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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Earth Wind and Fire Reactivates The Promise

Earth, Wind & Fire captured a prime spot at The White House on Sunday, February 22, 2009, as they performed for President Barack Obama, the first lady, and an assembly of U.S. governors.

The dinner event welcomed the National Governors Association gathering to Washington, DC.

Just two days later on Tuesday, February 24th, Earth, Wind & Fire re-released The Promise.  This CD, originally offered in 2003, features the lively “All In The Way."

Read my 2003 review of Earth, Wind & Fire’s The Promise.

2005 brought an even stronger EWF release, Illumination, featuring strong collaborations with Brian McKnight, Will.I.Am, and others.

Here’s the Earth, Wind & Fire, April, 2009 Tour Calendar:

  • Thursday, April 23, Tunica Resorts, MS - Harrah’s Casino Tunica Event Center
  • Sunday, April 26, New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Fair Grounds (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival)

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    Posted by King on 02/26 at 01:00 AM
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    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Stevie Wonder Wows with the Gershwin Prize

    The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin.

    The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the “Rhapsody in Blue” guys George and Ira Gershwin.

    Stevie Wonder will receive the award on Wednesday, February 25, 2009.

    Paul Simon won the first Gershwin Prize in 2007.

    A special web site for “Stevie Wonder In Performance at the White House: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize,” is scheduled to be available on Monday, February 23 at www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse.

    “Stevie Wonder In Performance at the White House: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize” will feature an evening of celebration with President and Mrs. Obama in honor of Wonder’s receipt of the prize.

    The one hour concert takes place February 25th and will include performances by Wonder, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Martina McBride, Esperanza Spalding, Will.i.am, and Mary Mary.

    President Obama will present the Gershwin Prize to Stevie Wonder during the event.

    Motown Stevie has captured all of the big awards including 32 number 1 R&B and pop hits, 25 Grammy Awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.

    Wonder received an Academy Award for “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from the 1984 film The Woman in Red. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Stevie became the youngest honoree of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.  He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2002.

    Stevie Wonder In Performance at the White House: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize” will be the first “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s Administration.

    Many PBS stations will air the concert on Thursday evening, February 26, 2009.

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    Posted by King on 02/20 at 08:00 AM
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    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Philly's First Choice Exposed

    Annette Guest, Joyce Jones, and lead vocalist Rochelle Fleming had their share of big hits when they busted out of Philadelphia, PA during the golden era of classic soul.

    First Choice was backed instrumentally by the MFSB gang.  The ladies recorded for Philly Groove Records.

    You Can’t go wrong with these 5 from First Choice:

    1. “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”
    2. “The Player”
    3. “Newsy Neighbors”
    4. “Love and Happiness”
    5. “Smarty Pants”

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    Posted by King on 02/12 at 08:00 AM
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    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Grammy Spectacular Struts Live Stuff Center Stage

    Have the Grammy Awards discovered a new magic formula?...bury the awards and spotlight the music?

    Their 51st annual extravaganza at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was front loaded with lots of live music, and very little of the less than compelling award show dribble that usually interrupts the pacing of the live performances that highlight this television event.

    But hey, it’s an awards show right?

    After an energetic opening from U2, Whitney Houston presented Jennifer Hudson with her best R&B Album of the year Grammy Award (Hudson, record executive Clive Davis, and Houston are pictured left to right).

    You may have thought you were watching a live concert for the first 90 minutes, happily replacing the sometimes boring dialogue accompanying many of the formulaic Grammy presenters and winner acceptance speeches.

    The show was improved this year by the Hollywood stars who teamed up with the musician presenters to frame the introduction of each specific award.

    Actors have the skill to sell those adlibs just a little bit better reading the scripted introductions rather than musicians who fumble when eyeballing their television teleprompter lines.

    Clearly, the inter-genre collaborations keep this program from being totally predictable.

    Cold Play with Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder with The Jonas Brothers, or Al Green with Justin Timberlake made for some inventive musical television.

    If you could only take about the first 2 hours of the Grammy marathon, you were rewarded with several interesting sets featuring some very good performances.

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    Posted by King on 02/09 at 01:00 AM
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    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    The Chambers Brothers Shout

    The weekend of February 12 - 13, 1971, The Chambers Brothers made their 4th appearance at Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East in New York City.

    Here’s the biography that was included in the official program that weekend (from an original hard copy in the PowerhouseRadio.com archive).

    "The Chambers Brothers, Willie, George, Lester and Joe were born in Mississippi and made their debut in Lee County’s Mount Calvary Baptist Church."

    "At that time George was seventeen; Willie was eleven; Lester was nine; and Joe seven. Soon afterwards the family moved to Los Angeles and the Brothers continued to sing together in church groups.”

    "Their first professional break came when they met the owner of a club called The Ash Grove, and from there they moved on to gigs in other local clubs.”

    "In 1961 the Brothers turned professional, and for the next two-and-a-half years continued to concentrate on gospel songs and play small clubs and coffee houses."

    "When their emphasis changed to pop tunes and blues, they found themselves in need of a drummer. They met Brian Keenan one night at Ondine in New York, liked his playing, and asked him to join the group."

    "Brian was born in Manhattan, but raised in small towns in Ireland and England. When he was eleven, he returned to the United States, living in the Bronx."

    "One of his main hobbies was observing the street bongo-players and by the time he moved back to England as a teenager, he had his own set of drums. After living in London for several years, Brian once again returned to New York where he met the Brothers."

    ----------

    Before The Chambers Brothers scored with several big hits while recording for Columbia, they recorded a series of tracks around 1965.  The picture above is from Vault Records album #120 Shout, released in 1968, three years too late, masquerading as new product to compete with the hot Columbia material.

    Shout featured an 11 minute live version of a song originally made famous by the Isley Brothers.  The other Shout tracks were recorded in the studio.

    Although the Chambers Brothers were ultimately more popular with the pure pop crowd than the classic soul fraternity, they are significant in the 60’s landscape because they attracted an integrated audience with their soft psychedelics and gospel influenced vocals.

    The Chambers Brothers had the crossover appeal of a Prince, Michael Jackson, and Sly & The Family Stone.

    Here are my picks for the top 5 Chambers Brothers Songs:

    1. “Funky”
    2. “People Get Ready”
    3. “Love, Peace, and Happiness”
    4. “I Can’t Turn You Loose”
    5. “Time Has Come Today”

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    Posted by King on 02/05 at 08:00 PM
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    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    A New Peaches and Herb Snack

    “Reunited," “Shake Your Groove Thing,” and one of my classic soul favorites, “Two Little Kids."

    Three memorable hits hammering home the musical mark of Peaches & Herb.

    Herb Fame, the original male half of this duo, has been honored to host a variety of lady partners who have filled the role of “Peaches."

    Colors of Love is a brand new Peaches and Herb CD scheduled for an April, 2009 release.

    I would expect that we’ll hear more of the tight romantic harmonies this duo is famous for.

    Peaches and Herb will be appearing in Washington, DC, at Blues Alley for two shows on Wednesday, February 11, 2009.

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    Posted by King on 02/03 at 01:00 AM
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