myself and Eliza taking on both.

Today’s main task is to put together a Spotify list of tunes and share it so that everyone in the group is familiar with the music.

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Monday 24th October

Most of our group got together for a meeting ahead of our Theories of Media and Communication lecture. Although it was a fairly relaxed meeting nearly everyone has chosen a role and all the required roles are filled, which is excellent.

There is a general feeling that everyone will help everyone else in their roles, both in the build up to the show airing, as well as on the day. There is a good team spirit.

We have decided to go for a London-centric local station because that means it can be both big sounding and yet retain a local ethos.

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Thursday 27th October

It was Myriad training today, a play-out system I am pretty familiar with. It turns out, however, that I was very much in need of a refresher.

Quentin Neild, an old colleague of mine from Gaydar Radio days was brought in to lecture us and gave us practical guidance.

I’m very much used to ‘voice-tracking’ as are some of the others in the team. But It was gratifying to be able to demonstrate the benefits of voice-tracking to other members of the team who were less familiar with it.

There were sone glitches in the system, which some of us are already familiar with, but Quentin has suggested that he comes back with his engineering head on to try and see if anything can be done to overcome them.

We also discovered today that we are not to come up with the concept of a completely new radio station. We are to pick a suitable brand which already exists and produce a two hour show that would fit within the output of said brand. This new development need discussion within the group. I think most of us were under the impression that the two hour show was to be a two hour slot on an otherwise imaginary radio station.

We have decided to Choose Mi-Soul as the appropriate candidate.

This means we have to come up with advertisers who will fit with Mi-Soul and create new branding and imagining for Mi-Soul as well as branding and imaging for our brand ‘The Groove’.

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Monday 31st October

After receiving an email from Matthew asking us to clarify our roles within the group for ‘The Groove’ we decided to meet today before our lecture today to finalise everyone’s role and set some initial deadlines.

Eliza is now the Editor which mean I am now Head of Music. I’m happy with that.

Eliza has set sone deadlines already for suggestion as to who we think would advertise on ‘Mi-Soul / The Groove’. She has also set a deadline to get the music for the programme edited and on Myriad.

Ad ideas: 3rd Nov
Music: 10th Nov

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Thursday 3rd November

The team are proving to be brilliant. There is such enthusiasm for The Groove.

The structured part of today, this morning, was about getting our heads around how the OB part of the show was going to be done. Despite a few technical issues we eventually had a dry run at connecting to the OB studio and worked out most of the dynamics of how it was going to work on the day.

The afternoon was more like a brainstorming session. There were so many great ideas for Ads, Imaging, Music and Features flying about, with team leaders and grabbing the best suggestion from the ether and frantically scribbling notes and getting started on developing some of then right away.

Eliza has set up and shared a link to Google Drive where everyone can keep in touch. She has created all the required documents so that people can add to, and glean information from, when we’re not together.

We have decided to make the Monday meeting a regular feature with myself and Eliza ensconced in RP1 so that everyone else can drop by when they have time in their schedule.

We have put together the bones of the playlist and decided on four categories: A-List, B-List, Recurrent 1 and Recurrent 2.

I will wait for approval of the playlist before I start editing tracks and uploading them to the cart wall on Myriad. There is no point in making work for myself. I’m pretty confident that Eliza and I possess much of the music already but anything we don’t have I will download from iTunes.

I’ll spend some of the weekend going through the last ten years top 40 charts to make sure there are no glaring omissions.

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Saturday 12th Nov

It’s been a good week on The Groove. The programme logo is sublime.

groove-logo

The branding team are working hard to get the audio branding equally as striking

The website is up and running and look amazing

And you can follow us on Twitter @TheGrooveLDN

I have a mountain of music to edit before I start uploading it this week. We’ve chosen more tracks than is necessary for the project but I‘m keen to build the show by creating a grid and a clock and scheduling using Autotrack. Each track will be assigned a category so that when I schedule for the show they will appear in the right places in each hour. The music categories areas follows: A List; B List; Recurrent 1 and Recurrent 2.

