Tag: Jeff Meier

GBN’S MERRY MONTH OF STEVIE: Jazz Visions of “Innervisions” (LISTEN)

by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)

In earlier Stevie Wonder playlists this month, GBN has featured playlists devoted to cover versions of the songs from “Songs in the Key of Life” and from “Talking Book.”  Today’s playlist, in our month devoted to the music of Stevie Wonder in honor of his 70th birthday, features the music of “Innervisions.”

By 1973, Stevie was already on an impressive streak. Now having complete creative control over his work, both “Music of My Mind” and “Talking Book” from the previous year were tremendously successful both commercially and creatively. “Innervisions” took things to the next level.

Beautiful ballads of love like “Golden Lady” and “All In Love Is Fair” are intertwined with the political commentary of “Living for the City” and “He’s Misstra Know-It-All.”

It was a new kind of soul album and it all worked – kicking off an unprecedented streak of winning Grammy Album of the Year awards for three of his releases in a row.

This covers playlist differs from the other two albums. This time, instead of switching up genres from song to song, we’ve delved deeper into jazz versions of songs from “Innervisions.”

Stevie has been an immensely influential musical force among the jazz community. Jazz musicians are constantly covering Stevie – and many have done tribute albums devoted solely to his compositions (Nnena Freelon, Stanley Turrentine, and Najee to name a few).

Nevertheless, though we’ve confined the playlist to jazz, we’ve tried to mix up jazz styles and instruments, including everything from avant garde vocalists to smooth jazz saxophone.  We hope our Innervisions playlist is a great vehicle to explore jazz styles, from the comfort of already knowing all the twists and turns of the original songs by heart.

Enjoy!

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GBN’s MERRY MONTH OF STEVIE: Cover Songs In The Key Of Life (LISTEN)

by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)

Ever since this writer was elementary school age and first becoming aware of music, I’ve been obsessed with the artistic connections created by “cover” versions (“remakes,” in layman’s terms).

My father and I would routinely spend a Saturday night pairing together interesting playlists for each other comprised of original versions and their remakes, usually trying to find versions as far apart musically from the originals as possible.

Several decades ago, this was very labor intensive – we had to go ‘digging in the crates’ through our own vinyl, and we had to actually know and remember that the cover version had been done. Piecing it all together was half the fun.

Today, with Spotify and the internet, it’s much much easier to uncover covers. Just type in the song name and often you’ll find hundreds of options to pick from, especially when we’re talking about Stevie Wonder, who has literally had thousands of remakes done of his songs.

So many versions, in fact, that it’s impossible to weed through them all. (According to SecondHandSongs.com, a website devoted to ‘cover’ songs, Stevie is the most covered R&B artist of all time.)

So with today’s Stevie Wonder playlist from GBN, I’ve limited myself to covers of songs from his landmark 1976 double album “Songs in the Key of Life.” “Songs in the Key of Life” capped a prolific mid-1970s golden era for Stevie Wonder, winning him a remarkable third Grammy for Album of the Year – all three of his wins coming in just four years!  Many lists feature “Songs” as one of the best albums of all-time.

You may ask – why should I listen to cover versions when the originals are so perfect? I certainly won’t argue with the originals’ perfection. And I don’t think that any of the artists here would argue either that their version supersedes Stevie’s own.

What I would say is that cover versions can do several things.  First, they evoke the true songwriting abilities underlying the original song – a great ‘song’ should be able to stand up to multiple interpretations.

Second, when the cover version is in a different genre (and these are the most interesting ones, usually) – they can bring the listener to new places musically that they may not have ventured before. Third, after hearing an iconic album so many times that it becomes almost second nature, it can be refreshing to hear it again in a new way.

In this playlist, we’ve got the entire ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ song list, in the same order as the original – with the four ‘bonus tracks’ from the extra single included in the original release added to the end.

Each song has only one extra version – and each covering artist is limited to just one track. The mix spans jazz, folk, rock, Latin, soul, dance music and many more, including Luther Vandross, Thelma Houston, Najee, Mary J. Blige and James Taylor‘s brother Livingston Taylor. There’s even a Spice Girl in there if you look for her!

We hope you enjoy it.

Happy 70th Birthday To Ya, Stevie Wonder! (LISTEN)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s no secret how much the Good Black News team loves and reveres Stevie Wonder, as we have been celebrating him throughout May with various tributes, posts and playlists  on the main page and across our social media.

(In case you missed Jeff Meier‘s The Wonders of Stevie’s Harmonica or Marlon West‘s Stevie Soundtrack Songs and Stevie Cover Songs posts and playlists, treat yourself and click through!)

But today, on May 13, Stevie Wonder’s actual birthday, we want to offer you links to all things Stevie, like his official website, Instagram (which is playing Stevie music live all day!) and Twitter, the biography written about him, as well as the Wikipedia and Biography entries that encapsulate the his life and career in words and video.

But really, to know Stevie all you have to do is listen to his music, especially the songs that comprise the majority of his offerings to this world – album tracks never released as singles – aka Stevie Wonder’s Deep Cuts.

