Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. (Lao Tzu)
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?
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.
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 SoulTrain.com 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 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
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."
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.
Angélique Kidjo - Batonga (1991) Official Music video
Angelique Kidjo - Agolo
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 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.
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.
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_ 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). 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. 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.
Istraight Lendaba - 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 “Vul’indlela" saying: “Vul’indlela is extraordinary. Instantly jaw-dropping and impossible to switch off, like Eva Cassidy. Effortlessly credible, like an African Unfinished Sympathy. This could be huge.
It’s high praise indeed and points to a new direction her career could take: that of international pop star. But for all the critical acclaim, the fact remains that nearly two decades after her first professional recording, many years after “Weekend Special" turned the young girl from Langa into a truly exceptional singer, Brenda Fassie brings immeasurable joy and happiness into the lives of millions of South Africans the country over.
Brenda Fassie passed away 9 May 2004
This biography courtesy E.M.I. Music
"Which Way Is Up" - Stargard
Stargard - What You Waiting for (disco Mix)
Stargard - Wear It Out
Stargard - Runnin' From The Law (1979) ♫
Stargard - Which Way Is Up
High on the Boogie - Stargard
Heavily influenced by Labelle and the Pointer Sisters, Stargard was a female R&B vocal group that was best known for providing the theme song from the 1977 film Which Way Is Up. Rochelle Runnells, Debra Anderson, and Janice Williams -- who comprised Stargard's original three-woman lineup -- didn't go for the type of breathy, sweet, girlish vocals that the Supremes and the Three Degrees were known for. Like Labelle and the Pointer Sisters, Stargard favored robust, aggressive belting and brought a gospel-like passion to its funk, soul, and disco.
Stargard signed with MCA in 1977, when its first single, the ultra-funky "Theme from 'Which Way Is Up'" (a Norman Whitfield gem), soared to number one on the R&B singles charts. Stargard's self-titled debut album came out in early 1978, and later that year, MCA released the trio's sophomore effort What You Waitin' For. That album's funky title track (also written by Whitfield) became a Top Ten R&B hit, but after that, Stargard lost its commercial momentum. In 1979, Stargard left MCA for Warner Bros. and recorded its third album, The Changing of the Guard, which was produced by Robert Wright and Earth, Wind & Fire's Verdine White (Maurice White's brother) and contained the single "Wear It Out." That superb album had the makings of a smash, but regrettably, it didn't do nearly as well as it should have. In 1980, Anderson left the group, and Runnells and Williams decided to carry on as a duo instead of hiring a replacement. As a duo, Runnells and Williams recorded 1981's Norman Whitfield-produced Back 2 Back for Warner Bros. and 1982's Nine Lives (which Runnells produced) for MCA. Both of those LPs received very little attention, and in 1983, Stargard broke up.
Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer (1979)Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer (1979)
Sister Sledge - We Are Family - 1979
Best known for their work with Chic in the late '70s, siblings Debbie, Kim, Joni, and Kathy Sledge -- collectively Sister Sledge -- reached the height of their popularity during the disco era but had been recording since the early '70s and were still active in the late '90s. The group was formed in Philadelphia in 1971, when the sisters' ages ranged from 12 to 16, and they recorded their first single, "Time Will Tell," for the Philly-based Money Back label. (For the first few years, the group called itself Sisters Sledge.) In 1972, Sister Sledge signed with Atco and recorded its second single, "Weatherman," which was followed by the Jackson 5-like "Mama Never Told Me" in 1973.
Circle of LoveSister Sledge's first national hit came in 1974, when "Love, Don't You Go Through No Changes on Me" reached number 31 on the R&B charts and the Philadelphians recorded their debut album, Circle of Love. Their second album, Together, was released in 1977 and contained the number 61 R&B hit "Blockbuster Boy." It wasn't until 1979, when Chic leaders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards produced We Are Family, that Sister Sledge really exploded commercially. "He's the Greatest Dancer" and We Are Family's title song both soared to number one on the R&B charts, and the latter (a number two pop smash) was adopted as a theme by the World Series-winning Pittsburgh Pirates.
Love Somebody TodaySister Sledge's next album, Love Somebody Today (1980), was also produced by the Rodgers/Edwards team, and the single "Got to Love Somebody" became a number six R&B hit. In 1981, Sister Sledge switched producers and worked with Narada Michael Walden, who produced 1981's excellent All American Girls. The title song was a number three R&B hit, and in 1982, Sister Sledge had a number 14 R&B hit with a cover of Mary Wells' "My Guy" that appeared on The Sisters. But after that, the foursome's popularity faded, and it never had another Top 20 hit in the U.S. -- although 1985's "Frankie" (a number 32 R&B hit in the States) became a pop number one hit in England. Sister Sledge left Atlantic for good in 1985, but its members kept busy in the 1990s. Epic released Kathy's debut solo album, Heart, in 1992, and 1997 found the sisters recording a risk-taking date, African Eyes, arguably one of the finest albums they ever recorded.
The Pointer Sisters..
The Pointer Sisters - Live in Paris (1985)
The Pointer Sisters
he Pointer Sisters were as chameleonic as David Bowie, if not more so. The sibling group backed Grace Slick and Boz Scaggs, made stops at Sesame Street and the Grand Ole Opry, won a country Grammy, and appeared in the movie Car Wash, all before scoring four consecutive Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 hits in the mid-‘80s. From their early ‘70s releases on Blue Thumb through their ‘80s commercial run on Planet and RCA, the Pointers moved through boogie-woogie, bebop, blues, country, funk, disco, soft rock, electro-pop, hard rock, and several other subgenres as if they were all second nature. The sisters covered Willie Dixon, were covered by Elvis Presley, and released 15 Top 40 Hot 100 singles while sustaining a steady presence on the R&B, club, and adult contemporary charts.
Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June Pointer grew up in Oakland, California, daughters of a mother and reverend father who encouraged gospel singing and forbade blues and rock & roll. They developed their love for various forms of secular music through visits and slumber parties at the homes of friends, where they could listen to music and watch programs like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. The sisters’ public performances were limited to church, but once they were older, Bonnie and June formed a duo and were eventually joined by Anita; they provided background vocals for a number of artists, including Grace Slick, Boz Scaggs, and Sylvester. While performing with Walter Bishop, they caught the eyes and ears of the Atlantic label, who released The Pointer Sisters' first two singles: 1971’s Honey Cone-like “Don’t Try to Take the Fifth” and the following year’s “Destination No More Heartaches.” Neither song charted, but the abundant potential was obvious.
The Pointer Sisters By the end of 1972, the group was a quartet that also featured Ruth. the Pointers left Atlantic for Blue Thumb, where they released five eclectic albums: The Pointer Sisters (1973), That’s a Plenty (1974), Live at the Opera House (1974), Steppin’ (1975), and Having a Party (1977). Among the hit singles from these releases were the empowering “Yes We Can Can” (written by Allen Toussaint), “How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)” (a Toussaint-flavored song written by Bonnie and Anita with David Rubinson), and “Going Down Slowly” (a grinding take on Toussaint's “Going Down”). The most successful song of all was “Fairtyale,” a Bonnie- and Anita-penned departure into country music that peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100. This enabled the Pointers to perform at the Grand Ole Opry -- as the first African-American vocal group to do so -- and the song also won the 1974 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. It was covered by Elvis Presley. The same year Having a Party was issued, the popular children’s television program Sesame Street first aired a classic animated segment called Pinball Number Count, which featured vocals the Pointers recorded several years earlier.
Energy Between the release of Having a Party and the end of 1977, June and Bonnie departed from the group, with the latter initiating a solo career. Ruth and Anita signed a deal with producer Richard Perry's Elektra-affiliated Planet label, and June re-joined in time to record Energy (1978), which featured a cover of Sly & the Family Stone's “Everybody Is a Star” and the Toussaint-written “Happiness” (the group’s first single to hit the disco chart) but was otherwise rooted in rock, with interpretations of Steely Dan, Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac, and the Doobie Brothers, along with the second released recording -- following a version by Robert Gordon -- of Bruce Springsteen's “Fire,” a song intended for Elvis Presley. the Pointers took it to number two on the Hot 100 chart. The rest of the group’s years with Perry and Planet were extremely successful, culminating with 1983’s Break Out, an album that went multi-platinum due to a string of four state-of-the-art dance-pop singles. “Automatic,” “Jump (For My Love),” a remix of 1982’s “I’m So Excited,” and “Neutron Dance” all peaked in the Hot 100’s Top Ten. The women won two additional Grammys.
Contact During the latter half of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s, The Pointer Sisters released five more albums on RCA, Motown, and SBK. 1985’s Contact, featuring the crossover hit “Dare Me,” was the group’s last album to go platinum. While they did not record any albums after 1993’s Only Sisters Can Do That, they continued to perform on an infrequent basis. Issa, Ruth’s daughter, provided backing vocals on the final album and joined as a full member when June left for health reasons. A victim of lung cancer, June passed away in 2006. The Pointer Sisters, however, continued performing throughout the rest of the decade.
Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records -- "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others -- earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since. Yet as much of an international institution as she's become, much of her work -- outside of her recordings for Atlantic in the late '60s and early '70s -- is erratic and only fitfully inspired, making discretion a necessity when collecting her records.
Franklin's roots in gospel ran extremely deep. With her sisters Carolyn and Erma (both of whom would also have recording careers), she sang at the Detroit church of her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, while growing up in the 1950s. In fact, she made her first recordings as a gospel artist at the age of 14. It has also been reported that Motown was interested in signing Aretha back in the days when it was a tiny start-up. Ultimately, however, Franklin ended up with Columbia, to which she was signed by the renowned talent scout John Hammond.
Franklin would record for Columbia constantly throughout the first half of the '60s, notching occasional R&B hits (and one Top 40 single, "Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody") but never truly breaking out as a star. The Columbia period continues to generate considerable controversy among critics, many of whom feel that Aretha's true aspirations were being blunted by pop-oriented material and production. In fact, there's a reasonable amount of fine items to be found on the Columbia sides, including the occasional song ("Lee Cross," "Soulville") where she belts out soul with real gusto. It's undeniably true, though, that her work at Columbia was considerably tamer than what was to follow, and suffered in general from a lack of direction and an apparent emphasis on trying to develop her as an all-around entertainer, rather than as an R&B/soul singer.
When Franklin left Columbia for Atlantic, producer Jerry Wexler was determined to bring out her most soulful, fiery traits. As part of that plan, he had her record her first single, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," at Muscle Shoals in Alabama with esteemed Southern R&B musicians. In fact, that was to be her only session actually at Muscle Shoals, but much of the remainder of her '60s work would be recorded with the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, although the sessions would actually take place in New York City. The combination was one of those magic instances of musical alchemy in pop: the backup musicians provided a much grittier, soulful, and R&B-based accompaniment for Aretha's voice, which soared with a passion and intensity suggesting a spirit that had been allowed to fly loose for the first time.
In the late '60s, Franklin became one of the biggest international recording stars in all of pop. Many also saw Franklin as a symbol of black America itself, reflecting the increased confidence and pride of African-Americans in the decade of the civil rights movement and other triumphs for the black community. The chart statistics are impressive in and of themselves: ten Top Ten hits in a roughly 18-month span between early 1967 and late 1968, for instance, and a steady stream of solid mid- to large-size hits for the next five years after that. Her Atlantic albums were also huge sellers, and far more consistent artistically than those of most soul stars of the era. Franklin was able to maintain creative momentum, in part, because of her eclectic choice of material, which encompassed first-class originals and gospel, blues, pop, and rock covers, from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel to Sam Cooke and the Drifters. She was also a fine, forceful, and somewhat underrated keyboardist.
Live at Fillmore WestFranklin's commercial and artistic success was unabated in the early '70s, during which she landed more huge hits with "Spanish Harlem," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and "Day Dreaming." She also produced two of her most respected, and earthiest, album releases with Live at Fillmore West and Amazing Grace. The latter, a 1972 double LP, was a reinvestigation of her gospel roots, recorded with James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. Remarkably, it made the Top Ten, counting as one of the greatest gospel-pop crossover smashes of all time.
Who's Zoomin' Who?Franklin had a few more hits over the next few years -- "Angel" and the Stevie Wonder cover "Until You Come Back to Me" being the most notable. Her Atlantic contract ended at the end of the 1970s. She signed with the Clive Davis-guided Arista and scored number one R&B hits with "Jump to It," "Get It Right," and "Freeway of Love." Many of her successes were duets, or crafted with the assistance of contemporaries such as Luther Vandross and Narada Michael Walden. In 1986 Franklin released her follow-up to Who's Zoomin' Who?, the self-titled Aretha, which saw the single "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me," a duet with George Michael, hit the top of the charts. There was also another return to gospel in 1987 with One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. Franklin shifted back to pop with 1989's Through the Storm, but it wasn't a commercial success, and neither was 1991's new jack swing-styled What You See Is What You Sweat.
A Rose Is Still a Rose Now solidly an iconic figure and acknowledged as one of the best singers of her generation no matter what her record sales were, Franklin contributed songs to several movie soundtracks in the next few years before releasing the R&B-based A Rose Is Still a Rose in 1998. So Damn Happy followed five years later in 2003 and again saw disappointing sales, but it did generate the Grammy-winning song "Wonderful." Franklin left Arista that same year and started her own label, Aretha's Records, two years later. A duets compilation, Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen, was issued in 2007, followed by her first holiday album, 2008's This Christmas. The first release on her own label, A Woman Falling Out of Love, appeared in 2011. She signed to RCA and realigned with Clive Davis, who connected her with the likes of Babyface and OutKast's André 3000 for Sings the Great Diva Classics, for which she covered Gladys Knight, Barbra Streisand, and Adele, among others. Despite sometimes poor health, she continued to select new projects to work on; ever the institution, her reputation is secure as one of the best singers of the modern era.
The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers..
The Staples' story goes all the way back to 1915 in Winona, Mississippi, when patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples entered the world. A contemporary and familiar of Charley Patton's, Roebuck quickly became adept as a solo blues guitarist, entertaining at local dances and picnics. He was also drawn to the church, and by 1937 he was singing and playing guitar with the Golden Trumpets, a spiritual group based out of Drew, Mississippi. Moving to Chicago four years later, he continued playing gospel music with the Windy City's Trumpet Jubilees. A decade later Pops Staples (as he had become known) presented two of his daughters, Cleotha and Mavis, and his one son, Pervis, in front of a church audience, and the Staple Singers were born.
The Staples recorded in an older, slightly archaic, deeply Southern spiritual style first for United and then for Vee-Jay. Pops and Mavis Staples shared lead vocal chores, with most records underpinned by Pops' heavily reverbed Mississippi cotton-patch guitar. In 1960 The Staples signed with Riverside, a label that specialized in jazz and folk. With Riverside and later Epic, The Staples attempted to move into the then-burgeoning white folk boom. Two Epic releases, "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" and a cover of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth," briefly graced the pop charts in 1967.
Soul Folk in Action In 1968 The Staples signed with Memphis-based Stax. The first two albums, Soul Folk in Action and We'll Get Over, were produced by Steve Cropper and backed by Booker T. & the MG's. The Staples were now singing entirely contemporary "message" songs such as "Long Walk to D.C." and "When Will We Be Paid." In 1970 Pervis Staples left and was replaced by sister Yvonne Staples. Even more significantly, Al Bell took over production chores. Bell took them down the road to Muscle Shoals, and things got decidedly funky.
