Tag: Atlantic Records

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:

R.I.P. Artistic Genius and Musical Legend Aretha Franklin, 76, Forever the Queen of Soul

(photo via arethafranklin.net)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nytimes.com, American singer, pianist, and composer Aretha Franklin died at her home in Detroit surrounded by family and loved ones at the age of 76. The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer. She is survived by her four sons, Ted White Jr., Kecalf Cunningham, Clarence Franklin, and Edward Franklin.

Franklin, who began her unparalleled music career singing at her father Rev. C.L. Franklin‘s New Bethel Baptist Church, became an international superstar and chart-topper in the 1960s with such classic songs as “Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You,” “Chain of Fools,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Respect,” and again in the 1980 and 1990s with “Jump To It,” “Freeway of Love,” “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me,” “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” and “A Rose Is Still A Rose.” Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won 18 competitive Grammys across multiple decades, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Aretha was also involved in civil rights activism and philanthropy during her lifetime. Franklin, who Elle Magazine noted had it written into her contract in the 1960s that she would never perform for a segregated audience, was glad that the song “Respect” became linked to feminist and civil-rights movements. She added that the line “you know I’ve got it” has a direct feminist theme. “As women, we do have it,” Franklin said. “We have the power. We are very resourceful. Women absolutely deserve respect. I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society.”

According to Vanity Fair, though Franklin didn’t participate in civil disobedience herself, she lent very public support to at least one person who did. In 1970, famous feminist activist, scholar, and a then-avowed member of the Communist Party Angela Davis was arrested at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Midtown Manhattan and incarcerated for 16 months for what were found to be wrongful kidnapping and murder charges. Jet magazine reported that Franklin was ready to cover Davis’s bond, “whether it was $100,000 or $250,000.” Davis was released on bail and cleared of her charges in 1972.

Locally, Aretha donated meals and hotel rooms to Flint residents at the onset of the city’s water crisis, last year she was honored with the dedication of Aretha Franklin Way in Detroit, and worked to renew and revitalize her hometown with projects and concerts.

To read more about Franklin’s life and music, coverage from the Detroit Free Press, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. To witness a touch of her genius, click below:

Grammy Winner Jill Scott’s “Woman” Debuts at #1 on Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart

Three-time Grammy winner Jill Scott's new album 'Woman Debuts at #1.

“I try to learn to not do more than I need,” Billboard and three-time Grammy winner Jill Scott said about her fifth studio album entitled “Woman” (Blues Babe Records/Atlantic Records) which is independently released. “I’m not going to put out anything I don’t want. I’m a passionate singer.”

Passionate she is, so passionate she became a business woman to get her music out to her fans in a way where she would have creative control – by forming her own label. Her label Blues Babe Records is distributed by Atlantic Records in order to control her music and her image.

“I own my own record label so I don’t have that kind of pressure,” Scott said when asked about the selection of what songs to include on the album. “I’m in it to win. I contacted some old friends and new friends. All it takes is one good producer.”

Jill is also an actress with credits that include “Why Did I Get Married”, the James Brown story “Get On Up” and “Hounddog.”  A Philadelphia native Jill Scott started with an independent label, Hidden Beach Recordings, its first artist. She went on to form he own label Blues Babe Records with distribution but Warner Bros Records and now Atlantic Records.

The “Woman” tour kicked off July 9, 2015 and ends August 28. It arrives in Jackson, MS August 11 at the Durham Performing Arts Music Hall, Houston, TX August 12 at the Bayou, and Oakland, CA August 21 at the Fox Theater. The album debuted at #1 on U.S. Charts according to The New York Times, which also reports it sold 57,000 albums the first week along with 1.6 million streams.

Jill confessed when asked about struggles that “the initial struggle I had was trying to work and be a mom. That was my struggle. Night time is the right time (to record). I would climb in the bed at 4 a.m. and my son is up at 6:30 a.m. wanting to talk. I’m the kind you wake me up and I’m up. It takes me hours to get back to sleep. (As a result) I stayed in a hotel and then picked him up from school. He gets what he wants and I get what I want.”

Jill said she enlisted help from producers such as Andre Harris on “Prepared” and “Can’t Wait,” David Banner on “Closure”, Warryn Campbell on “Wild Cookie” and 98th Wonder on “Beautiful Love.” “Woman” is executive produced by Scott and Andre Harris. Log onto her website to learn more – www.MissJillScott.com.

