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  • 0 Michael Jackson Wake - Thriller and Bad

    Yes the abundant coverage of Michael Jackson's tragic death will eventually end. Among what I've watched, read, or listened to in several U.S. cities (and from around the world) over the past few days, here's a highlight and low light: Thriller: Donnie Simpson's excellent radio interview with Smokey Robinson on Washington D.C.'s WPGC. Bad: O'Jay Eddie Levert dropping the "s" bomb during the group's lifetime achievement acceptance remark at the BET Awards/MJ tribute program. What's one thing you have liked and/or have disliked about the coverage of the Michael Jackson tragedy? Leave a comment. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 2009 BET Awards Build some Buzz

    The O'Jays are saluted with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and both Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean receive humanitarian honors during the 2009 BET Awards scheduled for this Sunday, June 28th. Just one airing can't do, so look for multiple repeats of this television special in the coming weeks. Nominees for the Best Female R&B Artist: Beyonce' Keyshia Cole Keri Hilson Jennifer Hudson Jazmine Sullivan Rihanna, where are you? Nominees for the Best Male R&B Artist: The-Dream Jamie Foxx Ryan Leslie Ne-Yo T-Pain John Legend and Chris Brown, where are you? BET needs to add a legacy award for the R&B category. It's done in the Grammy Awards. 2008 saw many very good traditional releases, including Labelle's Back To Now, and the Soul Men movie soundtrack. Is jazz dead? The BET Awards could be well served to give this genre the spotlight it deserves. Jazz is an excellent live performance platform. BET could help spark some interest in this particular craft of musical expression by exposing it to the hip hop generation. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Bobbi Humphrey Puffs Flute Power Passion

    When you are the first female artist signed to the legendary Blue Note Records, the expectations are huge. Bobbi Humphrey did hit the high note, cultivating a string of successful albums injecting R&B roots into a container of smooth contemporary jazz. She never had a breakthrough hit single, but it didn't matter. Her excellent body of work stands the test of time. As with most diverse musicians, Bobbi worked with the best, including Stevie Wonder for the memorable track "Home Made Jam." After a 6 album run with Blue Note (beginning in 1971), she moved to Columbia Records (Epic), where the pressure for a more commercial vibe dominated the shifting style of her music. Visit the official Bobbi Humphrey Blue Note website. I have a lost audio interview I did with her way back when that I hope to find one day deep inside of the Powerhouse Radio archive! Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Unique Musique Banned in Boston

    Musique's 1978 dance hit "In The Bush" psyched out a lot of people who select radio station songs due to suggestive lyrics that seem mild today. The hook laden refrain "push push in the bush" caused manager imaginations to run wild, even though there wasn't one real naughty word in the entire song. Earlier in the same decade the word "crap" was edited out of Paul Simon's song "Kodachrome" before some radio stations would play it. With such sensitivity by radio people not to offend local "community standards" among rabbit eared listeners, the hesitation to play "In The Bush" was not a surprise. No station wanted a listener to complain to the Federal Communications Commission. The original Musique featured Jocelyn Brown, Angela Howell, Gina Tharps, and Christine Wiltshire on Keep On Jumpin'. Pictured here are their replacements, Mary Seymour, Denise Edwards, and Gina Taylor, who were featured on the 2nd album, Musique II. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Grammy Spectacular Struts Live Stuff Center Stage

    Have the Grammy Awards discovered a new magic formula?...bury the awards and spotlight the music? Their 51st annual extravaganza at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was front loaded with lots of live music, and very little of the less than compelling award show dribble that usually interrupts the pacing of the live performances that highlight this television event. But hey, it's an awards show right? After an energetic opening from U2, Whitney Houston presented Jennifer Hudson with her best R&B Album of the year Grammy Award (Hudson, record executive Clive Davis, and Houston are pictured left to right). You may have thought you were watching a live concert for the first 90 minutes, happily replacing the sometimes boring dialogue accompanying many of the formulaic Grammy presenters and winner acceptance speeches. The show was improved this year by the Hollywood stars who teamed up with the musician presenters to frame the introduction of each specific award. Actors have the skill to sell those adlibs just a little bit better reading the scripted introductions rather than musicians who fumble when eyeballing their television teleprompter lines. Clearly, the inter-genre collaborations keep this program from being totally predictable. Cold Play with Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder with The Jonas Brothers, or Al Green with Justin Timberlake made for some inventive musical television. If you could only take about the first 2 hours of the Grammy marathon, you were rewarded with several interesting sets featuring some very good performances. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 8 Super Songs for 2008