Starting with "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" and "I'll Take You There," The Staples counted 12 chart hits at Stax. When Stax encountered financial problems, Curtis Mayfield signed The Staples to his Curtom label and produced a number one hit in "Let's Do It Again." The Staples went on to continued chart success, albeit less spectacularly, with Warner, through 1979. One more album followed on 20th Century Fox in 1981. After a three-year hiatus, they signed a two-album deal with Private I and hit the R&B charts five more times, once with an unlikely cover of Talking Heads' "Slippery People."
Rhythm Country and Bluesthe Staple Singers found a new audience in 1994 when they teamed with Marty Stuart to perform "The Weight" on the Rhythm, Country & Blues LP for MCA. Sadly, Pops passed away on December 19, 2000, shortly after suffering a concussion due to a fall in his home. Cleotha died in February 2013 after a decade with Alzheimer's disease. Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, Mavis released excellent solo material for the Alligator and Anti labels.
Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype -- she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.
Lady of the NightSummer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston's Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church's gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the Hair company in Vienna. She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971's "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single "The Hostage," which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded "Love to Love You Baby," a disco-fied reimagining of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's lush, heavy-breathing opus "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Powered by Summer's graphic moans, "Love to Love You Baby" became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. It climbed to number two on the singles charts, and became a dance club sensation when Moroder remixed the track into a 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name.
A Love Trilogy In the wake of "Love to Love You Baby," albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work)," and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte's growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977's I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album's title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder's catalog, the monumental "I Feel Love." Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, "I Feel Love" was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the '80s and '90s. It became Summer's second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.
Live and MoreSummer's albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It's Friday produced another hit in "Last Dance," which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer's first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic "MacArthur Park" that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles "Bad Girls" -- co-written with husband Bruce Sudano -- and the rock-oriented "Hot Stuff," which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the charts, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer's duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," became her fourth number one single.
The Wanderer At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980s The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I'm a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and urban R&B with 1983's She Works Hard for the Money; its title track was a smash and became a feminist anthem of sorts.
All Systems Go However, with her career momentum slowing, it also marked the end of Summer's prime. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for "Forgive Me," Summer's 1984 follow-up Cats Without Claws flopped, as did the 1987 comeback effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major success with the 1989 Top Ten single "This Time I Know It's for Real," from the album Another Place & Time; around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, "sinful" disco material. Released in 1991, the lackluster, urban-styled Mistaken Identity effectively killed her career momentum, and none of her new '90s albums produced that elusive hit. However, she did make some noise on the dance charts with "Melody of Love," from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single "Carry On," which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with the 1999 greatest-hits live album VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!; it featured the new song "I Will Go with You (Con The Partiro)," which had some success on the dance charts. The energetic and eclectic Crayons, her first proper studio album since Mistaken Identity, was released on the Burgundy label in 2008. She remained intermittently active with concert and TV appearances during the next several years, and released the "To Paris with Love" single in August 2010. After battling lung cancer, Donna Summer died at her home in Naples, Florida on May 17, 2012. The following April, she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Singer Anita Ward is most well-known for her 1979 disco single "Ring My Bell," a number one pop hit in the U.S. and the U.K. Born on December 20, 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee, Ward developed an interest in music -- particularly gospel -- at an early age. She went on to sing with the Rust College A Cappella Choir (which included recording alongside renowned Metropolitan Opera vocalist Leontyne Price), and recorded an obscure album with her own gospel quartet. After graduation, however, Ward didn't set out to pursue a career in music and instead became a substitute teacher in the Memphis elementary school system. It wasn't long before Ward realized music was too much a part of her life to ignore, and her manager put her in contact with singer/songwriter Frederick Knight (who had scored a substantial hit in the summer of 1972 with "I've Been Lonely for So Long"). Knight signed on to help produce a three-song demo session with Ward, but once the tape was rolling, Knight became so taken by Ward's singing ability that the sessions soon produced an album's worth of material.
Songs of Love After listening to what they'd recorded, both agreed that they were still one song short, which resulted in Knight digging up an old track titled "Ring My Bell," which he had originally penned for a younger singer, Stacy Lattisaw (who would later score several hits in the early '80s). The song's original lyrics dealt with teens chatting away on the phone and even though Knight gave the track a quick lyrical overhaul, Ward was less than enthusiastic about the song. Still, she agreed to record it, with Knight providing most of the musical accompaniment. Recorded over the course of two days, "Ring My Bell" turned out to be the best track of the bunch. It resulted in a recording contract with the T.K.-affiliated Juana label, and the release of Ward's debut album, Songs of Love, in 1979. It didn't take long for "Ring My Bell" to scale the charts. That summer, it topped Billboard's Hot 100 and remained on that chart for five months. A subsequent single, "Don't Drop My Love" -- taken from the quick-to-follow second album Sweet Surrender -- peaked at only number 87. A few songs were recorded during sessions for a third album abandoned prior to completion. They surfaced on various Ward anthologies released during the following decades. Although Ward rarely recorded -- she released a single in 2011 -- she continued to perform into the 2010s.
Listeners expecting a sequel to to her best-selling 1982 album Straight From the Heart were in for quite a shock. In the two years between the efforts, Rushen became a proponent of the technology-or-bust ethos of many jazz artists in the early to mid-'80s. Given that thinking, Now is both minimal and innovative -- with all of its sonic virtues probably not fully appreciated at the time of its release. The album's biggest dance tracks, "Feels So Real (Won't Let Go)" and "Get Off (You Fascinate Me)," are relentlessly polyrhythmic and fulfilling. Rushen, unlike countless other acts, knew how to give synthesizers a sense of panache without the sound seeming artificial. Despite its dancefloor skills, Now also takes time out for affairs of the heart. On "Gotta Find It," the buoyant rhythms belie the desperate lyrics and Rushen's meditative vocals. The astute "Heartache Heartbreak" will put a damper on any party as she sings, "Does love mean that I will not be lonely" (a chilling sentiment that's probably too prickly for even Bobby Womack). The infectious "Perfect Love" features both an effortless vocal from Rushen as well as an understated Fender Rhodes solo. During her stint at Elektra, Rushen never made bad albums, but they often had their fair amount of filler. On this effort there isn't any, and the closer you listen the tracks, the more likeable they become. Produced by Charles Mims Jr. and Rushen, Now is filled with assiduous grooves and -- despite its "trendy" sounds -- it has more than stood the test of time.
Evelyn Champagne King..
Singer Evelyn "Champagne" King first came to fame with the million-selling '70s disco smashes "Shame" and "I Don't Know if It's Right." Born July 1, 1960, in the Bronx, NY, she had a showbiz lineage. Her uncle was actor/singer/dancer Avon Long, who first played Sportin' Life in the play Porgy and Bess and later starred in the '70s play Bubblin' Brown Sugar. Her father, Erik King, was a singer and often augmented groups that appeared at New York's Apollo Theater. By her teens, King had relocated to Philadelphia with her mother, and began singing in several groups. To make ends meet, King and her mother became cleaning women. For a teenager, King's voice was quite mature; many at first thought she was a grown woman.
Smooth Talk While working one night at Philadelphia International Records' recording base, producer T. Life overheard some tantalizing vocals coming from a washroom. There he discovered 16-year-old Evelyn King and her mother. Signing the singer to a production deal and a contract with RCA, Life's first single with Evelyn "Champagne" King was "Dancin'"Dancin' "Dancin'." Her debut LP Smooth Talk was released August 1977. But it was a song written by John Fitch and Reuben Cross, called "Shame," that gave her career-launching success. The extended mix began gaining radio play and eventually the Top Ten on the R&B and pop charts by spring 1978. The follow-up, "I Don't Know if It's Right," also went gold, peaking at number seven R&B, number 23 pop in fall 1978. Smooth Talk went gold, and she made two more LPs with T. Life: Music Box and Call on Me.
Get Loose After teaming with a new producer, Kashif, King recorded two number one R&B hits during the early '80s, "I'm in Love" and "Love Come Down." Several of her LPs also placed high on the charts, including 1980s Call on Me, the following year's I'm in Love, and 1982's Get Loose. She signed to EMI-Manhattan in 1988, and was teamed with Leon F. Sylvers III for Flirt, which included the tender ballad "Kisses Don't Lie." On The Girl Next Door, the singer worked with house producer Marshall Jefferson.
Love Come Down: The Best of Evelyn "Champagne" King In 1990, King recorded the album I'll Keep a Light On for the British label Expansion, whose featured musicians were Larry Graham, Jeff Lorber, and Paul Jackson, Jr. She didn't return until 2007, when she released Open Book for RNB Entertainment. Many of the singer's classic sides are on Love Come Down: The Best of Evelyn "Champagne" King.
Shannon wasn't a great singer-as far as dance divas go, she didn't have the chops of Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, Claudja Barry, Donna Summer or Loleatta Holloway. Shannon was merely a competent singer, but a competent singer who sometimes had great material and great producers to work with. And thanks to the production team of Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, Shannon's debut album, Let the Music Play, has a lot going for it. Liggett and Barbosa give the album an attractive, high-tech sound, and some of the songs that Shannon embraces are excellent. Released in late 1983, the haunting title song went down in history as a dance-floor classic-and club gems like "Give Me Tonight" and "My Heart's Divided" (both of which Barbosa co-wrote) are almost as strong. Shannon successfully ventures into pop-rock territory on "One Man," although she isn't very convincing on the ballads "It's You" and "Someone Waiting Home"-ballads and slow jams were never her strong point. But for the most part, Let the Music Play underscores Liggett and Barbosa's ability to make Shannon sound good.
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam...
Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam
Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez on January 15, 1967) and her band Cult Jam were one of the original American freestyle groups of the 1980s. The two other members of Cult Jam were guitarist/bassist Alex Moseley and drummer/keyboardist Mike Hughes. They were assembled and produced by Full Force.
The group released their debut album, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force in 1985, it went platinum. The Personal Records label leased “I Wonder if I Take You Home” to the European division of CBS Records for the compilation album Breakdancing. Stateside club DJs began playing the single from the import LP. The U.S. division of CBS, Columbia Records, released the record with it quickly becoming a chart-topper on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Disco chart. The single went gold, crossing over to the R&B chart, peaking at number six, and the pop chart at number 34 in summer 1985. I Wonder If I Take You Home was followed by the club hit “Can You Feel the Beat,” and they soon found their first Top 10 single, the ballad “All Cried Out”. “Can You Feel the Beat” made it to number 40 R&B in late 1985. Their third single, the ballad “All Cried Out” went gold, going to number three R&B, number eight pop in summer 1986. “All Cried Out” was later covered by Allure and was a hit in 1998.
Their second album Spanish Fly was a huge success in 1987, spawning two #1 hits, “Head to Toe” and “Lost In Emotion,” both of which sported a retro Motown style mixed with the Freestyle sound they were known for. Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s Spanish Fly, went platinum, peaking at number seven pop and included two Motown-influenced gold singles; a combination of the sound of the Supremes, Lulu (“To Sir With Love”), with a sprinkling of the 5th Dimension and FF’s hard-driving beats, “Head to Toe” parked at number one R&B for two weeks and hit number one pop in spring 1987, and with its strong Mary Wells influence, “Lost in Emotion” held the number one R&B spot for two weeks and made it to number one pop in summer 1987. Other hits from Spanish Fly were the ballad “Someone to Love Me for Me” b/w “Spanish Fly” (number seven R&B), “Everything Will B-Fine” (number nine R&B). 
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s third CD Straight to the Sky from 1989, was a moderate hit and includes the Top 20 single, “Little Jackie Wants to Be a Star”.
Their fourth and final album, Straight Outta Hell’s Kitchen was less of a commercial success and the group disbanded in 1991 when Velez went to do both solo and acting careers and Moseley and Hughes went on to do other projects. The album did include a hit with “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em,” which reached the pop top 30 and was a huge hit on the club charts.
Cleveland, Ohio,U.S. (1988 – present)
Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter, best known for the singles “Fast Car”, “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”, “Baby Can I Hold You”, and “Give Me One Reason.” She is a multi-platinum and multi-Grammy award-winning artist.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio,U.S., Tracy Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs as a child. She received a scholarship through A Better Chance that allowed her to attend Wooster School in Connecticut, and was eventually accepted to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
Tracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the ’80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman’s eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact. Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the ’70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics. At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her success ushered in a new era of singer/songwriters that lasted well into the ’90s. Along with 10,000 and R.E.M., Chapman’s liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late ’80s
Miriam Makeba, also known as Mama Africa, was beyond dispute one of South Africa’s true legends. Born March 4, 1932 in Johannesburg, Miriam Makeba was barely 21 years old when she, as a member of the Manhattan Brothers, reached for the stars in her home country. It didn’t take long before Miriam Makeba’s career was brought to another level. In 1966 she received a Grammy Award for the album An Evening with Harry Belafonte & Miriam Makeba, making her the first African artist to win a Grammy. Her star rose further when she released her 1967 globally acclaimed Pata Pata, including the worldwide hit “Qongqothwane” (better known as the ‘Click Song’). Shortly thereafter she published her autobiography .
Miriam Makeba used her voice to entertain, but also to give a voice to millions of oppressed fellow South Africans who suffered as a result of apartheid. The price she had to pay for her actions was high, namely her South African citizenship. After she appeared, in 1960, in the an anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa, the South African regime banned her from returning to her home country and took away her citizenship.
This event didn’t stop her from continuing to raise her voice against the apartheid regime. Between 1964 and 1975, as a United Nations delegate of Guinea where she was granted asylum, Miriam Makeba addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations regularly on the tragic developments in South Africa.
Meanwhile she carried on singing, a process in which she put South African music on the map. Over the years Makeba worked with artists as Joe Sample, Stix Hooper, Arthur Adams, and David T. Walker of The Crusaders. In the late 1980’s she joined Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo during their world-wide Graceland tour and in 1990 she worked with Odetta and Nina Simone for the One Nation tour.
Following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the citizen of the world Makeba returned to South Africa in December 1990; more than thirty years after she went in exile. In April 1991 she performed her first concert in her homeland in three decades.
The years after were busy ones for Makeba. She starred in the South African award-winning musical Sarafina! , about the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings, playing the role of the title character’s mother. She then reunited with her first husband, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, for the Tour Of Hope. She also performed at the Vatican’s Nevi Hall during the world-wide broadcasted show, Christmas In The Vatican. In 2000 Makeba released the grammy-nominated Homeland, her first studio album in a decade. In 2002 she shared the Polar Music Prize with Sofia Gubaidulina, in recognition of her exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music.
After her return to South Africa Miriam Makeba recorded over ten albums. In 2004, at the age of 72, she relased Reflections honoring the tenth anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa. In that same year Makeba was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans. She also started a 14 month worldwide farwell tour in 2005, holding concerts in all countries she had visited during her life.
With an impressive career spanning more than four decades Miriam Makeba is, indeed, one of the most respected, loved and cherished treasures in (South) Africa.
On the early morning of 10th of November 2008 she died at the age of 76 after being taken ill near the southern Italian town of Caserta, after performing at a concert against organized crime.
