Category: Pop/R&B/Dance

Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. to Be Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020

2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. (photos via commons.wikipedia.org)

Music icons Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. are among the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s 2020 inductees, the organization announced this morning. The other inductees are The Doobie BrothersNine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and T. Rex.

The 35th annual ceremony will air live for the first time this year — May 2, on HBO, from the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets are on sale Feb. 27; performances and special guests will be announced later.

This year’s performance lineup will likely be filled with tribute performances, as half of the inductees — Houston, Notorious B.I.G., and Marc Bolan of T. Rex — are deceased.

Four of the inductees — Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., the Doobie Brothers and T. Rex — and nine of the 16 total nominees were on the ballot for the first time, with nominees Dave Matthews Band, Motorhead, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy filling out that list.

Chaka Khan, with and without the group Rufus, and Kraftwerk have both been up six times. To be eligible this year, each nominee’s first single or album had to be released in 1994 or earlier.

To read more: https://variety.com/2020/music/news/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-2020-whitney-houston-nine-inch-nails-notorious-big-1203467065/

Prince to Receive All-Star Grammy Tribute Starring Alicia Keys, Beck, Foo Fighters, Sheila E.

Prince will receive an all-star Grammy tribute featuring Alicia Keys, Beck and H.E.R. along with Sheila E., The Time and The Revolution.
— Read on variety.com/2020/music/news/prince-all-star-grammy-tribute-alicia-keys-beck-sheila-e-the-time-1203461660/

Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G., and Rufus feat. Chaka Khan Nominated for 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, Rufus feat. Chaka Khan (photos courtesy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Whitney Houston, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and Notorious B.I.G. are among the 16 nominees for the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

Houston and Biggie Smalls are on the ballot for the first time along with Dave Matthews Band, The Doobie Brothers, Motörhead, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden, T.Rex, and Thin Lizzy. This is the third time Rufus & Chaka Khan have been nominated.

Inductees will be announced in January 2020. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony takes place at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on May 2, 2020.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame offers fans the opportunity to participate in the induction selection process. Beginning October 15 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on January 10, 2020, fans can go to Google and search “Rock Hall Fan Vote” or any nominee name plus “vote” to cast a ballot with Google, vote at rockhall.com, or at the Museum in Cleveland.

17th Annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival of Soul Cinema & Music Kicks off Aug. 8 in NY

ImageNation Outdoors Festival (photo courtesy ImageNation)

The 17thAnnual ImageNation Outdoors Festival: Soul Cinema and Music Under the Stars kicks off this year on August 8th with an outdoor screening of BOSS: The Black Experience in Business.

Held in partnership with the Historic Harlem Parks and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, ImageNation Outdoors, is New York City’s only free summer-long outdoor film and music festival dedicated to Black cinema, will continue with a dynamic slate of free entertainment.

On August 22nd, ImageNation Outdoors will present a special screening of Amazing Grace, the acclaimed documentary of Aretha Franklin recording her gospel album live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.  The screening will follow a live musical tribute, and Harlem will attempt to make the Guinness Book of Records by forming the world’s longest Soul Train line.

On August 30th and September 6th, join ImageNation will be screening When They See Us. The critically acclaimed docu-series that tells the untold story of the Exonerated Five. Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson of The Exonerated Five will be in attendance.

Come to slay with a screening of an intimate documentary as stylish and unconventional as its subject, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami on September 20th.  The documentary depicts Jones in her Jamaican hometown, follows her into the studio with longtime collaborators Sly & Robbie, and at cutting-edge live shows—featuring performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” and “Pull Up to the Bumper”.

The screening will follow live tribute performances and a fashion show of OKETSA by Thulare Monareng and designs by Sheila Prevost.

Festival dates are August 8th and continue through September 20th.   All programs are free and open to the public. Music and activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown.

2019 Outdoor Lineup:

  • August 8th – BOSS: The Black Experience in Business, Marcus Garvey Park
  • August 13th – Poetic Justice, Marcus Garvey Park
  • August 17 – If Beale Street Could Talk, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week!
  • August 22 – Soul Train Tribute to Aretha Franklin and Amazing Grace, Marcus Garvey Park
  • August 23 – Decade of Fire, St. Nicholas Park (Black Public Media 40th Ann.)
  • August 24 – Kids Night Out – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week!
  • August 30th- When They See Us, Adam Clayton Powell State Office Bldg @ 125th St
  • September 6th- When They See Us, Adam Clayton Powell State Office Bldg @ 125th S
  • September 20 – Black Girl Magic – Grace Jones: Bami & Bloodlight, Marcus Garvey Park

Kids’ Night Out is curated by eight year-old Harlemite Kgari Kgama-Gates who shared, “I chose the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because it really inspired me to have a young superhero who looks like me. Plus, the music is awesome!”

