• 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 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 There is a complete list of all the tour dates., a complete list of everything. King: I am King from, 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 Raphael Saadiq is Stone Rollin' Soul

    • Video
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 03/23/2011

    Former Tony! Toni! Tone! talent Raphael Saadiq continues to take retro soul forward with Stone Rollin', a new album scheduled for release Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Saadiq is a contemporary evangelist for 70's soul style. He champions the cause with a track record of solid releases that stay true to his classic soul sensibility. Raphael, AKA Raphael Wiggins, hails from Oakland, California. He toured with Prince and Sheila E. briefly in the 1980's, before forming Tony! Toni! Tone! at the end of the decade. Stone Rollin' is Saadiq's 5th solo album. Put aside some time and watch Raphael Saadiq live in concert, performing at the 2011 SXSW (South by Southwest) festival. Recording courtesy of NPR at Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Dionne Warwick Opens Her Soul in My Life as I See It

    Dionne Warwick says in her new autobiography, My Life As I See It, released in November, 2010, that a typo misprint on her first single "Don't Make Me Over" changed her surname from Warrick to Warwick. When her astrologer created a numerological chart in the 1970's, the astrologer suggested adding an "e" to Warwick to create "stronger vibrations." As Dionne says, "that meant every contract, advertisement, and record cover had to reflect the change." She explains that record sales dipped, so "I went about getting it taken off all contracts, marquees, and future album covers." My Life As I See It is a very enjoyable read, as Dionne covers every aspect of her life. Her grandfather was a minister. She reflects on how people describe her vocal style as "classical or pop, but gospel has been and always will be first and foremost in my world of music." Dionne Warwick finally released her first gospel album in 2008, Why We Sing. She credits gospel with making her a better pop singer. Here is an artist who spans the decades from the early 1960's to now. She began as a demo track and background singer in New York City, commuting from her home state of New Jersey. When her solo career took off (propelled by songs created by the Hal David - Burt Bacharach writing team), she hit the road to tour. Dionne's stories about experiencing 1963 "Jim Crow" racism travelling through the South echo what my other artists in the early 1960's endured. Apart from her own talent, Ms. Warwick has glorious singing family connections, including her late sister Dee Dee, aunt Cissy Houston, Cousin Whitney Houston, and cousin Leontyne Price. Excellence takes hard work, and Dionne was no slouch. She took piano lessons every week from age six until her early twenties. When those singers she respected played within a 100 miles radius of one of her performances, she would go to their shows (Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis Jr.), etc., with a legal pad, ask to be seated in the rear of the room with a direct line of sight to the stage, and take notes about every relevant detail of the performance. She has real bachelor and master's degrees in music. Dionne speaks frankly about whether her style is black enough. She says receiving the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 2003 was satisfying "to be honored by a sector of the industry that never thought of me as an R&B singer." "My crossover appeal was one of the factors in my success. My music was played on African American stations as well as white radio stations." "Ironically, my crossover success in pop prompted something that came as a big surprise: the decline of airplay for my records on African American radio." When the top New York City R&B station WWRL held off adding "Alfie" to their playlist, Warwick recalls that when the song reached number one (and was finally added by the station), she telephoned into dj Rocky G. while he was playing the song and asked "Why are you playing that white girl's record?" G. answered, "That is no white girl, and who is this?" Dionne's reply: "This is the one you told was too white to play on your show, This is Dionne." The two laughed about that incident for many years to come. This anecdote reveals the professional aggressiveness that pushes Dionne Warwick forward through a ground breaking career of many firsts. 1968 - First African American since Ella Fitzgerald to win Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Grammy. 1979 - First female solo artist to win Grammy awards in pop & R&B in the same year. In the 1980's she was one of the first artists to develop a fragrance, "Dionne." 1980 - 1988. She is one of the first African American females to host a music variety television program (season one and season five) of Solid Gold. Say a Little Prayer, her first children's book, was published in 2008. You get the sense that Dionne Warwick has clear values with focus, a factor that has contributed to her success. She talks about embracing collaborations with Barry Manilow leading to the massive hits "Deja Vu" and "I'll Never Love This Way Again," but being highly fearful about the "Heartbreaker" song project with the Bee Gees. Dionne explains about several Bee Gees member Barry Gibb songs presented to her: "one I thought was just not me was "Heartbreaker." "I did not like it." Finally giving in to producer Gibb, Ms. Warwick adds "needless to say, I was wrong, and he was right. "Heartbreaker became one of my biggest international hits to date." I'll close with this Warwick - Mary J. Blige encounter, which gives you further insight into 'the soul of Dionne.' In the 1990's, Warwick participated in organizing talent for a show Celebrate the Soul of American Music. This program gave her the opportunity "to meet Mary J. Blige. "She was "rough" around the edges at the beginning of her career. But she was an important part of the new sounds that were defining rap and hip-hop." "Why she had been asked to do this show, I don't know, because the Stellar Awards honors the gospel community. But there she was, showing up to rehearse in her fatigues and combat boots." "When the dress rehearsal for cameras was about to begin, most artists brought out what they would be wearing to show the colors. Ms. Blige was still in fatigues and combat boots." "I asked if she would bring out what she intended to wear on the show. In not such a ladylike way, she let me know that she had on what she was going to wear." "I had to say that what she had on was not appropriate for the show." "I told her I could send one of the stylists out to get her something. But, without missing a beat, she again let me know in no uncertain terms that she was wearing what she had on." "I then said she would have to wear that somewhere else, because she was no longer on the show." "I ran into her again a few years later at the inaugural ground-breaking ceremony of the Magic Johnson Theatres in Harlem and I almost didn't recognize her." "She was beautifully dressed to the nines." "She approached me and asked if I remembered her, and I said I did. She thanked me for opening her eyes to the reality of who she should be and now was." "Watching her become someone to respect within her community of young entertainers has been great." "She is now the epitome of positive imagery and high self-esteem." "She has fought the battle with negativity and won the war. Thank you, Mary J. Blige, for being." And thank you Dionne Warwick, for an eye-opening book, an amazing career, and your trailblazing pioneer efforts since the early 1960's. Watch and listen to Dionne Warwick's live performance of "Alfie," from 1993 in Brazil. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Chris Jasper Does Everything

