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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Musical Men Missing from NAACP Image Award Nominations

Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Jill Scott lead the nominees in the female music category for the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards.

The awards honor projects and individuals that promote diversity in the arts, television, music, literature and motion pictures.

"Stand Up and Be Counted” is the theme of this year’s show.

In the music category, is the NAACP missing the boat among younger male artists?  Or, in the age of hip hop, is there a reason that the modern R&B genre is being dominated women?

Only Prince is represented in the Outstanding Male Artist category.

You can watch the NAACP Image Awards live on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, 2008, 8:00-10:00 pm Eastern on Fox.

Here are the nominees in the Recording Category:

Outstanding New Artist:

  • Corbin Blue - Walt Disney Records
  • J. Holiday - Capitol
  • Sean Kingston - Sony

Outstanding Male Artist:

  • Prince - Columbia Records

Outstanding Female Artist:

  • Alicia Keys - J Records
  • Beyoncé - Columbia Records
  • Jill Scott - Hidden Beach Recordings
  • Mary J. Blige - Geffen

Outstanding Duo or Group:

  • Stephen Marley & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

Outstanding Jazz Artist:

  • Kirk Whalum - Rendezvouz Entertainment
  • Patti Austin - Rendezvouz Entertainment

Outstanding Gospel Artist - (Traditional or Contemporary):

  • Marvin Winans - Pure Springs /EMI Gospel
  • Sounds of Blackness - Sounds of Blackness Records

Outstanding World Music Album:

  • Angelique Kidjo - “Djin Djin"- Razor & Tie
  • Various Artist - “Putumayo Presents: World Hits” - Putumayo

Outstanding Music Video:

  • “Beautiful Liar” - Beyonce - Columbia Records
  • “Just Fine” - Mary J. Blige - Geffen
  • “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” - Alicia Keys - J Records

Outstanding Song:

  • “Beautiful Flower” – India.Arie - Universal Republic
  • “Just Fine” - Mary J. Blige - Geffen
  • “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” - Alicia Keys - J Records
  • “Umbrella” - Rihanna feat. Jay-Z - Island Def Jam

Outstanding Album:

  • Alicia Keys - “As I Am” - J Records
  • Mary J. Blige - “Growing Pains” - Geffen

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Posted by King on 01/31 at 01:02 AM
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Motown Hits & Misses: High Inergy, Dynamic Superiors, & Willie Hutch

In the late 1970’s, after Motown headed to Hollywood, motor city magic just wasn’t the same in the city of Angels.

Rick James and Smokey Robinson were still cashing in with hits, but for another group of artists, times were tough.

Motown has signed plenty of groups through the years who have had only marginal success, if any.

Pasadena California’s High Inergy, is one girl group who never quite broke through.  From their 1977 album Turnin’ On, “You Can’t Turn Me Off (In the Middle of Turning Me On),” showed much promise.

A Sister Sledge type act, High Inergy just didn’t receive the high profile producers, or the right promotion.  Personnel changes also hindered their growth.

Washington D.C.’s Dynamic Superiors are another Motown group who ended up on the “B” list.

Motown tried hard to showcase this act.

Dynamic Superiors recorded 5 albums for the label between 1975 - 1978.

1976’s Give & Take, produced by Brian Holland for Holland-Dozier-Holland Productions, included spirited material along with covers of “Nowhere To Run” and Stevie wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair."

Much of the Dynamic Superior’s uptempo music was awash in a sea of generic disco rhythm.  This didn’t help differentiate them from similar sounding acts.

Willie Hutch excelled as a producer and writer of many hits for a variety of artists including the 5th Dimension.

He produced early Motown releases by Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson.

One song Hutch is best remembered for as a solo artist comes from the soundtrack of the 1973 movie The Mack.

"Brother’s Gonna Work It Out” is a classic soul marvel, in the best tradition of “Shaft,” “Superfly,” and Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” (recently featured in American Gangster).

Hutch’s Havin’ A House Party was released by Motown in 1977.  He was an average talent as a performer, and an exceptional talent as a producer.

Listen to a 1 minute and 45 second montage of High Inergy, the Dynamic Superiors, and Willie Hutch.

