Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
When the multi-talented Jill Scott had her breakthrough in 2000 with an album titled “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1,” she was a breath of fresh air.
The singer, poet, songwriter and actress emerged at a time when the record industry was becoming increasingly formulaic and imitative, and as radio station playlists continued to decrease and, more than ever, there was an obsession with “demographics.”
In many respects it is amazing that she got through, and on top of everything else, she was a plus-size woman working in a society and an industry that prefers “slim.” Perhaps she made note of the fact that being bigger did not hold mega-talents Queen Latifah and Oprah Winfrey back — because they would not allow it to.
Diana Ross once said that when she was contemplating her future at a very early age, she knew several things for sure, one of them being that failure was not an option.
And, as Berry Gordy Sr. (better known as “Pops”) often told his eight children, “Your gift will make room for you.”
NOTHING CAN stop a talented person with a clearly defined goal.
“I think every individual has his or her own power,” said Scott, “It’s a matter of working, taking time and defining what that power is.”
A gentleman who is from Detroit but now lives in New York recalls seeing Jill Scott when she was just starting out. He recognized right away that she had something special to offer.
And even though the small club was not nearly filled, Scott performed as though she was on stage at the Apollo Theater or Carnegie Hall, playing to a full house.
Scott being very pretty and having a great sense of style, both in hair and attire, are two additional factors working in her favor. But, of course, the talent is the main ingredient
The Philadelphia-born Jill Scott entered Temple University after graduation from high school, studying secondary education with intentions of becoming a teacher on the high school level.
HOWEVER, she became disillusioned with that profession after working as a teacher’s aide. The disappointment was so strong that she opted to drop out of college.
Most likely, the show business spirit was permeating her mind, encouraging her to consider options more in keeping with her artistic foundation.
Scott did not begin singing right away, and acting came later as well. She first presented herself to the public as a spoken word artist. Eventually, someone came along who could help take her career to the next level.
Amir Thompson, better known as “?uestlove,” asked Scott if she would be interested in going into the studio with his band, the Roots. (Currently the house band on “Late Night With David Letterman.”)
She subsequently co-wrote a song titled “You Got Me,” for which Erykah Badu and the Roots won a Grammy.
BOLSTERED by that success, Scott began performing on stage with increased assurance. For a time both she and Badu were performing “You Got Me.”
Word of Scott’s talents spread and soon she was collaborating with other notables, among them Common and Will Smith. She also joined the Canadian cast of the hit Broadway show “Rent.”
Following the success of “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1,” the rapidly ascending artist released a live album, “Experience: Jilll Scott 826+,” that captured the rapport she had, and continues to have, with her concert audiences. She is a particular favorite among Black women.
Scott continued her winning ways, her following growing steadily. Her third album, “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2,” was outstanding.
One highlight was “Bedda at Home,” with Scott acknowledging the appeal of a gentleman pursuing her, but making it clear that the man she had a home was all she needed.
A SECOND highlight is “Family Reunion.” On this one, with the music of the O’Jays song of the same name featured throughout, Scott tells us all about her family, the good, the not-so-good and everything in between. It’s poignant, sometimes funny…some of Scott’s best work, with her creativity with words and images at a peak.
None of this recording success stopped Jill Scott the poet from expressing herself in that medium. A book, “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours,” was published in the spring of 2005.
Next up was an album titled “Collaborations,” which was actually a prelude, an “appetizer” as it were, for “The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3.” Once you hear “Hate On Me,” an indelible impression will have been made.
Scott’s most recent album is “The Light of the Sun,” released in mid-2011. But before that, fans were surprised to be offered “The Original Jill Scott From the Vault, Vol. 1.”
A STAUNCH believer in branching out as an artist, and showing her followers and the public in general what she was capable of as an actress, Scott began to make herself increasingly visible on the big and small screen.
Several appearances on the popular sitcom “Girlfriends” helped open the door to significant performances in movies.
