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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson Wake - Thriller and Bad

Yes the abundant coverage of Michael Jackson’s tragic death will eventually end.  Among what I’ve watched, read, or listened to in several U.S. cities (and from around the world) over the past few days, here’s a highlight and low light:

  • Thriller: Donnie Simpson’s excellent radio interview with Smokey Robinson on Washington D.C.’s WPGC.
  • Bad: O’Jay Eddie Levert dropping the “s” bomb during the group’s lifetime achievement acceptance remark at the BET Awards/MJ tribute program.

What’s one thing you have liked and/or have disliked about the coverage of the Michael Jackson tragedy?  Leave a comment.

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Posted by King on 06/30 at 01:00 AM
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

50 Ways to Remember Michael Jackson

On August 14, 2008, I wrote 50 Ways To Love Michael Jackson, in honor of his 50th birthday.

May he rest in peace.  Michael Jackson, (1958 -2009), one of the great ones.




Posted by King on 06/25 at 08:21 PM
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Soul Power Movie International Debut

A blockbuster formula: match Muhammad Ali vs. George Forman, then connect the boxers with the star power of James Brown, the Spinners, B.B. King, Bill Withers, the Crusaders, Bill Black, Miriam Makeba, and Celia Cruz.

What do you have?  A classic soul knock-out punch of epic concert proportions.

Our performers provide the key ingredients for a spectacular 1974 promotion created to dazzle the African continent.

Partly inspired by South Africa’s music legend Hugh Masekela, a 3-night, 12-hour concert served as a backdrop for the Ali - Forman boxing match hyped as “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire.

The 1997 movie When We Were Kings documents the fight, with secondary emphasis on the music festival, known as “Zaire ‘74”.

Now comes Soul Power, a 2008/2009 production emphasizing the music using huge portions of the original concert footage not included in When We Were Kings.

Here are some release dates for the new movie Soul Power:

  • Belgium, July 1, 2009
  • UK, July 10, 2009
  • USA July 10, 2009 (limited venues)
  • Netherlands, September 17, 2009

Watch the Soul Power movie trailer

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Posted by King on 06/25 at 08:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009 BET Awards Build some Buzz

The O’Jays are saluted with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and both Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean receive humanitarian honors during the 2009 BET Awards scheduled for this Sunday, June 28th.

Just one airing can’t do, so look for multiple repeats of this television special in the coming weeks.

Nominees for the Best Female R&B Artist:

  • Beyoncé
  • Keyshia Cole
  • Keri Hilson
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Jazmine Sullivan

Rihanna, where are you?

Nominees for the Best Male R&B Artist:

  • The-Dream
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Ryan Leslie
  • Ne-Yo
  • T-Pain

John Legend and Chris Brown, where are you?

BET needs to add a legacy award for the R&B category.  It’s done in the Grammy Awards.  2008 saw many very good traditional releases, including Labelle’s Back To Now, and the Soul Men movie soundtrack.

Is jazz dead?  The BET Awards could be well served to give this genre the spotlight it deserves.  Jazz is an excellent live performance platform.  BET could help spark some interest in this particular craft of musical expression by exposing it to the hip hop generation.

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Posted by King on 06/23 at 08:00 AM
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Michael Jackson Reschedules London O2 Dates

An amusing release appears on Michael Jackson’s official website.  I don’t believe the explanation his spin doctors have dreamed up regarding concert schedule changes, and you probably won’t either.

Several of his July, 2009 O2 London shows have been moved into March, 2010.

Too bad for any jet setters who planned to fly into the U.K. for some of these selected 2009 dates.  Place your bets now on how many more “creative” moves will take place through the rest of the posted concert schedule.

The Michael Jackson performance series was originally announced on March 5, 2009.  Four months seems long enough to plan this comeback production.

Do you believe this explanation…

"Due to the sheer magnitude of the “This Is It” concerts at The O2 arena promoters and producers AEG Live and Kenny Ortega, Michael’s directorial partner and creative collaborator have elected to move back a few of the opening shows in order to meet the challenges presented by such a massive and technically complex show."

