Tag: Grammy Award winner

Grammy Award Winner Mary J. Blige to Receive Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Mary J. Blige (Source: TARA ZIEMBA / Getty)

by Rebecca Rubin via variety.com

Mary J. Blige will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the recording category.

The ceremony will take place on Jan. 11 at 6201 Hollywood Blvd. in front of Eastown. Sean “Diddy” Combs will join Hollywood Chamber president and CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star.

“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

The Grammy Award-winning artist has recently been recognized for her acting work. Blige received Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nom for best original song for “Mighty River.”

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Blige got her start in music by signing with Uptown Records in 1989. At 18 years old, she was the label’s youngest and first female artist. Her debut album, “What’s the 411?,” was executive produced by Combs and spun off hits including, “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.” Since then, she’s released 12 additional albums that have garnered nine Grammy Award wins from her 31 nominations.

Among her most popular songs are “Family Affair,” “No More Drama,” “Be Without You,” “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” and “Seven Days.”

Her film debut was in 2001’s “Prison Song,” followed by Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” She also starred alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand in 2012’s “Rock of Ages,” and appeared in 2013’s musical drama “Black Nativity.”

On the TV front, Blige has guest starred on “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire,” and “30 Rock.” She also played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on NBC’s musical “The Wiz Live!”

Source: http://variety.com/2018/music/news/mary-j-blige-hollywood-walk-of-fame-star-1202653233/

Grammy Award Winner Esperanza Spalding Joins Harvard’s Department of Music as a Professor

Esperanza Spalding (Photo: Sandrine Lee)

via blavity.com

Esperanza Spalding is at the top of her field. She’s won just about every award a musician can win: four Grammys, a Smithsonian award, an NAACP Image Award, a Frida Kahlo award, a Boston Music Award — we could go on for ten minutes. And now, according to a press release from Harvard University, Spalding is going to teach others how she did it.

The bassist and singer has been appointed the a professor of the practice in the university’s Department of Music. The university’s professors of the practice are individuals “who have a national or international reputation as leaders” and who are “the best in the field.” That certainly sounds like Spalding. The press release refers to the artist as “a national treasure with global resonance” who “stands apart for the intelligence and deep sense of humanity” found in her work.

This won’t be Spalding’s first time in front of students, either. She taught at Boston’s Berklee College of Music from 2005 to 2008, and has instructed many pupils as an artist in residence in the years since. At Harvard, Spalding will lead courses in songwriting, improvisation and performance. The school also promises that Spalding will bring her “commitment to music as a voice for social justice” to the classroom with her.

To read full article, go to: Esperanza Spalding Is Now A Harvard Professor | BLAVITY

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.

R.I.P. Grammy Award Winning Soul Artist Billy Paul

Billy Paul At BAM R&B Festival
Billy Paul (Source: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images / Getty)

article by Kellee Terrell via hellobeautiful.com

On Sunday morning, Philadelphia-born soul singer Billy Paul passed away in New Jersey home after battling cancer, his manager Beverly Gay confirmed to NBC 10 Philadelphia. Paul was 81.

On the “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer’s website, the following message was posted:

We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.  We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneered today’s R&B music. Billy will be truly missed.

Born in 1934, Paul started singing at 11 years-old and early on his career, he performed at several clubs and college campuses with several music legends, including Charlie “Bird” Parker, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Roberta Flack, NBC 10 wrote. Serving in the army with Elvis Presley, in 1968 Paul released his debut album “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club.”

One of his most popular songs, “Me and Mrs. Jones” debuted in 1972 helping him become a household name and a constant on record players across the country. That song reached number one of the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy award. Overall, during his amazing career, Paul released a total of 15 albums.

R.I.P. Musical Master, Genius and Unforgettable Legend Prince

Prince (photo via nytimes.com)
Prince (photo via nytimes.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Even though the news is minutes old, I’m sure you’ve all heard by now. I still can’t process it fully, and am having serious trouble accepting it, but after following TMZ, then Huffington Post, then Rolling Stone and the New York Times reports, I have to.   We all have to admit that it’s true – one of the best musicians ever to walk the Earth – Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) has passed away at age 57.  Whether it was from complications due to his recent bout with the flu or some other reason – what really matters is that he is gone and the world has lost a genius and musical visionary.