She was fantastic in “Why Did I Get Married?” in which she gave a performance of Oscar quality. She reprised that role in “Why Did I Get Married Too?”
These are in addition to other TV and film roles.
There can be no denying that Jill Scott is here to stay. What she has done in the past is unforgettable, and whatever she does in the future will be equally as impactful.
We know who Jill Scott is. — SVH
Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 02:05
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
Two and a half years later, it still seems very wrong for Michael Jackson to not be here, even though we all know that he helped pave the road that zigzagged and ultimately led to his demise.
But that part doesn’t really matter anymore. We have to accept what is and appreciate the shining star we had — and, in a way, still do. The music continues to sell in massive quantities, the songs still sound fresh…and then there’s his impact.
Whenever we see Usher, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake or any of a number of others perform, including his sister, Janet, the Michael Jackson influence is evident.
As for his untimely passing — and Dr. Conrad Murray deserved his sentence and more — a verse sung by 1960s/70s “I Can See Clearly Now” recording star Johnny Nash comes to mind: “There are more questions than answers.”
ENTERTAINERS who are among the small number of those who find success in the extremely competitive, unpredictable, volatile and sometimes just plain mean show business industry generally handle more money than the average person.
That being the case, it is hard to feel much compassion when they mess up.
T-Boz (Tionne Watkins) from the group TLC recently filed for bankruptcy — for the second time. She owes $768,643 to creditors, mostly the mortgage on her 1.2 million dollar home.
I like T-Boz, but come on now! Surely there is some business sense in there. And why buy a house that expensive when there is no certainty that you will later be taking in the amount of money you were at the time you signed the papers?
THOSE WHO read this column have all kinds of opinions pertaining to the music industry, specific artists, Hollywood, radio, etc. Or for that matter, something the “Reflections” columnist said.
Frequently readers express themselves (with great honesty), and right now we are encouraging more to do so. Soon we will introduce a forum titled “What’s On Your Mind?”
FOR ABOUT as long as there has been recorded music, people have used music as a part of their romantic endeavors. Some even call it “baby-makin’ music.” Artists like Barry White, Marvin Gaye and Johnny Mathis have long been favorites.
White R&B star Robin Thicke says his wife, Black actress Paula Patton, seen most recently in “Jumping the Broom,” have differing feelings on this matter. It’s kind of funny.
“My wife tries to play my music when we have sex,” said Thicke candidly. “I can’t possibly listen to my own music when we make love.”
THE MOTOWN MUSEUM is putting together an exhibit honoring their female vocal groups from the golden era that is scheduled to open early next year.
Since the Supremes have received so much attention, we hear the exhibit will be more focused on the other groups — the Marvelettes, Martha & the Vandellas, the Velvelettes and the three ladies who sang background on hundreds of Motown hits, Louvain Demps, Marlene Barrow and Jackie Hicks, better known as the Andantes (pronounced ahn-don-tays).
Which brings to mind the fact that on Dec. 13 a deluxe set of the Marvelettes’ last four albums, plus plenty of rarities, alternate takes, etc., and a color booklet, titled “Forever More: The Compete Motown Albums, Vol. 2,” will be released. Only 5000 copies are being manufactured.
The price is not cheap, but this is a must for Marvelettes fans, as was “Forever: The Complete Motown Albums, Vol. 1”
JIMI HENDRIX was named the No. 1 guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine’s panel of top guitarists and experts.
Sixteen other African Americans placed among the Top 100, including B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Prince, Otis Rush, Freddy King, Elmore James, Curtis Mayfield, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, Eddie Hazel and Robert Johnson.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Whoopi Goldberg’s real name is Caryn Johnson.
