Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Femi Courts Success with Sweet Water Soul part 2
As mentioned last time, singer Femi hails from the Bay Area of San Francisco - Oakland. She’s worked with Ledisi, Black Eyed Peas, and other artists.
Her 6 song EP Sweet Water Soul offers a smooth blend of musical influences. Femi’s delicate voice is supported by capable arrangements touching Afro-Latin/Caribbean, salsa, rock, and R&B.
This is not a hook laden collection of songs, as the tunes venture into their own style and space.
Sweet Water Soul avoids the cookie-cutter approach to neo-soul, but attempts instead to discover new territory on it’s maiden voyage.
Femi succeeds in creating a soulful ‘singer - songwriter’ statement which should be a good starting point from which to build even more inventive melodies.
In addition to several other players, Femi is featured on Fender Rhodes, piano, acoustic guitar, synth bass, synth organ, synth strings, cajon, percussion, kalimba, bell tree, rainstick, drum programming, and sequencing.
My favorite tracks are the airy “Pages,” the rhythmic “If I Knew,” and her funky production of “Crush."
Sweet Water Soul:
- “Sweet Water (Rezo)”
- “If I Knew”
- “I Want You”
Listen to 30 seconds of the melodic “Pages."
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Friday, December 26, 2008
Femi Courts Success with Sweet Water Soul
From the Oakland, California music scene comes Femi, who will remind you of Patrice Rushen, Minnie Riperton, and Sade.
Femi’s new 6 track EP Sweet Water Soul offers a refreshing spin on vintage R&B that many of her more popular contemporaries have all but passed on.
Next week, we’ll update you on the emerging Femi, a lady who brings much more to the table than just a fresh new face.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Aretha Recites The Night Before Christmas
When Aretha Franklin gives you a reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” it’s not just the same old passage.
We’ve added some of our own elements, including Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Listen to a quick two minute tale featuring The Queen of Soul, from her 2008 holiday CD, This Christmas Aretha.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Ledisi Lifts Christmas Up with Musical Style
Ledisi is woman who offers a new breath of fresh air in the competitive arena of song styling.
You’ll pick up just a hint of Anita Baker and Chaka Khan in her magnificent delivery. Ledisi is more of a torch singer with the pipes to prove it.
Don’t confuse her with the trendy light-weight pop princess divas of today.
According to the official Ledisi website, her name, (pronounced led-duh-see, is adopted from the word that means “to bring forth” in the Yoruba language of Nigeria).
You can read her long biography at length on her website, but our focus here is her holiday album, It’s Christmas.
Ledisi has put together a top notch feast of Yuletide favorites.
The opening track, “I’ll Go,” showcases her impressive vocal prowess within a 2 minute 4 second snapshot.
This album is contemporary and tasteful. I enjoyed all the tracks. The strength of It’s Christmas is Ledisi’s fantastic voice.
She adds just enough vocal improvisation to the traditional tunes to keep them interesting. Frankly, I’m quite impressed with her sophistication of craft. This is just her 2nd album for the legendary Verve label.
Ledisi has been tagged as an R&B/Jazz/Pop singer. She’s versatile enough to handle a broad range of material.
After 2 Grammy nominations, there’s definitely a future award waiting for Ledisi.
Ledisi: It’s Christmas
- “I’ll Go”
- “Children Go Where I Send Thee”
- “Give Love On Christmas Day”
- “Be There For Christmas”
- “This Christmas (Could Be The One)”
- “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
- “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
- “It’s Christmas”
- “What A Wonderful World”
- “Please Come Home For Christmas”
- “Silent Night”
- “Thank You”
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Monday, December 15, 2008
The 10 Best Funky-Christmas Party Jams
Here are my all time picks for the 10 best funky-Christmas party jams (as appraised in 2008).
- “Christmas in Hollis” - Run-D.M.C.