Miriam Makeba & Hugh Masekela
Sade (pronounced “shah-day”) is a Grammy-winning British smooth jazz band named after their lead singer Sade Adu. The band’s music features elements of jazz, funk, soul and rnb.
Sade was formed in 1982, when members of a Latino-soul band Pride — Sade Adu, (real name Helen Folasade Adu - born 16 January 1959 in Ibadan, Nigeria) Stuart Matthewman and Paul Spencer Denman — together with Paul Cook formed a splinter group and began to write their own material. Sade made their debut in December 1982 at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, England, in support of Pride. Later, in 1983, Andrew Hale joined Sade. In 1984 Paul Cook left the band.
Sade Adu, the band’s singer, is the daughter of a Nigerian father and an English mother. After her mother returned to England, Sade grew up on the North End of London. Developing a good singing voice in her teens, Sade worked part-time jobs in and outside of the music business. She listened to Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holliday. Sade studied fashion design at St. Martin’s School of Art in London while also doing some modeling on the side.
Around 1980, Adu started singing harmony with a latin funk group called Arriva. One of the more popular numbers that the group would perform was a Sade original co-written with bandmember Ray St. John, “Smooth Operator,” that would later become Sade’s first stateside hit. The following year Adu joined the eight-piece funk band Pride as a background singer. The band included future Sade band members guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman (a key player in ’90s urban soul singer Maxwell’s success) and bassist Paul Denman. The concept of the group was that there could shoot-offs. In essence, a few members within the main group Pride formed mini-groups that would be the opening act. Pride did a lot of shows around London, stirring up record company interest. Initially, the labels wanted to only sign Adu, while the group members wanted a deal for the whole band. After a year, the other band members told Adu, Matthewman, and Denman to go ahead and sign a deal. Adding keyboardist Andrew Hale, the group signed to the U.K. division of Epic Records.
In May 1983, Sade performed at Danceteria Club in New York, NY, United States. It was the first US Sade show. They received more attention from the media and record companies and separated finally. On 18 October 1983 Sade Adu signed with Epic Records. The rest of the band signed in 1984. All Sade albums were released through this label.
Their debut album, Diamond Life (with overall production by Robin Millar), went Top Ten in the U.K. in late 1984. January 1985 saw the album released on CBS’ Portrait label and by spring it went platinum off the strength of the Top Ten singles “Smooth Operator” and “Hang on to Your Love.” The second album, Promise (November 1985), featured “Never As Good As the First Time” and arguably her signature song, “The Sweetest Taboo,” which stayed on the U.S. pop charts for six months. Sade was so popular that some radio stations reinstated the ’70s practice of playing album tracks, adding “Is It a Crime” and “Tar Baby” to their play lists. In 1986, Sade won a Grammy for Best New Artist.
Sade’s third album was 1988’s Stronger Than Pride and featured their first number one soul single “Paradise,” “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” and “Keep Looking.” A new Sade album didn’t appear for four years. 1992’s Love Deluxe continued the unbroken streak of multi-platinum Sade albums, spinning off the hits “No Ordinary Love,” “Feel No Pain,” and “Pearls.” While the album’s producer Mike Pela, Matthewman, Denman, and Hale have gone on to other projects. The new millennium did spark a new scene for Sade. She issued Lovers Rock in fall 2000 and incoporated more mainstream elements than ever before. Debut single “By Your Side” was also a hit among radio and adult-contemporary listerners. The following summer, Sade embarked on their first tour in more than a decade, selling out countless dates across America. In early 2002, Sade celebrated their success of the tour by releasing their first ever live album and DVD, Lovers Live.
Sade made a great contribution to development of modern music. They dismantled many of the old music business ways and quite promptly became a fully functioning autonomous unit with a firm grip on every aspect of the recording process.
Sade is first and foremost a live act. Sade Adu said in one of her interviews: “When we play I know that the people love the music. I can feel it.” Throughout their history, Sade have always attracted a diverse, multi-racial audience who are drawn by the band’s open-minded approach to music. “And that’s the best thing we’ve achieved.”
Soldier of Love, Sade’s first official studio album since the multi-platinum release of Lovers Rockin 2000, was released on 8th February, 2010.
Sade is also two piece stoner rock from Prague, Czech republic. Released one MC.
Anita Baker (born January 26, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio) is a soul and adult contemporary Rhythm and blues singer.
With her classy, refined brand of romantic soul, Anita Baker was one of the definitive quiet storm singers of the ’80s. Gifted with a strong, supple alto, Baker was influenced not only by R&B, but jazz, gospel, and traditional pop, which gave her music a distinctly adult sophistication. Smooth and mellow, but hardly lifeless, it made her one of the most popular romantic singers of her time.
Baker was born January 26, 1958, in Toledo, OH, and raised in nearby Detroit, where she grew up listening to female jazz singers like Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald. At age 12, she began singing a gospel choir, and by age 16 she was performing with several local bands. In 1975, she successfully auditioned for Chapter 8, one of Detroit’s most popular acts at the time; the group eventually signed with Ariola and released an album in 1979, but were immediately dropped when the label was acquired by Arista (which didn’t care for Baker’s vocals). Chastened, Baker worked low-paying jobs in Detroit and eventually found steady work as a receptionist at a law firm. In 1982, Otis Smith — an executive who’d worked with Chapter 8 — contacted Baker about recording for his new label Beverly Glen. Happy with her employment benefits and skittish over the experience with Arista, Baker was reluctant at first, but eventually flew out to the West Coast to record her debut album, The Songstress, in 1983. Though it didn’t gain quite enough exposure to become a hit, it did help Baker build a strong fan base through word-of-mouth and she was signed by Elektra in 1985.
Working with producer Michael J. Powell (an old Chapter 8 cohort), Baker released her major-label debut Rapture in 1986. It was a platinum, Grammy winning smash, appealing to both urban and adult contemporary listeners and producing two all-time quiet storm classics in “Caught Up in the Rapture” and “Sweet Love.” Baker toured the world in 1987 and her guest appearance on the Winans track “Ain’t No Need to Worry” won a Grammy. Her equally stylish follow-up album,Giving You the Best That I Got, appeared in 1988, spawning more staples in the title track and “Just Because.” “Giving You the Best That I Got” also won Baker two more Grammys, for Best Female R&B Vocal and Best R&B Song. For her third Elektra album, Baker decided to handle a greater share of the songwriting, hence the title Compositions, which was released in 1990 and featured even stronger jazz inflections than Baker’s previous work (not to mention all live instruments).
Following Compositions, Baker took a break from recording and touring; after having her first son in 1993, she returned to the studio to craft Rhythm of Love, which was released in 1994. In the years that followed, Baker was mostly silent, despite her fans’ clamoring for a jazz album; instead, she raised her family and became embroiled in contract disputes with Elektra, which eventually led her to move to Atlantic. She began working on a new album in 2000, but had to start over from scratch due to defective recording equipment that made the original tracks unsalvageable. In 2004 it was announced that she had signed with Blue Note and still working on her new album. In the meantime, the Atlantic imprint Rhino released Night of Rapture: Live, a 1987 concert originally available on video. Baker finally returned to the studio in 2003 and issued My Everything, her first album in 10 years. Two years later she released her first holiday album, Christmas Fantasy.
Classy, urbane, reserved, smooth, and sophisticated -- all of these terms have been used to describe the music of Roberta Flack, particularly her string of romantic, light jazz ballad hits in the 1970s, which continue to enjoy popularity on MOR-oriented adult contemporary stations. Flack was the daughter of a church organist and started playing piano early enough to get a music scholarship and eventually, a degree from Howard University. After a period of student teaching, Flack was discovered singing at a club by jazz musician Les McCann and signed to Atlantic.
First Take Her first two albums -- 1969's First Take and 1970's Chapter Two -- were well received but produced no hit singles; however, that all changed when a version of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," from her first LP, was included in the soundtrack of the 1971 film Play Misty for Me. The single zoomed to number one in 1972 and remained there for six weeks, becoming that year's biggest hit. Flack followed it with the first of several duets with Howard classmate Donny Hathaway, "Where Is the Love." "Killing Me Softly with His Song" became Flack's second number one hit (five weeks) in 1973, and after topping the charts again in 1974 with "Feel Like Makin' Love," Flack took a break from performing to concentrate on recording and charitable causes.
Blue Lights in the Basement She charted several more times over the next few years, as she did with the Top Ten 1977 album Blue Lights in the Basement -- featuring "The Closer I Get to You," a number two ballad with Hathaway. A major blow was struck in 1979 when her duet partner, one of the most creative voices in soul music, committed suicide. Devastated, Flack eventually found another creative partner in Peabo Bryson, with whom she toured in 1980. The two recorded together in 1983, scoring a hit duet with "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love."
RobertaFlack spent the remainder of the '80s touring and performing, often with orchestras, and also several times with Miles Davis. She returned to the Top Ten once more in 1991 with "Set the Night to Music," a duet with Maxi Priest that appeared that year on the album of the same name. Her Roberta full-length, featuring interpretations of jazz and popular standards, followed in 1994. As she continued into the 21st century, Flack recorded infrequently but released albums like 2012's Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings the Beatles, which showed that her poise and balanced singing had aged well. Varese Sarabande released a lovingly remixed version of Flack's fine 1997 holiday album Christmas Songs (it had originally appeared from Capitol Records under the title The Christmas Album) that same year, adding in an additional track, "Cherry Tree Carol."
Millie Jackson is an African-American R&B/Soul singer-songwriter and actress whose music has also explored Disco, Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock and even Country. Her powerful vocal performances are also distinguished by long, humorous, and explicit spoken sections in her music; her work from the 1970s and 1980s, is often cited as an influence on female rappers. She is the mother of Contemporary R&B singer, Keisha Jackson.
Millie Jackson was born in the small town of Thompson, Georgia, on 15 July 1944; she was the daughter of a sharecropper. Her mother died while Jackson was still a child, and subsequently she and her father moved to Newark, New Jersey. By the time she was in her mid-teens, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, and lived with an aunt. She occasionally worked as a model for magazines like Jive and Sepia.
Her career is said to have begun on a dare to enter a 1964 Harlem nightclub talent contest, which she soundly won.
Though she first recorded for MGM records, she soon left and began her long association with Spring records. Among her early hits was Hurts So Good which was featured in the blaxploitation film Cleopatra Jones. During the 1970’s, she travelled the Southern club circuit along with other bands like The Mighty Majors. She is a former Grammy Award nominee for If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right) from the album Caught Up. On that album, the follow-up Still Caught Up, and others, she was backed by the renowned Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Her voice is frequently compared to Gladys Knight’s.
Jackson’s chart success continued into the 1980s. Two of her largest hits during this period include “Hot! Wild! Unrestricted Crazy Love” and “Love Is A Dangerous Game.” Both songs reached the Top 10 of R&B chart.
Jackson wrote and starred in the touring play “Young Man, Older Woman,” based on her album of the same title. Two more albums followed, “Rock N’ Soul” (1994) and “It’s Over” (1995).
Jackson now runs her own record label, Weird Wreckuds. For the past several years Jackson has had her own radio show in Dallas, Texas. Broadcasting via remote from her home in Atlanta, Jackson can be found working in afternoon drive time from 3-6 pm on KKDA 730 AM.
In 2000 her voice featured in “Am I wrong” by Etienne de Crecy, sampled from her performance in “If loving you is wrong”. In 2001, Jackson issued her album, “Not For Church Folk!” on her own label, Weird Wreckuds. It includes the single, “Butt—A-Cize.” Jackson continues to tour.
Betty Wright (born December 21, 1953, in Miami, Florida) is a soul and R&B singer, who influenced a generation of female singer-songwriters and also influenced the world of hip hop, who sampled some of her more famous material.
Born singing gospel with the family group, the Echoes of Joy, Wright began switching to R&B music in 1965 when she was only 11. In 1968, she released her first album, My First Time Around, at the age of 15, and scored her first hit, “Girls Can’t Do What Guys Can Do”. But it was not until the end of 1971 that Wright’s most successful phase of her career took place.
The song, “Clean Up Woman”, became a Top 5 pop and R&B hit, and would later influence a remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” single with the sample of its guitar riffs; R&B girl group trio SWV’s “I’m So Into You” also featured a sample from “Clean Up Woman,” as did Afrika Bambaataa’s song “Zulu War Chant.” In 1974, Wright scored big with the songs “Tonight is the Night” (about a real-life love affair that happened with Wright when she was a teenager) and “Where is the Love” (which won her a Grammy for Best R&B Song).
After experiencing a brief slump in the early 1980s, she rebounded founding her own record label, Ms. B Records, and in 1988 made music history by being the first woman to have a gold record on her own label, with the release of Mother Wit, which featured two of her biggest hits in years, “No Pain No Gain” and the “After The Pain.” On both songs, Wright displays her powerful upper register capabilities and five-octave range. In 1989, Wright released “4u2njoy” which features the hit songs “From Pain To Joy” (#39 R&B), “Quiet Storm” (#88 R&B) and “Keep Love New” (#71 R&B). Her subsequent albums “Passion and Compassion” (1990), “B-Attitudes” (1994) and “Fit For A King” (2001) kept her fanbase satisfied.
By 2001 a compilation album “The Very Best of Betty Wright” was released. In 2007. Wright scored her most successful single in over a decade with “Baby” (a duet with fellow Soul singer, Angie Stone). The song “Baby” peaked at #22 on the R&B chart and #2 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Wright still records music and tours. She now also mentors several young singers, and has done vocal production for the likes of Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez and Joss Stone. Visit http://www.myspace.com/therealbettywright Betty’s MySpace.
* When R&B group Color Me Badd released their huge hit, “I Wanna Sex You Up”, in 1991, it generated controversy because the sample from “Tonight is the Night” had not been cleared; Wright soon took the band to court for royalties and was awarded 35% percent of royalties for writing the song.
* Her cover of the song “Shoo-Rah! Shoo-Rah!” was recently used in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. The song also appears on the soundtrack to the second series of the UK Channel 4 comedy drama No Angels (TV series).
* Wright currently resides in Miami.
* On December 24, 2005, her 21-year-old son Patrick Parker was shot and killed after a dispute at a Christmas party in Opa-locka, a Miami suburb. 
* In 2006, Wright appeared on the TV show Making the Band as vocal coach appointed by Sean Combs, for the his new female group Danity Kane.
Tswana Traditional Dancers
Brenda "Mabbrr" Fassie...
Brenda Fassie (November 3, 1964 – May 9, 2004), was a legendary South African pop singer and widely considered the voice for disenfranchised blacks during apartheid. She was affectionately known as the Queen of African Pop. Brenda was born in Langa, Cape Town as the youngest of 9 children. She was named after Brenda Lee, an American country singer. Her father died when she was 2, and with the help of her mother, a pianist, she started earning money by singing for tourists.
In 1981, at the age of 16, she left Cape Town for Soweto, Johannesburg to seek her fortune as a singer. Brenda first joined the group Joy and later became the lead singer for the township pop group Brenda And The Big Dudes. She had a son, Bongani, in 1985 by a fellow Big Dudes musician. Brenda married ex-convict Nhlanhla Mbambo in 1989 but later in 1991 got divorced. It was around this time that she became addicted to cocaine and her career suffered.