MEMORIES: “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” (Barry White), “Let’s Do It Again” (the Staple Singers), “Cold Blooded” (Rick James), “Scorpio” (Dennis Coffey & the Detroit Guitar Band), “Rhythm of the Night” (DeBarge), “Our Love” (Natalie Cole), “Atomic Dog” (George Clinton), “Call Me” (Skyy), “Baby Hold On To Me” (Gerald Levert with Eddie Levert), “Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward).
BLESSINGS to Michael Wimberly, Valerie Lockhart, Derek Thornton, Patrice Gordy, Belinda Blythe, Henry Tyler, Sabrina Owens, Delphine Reeves, Carolyn Crawford and Bob Kerse.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Maxwell: “People say a lot of things about you because they don’t know anything.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2011 16:02
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
No one could deny that if nothing out of the ordinary ever happened, things would be pretty dull. With that in mind, we are focusing on some of the unexpected in show business.
On June 5, 1974, Sly Stone, who today lives in a camper van, as hard as that is to believe, married girlfriend Kathleen Silva at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 fans. However, the new bride filed for divorce five months later, saying she could not live in “that world of drugs and weirdness.”
There was a fairly recent TV special called “The Disco Ball.” Usher performed McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” but messed up some of the words. The line goes, “We’re polishing up our act,” but Usher sang, “We’re polishing up our back,” which, of course, made no sense.
Actor Matthew McConaughey believes in keeping his body clean, but not in using deodorant. Everyone has a natural scent, he said.
At one Miles Davis concert, fellow trumpeter Wynton Marsalis thought it would be a great idea to join Davis on stage for what could be a historic partnering, so he walked onto the stage with his horn, uninvited. Davis was furious and told Marsalis to get off the stage immediately, in the raw language Davis was known for.
Radio personality and last season “Dancing With The Stars” contestant Mike Catherwood says that whenever something requires his full concentration, he finds that it helps to be completely without clothing. He said it’s part of his MO. (Hey, whatever works!)
One hitmaking Detroit band from the 1970s and 1980s may be the only group in R&B history to have five different names. They started out as Al Hudson & the Soul Partners, then altered it to Al Hudson & the Partners, evolved into One Way featuring Al Hudson, changed it to One Way, then concluded as Al Hudson & One Way.
Motown recorded the last four Marvelettes albums using only the lead singer and the company’s excellent backup singers, the Andantes (pronounced ahn-don-tays).
However, original member Katherine Schaffner and replacement member Anne Bogan were still asked to pose for the cover of the last release, “The Return of the Marvelettes.” Bogan wasn’t available and Shaffner flat-out refused. She told them, “I’m not singing on the album, so why should I be on the cover?”
THEO PEOPLES is no longer a member of the Four Tops. It is reported that for some reason, original member and group leader Duke Fakir let him go.
Peoples joined the Four Tops in 1998, replacing the late Lawrence Payton. But when lead singer Levi Stubbs could no longer perform due to health issues, Peoples took over the lead, although no one could ever even come close to “replacing” Levi Stubbs. The vacancy created by the new arrangement was filled by Ronnie McNeir.
Today the Four Tops are Duke Fakir, Ronnie McNeir, Roquel Payton (son of Lawrence Payton) and newcomer Harold (“Spike”) Bonhart.
Theo Peoples, whose first name is actually Theopolis, sang with the Temptations from 1992 to 1998.
RIHANNA has been speaking glowingly of her former boyfriend, Chris Brown, who physically abused her badly in 2009. This adds credence to the belief some people have, yours truly included, that they could eventually end up back together.
“I’m really excited to see the breakthrough he’s had in his career,” Rihanna said. “It is incredible to see how he has pulled out the way he did, even though the world seemed like it was against him. I’m a fan. I’ve always been a fan. (Being mad at him) was taking up too much of my time.”
Even though I am pleased that Chris Brown has gotten on with his life and career, if the couple were to reunite it could be problematic because something like that could happen again. Brown has temper control issues.
ENTERTAINMENT Weekly magazine named Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas “TV’s Coolest Cops.” They were, of course, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs on “Miami Vice” from 1984 to 1989. Remember the pastel-colored clothes?