These are the clocks I’ve created which include the news, all the features, ad breaks and suggested presenter link lengths and timings. The presenter link lengths are only to be used as a guide as Eliza and I have agreed that presenter creativity is stifled when editors and producers are too prescriptive.

the-groove-hour-1         the-groove-hour-2

As you can see there are only two A list and two B list tracks an hour with many more Recurrent 1 and Recurrent 2 tracks scheduled. This is to ensure that new music is gradually introduced to the listener and that most of the hour contains songs which are more familiar. Because our demographic age range is 35 to 64, familiarity is important but new music must also be introduced to prevent the program from becoming stale.

It is important to me to ‘top and tail’ all the music before I add it to the cart wall. This is to remove long fades and overly long intros. To be honest I prefer all tracks to have an ending rather than a fade out, but sometimes this is not possible to achieve. Any ‘album versions’ will be edited down to ensure they are ‘radio edit’ length and all tracks will be normalised to make sure they play out at the same level.

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Monday 14th November

Today I made a start on uploading the now ‘topped and tailed’ music for The Groove onto the cart wall on Myriad.

Clare has done loads of research and discovered that some of the proposed A and B list songs were not as recent as we first thought. Although this means we will have to find some more recent appropriate music, on the plus side it also means we have swelled the number of tracks in R1.

I am happy with the R1 and R2 categories on paper but some of the music still need to be sourced. This can be an ongoing process as we already have enough tracks uploaded to fill two hours. I would just like to be able to give AutoTrack more to choose from once we have transferred the clocks from paper to the software.

Many of the newer tracks Eliza has sourced are album versions so I need to spend some time editing them down to around three to three and a half minutes. I have set myself a maximum length of four minutes per track. This is a common music radio convention I attend to adhere to. Although some top 40 stations such as Capital and Kiss prefer even shorter edits The Groove is aimed toward a more mature listenership with a longer attention span. Besides I believe each song is a mini work of art in it’s own right and its not up to me to start carving large chunks out of it.

Eliza and I are going to make time to search for and download some newer tracks between now and Thursday.

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Thursday 17th November

Today was a long day with a lot going on.

Eliza had called a meeting at 10am sharp to gather progress reports from the teams and set some new deadlines. Everyone attended who had not sent their apologies in advance. It’s a good team.

The raw voiceovers for station imaging where recorded today and some of the adverts had already been made and many more were in production.

Eliza and I shared our choices for fresher A and B list tunes with each other and between us we have come up with some corkers including a brand new Stevie Wonder track and a hot off the press Shift K3Y track featuring MNEK.

After uploading some more of the music I had edited and ‘topped and tailed’ at home, I processed the new tracks that Eliza and I had agreed should be added and uploaded those straight away.

There is always one track in every batch that the audio import wizard on Myriad rejects. Today it was a Shaun Escoffery track. I tried changing the bit rate, re-saving it. I even tried WeTransfering it to Callum so he could upload and it directly in the studio. None of these things worked.

I was convinced it was some of the metadata included that was causing the problem. I surmised that the old version of Myriad we are using simply didn’t know how to process it. In the end I found an old version of Adobe Audition, imported it and re-saved it as as ‘mp3PRO’ file. This fixed the problem and I was able to upload it onto the cart wall. There is always a way… as long as the file isn’t corrupted, of course.

Callum assisted me in transferring the clocks I had created to Autotrack, ok then Callum showed me how to transfer the clocks I’d created onto Autotrack, and we managed a quick test schedule. Obviously none of the imaging or other material is available for the scheduler to choose from but it scheduled the music perfectly.

Callum and I had a listen through in the studio and they all sounded great. The only thing I will have to adjust manually is some of the levels. Although all the tracks are normalised to the same db or percentage level, newer tracks, which have been mastered with a lot more compression, will appear louder, and conversely older tracks, which were mastered with older technology, with have to be gained up a little.
It is important they they all ‘sound’ the same volume when they are played out.

