Thursday, November 30, 2006
5 Classic R&B CD Gift Picks for 2006
Here are my 5 new classic R&B CD gift picks for the holiday season.
These albums were all released within the past 12 – 14 months. I’ve ranked them in order.
Even though the music is mostly new, the classic soul lover on your gift list will enjoy these...
- Luther Vandross - The Ultimate Luther Vandross
- Natalie Cole - Leavin’
- Jeffrey Osborne - From The Soul
- Earth, Wind & Fire - Illumination
- Lionel Richie - Comin’ Home
I’ve previously reviewed the Vandross, Cole, and Richie releases. Click on the links to read the reviews.
All of the tracks are familiar songs on Jeffrey Osborne’s From The Soul.
He’s had his share of solo hits in addition to memorable chart toppers with L.T.D.
On From The Soul, he makes the most of his powerful mellow voice by interpreting ten classic hits made famous by other artists.
Jeffrey does a great job too!
- Close The Door
- Until You Come Back To Me
- Yes I’m Ready
- For What It’s Worth
- People Get Ready
- First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
- Knocks Me Off My Feet
- Every Little Bit Hurts
- All At Once
- Hey Girl
Finally, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Illumination is a very good combination of new and old styles fused together.
Brian McKnight, Floetry, Kenny G, Kelly Rowland, and others join the party along with Maurice White, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, and Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire.
Illumination is well balanced between the vintage sound you expect from the group, and a fresh contemporary edge that the younger participants add.
This is the best Earth, Wind & Fire album in years, so treat yourself, or that special classic soul lover on your gift list, to a top notch mix from the provocative “elements of the universe."
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
2006 Colors of Christmas Tour Blends Four Soulful Voices
Deniece Williams, James Ingram, Peabo Bryson, and Stephanie Mills headline the 2006 “Colors of Christmas Tour” appearing December 7th - December 20th across the USA.
For over fourteen years, the tour has featured major artists performing together in a concert of traditional Christmas music. The charismatic vocalists also slip in some of their greatest hits into the show.
Deniece, James, Peabo, and Stephanie will sing accompanied by a full orchestra and gospel choir.
Here are some selected dates for the current tour:
- Thursday, December 7, 8pm, Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center, El Paso, Texas
- Saturday, December 9, 8pm, Hippodrome Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland
- Friday, December 15, 8pm Cerritos Center, Cerritos, California
- Saturday, December 16, 8pm Cerritos Center, Cerritos, CA
- Sunday, December 17, 3pm Cerritos Center, Cerritos, CA
- Monday, December 18, 8pm, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA
- Tuesday, December 19, 8pm, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA
- Wednesday, December 20, 8pm, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA
- Friday, December 22, 8pm, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit, Michigan
Flashback: ten years ago today on November 29, 1996, Roberta Flack, James Ingram, Aaron Neville, and Peabo Bryson were featured in an early Colors of Christmas Tour in Clearwater, Florida.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Bobby Womack Shines Career Daylight on his Website
Between 1962 - 1994, Bobby Womack had nearly 50 charted releases.
Now in his sixth decade, Womack, nicknamed “the soul preacher,” continues to crank out the music he loves.
Bobby appears on the new Bootsy Collins Christmas CD.
Womack is well respected as a legendary artist by both his R&B and pop music peers.
His discography, along with many excellent photos, are highlighted on his official Bobby Womack website.
Moving between the web pages on his site gets tricky, but the payoff is worth it. You’ll be moving around as if you were leafing through the pages of a book.
All of the Womack releases between 1961 - 1999 are documented, many of them with links so you can listen to tracks.
I’m looking forward to several new features that are promised for the site. The enhancements will provide even more of Womack’s perspective about the classic soul music era he helped create.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Christmas Favorites with an African Beat
Some of South Africa’s best talents are featured in a new collection of Christmas songs called, “African Christmas."
You’ll easily recognize the melodies on this 2006 release.
Traditional Christmas carols are sung with melodic African voices in a variety of tempos.
Stylistically, “African Christmas” reminds me of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, and other South African artists who have exported their culture to the world.
"Christmas Favorites with An African Beat,” (the CD’s subtitle), kicks into high gear with Bongani Masuku, Mandisa Dlanga, Max Mthambo, Vernon Abdul, and other personnel.
