R.I.P. Clyde Stubblefield, 73, James Brown’s Legendary ‘Funky Drummer’ 

Clyde Stubblefield (photo via nytimes.com)

article by  via nytimes.com

It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”

It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014— its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, from the 1980s to the present day. It made Mr. Stubblefield, who died on Saturday in Madison, Wis., at 73, perhaps the most sampled drummer in history.

The cause was kidney failure, said his manager, Kathie Williams.

Mr. Stubblefield was born on April 18, 1943, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he was drawn to the rhythms of local industrial sounds, from factories to trains. “There was a factory there that puffed out air — pop-BOOM, pop-BOOM — hit the mountains and came back as an echo,” he told Isthmus in 2015. “And train tracks — click-clack, click-clack. I listened to all that for six years, playing my drums against it.”

By his late teenage years, he was already playing drums professionally, and he moved to Macon, Ga., after playing with Otis Redding, who hailed from there. There, he performed with local soul acts, and was introduced to Brown by a club owner. Soon, he was flying to join Brown on the road, and became a permanent band member.

He performed with him on and off for about six years, one of two key drummers — the other was John Starks, who was also known as Jabo — playing on the essential James Brown albums of the civil rights era: “Cold Sweat,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “It’s a Mother,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Sex Machine.” He performed at some of Brown’s most important concerts, including at the Boston Garden after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and for United States service members in Vietnam.

His sharp funk provided the anchor on anthems like “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “I Got The Feelin’.” Always, his playing was complex but collected — his flourishes between beats were as essential as the beat itself. Brown demanded a lot of his band, and Mr. Stubblefield, with playing that had punch, nimbleness and wet texture, never appeared to be breaking a sweat.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/arts/music/clyde-stubblefield-dead.htmlrref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

R.I.P. Grammy Award-Winning Jazz, Pop and R&B Vocal Master Al Jarreau

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

According to the New York TimesAl Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who sold millions of records and won numerous Grammys for his work in jazz, pop and R&B, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 76.  Jarreau is perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away, which contained his highest-charting hit “We’re In This Love Forever,”  He also sang the theme song of the late-1980s television series Moonlighting, and was a performer in the 1985 charity song “We Are the World“.

His death was announced by his manager, Joe Gordon, who said Mr. Jarreau had been hospitalized for exhaustion two weeks ago.

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Al Jarreau (photo via amazon.com)

A preacher’s son, Jarreau started singing in public as a boy but did not begin a full-time musical career until the late 1960s, when he was nearly 30. Before that, he had worked as a psychologist and rehabilitation counselor.

By the 1970s he had become a popular jazz singer, touring extensively and appearing on television.  Critics praised his voice, his improvisational skill and, in particular, his virtuosic ability to produce an array of vocalizations, ranging from delicious nonsense to clicks and growls to quasi-instrumental sounds – a more extended form of the jazz style “scatting.”

To learn more about this masterful singer’s life and career, click here.

Chance the Rapper Honors Obama Family With #ThankUObama Fashion Line

Chance The Rapper in Malia Obama T (photo via theroot.com)

article by Yesha Callahan via thegrapevine.theroot.com

Chance the Rapper and his black-boy joy just doesn’t quit. And this time he’s using his notoriety and fan base to pay tribute to the Obama family with a new clothing line. Chance announced the project Thursday on Twitter with a link to ThankUObama.us.

“With this project i wanted to timestamp a period in my life where i felt like i can do whatever i wanted to do and be whatever i wanted to be,” Chance wrote on his site. “The night Obama won his first term gave me so much hope, especially & most importantly as a black man. I decided to make a collection saying ‘thank you’ and give me something to smile at every now and then when I look in the closet.”

The line includes a T-shirt with Malia Obama’s name, as well as one with a Notorious B.I.G.-esque photo of Barack Obama, as well as a shirt with “Barack N Michelle” written in black-and-pink graffiti with their anniversary date.

