DJ Novena Carmel on the Soulful Tracks Speaking to Her Right Now

Being the daughter of funk legend Sly Stone from Sly and the Family Stone, Novena Carmel grew up listening to all types of music. She brings her expansive taste to her Sunday night show on KCRW. 

“I really like music that has soul to it but that doesn't necessarily mean soul music,” she says. “It's just stuff that I feel the soul is oozing out of it. I also like to have fun and play stuff that's upbeat and gets people moving. I like to have my own dance party in the studio.”

Here are a few songs Novena Carmel gets the party started with.

The Ngozi Family - Hi Babe

She says that the Ngozi Family falls under the genre, “Zam-Rock,” rock music from Zambia. Carmel says she likes the track because, in the morning, she can imagine looking in the mirror and saying “Hi Babe!” to herself.

Emmanuel Jal & Nyaruach - Gatluak

Carmel shares another track from Africa, this time from South Sudanese brother-sister duo Emmanuel Jal and Nyaruach. The siblings started writing music together after being separated by war.

“[Emmanuel] was forced to join a rebel army… and [Nyaruach] was severely abused and then fled with her family to Kenya where she was finally reunited... with her brother and now they're making music together.”

Teskey Brothers - So Caught Up 

Carmel’s next track comes from Australia’s Teskey Brothers.

“Which just goes to show you know soul music comes out of anywhere and it feels really authentic which I like,” says Carmel. “He sounds a lot like Otis Redding or something but it feels like it's when you watch him play it feels authentic.”

Off The Meds - Friend 

The intersection of house music and preaching in Off The Meds’ track “Friend,” reminds Novena of a church led by the likes of Bishop T.D. Jakes, or a similar pastor.

“I just thought it was such an interesting sample to then turn into house music and I like what he's saying, like, ‘If I'm your friend— then I'm your friend through hell and high water.’” Carmel continues to praise the track, “it's a fun one to play. I always like to have songs that are good for the dance floor because I love deejaying parties as well.”

Stevie Wonder - Love’s in Need of Love Today

Carmel thought it apt to also share an older, somber track that inspires her: Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today.”

“There is always optimism possible and I think Stevie's voice brings out a lot of optimism as well. So it's OK to feel sad and then think about what we need to do to get out of the mess that we're in.”

--Written and produced by Rosalie Atkinson