Zulu-flavored renditions of the following classics are featured:
- Oh Come All Ye Faithful
- Away in a Manger
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Joy to The World
- Little Drummer Boy
- When A Child is Born
- Silent Night
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer
- Jingle Bell Rock
- The Sun Shines Down (on A Christmas Day)
- White Christmas
- Jingle Bells
- African Christmas (Acapella)
This is a good CD. We’ll definitely be playing a few tracks from it on Powerhouse Radio in the weeks ahead as we get closer to Christmas.
Check out the Powerhouse Radio Christmas song playlist, and share it with your friends.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
2006 American Music Awards are Fan Favorites
The American Music Awards grab the spotlight tonight, Tuesday, November 21st.
Last week we had the World Music Awards featuring a guest performance by Michael Jackson.
Are these award shows canceling each other out? VH1’s hip-hop Awards, BET’s hip-hop Awards, MTV’s video Awards, the NAACP Image Awards, The Grammy Awards, etc., etc., etc.
People love to win awards. Entertainment companies love to promote their names. As a result, these programs are all over television.
The 2006 American Music Awards are chosen by music fans rather than artists or experts making this event special.
Dick Clark Productions has lined up Beyonce’, Carrie Underwood, Dixie Chicks, Gwen Stefani, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Nelly Furtado, Pussycat Dolls, Rascal Flatts, Snow Patrol and Tenacious D to perform.
Look for lots of “B,” “C,” and “D” listers as presenters. Yes, there are a few “A” list presenters too.
Here are the nominees in the category of R&B/Soul...
Favorite Male Artist:
- Chris Brown
- Jamie Foxx
Favorite Female Artist:
- Mary J. Blige
- Mariah Carey
- Keyshia Cole
Favorite Band, Duo or Group:
- The Black Eyed Peas
- The Isley Brothers
- Jagged Edge
- The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige
- The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
- Unpredictable - Jamie Foxx
The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California will have all the action on the ABC-TV Network with host Jimmy Kimmel.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006
Ruth Brown Revisted
We featured a guest article about Ruth Brown back in August, 2006.
The R&B legend passed away Friday, November 17th. She led the fight for R&B artists to recover royalties owed from record companies.
Rediscover The Fall and Rise of R&B Legend Ruth Brown one more time.
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Friday, November 17, 2006
Stevie Wonder, Johnny Gill, and Angie Stone to Sing for Gerald Levert
A memorial service for Gerald Levert, who died of a heart attack a week ago, is scheduled for today at the Cleveland Music Hall in Ohio.
Sean Levert, Gerald’s younger brother, will perform. They sang together as members of the group Levert.
An array of other artists are scheduled to sing in the tribute, including Stevie Wonder, Johnny Gill, and Angie Stone.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006
James Bond Music Shakes and Stirs Soul
An update of the Casino Royale film, (the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming), hits movie theaters tomorrow, Friday, November 17th.
Daniel Craig stars as the new super spy.
Can you name all of the classic soul stars who have sung title or secondary songs for 007 films?
Four ladies top the list.
The Bond adventures with this music are:
- “Licence to Kill”
First the songs:
- “Licence to Kill”
- “If You Asked me To”
- “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”
The number next to the song matches the number next to the artist:
- Tina Turner
- Gladys Knight
- Patti Labelle
- Dionne Warwick *
* “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” recorded for Thunderball by Dionne, was included on the “30th Anniversary Best of James Bond” collection, but was not on either the original soundtrack (as a vocal), or in the screen version.
The Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle songs are both featured in “Licence to Kill."
An honorable mention to Louis Armstrong, for “We Have All the Time in the World,” from the “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” soundtrack, (but not in the movie).
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Bootsy Collins Collars Christmas Funk
I was thrilled to listen to Bootsy Collins’ brand new 2006 Christmas CD, “Christmas Is 4 Ever."
Early in his career, Bootsy played bass guitar in James Brown’s band.
He went on to much success with his own group “Bootsy’s Rubber Band."
Bootsy would eventually team up with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic entourage to make more funky music for the masses.
Mr. Collins has not lost his musical sense of humor. Along side of the laughs, funk fans get the real deal on these energized holiday classics.
"Christmas Is 4 Ever” features Bootsy and recognizable friends serving up some soulful chestnuts.
MC Danny Ray and Bobby Byrd hammer home the Yuletide theme on the opening track, “N-Yo-City."
"Merry Christmas Baby” and “Jingle Belz” are delivered like you’ve never heard them before with the pulsating Bootsy beat.