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2015/08/the-pulse-of-entertainment-billboard-and-grammy-winner-jill-scotts-woman-debuts-at-1/#m2Ijz2KcbPhGxxBA.99

Janet Jackson Announces New Album and Tour

Singer Janet Jackson performs on her "Number Ones: Up Close and Personal" tour at The Greek Theatre on September 1, 2011 in Los Angeles.
Janet Jackson (John Shearer—WireImage/Getty Images)

She tweeted the hashtag #ConversationsInACafe, the new record’s presumed title

Janet Jackson celebrated her birthday by giving fans a present. The singer, who turned 49 on Saturday, has announced she’ll release a new album in 2015.

The news came via a video Jackson tweeted out with the hashtag #ConversationsInACafe, the record’s presumed title.

“I promised you’d hear it from my lips, and now you will,” Jackson said in the video, referencing a tweet she sent out last year to shut down speculation that an album was in the works. “This year: new music, new world tour, a new movement. I’ve been listening. Let’s keep the conversation going.”

Speculation that Jackson would release new music in 2015 spiked last week, but was quickly denied by representatives at Atlantic Records, Jackson’s label.

Jackson’s last studio album was 2008’s Discipline.

article by Christopher Rosen/EW via time.com

R.I.P. Soul Singer and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge made “When a Man Loves a Woman” a timeless hit. (Photo Credit: James J. Kriegsmann)

His death was confirmed by Artists International Management, which represented him. Mr. Sledge had liver cancer, for which he underwent surgery in 2014, Mark Lyman, his agent and manager, said.  Mr. Sledge, sometimes called the King of Slow Soul, was a sentimental crooner and one of the South’s first soul stars, having risen to fame from jobs picking cotton and working as a hospital orderly while performing at clubs and colleges on the weekends.“I was singing every style of music: the Beatles, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Motown, Sam Cooke, the Platters,” he once said. “When a Man Loves a Woman” was his first recording for Atlantic Records, after a patient at the hospital introduced him to the record producer Quin Ivy. It reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1966 and sold more than a million copies, becoming the label’s first gold record. (The Recording Industry Association of America began certifying records as gold in 1958.) Raw and lovelorn, the song was a response to a woman who had left him for another man, Mr. Sledge said. He called its composition a “miracle.”

An album of the same name was released that year, and three more studio albums for Atlantic followed in the 1960s: “Warm and Tender Soul,” “The Percy Sledge Way” and “Take Time to Know Her.”

While Mr. Sledge never again reached the heights of his first hit, “When a Man Loves a Woman” had many lives: as an early highlight of the Muscle Shoals, Ala., music scene; as a movie soundtrack staple in the 1980s, heard in “The Big Chill” and “Platoon”; and in a 1991 cover version by Michael Bolton, which also topped the Billboard chart and earned Mr. Bolton a Grammy.

Although the song, which ranks 53rd on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest of all time, is credited to two of Mr. Sledge’s early bandmates, the bassist Calvin Lewis and the organist Andrew Wright, who assisted with the arrangement, Mr. Sledge said of the melody, “I hummed it all my life, even when I was picking and chopping cotton in the fields.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Soul Singer and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Percy Sledge”

Bettye LaVette Back With New CD and Autobiography

Bettye LaVette  (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

WEST ORANGE, N.J. — Bettye LaVette makes no apologies for her life. Sitting cross-legged on an Art Deco chair in her living room here, sipping wine, she was animated and gritty as she talked about the decades she spent singing in clubs and cursing her “buzzard luck,” while her contemporaries, like Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, became superstars.

“I thought I was going to die in obscurity,” said Ms. LaVette, 66. “I’m still going to die broke but not obscure.”

It has been 50 years since Ms. LaVette, then a teenage mother from a working-class Detroit home, recorded her first single, “My Man — He’s a Lovin’ Man,” which became a hit on Atlantic Records and seemed to foretell a bright future. But she quarreled with Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records and left the label, and even though she recorded dozens of other R&B singles in the 1960s, including the minor hit “Let Me Down Easy,” her career never took off. She survived as a club performer and appeared in “Bubbling Brown Sugar” on Broadway and on tour. Her long-delayed first album in the early 1980s didn’t sell. By the late ’90s, she was popular only among European R&B enthusiasts. Continue reading “Bettye LaVette Back With New CD and Autobiography”