Children as well as adults are bound to have a great time as the screening celebrates Harlem Week as well.  The program will also offer STEM games, face painting, and a back to school backpack giveaway by the Harlem-based Xi Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

ImageNation Outdoors is sponsored by Harlem Community Development Corp, Black Public Media, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Harlem Week, Radio 103.9, HBO, the Colonel Young Park Association, Harlem 2020 and Global Black Network of Black Pride. Launched in 2002 with a single screening for 300 people, ImageNation Outdoors has grown to draw nearly 10,000 attendees each summer. ImageNation Outdoors is the only summer long festival dedicated to films and music about the Black global experience. 

Full descriptions of the festival programs are enclosed below. All programs are free and open to the public. Music/activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown:

Continue reading “17th Annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival of Soul Cinema & Music Kicks off Aug. 8 in NY”

Sylvia Rhone Rises from President to Chairman & CEO of Epic Records

Sylvia Rhone (photo via twitter.com)

According to Variety.com, Sony Music Entertainment announced today the promotion of Sylvia Rhone to Chairman and CEO of Epic Records. In this role, Rhone will lead the overall creative direction and management of Epic Records, overseeing Epic’s roster of hit-making artists such as Travis Scott, Future, Camila Cabello, 21 Savage, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana

Rhone has been President of Epic Records since 2014, and since then has overseen projects including Scott’s 2018 best-selling album “Astroworld”; Camila Cabello’s debut album “Camila” and the smash single “Havana,” as well as music from Future, 21 Savage and others.

“I am excited to continue my amazing journey at Epic Records supported by Rob Stringer’s vision and leadership,” stated Rhone. “Everything we do is a testament to our incredible artists who set the bar of the entire Epic culture, inspiring our dedicated executive team every day and enriching the legacy of this great label.”

Before joining Sony Music, Rhone was President of Universal Motown Records and Executive Vice President at Universal Records from 2004. From 1994-2004, Rhone was Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group’s Elektra Entertainment Group, the first African American woman to be named Chairman of a major record company, where she oversaw releases from artists such as Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Metallica, Staind, Third Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman, and Natalie Merchant. Rhone began her career at Buddah Records in 1974, a label best-known for its Gladys Knight and the Pips albums. 

Rhone is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania‘s well-regarded Wharton Business School. She received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music on April 5, 2019, in recognition of her achievements as a leading female music executive who has headed labels multiple times during her career.

‘Genius: Aretha Franklin’ Greenlighted As Third Installment Of Nat Geo Series; Suzan-Lori Parks Set As Showrunner

 Credit: Photo by Roger Bamber/ANL/REX/Shutterstock 

by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

It’s official — the upcoming third season of National Geographic’s scripted anthology series Genius will be devoted to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died in August at age 76. The announcement was made Sunday at TCA.

Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner of the project, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios. Music mogul and longtime Franklin collaborator Clive Davis as well as Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.

Genius was renewed for a third season in April, with author Mary Shelley revealed as its subject, to follow Albert Einstein and Picasso. The Mary Shelley story remains in consideration for future installments of the anthology series.

The idea of doing a Franklin-centered Genius came together quickly following the music icon’s August 16 death, spearheaded by Imagine’s Brian Grazer. The project had been moving full steam ahead since, with securing access to Franklin’s music considered the one key element that would clinch a green light.

Bringing David, Kallman and Warner Music Group on board was very important in that aspect, with the producers currently able to use about 80% of Franklin’s catalog and working to secure the remaining titles.

Read more: https://deadline.com/2019/02/genius-aretha-franklin-greenlighted-season-3-nat-geo-series-suzan-lori-parks-showrunner-1202553998/amp/

Born On This Day in 1950: Grammy Award-Winning Singer Natalie Cole

Natalie Maria Cole was born on February 6, 1950, and grew up in a heavily musical atmosphere in Los Angeles’ exclusive Hancock Park area. In addition to her famous father, jazz and pop musical legend Nat King Cole, Natalie’s mother Maria had been a background vocalist with Duke Ellington.

