Tag Archives: r&b

Remebering: Donny Hathaway

1xI am one who believes anyone can be taught how to do anything, but few are naturally given the rare gift of a unique and special talent like the great Donny Hathaway. This great musician man was one of a kind, in fact, Donny Edward Hathaway was the best natural jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and gospel vocalist and musician the world has known. Also, his collaborations with Roberta Flack are legendary as the scored high on the charts. The huge hit “where is the Love” won him a Grammy Award.

At the height of his career, Hathaway was diagnosed with a mental disorder and was known not to take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Hathaway’s body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City that was ruled a suicide.

Donny Hathaway worked as songwriter, session musician and producer. Working first at Chicago’s Twinight Records, he later did the arrangements for hits by The Unifics on the song “Court of Love” and “The Beginning Of My End”. He also took part in projects by The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield. He became a “house producer” for Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records recording there as a member of The Mayfield Singers. Donny recorded his first single under his own name in 1969 on a duet with singer June Conquest called “I Thank You Baby”.

It was not until he signed with Atco Records after being spotted for the label by producer/musician King Curtis at a trade convention that his prominence became evident. He released his first groundbreaking single The Ghetto, Pt. 1″, which he co-wrote with former Howard roommate Leroy Hutson, who became a performer, writer, and producer with Curtom. The track appeared the following year on his critically acclaimed debut LP, “Everything is Everything”, which he co-produced with Ric Powell while also arranging all the cuts.

Donny’s star really shined when he released his second LP titled “Donny Hathaway” that consisted mostly of covers of contemporary pop, soul, and gospel songs. His third album “Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway was an album of duets with former Howard University classmate and label mate Roberta Flack that established him, especially on the pop charts. The album was both a critical and commercial success that included the Ralph MacDonald track “Where is the Love”, which proved to be not only an R&B success but also scored Top Five on the pop Hot 100.

In my view, his most influential recording is his 1972 album – “Live”, which has been termed “one of the best live albums ever recorded” by Daryl Easlea of the BBC. However, the song that cemented Donny’s legacy was “This Christmas”. To this very day, it does not seem like Christmas until you hear this song. The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television, and advertising. “This Christmas” has been covered by numerous artists across diverse musical genres, including The Whispers, Dianna Ross, , Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Chicago, Harry Connick, Jr., Dru Hill, NSYNC, Gloria Estefan, Boney James, The Cheetah Girls, Chris Brown, and Patti LaBelle.

On January 13, 1979, Brother Donny transitioned this life to be with the ancestors! I want to bring his name into remembrance as he continues to rest in our hearts. Therefore, I would be remissed if I did not pay homage to the musical mastery of Mr. Donny Hathaway for his spirit lives in the souls of all of us because his music uplifted, empowered, and made us proud! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering: Bobby Womack “The Poet”

007_1000I love to pay homage to the ghost of the greats and, in this case, this man is one of the greatest. In today’s music world, the man is one of those people called a legend. Unfortunately, most are not wise enough to know they stand on the shoulders of giants, which is really a shame when you think about it. In my view, these modern artists probably won’t be remembered in a year let alone for decades. This artist, “Robert Dwayne Womack”, affectionately known as Bobby, the poet will be remembered for all time as a legend.

Born Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood on March 4, 1944 and became an active recording artist in the early 1960s, when he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group the Valentinos and as a backup   guitarist, Womack’s career spanned more than 50 years, during which he played in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country. Most people don’t know that he wrote and originally recorded the Rolling Stones’ first UK No. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now” and New Birth’s “I Can Understand It” many other songs.

According to Bobby, his father caught him playing with his guitar and was shocked by his son’s talents, as well as the talents of his other sons. Soon afterward, he bought Bobby his own guitar and formed The Womack Brothers and began touring on the gospel circuit with their parents accompanying them on organ and guitar respectively. In 1954, under the moniker Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, the group issued the Pennant single, “Buffalo Bill”. Bobby was only ten years old at the time.

It was the great Sam Cooke who discovered the group performing while he was still in the Soul Stirrers in 1956 and began mentoring the boys. Within four years, Cooke had formed SAR Records and signed the quintet to the label. Changing their name to the Valentinos, Cooke produced and arranged the group’s first hit single, “Looking for a love”, which was a pop version of a gospel song they had recorded titled “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray”. The song became an R&B hit and helped land the group an opening spot for James Brown’s tour. The Valentinos’ career was left shaky after Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel. Devastated by the news, the brothers disbanded, and SAR Records folded.

However, the sad part of Womack’s story is that shortly after the death of Sam Cooke he married his wife, and the prolific songwriter was blackballed by the music industry. During this period, he worked as a studio musician play on recording made by many top artists. After years of this work, he got a break. His work as a songwriter caught the eye of music executives after Wilson Pickett took a liking to some of the songs and insisted on recording them. Among those songs included the hits “I’m a Midnight Mover” and “I’m in Love”.

