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  • 0 Ledisi Speaks From The Soul

    • Interview
    • by Kingsley H. Smith and guest
    • 08/22/2017

    I've been a big fan of Ledisi since 2008 after writing about and listening to her holiday album in the update Ledisi Lifts Christmas Up with Musical Style. The New Orleans native has a lot to say in this brief six minute interview with the purveyors of You Know I Got Soul. She talks about the state of R&B music, her impressions of fan feedback, and gets us excited about a new album that she is about to drop. You can watch her thoughts below, and read the entire transcript of the conversation at Ledisi Interview: New Album "Let Love Rule", Evolving Sound, Having Fun With R&B at You Know I Got Soul. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Jerry Butler: The Ice Man Cometh and More

      Jerry Butler The Philadelphia Sessions (CD) are 24 soulful tracks from two albums The Ice Man Cometh and Ice On Ice featuring all songs produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. Butler was born in Sunflower, Mississippi right before World War II. He migrated to Chicago eventually singing with his Windy City friend Curtis Mayfield in the late 1950s. Jerry was an original member of The Impressions. Gamble & Huff had a huge impact on Jerry Butler's career with The Ice Man Cometh and Ice On Ice. Ice On Ice includes "A Brand New Me", the Gamble - Huff - Thom Bell song that Butler delivers in a spirited but slightly understated way (when compared to the Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield cover versions). Listen to 35 seconds of Jerry Butler singing "A Brand New Me." Your browser does not support the audio element. Butler's voice blends well with the Philly sound keyboard and strings arrangement. This element separates Jerry's rendering from the alternate approaches taken by both Aretha and Dusty.   The Very Best of Jerry Butler is also a solid collection of 11 hit songs including the classic "Ain't Understanding Mellow" duet with Brenda Lee Eager that is not included on either The Ice Man Cometh or Ice On Ice.   The Ice Man Cometh, Ice On Ice, and The Very Best of Jerry Butler are all perfect resources to hear the polished soul of "the Ice Man." Turn on your audio and listen to my 1982 interview with Jerry Butler.   Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Masters of Funk Tour 2011 Rolls on

    Pictured, The Bar-Kays. The Masters of Funk 2011 World Tour rolls on. Below is the transcript of my interview with James "J.J." Underwood of JEA Right Now Records talking about the tour. You can also listen to the audio version with slide show in this video version: King: This is King from powerhouseradio.com and I am on the line with James JJ Underwood and JJ is the Office Manager for JEA Right Now Records. How you doing JJ? James JJ Underwood: I am doing fine, how about you there? King: I am hangin', I am hangin' in, feeling pretty good today. We want to talk to you a little bit about the Masters of Funk World Tour, which is featuring some of the great classic soul bands like the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Sugarfoot's, Ohio Players. I see you have a lot of different groups that are actually part of this tour but my understanding is not every group appears at every show. Can you tell us a little bit about that? James JJ Underwood: Yes, we mix it up a little for every different venue that we go to. The tours' actually been going on for two to three years now. but we mix it up and give each city a little different taste of each group; because there are like 20 Bands involved in the tour, out of those 20 Bands like 4, or 5 bands perform at each venue. So we kind of spice it up a little and give the people a little bit of everything as far as the funk and the soul goes. King: Now I see you guys are going to be in Detroit on April 2nd, 2011, so are you in the middle of the tour for the season. How many more dates do you have coming up in 2011? James JJ Underwood: We go to Detroit April 2nd, Chicago April 23rd, we do Memphis in May then we go to St. Louis in June. There is pretty much two dates a month, until the year is out for the Masters of Funk. People really want to see this, they missed all the soul and funk groups. then, the live music people, are still really interested in the live music so the tour is going really well. King: Is there any particular group among those that we have mentioned the Bar-Kays, Dazz Band, Sugarfoot's, Ohio Players, Brick, Klymaxx, Mary Jane Girls, any one of these group at every show, do you have like a foundation group, or is it subject to change every show? James JJ Underwood: It is subject to change every show it is usually, what the fans usually request. For Phoenix we had Cherelle, the Dazz Band, Con Funk Shun and it was sell out and that’s what people wanted to see in Phoenix. King: Where could people go to get the complete schedule of the Masters of Funk Tour? James JJ Underwood: You can go to www.bar-kays.net. There is a complete list of all the tour dates. www.bar-kays.net, a complete list of everything. King: I am King from powerhouseradio.com, we’re talking with JJ Underwood, he's with JEA Right Now Records. JJ you have mentioned that the tour is going through the end of the year, is that right into November and December? James JJ Underwood: Yeah, right until November and December. King: So tell me about this new Bar-Kays song, Return of the Mack, I was just listening to it its pretty good. How did they get involved in putting this one out there? James JJ Underwood: Mr. Larry Dodson, he likes to stay current with his music, and he is always coming up with something and he came up with this. I think it’s really a hit, it's real current it still has the funk to it and it really displays the creativeness the Bar-Kays, still have. King: And tell everybody who Larry Dodson is? James JJ Underwood: Larry Dodson is the lead singer of the Bar-Kays. King: Alright, say JJ I want to thank you very much for talking to us about the Masters of Funk Tour 2011, and you said the tour has been going for a couple of years. I hope in 2012 that you're back at it one more time. James JJ Underwood: Thanks for having me I appreciate it. The Masters of Funk World Tour - 2011 Saturday, April 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan featuring: The Dazz Band, The Bar-Kays, Zapp, Sugarfoot's Ohio Players Saturday, May 7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin featuring: The Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Sugarfoot's Ohio Players, Zapp, The Dazz Band Friday, June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri featuring: The Bar-Kays, Sugarfoot's Ohio Players, The Dazz Band Saturday, June 11 in Louisville, Kentucky, featuring: The Bar-Kays, Slave, The Dazz Band Saturday, July 16 in Nashville, Tennessee featuring: Slave, The Bar-Kays, The Dazz Band Saturday, August 20 in Kansas City, Missouri Featuring: The Bar-Kays, Slave, The Dazz Band Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee Eager's December Song

