Best Soul Artist Who’s Big in Japan

Aaron Abernathy
Photograph by Charles Steck
In the midst of your Washington-based musical meanderings, there’s a true need to note the quiet, yet important success of Cleveland-born and D.C.-based soulman Aaron Abernathy. Ab’s album Monologue was released in 2016, and yes, he has played (and continues to play) at Songbyrd, Tropicalia, barbecues, during the Funk Parade, and pretty much anywhere that would have him in the past year. But while that’s happening on the local level, he’s also touring Europe as the leader of indie rap legend Black Milk’s live band Nat Turner—and playing Japan in April in support of Monologue’s Japanese re-release for BBQ Records. While “DMV rap” continues to be at the forefront of most local pop music fan’s minds, Abernathy’s success demonstrates how broad and sustainable the city’s soul/R&B movement really is. His is a story of local-to-global artistic success worthy of support.