2012 Sounded Good: The Best Breakout Music Acts In South Florida

December 27, 2012 8:00 AM

The music scene in South Florida is consistently lively, vibrant, innovative and diverse. Both homegrown artists and transplants from other parts of the country find their creative muse in South Florida. These artists have achieved breakout success and recognition on the local and (in some cases) national front. Featured in this “best of” list are new artists and seasoned veterans who’ve made a name for themselves this year. With several genres represented, this list showcases the eclectic and diverse landscape that makes South Florida a driving force in the music industry.

Robert Elias

Genre: Pop

After more than a decade behind the scenes songwriting and background singing, Robert Elias has emerged at the forefront with his debut solo English-language album “Magic City.” The self-proclaimed “King of Miami Pop” offers a rich, layered and vibrant collection of songs. One of the songs on the album, “How Does It Feel,” tells the story of love gone bad, embodying the emotion of old school soul, and commands attention with its modern pop melody. Writer Sarah Certa from indemusicreview.com calls Elias’ album “dynamic” and his vocals “wide-ranging’ and “beautiful.” With musical influences to back him, including classic rock, rhythm and blues and Latin pop (having toured with starts like Marc Anthony), Elias delivers a musical work that represents Miami pop culture.

Brianna Perry

Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop

This past 2012 was the year of national recognition and exposure for Miami rapper Brianna Perry. Perry’s knockout smash “Marilyn Monroe” caught the attention of both Beyoncé and Black Entertainment Television (BET). Her talents received praise from writers at The New York Times as well. Those who hadn’t heard of Brianna Perry before March of this year knew to start paying attention to her after Beyoncé posted her video on her official website, deeming it one of her favorites. This glowing endorsement garnered a new set of fans that were already planning a Beyoncé/Brianna collaboration. She was also featured in an article profiling female rappers in today’s music scene and nominated for a BET award in the category of Best Female Hip Hop Artist. Following in the footsteps of mentors Trina and Missy Elliot, she integrated grit and glamour and rousing rawness in her music, leaving an imprint even before dropping her debut album. Eager fans locally and nationwide are waiting for what’s on the horizon as she continues work on her debut album.

Related: Best Live Blues In Miami

Steven A. Clark

Genre: R&B

What’s inherently unique about the style of Steven A. Clark is that his music is raw and uncut, yet simultaneously smooth and flowing. He self-produced nearly the entire album, making his latest release a truly hands-on project. With gaining popularity in South Florida over the years from Latin and hip-hop artists, Clark’s R&B delivery is unexpected and grabs the intrigue of those looking for something new and creative from the Miami music scene. Clark’s latest work landed him a spot as one of the 5 Best New Artists for October 2012 ranked by SPIN magazine. Singles like “Don’t Have You” are reminiscent of love songs from the 90s yet maintain a modern vibe and demonstrate Clark’s unique sound.


Genre: Acoustic (Folk, Rock)

Perhaps the South Florida area isn’t well known for its acoustic music scene. That’s where SJ comes in and makes a splash. What was once a hobby is now his full-time career (after 15 years of practicing law). Songs like “Let Me Be” carries a rhythm reminiscent to country, while “That Is All” exudes both pop and alternative influences. Though listeners may initially think of artists like Rascal Flatts and Maroon 5, it will become clear that he has an individual sound and can rival these superstars in talent, melody and the ability to deliver good music. A career highlight for SJ is the major endorsement by several well-known guitar and music companies earlier this year. Not only does SJ represent South Florida in a way that’s unexpected by most, these endorsements are a precursor to the beautiful music fans can look forward to in the future.

Related: Best Latin Live Music In Miami

For nearly 20 years, Shawanda James has been actively involved in creative writing in Miami, Florida. In addition to her work as a freelance writer, she is actively seeking publication for her debut novel and collection of poetry. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.