- “N - Yo - City” - Bootsy Collins
- “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto” - James Brown
- “Christmas Rappin’” - Kurtis Blow
- “Little Drummer Boy” - Kofi
- “Joy To The World - Aretha Franklin
- “ Winter Mix” - Gloria Gaynor
- “Nutcracker Suite (remix)” - Berlin Symphony Orchestra
- “Funky Christmas” - The Whispers
- “Happy Holidays” - Ohio Players
- bonus: “Here Comes Santa Claus” - Rupaul
For the sonic volume, energy, and originality, Run-D.M.C. makes the top of the list. “Christmas In Hollis” is featured in the original 1988 movie, Die Hard.
Bootsy Collins, James Brown, and Kurtis Blow all stretch out with a funky Yuletide beat.
Kofi’s entertaining reggae version of “The Little Drummer Boy” offers an edgy contrast traveling from a softer chorus to a driving percussion during different parts of his score.
Aretha Franklin’s version of “Joy To The World” is not exclusively funk, as it includes the high energy gymnastics of a soaring gospel choir.
Gloria Gaynor offers “Winter Mix” to prove that exciting “house music” never goes out of style, even when reworking “Winter Wonderland,” which is what she does on “Winter Mix."
The remixed “Nutcracker Suite” by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra is crafty and clever.
"Funky Christmas” from the Whispers dances along, old school style, with their trademark harmonically tight vocals.
"Happy Holidays” from the Ohio Players has to be included in my list, even though this song barely propels itself up to a medium tempo beat.
The Ohio Players managed to keep their unique style and identity on this nearly 8-minute track. While somewhat repetitive due to the length, the holiday message charms us into the spirit of the season.
As a bonus, a shout out to Rupaul, who took Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady” melody, and turned it into a tongue-and-cheek party prance. This ain’t cowboy Gene Autry singing here!
PowerhouseRadio.com’s annual Christmas music, holiday song spectacular is gearing up now. Watch my exclusive 90 second video and count the number of friendly faces who have wonderful holiday songs to share with you!
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Thursday, December 11, 2008
Odetta Creates A Unique Christmas Concert
In 2005, Odetta, the singer of folk based African American traditional songs, released an immaculately recorded live album.
Gonna Let It Shine, A Concert for the Holidays is a stellar collection of spirituals celebrating Christmas.
If you love gospel, praise, and traditional spirituals, Odetta delivers a definitive 16 song collection of favorites.
The clarity of the live sound is phenomenal. Gonna Let It Shine, A Concert for the Holidays was recorded in front of a festive audience on the campus of Fordham University in New York City.
Throughout both the ballads and uptempo tracks, Odetta respectfully transmits an inspirational message propelled by the power of faith and the glory of Christmas.
Gonna Let It Shine, A Concert for the Holidays, is a completely different Christmas album.
It comes from the classically trained, civil rights savvy, legendary vocalist from Birmingham, Alabama, the late Odetta (who passed away on December 2, 2008).
- “This Little Light of Mine” (with the Holmes Brothers)
- “Rise Up Shepherd”
- “Mary Had A Baby”
- “What Month Was Jesus Born In?”
- “Shout For Joy”
- “Virgin Mary Had One Son”
- “Down By The Riverside” (with the Holmes Brothers)
- “Poor Little Jesus”
- “Freedom Trilogy”
- “Somebody Talking ‘Bout Jesus”
- “Keep On Movin’ It On”
- “O Jerusalem”
- “If Anybody Asks You”
- “Midnight Special”
- bonus: “This Little Light of Mine” (unedited - with the Holmes Brothers)
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Grammy Award Sunday Salutes 7 Soulful Honorees
The 2008 Grammy Award nominees have been announced. 110 awards will be presented including 7 for R&B - soul. Here are 5 of the 7 R&B categories:
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance:
- “Me, Myself And I,” Beyoncé
- “Heaven Sent,” Keyshia Cole
- “Spotlight,” Jennifer Hudson
- “Superwoman,” Alicia Keys
- “Need U Bad,” Jazmine Sullivan
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance:
- “You’re The Only One,” Eric Benét
- “Take You Down,” Chris Brown
- “Miss Independent,” Ne-Yo
- “Can’t Help But Wait,” Trey Songz
- “Here I Stand,” Usher
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance:
- “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Wayne Brady
- “You’ve Got The Love I Need,” Al Green Featuring Anthony Hamilton
- “Baby I Know,” Linda Jones with Helen Bruner & Terry Jones
- “Love That Girl,” Raphael Saadiq
- “In Love With Another Man,” Jazmine Sullivan
Best Contemporary R&B Album:
- Growing Pains, Mary J. Blige
- Back Of My Lac’, J. Holiday
- First Love, Karina
- Year Of The Gentleman, Ne-Yo
- Fearless, Jazmine Sullivan
Best R&B Album:
- Love & Life, Eric Benét
- Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA, Boyz II Men
- Lay It Down, Al Green
- Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson
- The Way I See It, Raphael Saadiq
For the Best R&B Album category, all of them are quite good. Look for a 3-way toss-up between Al Green, Jennifer Hudson, and ex Tony! Toni! Toné! guy Raphael Saadiq.
