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Devon Gilfillian's 'Brown Sugar Queen' is 'a tribute to Black and Brown women'

"I wanted to write a tribute to Black and Brown women everywhere," says Philadelphia to now based in Nashville singer-songwriter transplant Devon Gilfillian about his new song "Brown Sugar Queen."

Talking with Gilfillian from his home in Nashville, he's recently back from a tour of Europe, and this week is performing at AMERICANAFEST in Nashville. Today, World Cafe premieres the video for the new song, his first for his new label, Fantasy Record.

"I wrote the song right before the pandemic in Los Angeles with my buddies Ryan Linvill and Danny Silberstein," says Gilfillian. "It was in this moment of me figuring out that I was still in love with my ex-girlfriend, who is now my current girlfriend. It's a song about celebrating that and not being able to get away from love and being so drawn and comforted by it and being brought back to it in all these different ways."

"Brown Sugar Queen" was produced by Jeremy Lutito and features members of his long-time band, including drummer Jonathan Smalt. "One of the fun parts of recording the song was getting the drums and the percussion just right," says Gilfillian. "We wanted to get this reggaeton and cumbia feel into the song, hoping to do something with the song where you could take it to the beach and also take it to the club to dance." Smalt, along with Lutito, add the percussion to give this song a vibey, soulful "All Night Long" vibe.

Peppered in the song are classy acoustic guitar solos, a sparkling, placed-just-right horn arrangement, and Gilfillian's smooth, soaring falsetto as the sultry rhythms anchor the song. The video for the song, visually has echoes of '70s soul and R&B , is washed in vibrant pastel colors, and features dancers Debria Tyler, Gabby Henson, Jessica Neshay' and Meggan Utech.

Gilfillian's music is a melting pot of musical reference points. From Luther Vandross and Steely Dan to Tame Impala and The Weeknd, you can hear both the direct and indirect influences on this song. "I wanted to have an anthem for Black and Brown women," Gilfillian says. "I wanted to celebrate them in a classy, sexy way that wasn't a Juvenile 'Back That Azz Up' way. I wanted it to feel nostalgic and new at the same time, to combine sexy nostalgia with new grooves." It more than succeeds on both counts.

Copyright 2022 XPN

Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.