With very outspoken views and frequent visits to the poorer townships of Johannesburg, as well as songs about life in the townships, she enjoyed tremendous popularity. Known best for her songs “Weekend Special” and “Too Late for Mama”, she was called by Time Magazine in 2001 “The Madonna of the Townships”.
In a drug-related incident in 1995 she was discovered unconscious with the body of her lover, Poppie Sihlahla, who had died of an apparent overdose. Fassie survived, underwent rehabilitation, and got her career back on track. However, she still had drug problems and returned to drug rehabilitation clinics about 30 times in her life.
The honey-toned chanteuse on the surprise Brazilian crossover hit "The Girl From Ipanema," Astrud Gilberto parlayed her previously unscheduled appearance (and professional singing debut) on the song into a lengthy career that resulted in nearly a dozen albums for Verve and a successful performing career that lasted into the '90s. Though her appearance at the studio to record "The Girl From Ipanema" was due only to her husband João, one of the most famed Brazilian artists of the century, Gilberto's singular, quavery tone and undisguised naïveté propelled the song into the charts and influenced a variety of sources in worldwide pop music.
Born in Bahia, Gilberto moved to Rio de Janeiro at an early age. She'd had no professional musical experience of any kind until 1963, the year of her visit to New York with her husband, João Gilberto, in a recording session headed by Stan Getz. Getz had already recorded several albums influenced by Brazilian rhythms, and Verve teamed him with the cream of Brazilian music, Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, for his next album. Producer Creed Taylor wanted a few English vocals for maximum crossover potential, and as it turned out, Astrud was the only Brazilian present with any grasp of the language. After her husband laid down his Portuguese vocals for the first verse of his and Jobim's composition, "The Girl From Ipanema," Astrud provided a hesitant, heavily accented second verse in English.
Getz/Gilberto Not even credited on the resulting LP, Getz/Gilberto, Astrud finally gained fame over a year later, when "The Girl From Ipanema" became a number five hit in mid-1964. The album became the best-selling jazz album up to that point, and made Gilberto a star across America. Before the end of the year, Verve capitalized on the smash with the release of Getz Au Go Go, featuring a Getz live date with Gilberto's vocals added later. Her first actual solo album, The Astrud Gilberto Album, was released in May 1965. Though it barely missed the Top 40, the LP's blend of Brazilian classics and ballad standards proving quite infectious with easy listening audiences.
A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness Though she never returned to the pop charts in America, Verve proved to be quite understanding for Astrud Gilberto's career, pairing her with ace arranger Gil Evans for 1966's Look to the Rainbow and Brazilian organist/arranger Walter Wanderley for the dreamy A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness, released later that year. She remained a huge pop star in Brazil for the rest of the 1960s and '70s, but gradually disappeared in America after her final album for Verve in 1969. In 1971, she released a lone album for CTI (with Stanley Turrentine) but was mostly forgotten in the U.S. until 1984, when "Girl From Ipanema" recharted in Britain on the tails of a neo-bossa craze. Gilberto gained worldwide distribution for 1987's Astrud Gilberto Plus the James Last Orchestra and 2002's Jungle.
Shirley Brown Vs.Barbara Mason
Shirley Brown is a soul singer, born January 6, 1947 in West Memphis, Arkansas. She had a classic Soul background, having started to sing in a Baptist Church in St Louis, Missouri at the end of 10. Very much a singer in the southern Deep Soul tradiiton, she is one of the few vocalists whose range and power invite comparison with Aretha Franklin.
She had sung professionally since the age of 22, and recorded for small labels in St Louis and Nashville. Her manager, bluesman Albert King negotiated a recording deal with Stax records in Memphis, and, resulted in national attention with the 1974 hit ‘Woman to Woman’ taken from the 1974 album of the same name. Soul critic Ron Wynn went on to call ‘Woman to Woman’ a ‘seminal confessional and confrontational soul masterpiece,’ and it was actually the last hit for the Stax label and its success actually delayed its collapse into bankruptcy for several months.
Left musically orphaned by the collapse of Stax in 1975, Shirley Brown looked around for another label, and was one of the first signings to Clive Davis’ Arista where she cut the undervalued ‘Shirley Brown’ album in 1976. She then recorded for several other labels, including 20th Century, the revamped and relaunched Stax, and Malaco. Surprisingly, none of her other recordings have enjoyed anything like the commercial success of ‘Woman to Woman.’
Musical universal Travel Blast
Quarteto Em Cy "Milagre"
Letta Mbulu - "Nomathemba"
Musical Universal Vector
Letta MBulu - "There's Music In The Air"
Margaret Singana, the world-renowned SA singing star, passed away on Saturday 22 April 2000 (aged 63). Although she enjoyed her greatest success during the Seventies, she made a triumphant comeback following a debilitating stroke in 1978. In 1986 Margaret Singana returned to the microphone to sing 'We Are Growing', the theme song from the television series "Shaka Zulu" which went to number 1 in Holland in 1989. But that was to be her final bow and she died largely forgotten, and in a financial situation unbefitting a star appropriately and affectionately dubbed "Lady Africa".
Margaret M'cingana, as she was christened, left Queenstown in the Eastern Cape to work in Johannesburg. She first appeared in the musicals 'Sponono' by Alan Paton, and 'Sikalo' by Gibson Kente. In 1974, 'The Warrior', a musical by Bertha Egnos and Gail Lakier, appeared for the first time. The band performing the music was billed as "Ipi 'N Tombia featuring Margaret Singana". The show was a massive South African hit and went on to achieve continued international success. It became simply known as 'Ipi Tombi' ("Young Girl"), and after 25 years is still as popular as ever. The stage show recently completed a US tour, there are currently four, different CD versions available, including the modernized soundtrack from the subsequent film.
But for many, 'Ipi Tombi' will always be strongly associated with three memorable songs, all sung by Margaret Singana - 'The Warrior', 'Mama Tembu's Wedding' and the 'Ipi Tombi' theme. She also achieved unique crossover success with both her big pop hit, 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Love You)', and some credible work in the SA rock arena.
Margaret has covered a number of classic South African rock tracks, including Freedoms Children's 'Tribal Fence' written by Ramsay MacKay, Julian Laxton's 'Johannesburg' and Hawk's 'Orang Outang'.
Margaret sang guest vocals on Rabbitt's version of 'Tribal Fence' from the 'Croak and Grunt In The Night' album. Trevor Rabin (from Rabbitt) was also very involved in her 1976 'Where Is The Love?' album playing guitar, keyboards, bass and co-producing with Patrick van Blerk and Allan Goldberg.
If you enjoy strong female vocals with a touch of rock, a bit of Africa and a lot of soul, then listen to Margaret Singana's 'Lady Africa' CD (available from "One world")).
It seems appropriate that one of the veteran greats of the South African Music Industry, Margaret Singana, rightly named "Lady Africa", should have been chosen to sing the title music on not only this version, but on the actual production series of Shaka Zulu itself. She gives to this musical tribute, to one of Africa's Greatest Leaders, a powerful and richly-voiced dimension, a dimension which I feel is a valuable asset, as we humbly attempt to do the story of this legendary King, justice.
-- William C. Faure, Film Director
During Margaret's peak, South African musicians did not have enoughopportunities and the industry was not as big as today. Although her death came as a blow to theindustry, she has left behind a big influence which today comes through thelikes of Brenda Fassie and Rebecca Malope.
-- Mike Fuller, April 2000
It is a painful loss. I am happy she made herself a name, and that I waspart of the making of her. It was in my backyard garage where she wasgroomed. She was like a child to me.
-- Gibson Kente, April 2000
Tania Maria - "Come With Me Now"...
Pianist, Singer, Composer, Arranger, Bandleader
Internationally renowned for her exhilarating vocals and keyboard artistry, Tania Maria's music is a stylish combination of jazz, funk, Afro-Cuban elements, and the popular music of her native Brazil. She has created an eclectic fusion that is her own unique brand of jazz and appeals to audiences around the world. Maria’s raw alto has set her apart in the jazz world, her voice sounding sometimes bossa songstress, sometimes Brazilian soul singer.
Tania Maria was born in Sao Luis in the north of Brazil, in the heart of a family who practiced music with great enthusiasm. She quickly became sensitive to Brazilian tempo and rhythm. Beginning the piano at the age of 7, she finds herself six years later as the leader of a band who wins first prize in a local contest. She developed her own masterful synthesis of what she heard an effervescent style of piano work and rapid-tongued vocals in arrangements that fuse Brazilian rhythms and Caribbean salsa with the improvised expression that is the heart of American jazz.
Although 6 years of classical study underlie her solid piano technique, Tania Maria's highly praised vocal skills came naturally, “I'm Brazilian”, she says, “and singing is the greatest tradition we have!”. Well known for ebullient scat singing, she identifies herself primarily as a pianist. “I play percussion on my piano”, she explains, rather than smooth runs up and down scales. And she often scats in unison or harmony with the notes that flow from her touch, soaring beyond the constraints of words.
Tania Maria's first album “Olha Quem Chega,” was released in Brazil in 1971, but it was a move to France in the late 1970’s that exploded Tania onto the international scene, bringing her to the attention of Concord Records. At a concert in Australia, her formidable musical precision and freewheeling spirit caught the attention of the late American guitarist, Charlie Byrd, who recommended her to the late Carl Jefferson, founder of Concord Records.
A move to New York followed and in 1983 she released the album “Come with Me” on Concord Records. The title track of which became a huge international smash hit, and is still played in soul and jazz clubs all over Europe, Japan and America. Tania is an extraordinary improviser best known for her fiery interpretation of Brazilian, Afro-Latin, Pop and Jazz Fusion, in a style that is uniquely her own. Tania has played virtually every important Jazz Festival in the world and has appeared on countless television and radio programs.
Well established as an international veteran, with over twenty five albums out as leader, Tania has most recently entered a particularly productive period in her career, as evidenced on 2000's “Viva Brazil,” 2002's “Live At The Blue Note,” and 2003's “Outrageously Wild.”
These records were for Concord, but she has since signed on with other labels and has recently released “Intimidade,” on Blue Note, in 2006.This is the work of a mature, talented artist who's been around long enough to know how to make everything she does sound near perfect.
Sweet Honey In The Rock..
Sweet honey in the rock - "Ella's Song"
Sweethoney On The Rock: "Crying for freedom in South Africa"
"More Than A Paycheck" - Sweet Honey In The Rock
Sweet Honey In The Rock..
Sweet Honey in the Rock is an all-woman, African-American a cappella ensemble that has been producing music for more than thirty years. Although the members of the group have changed over time, the music of Sweet Honey in the Rock has consistently combined contemporary rhythms and narratives with a musical style rooted in the gospel music, spirituals and hymns of the Black church.
Sweet Honey in the Rock was founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon who formed the group out of the strongest singers from a vocal workshop she was teaching with the D.C. Black Repertory Company. The name of the group comes from a religious parable that tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them.
The music of Sweet Honey in the Rock challenges its listeners with songs on topics including motherhood, spirituality, freedom, civil liberties, domestic violence, and racism.
Over the years, more than twenty individuals have lent their voices to Sweet Honey in the Rock. Beginning as a quartet, Sweet Honey in the Rock is now comprised of six African American women (including a professional American Sign Language interpreter who accompanies the group on concert tours). The ensemble tackles difficult five-part harmonies and composes much of their own music.
Sweet Honey in the Rock has received several Grammy Award nominations, including one for their children’s album Still the Same Me which received the Silver Award from the National Association of Parenting Publications. They won a Grammy in 1989 in the category of Best Traditional Folk Recording for their version of Leadbelly’s “Grey Goose” from the compilation album Folkways: A Vision Shared.
These days, the voice as a dominant instrument is finding new favor among music lovers. The group that has been central to this development within the contemporary music scene is a quintet of electrifying vocalists based in Washington, D.C., Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Singing unaccompanied, except for body and hand percussion instruments, this ensemble of African-American women singers has, in 17 years, built an solid international reputation and following. The strength of Sweet Honey lies within her repertoire rooted in the tradition of African congregational choral style and its many extensions. One hears the moan of blues, the power of early 20th century gospel, echoes of the community quartet, and jazz choral vocalizations freshly tinged with church melodic and harmonic runs. A Sweet Honey in the Rock concert is a transforming experience, drenching audiences with harmonies. The rhythms change, leads change, and women dance: breathtaking music.
The women of Sweet Honey sing fiercely of being fighters, tenderly of being in love, and knowingly of being women. They take their evergrowing audiences through a complex journey of celebration and struggle rooted in the history of the African-American legacy.
The concept and leadership of the group rest primarily with Bernice Johnson Reagon, who, as vocal director of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater, founded The Sweet Honey in 1973. Reagon began her work as a socially conscious artist in 1961 during the Albany, Georgia Civil Rights Movement campaign. The musical and political groundwork set by Reagan is constantly expanded by the other singers who join her on Sweet Honey's stages. Twenty African-American women singers have lent their voices, over the years, so that there could be a Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Among Sweet Honey in the Rock's many albums are Live at Carnegie Hall (1988) and Feel Something Drawing Me On (1989), both on Flying Fish Records, Still on the Journey (1993), Sacred Ground (1995) and Women Gather (2003), all released by Earthbeat! Records, and Still the Same Me, released on Rounder Records in 2000. Raise Your Voice appeared on Rhino Records in 2005.
Marcia Griffiths - Electric Boogie (Long Version) 1983
Marcia Griffiths b.23 Nov 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, is, thus far, the most successful female reggae artist in the world with songs like “Young, Gifted And Black” (1970), “Feel Like Jumping” (1978) and “Steppin’ Out Of Babylon” (1979), and “Electric Boogie (1990) . She cooperated with Bob Marley on all his LP albums for Island Records and in all tours until his death.
Marcia Griffiths has sung professionally for over 40 years, and had an early career with Bob Andy in the duo Bob and Marcia, who delivered hit songs like “Young, Gifted And Black” (1970) and “The Pied Piper” (1971). She was already an international star and more known than Bob Marley in 1973 where she contributed to the group’s first LP on Island Records – Catch A Fire – by running in songs like “No More Trouble”. In 1974, she joined Bob Marley & The Wailers as one of the permanent members of the I-Threes – the vocal trio that also included Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley, who lifted and reinforced Bob Marley’s messages on the stage and studio albums.
Solo she delivered heavy love songs like “The First Time I Saw Your Face” and “Sweet Bitter Love” (1974) on the album Play Me Sweet and Niceand immortal roots reggae classic “Steppin’ Out Of Babylon” on the album Steppin’. In between, she released the album Naturally, where she sang Bunny Wailer classic rastafarian song “Dreamland”, Bob Marley’s “Lonesome Feeling” and her own hit songs, “Feel Like Jumping” , “Truly” and “Melody Life” - songs that are still played by radio stations worldwide.
With some help from Bunny Wailer 1990 she hit the Billboard chart with “Electric Boogie” ( Carousell) and created a world class dance, the Electric Slide. This super star has been recording and performing ceaselessly.
At a recent reggae concert in South Florida, Marcia Griffiths demonstrated the same level of performance she has been known for over the years, as both a solist and a member of different groups. She displayed, in combination with Reggae rapper Cutty Ranks, on their duet of “Fire Burning”, all the zeal and elements that go into dancehall music. Marcia exibit the same exuberance when performing her international crossove hit “Electric Boogie.”
