Singer-songwriter Jalen N'Gonda is a revelatory force in soul music who knows his way around a hook and isn't afraid of a little falsetto. As a child, he immersed himself in his father’s crates of jazz, hip-hop, soul, and classical records and that vast range of influences is part of what makes his music so electrifying. We asked him to think back to his crate-digging days to pull out ten of his favorite all-time songs. The result is this killer playlist that we've had on repeat since he sent it to us. Enjoy and be sure to catch his free show on February 1 at the David Rubenstein Atrium as part of our American Songbook series.


"Guess I'm Dumb" by Glen Campbell
This is actually my favorite song. The arrangement, melody, and lyrics put a smile on my face.


"What Is This Thing Called Love" by The Lewis Sisters
This song features the most beautiful voices and arrangement by The Lewis Sisters.


''I Just Wasn't Made for These Times'' by The Beach Boys
This is The Beach Boys' best work. The song is huge and magnificent.


''You Beat Me To The Punch'' by Mary Wells
This is one of the coolest songs I've ever heard. I first heard it in the movie Cooley High and I've been hooked since.


''You Don't Have To Be A Tower Of Strength'' by Gloria Lynne
This is actually an answer song to Gene McDaniel's "Tower Of Strength." Gloria Lynne's reply was brilliant.


''My Girl'' by The Temptations
This is probably the greatest love song ever written. I listened to it 10 times in a row when I first heard it.


"The Trader" by The Beach Boys
This is golden. The lyrics are like poetry and the middle eight takes you by a pleasant surprise.


"You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
This is my favorite from Aretha. Probably the best build-up to a chorus ever.


"Till You Say You'll Be Mine" by Jackie DeShannon
This is a song that I recently heard, and the guitar intro and outro is so cool. I've been trying to write a song with this vibe ever since.


"You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers
This one is just hands-down brilliant. It's one of those songs you sit down and listen to from start to finish without saying a word. The Righteous Brothers' voices are priceless.


Listen to the full playlist.


About the Curator

Born in Maryland, Jalen N'Gonda chose the city of Liverpool as the place in which he would flourish as a musician. Since moving to Liverpool in 2014 Jalen has been playing gigs across the U.K. and beyond. Two years later, Jalen is selling out headline shows in London and Geneva, is breaking into the Viral Charts with his debut single, and is supporting touring act such as Laura Mvula, Martha Reeves, and Lauryn Hill. With his tender soulful voice and bluesy arrangements, Jalen will leave you no choice but to be drawn into his world.