Following years of isolation, in 1968, he signed with Minit Records and recorded his first solo album, Fly Me to the Moon, where he scored his first major hit with a cover of “California Dreaming”. The door was open, and the hits started coming. During this period, nearly all of the major artist either worked with or recorded his songs.

Name the artist and they were influenced by the poet: The likes of George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, the Momma’s and Poppa’s, Wilson Pickett, Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Rufus, The Crusaders, Patti LaBelle, Jodeci, Mos Def, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Teena Marie, Gerald Levert, Ron Isley, Prince, and the list goes on and on.

As a singer he is most notable known for the hits “Lookin For a Love”, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”, “Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “Harry Hippie”, “Across 110th Street” and his 1980s hit “If you Think You’re Lonely Now”. In early 2012, Womack’s career was the subject of the documentary show Unsung on TV One.

One of my favorite songs Bobby made a powerful statement “Where Do We Go From Here”. I think it is a fitting statement! The poet made and wrote songs that are timeless! Sadly for the world, Bobby Womack left this earthly realm to write songs for the heavily choir in glory. Bless you my brother and God Bless your soul – RIP! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Aaliyah’s Biopic: The Princess of R&B

007_1000I rarely comment on movies but this weekend I fell for the hype and watched “Aaliyah” the Lifetime biopic produced by Wendy Williams. The rising star, Aaliyah, tragically died in a plane crash in 2001. The debut movie was not over before the singers fans lite up social media to voice their displeasure. See for yourself; #Aaliyah is still trending across social media. Their reactions to the movie was more entertaining than the movie.

Before I begin, from the moment the news of this movie being made Aaliyah’s family made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with it. This was a good sign that the movie project was in trouble. Aaliyah: Princess of R&B starred Alexandra Shipp in the titular role along with a host of other sub-par actors and actresses; who portrayed Aaliyah’s family members and the celebrities that played pivotal roles in the success of her blossoming music and film career. If you did not get a chance to see the movie, DON’T – THIS MOVIE WAS HORRIBLE!!!

The casting selections and choices were terrible. It was like someone randomly went down a list of unknown black actors and actresses and made their selections while wearing a blindfold. In most biopics, the casting team at least comes somewhat close to matching the look of the actor/actress with the celebrity that they are portraying. With the exception of casting Alexandra Shipp as Aaliyah, every other casting choice was horrible.

If that was not bad enough, this movie presented the worst acting I’ve seen – very close to a home movie. Think about successful biopics of the past that did not quite hit the mark when it came to finding the right look but they surpassed expectations when it came to the acting. This biopic was definitely not one of those movies. All of the blame cannot be placed on the laps of the actors – it can be placed on everyone involved, and they should be ashamed of themselves for disrespecting the late star.

I am not done! The singing was horrible. Alexandra Shipp stated in a recent interview with Hollywood Life that she did all of her own singing in the movie. All of the songs were mediocre at best. Bad idea – she definitely missed the mark when it came to the singing. They should have just used lip syncing or dubbed her voice over with someone else’s so she could focused more on improving her acting. This is especially necessary when the biopic is about a singer or a musician since it is their music that defines them and made them famous. That is not what happened at all.

Lastly, the movie was poorly written! Frankly, other than the drama of the relationship between Aaliyah and R. Kelly, the rest of the movie drastically missed the mark. The entire movie felt like the writers checked out Aaliyah’s Wikipedia page and made a script based on what they found. I’ll tell you I will be watching The Wendy Williams Show today! She is known for slamming others; I want to see what she has to say about her foray into movie making. What did you think about the movie?

The real personalities are on the right and the cast on the left.

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The Godfather Of Rock and Roll

It is a great joy to share with you the glorious past of the ghost of the greats whose shoulders we stand that are dear to my heart. I am proud to share this article because I love the story of the crossroads. It is a story about the great Delta Blues-man Robert Johnson. The history of music is littered with tragic figures, and none was more tragic than Robert Johnson’s story.

This amazing, ultimate star-crossed musical genius laid the early framework of rock and roll decades before that term was even imagined. Robert Leroy Johnson is among the most famous of all the Delta Blues musicians whose landmark recordings from 1936-37 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and tremendous songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life, and violent death at age 27 have given rise to much speculation adding to his legend.

He is considered by some to be the “Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll,” his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style influenced a range of musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon. Eric Clapton called Johnson “the most important blues musician who ever lived.

