Lexington R&B Powerhouse Joslyn Hampton and Her Sweet Compression Come to Cincinnati's Ludlow Garage

Joslyn & the Sweet Compression play the Clifton venue this Friday, Nov. 29

click to enlarge Joslyn and the Sweet Compression - PHOTO: DWANYE LLOYD
Photo: Dwanye Lloyd
Joslyn and the Sweet Compression

Lexington, Kentucky native Joslyn Hampton has a powerfully emotive R&B voice, reminiscent of early Patti LaBelle, Etta James and Jill Scott. And, like her predecessors, she’s not afraid to use her expressive instrument across a broad range of Blues, Soul and Funk settings.

Those settings are perfectly provided by Hampton’s backing band, the Sweet Compression, a racially and musically diverse group that sounds like they could have split their time between Motown in Detroit and Stax in Memphis during the ’70s. It’s completely fitting that the band closes out their recently released eponymous debut album with a cover of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Changing Times,” but the bar is set incredibly high with Hampton and the Sweet Compression’s original material.


Hampton began her musical journey at the age of 3, singing in her grandmother’s church. From her earliest memories of being asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, the answer for Hampton has always been music. She sang in the Kentucky State University concert choir and took opera lessons for years. For a long time, Hampton, a security officer at the University of Kentucky, made a part-time living playing covers in area venues.

But three years ago, her stepfather, Marty Charters, a veteran guitarist who had played behind Junior Wells and Cincinnati’s own H-Bomb Ferguson (among many others), asked Hampton if she’d be interested in making an original record that wouldn’t mimic prevailing trends. She decided that was exactly the kind of record she wanted to make, and the Sweet Compression (Hampton, Charters, bassist Smith Donaldson, keyboardist Steve Holloman, drummer Rashawn Fleming, saxophonist Joe Carucci and trumpeter Kyle Fox) were assembled for the task.

Hampton was already a known commodity in the Lexington music scene, but with the Sweet Compression, she has cemented her reputation as an R&B star in the making. The band’s current Midwest tour is an attempt to broaden their horizons and bring their sweet, soulful soundtrack to as many new ears as possible. In a promotional video from 2017, Charters noted that if the band could find a way to impart the good time they were having on stage to the people in the audience, they could go anywhere and do anything.

Given Joslyn Hampton’s extraordinary voice and the Sweet Compression’s stellar musicianship, that particular ticket has already been punched.

Joslyn & the Sweet Compression play the Ludlow Garage on Friday, Nov. 29. Tickets/more info: ludlowgaragecincinnati.com.

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