"Organizers are determined that all Michael’s legions of fans attending the opening nights get to experience the same high quality staging that is planned for all of the spectacular shows."

"In order to deliver a phenomenal and unprecedented show - the first show on the 8th July will take place on 13th July 2009."

"The subsequent shows on 10th July will be moved to 1st March 2010, 12th July will be moved to 3rd March 2010, and the show on the 14th July will be moved to 6th March 2010."

"Randy Phillips, President and CEO, AEG Live added, “Kenny and Michael are, at the same time, both creative pioneers and perfectionists."

"This show has grown in size and scope, thereby, necessitating more lead time for manufacture of the set, programming the content for the massive video elements, and, most importantly, more time for full production and dress rehearsals in the worlds busiest arena, The O2."

"As much as we agonized over this change in the original schedule, we are sure the fans will understand when they experience the level of entertainment Michael Jackson intends to deliver while also ensuring the safety of the musicians, cast and crew and the crisp execution of the production."

"It is AEG Lives sincere hope that those lucky enough to have purchased tickets will have enough time to change their personal schedules and travel plans if they are coming from outside of London."

"We do not want anyone to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

"Michael, who is directly involved with all aspects of the styling/choreography/band selection and rehearsals, is working around the clock to ensure this is the show to end all shows!"

"Kenny Ortega, Michael’s directorial partner and creative collaborator said, “After directing the Dangerous and HIStory tours, I know what the fans expect and myself and the team want to deliver a flawless production."

"We apologize to all disappointed Michael Jackson fans and remain extremely dedicated and focused on creating an exceptional live music experience."

"AEG Live stressed that anybody who cannot make the rescheduled dates for any reason will get a full refund of the ticket and booking fee. Fans can log on www.MichaelJacksonLive.com for further information and call the 24hr hotline or email."

The Schedule:

  • Jul 8, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena Rescheduled to Jul 13, 2009
  • Jul 10, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena Rescheduled to Mar 1, 2010
  • Jul 12, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena Rescheduled to Mar 3, 2010
  • Jul 13, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 14, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena Rescheduled to Mar 6, 2010
  • Jul 16, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 18, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 22, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 24, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 26, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 28, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jul 30, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 1, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 3, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 10, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 12, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 17, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 19, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 24, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 26, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 28, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Aug 30, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 1, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 3, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 6, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 8, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 10, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 21, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 23, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 27, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Sep 29, 2009 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 7, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 9, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 12, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 14, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 16, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 18, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 23, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 25, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 27, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Jan 29, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 1, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 3, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 8, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 10, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 12, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 16, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 18, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 20, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 22, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Feb 24, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena
  • Mar 1, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena *Rescheduled From Jul 10, 2009
  • Mar 3, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena *Rescheduled From Jul 12, 2009
  • Mar 6, 2010 London United Kingdom O2 Arena *Rescheduled From Jul 14, 2009

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Posted by King on 06/18 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Gap Band Keep the Party Train on Track

The legendary Gap Band of brothers honed the art of funk to a science with a truly unique approach to their groove grinding R&B.

These photos are from Gap Band VI.

Let’s reveal much more about this trio who hail from the USA heartland by spotlighting some highlights from The Gap Band’s official biography...

"One of the most influential groups in the history of classic soul, Charlie and his brothers, Ronnie and Robert Wilson, made themselves famous with their non-stop humorous funk grooves.

The sons of a Pentecostal minister, the Wilson brothers started performing in 1967 when they formed a group along with Tuck Andress of Tuck and Patti Fame.

The GAP Band, named after the black business hub of their native Tulsa, Oklahoma (Greenwood, Archer, Pine Streets), became the band of choice for visiting musicians.

“We used to be called the Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band,” Charlie explains, “but that was a bit too much to put on posters, so we abbreviated it to G.A.P. Band.

Then once, through a typographical error, the periods disappeared and out popped the GAP Band.”