Lee DeWyze is the latest on the growing list of “American Idol” winners and finalists to be dropped by a record company. Among the many others are Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, David Archuleta, LaToya London and Clay Aiken.
The problem is that the record companies expect too much. They count on through-the-roof sales rather than just satisfactory ones, and when that doesn’t happen, deals are severed.
DeWyze is talented, but he was a season nine contestant and that was the show’s dullest season.
Kanye West was ranting and raving in public yet again, this time because his clothing line, KW, received mixed reviews when it was introduced in Paris.
STEVE ALLEN, the late, great television personality, musician, comedian, songwriter and author, hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “The Bible has been interpreted to justify slavery, the slaughter of prisoners of war, capital punishment, polygamy, gross superstition and the discouraging of the teaching of scientific truths.”
I have a great belief in God and have had many experiences no one could ever deny. However, I basically give organized religion a thumbs down, which is not a put-down of all churches or the people who find comfort in them.
But the hard truth is that not many entities are more divisive, or more inclined to be narrow-minded, prejudiced and judgmental against whole groups of people than religions and churches. Their victims include Middle Easterners, gays, liberals and people of differing faiths, among others.
Everyone has a right to be who and what they are.
And I cringe every time I hear people say they have “God’s favor,” the implication being that most other people do not, or cannot unless they subscribe to what they believe.
We’re all flawed human beings who need a positive spiritual dimension, and God is as available to one person as another.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that in 1963 Cicely Tyson became the first African-American to be a regular on a prime time dramatic television series. The show, “East Side/West Side,” aired on CBS.
MEMORIES: “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” (Toni Braxton), “Grazing in the Grass” (the Friends of Distinction), “Sherry” (the Four Seasons), “Disco Inferno” (the Trammps), “Something Just Ain’t Right” (Keith Sweat), “Don’t Walk Away” (Jade), “Nothing But Heartaches” (the Supremes), “Head to Toe” (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam), “Toast to the Fool” (the Dramatics), “When Love Calls” (Atlantic Starr).
BLESSINGS to Eddie Allen, Vickie Winans, Walter Bridgforth Jr., Henry Tyler, Kim Logan-Nowlin, Al Chism, Patricia L. Parks, Derek Smith, Keena Green, David Craig, Yvonne Gullick, Rita Ross and Carolyn Crawford.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Morgan Freeman: “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:49
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
Can you believe it? The Marvelettes’ classic hit “Please Mr. Postman” came out 50 years ago, making its debut on the national charts in September of 1961. Five decades!
Just where have all these years gone? I guess time flies when you’re listening to good music.
A substantial number of major hits have reached their 50th birthday. One additional interesting aspect is that most of the songs do not seem that old, in part because they are still heard in various places, including certain radio stations, TV and radio commercials, people’s homes, etc.
Also, because of that exposure, younger people, who were born decades later, are familiar with them.
Of course, on the other side of the coin, quite a few of the songs loved by so many at the time have been buried in history. But that is no reflection on their ongoing value.
In a distant time and place, famed poet John Keats made the astute observation that “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
So it is with music. Let the music play, whether it’s old, new or somewhere in between.
THE SHIRELLES, the first female supergroup, had not one, not two, but three classic hits in 1961: “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “Mama Said” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”
One of the most played and re-recorded songs of all time is “Stand By Me,” originally sung by Ben E. King. And the group he emerged from, the Drifters, also had several hits that year, including “I Count the Tears,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Please Stay.”
But Ben E. King had a second song in 1961 that became a classic — “Spanish Harlem,” with its clever lyrics and unique structure.
The legendary Ray Charles had one of the biggest hits of his long and amazing career that year with “Hit the Road, Jack.” He also scored with “Unchain My Heart,” among others.
