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  • 0 Darlene Love Shines on It's Christmas of Course 2007

    Darlene Love, the famous voice of The Crystals, has released her first Christmas Album. It's Christmas Of Course features a welcome blend of contemporary holiday songs from the 1970's and 1980's. Darlene digs right into a variety neo-classics, showing her versatility as a singer. You won't find Irving Berlin or Felix Mendelssohn inspired Christmas music on this upbeat release. Darlene Love is a child of the rock and soul era. She punches out these multi-genre holiday anthems with allegiance to the rhythmic pop beat. "We had a rule on this album: no oldies. We wanted to leave the '50s and '60s behind," according to Shawn Amos, Vice President of A&R for Shout! Factory, (the record label releasing Love's It's Christmas Of Course). Darlene is an example of how talent and luck can keep one in the game for the long haul. She's had her share of hits with The Crystals under the guidance of Phil Spector. She's paid her dues singing background vocals for Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, The Mamas and Papas, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, and Cher. What I like the most about It's Christmas Of Course is how Darlene Love sings such a wide range of material with authority, refinement, and subtlety. But then, she's worked with the best. I like all of the tracks on It's Christmas Of Course, however, 4 of my favorites are: "Who Took The Merry Out of Christmas" "Please Come Home For Christmas" "What Christmas Means To Me" "Thanks For Christmas" Here are all of the tracks with a notation about the original artists: "Christmas All Over Again" (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) "Who Took The Merry Out of Christmas" (The Staple Singers) "Christmas Wish" (NRBQ) "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto" (James Brown) "Please Come Home For Christmas" (Charles Brown) "2000 Miles" (The Pretenders) "Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You'" (Billy Squier) "What Christmas Means To Me" (Stevie Wonder) "Christmas Must Be Tonight" (The Band) "Thanks For Christmas" (XTC) "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (John & Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band w/the Harlem Community Choir) "Night Of Peace" (Original Song) Cissy Houston, the famous mother of Whitney, is a guest vocalist on "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." The first track, "Christmas All Over Again," features a nice retro arrangement bringing to mind some classic Spectoresque girl group gusto. You know it's Darlene Love when you hear this one. Darlene gets gritty on "Who Took The Merry Out of Christmas," and "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto." She's got a lot of soul in her powerful voice. Whatever your musical taste, these 12 songs offer a fresh and enjoyable take on a cross-section of neo-classic holiday favorites. Even though this is Darlene's first solo Christmas album, she recorded "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" for Phil Spector's Christmas album in 1963. Love has performed the song for the past 20 years on David Letterman's Late Show television broadcast. Dave says that the performance is his favorite thing about Christmas. What else has Darlene been doing in recent years? Just Lighting up Broadway with her performances in... 1) "Grease," 2) the Tony-Award nominated "Leader of the Pack," and 3) her current 2-year run as Motormouth Maybelle in the Tony-Award winning "Hairspray." Darlene Love will appear at the Lincoln Center in New York City on December 17, 2007 for her annual Christmas Concert performance. She'll also appear on The David Letterman Show for the 22nd consecutive year on December 24, 2007.  

  • 0 10 Classic Soul Picks for Father's Day

    • Songs
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 06/15/2007

    Color Him Father - the Winstons Daddy - Beyonce' Daddy Could Swear - Gladys Knight & the Pips Daddy's Home - Jermaine Jackson Dance with my Father - Luther Vandross Father Figure - George Michael Papa was a Rolling Stone - Temptations Papa's got a Brand New Bag - James Brown Song for my Father - Horace Silver Quintet Sugar Daddy - Jackson 5 Put these on your Dad's iPod, or burn them to a CD. When it comes to classic soul, (and a little jazz flava from Horace Silver), Dad never sounded better!

  • 0 Beyonce' and Mary J. Blige Summer Tour Tickets Top the Charts

    It's a high roller payday for Beyonce' and Mary J. Blige as their Summer tours get ready to cash in on fans who can't get enough of these charming ladies. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I peeped the prices for Beyonce's Saturday, August 11th, 2007 performance at the Trump Taj Mahal Arena in Atlantic City, NJ: $195.75, $165.75, and $95.75 at the low end. Mary J. Blige, at the Borgata on Saturday, July 28th, also in A.C., isn't much better: $135.00, $115.00, and $95.00. These prices are out of control! What happened to reasonably priced live entertainment from these headline performers? Not that long ago, I went to see Patti Labelle at the Trump Taj Mahal Arena in Atlantic City, and the cost of the top ticket was about 1/5th of today's prices. What has happened to drive prices up almost 500%? There are a lot of legitimate reasons, but greed plays a large part in the process as our pockets continue to be picked. Last Summer, (2006), when Madonna tickets were going for around $300 each, people did a double take. Let's face it, at the time, Madonna wasn't burning up the charts to command such a premium. It's time to get real. Beyonce', Mary J. Blige, and other acts are pricing their non-affluent fans out of the market to attend live concerts. The cost factor difference between a music download for .99 cents, a CD for $20, and a $200 concert ticket is mind boggling. Concert ticket prices reflect a growing cultural divide between the bling crowd who can afford the luxury, and working class people who deserve a better break at seeing these acts perform live (who they helped make famous). If you've got the cash, tickets for Beyonce's August 11th show in Atlantic City go on sale this Saturday, June 16th, at 12 noon. Another option is to pray that you score free tickets from a radio station promotion. Now that will be just like hitting the lottery!