Cole’s own breakthrough as a musical artist came via her early 1970s association with Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, who once worked with one of Natalie’s real-life idols, Aretha Franklin. Her debut album “Inseparable” came out in 1975, which included two of her signature hits – “This Will Be” (#6 on the pop charts and the title track. Her debut also garnered her Grammy Awards for Best R&B female vocals and Best New Artist.

Cole subsequently had hits with “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mr. Melody,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “Our Love,” “Stand By,” “What You Won’t Do for Love,” “Hold On” and “Nothing But a Fool,” along with more platinum and gold albums. Acute drug problems, however, hindered her career and Cole eventually took time off time for recovery.

In 1985, Natalie released, in what was the start of a comeback, her album “Dangerous” for Modern Records. Late 1980s pop singles included “Jump Start My Heart,” “Miss You Like Crazy”, “Pink Cadillac” and “I Live for Your Love.”

In the midst of her ebb-and-flow R&B success, in 1991 Cole shifted into her familial jazz roots to record a new CD, “Unforgettable…with Love,” paying homage to her late father. With the help and encouragement of family, Cole re-arranged and re-recorded some of his greatest songs in the same studio that he recorded (Capitol Studios), used some of the same musicians and even recreated one of his signature songs, the title tune “Unforgettable,” with a technological effect that appeared as if they were dueting together.

Never before or since has this been pulled off and marketed so successfully. Not only did it sell well over 30 million copies, it would become an eight-time over platinum winner. It earned several awards on Grammy night, including “Album of the Year” and “Record of the Year,.”

Over time Natalie began covering more jazz standards. A jazz CD in 1994 also captured a Grammy. In addition, Cole branched out into occasional acting roles, including the social drama Lily in Winter (1994) and the autobiographical feature film Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000) in which she played herself. She has also made infrequent acting appearances on such shows as “I’ll Fly Away,” “Law & Order,” “Touched by an Angel” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Cole passed away from congestive heart failure on December 31, 2015 in Los Angeles. She was 65 and is survived by one son, Robert Adam Yancy.

Born On This Day in 1928: Ruth Brown, Grammy and Tony Award-Winning “Queen of R&B” and Musicians’ Rights Activist

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Ruth Alston Brown (born Ruth Weston), singer-songwriter and actress known for hit songs such as “So Long,” “Teardrops from My Eyes,” “5-10-15 Hours,” “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and “Oh What A Dream” which earned her the nicknames “Miss Rhythm” and “Queen of R&B,” was born January 12, 1928 in Portsmouth, VA. She would have been 91 years old today.

In 1945 when she was just 17, Brown ran away from her home in Portsmouth along with trumpeter Jimmy Brown, whom she married, to sing in bars and clubs.  According to biography.com, Brown would later discover that Jimmy was already married and their marriage was legally void.

By the time Brown learned of Jimmy Brown’s bigamy, she had already developed a reputation under his surname, so she kept the name Ruth Brown as a stage name for the rest of her life.

Brown soon spent a month with singing with Lucky Millinder‘s orchestra. Famous bandleader Cab Calloway‘s sister Blanche Calloway, owner of the Crystal Caverns nightclub in Washington D.C., became Brown’s manager and offered Brown a regular gig performing at her club. Willis Conover, the future Voice of America disc jockey, caught Brown’s act and recommended her to Atlantic Records bosses Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson.

Brown was unable to audition for Atlantic as planned because of a car crash, which resulted in an almost year-long stay in the hospital. Regardless, she signed with Atlantic Records and Brown’s series of hits for Atlantic Records in the 1950s had many referring to the record label as “the house that Ruth built.”

Nevertheless, Brown’s popularity and R&B charts success did not translate into personal financial wealth. Due to a practice known as “whitewashing,” in which white singers covered black artists’ songs without permission, Brown’s records never sold nearly their full potential. Furthermore, Atlantic Records made Brown pay her recording and touring expenses out of pocket—costs that nearly equaled her cut of the sales.

According to wikipedia.org, during the 1960s, Brown faded from public view, moved to Long Island, New York, where she worked various part-time jobs as a teacher’s aide, school bus driver and maid just to make ends meet.

Brown returned to music in 1975 with the help of comedian Redd Foxx, and a series of comedic acting jobs followed. These included roles in the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray, and the Broadway productions of Amen Corner and Black and Blue. The latter earned her a Tony Award in 1989 as Best Actress in a Musical. She also won a Grammy Award for her album Blues on Broadway that same year.

