Top 40 Before 40 Rock Artists - #35 - Michael Kiwanuka

My choice for #35 is an easy choice to put in my top 40 for me, because this guy is not only a great guitar player / singer songwriter (also plays bass and piano), but he actually has such a great voice that a list of rock artists that doesn’t contain him would just not be a good list.

I would be willing to bet that almost nobody who reads this article will have even heard of him, but I implore you to check him out when you get the chance.

His name is Michael Kiwanuka, and he got his big break as a touring musician with Adele, and though his sound is a lot more like that of Otis Redding and the ‘70’s, he is only 33 years old as of this writing (born in 1987). He just seems to have an old soul packed into a modern music scene.

For those of you who are just joining this list at this point, let me give a quick summary below:

  • In my almost 40 years on this planet, I have had the great pleasure of listening to a lot of music that doesn't make it to the airwaves, and a lot of these bands are some of my absolute favorites.
  • You WILL see some Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame bands on the list too, but for the most part, you are likely going to disagree with this list almost entirely.
  • I am sharing this ranking so that you get some insight into some great bands you may have never heard before AND for a little bit of a personal challenge to myself to rank these bands.

With that said, let's get to #33 on my Top 40 List Before 40:

By Jeroen Komen - Michael Kiwanuka, CC BY-SA 3.0

#35 - Michael Kiwanuka

I am not really sure how I got into Michael Kiwanuka, but I do remember the first time I heard "Home Again" come on, I thought for sure it was some song from the 1970's, and that the song sounded familiar. When I discovered that the song was sung by someone I had never heard of, I had to do some more digging.

"Who is Michael Kiwanuka?" I thought to myself. Then I found some more music and learned about his life as a former Ugandan refugee living in the UK. 

The story was fascinating. The music was mesmerizing.

I bought the Home Again album, and listened to it all the way through about 10 times in as many days. It was a fantastic piece of art, and I do mean that in every sense of the word.

I have listened to all of his albums since, but I would say that Home Again is still the best of the bunch. But he has a bunch of great songs out there.

I recommend checking out these tracks to really get a sense of the sound and depth of Kiwanuka as a whole. You will definitely not regret it:

There are many other songs, and sometimes you have to be in the right mood to really listen to a full album, but the varied stylings really lend the music to be played in any situation.

Kiwanuka's music is a lot like a soundtrack to every day life.

Similar Artists That I Recommend That Didn't Make The Top 40:

Bill Withers, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding

<-- Check out #36 on this list or Check out #34 on this list --> (Available December 29th, 2020)

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