Bobby Lewis, meanwhile, had the whole country “Tossin’ and Turnin’” and Gary U.S. Bonds created a party atmosphere with his festive and rollicking “Quarter to Three” and stayed in that groove with “School Is Out.”
The iconic Sam Cooke continued his winning ways with one of his most-loved songs, “Cupid.”
Down in Memphis, Carla Thomas recorded the lovely “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes).” She soon became the queen of Stax Records, where her labelmates included Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG’s, Eddie Floyd and her father, Rufus Thomas.
Another very popular song in 1961 was “Raindrops” by Dee Clark.
THE MIRACLES had one of their many superhits that same year with “Shop Around,” which is now one of their signature songs. It was actually released at the tail end of 1960 but had the greater part of its chart life in 1961.
Gladys Knight & the Pips, who would later be welcomed into the Motown family by the Miracles, had their first hit with “Every Beat of My Heart,” followed by “Letter Full of Tears.”
A group from Brooklyn who called themselves the Jive Five had a major hit in 1961 with “My True Story.” You may have seen them on one of the PBS fundraiser music specials.
ARETHA FRANKLIN was several years away from being crowned the Queen of Soul, but she had two Top 10 R&B hits, “Won’t Be Long” and “Operation Heartbreak.”
Nineteen-sixty-one was also a great year for a very large number of pop, rock ’n’ roll and White R&B-based artists, including Elvis Presley (“Little Sister,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”), Roy Orbison (“Crying,” “Running Scared”) and the Everly Brothers (“Walk Right Back,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream”).
Also, the Capris (“There’s a Moon Out Tonight”), Dick and Dee Dee (“The Mountain’s High”), Rosie & the Originals (“Angel Baby”), Tony Orlando (“Bless You”), Bobby Vee (“Take Good Care of My Baby”) and Michigan’s own Del Shannon (“Runaway”).
Shep & the Limelites made a strong impact with “Daddy’s Home,” now recognized as a standard from that era and beyond. It was a Top 10 hit for Jermaine Jackson in 1972-73.
BY 1961, Chubby Checker had become the king of dance. “The Twist” had been No. 1 the previous year and sparked a dance craze. But then, in late ’61, the twist became a worldwide sensation and “The Twist” reached No. 1 — again.
“The Twist,” it should be noted, was originally recorded by Detroit’s own Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and was a major R&B hit.
Once the twist caught on, it was one dance after another, and Chubby Checker had three additional big hits in 1961: “Pony Time,” “The Fly” and “Let’s Twist Again.”
Ike & Tina Turner enjoyed the third of many hits that year with “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and the Impressions had a smash with the hauntingly beautiful “Gypsy Woman.”
Gene McDaniels was as smooth as silk with a soul/pop hit that had a Biblical foundation, “A Hundred Pounds of Clay.” Then he clicked with “Tower of Strength.”
A number of novelty songs found their way into the upper levels of the charts in 1961, among them “Mother-In-Law” (Ernie K. Doe), “The Boll Weevil Song” (Brook Benton) and the Marcels’ drastically different interpretation of the famous Rodgers & Hard song “Blue Moon.”
And last but not least, a group with a name that fit the era, Little Caesar & the Romans, enjoyed Top 10 success with “Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me of You).”
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2011 16:00
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
The city of Detroit has been sung about in the recording studio more times than most of us realize. On some occasions the song is about Detroit specifically, at others the city is mentioned as part of a point being made.
In 2004 Raphael Saadiq recorded “Detroit Girl.” She was tough, but he found her so hot that he was sure he “would never be the same.”
Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a song that was an anthem for the city — and a pep talk — in 1984, “Hello, Detroit.” It was co-written by Berry Gordy. For whatever reason, the song became a major hit in Belgium!
In 1967 Solomon Burke recorded “Detroit City,” which had originally been a country hit for its composer, Bobby Bare.
One the most famous, high energy heavy metal rock songs is “Detroit Rock City” by the flamboyant band KISS.