While the grief over his passing will be palpable and far from short-lived, we wanted to take this moment to celebrate the legacy and artistry of the man who won an Academy Award, multiple Grammys, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and gave us “Purple Rain”, “Sign of the Times”, “Controversy”, “Dirty Mind”, “1999” and “LoveSexy” to name a few, and wish his singular spirit all the best on the next phase of his journey.

I have no idea how long the video below will remain up on YouTube, but while it is:

 

Mavis Staples Tells Her Own Story in HBO Documentary “Mavis!”

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Mavis Staples attends the NY Premiere of HBO’s documentary film ‘MAVIS!’ at Florence Gould Hall on February 24, 2016 in New York City.  (MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES FOR HBO)

article by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph. D. via theroot.com

Legendary singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples has been in the business of making music and changing lives for over 60 years. The Chicago-born singer with the signature raspy voice launched her career in 1950 as part of the family gospel group The Staple Singers, comprised of her father (Pops) and three older sisters (Cleotha, Pervis and Yvonne). The “skinny 15-year-old girl with the big voice” was often mistaken for a man or a big woman, surprising fans with her childlike appearance despite her full-bodied voice.

Like many family acts, the Staples honed their craft in the church before taking their show on the road. Having recorded a couple of singles, the Staples Singers hit their stride with the 1957 release of “Uncloudy Day,” on the renowned Vee-Jay Records, which became a mainstream hit. The rest as they say is music history. Staples’ life and times as a singer and activist are chronicled in the HBO documentary Mavis!, directed by Jessica Edwards, who made it her goal to capture the life of a living legend in her words on her terms, having realized that “No one had done the story of her.”

Mavis! chronicles the rise of the Staples Singers and their evolution from gospel to freedom songs to soul music. Staples leads viewers down memory lane recalling the group’s work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, her romance with the love of her life (musical giant Bob Dylan) and Staples desire to remain humble despite her staying power and overcoming the precariousness of the music business.

The 76-year-old, who still lives in Chicago, is still touring and picking up awards, having recently won a 2016 Grammy for Best Roots Performance for the song, “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.”  Staples is proud of her win. “It’s a wonderful feeling for an artist of my generation to be honored and recognized,” says Staples. “It’s very inspiring and it makes me feel like my decision not to retire and to keep making new music was the right one,” she adds.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2016/03/mavis_staples_tells_her_own_story_in_mavis.html

Mavis! is currently airing on HBO. Check local listings

R.I.P. Grammy Award-Winning Singer and Chart-Topping Artist Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole performing in 2007. (Credit: Radek Pietruszka/European Pressphoto Agency)

Natalie Cole, the Grammy Award-winning singer whose hits included “Inseparable,” “This Will Be,” “Our Love,” “Pink Cadillac” and “Unforgettable,” a virtual duet with her father, Nat King Cole, that topped the Billboard charts in 1991, died in Los Angeles on Thursday. She was 65.

Maureen O’Connor, a spokeswoman for Ms. Cole, confirmed her death without giving a cause, according to The Associated Press. Ms. Cole had undergone a kidney transplant in 2009 and had suffered from other ailments recently, forcing the cancellation of a series of tour dates in November and December.

Ms. Cole — who was raised around jazz royalty in the company of her father and her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole, a singer who worked with Duke Ellington and Count Basie — came into her own as a singer in the 1970s by staking out her own territory in R&B. Her first album, “Inseparable,” in 1975, won two Grammys, and “Sophisticated Lady,” on a follow-up album the next year, won another.

Ms. Cole’s reputation declined for several years, partly because of struggles with drug addiction. But she came back, creating the biggest hit of her career by uniting, at least in the studio, with the legacy and voice of her father, singing along with him on a recording of his standard “Unforgettable” and winning several Grammys in 1991.

The song reached a level of success that Ms. Cole said stunned her, even with the combined wattage of her name and her father’s.

“The shock of it all is that this record is getting airplay,” Ms. Cole said in an interview at the time. “It’s absolutely shocking to see it between Van Halen and Skid Row on the charts, totally out of its element. It should be encouraging to record companies and my contemporaries.”

