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BAMS Fest presents Amplify The Soul concert series

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
BAMS Fest presents Amplify The Soul concert series
Steve Chandy, professionally known as Barefoot Chandy. COURTESY PHOTO

The importance of music and its healing abilities is not lost on singer and songwriter Steve Chandy. Born to parents of Indian-Malayalee descent in Bahrain’s capital of Manama, music was an integral part of his early life. His mom would create songs while she cooked, and their daily evening routine would include singing in their basement church for hours on end. Both of his parents were Pentecostal pastors.

Once he moved to Philadelphia, he was introduced to artists like Maroon 5, Fred Hammond, K’naan and John Legend, and was especially impacted by Philly’s local music scene. “I began attending open mics and jam sessions throughout the city, where I began to workshop my own songs, and was inspired and challenged by other artists,” says Chandy in a recent email.

About seven years ago, he began sharing songs from his first album, “Resilient Child.” He wrote the songs to process trauma that he had gone through. The title track was written after a therapy session, he says, “to celebrate a moment of my own childhood resilience where I used my imagination as a way to cope through trauma.”

The musician, who goes by Barefoot Chandy professionally, is one of 11 artists and musicians performing this summer at the digital concert series Amplify The Soul, which is taking place in lieu of the annual Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest. Through August 13, Amplify The Soul features artists and musicians in a pre-recorded format on BAMS Fest’s YouTube channel every Friday at 8 p.m. from the Big Night Live stage in Boston. Chandy’s musical performance appears Friday, July 16.

Catherine T. Morris, founder and executive director, BAMS Fest, Inc. COURTESY PHOTO

The performers had been selected for last year’s BAMS Fest but were bumped to this year due to the pandemic. Catherine T. Morris, founder and executive director of BAMS Fest, Inc., says the digital format has proven to be fruitful, allowing the organization “to be more portable and mobile without having to spend or put out as many resources, because it’s shareable content that can be viewed at any moment.” Virtual programming has extended the series’ reach beyond the borders of Massachusetts and has created an awareness about the organization, the artists and what Boston is doing, according to Morris, while also spreading the word about BAMS Fest’s mission and vision.

The summer series provides a much-needed outlet for musicians and artists to express themselves and share their music to a wider audience. Singer and songwriter Amber Ais, who began singing in church at the age of 3, will perform her beautiful and haunting song “Pen,” which is about an ex-boyfriend, on July 23. She relayed via email how she dreamt about him after years of never speaking to him, calling the experience “super bizarre.” She woke up and thought ‘I’ll write a song about this,’ but then thought about how she writes too many songs about him. So she ended up writing just that — a song about how she writes too many songs about her ex-boyfriend.

Singer, songwriter and musician Dreion. COURTESY PHOTO

Being on the Amplify The Soul lineup means a lot to Ais. “Something that has always given me joy was performing and sharing my heart behind the music I make,” the singer says. “After a year of not doing any sort of performances, it was like a breath of fresh air, and it made me realize how much I missed performing.”

The concert series wraps up on Friday, August 13, with what is sure to be a fun and entertaining experience with singer, songwriter and musician Dreion. Being able to perform again, he says, has given him “another chance to present my music, artistry, and story with the world.” Dreion received his first movie placement, his first sync deal and released his first album, “I AM Life,” over the past year. “Amplify The Soul is my first major performance since the world started opening back up,” adds the entertainer, “so I’m excited to kick off my 2021 performances with BAMS Fest & Amplify The Soul.”

Chandy sums up what the concert series means to him. “Amplify The Soul provides us with the healing we need, helping us to speak out the truth of our situation, creating community by recognizing that we aren’t alone in our pain. They adapted to create a space that was safe for the artists and brought healing and joy through music to people everywhere.”