Marcia Griffiths has been performing and recording as a top class artist for four decade. She says “I started singing professionally as a vocalist in 1964, for Byron Lee and the Dragonaires band.” Her recording years started soon after, at Coxsone Dodd - Studio One where she recorded her first hit “Feel Like Jumping.”
It was while recording at Studio One that Marcia teamed up with Bob Andy on ‘Really Together,” the first of many duets that the two would record. “Luckily for me, Bob Andy was always a strong and wise person”, says Marcia. “He was there for me in the early days and that gave me confidence”. Then the pair moved to the Harry J Label, hitting the British, as well as the International charts with “Young Gifted and Black” and “The Pied Piper,” recording two albums of the same titles.
Following that duet success, she went solo again on the High Note label with Reggae’s sole established female producer - Sonia Pottinger - hitting with several songs including her own original “Stepping Out of Babylon.” and releasing two albums “Naturally” and “Stepping”. When asked to express her opinion on female reggae vocalists, Marcia said “Its been a rough, tough job standing up as a woman in this business, that’s why my album before “Land of Love” I chose to call “Indomitable”, which means not easily discouraged or defeated. My views on women in reggae are positive; most of the new or upcoming female singers in reggae started out singing my songs before doing their own originals. I feel very good about that; to know that I have influenced my people positively.”
Ten years after entering the music business, Marcia united with Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley to form the I-Threes as an important part of the Bob Marley entourage. “Words are not enough to express my experience with the I-Threes and Bob Marley and the Wailers”, says Marcia. “What a blessing to be so privileged…to have shared this experience”.
Currently Marcia is one of the leading female artists on the Reggae scene.
Marcia gained solo international recognition with her monster hit “Electric Boogie.” This song was first recorded in 1982 and went to the #1 spot on the Jamaican charts. Sales continued over the years and in 1989, a Washington, DC Disc Jockey started playing it regularly and in no time, it caught on and hit the station’s regular rotation list.
A new dance, the Electric Slide, was created from the “Electric Boogie” song and as a result, sales soared and the “Electric Slide” became popular all over the U.S. The song and dance have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue shows, and the video has been aired many times on the Black Entertainment TV (BET) and other nationwide music networks.
Marcia Llyneth Griffiths was born on November 23, 1949 to Joseph and Beatrice Griffiths. The family hailed from a poor section of West Kingston, but as bad as things were, Marcia considered those days glorious, because there was always one thing in abundance - one thing that made them the wealthiest family in the world - one thing that no one could take from them… Love.
Marcia as a teenager attended Kingston Senior School, and was a zealous member of her church choir. In fact, she was always taking part in some school concert or play. She loved to hang out and sing with friends, often times sneaking out of the house after her parents had gone to bed. It was during one such nightly excursion, that the slim fifteen year old beauty managed to get herself discovered.
Philip “Boasie” James lead singer of the Blues Busters vocal duo was visiting his girlfriend, who lived next door to Marcia, and heard this lovely voice floating through the air. He could not believe his ears, and subsequently took Marcia straight away to Byron Lee and insisted that this song-bird be included on the upcoming talent show to be held at the Carib Theater in Kingston. Marcia remembers that Byron was upset with “Boasie” for coming to interrupt his well planned program schedule and insisting that this “nobody” go on his show.
Marcia remembers she performed a Carla Thomas original,“No Time To Lose” to phenomenal response from the audience. They demanded an encore, but to no avail, as she had only rehearsed one song with the band. As much as she wanted to, she could not do any more performances that day.
The attention Marcia received after this auspicious debut was overwhelming. Everyone wanted to manage her, including Byron Lee’s manager Ronnie Nasralla. That same night he took her to the studios of JBC where Marcia made her first television debut. All in one day were the ingredients of an overnight success story which no one realized was about to happen. The rest is history, for the girl who became first the queen, the matriarch of Reggae Music. Marcia L. Griffiths OD., a great contributor to Reggae Music, is most fitting for the royal, prestigious, and respectful title of Reggae Empress.
In 2004 at the dawning of the 21st century, the most influential female artist in Jamaican popular music, Marcia Griffiths OD is briskly fanning the flames of Reggae Music. Working in the studio, releasing records and touring. Marcia continues her mission of spreading the message in the music into the new millennium.
In between studio sessions, Marcia has been on the road. In the past two years she has enjoyed a successful tour of the USA with Beres Hammond and Freddie Mcgregor. Traveling to England with Beres Hammond they performed an extensive tour with the same overwhelming results. Forward on a yard, Marcia shared the stage with Boyz II Men at the massive Spring Break concert for MTV in Negril Jamaica. Returning to the US, she performed in Orlando, Florida, (Disney World) Universal Studio, at the opening of the Bob Marley Museum. Sharing the bill were the I-Threes, Ziggy Marley and Inner Circle. Moving on up to New York, Marcia displayed two memorable shows with Beres Hammond and Buju Banton at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. Going further north Marcia worked in Toronto and Montreal with John Holt and Ken Boothe. Again in the USA with Bob Andy as the Legendary duo, they performed at the Bob Marley Day Celebration in Los Angeles, before heading down south to perform at the historic Reggae meets Rocksteady showcase in Miami. Next Marcia toured with the legendary Wailers Band. Then the I-Threes were off for shows in Italy, Europe and South Africa. Returning to Jamaica, the I-Threes shared the stage for two shows with R&B legends Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle. In November 2002, along with John Holt, Ken Boothe and Mikey Spice, Marcia produced an historical performance with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at the Wembley Arena, Birmingham and Aston Vill Leisure Centre, Middlesex. Since then Marcia has performed in New York, Toronto, Atlanta, Miami and Jamaica.
The driving force of the Reggae Empress is fueled by her inner desire to serve the people of the world with sweet reggae music. She said “ Music alone shall live, and it’s not only for the money, but the satisfaction I get from doing the work that I love, that is what really keeps me going everyday”.
Aretha Franklin - "Think"  (Original Version)
Margareth Menezes (born October 13, 1962) is a Brazilian singer from Salvador, Bahia.
Her style is considered axé but her music also steers into samba and MPB territory, also drawing on African rhythms and reggae at times.
Menezes is best known in Brazil for her song “Me Abraça e Me Beija”, a major hit in 1990. She also scored another hit with “Dandalunda”, a song which became the unofficial anthem of the 2003 Salvador carnival.
Menezes has achieved superstardom in her native Bahia but only moderate success in wider Brazil. She is famed for her energetic live performances and regularly tours and performs at carnival celebrations.
In 1990, one of Menezes’s tracks “Elegibô (Uma Historia De Ifa)” was used in the Mickey Rourke film Wild Orchid. This prompted Island Records in the US to release a compilation album of some of her older material from Brazil on their subsidiary label, Mango. The album, simply titled Elegibô, was an instant hit, reaching # 1 on the Billboard World Music chart at a time when David Byrne was championing Brazilian music in the US. The title track itself became a regular staple at clubs playing so-called world music throughout the US and Europe. The album also received a full release in the UK, Germany and France. Menezes toured internationally on the back of this album, generating a lot of press in the process. A second US-released follow-up album Kindala, released late 1991, but repackaged in some territories from the Brazilian release of the same name, also achieved some success. This release also gave Menezes a minor hit album in France too.
In 2002, Menezes released the highly acclaimed Afropopbrasileiros (also known as “Maga”) showcasing her trademark fusion of afro-Brazilian beats. The album was produced by Carlinhos Brown of Tribalistas fame and was well received in Brazil and internationally.
Menezes also co-wrote and performed on the 2003 Tribalistas hit “Passe Em Casa”, from the million-selling Tribalistas album.
Her 2005 single, “Como Tu”, a duet with Brazilian superstar Ivete Sangalo was released amidst much hype due to the fact that Sangalo was achieving platinum album sales at the time. The track reached the lower reaches of the Top 30 in Brazil but failed to emulate the success of recent Sangalo hits. The hit single was lifted from Menezes’ 2005 album release Pra Você; the album received lukewarm reviews, possibly owing to a more poppier sound than previous releases. A second single, the reggae-tinged “Miragem na esquina” performed poorly at radio.
In 2006, the album Pra Você received a Grammy nomination for “Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album”.
More recently, Menezes participated on the track “Beijo Descarado” by Timbalada which achieved some airplay success in Brazil during the 2007 Carnival celebrations.
Menezes remains one of the most dynamic and popular of the contemporary Brazilian artists achieving international recognition.
Marisa Monte -"volte Para O Seu Lar". - - Montreux Jazz Festival
The most acclaimed female vocalist to arise in Brazil during the 1990s, Marisa Monte is known best for her exquisite voice as well as her international popularity, yet she's also accomplished in other realms such as songwriting, production, and collaboration. Monte first rose to acclaim in 1989, when her debut album -- a live theatrical performance incorporating an eclectic array of songs, past and present -- became a sensation in Brazil. It was her subsequent studio albums, however, Mais (1991) and Verde, Anil, Amarelo, Cor de Rosa e Carvão (1994), that truly established her as a talented artist. For these albums, Monte formed creative partnerships with Arto Lindsay, Arnaldo Antunes, Nando Reis, and Carlinhos Brown, each of whom would work with her for years to come. Moreover, a 1997 double album, Barulhinho Bom, showcased her charismatic command of a concert stage. In 2000 she released Memórias, Crônicas, e Declaracões de Amor on her own Phonomotor Records label and enjoyed her highest level of success to date, notably winning her first Latin Grammy. Two years later she released Tribalistas (2002), a trio effort also featuring Antunes and Brown, on Phonomotor, and enjoyed yet more success. The supergroup recording sold well over a million copies, spun off chart-topping singles, found success in Europe, and was critically beloved all the same. Following such dizzy heights of success, Monte receded from the limelight, becoming a mother and focusing on more challenging music. Even if her popularity waned a bit with age, her credentials among critics only grew, especially internationally. While Monte generally is classified as an MPB artist, her music is fluid and ever-changing, to the point where such labels seem futile. Rather, it's her voice that is her calling card. "One of the most perfect in the world" is how Carlinhos Brown once described it to Larry Rohter of The New York Times. "It's like the wind: soft, gentle, and caressing, but it messes with everything in its path."
Born Marisa de Azevedo Monte on July 1, 1967, in Rio de Janeiro, she grew up in a nurturing musical environment, for her father, Carlos Monte, an economist, was a cultural director at the Portela samba school and immersed her in Rio's time-honored samba tradition. At age 14, Marisa took the entrance exam for the National Music School; she wanted to become an opera singer. She studied lyric singing, and at age 19, she moved to Rome, where she hoped to further her studies and make contacts in the opera world. It wasn't long, however, before Monte returned to Brazil, now harboring hopes of becoming a pop singer. While living in Italy, she'd befriended Nelson Motta, a journalist of some renown, among other capacities, whose sister was a friend of Marisa's mother; associated with the likes of Elis Regina and Joyce, he had played a role in Brazil's popular music scene of the late '60s and early '70s, as both a writer and producer. Back in Brazil, Monte reunited with Motta, who returned in March 1987, not long after she did. Monte had lined up a producer, Lula Buarque de Hollanda, and looked to Motta for help with compiling a repertoire, since he was so knowledgeable about popular music. Motta gladly complied. The performance was titled Veludo Azul (presumably named after David Lynch's film Blue Velvet ) and debuted at Rio's Jazzmania. These performances, which showcased her singing an eclectic array of songs, past and present, were well received critically, and a buzz began to grow, to the point where Monte was selling out shows regularly.
Marisa Monte These early theater performances were captured for a TV special and album, MM (aka Ao Vivo), 1989. The TV special was directed by Walter Salles, who himself would go on to much success, directing films including Central Station (1998) and The Motorcycle Diaries (2003) and co-producing others including City of God (2002) and The House of Sand (2005). Motta produced the accompanying album, released in January 1989 by EMI; it showcases Monte performing the same range of songs that had made her show such a crossover hit in the first place: "Comida," originally performed by Titãs, a popular Brazilian rock band of the 1980s featuring Arnaldo Antunes and Nando Reis, the co-writers of the song and, more importantly, key songwriters with whom Monte subsequently would develop fruitful creative partnerships; "Bem Que Se Quis," a song originally written and performed by Italian pop/rock artist Pino Daniele in 1982 as "E Po' Che Fà," in turn adapted to Portuguese by Motta; "Chocolate," by Brazilian soul renegade Tim Maia; "Ando Meio Desligado," by tropicalia favorites Os Mutantes; "Preciso Me Encontrar," a decades-old samba song by singer/composer Candeia (born Antônio Candeia Filho, died 1978); "O Xote das Meninas," a Brazilian standard from the 1950s; "Negro Gato," another old Brazilian song, this one written in the 1960s by Getúlio Côrtes and recorded by various performers, including Renato & Seus Blue Caps and Luís Melodia; "Lenda das Sereias, Rainha do Mar," an old samba song; "South American Way," a song originally written by Al Dubin and Jimmy McHugh for the 1939 musical The Streets of Paris that was shortly thereafter recorded by, and henceforth associated with, Carmen Miranda; "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," a Motown classic written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield and performed most famously by Marvin Gaye; "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," a Gershwin standard; and "Speak Low," a Kurt Weill standard.
MM became a sensation in Brazil, with "Bem Que Se Quis" emerging as a big hit, and the album went on to sell half a million copies. Then her follow-up album, Mais (1991), sold even more. Recorded in New York City with Arto Lindsay in the producer's seat, Mais reflected Monte's own personal style. She co-wrote many of the songs herself and recruited the aforementioned Titãs bandmembers Antunes and Reis to contribute their own writing. Plus, Monte added a few covers, including songs by Caetano Veloso ("De Noite Na Cama") and Pixinguinha ("Rosa"). Thanks to the involvement of Lindsay, Antunes, and Reis, not to mention musical contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bernie Worrell, Naná Vasconcelos, and John Zorn, Mais is a thoroughly contemporary MPB album, and indeed it registered with the Brazilian public. "Beija Eu," a songwriting collaboration between Antunes and Monte, became a significant hit, as did "Ainda Lembro," one of the Reis collaborations, and a promotional tour of Brazil commenced. In the wake of the album's success, as well as that of the national tour, Monte traveled to the United States and Europe to drum up the attention of critics. She debuted internationally in New York City at the Knitting Factory, where she was greeted warmly, a bellwether of the critical adoration that would accompany her efforts in the years that followed.
For her second studio album, Verde, Anil, Amarelo, Cor de Rosa e Carvão (1994), Monte returned to New York to work with Lindsay. Part of the album was recorded in Rio, however, as Monte assumed a co-production role and continued to assert more control over her music. Antunes and Reis also returned, contributing a few songs ("Alta Noite" was written by the former, "Au Meu Redor" and "O Céu" by the latter), while Monte wrote a few of her own ("Na Estrada," "De Mais Ninguém," "Bem Leve," and "Enquanto Isso") and chose a few covers (Lou Reed's "Pale Blue Eyes," Paulinho da Viola's "Dança da Solidão," and Jorge Ben's "Balança Pema," as well as a traditional samba, "Esta Melodia"). Most notable, however, was a new partnership fostered by Monte, one with Carlinhos Brown, who was at that time the leader of the group Timbalada. Brown contributed a pair of songs, "Maria de Verdade" and "Segue o Seco," that became album standouts; a promotional video was filmed for the latter. Numerous musicians contributed to the album, among them Gilberto Gil, Laurie Anderson, and Celso Fonseca. Moreover, Brown sang and performed on his songs. Like Mais before it, Verde, Anil, Amarelo, Cor de Rosa e Carvão was commercially successful, and it was repackaged for English-language release as Green, Blue, Yellow, Rose and Charcoal (aka Rose and Charcoal). Monte toured in support, more extensively than before, and some live recordings from the tour were released as part of a double album, Barulhinho Bom (1996). The other part of the album is comprised of studio recordings, three of which are songs written by Brown. Barulhinho Bom was repackaged for stateside release as A Great Noise (1997), for there was some controversy over the album's "porno" artwork. A full-length video was issued as well, later reissued on DVD.