    "Ain't Understanding Mellow," Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee Eager's dazzling duet hit the charts on December 11, 1971, eventually becoming a #3 R&B hit. One of those rare quiet storm songs that builds slowly to a sensational climax, "Ain't Understanding Mellow" was Eager's biggest hit, and her first. Discovered in the Windy City of Chicago, Brenda Lee went on to record several other songs with Jerry Butler. Flashback 25 years to my special conversation with the Ice Man Jerry Butler from the PowerhouseRadio.com archive. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Baltimore Flamingo Terry Johnson Soars to the Sky

    In 2005, Terry Johnson, formerly of the Flamingos, released, "Let's Be Lovers," a song that introduced Jeff Calloway and Tee. From The Whispers (not the Solar Records group), to The Flamingos, to The Starglows, to Motown Records, Terry has had great success. "I Only Have Eyes for You" is his best known Flamingos classic. You may have seen Terry on the PBS television specials "Rock and Roll at 50" and "Doo-Wop Lost and Found." 1950's "bird" groups, (R&B vocal groups named after birds), were really before my time, so I wanted to discover more about the groups, and about Terry Johnson. The following excerpt originally appeared in the September 2005 Powerhouse Radio Newsletter: King - "Terry, you started in the music business at 16, so you beat me by one year, as I started as a college radio announcer at 17. What was it like to record at 16?" Terry - "Yes, I was pretty blessed at the age of 16. I had a group I put together, we were called The Whispers. They were from Baltimore, Maryland. We went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Gotham Records to record four songs." "Two songs I wrote myself and sang lead on. The first one is "Full Heart." I sang that in my first tenor voice, the high voice. The second song was, "Are You Sorry," a beautiful love song, I sang that in my natural voice, my baritone voice that I'm talking in right now." "I switched between first tenor and baritone, a matter of fact that's how the confusion started with The Flamingos, because I was singing all of the duets with Paul Wilson, I was singing the low part, the baritone, and then I would go into first tenor to do the repeats...(Terry sings to demonstrate). See what I mean...(switching between the two parts). King - "You're from Baltimore. A lot of groups have come out of Baltimore. The Orioles, and some newer groups like Pockets. Who inspired you to get into music?" Terry - "Yes Baltimore, Maryland had many great superstars, I mean the groups were very plentiful. I can remember the Cardinals, I can remember Johnny Mason, and the Clovers." "Also, down the street from me...I was blessed, I mean, I had Earl Hurley of The Swallows, I had Sonny Til of The Orioles." "I was very inspired by Sonny Til. He was the main one. And up the street was Junior Bailey of The Cadillacs. I mean man, there were so many great superstars from Baltimore, but especially on my street, 1300 block of whatcoat Street." King - "You played guitar on all your records and on all The Flamingos albums. Who inspired you to play guitar?" Terry - "I was inspired for guitar when I first heard Les Paul, and Mary Ford. Little did I realize that he was using about three or four different tracks that he was playing his solos on." "I said it's impossible for someone to be playing that fast. Once I got the shape, then I turned to some of my other mentors." "Music that I love was Kenny Burrell, jazz, Johnny Smith, the way he played the melody and chord formation." "I turned to Manny Johnson. Manny Johnson was the guitarist with The Swallows, Earl Hurley also. I turned to Bunty Rogers, he was an excellent teacher. He showed me a lot of the Johnny Smith stuff. And ah, that's how I really got my soul." "Guitar is my soul. Guitar speaks what I feel inside. So when you hear me strumming those six strings man, you're touching my very soul. You're hearing it." King - "You've had your own group of Flamingos since 1961, and you were involved with Motown." Terry - "From 1964 - 1974, I was at Motown Records as an artist, writer, arranger, and producer. I produced a lot of songs with my dear friend, who brought me to Motown, Smokey Robinson. We had a great team." "We recorded on The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Miracles, Jimmy Ruffin, David Ruffin, Martha and The Vandellas, Edwin Starr...I can't even name all of them, I mean because there was such a vast amount of artists at Motown, I really enjoyed what I did there." King - "How does it feel to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?" Terry - "It's the pinnacle of what we entertainers strive for, and it's a great honor." King - "Thanks very much for your time Terry. Any closing thoughts for your fans?" Terry - "Thanks for the ride, and thanks for your support. I love you, and I hope you love my new music. Thank you." ---------- For even more, check out Terry's Johnson's biography at theflamingos.com. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Motown Memories from Martha Reeves Part Two