I have a few more tracks to source between now and Monday. I will also begin to build the Soul Train and Funk Railroad features over the weekend. I’m slightly anxious they won’t sound as good as I want them to unless I give myself time to really work on them.

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Monday 21st November

Another day another hive of activity within team Groove. Imaging is starting to appear and is sounding great and more and more adverts are emerging to.

I’ve uploaded a few more tracks to the cart wall including a new edition to the B-List. I think it’s important to update the playlist week by week leading up to the pilot and broadcast as would happen in the real world.

I have made several attempts at producing a news bed. I upload each attempt to the Google Drive News folder to garner feedback. It has been positive with various tweaks suggested. I’m now on version three but I fear it still needs work. Here’s an 8 second clip:

Matthew sent an email to the team asking for clarification around some of the items which have already been uploaded to the drive. Eliza put together a reply with the help of some others of us in the team which seems to have clarified things and put the team back on an even keel.

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Tuesday 22nd November

Today was sent almost entirely working on the ‘Soul Train’ mini-mix. The plan was to mix five soul tunes together in a ten minute medley for this ‘serious jockin’ feature.

I had been doing pre-production on the mix over the last couple of weeks so it was simply a matter of deciding which parts of each track to include and what order to put them in.

It wasn’t until I imported all of the tracks into Logic that I realised there had been a technical glitch in one of the tracks during pre production. After trying and failing to correct the glitch I decided to concentrate on making a good mini-mix of the four remaining tracks.

I decided to used the a cappella vocal section from Soul II Soul – Keep On Moving to bind the mix together

Once I had decided on the order to the other tracks the mix was done and uploaded in less than six hours.

The other tracks included are:

Mary Mary – Shackles

Mary Jane Girls – Al Night Long

Mtume – Juicy Fruit

The track that caused me problems was SWV – Right Here.

Tomorrow I shall start putting together the Funk Railroad mix. I suspect it will take considerably more work than the Soul Train one.

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Wednesday 23rd November

Another day, another mix. This time it was the turn of the ‘Funk Railroad’ mini-mix.

As with the ‘Soul Train’ mini-mix I had done some pre-production on the tracks I had decided to use.

This mix was considerably more difficult to put together because two of the tracks were from the 1970s and were therefore not of an even tempo, damn those real musicians!

Once again only four out of the five tacks I had worked on were usable. This time it wasn’t due to a technical glitch but rather a time code clash. Four of the tracks are in 4/4 time and one was in… er well to be honest I couldn’t quite work it out, was it a funk waltz? Either way it rendered the track unusable.

If you’re a musician and can work out what musical time code Change – Hold Tight is in and comment below I’d be grateful.

The four usable tunes were:

Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove

Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots

James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing

Positive Force – We Got The Funk

I have always thought that One Nation Under A Groove sounded like started half way through a verse but I wanted to use it as the first track of the mix. In the end to make it sound right I had to manufacture an intro for it from four bars taken from a few minutes into the song.

To be honest I was less proud of the this mini-mix than I was of the ‘Soul Train’ mix. After I had posted it on the shared drive and asked for comments I didn’t get any reaction.

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Thursday 24th November

Well that was quite a day! We had a big ‘Team Groove’ meeting with Matthew and although it was very positive he has suggested some changes, some small, some a bit more major.

Overall the playlist has survived in tact but one of the music features has had been dropped to make room for an interview with an established soul singer. I was also asked to give an explanation for the term ‘spice’ which was included in my original music policy document, this has now been amended.

To be honest the Soul Train and Funk Railroad features were very similar so it’s a positive decision. Besides I wasn’t as happy with the Funk Railroad mix as I was in the Soul Train mix. It is not going to completely go to waste however as we are going to use is as the Soul Train mix for the pilot programme next Thursday.

I recorded a few bits and bobs of voiceover for both the imaging team and the ads team. They have both worked really hard and the station sound is coming along nicely and some of the ads sound so professional and with a few tweaks to the others I think we’ll have a great set to broadcast on the day.