    • Audio
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 01/31/2011

    Chris Jasper refined the famous Isley Brothers sound in the 1970s and 1980s. The classically trained musician incorporated his mastery of keyboards and synthesizer to clearly brand the signature Isley guys groove. I enjoyed the last Jasper solo release in 2007. You can read my comments in the article Chris Jasper's Journey from the Isley Brothers to Invincible. Before Christmas of 2010, I received both his new CD, Everything I Do, plus Addictive, a dance/pop/techno album by his 17 year old son Michael. Even though I listened to these releases right away, both have been sitting on the shelf for weeks because of personal distractions. Sick family members and friends, a fire that destroyed our office building, and two computer server moves by the web hosting company really complicated the last 7 weeks. Life goes on. One thing on the immediate to do list was to spotlight the new Chris Jasper CD. This album is stronger than 2007's Invincible. You'll find more funk in the grooves. Spiritual themes that dominated the songs of Invincible are muted on Everything I Do. An acknowledgment of a higher spiritual power is still present in many of these new tracks. The tone of these songs: less preachy and more secular. "Everything I Do" "Doing My Thing" "In Your Face" "Nobody But My Baby" "Earthquake" "Stand Up" "He's The Judge" "One Time Love" "Don't Take Your Love Away" "Superbad" Isley Brothers fans will be interested in this new Chris Jasper effort. "He's the Judge" and "One Time Love" are 2 of my favorites. Listen to 60 seconds of "He's the Judge" by Chris Jasper. Your browser does not support the audio element. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 6 Songs from 2010 with Powerhouse Soul

    • Songs
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 12/08/2010

    Across all musical genres the usual suspects released an adequate supply of new tunes during 2010. It's debatable how much of it was truly distinguished. Among our 6 Songs from 2010 with powerhouse soul, just 2 are new, the rest are covers, albeit very good ones. The emotional power of the 20 live tracks provided by the artists on the Hope for Haiti Now album benefiting the victims of the earthquake there reflect the seriousness of one of the most important stories of the year. 1) "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) Version 1.0" by Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge, and Rihanna is at the top of our list. Good message, great collaboration, nice beat. 2) "Wake Up Everybody" lead by John Legend, Melanie Fiona, and Common is next. A very good contemporary version of the classic by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. 3) "The Word" by Bettye LaVette is the surprise of the year. Good things come to those who wait. Ms. Lavette retooled this Lennon & McCartney song and took it to Memphis. 4) "Move on Up" Angelique Kidjo (with John Legend & Bono) turned Curtis Mayfield's anthem into a world music theme. Exposure during the World Cup was nice. 5) "Night Shift" (Tribute to Michael Jackson version), the Commodores. In 2010 the Commodores re-released their original hit with new lyrics dedicated to the King of Pop to coincide with the anniversary of his death. The update works perfectly. 6) "Breaking News," Michael Jackson. When your "B" material is still better than the "A" material of many other artists, you know you are special. This is an excellent, sarcastic boogie-down "in your face" response to the media for their attempt to demonize M-J. The song opens with hilarious sound bites from frantic TV & radio news reporters talking smack about his antics. "Breaking News" was recorded a couple of years ago, but never released until this fall. It's included on Jackson's scheduled December 14th offering of never released material: Michael. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Merry Christmas II You Is New from Mariah Carey

    Mariah Carey is in perfect voice for her second Christmas album release and 2010 follow-up to 1994's Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas II You opens with a short, fully orchestrated instrumental ode to "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," segueing directly into the new "Oh Santa." Bouncy, bubbly, and bold, the album opener "Oh Santa" tips the hat to Toni Basil's 1981 cheerleader anthem "Mickey" using a catchy hook to drive the song along. "O Little Town of Bethlehem/Little Drummer Boy Medley" is a great showcase for the melodramatic phrasing of Ms. Mariah, who hits this song-pairing out of the park. It's well arranged, creative, and solidly delivered. "Christmas Time Is In The Air Again" sparkles as a pop standard slow arrangement that you might expect from a Sarah Vaughan or Carmen McCrae. A Classy impression from Carey that floats on air. "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)/Housetop Celebration," with the help of a bass line inspired by Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" puts a party face on this happy track. I was blown away by the operatic interlude in "O Come All Ye Faithful/Hallelujah Chorus" featuring Patricia Carey. 3 New Mariah Carey Christmas songs are included in this release, as are 8 traditional holiday songs. The contemporary remix of "Auld Lang Syne" rocks 'house music style.' Fans young, old, and new will certainly enjoy this classy collection. Merry Christmas II You is a rare holiday combination of great songs, top notch arrangements, diverse material, and Mariah Carey, who finally displays her gifted sonic range through nuanced maturity rather than reverting to showy vocal gymnastics as used in the past. When I saw this album was going to be released, I was skeptical. Now that I've heard it, shame on me! Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas II You is excellent. "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Intro" "Oh Santa" "O Little Town of Bethlehem/Little Drummer Boy Medley" "Christmas Time Is In The Air Again" "The First Noel/Born Is the King Interlude" "When Christmas Comes" "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)/Housetop Celebration" "Charlie Brown Christmas" "O Come All Ye Faithful/Hallelujah Chorus" "O Holy Night" "One Child" "All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Extra Festive "Auld Lang Syne" - The New Year's Anthem Listen to 30 seconds of Mariah Carey's "Auld Lang Syne" - The New Year's Anthem. Your browser does not support the audio element. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Halloween Dance and Party Music to Die For

    Two new wacky party albums packed with danceable delights along with frightening sound effects have just dropped in time for Halloween tricks and treats 2010. Dance and Party Music to Die For has nice remixes including John Carpenter's "Halloween Theme" remixed by Tom Rossi. Going Gaga for the Lady Zombie by Halloween Music Freaks includes "The Howling" (werewolves transformed by the full moon on the prowl), "Zombie Hospital" (the undead wreaking havoc) and "Wicked Witches Waltzing Around The Cauldron" (freaky witches dancing and laughing as they make mischief). You can find Dance and Party Music to Die For and Going Gaga for the Lady Zombie at iTunes, and Listen to 57 seconds of the great remix of the "Halloween Theme." Your browser does not support the audio element. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Number One Classic Soul Songs from the 1960s

    • Games
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 09/14/2010

    It's puzzle time again with 8 number one classic soul songs from the 1960's. This is the third of 3 challenges. We give you the artist name and a hint, you give us the song title. Good luck! 2022 Update: The board shown is NOT the 1960s board. It is an example board. Flash technology upon which the crossword puzzle is based is no longer supported. I'm giving you the hints, answers, and the shaded column solution below!   The Hints: Sly & the Family Stone - just folks - 1969 Hugh Masekela, Friends of Distinction, weeds - 1968 James Brown - icy perspiration - 1967 Temptations - pride not a problem to plead - 1966 One hit wonder Fontella Bass gets saved - 1965 Four Tops - sugar pie honey bunch - 1965 Jr. Walker & the All Stars - armed with a rifle - 1965   The Answers:  Solutions entered in the correct boxes on the board spell out the mystery song in the shaded column: "Respect" Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Number One Classic Soul Songs from the 1970s

    • Games
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 09/07/2010

    It's puzzle time again with 11 number one classic soul songs from the 1970's. This is the second of 3 challenges. The next one will feature the 1960's. We give you the artist name and a hint, you give us the song title. Good luck! 2022 Update: The board shown is NOT the 1970s board. It is an example board. Flash technology upon which the crossword puzzle is based is no longer supported. I'm giving you the hints, answers, and the shaded column solution below!   The Hints: Diana Ross song: valleys, rivers, and ? 1970 Aretha sings Simon & Garfunkel - 1971 Chi-Lites lady - 1972 Spinners romance question - 1973 Big Eddie Kendricks hit - 1974 Repeat after the Staple Singers - 1975 Rufus - Chaka Khan - you are my heat and fire - 1976 Inferno of the snake - Earth, Wind &Fire - 1977 The Chic French come out at night - 1978 Cheryl Lynn keeps it this way - 1979   The Answers:   Solutions entered in the correct boxes on the board spell out the mystery song in the shaded column: "I'll Be There" Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Number One Classic Soul Songs from the 1980s

    • Games
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 09/01/2010

    It's puzzle time again with 14 number one classic soul songs from the 1980's. This is the first of 3 challenges. The next two will features the 1970's, and the 1960's. We give you the artist name and a hint, you give us the song title. Good luck! 2022 Update: The board shown is the CORRECT 1980s board. Flash technology upon which the crossword puzzle is based is no longer supported. I'm giving you the hints, answers, and the shaded column solution below!    The Hints: Chaka Khan touches you New Edition sweet femme Kool & the Gang - not stale Prince the bird man Dazz Band cracks it Stevie Wonder's woman Lionel Richie that's the way it will be Brothers Johnson boogie Tom Browne plays for Kingston Earth, Wind & Fire jam "tonight" Luther Vandross makes time for romance Lakeside's big ocean trip Michael Jackson's reflection   The Answers:   Solutions entered in the correct boxes on the board spell out the mystery song in the shaded column: "Freeway of Love" Previous Post | Next Post

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