    Classic soul is more than just music that was produced during a period of time that's passed us by, it's a style that lives now through contemporary performances by today's artists. Some of the "now" artists were around during the golden years too. The point is, you don't have to look far to find a lot of people who have planted the R&B flag on their own 2008 turf. The following 8 songs ranked in order all do an excellent job of blending great singing, good arrangements, quality lyrics, and old school street cred to bubble up our list as the best of the past year (November, 2007 - November, 2008). "Roll Out" - LaBelle. This is not even the best song from their new album, Back To Now, however, "Roll Out" is a classic. Mostly Patti LaBelle, less Sarah Dash & Nona Hendryx, and perhaps too much Miss Patti on the vocoder (an electronic device that makes the human voice sound like a robot with perfect pitch). Featuring Wyclef Jean joining in and repeating the hook, "Roll Out" - it's one of the best songs of the year. Terrific pop music. "Teenage Love Affair" - Alicia Keys. A song about the youthful pleasures of raging hormones. This tune has a sixties rhythm that bounces along to the sweet and innocent charm of a fun-filled girl meets boy story. "I Am A Fire" - Donna Summer. It's tough when you are treated strictly as a nostalgia act. "I'm A Fire " is as good as the best Donna Summer back in her heyday. When a zillion dj's compete for who can come up with the best remix of a song as they did with this one, people get confused. The album version is the best. Hot, hot, hot. "Superwoman" - Alicia Keys. Poor Alicia Keys, can't she get any more respect? Even though this song turned up on TV to promote the 2008 summer Olympics, it's a nice anthem for the ladies in our lives who are our unsung heroes. B+ for "Superwoman." "Disrespectful" - Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige. Not for Grandma. "Disrespectful rocks with Kahn and Blige pushing the soul energy to a climactic eruption. On Chaka's Funk This CD. "Stay Down" - Mary J. Blige. It's heavy on the melody and dramatic build, somewhat light on the lyrics, but satisfying in the delivery. When you can include a reference to The Jeffersons (George & Louise), in your song, you can do no wrong. Mary J. has crossed over to respectville. "100 Days, 100 Nights" - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. It's a humorous riot reading people's written thoughts as they debate whether this group is "real" soul. Sharon Jones deserves much credit for putting her singing career into overdrive with her biggest break coming after the age of 40. She's the real deal. Focus on her voice. "Just Stand Up" - Beyonce', Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Keyshia Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Ashanti, & Ciara. People can't seem to stomach too much of these "We Are The World" type benefit collaborations (with the proceeds of sales going to charity). This one spotlighted the cause of cancer research. The ladies get into it, but at times you strain to identify who is singing (unless you have seen the video). Yes it's commercial, and yes it sounds like some other stuff, but it's a worthy medium to uptempo effort, and an entertaining one too. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Miriam Makeba's Global Crusade for Justice