The 51st Annual Grammy Awards will be presented on “Grammy Sunday,” February 8, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California (broadcast live on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m Eastern).
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Gloria Gaynor Will Survive with New Christmas Cheer
The pleasant, appealing voice of Gloria Gaynor has been reactivated for Gloria Gaynor’s Christmas Presence.
You may have missed this holiday treat, originally released in 2007, but still new for 2008.
Dismiss your Gloria Gaynor preconceptions and join her sleigh ride for this Yuletide out-of-the-box potpourri of holiday hits.
Christmas songs may shine not always because of the singer, but because of the infinite creative arrangements these songs are given.
Gloria combines both assets to serve up yet another take on these seasonal favorites. I was expecting hard core R&B as the dominant vibe. The actual sound is lighter but still contemporary.
A touch of jazz here, a touch of pop there, and a dash soul to boot. Gloria Gaynor’s Christmas Presence has it all.
She projects a warm voice that soothes and comforts without the panache of shouting.
All the tracks are enjoyable, but I especially rate highly “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” along with the mellow “Christmas Blue,” the playful “Frosty The Snowman,” and the funky bonus bouncer “Winter Mix."
Gloria Gaynor has brought her distinct personality to this collection by recording a very mass appeal Christmas record. You can fire up this CD for the office party or holiday gathering with the confidence that the hip factor is strong enough to please almost everyone.
Christmas Presence is not perfect, but it offers a different dimension of the “I Will Survive” diva. It’s contemporary, polished, and main stream, without being cheesy. Gloria deserves the credit for trying something different.
- “Happy Time of Year”
- “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
- “All I Want Is You For Christmas”
- “Christmas Blue”
- “Frosty The Snowman”
- “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
- “Joy To The World”
- “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
- “Let It Snow!”
- “O Holy Night”
- “Little Town of Bethlehem”
- “Winter Wonderland”
- “The Christmas Song”
- “Joy Came To The World”
- “Christmas Prayer”
- “Winter Mix (Radio)” bonus track
- “Winter Mix (Dance)” bonus track
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Monday, December 01, 2008
Dionne Warwick Tracks The Cat to Philly
The recent 4 CD 2008 release, Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia, captured just about everyone who has recorded in the City of Brotherly Love.
On these ambitious projects, you can’t include everybody.
Dionne Warwick’s 1975 album Track of The Cat, produced, arranged, and conducted by Thom Bell with Philadelphia International Record’s house band MFSB, is just one example of another artist who could have been better represented in the anthology with her own solo work.
A moderate commercial success, Track of The Cat, released by Warner Brothers, included “Once You Hit The Road,” a single from the album that got some radio airplay.
Delfonics and Stylistics Producer Thom Bell’s classical training was a big influence in the production of the masterpiece title cut for Dionne.
Linda Creed and Thom Bell wrote the song lyrics to accompany the mesmerizing “cat” melody.
"Track of The Cat” allows the strength of Dionne Warwick’s vocal subtleties to shine while strings, French horns, and an immaculate arrangement keep the medium tempo vamp flowing forward with a memorable bass line.
This is a song to love.
The entire album was recorded in Philly with MFSB. It would have been nice to include Dionne Warwick’s “Track of The Cat” on Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia.
Dionne is represented on the collection by her duet with the Spinners: “Then Came You,” yet another Thom Bell gem.
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