Snoop Dogg dazzles with Boosty on “Happy Holidaze."
“Chestnutz," also known as The Christmas Song, is dedicated to Natalie Cole as Bootsy digs into the Mel Torme classic, (immortalized by Nat King Cole).
The next three CD tracks keep the beat pumping. They feature appearances by Fred Wesley on “Boot-Off, and George Clinton on “Santa’s Coming."
"Silent Night,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Dis-Christmas,” (AKA “This Christmas") thump along, with clever holiday anecdotes from Bootsy introducing the songs.
Two original tracks wrap things up, “Be-With-You,” with Zapp Troutman on keyboards, and the title song, “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” spotlighting vocals from Bootsy and Bobby Womack.
"Christmas Is 4 Ever” is contemporary to the max. Bootsy has done a great job with these holiday classics creating some fresh funky arrangements.
I’ll pick “Santa’s Coming,” AKA “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” as the stand-out track, featuring Miss Candis Cheatham singing co-lead with Bootsy. George Clinton pops in the track to deliver a Christmas message.
Here are the tracks again:
- Merry Christmas Baby
- Jingle Belz
- Happy Holidaze
- Winter FunkyLand
- Santa’s Coming
- Silent Night
- Sleigh Ride
- Christmas Is 4 Ever
Bootsy puts this special message on the CD booklet, “Say it loud! I got funk and I got style.” Not many Christmas CD’s can say that!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Aaron Neville's Christmas Prayer
Christmas is getting closer. Let’s look at a strong classic soul release that you may have overlooked from last holiday season.
Aaron Neville’s “Christmas Prayer” was released in October, 2005. Neville brings his unique soulful falsetto to this hearty collection of mainly traditional songs:
- A Christmas Prayer - Contemporary medium-tempo ballad.
- Go Tell it on the Mountain - A tambourine tapping gospel/soul hybrid featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama.
- Mary’s Boy Child - Traditional ballad.
- White Christmas - Performed by Aaron in the Drifters classic style , with some do-wop background singing to spice things up.
- Joy to The World - Slow a cappella sung with the Blind Boys of Alabama. This track featuring Aaron is also included on the 2004 Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas CD “Go Tell it on the Mountain."
- Merry Christmas Baby - The classic sung with Neville gusto.
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Slow traditional.
- First Noel - Slow traditional showcasing Aaron’s fine voice.
- Christmas Everyday - Contemporary medium-tempo reggae romp.
- O Come All Ye Faithful - Very slow traditional ballad sung with lots of soul.
- Ave Maria - A respectful performance of a classic. Piano and strings dominate this track featuring Neville’s spiritual voice.
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - A heaven sent ballad.
- Amen - A chorus of several Neville’s sing joyful praise.
The Neville Brothers also contribute: Cyril on percussion and background vocals, Charles on saxophone, and Arthur on organ.
It’s a full family affair with Ian Neville on guitar, and Jason Neville on background vocals.
Aaron Neville has one of the most unique voices in contemporary music. He puts it to excellent use on “Christmas Prayer.”
Friday, November 10, 2006
Lyrical Gerald Levert Leaves Legacy at Age 40
Gerald Levert created his own impressive musical image, successfully eclipsing the shadow of his famous father.
Atlantic Records has confirmed that Gerald passed away this week at his home in Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of 40.
Early on, Gerald, brother Sean, and Marc Gordon as the group Levert served up many hits in the late 1980’s, including one of my favorites, “Casanova.”
In the 1990’s Gerald kicked his solo career into high gear, often recording and performing a duo show with his famous father, Eddie (of the O’Jays).
On the 2002 CD “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” a tribute to the musicians who made the label famous, Gerald cranks out two energetic motor city classics, Jr. Walkers’ “Shotgun,” (with sax man Tom Scott), and “Reach Out I’ll be There,” the Four Tops classic.
These two tracks bounce from the raw power of Gerald’s voice. It was this strong voice that’s often been compared to his dad’s. Whether fair or not, Gerald learned to accept this gift while gravitating toward the softer side of classic R&B as a solo performer.
Gerald Levert was well respected among the music fraternity. Peers and his fans - we all mourn his passing.
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Thursday, November 09, 2006
Dreamgirls Story a Supreme Showcase for Beyonce'
Dreamgirls is the unofficial fantasy story about how Diana Ross and the Supremes made musical and cultural history.