    South Africa's musical giant, Miriam Makeba, passed away Monday, November 10, 2008, at the age of 76. This vinyl album, Makeba!, Reprise 6310, is a USA import released in 1967 and was issued in either South Africa, or Venezuela. Miriam was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her anti-apartheid activism will share equal billing with her musical legacy. The singer appeared at the United Nations in 1963 to condemn apartheid and it's evil of racial separation. She spent 30 years in exile after her passport was revoked by the South African government. Her biggest hit was 1967's "Pata Pata." Miriam is one of the artists credited with creating the genre called 'world music.' She's one of the biggest names to emerge out of South Africa. I've included this second shot from the back cover of Makeba! The 11 tracks are listed, along with some very comprehensive liner notes written by A.B. Spellman (included on the back cover). Here are A.B. Spellman's complete comments... "Unlike most of our African brothers, South Africans living in the United States usually merge immediately with the Afro-American community. It is because we are the same men, have been similarly uprooted and dominated by European technological society, our ancestors reburied and our gods raped. and now we fight the same war. It is no accident, then, that we love each other's music. The brilliant South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsi le wrote: John Coltrane, John Coltrane, tell the ancestors We listened, we heard your message Tell them you gave us tracks to move, Trane, and now we know The choice is ours... I am told a new Miles Davis record that reaches Johannesburg or Capetown is treated like a rarer-than-diamonds jewel. I also know that there is a great body of South African music that never reaches us here in the States. But we have a small but growing colony of South African musicians who do very well among us. The leading flame of that colony is, of course, Miriam Makeba, easily one of the world's premier singers. But we should never forget, even when digging a record as exquisitely truthful as this one, that the tradition runs from Makeba and Letta Mbulu to the Dark City Sisters and from Hugh Masekela to Dollar Brand; that there have been innumerable geniuses in the genre who never escaped Johannesburg. Certainly, sister Makeba has this aura of beauty around her entire persona, and that is not a learned thing. It is not merely that she has a beautiful voice, looks good and has a sweet personality - there are innumerable soft brown birds who get that together- but that Makeba has an added quality to her presentation, a touch that gets inside us and makes us stronger. It may be several things. It may be that she was the first to make the South African-Afro-American synthesis and therefore has a greater element of originality in her work; it may be only that she is especially gifted (at the time the film which launched her, Come Back Africa, was made, she was already the brightest young star in South Africa). But it seems to me that there is another element to Miriam's singing style and feminine persona that makes us react more deeply to her singing than we would to most. It is that the sister is what she sings, and what she sings is never trite. She is the soft, resilient fiber of nature as woman. She carries the image of African womanhood, the gentle assegai that lets us know we are warriors. When she sings of the white-blown evil windspirit (Umoya) that cuts into the inner landscape of her people, she is the counterbreath of liberation that, quiet as it's kept, is blowing in South Africa today. The song is a spirit rhythm that rises in your chest and carries you out to action. My brother Steve Mncube tells me that the song floats on several levels of double entendre. This is a defense mechanism that has been creeping into the Bantu languages since the defeat of Cetshwayo in the Zulu War of 1879. Steve explained to me the word iliwizwe, integral in the proverb from which this song was made. It is more than land, more than soil, more than the earth that no man can possess. It existed even before the earliest ancestors; and children, as the ongoing fruits of nature, own it more than the man who farms it. Then this fixed ownership concept is itself an evil Moya (Spirit-wind) of European origin, and must be destroyed. Miriam Makeba prods her menfolk gently in Magwala Ndini and Singa Madoda, both traditional men's songs, and strengthens the warrior in us. Steve says the kind of man the word Madoda describes practically sleeps with his weapons, that he would fight bullets with an assegai. Yes, says the sister's versions of Magwala and Madoda, you are the men and must carry the man's weight, but if you don't carry it correctly, and bravely, there'll be a lot of answering to do when you get home in the evenings. The range of material, ideas, and vocal treatment in this record is incredible, yet it is integrated. With one rhythm Miriam pushes the recreant to be more manly, with another she invokes the Xhosa clairvoyant (U-mngoma) or calls the farmers to prepare next year's harvest in the face of this year's famine (Asilimanga). In Iphi Ndilela her voice rises bravely above a lachrimose chorus to say goodbye to her homeland, friends, and family as she goes far, far away across many mountains and rivers, to find another life. Then in Sibongile, dedicated to President Sekou Toure of Guinea, she thanks President Toure for making her an honorary citizen and, implicitly, for giving aid and assistance to South African Freedom Fighters. There is much, much more to this deep and subtle record. I am tempted to call this her best record, but Miriam Makeba is so consistently good that there is no point in trying to decide which is best. I will say that this is by far the most African of her recent releases. Here she is working in a purely African environment, and all the elements of her style are brilliantly focused. "Black is Beautiful" goes a current slogan, and Miriam Makeba is beautifully black." Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Beyonce' Is Queen of Chess Movie & New Album

    Contemporary audiences know that Motown, Stax, Atlantic, and Philadelphia International Records provided a promotional gateway for what would later become the broad social acceptance of the beat of rhythm and blues. Take the R out of R&B, and the beaming B becomes a beacon for the relatively unknown shadowy story of the business of blues record labels. Leonard Chess was an entrepreneur who was in the right place at the right time during the day when blues was king. In the 1950's and 1960's, his Chicago based Chess Records is credited with launching the electrified careers of many blues artists. Etta James is one of them, and Beyonce' will star as Etta in Cadillac Records, a new movie coming soon about how Chess Records ruled the sound of electrified blues. Other notables in this flick include Mos Def, who plays Chuck Berry, and Cedric the Entertainer, who will portray bluesman Willie Dixon. 1968's Electric Mud, by blues icon Muddy Waters, is the sole Chess album in my personal collection. Muddy was cast in an unusual role on this record performing trendy psychedelic blues ditties. Although I enjoyed it, the album was universally panned, but it's a good example of how Chess Records tried to keep in step with the changing music tastes of the time. Beyonce' is one of the biggest stars in Cadillac Records. Her presence should drive interest into this historic record company (Chess). Jumping from the past to the present: on October 7, 2008, two new songs, "If I Were A Boy," and "Single Ladies" will be available to radio from Beyonce's forth coming third studio album, which will not be released by Music World Music/Columbia Records until Tuesday, November 18th. Beyonce' has co-written and co-produced all of the tracks on (as of this date) the untitled new album. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 50 Ways To Love Michael Jackson

