English singer-songwriter Yola, one of roots music’s biggest breakout stories of the past five years, continues to hit career landmarks even during this year of Covid. She’ll appear nationally this weekend in a rare full-hour feature on Austin City Limits, a full-band set taped before the pandemic. Nashville viewers can find the broadcast next Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 9 pm on NPT-2, repeating Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 11 pm on the main NPT, Channel 8.
Also on Yola’s packed calendar, she’ll sing Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air” on the PBS broadcast Great Performances: GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends on Friday, Oct. 16. A release indicates she’ll actually be playing the part of Tharpe in an upcoming Elvis biopic directed by Baz Luhmann and starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker, set for released at the end of 2021. Also next year, she’ll make her own headlining debut at the Ryman Auditorium on May 11.
Today, Yola released a new song, the anthemic “Hold On,” which was written in honor of her mother’s influence. “‘Hold On’ is a conversation between me and the next generation of young black girls,” she said. “My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time. She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer…. but to me that was all the more reason I should take up this space. ‘Hold On’ is asking the next gen to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”
On the track, you’ll hear Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby singing harmony, Sheryl Crow on piano and Jason Isbell on guitar. The record was cut at RCA Studio A by super-producer Dave Cobb. Buy the track (you can still do that, you know) and watch some of the proceeds to go MusiCares and the National Bailout Collective.