Focus: O Essencial de Arnaldo Antunes Before Monte recorded her next album, Memórias, Crônicas, e Declaracões de Amor (2000), she spread the wealth of her success. Among the contributions she made to the work of others, she performed alongside Antunes on some of his songs, as compiled on Focus: O Essencial de Arnaldo Antunes (1999), and produced Brown's second solo album, Omelete Man (1999). Monte also negotiated her own vanity label, Phonomotor Records, on which she would release albums by Argemiro Patrocínio and Jair do Cavaquinho, in addition to Memórias, Crônicas e Declaracões de Amor, repackaged for English-language markets as Memories, Chronicles and Declarations of Love. The album features many of the same collaborators as before, namely Lindsay, Brown, and Antunes, with a few covers thrown in. Far and away her most commercially successful album to date, if not her most revered, Memórias, Crônicas e Declaracões de Amor won a Latin Grammy for Best Pop Album. Monte's supporting tour was sweeping, accounting for 150 shows; a three-night stand in Rio at the ATL Hall in June 2001 was summarized on DVD later that year. The following year, Monte released Tribalistas (2002) on Phonomotor; the album's success would top even that of Memórias, Crônicas e Declaracões de Amor. Comprised of songs written by Monte, Antunes, and Brown in tandem off and on over the previous couple years, Tribalistas was billed as a group effort, that is, Os Tribalistas, and its supergroup qualities made its release an event. The album was a chart-topper in Brazil and sold well in Europe as well, particularly Portugal, Italy, and France. "Já Sei Namorar" and "Velha Infância" were number one hits, and there were other singles released as well. In addition, a making-of DVD was issued in 2003. Tribalistas earned five Latin Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year ("Jé Sei Namorar") and Album of the Year; an award for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album was brought home.
Universo ao Meu RedorMonte spent the next few years away from the public eye, as she'd become a mother, and when she returned in 2006, she did so with a pair of albums. Universo ao Meu Redor (2006) is a samba album comprised of songs by classic and contemporary composers, whereas Infinito Particular (2006) is a more personal affair, featuring songs written in collaboration with her many creative partners, a stable whose ranks now included Seu Jorge and Adriana Calcanhotto. Both albums are subdued in their tone and feature a laundry list of instrumentation: Monte alone plays acoustic guitar, bass guitar, autoharp, ukulele, viola, xylophone, melodica, kalimba, metaphone, cajon, vocoder, and baixo, not to mention cymbals, bells, shakers, and various sound effects. Some listeners complained that the albums were too understated; however, critics responded well, as did most existing fans, in addition to a legion of new ones who learned about the albums via their myriad write-ups and Monte's international touring, which stretched on into 2007. The albums spun off a few singles -- "O Bonde do Dom," "Vilarejo," and "Pra Ser Sincero," all Top Ten hits in Brazil -- and earned three Latin Grammy nominations, winning one for Best Samba/Pagode Album.
Clara Nunes - "Jogo de Angola"...
Together with Beth Carvalho and Alcione, Clara Nunes, in life, was regarded as one of the three Queens of Samba. She had (and still has) enormous success with sambas by composers of the hills like "Juízo Final" (Nelson Cavaquinho/Élcio Soares) and "Coração Leviano" (Paulinho da Viola) and songs devoted to her religion, the Candomblé. Among her hits, recorded in her solo 16 albums, there are "Você Passa E Eu Acho Graça" (Ataulfo Alves/Carlos Imperial), "Ê Baiana," "A Deusa Dos Orixás," "Macunaíma," "O Mar Serenou," (Candeia), "As Forças Da Natureza" (João Nogueira/Paulo César Pinheiro), "Guerreira," "Feira de Mangaio" (Sivuca/Glorinha Gadelha), "Portela Na Avenida" (Mauro Duarte/Paulo César Pinheiro), and "Nação" (João Bosco/Aldir Blanc). An orphan since childhood, Clara Nunes became a manual laborer at a factory suffering with difficulties and poverty. In 1960, she won the Minas Gerais section of the national contest A Voz de Ouro ABC and was classified in the third place in the national final. Hired by a radio, she had her own show at TV Itacolomi (Minas Gerais). Also singing in nightclubs, she was appointed for three times as best singer of the year. She moved to Rio in 1965 and was hired by TV Continental. The first record came in next year, A Voz Adorável de Clara Nunes. Singing boleros and sambas-canção, the option for the samba came only in 1968 with her first hit, "Você Passa E Eu Acho Graça" (Ataulfo Alves/Carlos Imperial). In 1970, she had success with "É Baiana" (Fabrício da Silva/Baianinho/Ênio Santos Ribeiro/Miguel Pancrácio) and the Portela samba-enredo "Ilu Ayê" (Norival Reis/Silvestre Davi da Silva). In 1972, she staged her first show, Sabiá Sabiô. The samba "Tristeza Pé No Chão" (Armando Fernandes), recorded in the same year, sold more than 100,000 copies. In 1973, sided by Vinícius de Moraes and Toquinho, she opened in Salvador, the show O Poeta, A Moça e O Violão. In the same year, she performed in Lisbon, Portugal, and, in the next year, in the MIDEM (Cannes, France). In 1974, her LP Alvorecer had the hits "Conto de Areia" (Romildo/Toninho), "Menino de Deus" (Mauro Duarte/Paulo César Pinheiro), and "Meu Sapato Já Furou" (Elton Medeiros/Mauro Duarte), selling 300,000 copies and opening opportunities for other female singers like Alcione and Beth Carvalho. In 1975, she toured several European countries. This was the year in which she released her most successful album, Claridade, followed by the also successful Canto Das Três Raças. In 1980, she had another big hit with "Morena de Angola," written by Chico Buarque especially for her. She died during a controverted varicose veins surgery, provoking generalized consternation.
Pamela Williams performs with Jazz in Pink at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival 2013
Pamela Williams has lived in Los Angeles since 1989, but it was her native Philadelphia — an artistic hotbed that everyone from John Coltrane to Teddy Pendergrass to the Fresh Prince has called home — that did so much to shape her musical personality. “Philadelphia was a great place to learn music because the city’s music scene was really happening when I was growing up,” the saxophonist recalls. “Philadelphia International Records was big and everyone was recording in Philly — The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Stylistics, Patti LaBelle and Grover Washington, Jr.”I love this great guy named Nassar Majeed who helped me along the way.
Washington, in fact, was one of her earliest influences. Williams had been listening to soul and R&B religiously since childhood when Mr. Magic’s cutting-edge blend of jazz and R&B ignited a teenage Williams’ interest in jazz. “Grover’s my idol,” says Williams. “He laughs when I tell him that I learned to play the saxophone listening to his records, but it’s true. I’d listen to Mr. Magic or Live at the Bijou and copy his solos. I think that when an artist finds his or her own style, it comes from having so many different influences. I loved everyone from The Crusaders to the Ohio Players.”
Other saxmen who helped Williams develop her own sound range from David Sanborn and his mentor Hank Crawford to bebop revolutionary Charlie Parker to long-time James Brown employee Maceo Parker to the late Don Myrick — an unofficial Earth, Wind & Fire member.
Playing with the Martin Luther King Jazz Ensemble at King High School in Philly’s historic Germantown section, Williams was required to embrace both electric jazz-funk and hardcore bebop. Playing in the Ensemble’s rhythm section were the improvisors who went on to become “Quiet Storm” favorites Pieces of a Dream.
By the time Williams left Philly’s rowhouses and cheesesteaks for L.A.’s sun, surf and smog, she had toured extensively and internationally backing fellow Philadelphian Patti LaBelle. “My success truly stems from Patti’s graciousness,” says Williams. “She has wholeheartedly supported me and built me up as an artist. I have learned so much from Patti. She is an amazing woman.”
While many Philly musicians have made New York their home, Williams chose L.A. primarily because of the opportunities it offers in television and film. Since moving west, Williams has been employed by Arsenio Hall on Arsenio, Jay Leno on The Tonight Show and Rick Dees on Into the Night. In addition to touring with Teena Marie and performing with Prince, Babyface and Chanté Moore, she has appeared in a wide variety of videos by artists ranging from soul veteran Barry White (“Come On”) to rapper/actress Queen Latifah (“Hard Times”).
Williams notes that she enjoys performing in a variety of contexts. One thing she won’t embrace is the more hardcore, explicit gangster rap. “Music is so powerful, I think it should be used to uplift, not degenerate,” she emphasizes. “Queen Latifah’s music is very uplifting, but some of the gangster rap is too extreme. I don’t want to be a part of a negative message — especially when you consider that children may be listening. Earth, Wind & Fire were one of my all-time favorite bands because their message was so positive and uplifting. If you were feeling down, all you had to do was listen to them.”
But whatever style of music she embraces, Williams is unlikely to be confined to any one genre. “Some people feel like if you aren’t playing straight-ahead jazz or classical music, you aren’t a serious musician,” she explains. “I don’t agree with that statement in its entirety. I enjoy performing in a multitude of musical styles from Latin music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop and house. Variety keeps me fresh.”
Letta Mbulu - "Nomathemba"
South African singer Letta Mbulu possesses one of the finest voices the world of song has ever known. Like all great singers, her voice emanates a beautiful sound that radiates and resonates from deep within, brimming with a joy of life and more often than not inspiring the spirit of hope and happiness. It’s musical like too few voices ever are. It attains grace through pure passion. And it’s one of the most pleasurable sounds ever heard.
The beautiful Letta Mbulu (pronounced "let-ah" "em-boo-loo") was born on August 23, 1942, in the area of South Africa that would become known as Soweto, a sprawling group of townships 20 kilometers outside Johannesburg built to house the city’s black workers.
Still in her teens, Letta began touring outside of Africa with the musical "King Kong," which ran for a year in England following a highly successful two-year run in South Africa. When the tour ended, she returned to South Africa but soon the policies of Apartheid were to force her to leave her native land for the U.S.A.
She arrived in the United States in 1965 and quickly befriended such fellow South African exiles in New York City as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa - all alumni of the "King Kong" musical. Performances at New York's famed Village Gate club began to attract attention to her talents, particularly from jazz legend Cannonball Adderley, who invited her to tour with him (which she did throughout the remainder of the decade).
Letta Mbulu also displayed an early gift for writing joyful, memorable songs. These were showcased by no less an authority than Miriam Makeba on the great singer's albums The Magnificent Miriam Makeba (the great "Akana Nkomo"), All About Miriam ("U Shaka," and the hit-worthy "Jol'inkomo") and the tremendous album Makeba ("U-Mngoma," "Magwala Ndini").
Letta first made herself heard on records as part of Letta and the Safaris, a group featuring husband Caiphus Semenya and the South African husband and wife team of Jonas and Mamsie Gwangwa. A single, “Walkin’ Around” b/w “For God and Country” was issued in 1966 by Columbia Records (home at the time to Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkle), but lack of publicity failed to garner much attention to the clever little R&B swinger.
Letta and Caiphus soon relocated to the West Coast, joining Hugh Masekela, who became a fixture of the California concert and recording scene. Letta Mbulu shortly thereafter recorded Masekela’s “What’s Wrong With Groovin’” as a solo artist for a small label which captured much attention in the 90s as an acid jazz classic when the British Jazzman label picked it up for release. While in L.A., producer David Axelrod fell under Letta's spell and had her signed to Capitol Records - home at the time to both the Beatles and the Beach Boys and where Axelrod himself was scoring big hits for Lou Rawls and Cannonball Adderley.
Axelrod produced Letta's debut album, Letta Mbulu Sings (Capitol/1967), an immediately attractive collection of Township-style pop mixed with American R&B. It was a hugely enjoyable style that Ms. Mbulu and her collaborator/husband Caiphus Semenya could nearly patent as their own.
Even though a single was released (the magnificent "Ardeze" b/w "Pula Yetla"), radio stations wouldn't play the record out of fear that no one would understand the words (the Bossa Nova and the British were as multi-cultural as American radio was willing to get back then). As a result, hardly anyone ever heard the record and, worse, sales were slight.
Axelrod convinced Capitol to give Letta another chance. The following year he produced the singer's majestic Free Soul, as near perfect a collection of afro-pop as has ever been waxed, this time dropping Letta's surname, but in odd contrast, featuring the beautiful young Letta on the cover swathed in colorful afro-centric clothing. Letta’s two Capitol albums were compiled onto one CD by the British Stateside label in 2005.
Meanwhile, Letta toured often (fronting a piano trio led by fellow South African exile Cecil Barnard) and recorded frequently as part of musical aggregates put together by Hugh Masekela - most spectacularly as part of the anonymous collective known as Africa ‘68 (which was also later credited as "The Zulus"), where she took the lead on “Uyaz’ Gabisa,” “Noyana,” “Aredze” (which she’d earler performed on Letta Mbulu Sings) and “Kedumetse.”
When Masekela and business partner/producer Stewart Levine first formed their Chisa Records label, Letta Mbulu was one of the first artists they signed. They issued a 45-only record of “Little Star” b/w a much more invigorating version of the Masekela/Mbulu song “I Haven’t Slept” than Hugh issued on his own. In 1970, Chisa issued the first of two Mbulu albums bearing only her first name (the second is from 1978 on A&M).
Letta is a magnificent sample of African-American soul, bearing the UK dancefloor classic "Mahlalela" (written by husband Caiphus Semenya), Mbulu's great "Use Mncane" (an amazing song that beautifully showcases Mbulu's gorgeous vocal capacities), "I Need Your Love" (which could've easily been a hit), Masekela's fine "Macongo" and a Mbulu perennial in husband Semenya's anthemic "Jigijela." Some of these are featured on the 2005 CD Hugh Masekela Presents The Chisa Years 1965-1975 (Rare And Unreleased).
Unfortunately, the Chisa label lost its independence in 1971 and was unable to issue another album Letta Mbulu had recorded that year – although two of the songs, including the great Motown-ish sounding “I’ll Never Be The Same” turned up on ultra-rare European copies of the Letta Mbulu Gold (Motown, 1977) album. Mbulu continued to tour, often with Harry Belafonte (she can be heard on her own for several pieces on the great singer's album Belafonte...Live!).
In 1973, the singer accepted a part in the Sidney Poitier's film A Warm December (as a singer!) and issued the album Naturally for Cannonball Aderley's label, Fantasy Records – which has just been issued for the first time on CD by the great British label, BGP. Indeed, Adderley and Mbulu were finally paired for the first time on record for several of the album's songs. It's here that the L.A. stamp on Mbulu's still-true take on African township pop starts to reveal itself. Songs like "Kube" (also covered by South African singer Lebo M), "Noma Themba," "Hareje" and "Zimkile" reflect how comfortable - maybe a little slick - Mbulu could be at the crossroads of African and American music.