Our newest playlist is comprised solely of these songs, and arguably they are as moving and meaningful as his tunes that topped the charts.

In fact, many of these songs (“You and I,” “Too High,” “Bird of Beauty,” “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” “Rocket Love”) are more popular with Stevie stans than many of his global hits.

They are sequenced in chronological order (like our companion playlist of chart releases and hits “The Age of Wonder”) so the listener can hear the evolution of Stevie Wonder’s writing, production and sound. Enjoy – and Happy Birthday, Stevie! We love you!

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Bringing The Sunshine: GBN Offers Clark Sisters Playlist to Celebrate Lifetime Biopic Airing Tonight (LISTEN)

by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)

Of course, it would take a superstar group of powerful Black women to sell and make a movie about The Clark Sisters, the pioneering Detroit siblings who are now in their fifth decade of rocking the gospel music world.

Tonight’s “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (airing on Lifetime at 8PM) comes from executive producers Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott, co-executive producer Holly Davis Carter, writer Camille Tucker and director Christine Swanson.

I had my own Clark Sisters experience while working as an executive at TV One back in 2007-08, where The Clark Sisters were the subjects of one of the very first episodes of network’s successful biography series “UnSung,” a show I developed and initially oversaw.

At the time, I generally knew enough about The Clark Sisters to recognize their breakthroughs in transforming the gospel music sound – and I felt that the world had not generally afforded them enough credit for that. But I didn’t know much else about their personal story and ended up fascinated by the conflicts and struggle, and of course, all the music.  It’s not a surprise to me that producer Carter said she’s been trying to make this movie for 15 years – it is a worthy story to tell.

In honor of this movie accomplishment, Good Black News offers a career-spanning Spotify playlist below to allow you to keep enjoying the patented Clark Sister Sound all weekend long.

The Clark Sisters Playlist was crafted to include most of the key hits from The Clark Sisters – as well as highlights from the solo careers of Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Twinkie Clark, and even from next generation Clark family gospel superstar Kierra Sheard (who plays her mom Karen in the movie). For good measure, there’s also a rare solo track from Jacky Clark-Chisholm (a duet with movie exec producer Blige), and a coda from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark herself.

Jacky, Denise, Elbernita (Twinkie), Dorinda, and Karen were the five daughters of Mattie Moss Clark, a pioneering gospel music figure herself, who while raising her daughters also served as a minister of music for the Church of God In Christ, first at the local level in Michigan, but eventually at the national level.

Continue reading “Bringing The Sunshine: GBN Offers Clark Sisters Playlist to Celebrate Lifetime Biopic Airing Tonight (LISTEN)”

Four Years Ago Today: Good Black News was Founded

gbnthumbnail.jpegGOOD BLACK NEWS proudly celebrates its fourth anniversary today, with 6,397 Facebook followers, 3,988 Twitter followers, 1,932 Tumblr followers, 653 via Pinterest, and hundreds more via InstagramGoogle+YouTube, WordPress, our RSS feedand LinkedIn.  Although initially launched on March 18, 2010 as a Facebook page (read the detailed story behind GBN’s creation here), in September 2012, GBN created this dedicated website, goodblacknews.org, which has allowed us to expand our presence on the internet and provide archives and search functions to you, our loyal readers.

In the past year, we were greatly honored to receive the 2013 Black Weblog Award for Best Political or News Blog, largely due to the support of our dedicated followers.  The outpour of appreciation you’ve shown us via likes, comments, shares, reflags and e-mails means the world to us, and only inspires GBN to keep getting bigger and better.  In the coming months, we aim to refresh and revise the look of goodblacknews.org once again to improve mobile access, provide more original content, and (if you sign up for it) a downloadable e-newsletter (this goal got away from us in 2013, but it’s going to be for real this time) with features such as historical spotlights, interviews, film release dates, television listings, and more.

Please keep helping us spread GBN by sharing, liking, re-tweeting and commenting, and consider joining our e-mail list via our “Contact Us” tab on goodblacknews.org.  We will only use this list to keep you updated on GBN and send you our upcoming e-newsletter — nothing else.  And, of course, you may opt out at any time.

GBN remains a labor of love, and our Founder/Editor-In-Chief (Lori Lakin Hutcherson), Lifestyle/Fashion Editor (Lesa Lakin) and this year’s contributors (Ashanti Hutcherson, Monika JonesRichard Mar, Jeff MeierGabriel Ryder, Minsun Park, Terry Samwick, power stringer Becky SchonbrunArro Verse, tech consultant/web genius Andrew Lin) are all unpaid volunteers.  We believe in bringing you positive news, reviews and stories of interest about black people all over the world, and greatly value your participation in continuing to build our shared vision.

Thank you again for your support, and we look forward to providing you with more Good Black News in the coming year, and beyond!

Warmly,

The Good Black News Team

Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder/Editor-In-Chief
Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder/Editor-In-Chief
by Lesa Lakin
Lesa Lakin, GBN Lifestyle/Fashion Editor