Mahalia Barnes + The Soul Mates is a band put together by Mahalia in around 2005. Originally featuring a floating line up of Sydney soul/blues/rock musicians including brothers Clayton and Lachlan Doley, Jonathon Pease, Stu Hunter and a selection of special guest vocalists wherever possible.
In 2007, the Soul Mates released their first self-titled EP, followed in 2008 by "Volume 1", their first full length album, a soul revue style album featuring some old favourites with a few original tracks. For the next few years, the Soul Mates toured Australia non-stop, playing supports for the likes of U.S Hip Hop greats The Roots, Lionel Richie, UK singer James Morrison and gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples, as well as playing a handful of festivals and headline shows. Over this time, the band really started to hone their sound and The Soul Mates became a more permanent line up, featuring Rob Woolf and Lachlan Doley on keys, Franco Raggatt on guitar, plus original members, Dave Hibbard on drums and Ben Rodgers on bass.
This new permanent line up really defined the sound that Mahalia had always been looking for, and in 2010, Mahalia and Ben collaborated with several songwriters to begin writing songs for the new record. In mid 2011, the band joined forces with Sydney based engineer/producer - Jean Paul Fung (Phrase, BlueJuice, Guineafowl, Birds of Tokyo, Last Dinosaurs), to record a new EP. They spent 3 days at Freight Train studios and recorded the songs live to tape, then added some strings, horns, percussion and backing vocals. The EP was mixed by JP at BJB studios, one of the last projects before the studio shut its doors. The result is and exciting, warm sounding, an organic, tough and soulful record. This much anticipated follow-up to the last Mahalia Barnes + The Soul Mates release - "Volume 1", is simply titled "Volume 2". A 5 track EP, made up of all original material - co written by Mahalia + husband Ben Rodgers, with some real international heavyweights, such as "Big Jim" Wright (Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey), Novel (Joss Stone,Alicia Keys) and Chuck Harmony (Rihanna, Mary.J.Blige), as well as some local favourites Daniel Merriweather, Phrase and Jade MacRae. The EP is honest, organic and the band is incredible. Tracked live to tape just like the old school soul/rock albums that the band all love, the EP has great energy. From the opening track - "Don't Hold Back", an fun, lively number reminiscent of The Rolling Stones, to the Al Green flavoured "Counting On You", or the beautiful ballad "Little Light" a song written about Mahalia + Ben's baby girl, Ruby - This EP is contemporary but classic, heartfelt, soulful music at its finest.
This is an EP Mahalia + The Soul Mates are very proud of. With this new EP out, there are sure to be a bunch of new gigs, so make sure you come and see this band live, as that is really where they are at their finest. Don't expect a quiet, polite, restrained gig, or a gimmicky soul show with costumes and scripted banter (that seems to be all the rage these days). This band covers the full range of the soul music spectrum, the show is dynamic, organic, raw and exciting. Great players, great singing and so much feeling.