Mbulu raised the bar even higher when Herb Alpert (through Hugh Masekela) signed the singer to the trumpeter's high-profile A&M Records label. The first of two albums, There’s Music In The Air is a another Afro-soul masterpiece that should have made Letta Mbulu a household name. Each song is a wonderful, intoxicating concoction that yields such endless aural delights as Joan Armatrading's "Let's Go Dancing" (featuring Lee Ritenour and Richard Tee), Caiphus Semenya's "Mara A Pula," "Rainy Day Music" and "There's Music In The Air."
Composer and inveterate hit-maker (on his way to making Michael Jackson the king of pop) Quincy Jones then recruited Letta Mbulu to become the voice of Roots. Contributing to the historic 1977 soundtrack, Mbulu is best remembered for interpreting husband Caiphus Semenya's moving "Oluwa" aka “Many Rains Ago,” which was actually written several years before for another project.
The 1978 album Letta (A&M) yielded several wondrous performances, including "Buza," "Baile Baneso," "Hareje" and "Mamani," but sadly no big hits. Another album recorded for A&M ended up coming out in 1980 on several different label(s) throughout the world as Sound of a Rainbow and yielding a sizeable disco hit in "Kiliminjaro." However, there was no album in the United States and, in fact, no album under Letta Mbulu's name has been issued in the United States since 1978's Letta.
But Letta Mbulu continued a busy - and diverse - career here in the states. In 1980 Letta Mbulu participated in an Africa Week concert in Montreal that yielded the magical An Evening of African Music With Letta Mbulu, issued in Canada only in 1983.
In 1981, she narrated the documentary film You Have Struck A Rock about African women's campaigns of non-violent disobedience. In 1983, she worked on husband Caiphus Semenya's first recording under his own name, Listen to the Wind, which yielded a huge dance hit in the lovely "Angelina."
In 1984, Letta Mbulu sang on Quincy Jones's soundtrack to The Color Purple. In 1987, she was heard (if ever too briefly) as the other woman on Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" from the album Bad. Later, Mbulu appeared in such musical plays as husband Caiphus Semenya's Buwa (which was a presentation of the group, South African Artists United (SAAU), of which Mbulu was a co-founder) and Mbongeni Ngema's Shiela’s Day.
Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya finally returned to South Africa in 1991, after 26 years in exile. The singer also finally returned to records in 1992 with the remarkable Not Yet Uhuru, her first album recorded on South African soil. It was arranged and produced by Mbulu's multi-talented husband, Caiphus Semenya, who also composed most of the material. Check out Letta challenging any contender on "Not Yet Uhuru," Semenya's brilliantly arranged "Home Brew" (showcasing Letta Mbulu rapping) and "Kushukiti."
In 2001, Letta Mbulu was honored by the South African Music Awards for lifetime achievement. She has continued to sing on husband Caiphus Semenya's many projects that continue to earn the couple a legendary and royal status in South Africa. But while Letta Mbulu continues to perform actively in South Africa, she has only sporadically recorded as a soloist (2007’s Culani Nami is her most recent album and it’s only available in South Africa) and does not have the name or presence she deserves outside of South Africa or certain European underground circuits.
Certainly none of her music is currently in print in the United States, though her South African compilation Greatest Hits is available on iTunes if you’re willing to hear Ms. Mbulu's sonorously sensual voice in compressed formats.
Letta Mbulu deserves far more. She deserves the elaborate treatment and endless compilations that all great artists are often afforded. Hopefully her art will be recognized sometime during her lifetime. Her artistry deserves the recognition and the compensation that great – and true – art deserves.
TSHALA MUANA : A Musical and Political Biography From the Democratic Republic of Congo
Very few Congolese artists have made it from Le Belle Epoche to the present day Congolese music scene with their fan base still intact while also picking up new fans along the way.
Many have passed away, while others simply lost their popularity over the years as the music of the Congo continued to go through changes. Tshala Muana is one such artist who has stood the test of time. Not only has Tshala Muana wowed audiences for years with her music she has been a advocate for political and social change in the Congo and has even had to flea the country because of her views and political work.
She was born Elizabeth Tshala Muana on March 13, 1958, in the Kasai section of the Congo the 2nd of 10 children. As a child she was very much into dance and the music of her native Kasai. Once she completed secondary school her love for music and dance grew and she dreamed of bringing the unique sounds of Kananga (her native village) called MUTUASHI to other parts of the Congo and eventually the world.
In 1976, she leaves Kananga for Kinshasa with the hopes of fulfilling her musical dreams. Allured by the voice and sound of Mpongo Love she soon joins Tcheke Tcheke Love (Mpongo's band) as a dancer in 1977. In that same year Muana decides to try her hand at singing. She releases two 45's which unfortunately bring her no success. She soon joins the group Minzoto Wela Wela and continues to struggle to make herself known as a vocalist.
In 1980 she decides to broaden her scope and embarks on a West African tour starting in Brazzaville and travels to Nigeria, Togo, and Ivory Coast. Success in Abidjan (the capitol of the Ivory Coast) being one of the musical centers of Africa enabled Tshala Muana to finally realize her success once she won that area over with her 45 single "Amina" which she recorded in Paris in 1982.
In 1984 she settles in Paris where she would eventually record 19 albums. She makes more world tours and almost everywhere she goes she wins awards and trophies for exceptional music. In 1987 she plays in the motion picture film "Falato".
In 1991 she was decreed by the Chiefs of the greater Kasai area as an Ambassador of Kasai Culture. In 1997 she returns to the Congo from Paris indefinitely. As an artist she has continuously fought for political soviernty and the territorial integrity of the Congo (Kinshasa). She created one of the greatest movements for women called REFECO (Regroupement des Femmes Congolaises: The Regrouping of Congolese Women) which continues to this day.
In the year 2000 she is appointed a Congolese national and takes a temporary break from her music. After 3 years at the urging of her manager she rejoins the music scene and creates a group called Dynasty Mutuashi and releases her 20th album "Dinanga Vuet Dire Amour" (Dinanga Means Love).
The album is an insanely huge success in The Democratic Republic of Congo and throughout Africa. In 2002 she releases MALU (Problem) and continues to gain recognition for her music. In 2003 she wins the KORA award for Best Female Artist. MALU goes on to sell close to 600, 000 copies not counting the numerous bootlegs that were surely sold.
Her latest album MAMU a double disc and dvd was released in 2006 bringing her discography to 22 albums. This release has also been met with rave reviews and continues Tshala's reign as the Queen of Mutuashi.
"Xica Da Silva" - Miriam Makeba..
Following a three-decade-long exile, Miriam Makeba's return to South Africa was celebrated as though a queen was restoring her monarchy. The response was fitting as Makeba remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa. Hailed as the Empress of African Song and Mama Africa, Makeba helped bring African music to a global audience in the '60s. Nearly five decades after her debut with the Manhattan Brothers, she continues to play an important role in the growth of African music.
Makeba's life has consistently been marked by struggle. As the daughter of a sangoma, a mystical traditional healer of the Xhosa tribe, she spent six months of her birth year in jail with her mother. Gifted with a dynamic vocal tone, Makeba recorded her debut single, "Lakutshona Llange," as a member of the Manhattan Brothers in 1953. Although she left to form an all-female group named the Skylarks in 1958, she reunited with members of the Manhattan Brothers when she accepted the lead female role in a musical version of King Kong, which told the tragic tale of Black African boxer, Ezekiel "King Kong" Dlamani, in 1959. The same year, she began an 18-month tour of South Africa with Alf Herbert's musical extravaganza, African Jazz and Variety, and made an appearance in a documentary film, Come Back Africa. These successes led to invitations to perform in Europe and the United States.
Belafonte and Miriam MakebaMakeba was embraced by the African American community. "Pata Pata," Makeba's signature tune, was written by Dorothy Masuka and recorded in South Africa in 1956 before eventually becoming a major hit in the U.S. in 1967. In late 1959, she performed for four weeks at the Village Vanguard in New York. She later made a guest appearance during Harry Belafonte's groundbreaking concerts at Carnegie Hall. A double-album of the event, released in 1960, received a Grammy award. Makeba has continued to periodically renew her collaboration with Belafonte, releasing an album in 1972 titled Belafonte & Miriam Makeba. Makeba then made a special guest appearance at the Harry Belafonte Tribute at Madison Square Garden in 1997.
Makeba's successes as a vocalist were also balanced by her outspoken views about apartheid. In 1960, the government of South Africa revoked her citizenship. For the next 30 years, she was forced to be a "citizen of the world." Makeba received the Dag Hammerskjold Peace Prize in 1968. After marrying radical black activist Stokely Carmichael, many of her concerts were canceled, and her recording contract with RCA was dropped, resulting in even more problems for the artist. She eventually relocated to Guinea at the invitation of president Sekou Toure and agreed to serve as Guinea's delegate to the United Nations. In 1964 and 1975, she addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the horrors of apartheid.
A PromiseMakeba remained active as a musician over the years. In 1975, she recorded an album, A Promise, with Joe Sample, Stix Hooper, Arthur Adams, and David T. Walker of the Crusaders. Makeba joined Paul Simon and South Africa 's Ladysmith Black Mambazo during their worldwide Graceland tour in 1987 and 1988. Two years later, she joined Odetta and Nina Simone for the One Nation tour.
HomelandMakeba published her autobiography, Miriam: My Story, in English in 1988 and subsequently had it translated and published in German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Following Nelson Mandela's release from prison, Makeba returned to South Africa in December 1990. She performed her first concert in her homeland in 30 years in April 1991. She appeared in South African award-winning musical Sarafina in 1992 in the role of Sarafina's mother. Two years later, she reunited with her first husband, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, for the Tour of Hope tour. In 1995, Makeba formed a charity organization to raise funds to help protect the women of South Africa. The same year, she performed at the Vatican's Nevi Hall during a worldwide broadcast, Christmas in the Vatican. Makeba's first studio al
Shirley Veronica Bassey was the sixth and last child of Henry Bassey and Eliza Jane Start in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, of paternal Nigerian and maternal English descent. Two of her mother's four children from previous relationships lived in the Bassey household. Eliza listed her former husband Alfred Metcalfe as Shirley's father in the registry of her marriage to Bassey, giving rise to the theory the marriage to Bassey was bigamous, in the absence of a prior divorce. Eliza and Henry's second child died in infancy, so Shirley was born into a household of three sisters, two half-sisters, and one brother.
Teachers and students alike at Moorland Road School noticed Bassey's strong voice, but gave the pre-teen little encouragement: " '...everyone told me to shut up. Even in the school choir the teacher kept telling me to back off till I was singing in the corridor!' A classmate recalled her singing the refrain 'Can't help lovin' that man of mine' from Show Boat with such feeling that she made their teacher uncomfortable." After leaving Splott Secondary Modern School at the age of 14, Bassey first found employment at a factory while singing in public houses and clubs in the evenings and weekends.
1953–1959: Career beginnings
In 1953, Bassey signed her first professional contract, to sing in a touring variety show Memories of Jolson, a musical based on the life of Al Jolson. She next took up a professional engagement in Hot from Harlem, which ran until 1954. By this time Bassey had become disenchanted with show business, and had become pregnant at 16 with her elder daughter, Sharon—the father has not been identified— so she went back to waiting tables in Cardiff.
In 1955, a chance recommendation to Michael Sullivan, a booking agent, put Bassey firmly on course for her destined career. He saw talent in Bassey, and decided he would make her a star. She toured various theatres until she was seen by Jack Hylton whose interest in her put her firmly on the road to stardom. He invited her to star in Al Read's Such Is Life at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End. During the show's run, Philips A&R and record producer Johnny Franz spotted her on television, was impressed, and offered her a recording deal. Bassey recorded her first single, entitled "Burn My Candle", and Philips released it in February 1956, when Bassey was 19. Owing to the suggestive lyrics, the BBC banned it, but it sold well nonetheless, backed with her powerful rendition of "Stormy Weather". Further singles followed, and in February 1957, Bassey had her first hit with "The Banana Boat Song", which reached No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart. During that year, she also recorded under the direction of American producer Mitch Miller in New York for the Columbia label, producing the single "If I Had a Needle and Thread" b/w "Tonight My Heart She Is Crying". She then travelled to Las Vegas to make her American stage début at El Rancho Vegas. In mid-1958, she recorded two singles that would become classics in the Bassey catalogue. "As I Love You" was released as the B-side of another ballad, "Hands Across the Sea"; it did not sell well at first, but after a chance appearance at the London Palladium things began to pick up. In January 1959, it reached No. 1 and stayed there for four weeks. It thus became the first number 1 single by a Welsh artist. Bassey also recorded "Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me" at this point, and while "As I Love You" raced up the charts, so too did this record, with both songs being in the top three at the same time. A few months later, Bassey signed to EMI's Columbia label, and the second phase in her recording career had begun.
1960–1979: Success and breakthrough
Shirley Bassey in Italy, 1970
In the early and mid-1960s, Bassey had numerous hits on the UK charts, and five albums in the Top 15. Her 1960 recording of "As Long As He Needs Me" from Lionel Bart's Oliver! reached No. 2, and had a chart run of 30 weeks. On 13 November 1960, Bassey made her début performance on American television, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1962, Bassey's collaboration with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra produced the album Let's Face the Music (No. 12) and the single "What Now My Love" (No. 5). Other Top Ten hits of the period included her second No. 1, the double A-side "Reach for the Stars"/"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (1961), "I'll Get By" (also 1961), and a cover version of the Ben E. King hit "I (Who Have Nothing)" in 1963. During this period, Bassey appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine, and sang at a Washington gala celebrating the end of President Kennedy's second year in office.
In 1965, Bassey enjoyed her only US Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit with the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. The single peaked at No. 8, while the original soundtrack of Goldfinger hit No. 1 in the US that same year. Also in 1965, she sang the title track for the spoof James Bond film The Liquidator, and had a Top 20 live album recorded during a sell-out run at London's Pigalle.
From 1964 onwards the "Goldfinger" single had a lasting impact on her career: writing for the sleeve notes of Bassey's 25th Anniversary Album, Clayton (1978) notes that: "Acceptance in America was considerably helped by the enormous popularity of ("Goldfinger")...But she had actually established herself there as early as 1961, in cabaret in New York. She was also a success in Las Vegas...'I suppose I should feel hurt that I've never been really big in America on record since "Goldfinger"...But, concertwise, I always sell out.'..." This was reflected in the fact that Bassey had only one solo LP to reach the Top 20 in a US chart (R&B, Live at Carnegie Hall), and she was technically a one-hit wonder, making only one appearance in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, "Goldfinger". But in the aftermath of "Goldfinger" her UK sales started to falter as well: only two of her singles would enter the UK Top 40 until 1970. She had signed to United Artists, and her first album on that label, 1966's I've Got a Song for You, spent one week on the chart; from there until 1970, only two albums would chart, one of those a compilation. In 1967 came the release of one of her best-known singles "Big Spender", although it charted just outside the UK Top 20.