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Posted by King on 01/28 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, & Diana Ross on January 24th

Here are some memorable moments credited to January 24th:

2004 – Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake perform the “wardrobe malfunction” halftime act at Superbowl 38 in Jacksonville, Florida.

1987 – Luther Vandross has the number 1 R&B song, “Stop To Love.”

1982 – Diana Ross sings the national anthem at Superbowl 16 in Pontiac, Michigan.

1970 – The Chairmen of the Board have their first and biggest hit, “Give Me Just a Little More Time” (#8 R&B, #3 pop).

Celebrate January 24th with Luther Vandross at Royal Albert Hall, London, from September, 1994...

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Posted by King on 01/24 at 01:02 AM
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who had the most Popular Digital Single in 2007?

Rihanna had the most popular digital single in 2007. Her hit “Umbrella,” sold more than 2 million downloads for the pop - R&B artist, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

9-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys’ third studio album, As I Am, has sold more than 2 million copies.  As I Am, released in November, 2007, was certified Gold, Platinum and double Platinum in just one month.

Alicia has sold more than 13 million albums since her 2001 debut Songs in A Minor.

18-year old Virginia native Chris Brown, the young hip hop - R&B sensation, has also been awarded a 2007 Gold and Platinum record for his album Exclusive.

Senegalese-American hip hop artist Akon has scored digital single Gold and Platinum certification for three 2007 releases: “Smack That,” “I Wanna Love You,” and “Don’t Matter.”

For the calendar year 2007, the RIAA awarded 276 albums, 106 digital single, and 165 Master Ringtone awards for gold and platinum sales.

Gold means 500,000 units sold.  Platinum tops one million copies.

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Posted by King on 01/22 at 07:30 PM
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 Seeks Love on Valentine's Day

The 25th anniversary edition of Thriller is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, February 12, 2008.

Will Michael Jackson find love right before Valentine’s Day?

When the 25th anniversary edition of Superfly was released in November, 1997, Curtis Mayfield fans hit the jackpot.

The 2 CD set included all of the original songs from 1972, plus a bonus CD featuring a long Curtis Mayfield interview, some Curtis Mayfield radio public service announcements, plus new alternative mixes of most of the original songs.

Will Thriller 25 live up to this standard?

You can argue that both Superfly and Thriller are important albums in the history of classic soul.  Both were innovative, commercially successful, and huge crossover hits.

With sister Janet Jackson scheduled to release her own new album in February, will Thriller 25 receive any interest after so many previous Michael Jackson greatest hits collections?

There will be 3 versions of Thriller 25 according to Sony BMG Music:

  1. A CD + Bonus DVD with the classic album cover featuring the debut of the Moonwalk from the Motown 25 celebration and a 20 page booklet.
  2. A CD + Bonus DVD with a newly designed “zombie” album cover featuring the debut of the Moonwalk from the Motown 25 celebration and a 20 page booklet.
  3. A hardbound case + book deluxe edition with a 48 page booklet as well as the CD + Bonus DVD.

I don’t see anything so compelling that would encourage me to grab a copy of Thriller 25 based upon these 3 descriptions.

It’s really all about the music, not collectable CD covers.

Thriller 25, The World’s Biggest Selling Album of all Time is plastered on the CD cover.  Have you forgotten?

We’ll see if Michael and Janet can reenergize sagging careers with their February 2008 releases.

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Posted by King on 01/17 at 01:02 AM
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Diana Ross Rocks Atlantic City

It was time.  I’ve never seen Diana Ross in concert live, so in celebration of another birthday, it was off to The Borgata in Atlantic City to catch Ms. Ross dish out some delicious diva magic to her casino city acolytes on Sunday evening, January 13th, 2008.

In an electrifying red gown, one of four different costume changes during the evening, the Boss opened the show with what else, “I’m Coming Out."

Next, it was sing-a-long time with 3 Supremes numbers:

  1. “My World Is Empty Without You Babe”
  2. “Baby Love”
  3. “Stop In The Name of Love”

Diana mixed the old and new quite well.  The sold out crowd thoroughly enjoyed the vintage Supremes songs.

Ms. Ross sounded terrific.  She seemed well rested with energy to spare.

Following the Supremes medley, Diana eased into “Touch Me In The Morning,” “Love Hangover,” “The Boss,” and “It’s My House,” rekindling the cachet of her solo hit catalogue.