I fear the news bed won’t make the final cut either, Matthew wasn’t keen. News bed are notoriously hard to get just right. The idea is that the ‘beat’ of the station is maintained throughout the news but the juxtaposition between a harrowing news story and a music bed with a soul beat is a difficult ask.

After hastily uploading a few more songs and the Soul Train mini-mix to the cart wall, I assisted in adding some of the, work in progress, idents and ads so we could attempt a stopping technical run through. Today sees us a week away from the official pilot programme so Eliza thought it was about time we got into this studio to discover how everything hung together.

Due to some essential maintenance work being carried out on the studios, on the only day we are scheduled to have use of them exclusively, we only managed an hour. However it went reasonably well and we recorded it so we are able to schedule in an autopsy for Monday. I’ve had a quick listen and there are some technical issues, with one presenter mic distorting and some other levels needing adjustment.

My final task of the day was to create revised clocks to take into account the changes that have been decided upon.

Hour 1’s clock no longer contains the Soul Train section because it has been replaced with an interview section.

hour-1-revised

Hour 2’s clock now contains the Soul Train section and a newly split live session segment.

hour-2-revised

As you may have noticed I have also revised the average song time up from 3 and a half minutes to 4 minutes to make more time available for some of the longer tracks and to build in longer presenter links.

We also realised during the run through that the travel bulletins into the 20 past and 40 past ad breaks would be longer than the original clocks had allowed for. As a knock on effect of these changes one song fewer will now be scheduled in each hour

We learned one last thing with regard to the music during today’s technical run through. If the studio producer, Mark, needs to swap the last couple of songs in the hours for shorter tracks, in order to hit the news on the top of the hour, he needs more songs on the cart wall to chose from. There are still some R1 and R2 tracks that are included on the spreadsheet which I haven’t found time to source, edit and upload yet. I shall spend some time before Monday’s meeting rectifying this.

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Saturday 26th November

In order to rectify the problem of insufficient songs of differing lengths on the cart wall I spent most of the day sourcing the tracks that were listed on the playlist spreadsheet but not yet acquired.

By the end of the day I had copies of all that I required and had edited them, normalised them, top and tailed them and copied them onto a memory stick.

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Monday 28th November

After a quick group meeting at college, Mark (studio producer) and I managed to get access to a studio and upload and categorise the remaining playlist songs. Out of 91 tracks selected for inclusion on the Groove we have sourced, edited and uploaded 85. Some were simply not available to acquire, rare grooves indeed!

We had to move some of the other audio around the cart wall in order to keep songs, beds, imagining etc properly grouped.

I have asked Callum (presenter) to transfer the new clocks to Autotrack which he assures me will be done by Wednesday.

Mark (studio producer) and I decided that the travel imaging needed a bed and an out sting so I’ll create that and upload the new version onto the shared drive before Wednesday. I’ll use the rejected news bed.

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Wednesday 30th November

We were fortunate enough to manage to gain access to studio 6 today to upload some of the new imagining onto the cart wall. Mark (studio producer) and I also used the time to check levels in the studio. After listening to back to the hour we manage to get done of our first attempt at a pilot, we noticed there were some audible (and indeed visible on the wav form) overdriven sections particularly in the sub bass frequencies) I really wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

Mark and I spent quite a lot of time making sure that the inputs from the four Myriad cart players and all the studio mics were not in any danger of peaking at any time during our programme. After we had changed some input gains we were joined by our editor (Eliza) an our presenters (Calum and Clare) and they seemed happy with the tweaks we had made.

In the end myself, Mark, Callum and Eliza were in and out of the studio most of the evening until around 8pm. Finally Eliza wanted to go through each scheduled hour to make sure everything was in the right place for the official pilot programme the following day because we had heard that there was a problem with studio 5 and then the other group would be occupying studio 6 all of the morning to do their pilot.

It was a long day.

