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My Music: Classical Evergreen Vibes and Masterpieces ~ My Favorite Ladies and Their Music That Rocks - Volume Two

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Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. (Lao Tzu)

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. (Plato)

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. (Plato)

West African Woman Drummer


Women In Music..

There are a lot of "Ultimate List of the Best Female singers out there. But before I even consulted this list of the Best Current Female Singers, according to "Ranker", I worked on developing my own Hub of the Best, not all, the Best Ladies artists That I could Muster Or remember. The list of these Female Singers I have compiled below, is what I think are the best ladies out there, whether today, or yesterday who still Rock(if Alive), and even if not alive, their music is still the Bomb.

Now, with this Ranker Model, many of the "Best Current Singers" have more "Thumbs Down" and rank high on the negative responses and comments which in general go something like this:

Christine AGuilera-The Worst Bands Of All time; Beyonce Knowles, has a high Thumbs down number than Thumbs up; Alicia Keys, very low Thumbs Up and high Thumbs down; Kat Pery is listed as those Celebrities Who Should just go away; Mariah Carey, Rihanna have seriously more Thumbs Down than Thumbs up; Taylor Swift is one of the Biggest(expletives) in Hollywood, coupled with a high thumbs down than Thumbs Up; Shakira is in the same boat, with many Thumbs Down than Up; so is Carrie Underwood; Barbara Streysand is not fairing very well with many thumbs Down than up; As is Britney Spears in the same Boat, and is characterized as a neighbor one would not want; Norah Jone is less favored by the number of Thumbs Down than Up.. I could go on and on, and the general results from the supposedly "Most talented female singers in the world.

Well, I never knew about this list right up to until I published the Hub of What I consider to be the Best Female singers in the world, from then to now-according to me. The list of ladies I compiled below does not even have one of them appearing in the "Ranker's List". I have checked out the latest artists posted on iTunes, and such like sites, it is very interesting to note that the artists that I have posted below, are not even talked about, not that they are not known nor receive accolades or thumbs Up or Down from these various musical sites. These are just tunes I posted from what I think are great artist with excellent riffs.

What was my criteria for choosing the artists below was to project the diversity quality(as opposed to male artists), is a female musical heritage, giving viewing opportunity to unsung women artists by merely giving up their Bios, Music and working consistently and assiduously very hard to support them, empower women and give recognition, if it is already forgotten or unknown, about these those artists I think they deserve. This is by not means a comprehensive list of the "Best Women Artists" ever, but the ones I have show-cased here, are some of the cream of the crop.

This Hub is an ongoing piece of work, and some will be added, that is,more of their excellent musicianship, which I hope the readers/viewers(their photo profiles) and listeners will concur that the selection will be worth their while, and that this Hub they can share and enjoy. the design of this Hub was to give women their due in the field and world of music. This is an effort on my part to show that women can succeed in their musical career; try to bring to the attention of the world that irrespective of the salacious nature of how women are depicted, with little left to the imagination; that women express many other social realities that need to be addressed(sex, childbearing and family building); empowering women to create women and build their own Musical companies and distribution;that women can play any instrument they desire, besides singing like any men, if not better than many males; to show that age is not the issue, and should not be the issue when it comes to women singers; that women should not be judged as to what they are not wearing or are wearing as opposed to their mastery of music in all fronts, as artists and businesswomen in music; and finally, give they younger women a sense and power/idea that they are free to express themselves in any way they see fit, and that they should not be judged in a negative way just because they women artists, but be seen in the same light and merit as that is afforded men

Being a woman musician today has too many stereotypes attached to it. It this Hub, I present women as artists, musicians and all that musician, both women and men, have to do to be who and what they are. That is why I have provided their bios, the still photos of themselves and their various types of music, and prolific stage acts.

Women have been involved in music entertaining millions of TV and Musical Clubs, Festivals and recording studios, etc. I still believe in the power of women writing, singing, playing, producing, distributing and broadcasting strong women-centered and inclusive, life-affirming music and culture to save this world. We have seen many women over the centuries creating and composing.being involved in music of consciousness-raising or protest music if one might say.

It's easy to see this truth in action. Look at the difference in descriptive labeling that attends Sting, Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel in contrast to those of us in Women's Music. All three of these men are known to be singer/songwriters with deeply held beliefs concerning the issues of the day-they have involved their music in the real world. They are considered artists of conscience. Critics admire and respect their music because it has content and politics. However, when women songwriters express their involvement in the world from an empowered point of view, the music is minimized, marginalized or dismissively categorized as 'protest music.

Is there a Women's Music movement today? I'm not sure. There certainly is a network of independent women in the music business. A movement requires passion, audacity and action--a Women's Music movement requires women inspired into action by other women through and in music. Folded into that is a chosen commitment to serve a community, a vision and a belief system.

It is also important to pay attention to these facts as provided by the Information page:

  • Violence against women in the US is increasing. There are more rapes, murders, assaults, more domestic violence, incest, than ever.
  • 80 % of the refugees in the world are women and girls
  • 3800 animal shelters in the US - only 1800 battered women's shelters.
  • ERA has still not been ratified by the minimum 38 states in this country.
  • A women's right to control her reproductive functions is still subject to the control of the federal and state governments
  • There are still disproportionately small numbers of women in State legislatures and US Congress and Senate.
  • Of all the money given by all the foundations in the US, only 5 % is given to projects and organizations for women and girls.
  • Women are still paid significantly less for the same jobs men do.
  • Many women are sexually harrassed on the street and at work every day.
  • The media continues to inundate us with images of women and girls that are demeaning and woman-hating.

Why did we create Women's Music network in the first place?
In order to take control of how women were defined and presented in music, we started record labels and production/distribution companies and encouraged women technicians and women in media. Women's Music has always operated on several levels:

  • The vision of feminist values in our relationships with each other and in the world as expressed in music/lyrics and performance.
  • The network of independent women's businesses, organizations and individuals interdependent and supporting feminist culture.
  • The industry of record companies, production companies and artists.
  • The organizing tool using music, artists and performance to inspire and reinforce empowerment and activism in women and pro-feminist men.

Women's Music as a vision
I believe women are a people. We have a culture. We have a language. And yet women have no land of our own, no safe space in this woman-hating country and world.. Concerts and festivals of Women's Music and culture are as close as we come to having our own country. Here we can say: we are together...we are safe.

Women's Music as an organizing tool
Women's Music and concerts/festivals of our culture are a lifeline to women who want to change, who want to come out, who want to take power in their own lives, who want to experience a women-centered community.

Some women feel Women's Music exists today only as a historical artifact.... ie. that was then, this is now. They feel that the audience that needed Women's Music and gatherings of women's culture has grown out of that need, has found other satisfying pursuits, etc. Is this true?

Do we need Women's Music today?

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After all, we have Melissa , kd, Tracy Chapman, Mary-Chapin Carpenter,The Indigo Girls, ani diFranco. Maybe we don't need Women's Music? Is our job done because kd and Melissa are out there? I don't think so.
While it is extremely positive that these gifted women are successful headliners in the mainstream music industry, our work is not done. If we declare victory now and quit, we diminish our ability to define ourselves We have only to look at MTV to see that negative and demeaning images of women are alive and still viable in the marketplace.

By accepting the view that Women's Music is only a historical artifact, we may be backlashing ourselves. I suggest there is no expiration date on the women's liberation movement, on Women's Music or on the women's community.(Black History)

Certainly the style and the forms have changed and need to change as we evolve, but not the substance. Our charge is to make what we know accessible to a new generation of independent women artists and producers.