    If 50 is the new 40, then the decade defying young at heart Michael Jackson has a lot to celebrate during many fun filled years to come. The media certified tabloid musical giant, lovingly crowned, "The King of Pop," turns 50 years old on August 29, 2008. Jacko joins Madonna, who also turns 50 on August 16, 2008, as another new AARP recruit (formerly American Association of Retired Persons). Barring any health issues, I believe that Michael Jackson will eventually make a notable comeback. In honor of his 50th birthday, here is my endearing timeline list of 50 Ways to Love Michael Jackson: 1958 - Michael Jackson is born (August 29th) 1968 - The Jackson 5 are signed by Motown Records 1969 - Motown releases Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 album 1970 - "I Want You Back" - Jackson 5 #1 song in January 1970 - "ABC" - Jackson 5 #1 in April 1970 - "The Love You Save" - Jackson 5 #1 in June 1970 - "I'll Be There" - Jackson 5 #1 in October 1971 - "Never Can Say Goodbye" - Jackson 5 #1 in May 1972 - "Got To Be There," MJ's first solo album is released 1972 - "Ben" becomes a hit single and album. (Rat power movie theme)! 1972 - MJ scores with the top 2 hit "Rockin' Robin'," a remake of the 1958 Bobby Day smash 1974 - "Dancing Machine" - Jackson 5 #1 in May 1976 - The Jacksons release The Jacksons on Epic Records produced by Philadelphia's Gamble & Huff 1977 - MJ begins preparing for his role in the movie The Wiz 1978 - The Jacksons release the critically acclaimed Destiny album 1979 - MJ releases Off The Wall produced by Quincy Jones 1980 - MJ scores a #1 song with "Rock With You" 1982 - MJ duets with Paul McCartney on Thriller with "The Girl Is Mine" 1982 - MJ writes and produces "Muscles," a top 10 Diana Ross hit 1983 - The Jackson 5 reunite for Motown's 25th Anniversary show in Los Angeles featuring a moonwalking MJ 1983 - Thriller conquers the charts 1983 - MJ duets with Paul McCartney for "Say Say Say," spending 6 weeks at #1 1984 - MJ wins 7 American Music Awards 1984 - MJ wins 3 MTV Music Video Awards 1984 - MJ receives 2nd degree burns on the set of a Pepsi commercial 1984 - MJ sings "State of Shock" with Mick Jagger on the Jacksons album Victory 1985 - MJ buys the publishing company owning the rights to 250 Beatles songs for $47.5 million 1985 - MJ and Lionel Richie write "We Are The World" and record the song with 43 stars to benefit USA for Africa's efforts for famine relief 1986 - MJ gets wacky with Bubbles the chimpanzee, Crusher, his 300 pound snake, and cocoons in a hyperbaric breathing chamber for shots of hyped oxygen 1987 - MJ's "Bad" tops the charts (R&B and pop) 1987 - MJ reaches #1 (pop & R&B) in Britain with the Siedah Garrett duet, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" 1988 - MJ buys Sycamore Ranch in California - the future Neverland Ranch 1988 - "Man In The Mirror" become a #1 song 1990 - MJ wins the Entertainer of the Decade Award from the America Cinema Awards Foundation 1991 - MJ signs what is called a billion-dollar entertainment deal with Sony Music 1991 - The Dangerous album is released 1992 - MJ is interviewed by Ebony Magazine 1992 - The Jacksons: An American Dream debuts on national television dramatizing the story of the famous Gary, Indiana family 1993 - MJ performs during halftime at Super Bowl XXVII (27) 1994 - MJ retains attorney Johnny Cochran and settles a 1993 child molestation charge out of court for a reported $20 million dollars 1995 - MJ and sister Janet Jackson sound off on the song "Scream" 1995 - MJ and wife Lisa Marie Presley call it quits 1995 - HIStory: Past, Present, and Future , Book 1 MJ's double album of past hits creates some buzz and becomes a #1 best seller 1996 - MJ marries Debbie Rowe 2001 - Invincible CD is released 2006 - MJ escapes to the island of Bahrain, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to rebuild his career 2007 - MJ is interviewed by Ebony magazine 2008 - 25th anniversary version of Thriller is released 2008 - MJ's plastic surgeon checks into a California psychiatric hospital 2008 - Rumors fly that MJ will make a comeback at a Las Vegas casino hotel Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Rudy Ray Moore Plays it Raw, Rude & Real

    Rudy Ray Moore, also known as the Mighty Dolemite, is another superfly player, who like Blowfly, has a somewhat ignominious reputation for his own series of rowdy party platters. Moore has recorded at least 15 albums during a career that spans 4 decades. His first record, Eat Out More Often, hit the streets in 1970. Even more graphic than Blowfly, Rudy Ray Moore's pulsating collection of steamy hot wax spawned a cast of characters who carried melodrama to hilarious heights. Between Moore and Blowfly, you'll get all you can handle from a couple of outrageous guys who filled a void with enterprising musical soul-comedy few others were willing to match or touch. Some elements of today's hip hop can credit the 'no holds barred anything goes style' pioneered by Moore and his contemporaries, exemplified by free flowing, uncensored, musical verse. October 21, 2008 update: Moore passed away at the age of 81 in Akron, Ohio. Previous Post | Next Post

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