During the band’s early career they opened for major hit bands like The Rolling Stones, and supported J.J. Cale, Willie Nelson, D.J. Rogers, and Leon Russell.

In the 80’s, Charlie toured with Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics. The GAP Band has always been a touring powerhouse, known for their high energy, groove thumpin, party-like set.

Throughout their career they have performed with an eclectic set of artists including Frankie Beverly and Maze, The Isley Brothers, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, L.L. Cool J, Destiny’s Child, Ashanti, Ja Rule, and Dru Hill.

From the late 70’s to early 80’s the band dominated the R&B charts with their hard driving funk grooves.  Four of the band’s nine albums went platinum..."

  • The Gap Band II
  • The Gap Band III
  • The Gap Band IV
  • Gap Band V - Jammin)

  • Gap Band hits include:

  • “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”
  • “Party Train”
  • “Burn Rubber”
  • “Outstanding”
  • “Oops Upside Your Head”
  • “Early in the Morning”
  • “Yearning for Your Love”
  • “Outstanding”

Charlie Wilson continues to support his own solo career, and will be performing on the following dates:

  • Friday, June 19, 2009, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
  • Saturday, June 20, City Stages Music Festival, Birmingham, AL
  • Friday, June 26, Grant Park - Taste of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Saturday, June 27, Chene Park, Detroit, MI
  • Sunday, June 28, Nokia Theater, Dallas, TX
  • Saturday, July 4, Essence Music Festival – Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
  • Friday, July 24, Kanawha Plaza, Richmond, VA
  • Friday, July 31, Macy’s Music Festival – Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
  • Friday, August 14, Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards, Las Vegas, NV
  • Friday, September 4, Palace Theater, Cleveland, OH
  • Sunday, September 6, Fort Hood Stadium, Killeen, TX
  • Friday, October 2, LA County Fair, Los Angeles, CA

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Posted by King on 06/16 at 01:00 AM
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teena Marie Steps Into Congo Square

Teena Marie checked in on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, with Congo Square, her latest release.

The tracks are slow to mid-tempo, and include some interesting collaborations with several guest performers.

After scanning through several reviews of this album it’s clear that die-hard Teena Marie fans really like what they are hearing.

A more honest analysis reveals the lack of a really outstanding track to attract her more casual fans back into the fold.

Read the following excerpted official Teena Marie biography, then listen to 20 seconds of the title track featuring George Duke.

Here’s the Official Teena Marie Story:

"For nearly three decades, pint - sized, soul stirring songstress Teena Marie has undeniably been a force to be reckoned with in the nearly thirty years of her professional performing career.

The accomplished singer, songwriter, producer and arranger has managed to consistently capture the hearts and spirits of millions of fans with her music.

Nominated for a Grammy Award four times, Mary Christine Brockert had a strong African American influence from her godmother. Blessed with the gift of music at a young age, the Santa Monica, California native was raised on Motown music.

Singing Harry Belafonte by age two, Ms. Marie’s self-professed “Gift from God” would become fine-tuned as the years progressed.

Signed to her dream label at age 19, Teena Marie’s magic would be further developed under the tutelage of the legendary, Rick James.

Her 1979 debut Wild And Peaceful, produced by James, garnered a #8 R&B single with “I’m A Sucker For Your Love."

In 1980, her second and third albums, Lady T and Irons in the Fire were released, producing the hit classics “Behind The Groove” and “I Need Your Loving.”

In this period, Teena Marie took creative control of producing, writing and arranging her material. In 1981 Ms. Marie released the platinum selling It Must Be Magic, featuring the up-tempo “Square Biz” and slow jam “Portuguese Love."

In 1982, Motown sued Teena Marie for breach of contract after she informed the label that she no longer wanted to perform.

Subsequently, Ms. Marie filed a countersuit against Motown and won. The countersuit resulted in the landmark artists’ rights initiative known as “The Brockert Initiative,” - Ms. Marie’s last name - placing strict limitations on the length of artist/company contracts.

This historical entertainment mandate states that no recording company can contractually bind an artist while refusing to release his/her product.