Supremes chestnut “Love Child” grabbed the crowd next, before Ms. Ross sang the passionate ballad, “What About Love,” a new track from her 2007 album, I Love You.  This was one of the few tracks most people in the audience were not familiar with.

Diana then picked up the tempo with another crowd pleaser from I Love You, “More Today Than Yesterday."

She really shook the rafters next with “Upside Down” and a sparkling version of “Ease on Down The Road” from The Wiz.

What’s a Diana Ross concert without some Lady Sings The Blues?

Ms. Ross then performed 2 back-to-back blues ballads from her Lady Day connection.

With her fans shouting for more, Diana stepped into “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” followed by “The Theme From Mahogany,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough."

Her band was a small combo of electric guitar, electric bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, and a male and female background singer.  The songs sounded fine with these instruments, giving the older material a very contemporary feel.

The surprise of the night was the one encore after “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” a charged version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Towards the end of this song, a former mystery Supreme hit the stage to sing a short duet of the song with Diana.

Although the audience begged for a second encore, it was not to be.  I was waiting for “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” but not tonight!

A younger friend who accompanied me said she enjoyed the show much better than Mary J. Blige who we both saw at the same arena last July.

I’m happy I’ve finally seen Diana Ross live.  It was worth the wait! Her performance was excellent.

Catch Diana Ross Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 8pm at Bank Atlantic Center Sinatra Theater, Sunrise, Florida.

Watch Diana Ross talk about the song “More Today Than Yesterday".

Diana Ross Borgata concert photo credits: PowerhouseRadio.com.

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Posted by King on 01/14 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Charles Wright takes "Express Yourself" to Line Dancing

Charles Wright, producer, singer and founder of the classic soul Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is upbeat about his new album, Finally Got It Wright.

He sticks to the tradition of his early hits “Do Your Thing” and “Express Yourself,” released in 1968 and 1970.

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm band exemplifies Los Angeles funk just like Chuck Brown personifies Washington, DC’s go-go music.

There’s a free mp3 download of “Line Dance Song” from Charles Wright’s new album available directly from his line dance web site.

Charles says: “I’m not Columbia, RCA or Capital, so I do not intend to pretend that I can compete on their level."

"I am a small company and will act accordingly. Therefore, if it takes me three, four or even five years to complete the job or more, I intend to concentrate on Finally Got It Wright because I honestly and truly believe in it."

Charles Wright was born near Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The family moved to Los Angeles when he was 12. He started on piano and later graduated to vocals, guitar, bass and drums.

As a teenager, Wright led and composed for several doo-wop groups, including the Twilighters, The Shields, and the Galahads.

Charles became one of Hollywood’s most sought after studio musicians while simultaneously becoming a nightclub sensation with his band Charles Wright and He Wright-Sounds.

After recording renowned Los Angeles Dee Jay Magnificent Montague’s theme song, “Spreading Honey,” Charles founded the history-making Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - the first successful rhythm & blues act for Warner Brothers.

The “Watts” band backed Bill Cosby on his first two musical albums, Silver Throat and The Salvation Army Band: Bill Cosby Sings.

Listen to 30 seconds of “Express Yourself."

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Posted by King on 01/10 at 01:02 AM
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Janet Jackson Flashback and Feedback

10 years ago today in 1998, Janet Jackson received her 18th gold record for the song “Together Again."

At the time, her accomplishment put her in first place among female artists with the most gold singles.

Janet has just released a brand new single, “Feedback,” available via iTunes and Yahoo!

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Posted by King on 01/09 at 01:02 AM
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Monday, January 07, 2008

Chuck D Celebrates Public Enemy's 20th Anniversary at CES

Public Enemy is celebrating their 20th Anniversary with the release of How Do You Sell Soul to a Soul-less People Who Sold Their Soul?

The album hit the streets in August, 2007.

Chuck D, (bottom left in the Public Enemy photo, next to The Flavor of Love TV reality show star Flavor Flav), is in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES - January 7 - 10) to promote the launch of the music web site Beyond.fm.

The Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas is hosting a special event for the Beyond.fm launch.

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Posted by King on 01/07 at 01:02 AM
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