    Here's part two of a great conversation with Martha Reeves, from an article written by David R. Guarino, as published in San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter, Soul survivor, Motown memories with R&B legend Martha Reeves... ---------- David Guarino: "Were you ever presented with a song to record where you listened to it and thought, "I really don't want to record this, I don't even like it? Martha Reeves: Well, that would be "Dancing in the Street!" When I first heard it, I thought, "I don't want to be dancing in the street, I want to be in some fabulous nightclub. I'm not a street singer!" The Vandellas and I never practiced on street corners; we practiced in our living rooms and on the playground at our school. We weren't on the street. But then I listened to the lyrics, and I realized that they were referring to people such as those in Rio de Janeiro, where everybody just parties during carnival times. Or the way they do in New Orleans; people just hanging out, dancing and rejoicing to music. Men wrote most of my songs, so I've had to take them and change them around, make them soft and sweet. They're sung in my spirit, and show my likeness. I rehearse at home, then I take the song to the studio. I have a reputation for being a one or two-take artist. David Guarino: Would you change the way you handled your music career? Martha Reeves: I did as best I could, not having a formal knowledge of show business, and I chose people who might not have been the best for me and my career. I was distracted from professionalism for lack of a stern management. It took a while for me to find honorable people that I could depend on. Because an artist simply cannot do it all. David Guarino: When the special Motown 25, Yesterday, Today and Forever aired in the 1980s, I was outraged by the fact that you, Mary Wells and Junior Walker each had token segments of about 45 seconds each. How did you feel that night? Martha Reeves: I felt great being there, because so often we were called "the others." Being the pioneers of The Motown Sound, we were the most overlooked. They want to make it look as though Michael Jackson was the biggest artist when you had people like Stevie Wonder there as a child, who started it all. Many of the new regimes at Motown refer to us as "the has-beens," but we're the ones who started it all. David Guarino: At one point when your stint at Motown was over, your life began spiraling out of control. What do you credit for your ability to bounce back from that dark place? Martha Reeves: When I said no to drugs. It was one of the influences I was not able to avoid when I was in show business. I had a rebirth in 1977 when I realized that things had to change. David Guarino: What is your take on hip hop and rap? Martha Reeves: I think it's a cheap way of getting around playing good music. Songs that have only two chord changes, sounds that have been technically manufactured, and there's no spirit or soul in the music. People are buying it, but they're also skipping over spirit and soul. David Guarino: What should we be on the lookout for? Martha Reeves: The Vandellas and I recently released a CD, Spellbound, Lost and Found. We just had a Gold album released. The music is 44 years old, but it's still good, and if I do say so myself, it sounds great! I recently produced my own CD, Home to You, on my own label, ITCH. David Guarino: You're seated on the Detroit City Council, working to clean up the gang and drug problems, to help make Detroit a safer place. Martha Reeves: My staff and I are also currently working on a way to commemorate the Motown artists here in the city of Detroit. There should be plaques and statues, and music played at all times, letting people know that this is where the sound originated." ---------- King's wrap-up: In fairness to Martha Reeves, yes, she was second fiddle to Diana Ross, and maybe Gladys Knight, while at Motown. Still, Martha Reeves is one of the few Motown acts not to have a solo hit record once she left Motown. Given her talent, that's pretty amazing! Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Motown Memories from Martha Reeves Part One