Watch Ms. Cole perform one of her biggest hits, her debut single from 1975, the #1 R&B hit and #6 Pop hit “This Will Be”, live on “Midnight Special” below:

article by Randy Kennedy via nytimes.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Common Delivers Commencement Speech, Receives Honorary Doctorate at Winston-Salem State University

The rapper known as Common, (Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.), delivered the commencement address at the WSSU graduation in Bowman Gray Stadium.
Common delivered the commencement address at the WSSU graduation in Bowman Gray Stadium. (Photo: David Rolfe)

WINSTON-SALEM — Award-winning hip-hop recording artist and actor Common encouraged nearly 1,000 graduating students from Winston-Salem State University to follow and trust in their paths to achieve their dreams.

“You want to surround yourself with people who believe in your path,” Common said Friday. “Belief is contagious. As you climb up the mountain, it will be difficult at times.”

Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., was the keynote speaker at WSSU’s graduation ceremony, which was held at Bowman Gray Stadium before about 12,000 people.

During his 27-minute speech, Common talked about his career as an actor, author and a hip-hop artist.

He mixed humor with his remarks that elicited laughter from the crowd. Some women in the audience screamed as he spoke.

He told the graduates that he was inspired by NBA star Michael Jordan, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama and Jesus.

Common said he learned as a youth playing for a basketball team in Chicago that he had to practice and work hard to achieve greatness.  Common said he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist over the objection of his mother.

“I had found my path,” he said. “This voice of hip-hop would take me around the world.”

Common released his first album, “Can I borrow a Dollar,” in 1992, and he has since recorded nine others.

Common, 43, won a Grammy Award in 2003 for his song, “Love of My Life,” with singer-songwriter Erykah Badu.  Common won a second Grammy for his 2007 album, “Southside.”  He’s also a noted social activist.

During his speech, a young woman yelled to Common from the grandstand: “Here’s your wife.” Common replied, “Where are you; I want to meet you.”

The crowd laughed at the exchange.

Common told the graduating students they will face challenges in their lives, and they will not achieve their goals as quickly as they want.  “If you see the mountaintop, you know you will get there,” he said.

After his speech, the WSSU Choir and Symphonic Band performed the song “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma.” The song, by Common and singer John Legend, won the Academy Award in February for Best Original Song.

Afterward, WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson presented Common with an honorary doctorate of humane letters.  Common said he appreciated receiving the degree.  “This is one of the best days of my life to get this honor for you all,” Common said. “I’m grateful. I got a doctorate.”

article via news-record.com

Kendrick Lamar Honored by California State Senate with “Generational Icon” Award

kendrick lamar senate floor

Kendrick Lamar continues to rack up just as much critical acclaim as he has album sales – the latest praise coming from the senate floor of his home state.

On Monday, the 27-year-old Grammy Award-winner received the “Generational Icon” award from California’s State Senate. The Compton native was introduced by State Senator Isadore Hall III and was honored for his ongoing efforts to address issues affecting his community and recognized for the music he’s produced that reflects these concerns.

“Being from the city of Compton and knowing the parks that I played at in the neighborhoods, I’ve always thought of how great the opportunity would be to give back to my community off of what I do in music,” he said. “So in order to do that from a city all the way to a state standpoint and have these young kids look at me at some type of inspiration it’s really an honor.”

Watch video of Lamar receiving California State Senate 35 District’s Generational Icon Award below:

article via eurweb.com

Pharrell Williams Lands A “Happy” Book Deal with Putnam Books

Prolific producer, musical artist and “The Voice” coach Pharrell Williams (pictured) recently secured a deal with publisher Putnam Books for a series inspired by his hit song, “Happy,” according to USA Today.

The 41-year-old Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and trendsetter will write four books — the first one tentatively titled “Happy” — set to hit bookstores on September 22.  The book will reportedly have pictures of children from around the globe who will be “celebrating what it means to be happy,” according to the news site.

The mega-infectious ditty that was originally released in 2013 as part of the “Despicable Me 2″ soundtrack became a chart-topper last year.  “Happy” also earned Pharrell an Oscar nomination in 2014 in the “Best Original Song” category.  The song’s winning streak kept going this year at the Grammy Awards when it won Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video.

RELATED: 

“Happy” will be Pharrell’s first venture into book writing and Putnam’s umbrella publisher, Penguin Books has reportedly already planned a 250,000 first run printing.

“I’m humbled by the global success of Happy, but especially in awe of the song’s young fans,” Pharrell said according to USA Today. “My collaboration with Penguin allows me to continue a dialogue with these children in a fresh, new way. We’re both committed to feeding the curiosity of young minds with imagination.”

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)