The talented and personable Kevin Eubanks is so firmly established as bandleader/music director on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno that people forget, if they ever knew, that the guitarist is also an established performing and recording artist.
Eubanks, in fact, has a dozen albums to his credit, several of which have titles that could relate to his well-publicized decision to leave the Leno show, including “Turning Point,” “The Searcher,” “Promise of Tomorrow” and “Opening Night.”
“After 18 years, I just need a change of pace and to see what else is going on,” said Eubanks, who is a very youthful looking 52. “But it was a really difficult decision because this has become my second home.”
Eubanks’ replacement is composer/producer Rickey Minor, longtime music director on “American Idol.” Minor starts on June 7.
SPEAKING OF new ventures, contemporary gospel superstar Kirk Franklin says he has been asked so many if he had a book that he decided to write one, about life based on things he has experienced. There will, of course, be a strong spiritual dimension. The book, titled “The Blueprint,” will be in stores in May.
Anita Baker’s many fans have been waiting for news regarding a new album. After all, it’s been over five years since the last one. Anita has been in Nashville working on the album. George Duke is one of the producers, and Baker says we can expect some surprises.
“I went to Nashville to mix it up, shake it and see what comes out,” said Anita with a smile, adding, “I’m turning it up in a lot of ways.”
Phil Collins’ next album will be titled “Going Back,” featuring his renditions of Motown and other R&B/pop songs. Can’t wait to hear Phil’s version of the Temptations’ “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue).” In 1982, Collins had a Top 10 hit with a remake of Supremes’ classic “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
THERE WAS a time, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when the late, gifted James Cleveland was the undisputed king of gospel music. That being the case, it’s strange that his name and music are not heard more often today.
The singer/choir director/songwriter made enormous contributions to gospel, but a certain aspect of his personal life has stymied full appreciation. But nothing can take away from the greatness of classics such as “Peace Be Still,” “Lord Help Me to Hold Out,” “I Don’t Feel Noways Tired” and “Lord Do It.”
After her long stint as Wilhelmina Slater, the tough-as-nails fashion magazine executive, on the TV show “Ugly Betty,” Vanessa Williams has returned to the Broadway stage in “Sondheim on Sondheim.” It is a tribute to the famed composer, known for “Send in the Clowns” and so many others, mostly for musical theater.
Anyone who is hired to work for Oprah Winfrey has to sign a confidentiality agreement. That’s fine, but people can still supply information to the tabloids, etc., as an anonymous source.
Erykah Badu’s “Out of My Mind, Just in Time” concert tour begins May 22 in Baltimore and concludes June 24 in Las Vegas. The Detroit stop is May 30 at Chene Park.
Eminem fans can expect a new album, “Recovery,” in late June.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW….that Chaka Khan and Rick James once recorded as a duo. The song is “Slow Dancin’,” featured on songstress’ 1982 album “Chaka Khan,” the one that also featured her successful version of Michael Jackson’s “Got To Be There.”
MEMORIES: “When You’re Young and in Love” (the Marvelettes), “Fame” (David Bowie), “Special Lady” (Ray, Goodman & Brown), “Endless Love” (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie), “The Letter” (the Box Tops), “Disco Nights” (GQ), “On the Wings of Love” (Jeffrey Osborne), “Hey Girl” (Freddie Scott), “Miss You Much” (Janet Jackson), “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald), “Duke of Earl” (Gene Chandler).
BLESSINGS to Carl Carlton, Lonette McKee, Duane Parham, Greg Mathis, Bobby Green, Kelvyn Ventour, Brenda Perryman, Claudreen Jackson and Michael Goodin.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Alan Cohen: “Begin to sincerely question your motives for social activities, and let go of anything that does not reflect a truth you believe in from the inside out. Your life is too important to live for others.”
Let the music play!
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