After winning the lawsuit, Teena Marie signed to Epic Records (1983), and went on to record five more albums throughout the late eighties and early nineties, including Starchild and the hit single “Lovergirl” and Naked to the World which features the smash hit “Ooo La La La."

Teena independently released Passion Play on her own Sarai Records in 1994, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she would resurface to again share her voice and talent with the world.

As the sole artist signed to Cash Money Classics, the subsidiary of New Orleans rap entity Cash Money Records, Teena released La Doña in 2004, which yielded the Grammy nominated #1 hit “Still In Love."

Sapphire was her next release.

The sudden passing of Teena Marie’s mentor and friend Rick James in 2005 served as the backdrop to the creation of Sapphire.

Their often tumultuous, always fertile relationship served as inspiration once again, for Ms. Marie’s, as she put pen to paper and recalled the indescribable experience of working with such a creative force of nature as Rick James.

"I really couldn’t deal with my pain and I think that God intervened.  Actually, I felt like Rick was with me writing.  Some nights I would just sit up in the bed like he tapped me on the shoulder ‘Get up and write this song.’ It was a blessing that I had that album to write because I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have that creative outlet."

Teena Marie Congo Square:

  1. “The Pressure” - (featuring MC Lyte)
  2. “Can’t Last a Day” - (featuring Faith Evans)
  3. “Baby I Love You”
  4. “Ear Candy 101”
  5. “Lover’s Lane” - (featuring Howard Hewett)
  6. “Marry Me”
  7. “You Baby”
  8. “Milk N’ Honey” - (featuring Rose Lebeau)
  9. “What U Got 4 Me”
  10. “Rovleta’s Jass”
  11. “Congo Square” - (featuring George Duke)
  12. “Harlem Blues”
  13. “Black Cook”
  14. “Ms. Coretta”
  15. “Soldier” - (featuring Shirley Murdock)
  16. “The Rose N’ Thorn”

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Posted by King on 06/11 at 09:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Countdown to the 2009 Essence Music Festival

More music, more voices, and more culture will be jammed into the 15th anniversary of the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, July 3 - 5, 2009, than ever before.

The celebration promises to delivery a bayou full of music, motivation, and merry-making.

Beyonce’, Teena Marie, Al Green, Anita Baker, Salt-N-Pepa, and John Legend lead the evening performance schedule.  Dozens of other acts are also on the bill.

Daytime events include a big tribute to Bishop T.D. Jakes.

270,000 people attended in 2008.  Over 200,000 attended in 2007.

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Posted by King on 06/09 at 08:15 AM
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Look Back at Koko Taylor

I was lucky enough to work at an R&B radio station in the 1970’s that allowed us (the dj’s) to play Koko Taylor right along side of the Temptations and Aretha Franklin.

The somewhat eclectic mix helped me to develop a reverence and appreciation for the blues masters, who by the mid 1960’s had long since slipped off of the popular music charts.

NPR Music on their All Songs blog has a Look Back at blues legend Koko Taylor, including videos and bio.  She passed away on June 3, 2009, at the age of 80.

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Posted by King on 06/04 at 08:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Al B. Sure comes Home for Honey

When Al B. Sure entered a Sony Music sponsored song contest in the 1980’s, luck with talent attracted the ear of judge Quincy Jones, who picked Al B. to receive the top honor from among 50 finalists.

With some grooming, Sure eventually went on to release the successful 1988 hit In Effect Mode, featuring his anthem “Nite and Day."

On Tuesday, June 23, 2009, Al B. Sure leaps ahead 21 years to release Honey, I’m Home, a brand new album featuring 10 original songs.

Laura Krier in southern Spain has a great new audio conversation with “Mr. Nite and Day.” You can hear it by visiting the official Al B. Sure love blog, and clicking on the “interview with Laura Krier” link.

During the interview, Al B. has a great tip for up and coming artists.  Sure says, in effect, forget about the technology, it’s all about the song.

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Posted by King on 06/02 at 01:00 AM
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