Johnson was conceived in an extramarital affair and born in Hazelhurst, Miss., in 1911. Most of his biographical details have been lost to history, but what’s known is that he learned guitar in his teens, got married, and had a girl who died in childbirth. The death led Johnson to throw himself even deeper into his music. He fled to Robinsonville, Miss., where he was influenced by early blues legends Son House and Willie Brown.

By 1933, Johnson remarried and began playing the guitar professionally. He once related the tale of selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for his talent. Johnson tells the story in his song “Crossroads Blues.” Playing for tips up and down the Delta, Johnson gained in popularity. But as he grew in fame, he became a noted philanderer. He would also walk off in the middle of performances and not be seen or heard from for weeks at a time.

In 1936, he was put in contact with Columbia Records talent scout Ernie Oertle, who took him to San Antonio, Tex., where Johnson recorded classics including “Sweet Home Chicago,” “There’s A Hell Hound On My Trail,” and his signature “Terraplane Blues.”

Johnson began to tour nationally and became known for his unique voice and halting guitar rifts. But in 1938, as the legend goes, the devil caught up with him. While playing at a juke joint, he flirted with a woman whose husband became jealous, and the man laced Johnson’s whiskey with strychnine. Although he became violently ill, Johnson played until he collapsed. He died four days later at age 27, although conflicting stories say he survived the poisoning and died later of pneumonia.

There are at least two Mississippi gravesites that bear his name leaving questions about his passing and burial. “The reason that it’s so powerful a story is because it is the outline of the tragic side of the music that followed,” said music journalist Alan Light. “Some knew him as a musician, others by legend, but his shadow touches everyone who came out of that time and place.” I will say that Robert Johnson is truly a legend whose legacy will last forever. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

FaceBook @ John T. Wills


Last Days In Time

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I came across this thought provoking video, thank to a FaceBook page, and was compelled to share the message. America as great as it is faces a multitude of concerns that are imperative to the nation’s survival. Many of which, but not limited to, the most serious concerns are structural and coming from within.

If compared to America’s relation to time, about two and a half centuries, this system of government is relatively new and a very young experiment in democracy. The rise and fall of nations is a common as the change of seasons. With greed and division among the people; does the Universal God need to intervene and correct the situations but our so-called leaders cannot. 

The government is neglecting its citizens in every area that pertains to living and has forgotten that we are first human. Second, we are the engine of this system that makes up the American society. We the people fund the government that benefits the plutocrats and oligarchs. We have become a nation of “haves and have not’s”!

Could we be living in the “Last Days In Time”. We get caught up in a multitude of issues that really have nothing to do with critical issues facing the citizenry. Listen to the speaker who voices a compelling assessment and in his view there is a real possibility that THE END IS NEAR!

What do you think?

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The Gathering

2Did you get your invitation from James Crow Esq. to attend the 21st Century Citizens Counsel gathering the Good Ol’ Boys call CPAC? No, I didn’t get one either, but I heard it was a “Yee Ha” kinda weekend!

I will be upfront and say that I have called the Good Ol Boys (GOP), like most, many things and coming from a time where I have seen this movie before; I think my assertion is fair. I will try to capture the essence of what the rightwing nuts and the frightening Republican candidates represented as they continued clinging to a version of reality unique to a world alien to sane people.

Last weekend the conservatives paraded their best spokespeople to advance their cause, and if they were trying to make a good impression on each other and observant voters, they failed miserably because it was nothing but the same. No, actually it was worse! I saw racism and bigotry that went back to the days of segregation, if not the Civil War.

The show or ignominy hosted the usual daily recapitulation of crazy to comprehend the conservative conclave’s purpose was to put on a torrid display of groundless anti-Obama rhetoric based on the roster of speakers. One by one, their so-called best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government. The speakers each reiterated that Republicans lose elections because the GOP failed to articulate conservative’s values and not that voters rejected conservative extremism.

22In essence, what they said was “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed to Republicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America. The list of characters represented fanaticism at its finest with the same cast of character; Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Sara Palin, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan rambling on about America’s demise stemming from voter’s rejecting conservative ideas. Many of the gang, marquee spokespersons, came to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.

It seemed to me that these so-called patriots favored the Russia President of the American President. Another highlight of the event was “Obama-Care”. Only this time, they did not accuse president Obama of killing grandma but did not hold back on anything else. I would be remised if I did not mention the only Negro in the room – the doctor. It is amazing that every year the find “one” and let me just say for the record black people did not clear him!

The only thing I did not hear from this group that I heard in the past years was – how grateful we should be to have been dragged onto the shores of this great land and given food and shelter to cheers and applause from the crowd.

CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the conservative crop to parrot extremist rhetoric. I still say, because I have a memory of history where we saw the extreme lynch, murder through the use of terror, African Americans could not drink from the same water fountain, trampled and beaten by people of this ilk. In fact, Rand Paul is on record say if he were a Senator he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act. This sounds to me a lot like what this mean when they say they “want their country back”.

