Malina Moye Credit: Josh Shultz

Malina Moye first picked up the guitar at age nine, and at 12 she became the lead singer of her family’s R&B band, joining her parents and brothers onstage. By the mid-aughts, Moye had gone solo, establishing herself as a versatile artist who can move among or blend together blues, funk, rock, and pop. Moye’s guitar playing took center stage on her 2014 album, Rock & Roll Baby, which includes a collaboration with Bootsy Collins (“K-Yotic”) and a cover she calls “Foxey Lady,” which tweaks the riffs and lyrics of a favorite by fellow left-handed upside-down guitarist Jimi Hendrix. But on her latest full-length, last year’s Bad as I Wanna Be, she steers the focus to her songwriting, using a lighter hand with guitar solos and lead parts—they just enhance the dynamics as she goes along. The album hit number one on the Billboard blues chart, but given that elements of funk, R&B, gospel, pop, and more flit in and out of its tracks, it’s almost strange to see it there; opener “Something 2 Say” trades in stomping, funky blues-rock, “Jumpin’” recalls the R&B-tinged synth-pop numbers that lit up the charts in the 80s, and “Woman 2 Woman” is a rootsy, stripped-down ballad with a soulful chorus of backup singers. Moye’s upbeat persona and empowering lyrics provide a unifying thread and create a spirit that she passes along to others onstage and off; in 2016 she teamed up with screenwriter Marc Fusco to found the Drive Hope Foundation, a nonprofit that encourages disadvantaged teens to pursue their dream careers.   v