  • 0 Chuck D and Randy Jackson to co-host 50 Years of Stax Records Classic Soul Concert

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 06/12/2007

    Chuck D and Randy Jackson will host 50 Years of Stax: a Concert to Benefit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Friday, June 22, 2007, at Memphis, Tennessee's historic Orpheum Theater (at the foot of Beale Street). Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Mavis Staples, Mable John, the Soul Children, and Angie Stone (among others) are all confirmed to appear. Chuck D, of Public Enemy fame, commenting on his role as a co-host for the benefit says: "The logo of Stax says it all. That finger snap graphic brings a funky sound effect by just looking at it. With it comes a catalog of soul heroes and heroines whose heart, souls and passions still echo across this planet today." Co-host producer, songwriter, and American Idol host Randy Jackson adds: "I am honored to be a part of this amazing music legacy. Stax records is the foundation that R&B was built on. The legendary artists that Stax built are such a huge part of my music roots."

  • 0 Barry White Salute coming to NYC off Broadway

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 06/07/2007

    Barry White: Guided By Destiny, a new off Broadway musical/concert, is scheduled for a two week showcase production June 14th - June 24th, 2007 at the Times Square Arts Center in New York City. The producers have created original music to go along with original Barry White and Love Unlimited songs. Artist Lanar will play the late classic soul icon Barry White (who passed away on July 3, 2003). Venus Adore is slotted as Glodean White, with Jessica Opong and Gezele Portwood rounding out The Love Not Limited Singers, (a trio performing as Love Unlimited in the production). Barry White: Guided By Destiny will explore the R&B legend's relationships with Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley (credited with changing his life).

  • 0 Earth Wind & Fire 2007 Summer Tour

    • Concerts
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 06/05/2007

    Here are June and July 2007 tour dates for Earth Wind & Fire. June: Tuesday, June 5, Vienna, VA - Wolf Trap Thursday, June 7, Portsmouth, VA - Harbor Center Tuesday, June 12, Sterling Heights, MI - Freedom Hill Amphitheater Wednesday, June 13, Kettering, OH - Fraze Pavilion Friday, June 15, Chattanooga, TN - Riverbend Festival Saturday, June 16, Birmingham, AL - City Stages Sunday, June 17, Biloxi, MS - Beau Rivage Casino Tuesday, June 19, Fayetteville, AR - Arkansas Music Pavilion Friday, June 22, Aspen, CO - Jazz Festival Saturday, June 23, Rio Rancho , NM - Santa Ana Star Center Sunday, June 24, Prescott, AZ - Toyota Center Tuesday, June 26, Del Mar, CA - County Fair Wednesday, June 27, Phoenix, AZ - Dodge Theater Thursday, June 28, Tucson, AZ July: Tuesday, July 3, San Jauncito, CA - Soboba Casino Friday, July 6, Kelsieville, CA - Konocti Field Amphitheater Saturday, July 7, Bakersfield, CA - Brighthouse Amphitheater Sunday, July 8, Murphy's , CA - Iron Stone Winery Tuesday, July 10, Fresno, CA - Sarroyan Theater Friday, July 13, Lake Tahoe, CA - Harvey's Arena Saturday, July 14, Oakland, CA - Paramount Theater Sunday, July, 15, Costa Mesa, CA - OC Fair Wednesday, July 18, Sacramento, CA - Community Center Theater Friday, July, 20, Grand Ronde , OR - Spirit Mountain Casino Saturday, July 21, Grand Ronde , OR - Spirit Mountain Casino Sunday, July 22, Seattle, WA - Chateau Winery

  • 0 Ashford & Simpson Send It

    • Songs
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/31/2007

    Ashford & Simpson's 1977 classic soul album Send It is extremely rare. This photo is from the back of the vinyl album cover. "Don't Cost You Nothin," and the underground hit "Bourgie Bourgie" lit up the dance floor back in the day. Nick and Val are truly a unique act. As solid as a rock, they managed to served up 35 R&B single releases through 1997. As songwriters, it doesn't get any better than Ashford & Simpson, who have written these time tested hits: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Diana Ross "Let's Go Get Stoned" - Ray Charles "California Soul" - 5th Dimension Catch Ashford & Simpson as the special guests of headliner Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Sunday, July 29, 2007, at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA.

  • 0 Bobby Womack the Poet

    • Photo
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/29/2007

    Bobby Womack's 1981 classic soul album, The Poet, was #1 on the R&B album chart for 5 weeks. The legendary track, "If You Think You're Lonely Now," is one of the album's highlights. If you have a copy of this rare album, hold on to it.

  • 0 Janet Jackson Wraps up Love Doctor Role

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/24/2007

    Janet Jackson recently mentioned on her official website that she's wrapped up filming her role in the new Tyler Perry movie, Why Did I Get Married?" Jackson plays "Diane," an author and psychologist who "writes about love, marriage, and relationships." Jill Scott is also featured in the movie, which is based on Tyler Perry's stage play of the same name. Why Did I Get Married is scheduled for a November 2007 theatrical release.

  • 0 7 May Days for #1 Classic Soul R&B Hits

    • Songs
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/22/2007

    Here's a quick time capsule look at 7 #1 chart topping R&B hits from the golden age of classic soul. Each song was #1 on the indicated day in May this week. 4 are from the 1970's, 2 are from the 1960's, and one goes all the way back to 1954, thanks to Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. May 20, 1972 - "I'll Take You There" - Staple Singers May 21, 1977 - " May 22, 1954 - "Work with me Annie" - Hank Ballard May 23, 1964 - "My Guy" - Mary Wells May 24, 1975 - "Shining Star - "Earth Wind & Fire May 25, 1963 - "If You Wanna Be Happy" - Jimmy Soul May 26, 1973 - "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" - Barry White How many do you remember?

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