The most memorable, however, was Caribou Barbie’s rendition of a twisted fairytale rendition of a Dr. Seuss like story.  If I could make a comparison to this the 2014 gathering, it was more like a Star Wars bar scene gone wrong. People the 2014 elections are not far away and dare I say – Be afraid, Be very afraid. If any of these people are elected God Bless America! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Women’s History Month Featured Author

 
Get in Alignment
By Adrienna Turner

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We may be looking through tinted windows and afraid to see the beauty within us to shine for all to see. Although we have recognized our talents, abilities, and/or skills and put them to work, we still may not see who we truly are. God already knows who are you and where you’re going, but we either move too fast or too slow whereas we do not allow things to happen in its timing. We have to clearly understand that everything happens in its due timing (Eccl. 3).

Yet when we hear the Word or receive a revelation, we’re trying to rush and finish the race before God is in the running with us. Or we rather not receive it, ignore it, and forget that we’ve even heard it; so we do nothing. This nothing can last for years, or way longer than God ever intended it to be. A good example is the Israelites residing in the wilderness for forty years that could have taken only days.

However, I had a talk with God about being transparent and sharing a few of my talents with the world, but then wondering why I am in the wilderness. I’ve been in the literary arena for ten years and written ten published books in seven years. After this shift, I had to put projects on hold and even wanted to stop writing altogether. Behind the scenes, I sent out a few manuscripts to publishers that I’ve studied, connected with their authors, researched the literary industry and market, and even received rejection letters.

When I was at my breaking point, I received a literary award for “The Day Begins with Christ” for female author of the year and celebrated with the special ladies of my life at the event. I knew God was aligning me in position. I told God around midnight until I was able to finally around four AM that I put my heart and soul in these literary projects with His anointing to guide the pen as I was only the instrument to complete the finished craft.

But wondered why do you only give us a glimpse of these future realities? Despite the dreams, the visions, the revelations, and celebrating others breakthroughs in their crafts, my mind lingered on a statement made on UnSung with Phyllis Hyman. The statement was addressed that she was a musical genius but didn’t have the record-breaking sales like artists of her today.

Then I thought about my literary career as an author and contributing writer where I’ve volunteered at speaking events and given books for free, not yet to see the ground-breaking sales such as being on best-seller list. Or the royalty checks that reveal such effort, sweat, and those insomnia-restless nights while working on these literary pieces. But God keeps bringing certain people, dreams, visions, confirmations, or situations where I have to keep pressing through and believing that I will see the fruits of my labor.

Through my educational efforts, after seeing the economy fall, I had already experienced unemployment, lay-offs, and financial woes too many times, whereas I know how to weather the storms. Despite the speculators’ gossip, family and friends unbelief, I plan to pursue a law degree. Therefore, we have to keep hope alive because our dreams need to be showcased for someone else to stay inspired to pursue the dreams and gifts that also live within them.

We often talk about our talents and gifts, but fail to activate them when the opportunity presents itself because we allow every excuse to stand between our blessing and us (Wilson, My Business, His Way, paraphrased). Please do not let this be your downfall when aligning yourself in position. Believe and know that we are more than capable in completing our God-given assignment. Keep the faith and speak affirmations to keep pressing towards the goal (see Phil. 4:6-7). Moreover, do not let division stop the vision.

Then, I’ve done several virtual radio programs, TV appearances as a guest host locally, actress in a small stage play production for nearly two years, and appeared on other radio programs but others wonder why do you do it if you see no profitable results from it or lack of participants/listeners. I felt led to step out of the norm, my comfort zone, and venture to new avenues. After five years, four shows, I know that it’s aligning and preparing me for something much bigger.

These things are stepping stones and soon will see the top of the mountain of opportunities and to be financially secure. Ultimately, these things are meaningless without God in it. Moreover, we have to be ready when God tells us to go. Words of encouragement while getting in alignment: You are giving birth to your dreams whereas complications seem harder to PUSH this thing forth. But the more adversity, the more God’s protection and favor is coming your way! Press through the pain…heartaches…and hard times, because the miracles in the midst are worth it all! Don’t fall!

Overall, if we knew what would have happened then things would be different. We just need to change our mindset and believe the unbelievable, and get in alignment with the plans that God has for our lives.

This article was written by Adrienna Turner the award-winning author for female author of the year: The Day Begins with Christ, nonfiction. She is a graduate of a Masters Degree in Library Information Science with honors as magna cum laude and Bachelors Degree in Information Resources from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Websites: 

www.adriennaturner.webs.com
www.dream4more.org
http://dreamyourreality.webs.com


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