Which brings to mind “Heart of Rock & Roll” by Huey Lewis & the News that cites Detroit as among the essential “rock cities.”
One of the most familiar references to Detroit is in the 1964 Martha & the Vandellas/Motown classic “Dancing in the Street.” No one will ever forget the line, “Can’t forget the Motor City!”
Blues legend Albert King enjoyed a substantial amount of success with “Cadillac Assembly Line.” King said he was “tired of pickin’ that nasty cotton,” so he was “goin’ to Detroit, Michigan, goin’ to get me a job on the Cadillac assembly line.”
Then, of course, there was “8 Mile” by Eminem. It won him an Oscar in the Best Original Song category. It doesn’t show the city in a positive light, but it’s a great song outside of that.
There are many others, quite a few of them by perennial Detroit booster Kid Rock, and this is one more thing to be proud of.
RIHANNA fans have something to look forward to. Her new album, “Talk That Talk,” is scheduled for Nov. 21 release. This will her sixth album. She certainly has recovered from her “love wars” with Chris Brown. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually ended up back together.
It is reported that Jennifer Hudson’s marriage to pro-wrestler David Otunga has been put on hold because he is not willing to sign a prenup. That has got to be an extremely awkward situation. Their son, David Jr., is two years old.
Aretha Franklin is very sensitive about her well-earned title, “Queen of Soul.” So she was no doubt displeased last week when “Dancing With The Stars” host Tom Bergeron introduced guest performer Mary J. Blige as “the queen of R&B and soul.” (Blige, by the way, gave a great performance.)
LIKE SO MANY others, yours truly was under the impression that Dionne Warwick was the first to record “A House Is Not a Home.” However, Brook Benton beat her to the punch by two weeks. (Special thanks to reader and record collector Ali Majid for pointing this out.)
Benton’s version of the Hal David-Burt Bacharach song debuted on the charts on July 25, 1964, and Warwick’s on Aug. 15, as the B-side of “You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart).”
However, neither singer had a big hit with the great song. That came much later when Luther Vandross recorded what Warwick and just about everyone else defined as “the definitive version” of “A House Is Not a Home.” However, Mavis Staples’ version is great, too.
IN KEEPING with the deplorable behavior of so many rap stars, late 1980s hitmaker Tone Loc (“Wild Thing,” “Funky Cold Medina”) found himself infront of a judge who meant business. He was sentenced to one day in jail, 30 days in community service, three years probation and 52 weeks in anger management counseling for physically abusing his wife and being in possession of an assault weapon.
“Schmelly Balls” was one of the funniest, and naughtiest, skits ever performed on “Saturday Night Live.” However, it is still hard to believe that Ben & Jerry’s has introduced a flavor called “Schmeddy Balls.” That just seems wrong.
Congrats to classy crooner Tony Bennett for having the No. 1 selling album in the United States with “Duets II.” He is almost certainly the first 85-year-old artist to reach No. 1.
There is a physical resemblance between Mary J. Blige and Diahann Carroll.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali (who was then Cassius Clay) once sang together. You can watch the captivating “The Gang’s All Here” on YouTube.
MEMORIES: “Natural High” (Bloodstone), “Tennessee” (Arrested Development), “Selfish One” (Jackie Ross), “Backfield in Motion” (Mel and Tim), “Love T.K.O.” (Teddy Pendergrass), “The ‘In’ Crowd” (Dobie Gray), “It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston), “I Want to Know What Love Is” (Foreigner), “Through the Fire” (Chaka Khan), “Something to Talk About” (Bonnie Raitt), “Baby, Come to Me” (Patti Austin and James Ingram).
BLESSINGS to every person reading this right now. Here’s hoping that the best things in life come to you, along with several bonuses.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from motivational writer Brad Bollenbach: “Imagine how much happier you would be if you stopped doing things that other people think are cool and started living every moment as the full expression of who you are.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 17:37
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