Bonnie Raitt and Ruth Brown during 8th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 1993 in Century City, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Brown’s fight for musicians’ rights and royalties in 1987 led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation to help emerging as well as aging R&B musicians. The nonprofit was financed by a settlement with Atlantic Records. Brown, who is also aunt to legendary Hip-Hop artist Rakim, was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Brown died in a Las Vegas–area hospital on November 17, 2006, from complications following a heart attack and stroke she suffered after surgery the previous month. She was 78 years old. Brown is buried at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Chesapeake City, Virginia.

One of the first great divas of modern American popular music, Brown’s songs provided a blueprint for much of the rock ‘n’ roll that soon came after her. In addition to the musical legacy she left, Brown also left future artists a more artist-friendly environment, thanks to her tireless work to reform the royalty system. To get a glimpse of Brown, and hear her legendary voice and style, click below:

Jimi Hendrix Honored in Hometown of Seattle with Post Office Renamed in his Honor

Jimi Hendrix Stamp (photo via usps.gov)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Seattle Times, musical artist, counterculture figure and guitar legend Jimi Hendrix will have a post office renamed for him in his Washington state hometown.

In late December a bill was signed into law re-christening the Renton Highlands Post Office the James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office. The bill, which was passed unanimously, was sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, and supported by both of Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Jimi Hendrix statue in Seattle (photo via pinterest.com)

“I am honored to join in paying tribute to rock and roll icon and Seattle native Jimi Hendrix with the renaming of the Renton Highlands Post Office as the James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office Building,” Congressperson Smith said in a statement. “This designation will further celebrate Hendrix’s deep connection to the Puget Sound region and help ensure that his creative legacy will be remembered by our community and inspire future generations.”

Hendrix grew up in Seattle, spending much of his formative years in the Central District. There are several other Hendrix tributes in Seattle – from a statue on Broadway Street to his namesake park adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) – undeniably putting “Seattle’s most recognizable son,” as the museum’s director LaNesha DeBardelaben described him, into the city’s history.

The Renton post office is less than a mile from the Jimi Hendrix Memorial in the Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery, where the guitar hero is buried.

Though he lived a short life, Hendrix’ impact on music and American culture is still felt today. Hendrix is best known for his hits and virtuoso guitar playing on “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” along with “All Along the Watchtower,” “Foxy Lady,” and “Voodoo Child.”

He achieved widespread fame in the U.S. after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the U.S. The world’s highest-paid performer at the time, Hendrix headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Check out his still-mesmerizing, revolutionary version of “Star-Spangled Banner” from 50 years ago:

Marvin Gaye and Gregory Hines to be Honored with U.S. Postal Stamps in 2019

Gregory Hines and Marvin Gaye 2019 Commemorative Stamps (images via usps.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The United States Postal Service announced yesterday commemorative stamps honoring singing and dancing legends Marvin Gaye and Gregory Hines will be issued in 2019.

Though the specific release dates have yet to be revealed, Gaye’s stamp will be part of the Postal Service’s Music Icons series, which in the past has featured Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix and Sarah Vaughan, and many other superlative talents.

Gaye, best known for early Motown hits with Tami Terrell such as “How Sweet It Is” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as well has his groundbreaking What’s Going On album has a stamp design features a portrait inspired by historic photographs. The stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. (A pane is the unit into which a full press sheet is divided before sale at post offices.) One side of the pane includes the stamps, brief text about Gaye’s legacy, and the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve.

Another portrait of Gaye, also inspired by historic photographs, appears on the reverse along with the Music Icons series logo. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp pane with original art by Kadir Nelson.

Hines’ stamp will be the 42nd stamp in the Black Heritage series, which in the past has honored historian Carter G. Woodson, civil rights activist Dorothy Height, and tennis champion Althea Gibson, among others. Noyes designed this stamp as well, which features a 1988 photograph of Hines by Jack Mitchell.

Hines is best known for his unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into tap dancing with his unique style. A versatile performer who danced, acted and sang on Broadway, on television and in movies such as “Tap,” “White Knights,” and “Waiting To Exhale,” Hines developed the entertainment traditions of tap into an art form for a younger generation and is credited with renewing interest in tap during the 1990s.

In related postal news, a bill naming the post office at 3585 S. Vermont Ave. in South Los Angeles, CA the Marvin Gaye Post Office was signed into law this July.