To read original article: Chance the Rapper Honors Obama Family With #ThanksObama Fashion Line

Jill Scott Releases New Poetic Card Collection with Hallmark’s Mahogany Brand

Jill Scott (photo via thegrio.com)

article by via thegrio.com

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand announced that it will be releasing the Jill Scott Collection, a line of new greeting cards with design, sounds and an editorial ‘voice’ from none other than Jill Scott herself.

“The Mahogany brand is genuine, progressive and optimistic – values that are important to me and reflected in my music and poetry, and now, through my card collection,” said Jill Scott. “I was inspired by highlights within my own life – love, marriage, motherhood – in the writing behind these cards, and I am excited to be involved in a project that will give others another way to express their love to the people that matter most to them.”

The collection features 20 cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as cards celebrating graduation, friendship, love and support.  “Ms. Scott is more than a singer, songwriter and actress – among other things, she is a busy mom and wife, like many Hallmark shoppers who cherish and celebrate the important relationships in their lives, and this card collection is a reflection of that,” said Philip Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards.

To read more, go to: Jill Scott releases new poetic card collection with Hallmark | theGrio

Rapper Big Sean Makes Hefty Donation to Aid With Ongoing Flint Water Crisis

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Big Sean (image via seanandersonfoundation.org)

article by KC Orcutt via bet.com

Big Sean is wasting no time this new year, and is currently busy readying his forthcoming album, I Decided.

On top of promoting the project, the G.O.O.D. Music recording artist also made time for something else that is important to him: showing love to where he came from and giving back how he can. The Michigan native recently stopped by The Daily Show to discuss why he chose to donate money to the Flint water crisis.

During the interview, Big Sean revealed that through his foundation, he has been able to raise roughly $100,000 to help assist the people of Flint, Michigan.

“I just know it’s not even close to being over,” the rapper shares with host Trevor Noah. “In that situation, I feel like, it’s not a natural disaster. It’s something that should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented, so it’s just disgusting to think about the damages that these families and even kids have to go through with the lead poisoning.”

On top of the Flint water crisis being an ongoing problem since roughly April 2014, when reports first shed light on the catastrophic reality that the drinking water had been contaminated by lead, the rapper also revealed just how close to home the issue hits, explaining that his own mother had been personally affected. “It was very hard for her to deal with, but she was able, through holistic care and homeopathic remedies, was able to reverse a lot of the effects of lead poisoning,” Big Sean says.

On top of donating financially, the rapper also is giving back to the community, by way of featuring the Flint Chosen Choir in his music, incorporating the local choir on his single “Bigger Than Me.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.bet.com/music/2017/01/25/big-sean-makes-a-hefty-donation-to-the-flint-water-crisis.html

New Edition Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

New Edition receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo via YouTube)

New Edition receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo via YouTube)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Today before an enthusiastic crowd of fans, New Edition members Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivens, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, just a day ahead of the premiere of the group’s three-part miniseries The New Edition Story on BET.

Their 35-plus year career has seen multi-platinum album sales as well as hit singles on the R&B and Pop charts such as “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” and “N.E. Heartbreak.”  To see a promo of the miniseries in advance of its January 24th debut, click below:

To watch the Walk of Fame ceremony in its totality, click below:

“Moonlight”, “Atlanta”, Donald Glover, Viola Davis and Tracee Ellis Ross Win at 74th Annual Golden Globes

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Golden Globe winners Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis and Donald Glover (photo via thejasminebrand.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

On Sunday’s 74th Golden Globe Awards, the most shocking-but-deserved win of the night was Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” taking the honor of Best Motion Picture, Drama over “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hell or High Water”, “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea.”

Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her powerhouse performance in the Denzel Washington-directed “Fences,” while on the television side, “Black-ish” lead Tracee Ellis Ross became the first African-American woman since Debbie Allen in 1983 to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

Donald Glover and his lauded FX cable creation “Atlanta” went two-for-two by winning both awards he was nominated for:  Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  

The complete winners list follows below: Continue reading