A few years ago, when he was barely in his 20s, Marques Toliver left a small town in Florida to try to make it in New York City. Like many struggling musicians, he started playing on sidewalks and subway platforms, but he wasn't another scruffy dude with a guitar. Toliver plays violin like a virtuoso, and sings like an R&B heartthrob. Playing for change not only brought in quick money, but got him noticed by people like Kyp Malone of the band TV on the Radio. Toliver quickly became a regular session player in the Brooklyn music world.
Recently Toliver moved to London and was discovered again, this time by a far more famous musician: Adele, who called him her "new favourite artist" on her blog. Kurt Andersen thinks it sounds like a fairy tale, but Toliver says he's "just following my dreams, and not worrying about taxes."
The new Land of CanAan is the artist's first full-length album. He was inspired by the richly poetic language of Frederick Douglass' 1845 autobiography, and wanted his lyrics to have more depth than typical love songs. The record is "more of an historical reference as opposed to a quick pop song or single," he says. "I'm hoping to get it out there into people's shelves that collect vinyl and listen to mp3s, as opposed to [listening] to something to just have a good Friday night. I mean, I'm all about that," he laughs, "but I want to have something for Monday through Thursday."
Bonus Track: "CanAan" live in Studio 360