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Thursday 1st December

A day Team Groove had been looking forward to and dreading in equal measure – the pilot day.

pilot-episode-alone-pic

To say things didn’t go to plan could possibly qualify for understatement of the new millennium.

We already knew that the other team were now using studio 6 because they believed studio 5 had developed a fault. This meant we would not be able to gain access to the studio we were using for our pilot until, at the most, 57 minutes before we were due to go on air. Not really much time to prepare.

In the event, because of further technical issues which are too complicated to go into here (besides we wasted enough time trying to work around them on the day), not only did we start late but we had to move from studio 6 to studio 5 (which it turned out was, most working).
To say the start of the pilot was fraught is an accurate description but we started on time (that is on time after having to reschedule due to technical difficulties). Aside from Myriad freezing it’s standard 4 times and hour, each time for 12-14 seconds, there were no more technical difficulties throughout the rest of the pilot.

I was in the studio with Mark (Studio producer), Eliza (Editor) and the presenters Callum and Clare. There was some discussion, as each track was played, about tweaks we could make to the clocks and we made some of these as we went along.

We dropped two of the travel bulletins, which means that there is now only one per hour, plus and I may have to schedule one more song between the 20 past and 40 past ad breaks because the quantity I had initially chosen for the segment simply did not sufficiently fill the time.

Both news bulletins started exactly on time, which was very gratify considering we were not working to the top of the hour. Because we had to start half an hour late due to the afore mentioned technical issues with the studios was much less simple to back time the hour but Mark did a sterling job

The OB was a roaring success, although a link was missed on the outro of the first live track

When we headed for the debriefing we were all reasonably happy with how it had all hung together.

As it turned out we were quite wrong to be happy….

The critique was very thorough indeed. There was far too much said for me to include here but suffice to say we have quite a few adjustments that need to be made before next week’s actual broadcast goes ahead.

Thankfully, from my persecutive, there was no criticism of the music. Despite this I shall reschedule and tweak whatever AutoTrack throws up so the music for the final show is spot on.

We recorded the whole show so we can gather round and play it back and have our own autopsy at the beginning of next week.

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Tuesday 6th December

I arrived at college before 10am because I knew it would be a long day with lots to get through.

The first thing I did was to sit in studio 6, open Myriad and make sure all the music carts were labelled properly and also checked that all the ID cards, which corresponded to the music carts, had the correct information and ‘type’ settings etc.

Once I had done this, and with the help of studio producer Mark, I unscheduled and rescheduled the show’s two hours. It was interested to see which songs the re-scheduling had come up with.

Bearing in mind that by this time I had uploaded, normalised, and top and tailed 85 songs – and the clocks only have room for approximately 11 tracks her hour of recorded music – I knew that aside from some A and B list songs AutoTrack would probably throw up a completely different mix of R1 and R2 songs.

I was right, the mix of music was quite different but pleasing nevertheless. The selection leaned more towards the funk end of things but still contained a few soul giants. Having successfully scheduled and tightened up both hours I decided to go home because I was feeling very full of cold.

Mark (studio producer) and Clare and Callum (presenters) we embarking on a run through with the new music as I left and I asked them to let me know of any let minutes tweak suggestion for the clock they had based on this run through.

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Wednesday 7th December

I had had a sleepless night worrying about implementing some of the suggestion which had been made after the pilot programme, and coughing… The first thing I did when I woke up was to post a quick reminder, into the Messenger chat, of all the tweaks which had occurred to me at 4 o’clock the morning, well the two of them that I could remember… We needed a tag line for the show and we needed a dry “Rare Groove” ident to be played in during the rare groove mini mix. I’m hoping someone is going to action these changes before Thursday.

I have spent some of today tidying up the music spreadsheet to ensure that all the relevant information is included. I have also produced one final copy of the clocks for both hours, taking into account all the tweaks that Mark, Callum and Clare had suggested after yesterday’s run though.

These are the final clocks:

hour-1-final      hour-2-final

I suggested that our guest Victoria Wilson-James may like to choose a request to be play out after her telephone interview. She has chosen Mantronix – Got To Have Your Love which I shall source and put on a memory stick to take in tomorrow morning so that I can add it to the cart wall before the show starts.