Bassey started living as a tax exile in 1968, and was not permitted to work in Britain for almost two years. Also in 1968, at the Sanremo Festival in Italy, she performed "La vita", an Italian song by Bruno Canfora and Antonio Amurri, with some lyrics re-written in English by Norman Newell for her performance. Her version of the song with chorus sung in Italian became a Top 40 hit on the Italian chart, and Bassey recorded several songs in Italian, some appearing on a 1968 Italian album titled La vita.[ (Later, Newell would write English lyrics for the rest of "La vita", and the result was "This Is My Life".) But her UK sales continued to suffer.
Bassey performing in Germany in 1973
Bassey's UK comeback came in 1970, leading to one of the most successful periods of her career. In that year, she returned to the UK with a record breaking run of performances at the Talk of the Town nightclub. Also in that year, she released the album Something, which showcased a new Bassey style, a shift from traditional pop to more contemporary songs and arrangements (the single of the same name was more successful in the UK charts than the original Beatles recording – the only artist to have achieved this), though Bassey would never completely abandon what had been her forte, standards, show tunes, and torch songs. "Something" was also a Top 10 US hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. Other singles of this period included the top ten hit "Never Never Never", an English version of the Italian "Grande grande grande", reaching the Top 10 in the US Adult Contemporary Chart, the UK Top 10 and number one in Australia and South Africa. The success of "Something" (single No. 4, album No. 5) spawned a series of successful albums on the UA label, including Something Else (1971), And I Love You So (1972), I Capricorn (1972), Never Never Never (1973), Good, Bad but Beautiful (1975), Love, Life and Feelings (1976), You Take My Heart Away (1977) and Yesterdays (1978). Bernard Ighner wrote and duetted with Bassey for the track "Davy" on the Nobody Does It Like Me album (1974). Additionally, two of Bassey's earlier LPs entered the charts, 1967's And We Were Lovers (re-issued as Big Spender), and 1962's Let's Face the Music (re-issued as What Now My Love). Two compilations, The Shirley Bassey Singles Album (1975) and 25th Anniversary Album (1978) both made the UK top three: The Shirley Bassey Singles Album her highest charting album at number two and earning a gold disc, and 25th Anniversary Album going platinum.
Between 1970 and 1979, Bassey had 18 hit albums in the UK Albums Chart. Her 1978 album The Magic Is You featured a portrait by the photographer, Francesco Scavullo. In 1973, her sold-out concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall were recorded and released as a two-LP set, Shirley Bassey: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album and the majority of her recordings from this period have been re-mastered and released on CD by EMI and BGO Records. In 1971, she recorded the theme song for Diamonds Are Forever. The recording was featured as part of Sydney, Australia's 2007 New Year's celebration.
Bassey was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in November 1972 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Heathrow Airport, and in January 1993, when Michael Aspel surprised her at the curtain call of a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Bassey appeared on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, broadcast on Christmas Day in 1971.In 1976, Bassey starred in the six-episode The Shirley Bassey Show, the first of her television programs for the BBC, followed by a second series of six episodes in 1979. The final show of the first series was nominated for the Golden Rose of Montreux in 1977. The series featured guests including Neil Diamond, Michel Legrand, The Three Degrees and Dusty Springfield; filmed in various locations throughout the world as well as in the studio. In 1978, Bassey pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly "after shouting abuse in the street and pushing a policeman". Bassey closed out the decade with her third title theme for the Bond films, Moonraker (1979).
1980–1999: Continued success
Throughout most of the 1980s, Bassey focused on charitable work and performing occasional concert tours throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States, having ended her contract with EMI-United Artists and taking what she referred to as "semi-retirement". In 1982 Bassey recorded an album entitled All by Myself and made a TV special for Thames Television called A Special Lady with guest Robert Goulet. In 1983 she recorded a duet with Alain Delon, "Thought I'd Ring You", which became a hit single in Europe. Bassey was now recording far less often but released an album in 1984 of her most famous songs, I Am What I Am, performed with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis. In 1986, she released a single and video to support the London Tourist Board, "There's No Place Like London", co-written by Lynsey de Paul and Gerard Kenny. In 1987 she recorded an album of James Bond themes, The Bond Collection, but was apparently unhappy with the results so she declined to release it. (Five years later it was released anyway, Bassey sued in court, and all unsold copies were withdrawn). Also in 1987, Bassey provided vocals for Swiss artists Yello on "The Rhythm Divine", a song co-written by Scottish singer Billy Mackenzie. In 1989, she released an album sung entirely in Spanish, La Mujer. In the latter mid-1980s Bassey had started working with a vocal coach, a former opera singer, and her 1991 album Keep the Music Playing displayed a grand, operatic pop style on several songs (perhaps also influenced by her album with the LSO seven years earlier).
In 1994 EMI released the five-CD box set Bassey – The EMI/UA Years 1959 – 1979. The accompanying booklet opened with a poem by Marc Almond. In 1996, Bassey collaborated with Chris Rea in the film La Passione, appearing in the film as herself and releasing the single "'Disco' La Passione". The remix of this single proved a major club hit throughout Europe, though charting just outside the UK top 40. Bassey released a new recording the following year, "History Repeating", written for her by the Propellerheads and scoring a No. 1 on the UK Dance Chart, and No. 10 on the US Dance Chart. It was also a top ten hit in Italy. The liner notes of the Propellerheads' album Decksandrumsandrockandroll included the lines: "We would like to extend our maximum respect to Shirley Bassey for honouring us with her performance. We are still in shock...." Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday in 1997 with two open-air concerts, at Castle Howard and Althorp Park, and another TV special. The resulting live album The Birthday Concert received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. On 7 October 1998 in Egypt, Bassey performed for a benefit at an open-air concert close to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid.
In the 1998 film Little Voice, Bassey was one of three central figures along with Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, and Bassey's track "Goldfinger" featured in the movie. Jane Horrocks, the lead actress in the film, went on to impersonate Bassey both on record and television, as well as during a UK tour.
In 1998 Bassey was sued in a breach of contract case by her former personal assistant, who also accused Bassey of hitting her and making an ethnic slur. Bassey won the case. The episode was lampooned by Alexander Baron in his one-act play, The Trial of Shirley Bassey.
The following year, she performed the official song for the rugby World Cup, "World in Union", with Bryn Terfel at the opening ceremony at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, wearing a gown designed on the Welsh flag. Their single made the Top 40, and Bassey contributed two more songs to the official album Land of My Fathers, which reached No. 1 on the UK compilations chart, and went silver.
2000–present: Recent work and upcoming projects
Bassey at Wembley Arena, 2006
In 2001, Bassey was principal artiste at the Duke of Edinburgh's 80th Birthday celebration. On 3 June 2002 Shirley Bassey was one of a prestigious line up of artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Queen, The Corrs, Annie Lennox, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Cliff Richard, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Phil Collins and Tom Jones who performed at the Queen's 50th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace. Then, in 2003, Bassey celebrated 50 years in show business, releasing the CD Thank You for the Years, which was another Top 20 album. A gala charity auction of her stage costumes at Christie's, Dame Shirley Bassey: 50 Years of Glittering Gowns, raised £250,000 (US$500,000) for the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Appeal. Bassey topped the bill at the 2005 Royal Variety Performance, introducing her new song "The Living Tree".
Two popular Audiences with Shirley Bassey have aired on British television, one in 1995 that attracted more than 10 million viewers in the UK, with the more recent in 2006. Bassey returned to perform in five arenas around the UK in June the same year, culminating at Wembley. She also performed a concert in front of 10,000 people at the Bryn Terfel Faenol Festival in North Wales broadcast by BBC Wales.
Marks & Spencer signed her for their Christmas 2006 James Bond-style television advertising campaign. Bassey is seen in a glamorous Ice Palace singing a cover version of Pink's song "Get the Party Started", wearing an M&S gown.
"The Living Tree", written, produced and originally recorded by the group Never the Bride, was released as a single on 23 April 2007, marking Bassey's 50th anniversary in the UK Singles Chart – and the record for the longest span of Top 40 hits in UK chart history. Bassey performed a 45-minute set at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival wearing a pink Julien Macdonald dress, and customised Wellington boots. A new album, Get the Party Started, was subsequently released on 25 June 2007 and entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 6. The single of the title song reached No. 3 on the US Dance Chart. The same year, Bassey performed "Big Spender" with Elton John at his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball to raise money for The Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2007, Bassey performed in Fashion Rocks in aid of The Prince's Trust at the Royal Albert Hall.
From left to right: Sting, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Bassey and Bruce Springsteen at Carnegie Hall 2010
She was rushed to hospital in Monaco on 23 May 2008 to have an emergency operation on her stomach after complaining of abdominal pains. She was forced to pull out of the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Tribute concert because of her illness. A biography, Diamond Diva, was published in 2008. In 2009 her granddaughter appeared on The X Factor.
In 2009, Bassey recorded the album, The Performance, with James Bond composer David Arnold as co-producer (with Mike Dixon). A number of artists wrote songs expressly for Bassey, including Manic Street Preachers, Gary Barlow, KT Tunstall, Pet Shop Boys, Nick Hodgson of the Kaiser Chiefs, John Barry and Don Black.
Bassey headlined at the BBC Electric Proms on 23 October 2009, in her only full live set of 2009.
In November 2009, she performed several of the new songs from The Performance on various TV shows: The Graham Norton Show, The Paul O'Grady Show and as the guest singer on Strictly Come Dancing.
Bassey performed at the Rainforest Foundation Fund 21st Birthday concert at Carnegie Hall, New York City on 13 May 2010.
On 30 March 2011, Bassey performed at a gala celebrating the 80th birthday of Mikhail Gorbachev. She also performed at the Classical Brit Awards in 2011, singing "Goldfinger" in tribute to John Barry.
On 21 May 2011, Bassey became the godmother of P&O Cruise's latest ship Adonia at the naming ceremony in Southampton, England.
On 20 June 2011, Bassey sang "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger", accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the John Barry Memorial Concert the Royal Albert Hall in London.
On 29 September 2011, the BBC broadcast a 70-minute drama, entitled Shirley, depicting Bassey's early life and career. Ruth Negga played the title role.
On 4 June 2012 Shirley Bassey was one of a prestigious line up of artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Cliff Richard, and Tom Jones who performed at the Queen's 60th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace. Bassey sang "Diamonds Are Forever".
On 24 January 2013 she performed a one-off concert at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, being her last public performance until today.
Dame Shirley performed at the 2013 Academy Awards on 24 February 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise. It was her first appearance at an Oscars ceremony as a performer. She sang Goldfinger to a standing ovation.
On 17 April 2013, Bassey attended the funeral service for Margaret Thatcher.
Shirley Scott --- "Shirley"...
Shirley Scott (born March 14, 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died March 10, 2002) was a jazz and soul organist.
She had been an admirer of Jimmy smith and over time would play piano and trumpet before moving to the Hammond organ. The organ would be her main instrument, but on occasion she still played piano. In the 1950s she became known for her work with saxophone player Eddie Davis, particularly the song “In the Kitchen.” She was married to Stanley Turrentine in the 1960s and the collaboration proved musically fruitful. In the 1980s she became a jazz educator of merit.
An admirer of the seminal Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott has been one of the organ’s most appealing representatives since the late ’50s. Scott, a very melodic and accessible player, started out on piano and played trumpet in high school before taking up the Hammond B-3 and enjoying national recognition in the late ’50s with her superb Prestige dates with tenor sax great Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. Especially popular was their 1958 hit “In the Kitchen.” Her reputation was cemented during the ’60s on several superb, soulful organ/soul-jazz dates where she demonstrated an aggressive, highly rhythmic attack blending intricate bebop harmonies with bluesy melodies and a gospel influence, punctuating everything with great use of the bass pedals. Scott married soul-jazz tenor man Stanley Turrentine, with whom she often recorded in the ’60s. The Scott/Turrentine union lasted until the early ’70s, and their musical collaborations in the ’60s were among the finest in the field.
Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack
Donny Hathaway & Roberta flack...
The combination of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack undeniably ranks atop the all-time great duet parings in the history of R&B. Any opportunity to have one guest on the other's recordings brought out a sensual energy not to be denied, similar to the magnetic duets between Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye for Motown during the '60s. This seven-song session didn't yield any timeless classics à la "The Closer I Get to You," but Flack's distinct and beautiful voice brings a level of class to this outing that few of her contemporaries were able to achieve. Two Stevie Wonder-penned compositions, "You Are My Heaven" and "Don't Make Me Wait Too Long," bring Wonder's unique arrangements together and give this album a more uptempo feel than most of the prior work of Flack and Hathaway, both as solo artists and as a team. Near the end, the album's climatic piece, "Back Together Again," helps to conclude the album on an upbeat note before breaking it down again into a soft, gentle finale of calm, familiar waters. The realization that these tracks are some of the final recordings Hathaway would appear on before his tragic death brings an element of melancholy to the listening experience.
Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records -- "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others -- earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since. Yet as much of an international institution as she's become, much of her work -- outside of her recordings for Atlantic in the late '60s and early '70s -- is erratic and only fitfully inspired, making discretion a necessity when collecting her records.
Franklin's roots in gospel ran extremely deep. With her sisters Carolyn and Erma (both of whom would also have recording careers), she sang at the Detroit church of her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, while growing up in the 1950s. In fact, she made her first recordings as a gospel artist at the age of 14. It has also been reported that Motown was interested in signing Aretha back in the days when it was a tiny start-up. Ultimately, however, Franklin ended up with Columbia, to which she was signed by the renowned talent scout John Hammond.
Franklin would record for Columbia constantly throughout the first half of the '60s, notching occasional R&B hits (and one Top 40 single, "Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody") but never truly breaking out as a star. The Columbia period continues to generate considerable controversy among critics, many of whom feel that Aretha's true aspirations were being blunted by pop-oriented material and production. In fact, there's a reasonable amount of fine items to be found on the Columbia sides, including the occasional song ("Lee Cross," "Soulville") where she belts out soul with real gusto. It's undeniably true, though, that her work at Columbia was considerably tamer than what was to follow, and suffered in general from a lack of direction and an apparent emphasis on trying to develop her as an all-around entertainer, rather than as an R&B/soul singer.
When Franklin left Columbia for Atlantic, producer Jerry Wexler was determined to bring out her most soulful, fiery traits. As part of that plan, he had her record her first single, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," at Muscle Shoals in Alabama with esteemed Southern R&B musicians. In fact, that was to be her only session actually at Muscle Shoals, but much of the remainder of her '60s work would be recorded with the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, although the sessions would actually take place in New York City. The combination was one of those magic instances of musical alchemy in pop: the backup musicians provided a much grittier, soulful, and R&B-based accompaniment forAretha's voice, which soared with a passion and intensity suggesting a spirit that had been allowed to fly loose for the first time.
In the late '60s, Franklin became one of the biggest international recording stars in all of pop. Many also saw Franklin as a symbol of black America itself, reflecting the increased confidence and pride of African-Americans in the decade of the civil rights movement and other triumphs for the black community. The chart statistics are impressive in and of themselves: ten Top Ten hits in a roughly 18-month span between early 1967 and late 1968, for instance, and a steady stream of solid mid- to large-size hits for the next five years after that. Her Atlantic albums were also huge sellers, and far more consistent artistically than those of most soul stars of the era. Franklin was able to maintain creative momentum, in part, because of her eclectic choice of material, which encompassed first-class originals and gospel, blues, pop, and rock covers, from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel t