LifestyleBlack History Month


Growing Nation's first live performance in 10 years at The Cooperage

A group of singers, rappers, poets and musicians birthed in a Milwaukee north side basement in 1994.
Posted at 4:00 PM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 06:54:59-05

MILWAUKEE — It's been more than a decade since the band Growing Nation performed; but sitting in on a jam session you would think these musicians have never stopped performing.

Harmonies tight as the bond these musicians have had for two decades.

Anitra Stampley, singer, says "it feels like no time lapse at all. And then to see each other in the community, it's always a family reunion."

And though they have not performed as a group in more than a decade.

Yetunde , Anitra, 'Adi' and Bryan make it sound so easy.

They call themselves Growing Nation. A group of singers, rappers, poets and musicians birthed in a Milwaukee north side basement in 1994.

Bryan Mir, the band's bassist said, "there was a sense of freedom that I had that I hadn't had before that. I was drawn to it because I could write, I could play, I could find my spot in the group. And I was welcomed to do that."

"To be honest, the group kind of fell in my lap," Yetunde, singer in the band said, "They wanted a girl's voice to sing a hook on a hip hop song. So, they call me in and I was hooked. And I couldn't ever leave again."

Their sound is a mix of soul hip hop, jazz, funk and rock, and 'Adi' Armour describes it best.

"Love your life music but it's all god-generating," said Aaron 'Adi' Armour, a founding member. "We tried to just make music that we know our parents can still listen to."

It's a vibe that members say is something you can't help but feel. Every time they hit the stage.

"I believe people respond to genuine heartfelt experiences and so that goes across all genres," said singer Anitra Stampley. "It can be spoken word, it could be hip hop, it could be church, Gospel music, and this music does all of it. So, I'm more conservative, but it speaks to me."

Their positive vibe even spoke to TMJ4 Anchor Bill Taylor in 2001 when he featured the group on Positively Milwaukee.

Through the years their fan base has grown just like their name.

Kwame Green, another founding member, credits that to, "What we did back then was more than just a typical Milwaukee band. We brought Black people and white people from the north side, from the east side, like everybody was together. Our band was multi-cultural."

Saturday night fans will once again hear the melodic sounds and feel the percussive rhythms of Growing Nation for their one-night-only reunion concert at The Cooperage.

A number of band members have gone on to play with Shelia E, Mary J Bligeand others work in the city as school administrators or film makers.

The talented group will perform a sold-out show Saturday in Milwaukee's Harbor District.

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