Tomorrow is the big day, time will tell if all our hard work pays off.

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Thursday 8th December

Today was the day. All the hard work the team had put into the project would hopefully come together to produce a two hour music radio show we could all be proud of.

I arrived at college at 11.30am and found studio producer Mark hard at work loading the final cuts of all the ads onto the cart wall. The ads teams had made some great improvements with more appropriate voice over artists and tighter edits.

Once Mark had finished relabelling the final ads, I uploaded one final track: Mantronix – Got To Have Your Love which was to be played out after the Victoria Wilson-James interview.

There was a last minutes push to make other changes that Matthew and Tom has suggested after the previous week’s pilot programme and by 1.30pm we were set to go. T minus 30 minutes and counting….

The presentation team had asked for as few people to be in the studio for the broadcast as possible so they there were fewer distractions, so I was quite happy to vacate. I needed to start sorting out the PRS Music Reporting forms so I decided to get on with this essential admin while the programme was going out.

We had been forced to make a last minute change to our guest for the Funk Factory (our live OB) after our original choice, and her replacement had both had to pull out. Our new guest was Emmaunel Nwamadi who hat got through to the final rounds of The Voice on the BBC.

He had chosen to use a backing track for one of his performances so I was asked to lend a hand in the OB room to help sound-check and run the mix. I was more than happy to do this as I have lots of experience of live music mixing, particularly with artists singing over backing tracks. To be honest it was a good feeling to be more involved with the show as it went out live. It’s was privilege to put together the pre-recorded music for a broadcast but it was exciting to get my hand dirty for the live music section as it happened. His performances were superb and I’m very happy with the sound quality and mix of both songs.

We had one of two technical difficulties throughout the show, the most challenging of which was that neither caller could hear studio output while they were on the telephone. We had been assured, pre broadcast, that the telephone system was working properly in the studio but these things happen.

In the end Mark (Studio producer) made the decision to record the call in another studio and broadcast it slightly later in the programme. Sadly this meant we didn’t have a caller for the ‘Rare Groove’ feature but it did mean the interview with Victoria Wilson-James was broadcast as intended, although in a slightly later time slot.

To be honest things could have run little more smoothly but live radio can be like that. It’s part of the thrill and part of the skill set of live radio to be able to come up with solutions to problems on the hoof.

I was proud of the team effort. Of course I’m sure we would all have like it to be perfect but as a learning experience it was invaluable.

As for my part in the proceedings I was happy with the music and pleased I had made the effort to build a proper database of songs for the scheduling software, AutoTrack, to select from when we scheduled. It ensured the music in the show was selected in a truly authentic way.

In case you’re interested here is a list of the music that was broadcast throughout the programme:

Hour 1:

Prince – Gett Of (Album mix)
Loose Ends – Hangin’ On A String
Shift K3Y ft MNEK & Ryan Ashle – No Question
Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk (Rhythm Scholar jungle Funk Remix)
John Legend – Used To Love You
Zak Abel – These Are The Days

(Rare Groove)
Freeez – Southern Freeez

Nao – Bad Blood
Soul II Soul ft Victoria Wilson-James – A Dream’s A Dream
Mantronix ft Wondress – Got To Have Your Love
Disclosure ft Al Green – Feel Like I Do

Hour 2:

Shaun Escoffery – Days Like These
Anita Baker – Sweet Love
Solange – Junie
Mary J Blige – Family Affair

(Funk Factory)
Emmanuel Nwamadi – Can’t Help (Live)
Emmanuel Nwamadi – Elastic Heart / Swim Good (Medley) (Live)

Joe – Lean Into It

(Soul Train Mini Mix)

Soul II Soul – Back To Life
Mtume – Juicy Fruit
Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long
Mary Mary – Shackles (Praise You)

Gregory Porter – Don’t Lose Your Steam
Steve Wonder ft Arianna Grande – Faith

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