The Tony Award winning Broadway play, first introduced 25 years ago, finally comes to the silver screen this December after nearly a year of anticipation.
Three female singers go from rags to riches in the Dreamgirls saga. Beyonce’ plays singer Deena Jones. American Idol ingenue Jennifer Hudson is cast as Effie White of the Dreamettes.
Cast members include:
- Jamie Foxx
- Eddie Murphy
- Danny Glover
Four new original songs will be included on the Dreamgirls movie soundtrack.
We’ve been playing one of them, “Listen,” from Beyonce’s new CD “B’Day,” for about a month on Powerhouse Radio. It’s the bonus track on the Beyonce’ CD that’s not even listed in the liner notes.
Tuesday, November 14th, “Listen” is scheduled to be released as a “Dreamgirls” song.
Some of the other songs on the soundtrack CD:
- “Love You I Do,” Jennifer Hudson
- “One Night Only,” Beyonce’
- “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” Jennifer Hudson
- “Dreamgirls,” Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose
- “Steppin’ to the Bad Side,” Jamie Foxx
- “Fake Your Way to the Top,” Eddie Murphy, Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose
- “Move (You’re Steppin’ on My Heart),” Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce’ and Anika Noni Rose
- “Family,” Jamie Foxx and Keith Robinson
- “I Am Changing,” Jennifer Hudson
- “Cadillac Car,” Eddie Murphy
- “I Meant You No Harm” Eddie Murphy
- “Heavy,” Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce’ and Anika Noni Rose
- “Hard To Say Goodbye My Love,” Beyonce’, Sharon Leal and Anika Noni Rose
You’ll have to wait until December 25th to see the movie. If there are any Oscar performances here, Dreamgirls will get in just under the wire for consideration.
A film must be released on or before December 31st to be in the running for a 2006 Academy Award.
”Dreamgirls,” the CD soundtrack, is scheduled for release on Tuesday, December 5th.
By the way, Diana Ross is back in the musical spotlight with her new Fall 2006 CD “I Love You.” The divine diva has the magic of longevity. Now that’s a dream come true.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Powerhouse Radio Classic Soul Screen Saver
Even though the Powerhouse Radio Tool Bar leads the pack in our free software downloads by several thousand, our Classic Soul Screen Saver is a close second.
Watch the movie about how easy it is to grab your free Powerhouse Radio Classic Soul Screen Saver.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Prince Captures Rio in Las Vegas
Prince loves Las Vegas.
He’s back this weekend to musically kiss the city and perform at the 3121 Club, inside of the Rio Hotel.
Don’t look for controversy when Prince sexy dances into the glamorous Vegas spotlight.
In 2003, he played the Aladdin, the Arabian themed hotel, to rave reviews.
At the 3121 Club, Prince is scheduled to perform November 10th and 11th, and every weekend until further notice.
Let’s Go Crazy. Tickets are priced at $125 a piece. That’s a lot of Benjamin’s on Alphabet Street. Big bankrolls will pop when the party doves cry joyful tears of purple rain.
Look for Wednesday night guest concerts from other artists at 3121 hosted by Prince.
I’ll resist the temptation to mention any more Prince songs. How many did you count? Viva Las Vegas!
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Thursday, November 02, 2006
Oleta Adams Sings Christmas Time Cheer
The well traveled Oleta Adams has had a particularly diversified singing career.
A Seattle, Washington native, she was discovered performing in Kansas City by the popular 1980’s English group Tears for Fears.
The British band (best known for “Shout,” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,") prominently featured Oleta’s soulful voice on their 1989 album, “The Seeds of Love."
Christmas Time with Oleta, her ninth release, features energetic arrangements of traditional holiday classics, dominated by her rich, powerful, earthy voice.
Oleta’s gospel, jazz, and R&B roots shine through on this distinguished release. You’ll like it.
Here are the tracks:
- Of The Father’s Love Begotten/Hark The Herald
- Alleluia, Alleluia (Peace On Earth)
- Christmas Time Is Here
- I Wonder As I Wander (Appalachian Choir)
- Breath Of Heaven
- Winter Wonderland
- There’s Still My Joy
- Let It Snow
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- Silent Night
Uncover the inside story behind this CD when you check out the Oleta Adams biography.
What’s a new Christmas release without a world tour? Scan through Oleta Adams concert dates when you visit her web site.
If you missed it, here’s an update on 2006 Christmas holiday releases from Lionel Richie, John Legend, and Hall and Oates.