Acoustic Stage Michigan Festival 1995 The good news...

Women are still recording their own music
l) to maintain control over their music and image
2) because they can get the music out without waiting for an invitation to record with the 'majors".There are now too many female recording engineers to count. Reality check: Carole King has just founded her own record label.

Women's Music is more diverse in terms of musical styles and disenfranchised communities of women than ever, just check out the line-ups at National or Michigan festivals. We can be proud of our history of accomplishment and our endurance.

The bad news...

The corporate music industry scrapes the creme of Women's Music artists/recordings and discards the deep catalog of Women's Music.

Women's music gets less airplay than ten years ago-women's music has become women IN music--less or no feminist content The corporate music industry has absorbed non-commercial radio, the single best avenue for airplay.

The integration of women's music into folk/blues/new age and pop categories has submerged women's music once again. Try searching for 'Women's Music" through one of the big, online music stores. Most artists identified with Women's Music will be listed under the 'folk" category, even those of us who write jazz, r & b, or classical music with no lyrics.

Reviews are the lifeline of most musicians. There are far fewer women's newspapers today so there is almost no coverage of our concerts. Mainstream and even so-called alternative presses never consistently reviewed our events and even today almost always ignore our performances unless the music is attached to a political event deemed to be significant. And then, the music and performance are seldom reviewed.

A few of the visionaries Visionaries in Women's Music can take credit for introducing the issue of accessibility to all of America, being a training ground and mentoring system for women technicians, performers, producers and distributors building alternative distribution and production networks creating, performing,producing, recording and distributing a huge body of music which empowers and honors women. Whenever and wherever this music is played, it continues to stand as a direct challenge to woman-hating culture.

The future of Women's Music

Passion, audacity and activism are still the fuel of this community and its culture. Why do women who identify with Women's Music keep doing it? Not for the $$. It's too hard.
We have always operated with another currency of exchange and it is acknowledgment. We share the stage, we share skills/contacts. We are passionate partners. Supporting Women's Music means supporting artists, producers, distributors, technicians, women's media AND the audience. As an audience, we must continue to see ourselves as agents of change, not passive consumers.

There is a network of independent women's businesses, part of an underground feminist economy as self-sustaining businesses. Feminist activism continues to inform and fuel those of us who believe women are the agents of change that will save this world.There is a continued need for community, an entry point for women seeking a safe space to come out, to experience woman-loving energy.

A friend recently observed: 'We live in a world of unreal perceptions-where we see the guy in the Mercedes but we don't see the repo man following behind him. We live in a world of unreal perceptions-where the mainstream media continually distorts the aspirations and accomplishments of all disenfranchised people. But we are real. "

What we are doing in women's music and women's culture is real. Their radio programs are real. Also, their magazines and journals and newspapers are real. The on-going challenge is to support women's culture, nurture the women who create it and pass this vision on to the world who desperately needs it in order to save itself.

Billie Holdiay


One More Thing... Women On The Soul Train Tip/Trip

We learn another not much talked about aspect and musical scene of the Soul Train, and we are informed of this by by Questlove that:

March is Women’s History Month, so it is only fitting that during this month shines the spotlight on women in the music industry who are redefining roles, changing the rules of the game, and opening the doorway for those following in their footsteps. Whether they are onstage selling out stadiums or behind the scenes producing the songs and sounds we hear and love, women are heavily impacting the musical landscape in noteworthy ways.

Ladies Setting it Off Onstage

Women have evolved over the decades in their roles as performers. Moving past the pigeon-holing of being eye-candy for a male-fronted band or performing seductively to woo male audiences, the archetype of the female artist has certainly diversified, becoming more dimensional and multi-faceted.

In the 1900s there were women like blues singer Ma Rainey[and many others], dubbed the “Mother[s] of Blues”, who blazed trails for performers to come. Often recognized as the first female[s] counterpart to the male[s] blues singers of her[their] day–noted for their explicit lyricism and unabashed stage shows–Ma Rainey sold out shows and was one of the first female “superstars”.

Fast forward to today, and the Ma Raineys of our time would probably be our hip-hop divas like Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj, holding their own in a music genre still pretty much dominated by men. But for every hip-hop sister pushing through the glass ceiling, there are a dozen women claiming their own on the soul music front—from the award-winning Jenifer Hudson, to the extraordinarily gifted Ledisi, to the soulful Lalah Hathaway, who continues her father’s legacy. The range of women artists has definitely evolved and allowed women to take on different images to appeal to their respective audiences.

]There are many names that are not mentioned in this article which I have added as the women in the post, many of whom could pass for the vaudeville-I guess it depends on who's writing about such issues]

Ladies Making Power Moves Behind the Scenes

While every little girl has dreamed of being a rock star on stage at some point in their life, grown women who have penned the songs of singers across genres and decades can attest that the longevity, money, and royalties are often most forthcoming when you work behind the scenes in some capacity. Some singers who may not be as well-known as singers like mega-stars Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Beyoncé made quite a bit of money writing songs for the very same named divas. Singers like Marsha Ambrosius, Keri Hilson, and Faith Evans started in the music industry penning songs for the likes of Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, and Destiny’s Child, while singers like Kandi Burress turned to songwriting for other artists when her group Xscape disbanded.

[This is what I have made as my point of focus in the article prior to this one above-the fact that the ladies I have chosen in the article are really never mentioned honor recognized for the acts, misc and greatness-thus the importance and relevance of the Hub above]

The legendary Valerie Simpson who, with her late husband Nick Ashford, enjoyed success as a singer, enjoyed even larger success as a songwriter, penning such tunes as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and later, Diana Ross. Other Gaye/Terrell hits penned by Ashford & Simpson included “Your Precious Love,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.”

Singer/songwriter Brenda Russell, known for her hits “Piano in the Dark” and “Get Here” (which garnered more attention for Oleta Adams), is the songwriter for numerous hits sung by other artists, including “If Only for One Night” by the late crooner Luther Vandross. She has created music for multiple soundtracks, including the movies John Q and How Stella Got Her Groove Back and co-wrote the music for the Broadway musical The Color Purple.

Lady Producers Do, In Fact, Exist

In 1979, the late singer/songwriter Sylvia Robinson, who garnered minimal success as a singer in her own right and penned such classics as “Love on a Two-Way Street” for The Moments, moved on to producing music when she and her husband started the Sugar Hill record label. Through this label, she introduced hip-hop to mainstream America with the hits “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message”, earning her the title of the “Mother of Hip-Hop”.

While female producers are few and far between, they do, in fact exist. Some of the more mainstream well-known producers are Missy Elliot and Angela Johnson, both of whom are performers and songwriters in their own right. While Missy has produced so many—from the late singer Aaliyah to neo-soul singer Tweet, Johnson has written and produced for artists like Maysa, Frank McComb, Eric Roberson, Rahsaan Patterson, and Gordon Chambers.

Still More Ceilings to Break

Women have definitely come a long way in the industry, but the roles of women in the music industry still have room for growth. The years to come promise new opportunities as music expands into digital media and in realms still yet unimagined.

One other thing I did was sample most of the artists below on the Social Media of Facebook and observed the responses from the members of different Walls of musical Groups and historical Facebook walls to these drops. The accolades flowed, and people were happy to see that this type of music is still being posted and has a large following by contemporary youth and the old timers like me.

YouTube, where most of this music was culled from, it is interesting to read-up on the comments of those listening to the uploaded music I have posted below. It is a hug number of these comments that gave me the idea to really create a Hub on the music "I love" and think it's the best Sound System out there in the Viral YouTube. It is true, women's music still has some hurdles to overcome.. This Hub is the small first step towards that goal. To those who will be viewing the photos of the artists and listening to their music, and reading their Bios, my hope is that the educative process, and the sampling of the original songs as sung by these ladies will help encourage many that the music I have chosen is still some of the best Riffs to date...

I will ad below in the Hub my impression about the ladies I have posted above, and just add a few pointers as to their impact and importance in the music of women today. It should also be noted that there are women who are from Africa, South America, Panama, Latin America, and the US itself, Europe that are not even talked about nor considered in any discourse about women. Although many people who write about such topics come from the States, some of Us in Africa and in the world are beginning to bring forth the greatness of women throughout Africa and the Diaspora.

I believe that the "Soul Train" metaphor will refer to other women in the Africa and theDiaspora, some of which I have included in the article below. This Hub then, is about women know and unknown who have blazed the musical front and some are still doing so, but are never included in the conversation about great women in music. so that, without much further ado, I hope the reader/listener/viewer will begin to dig in the music and bios/photos of the greatest women music makers of our time and before the YouTube whatever era.. So, let the music begin...

Rachelle Ferrell - The Many Voices of Rachelle

Rachelle Ferrelle- The Angel With Many Voices to whit...

Rachelle Ferrelle- The Angel With Many Voices to whit...

Rachelle Ferrell - Will You Remember Me

Rachelle Ferrell at Bernie Mac's public memorial service

George Duke ~ "Is Love Enough"

Rachell's voice is An Instrument With many Pitches

Composer, lyricist, arranger, musician, and vocalist Rachelle Ferrell is a recent arrival on the contemporary jazz scene, but her visibility on the pop/urban contemporary scene has boosted her audience's interest in her jazz recordings.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Ferrell got started singing in the second grade at age six. This no doubt contributed to the eventual development of her startling six-and-change octave range. She decided early on, after classical training on violin, that she wanted to try to make her mark musically as an instrumentalist and songwriter. In her mid-teens, her father bought her a piano with the provision that she learn to play to a professional level. Within six months, Ferrell had secured her first professional gig as a pianist/singer. She began performing at 13 as a violinist, and in her mid-teens as a pianist and vocalist. At 18, she enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston to study composition and arranging, where her classmates included Branford Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, Donald Harrison, and Jeff Watts. She graduated in a year and taught music for a while with Dizzy Gillespie for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Through the '980s and into the early '90s, she'd worked with some of the top names in jazz, including Gillespie, Quincy Jones, George Benson, and George Duke.

First InstrumentFerrell's debut, First Instrument, was released in 1990 in Japan only. Recorded with bassist Tyrone Brown, pianist Eddie Green, and drummer Doug Nally, an all-star cast of accompanists also left their mark on her record. They include trumpeter Terrence Blanchard, pianists Gil Goldstein and Michel Petrucciani, bassists Kenny Davis and Stanley Clarke, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and keyboardist Pete Levin. Her unique take on now-standards like Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love," and Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine," captured the hearts and souls of the Japanese jazz-buying public. In 1995, Blue Note/Capitol released her Japanese debut for U.S. audiences, and the response was similarly positive. Her 1992 self-titled U.S. debut, a more urban pop/contemporary album, was released on Capitol Records. Ferrell was signed to a unique two-label contract, recording pop and urban contemporary for Capitol Records and jazz music for Blue Note Records. For four consecutive years in the early '90s, Ferrell put in festival-stopping performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Although Ferrell has captured the jazz public's attention as a vocalist, she continues to compose and write songs on piano and violin. Ferrell's work ethic has paid off, and Gillespie's predictions about her becoming a "major force" in the jazz industry came true. Her prolific songwriting abilities and ability to accompany herself on piano seem only to further her natural talent as a vocalist.

"Some people sing songs like they wear clothing, they put it on and take it off," she explains in the biographical notes accompanying First Instrument. "But when one performs four sets a night, six nights a week, that experience affords you the opportunity to present the song from the inside out, to express its essence. In this way, a singer expresses the song in the spirit in which it was written. The songwriter translates emotion into words. The singer's job is to translate the words back into emotion."

Ferrell has made her mark not as a straight-ahead jazz singer and pianist, but as a crossover artist who is equally at home with urban contemporary pop, gospel, classical music, and jazz.

I love to sing. It's the easiest thing for me to do ~ Chaka Khan

Everyone in my family sang, and we would always sing these songs. Chaka Khan

Everyone in my family sang, and we would always sing these songs. Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan..

Born on March 23, 1953, in Great Lakes, Illinois, singer Chaka Khan achieved great success as part of the soul-funk band Rufus, including hits like "Tell Me Something Good" and "Sweet Thing." She embarked on a solo career in the late '70s and reached the charts again with tunes like "I'm Every Woman," "I Feel for You" and "Ain't Nobody." A phenomenal vocalist, Khan has won many Grammys.

Early Singing Career

Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953, in Chicago, Illinois. Known for her powerful voice, her great volume of curly hair, and her charismatic stage presence, Khan first exploded on to the music scene in the 1970s. She formed her first group, the Crystalettes, with her sister Yvonne when she was only 11 years old. Some of Khan's early musical heroines included Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight. The sisters later became involved in the Affro-Arts Theater and started another musical group known as The Shades of Black.

In 1969, Khan became active in the black power movement, joining the Black Panther Party and working on the organization's free breakfast program for children. Around this time, she took on a new name: Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She also said good-bye to her formal education, dropping out from high school.

In the early 1970s, after performing with a few other groups, Khan joined the band Rufus, which had a strong R&B and funk sound. The world got its first taste of Khan’s powerhouse vocals when the group released its first self-titled album in 1973, which spawned such modest hits as "Whoever's Thrilling You" and "Feel Good." The follow-up album, Rags to Rufus (1974), was a smash commercially and critically. Stevie Wonder penned the hit single, "Tell Me Something Good," for them, which sold more than a million copies. The group also scored a Grammy Award for best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for the song in 1974.

Rufus, which was renamed Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and then Rufus & Chaka, continued to have a number of successes over the coming years. Khan helped write their number one hit, "Sweet Thing," climbed to the top of the charts in 1975. Later hits included "Do You Love What You Feel" and "Ain't Nobody."

Success as a Solo Artist

While she recorded with Rufus until the early 1980s, Chaka made an impressive debut as a solo artist in the late 1970s. In 1978, she released Chaka, which featured the hit "I'm Every Woman," which was written by Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. In an odd twist of synchronicity, she won two Grammy Awards as a solo artist and one as a member of Rufus in 1983.

The next year, however, Chaka the solo artist reigned supreme. Covering a Prince song, she reached the top of the R&B, hip-hop and dance charts with "I Feel for You." Featuring one of the most famous rap cameos of all time by Mel Melle, the infectious track incorporated elements of rap, R&B, and electronic dance music. It also won her another Grammy Award in 1984. Other hits from the album included "This Is My Night" and "Through the Fire."

Though she continued to make music, Khan saw her popularity decline in the late 1980s and 1990s. Her albums may not have been selling as much as they had previously, she was still producing critically acclaimed music. She won a Grammy Award in 1990 for her duet with the legendary Ray Charles on "I'll Be Good to You," and another one in 1992 for "The Woman I Am."

Later Career

In the early 1990s, Khan left the United States for London to have a better environment to raise her two children. Her daughter Milini was born in 1973, and her son Damien was born in 1979. While there, she branched out into acting, appearing as Sister Carrie in the musical Mama, I Want to Sing. Near the end of the decade, she established the Chaka Khan Foundation, which provides education programs to at-risk children and helps low-income families with autistic children.

In 2002, Chaka Khan scored her eighth Grammy Award—this time for her cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" with the Funk Brothers. The next year, she shared her life story with the world in her autobiography, Chaka! Through the Fire. In it, she detailed her career as well as her years of substance abuse. Chaka described the loneliness she felt while touring. She was often away from her two children, which only compounded her sadness and guilt. Chaka told JET magazine that "I think a big part of my drug thing was escaping from those feelings." She also revealed that she had a history of bad luck when it came to relationships.

With her life on track, Khan experimented with different musical styles. She did an album of standards with the London Symphony Orchestra entitled ClassiKhan in 2004. That same year, Khan faced a personal tragedy. Her son Damien was arrested and charged with murder. He and a friend had been fighting in her home when Damien accidentally shot him. Rallying her family together, Khan attended the trial and testified on her son's behalf. He was found not guilty in 2006.

Making her first original recording in years, Khan returned to the studio to make Funk This (2007). The album features a diverse mix of songs and guests. The ballad "Angel" came from a poem she wrote while high years earlier. The up-tempo "Disrespectful" paired Khan with one of her musical protégées, Mary J. Blige. On the cover of "You Belong to Me," she sang with former member of the rock group the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald. She included a few more covers on the album, including tracks by Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell.

In 2008, Chaka Khan appeared as Sofia in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, based on the book by Alice Walker.

Kidjo: Music is the only thing that can bring us together.

And music is the only thing, I definitely believe that, that can bring us together and gonna be the weapon of the 21st century. And I want to thank you all for coming tonight, thanks a lot. Coming from different backgrounds and not understanding most

And music is the only thing, I definitely believe that, that can bring us together and gonna be the weapon of the 21st century. And I want to thank you all for coming tonight, thanks a lot. Coming from different backgrounds and not understanding most

Angélique Kidjo - Batonga (1991) Official Music video

Angelique Kidjo - Agolo

Angelique Kidjo..

Angélique Kidjo (born on July 14, 1960) is a Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.

Kidjo was born in Ouidah, Benin. Her father is Fon from Ouidah and her mother is Yoruba . She grew up listening to James Brown, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, and Santana.

By the time she was six, Kidjo was performing with her mother’s theatre troupe, giving her an early appreciation for traditional music and dance. She started singing in her school band Les Sphinx and found success as a teenager with her adaptation of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z” which played on national radio. She recorded the album Pretty with the Camerounese producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar. It featured the songs Ninive, Gbe Agossi and a tribute to the singer Bella Bellow, one of her role models. The success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. Continuing political conflicts in Benin prevented her from being an independent artist in her own country and led her to relocate to Paris in 1982.

While working various day jobs to pay for her tuition, Angelique studied music at the CIM, a reputable jazz school in Paris where she met and married musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has composed most of her music. She started out as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she became the front singer of the known Euro-African jazz/rock band Jasper Van’t Hof’s Pili Pili. Three Pili Pili studio albums followed: Jakko(1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by marlon klein) and Hotel Babo (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had become one of the most popular live performers in Paris and recorded a solo album called Parakou for the Open Jazz Label.

She was then discovered in Paris by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell who signed her in 1991. She recorded four albums for Island until Chris Blackwell’s departure from the label. In 2000 she was signed in New York by Columbia Records for which she recorded two albums.

Her musical influences include the afropop, caribbean zouk, congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and latin styles; as well as her childhood idols Bella Bellow, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana.

She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. With UNICEF, she has traveled to many countries in Africa. Reports on her visits can be found on the UNICEF site. Kidjo founded The Batonga Foundation which gives girls a secondary school and higher education so they can take the lead in changing Africa. The foundation is doing this by granting scholarships, building secondary schools, increasing enrollment, improving teaching standards, providing school supplies, supporting mentor programs, exploring alternative education models and advocating for community awareness of the value of education for girls.

She has campaigned for Oxfam at the 2005 Hong Kong WTO meeting, for the their Fair Trade Campaign and travelled with them in North Kenya and at the border of Darfur and Chad with a group of women leaders in 2007 and participated to the video for the In My Name Campaign with Will I Am from The Black Eyed Peas. She has hosted the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in Alexandria, Egypt on November 26th, 2007 and on November 15th, 2008

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill..

Lauryn Noel Hill (born May 26, 1975 in South Orange, New Jersey) is an American musical artist, and record producer, initially establishing her reputation as the most visible and vocal member of the Fugees, then continued on to a solo career releasing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Hill’s works primarily in the neo-soul and alternative rap styles, among other influences from reggae and folk. After a four year hiatus, she released the controversial MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a live recording of original material except for ‘So Much Things to Say’ and ‘The Conquering Lion’. She soon denounced her fame and began writing more spiritually and socially conscious songs.

Hill is noted as a humanitarian, and in 1996 she received an Essence Award for work which has included the 1996 founding of the Refugee Project, an outreach organization that supports a two-week overnight camp for at-risk youth, and for supporting well-building projects in Kenya and Uganda, as well as for staging a rap concert in Harlem to promote voter registration.

In 1999’s Grammy Awards, Hill was nominated eleven times and won Album of the Year (beating Madonna’s critically acclaimed album Ray of Light), Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album, setting a new record for a female performer.

Hill has four children with retired (American) football player Rohan Marley, son of the late reggae music icon, Bob Marley: Zion David Marley, born 1997, Selah Louise Marley, born 1998, and second son Joshua, born 2002. A fourth child, John, was born in 2003 and the couple married soon after.

Early life

Lauryn Hill was born in South Orange, New Jersey. Hill was the second of two children born to high school English teacher Valerie Hill and computer programmer Mal Hill. As a child, Hill incessantly listened to her parents’ Motown and 1960s soul records. Music was a central part of the Hill home. Mal Hill sang at weddings, Valerie played the piano, and Lauryn’s older brother Melaney played the saxophone, guitar and drums.

Hill graduated from Columbia High School (New Jersey) in Maplewood, New Jersey. Hill was an active student, cheerleader, and performer. She began her acting career at a young age, and started performing music in 1987. In 1988, 13-year old Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It’s Showtime at the Apollo. Hill sang her own version of William “Smokey” Robinson’s song “Who’s Lovin’ You?”. A nervous Hill sung far away from the mic and was heckled at first; but persisted and finished her song to a standing applause, though she did not win.

Hill was childhood friends with actor Zach Braff and they both graduated from Columbia High School in 1993. Braff mentions inviting Hill to his bar Mitzvah in 1988.[1]

Hill appeared on the soap opera, As The World Turns as Kira Johnson. In December 1993, she starred in “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” as Rita Louise Watson. In the film, she performed the songs “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (a duet with Tanya Blount) and “Joyful,Joyful” . It was in this role, as Rita, that she first came to national prominence, with Roger Ebert calling her “the girl with the big joyful voice”. Although Sister Act I and II were originally conceived as vehicles for comedian Whoopi Goldberg, the second installment won Lauryn equal notice.

Her other acting work includes the play Club XII with MC Lyte, and the motion pictures King of the Hill (as Arletta the Elevator Operator), Hav Plenty (1997), and Restaurant (1998). She appeared on the soundtracks to Conspiracy Theory in 1996 (on the track “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”) and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002 (on the track “Selah”).

Her most recent album (mixtape) entitled “The Re-Education of Lauryn Hill” was released in 2007.

Erykah Badu Singing

Erykah Badu Singing

Erykah Badu_ Interviewed By GQ Magazine..

In the mid-'90s, a record executive named Kedar Massenburg coined the term "neo-soul" to describe a new breed of R&B artists—particularly D'Angelo, Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, and a certain head-wrapped chanteuse from Dallas—who defined the incense-fogged utopianism of the period. The name stuck, but Erykah Badu, now 40, never loved the label—fortunately she outlasted that moment in music. Or rather, she transcended it. First with the sultry, ballsy "Tyrone," letting her freak flag fly both sonically and follicly, through more than a decade of jams, and into the future with her recent New AmErykah diptych. Badu talks here about growing up in Dallas, getting inspired by Steve Harvey, and learning to keep it real from Mahalia Jackson and her grandmother.

GQ: What inspires you?
Erykah Badu: Artists need some kind of stimulating experience a lot of times, which crystallizes when you sing about it or paint it or sculpt it. You literally mold the experience the way you want. It's therapy.

GQ: What was the experience that spawned your last two albums, New AmErykah Part One and Part Two?
Erykah Badu: I didn't have a vision for it. I don't think about that before I start writing. Not until a body of work starts to appear do I think about a concept for it. It's usually not because of what I'm saying, it's because of the frequency of the music—it all sounds right together, you know? Certain kinds of music make me write about a certain kind of thing.

GQ: What about when you're putting a tour together?
Erykah Badu: That's different. When you're doing an album, you're perfecting a moment in time that will be like that forever. When you're performing, you're creating a moment. It's a different mindset, you know? You need that immediate feedback from the audience, who have come for the same reason you came. It's more fun, with less deadlines and pressure, and a lot more freedom.

GQ: How often do you change your set list?
Erykah Badu: We have a certain set we rehearse, and then, depending on how the audience is feeling, I change it up. Like for [the festival] Rock the Bells, I was supposed to be doing [her 1997 debut album] Baduizm in its entirety and that's kind of wild. That was not written to be done as a live album.

GQ: What's it like going back to that record now?
Erykah Badu: I do a lot of it in my shows. The whole thing, from beginning to end. It matters to me, where I was at that time, the things I remember going through.

GQ: How are you different now?
Erykah Badu: I'm more experienced in certain areas but I have the same me to evolve as I did then.

GQ: Back in 1997, there was a lot of attention being paid to neo-soul. Did you feel a part of that moment?
Erykah Badu: It was constructed outside of us. I think titles in music are mainly constructed to categorize things to sell units. If I can speak for a lot of artists who feel the same way I do, it doesn't really matter. I don't have one song that sounds like another one in my entire catalog. It only sounds alike because I'm present in all of it.

GQ: Would you change anything about the way you handled the start of your career?
Erykah Badu: Nope.

GQ: You're happy with how everything played out?
Erykah Badu: Absolutely. I don't have a horror story at all.

GQ: How did you get started as a singer?
Erykah Badu: I had been a theater major and a dancer for most of my life, from the time I was 4 years old. I liked singing and any kind of art and I knew this love for art and this practicing would be my career at some point. I just didn't know if it'd be theater or film. I wrote my first song when I was in a group with my cousin, called "Apple Tree." My cousin liked the song; he played it for people and they liked it, and I said, "Alright, another one!"—and on and on, until we had put together a 14-song demo in Dallas in his room. We took a couple of pictures and we were called Erykah Free—his name was Free. But in my heart, I didn't want to be in a group. I wanted to be a solo artist. I'm a warrior, a lone kind of chick. We separated and I moved to New York and auditioned for many labels and they didn't really get it. A couple put me into artist development—a Special Ed kind of thing [laughs]. Then I met this guy, Kedar Massenburg, who was managing D'Angelo at the time, and he understood what I was doing. He also understood that what me and D'Angelo had in common was not that we sounded alike, but that we didn't sound like what was happening [in music at the time]. That's how Kedar put it. He asked me to open for D'Angelo when he went to Dallas and Kedar really liked what he heard and both of us got a deal at Universal and I've been there ever since. I've been moved to Motown 'cause they divide you up like cattle in different sections of the system—the machine [laughs]. Anyway, Baduizm came out the way it was as a demo. I added a few songs from The Roots whom I did not know until I moved to New York. "The Other Side of the Game" turned out to be my favorite song to perform live. Period.

GQ: You were a rapper at one point, too. Was there a time when being an MC seemed more likely for you than being a singer?
Erykah Badu: That was back when I was in college. I went to [Grambling State] university from 1989 to '93 to study theater, so I was an actor at that point. It wasn't my aspiration to be a singer, it was to be an artist. When I was 23 or 24, I was rapping and emceeing a lot with Free, but I was also working at Steve Harvey's comedy house. He was my boss—the best boss ever. Funny, generous, considerate, and he knew I was an artist. When I started working there I was a waitress, and somehow I became a hostess. When he knew he could trust me, he moved me to the ticket booth. I handled money and helped organize transportation and hotel reservations for the comedians that came in. I noticed Steve didn't have a stage manager, so I got that job, making sure everybody was taken care of. I love being of service to people—the whole act of it is really great to me. One day Steve was late going onstage, so I went out to the mic and threw out some jokes and stuff. People were laughing and heckling and having fun and Steve came onstage and scolded me in front of everybody. It was so funny. We started doing it every night. [Laughs] It felt like, This is where I want to be. Steve was really inspirational in that.

GQ: Do you remember when you first sang in public?
Erykah Badu: I was five or something. At school. I was in a Christmas play in kindergarten. There was a part of a little boy who sings "Somebody Snitched on Me," and all the boys in my class were in line auditioning. So I got in line, too. It was acting, and I figured I could act like a boy. The music teacher, Ms. Goodman, who had a big influence on me, encouraged me to do it. The other kids were laughing, but I was like, I'm serious, I can pull this off if you give me the opportunity. That was the first time. I was petrified and at first my voice and hands were shaking, but when I saw people having that look—the look I always look for, the I'm happy for you look—I knew I was doing a good job. I got unscared and, you know, pulled some antics, and that was my first time.

GQ: When you were making that demo with Free, did you ever imagine you'd end up where you are now?
Erykah Badu: I just knew it felt good and I had a real competitive spirit, just wanting to be accepted among my peers. I didn't know. I still don't know. I try to be honest and I keep moving.

GQ: What was Texas like when you were growing up?
Erykah Badu: Texas, to me, was my school, home, my Church sometimes, the movies sometimes. My world was in my head—it still is. I didn't know who was poor or rich. My mom and grandma and everybody just made it a good time all the time. Music was always going. My grandmother was very, very hard, and I saw that, but we would always be laughing. I got two grandmothers and my mother's mother and father's mother are both in their 80s and still alive and still—how do I put it?—actively opinionated. [laughs] And I trust them dearly. My grandmother on my father's side bought me a piano when I was seven. I didn't know how to read music, so she'd put the charts up, and she don't know how to read either, so I would pretend. If she hears this interview, then she'll know that, otherwise she'll never know! I wrote the first song on that piano and she sang. She has a beautiful voice. It reminds me of [starts singing] Soon I will be done... [stops singing]. What's that lady's name? An old gospel singer. Very famous.

GQ: Mahalia Jackson?
Erykah Badu: Yes! She was a straitlaced grandmother, very religious. If I had to sing something on the piano, it couldn't be saying baby or nothing, it had to be Jesus. It had to mean something.

GQ: How did that influence you?
Erykah Badu: Greatly! I still carry that with me. Not literally, but I understand the lesson, which is, Make sure it's real. When you do it, it gotta be real, or that's not it. That is something I carry with me in my pocket.

GQ: Did your mother encourage you being an artist?
Erykah Badu: Hell yeah. She's my number-one fan, supporter, and everything. I don't know nothing about failing as a result of what she says to me. "You're gonna win. You're the best. Don't worry about it. You got it. You're the dopest. They can't fuck with you." That's her. All day. That's, to me, an example of great parenting. Maybe we missed a couple things, some name-brand cookies, but I had everything.

GQ: What did she think of your moving to New York?
Erykah Badu: Same thing. She encouraged me. She saw it before me, you know? She knew what was going to happen because she saw how much time I put into my craft. She made it available to me. Instead of going to summer school, go to summer art camp. She would meet people in charge of certain programs, and we'd get in for free—different art programs and things. She knew. She noticed it. My mom is an artist in her own way, not in the same way I am, but she recognized that I had a talent. [long pause] She didn't push me to do it, or make it something I had to do; I didn't feel like I was living vicariously through her. She knew what was up, you know? She rarely came to the shows. She had other stuff she needed to do. But I showed her the pictures, what I wore. She knew. We had such a great relationship.

GQ: Your style is like nobody else. Where did that come from?
Erykah Badu: That's just what I was. That's what I love about Kedar: He didn't say anything about that. I felt embraced by him. It just so happens that it was something fresh to people. I try to keep it fresh, you know? I enjoy it. It's art, for me. It's a functional art.

GQ: What's next thing for you?
Erykah Badu: I'm recording an album right now, with [experimental music producer] Flying Lotus. I'm touring. But things are slowing down now 'cause my children are in school again. [Badu has three children: a son with Andre 3000; a daughter with rapper the D.O.C.; and a daughter with rapper Jay Electronica.] This is the time of year when we all nest in our little home in Dallas and cook breakfast and all those things we been doin' on tour, just in one place. I'm kind of a recluse when it comes to going outside.

GQ: How did you and Flying Lotus hook up?
Erykah Badu: We were talking to each other on MySpace years ago when MySpace was a thing. Social networking was how we hooked up. I told him I'd be in L.A. and he came over to Steve Wilson's house—Stevie is a psychedelic guitar player, a great musician. If both of our worlds can meet and we feel good about it, it's going to be something dope.





TLC is an R&B group which was originally formed in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. For most of their career, the group consisted of singers Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozanda “Chili” Thomas, and rapper/songwriter Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes. The group disbanded in 2003, following Lopes’ death the previous year, but reunited as a duo in 2008.The group has released four studio albums - “Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip” (1992), “CrazySexyCool” (1994), “FanMail” (1999), and “3D” (2002) - and are the second-best selling all-female group of all time (only the Spice Girls have sold more albums).

In 1990–1991, Atlanta, Georgia, teenager Crystal Jones put out a call for two more girls to join her in a trio to be called 2nd Nature. Her request was eventually answered by Tionne Watkins, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, who moved to Atlanta with her family at an early age, and Lisa Lopes, a rapper who had just moved to the city from her native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with only a keyboard and US$750 ($1,318 today).

The group eventually managed to arrange an audition with R&B singer Perri “Pebbles” Reid, who had started her own management and production company, Pebbitone. Impressed by the girls, Reid renamed the group “TLC” (an initialism of the first letters of each of their names) and arranged an audition for them with local record label LaFace Records, run by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and then husband, Antonio “L.A.” Reid. The latter Reid saw potential in Watkins and Lopes but felt that Jones should be replaced; within a few days, part-time Damian Dame backup dancer Rozonda Thomas was brought in to replace Jones. Thomas was christened with the nickname “Chilli” so as to keep the TLC name, while Watkins became “T-Boz” and Lopes was named “Left Eye”. The girls were signed to LaFace through a production deal with Pebbitone (with Perri Reid taking the role of the group’s manager) (see artist development deal) and immediately went into the studio with producers Reid and Edmonds, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Marley Marl to produce their first album.

The first TLC album, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, was released on February 25, 1992 by LaFace. The songs on the album are a blend of funk (Watkins), hip-hop (Lopes), and R&B (Thomas), similar to the “new jack swing” sound popularized by producer Teddy Riley in the late 1980s (and TLC’s sound was sometimes cited as an example of the “new jill swing” genre).[10] The album was a critical and commercial success, being certified quadruple-platinum within a year and launching a number of US Hot 100 top-ten singles with “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg”, “What About Your Friends”, and “Baby-Baby-Baby” which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.
TLC’s lyrics, chiefly written by Lopes and Dallas Austin, were playful, female-empowering anthems characterized by Lopes’s quirky, nasal-toned raps, Watkins’s low-voiced lead vocals, and Thomas’s powerful vocals and harmonization. The musical formula was augmented by the girls’ brightly colored videos and curious costuming: each girl wore wrapped condoms on their clothing (Lopes also wore one over her left eye in a pair of glasses).

During TLC’s first national tour, as MC Hammer’s opening act, Lopes and Thomas discovered that Watkins had sickle-cell disease, an ailment which she kept a closely guarded secret until she became ill while TLC was touring the Southwest US. Watkins continued to battle her condition and eventually became a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in the late 1990s. At the conclusion of the tour, TLC decided to take more control of their careers and thus informed Perri Reid that they no longer wished her to be their manager. Reid released the group from its management deal, but they remained signed to Pebbitone, and Reid continued to receive a share of their earnings. Also in 1994, TLC played the musical group “Sex as a Weapon” in the New Line Cinema feature film House Party 3, starring Kid ‘n Play.

During early 1994, TLC re-entered the studio with Dallas Austin, Tim & Bob, Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, Organized Noize, and Sean “Puffy” Combs to record their second album, CrazySexyCool. Lopes was released from rehab to attend the recording sessions, but the finished album featured significantly less of her raps and vocals. The album instead focused more on the contributions from Watkins and Thomas, and had a smoother, more fluid sound, similar to the most successful single from the first album, the US #2 hit “Baby-Baby-Baby”. All four singles from CrazySexyCool reached the top 5 of the US Hot 100, while “Creep” and “Waterfalls” peaked at no. 1, while Red Light Special reached no. 2 and “Diggin’ on You” reached no. 5. “Waterfalls”, an Organized Noise-produced song that featured an old-school soul-based musical arrangement, socially conscious lyrics criticizing drug dealing and unsafe sex, and an introspective rap from Lopes, became TLC’s biggest hit, and its million-dollar music video was an MTV staple for many months. Also in 1994, TLC recorded the theme song to Nickelodeon’s popular sketch comedy All That which ran for ten seasons.

CrazySexyCool eventually sold over 11 million copies in the US, and became one of the first albums to ever receive a diamond certification from the RIAA, and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for “Creep”. However, in the midst of their apparent success, the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995.

They declared debts totaling $3.5 million, much of it because of Lopes’ insurance payments arising from the arson incident and Watkins’ medical bills, but the primary reason being that each member of the group was taking home less than $35,000 a year after paying managers, producers, expenses, and taxes. They sought to renegotiate their 1991 contract with LaFace, under which they only received seven percent of the revenues from their album sales, and to dissolve their association with Pebbitone. Both Pebbitone and LaFace countered that TLC simply wanted more money and were in no real financial danger, resulting in two years of legal debates before the cases were finally settled in late 1996. TLC’s contract was renegotiated, their production deal with Pebbitone and Perri Reid (who had separated from her husband by this time) was rescinded, and the group appeared on the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack with “This Is How It Works” (a song written by Babyface and Lopes) and was set to re-enter the recording studio in 1997 after signing a new contract with LaFace/Arista.

Preliminary work on TLC’s third album, FanMail, was delayed when friction arose between the group and their main producer Dallas Austin, who was by this time dating Thomas and helping to raise their young son Tron. Austin wanted $4.2 million and creative control to work on the project, resulting in a stand-off between the producer and the artists. During this period, Thomas appeared in the independent film HavPlenty, and Watkins co-starred in Hype Williams (who later directed the “No Scrubs” video)’ 1998 film Belly with rappers Nas and DMX. Watkins made a solo song in late 1996 called “Touch Myself”. Lopes started her own Lopes Productions artist development company and signed Blaque, a TLC-like female R&B trio. She also appeared on the “Not Tonight” remix with fellow female rappers Lil’ Kim, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Da Brat and Angie Martinez, which garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo, Band, or Group in 1998.

TLC eventually began working with other producers for the FanMail album, until finally negotiating with Austin, who produced the bulk of FanMail and gave the album a futuristic, more pop-based feel. FanMail was another success for TLC, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart and selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. The album featured the number-one hit “No Scrubs”, produced by Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, and the single “Unpretty”, an alternative rock-styled song about self-love written by Watkins and Dallas Austin (another version of it sampled Dennis Edwards’ 1984 hit “Don’t Look Any Further”), that also reached #1 on the Billboard chart. At the Lady of Soul Awards the group was honored with the Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award.

The videos for both songs were heavily featured on MTV and BET, and three more singles received decent radio play: “Silly Ho”, “I’m Good at Being Bad”, and Edmonds-written ballad, “Dear Lie”. Like CrazySexyCool, FanMail won the Grammy for Best R&B Album of 2000 and Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for “No Scrubs”. The group went on a worldwide tour simply named FanMail Tour. While the first leg of the tour sold poorly and made the group lose $500,000 dollars, most of the second leg of the tour was sold out. The group had a PayPerView special of their tour which at the time became PayPerView’s highest grossing televised special. The tour went on to gross more than $72.8 million dollars according to Billboard which became the highest grossing tour by a female group.

Before the recording of their fourth album, 3D, Lopes originally wanted to withdraw from the group in order to see if they could duplicate their prior success without her contributions. Lopes eventually pursued solo stardom and recorded her first album Supernova, however it underperformed overseas and was never officially released in the United States. Before her second solo album was completed, Lopes died in a car crash while filming a documentary in Honduras, which would later be released as The Last Days of Left Eye in 2007 on VH1.

Returning from yet another hiatus after Lopes’ death, Watkins, Thomas and Austin decided that they would complete the remainder of their fourth album, to be called 3D, which also featured production from Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, Raphael Saadiq, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. The decision was also made that TLC would retire after the release and promotion of 3D, rather than replace Lopes and continue. Lopes had already completed her vocals for four songs and the remainder were performed by the remaining group members alone, who eulogized Lopes on a number of the tracks. “3D” was released on November 12, 2002.

The first single for 3D was “Girl Talk”, the video for which featured Watkins and Thomas alone in live-action segments and Lopes in animated segments. Its follow-up, “Hands Up”, featured only Watkins and Thomas in its video, but took place in a nightclub named Club Lopes (Lopes’ production company’s “eye” logo was a prominent feature on the club’s walls). The album sold two million copies in its first year of release, and “Girl Talk” was the only single to reach the U.S. top forty with a peak position of number 28; “Hands Up” never charted, and a third single, “Damaged”, reached number 53. However, the singles enjoyed a bit more success in Europe and Asia. 3D went on to sell nearly 2 million copies in the US alone.

In June 2003, at Zootopia, an annual concert hosted by New York radio station Z100 held at Giants Stadium, TLC appeared in what was announced to be their last performance. The group, introduced by Carson Daly, showed a video montage dedicated to Lopes, and went on to perform songs against video footage of Lopes performing the same songs, and wearing the same outfits, that were appearing onstage. This would later go on to be called their final goodbye before 60,000 fans.

In 2005, LaFace had scheduled the release of Now and Forever: The Hits, a TLC greatest hits album with a new song, “Come Get Some”, featuring Lil Jon and Sean P of the YoungBloodZ. However, the compilation was not released domestically until June 2005, although versions of the compilation were released internationally in 2004 and the album was also available as a legal download from the iTunes Store in November 2004. On June 21, 2005, Now and Forever: The Hits was quietly released in the United States; the album debuted at number 53 with 20,000 copies sold.

On June 25, 2004, Watkins and Thomas announced that they were pitching a reality television show that was eventually picked up for development by UPN. R U the Girl with Watkins and Thomas debuted on UPN on July 27, 2005. Despite media speculation that the winner of the series was to become a new, permanent member of TLC, Watkins and Thomas have vowed to never replace Lopes with a new member. The winner of the show would record with them on a new single and perform the track with them in a live concert finale in Atlanta. Roughly 4.1 million viewers tuned in for the season finale of R U The Girl on September 20, 2005, with 20-year-old Tiffany “O’so Krispie” Baker as the winner

On October 4, 2005, “I Bet” was released to radio and iTunes, credited to “R U The Girl with Watkins & Thomas” with no mention of the TLC name on the package. The song was also appended to pressings of Now and Forever: The Hits released after October 11, 2005. “I Bet” failed to chart in America and Europe, ending reports that Watkins and Thomas were putting the finishing touches on a repackaged Greatest Hits album.

On June 24, 2008, Watkins and Thomas made a special appearance on the BET Awards. They, along with the original members of En Vogue and SWV, performed in Alicia Keys’ tribute to girl groups. Watkins, Thomas, and Keys performed “Waterfalls”. Watkins and Thomas were also presenters at the BETJ Virtual Awards on November 25, 2008.

In March 2009, Watkins and Thomas announced plans to perform together in a concert series in Japan featuring seventeen of TLC’s songs. On April 4, 2009, the group performed a thirteen song set, in Japan for Springroove 2009. On August 25, 2009, it was announced that the group would perform at the Justin Timberlake and Friends benefit concert at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center. TLC performed their set on October 17, 2009.[22] At the concert, Watkins announced that she and Thomas plan to record new material but was never put into motion.

After another brief hiatus, TLC took the stage on May 25, 2011 on the season finale of American Idol. They performed a three song set starting with Lil Jon’s intro from “Come Get Some” then going into “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls”. The performance received a standing ovation from the audience.

TLC recorded a cover of the song “Rainbow” for a tribute album to the popular Japanese rock band L’Arc~En~Ciel. The tribute album, which features covers by Boyz II Men, Daniel Powter and Maxi Priest, was released June 13, 2012.

Music TV channel VH1 have announced plans to produce a biopic based on the group called Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story written by Kate Lanier, with Charles Stone III directing and Watkins and Thomas signed up as consultants and executive producers. Actresses Keke Palmer and Drew Sidora as well as rapper Lil Mama have been cast as Thomas, Watkins and Lopes, respectively.

In addition to the biopic, TLC announced that a possible new album was in production as well as a tour with Lisa’s moving image projected on a screen behind the performers, as was done at the 2003 Zootopia show. Via Twitter, Watkins stated that she and Rozonda were once in talks with L.A. Reid’s Epic Records for a new TLC album, that they would have liked to release after the biopicl

On September 7, 2012, Chilli made an appearance on Good Afternoon America, confirming that TLC will be releasing a new album in 2013. Watkins revealed on a popular Atlanta radio station, that she and Chilli will start to record for the VH1 biopic soundtrack soon. The soundtrack will feature new recordings of some of their hits, and will feature new songs. Watkins and Thomas both revealed via their official Twitter accounts, that they turned down the recording contract they were negotiating with Epic Records.

Brenda Fassie

Brenda Fassie



Brenda Fassie: From A Distance (Live in concert)Brenda Fassie: From A Distance (Live in concert)

Brenda "Mabbrr" Fassie...

Ask any of her hundreds of thousands of fans just what it is about Brenda that is so magical, so alluring and the answer is always “why it’s her voice, of course" Power-packed, versatile, gutsy, laden with texture and instantly identifiable, Brenda Fassie has always been in possession of one of the best voices in South Africa indeed, in Africa and beyond!

“The girl with the golden voice" “South Africa’s queen of pop" “undisputed queen of the vocals" are just some of the ways commentators have described South Africa’s most enduring star; a singer whose career has spanned close to 20 years and remains flourishing.

Indeed, it was the buzz around Brenda’s voice that first prompted legendary producer, Koloi Lebona, to make the trip (in Christmas 1979) from Johannesburg to the Cape Town township of Langa to hear her sing.

Then just 16, Brenda’s voice (which had been the star of the Tiny Tots group) was something of a legend amongst the mother city’s musicians. Recalls Koloi: “I had five or six musicians raving to me about her voice and so I decided to hear it for myself. I had no trouble finding her mother Sarah’s house in Langa everyone was talking about Brenda. And when I got there Brenda sang several standards for me while her (now late) mother played the piano. There was something special about her voice. It was different to anything I had heard until then and was very mature for a 16-year-old. I knew it was the voice of the future.

And that “voice of the future" came with a self-belief well beyond Brenda’s teenage years. “When she’d finished singing for me, she quickly sussed how impressed I was,?Koloi says. “She turned to me and said ‘so when are we going to Joburg"

Reluctant to interfere with her schooling, Kaloi (with Sarah Fassie’s permission) took the young singer to live with his family in the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto with the idea that Brenda would complete her studies and then pursue a singing career. But events overtook Kaloi’s plans when Joy singer Anneline Malebo left to go maternity leave and Brenda temporarily joined the highly successful singing trio. As Kaloi puts it: “The bug was too strong to resist after that and Brenda’s professional singing career was launched."

When her Joy contract expired, Brenda took up an offer from Blondie and Papa to appear as a solo artist on their road show. It was through this that the Big Dudes were formed and Brenda’s career soared to a new level as part of the group, Brenda and the Big Dudes. As yet, ‘though, the singer had yet to record' a situation which changed, pretty dramatically, when “Weekend Special" (already a wildly popular live song) was released in 1983 as a 12 inch maxi through CCP Record Company (the SA record company started by Clive Calder). A funky, disco-grooved track that provided the perfect vehicle for Brenda’s crystalline and potent voice, “Weekend Special" became the fastest selling record of the time. The song, which today remains a high influential track in the history of South African music (and in fact is enjoying new life through several covers and remixes), entered the Billboard Hot Black singles chart in March 1986, enabling Brenda and the Big Dudes to appear in the United States United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Brazil. The single was remixed in New York by Van Gibbs and released by Capitol Records. It remained in the US charts for a full eight weeks and enjoyed significant radio play, including throughout southern Africa. “Weekend Special’s" success ignited a dwindling homegrown music scene. “I think it sold around 200 000 units," remembers then CCP MD, Ken Haycock. “The rest of the 80s saw an unbelievable run of local hits, and there’s no doubt Brenda played a huge part in that."

With a provocative stage show, and a well publicised rivalry with the likes of fellow township pop superstar, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the 1980s saw Brenda vaulting rapidly into solo superstar status, releasing records (with Malcolm Watson in the producer’s seat) like Cool Spot (which included “It’s Nice To Be With People" and scoring hits with songs like “No No No Senor")

Now firmly established as a solo artist (Brenda originally signed her record deal as part of the Big Dudes and initially had an equal royalty split with the rest of the group), the late 1980s saw Brenda team up with producer, Sello “Chicco" Twala a creative coupling that has proved the most spectacular in South Africa’s music history. Brenda and Chicco’s explosive musical interaction culminated in the monster album, Too Late For Mama which became a multi-platinum seller in 1989 and rose to the top of most South African charts.

For the next several years, Brenda’s career continued apace and, in 1996, she revealed her abilities as a producer with the album, Now Is The Time. Defining a new level of maturity for Brenda, the album features two duets with Zairian music legend, Papa Wemba and astonished even her most loyal fans.

1997 too proved to be an important year for Brenda with the release of Paparazzi, in spite of talk of Brenda’s “demise" The album, produced by talented newcomer, Godfrey Pilane, featured a duet with Bayete’s Jabu Khanyile, and was a diverse offering with everything from kwaito to slow groove tracks.

But little could prepare South Africa for Brenda’s spectacular comeback the 1998 release, Memeza. The album, which saw the singer again team up with producer Chicco, became South Africa’s best selling release of the year, shifting 500 000 units and earning Brenda several South African Music Awards as well as young and old fans all over again through hit tracks like “Vul’indela. The latter hugely popular throughout Africa as Brenda’s 1999 Kora award for best female artist revealed - has its origins deep in African gospel, with much of its appeal in the rhythm of Zion church music.

"Tell everyone Brenda's back," she said at the time and that statement has proved to be true.

This landmark album - which dug deep into this country’s musical roots - was produced by Chicco, who says he knew early on during the 1998 recording sessions that Memeza would rapidly propel Brenda back into the musical stratosphere at supersonic speed.

“I thought people might have forgotten about Brenda because her previous albums were pretty low-key.But a great deal of Memeza’s success is down to Brenda’s excellent voice, which we kept dominant throughout the album.

When it came to Brenda’s 1999 follow-up, Nomakanjani, Chicco was once again at the helm as producer, engineer and chief songwriter and again Brenda’s voice, in fine form, was the musical pivot of the album. Her 2000 release, Amadlozi (featuring hits like “Thola Amadlozi" and “Nakupende" (I Love You) again proved what a dazzling match the Brenda-Chicco one is and the second half of 2001saw the release of Mina Nawe, with Chicco in the producer’s seat for the fourth time in recent years.

Reclaiming her status as South Africa’s queen of pop has not been without its difficulties and the late 1990s and early years of the 21st century have seen the at times mercurial and capricious singer earn many tabloid inches about her personal life. Yet none of this has detracted from Brenda’s astonishing popularity. Sales of Memeza have now reached 560 000 and both Nomakanjani and Amadlozi are moving well beyond 350 000 units with Mina Nawe close on their heels. Her Greatest Hits album, also released in 2001, has easily reached platinum status (50 000 units) and 2002 sees the release of Myekeleni, Brenda’s most accomplished and impressively diverse album so far. Brenda’s live appeal continues to gather momentum and she regularly performs throughout Africa (where she is immensely popular) and recently undertook a multidate American tour.

The latter lends some insight into Brenda’s fast-gathering global appeal which was confirmed when the must-have international music publication, The Tip Sheet, raved about &