To my ear, serpentwithfeet's debut full length album soil is one of the most intriguing albums of the year. serpent blends his classical music training with his church choir upbringing and swirls it all together with ideas about love, sexuality, identity and honesty in a way that is devastating and uplifting at the same time.
When serpentwithfeet visited World Cafe to perform live, he told me stories about growing up in Baltimore, where he was involved in his black church's dance, mime, step and drama teams, and where he feels he was conditioned to appreciate European classical music because it was seen as "a ticket out." He moved to Philadelphia with dreams of becoming an opera singer, but eventually found inspiration and community in New York City.
serpentwithfeet told me why "being black and gay, I feel like I won the jackpot," and explained why it's so important to him to use both of those words. He also taught me how to properly pronounce Björk, his mentor and friend. You can listen to our conversation and his live performance in the player.