    Here's part one of a great conversation with Martha Reeves, from an article written by David R. Guarino, as published in San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter: Soul Survivor, Motown Memories with R&B Legend Martha Reeves... ---------- "Under the careful tutelage of founder Berry Gordy, Jr., Motown Records (and its offshoot labels Gordy, Tamla, Soul, and V.I.P.) provided a home base for some of the biggest names in R&B history, among them Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Stevie Wonder. Part of Motown's indelible impact on modern music was defined by the unforgettable sound and unmistakable talent of a young woman named Martha Rose Reeves, the eldest girl in a family of 11 children, and the driving force behind the legendary group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. This native of Eufaula, Alabama, rose from poverty-stricken obscurity to worldwide superstardom as the leader of Reeves and the Vandellas, one of Motown's earliest and most consistent hit-makers. They turned out unforgettable hits like "Dancing in the Street," "(Love Is like a) "Heatwave," "Quicksand" and "Come and Get these Memories." Reeves eventually lost the favor of Gordy when she challenged him over finances, dwindling exposure and lack of support in light of The Supremes' (in particular, Diana Ross') ascent to superstardom. Her unwillingness to passively accept Motown's agenda took its toll on her spirit and, ultimately, her career. She and the Vandellas eventually found themselves outside of Motown's protective enclave. Problems with drugs led her to deeper despair and isolation. But her indomitable strength and deep faith won out in the end. Reeves found the courage to triumph over the disappointments and challenges that plagued her for many years. Her natural talent is as vital today as it was 40 years ago. Today, Reeves performs with her sisters and has founded her own record label, ITCH Records. Appearing in Motown revues both here and in the UK, Reeves also appeared in a touring production of the classic musical Ain't Misbehavin'. Reeves has also entered politics, and is now a seated member of the Detroit City Council. David Guarino: Your career with Motown is the stuff of which dreams are made. What was it like starting out as a backup singer for Marvin Gaye? Martha Reeves: When I first went to Motown, Marvin was on the list of drummers. He had been brought there as a singer, but at Motown, everybody waited their turn. Marvin originally played backup drums for Smokey Robinson; he was multi-talented. I was a secretary at Motown, and one day I was asked to call the Andantes to back Marvin on a song, and the Andantes weren't available. I called the girls I had been recording with as the Del Phis and told them we needed to do some backup work. So we stood directly behind Marvin, and he recorded the hit "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" with Rosalyn, Annette, Gloria, and me singing with him. It was great fun. David Guarino: At one point during your tenure with Motown, you confronted Berry Gordy about the fact that you were not receiving all of the money you were entitled to. Martha Reeves: Well, yes. Questions were being raised among the artists about why the record sales money didn't add up. David Guarino: Were the discrepancies part of a deliberate attempt by Motown to take advantage of its artists, or were Gordy and his staff merely bad bookkeepers? Martha Reeves: Berry had hired a staff of people to train us, unlike other recording companies of the time. We had Prof. Maxine Powell, who taught us personal development, which was needed for what we called "The Motown Look." There was a Motown style and there was a Motown grace, and it was all taught. We were taught to move, and that set us apart from other artists. That's where the money went. Berry had to keep these people on salary, and we all had four years of training. So it was all of good accord; Berry just didn't bother to explain. I think that he felt that he didn't have to, because Motown was his company, and we came there with no money, just natural talent that he developed into a professional stage presence. I've had people approach me with feelings of anger towards a man who discovered us and made us famous. And there were times in my career when I was quoted saying things before I knew the truth. And the truth always sets you free." ---------- To be continued in Motown Memories from Martha Reeves part two, coming next time. Previous Post | Next Post

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