Tag: Nina Simone

Review: Beyoncé is Bigger Than Coachella | New York Times

(photo via instagram.com)

by Jon Caramanica via nytimes.com

INDIO, Calif. — Let’s just cut to the chase: There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Saturday night.

It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction.

And not unimportantly, it obliterated the ideology of the relaxed festival, the idea that musicians exist to perform in service of a greater vibe. That is one of the more tragic side effects of the spread of festival culture over the last two decades. Beyoncé was having none of it. The Coachella main stage, on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club here, was her platform, yes, but her show was in countless ways a rebuke.

It started with the horns: trumpets, trombones, sousaphones. For most of the night, the 36-year-old star was backed by an ecstatic marching band, in the manner of historically black college football halftime shows. The choice instantly reoriented her music, sidelining its connections to pop and framing it squarely in a lineage of Southern black musical traditions from New Orleans second line marches to Houston’s chopped-and-screwed hip-hop.

Her arrangements were alive with shifts between styles and oodles of small details, quick musical quotations of songs (Pastor Troy’s “No Mo’ Play in G.A.,” anyone?) that favored alertness and engagement. As always, one of the key thrills of a Beyoncé performance is her willingness to dismantle and rearrange her most familiar hits. “Drunk in Love” began as bass-thick molasses, then erupted into trumpet confetti. “Bow Down” reverberated with nervy techno. “Formation,” already a rapturous march, was a savage low-end stomp here. And during a brief trip through the Caribbean part of her catalog, she remade “Baby Boy” as startling Jamaican big band jazz.

She does macro, too — she was joined onstage by approximately 100 dancers, singers and musicians, a stunning tableau that included fraternity pledges and drumlines and rows of female violinists in addition to the usual crackerjack backup dancers (which here included bone breakers and also dancers performing elaborate routines with cymbals).

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.

Defying Expectations, Mayor Ras Baraka is Praised in All Corners of Newark

Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark speaking at Occupy the City, an anti-violence rally and march, in August. (Credit: Yana Paskova for The New York Times)

They had predicted that he would be anti-business and anti-police, that Mr. Baraka, the son of Newark’s most famous black radical, would return a city dogged by a history of riots and white flight to division and disarray.

A year later, Mr. Baraka is showering attention on black and Latino neighborhoods, as he promised he would. But he is also winning praise from largely white leaders of the city’s businesses and institutions downtown. He struggles with crime — all mayors here do — but he has also championed both the Black Lives Matter movement and the police, winning praise for trying to ease their shared suspicion.

The radical now looks more like a radical pragmatist.

Newark is still stubbornly two cities: gleaming new glass towers downtown, block after block of abandoned plots and relentless poverty in its outer wards, with five killings within 36 hours this month. But for all the expectations that Mr. Baraka would divide the city, those on both sides of the spectrum say that he has so far managed to do what his predecessors could not: make both Newarks feel as if he is their mayor.

The mayor at an awards ceremony for the Newark Fire Department. (Credit: Bryan Thomas for The New York Times)

Development plans are reaching into long-ignored neighborhoods. Projects stalled for years are moving forward, and new industries are taking root: a vertical farm, an incubator space and an investment fund for technology start-ups.

Mr. Baraka closed a $93 million hole in the city budget without layoffs. In June, Gov. Chris Christie agreed to start returning the schools to local control — something the governor had denied Cory A. Booker, Mr. Baraka’s more polished predecessor. The governor had rejected Mr. Baraka’s bid for control a year ago, deeming him “kind of hostile.”

“He’s like the local boy who grew up and said, ‘I need to fix my city.’ How do you not get inspired by that? How do you not root for a guy like that?” said Joseph M. Taylor, the chief executive of Panasonic Corporation of North America, which was lured to Newark by Mr. Booker. “I didn’t think anybody could top Cory Booker, but if anybody can, it’s Mayor Baraka.”

Not everyone is on board. Some local politicians, even those who support Mr. Baraka, say the positive reception partly reflects the low expectations set during a nasty election last spring, in which outside groups spent at least $5 million trying to defeat him. They say the talent pool at City Hall is shallow, and that Mr. Baraka has surrounded himself with friends and family members — in particular, his brother, Amiri Baraka Jr., who serves as his chief of staff — who engage in a kind of street politics that have dragged Mr. Baraka into distracting feuds.

Attendees at Occupy the City, an anti-violence march. The mayor has enlisted the help of residents in trying to curb crime. (Credit: Yana Paskova for The New York Times)

The candidate Mr. Baraka defeated, Shavar Jeffries, continues to criticize the mayor’s inability to stanch crime, dismissing Mr. Baraka’s anti-violence rallies as empty gimmicks. And presuming Mr. Baraka can complete the return of schools to local control, they remain some of the nation’s most troubled and low-performing.

Continue reading “Defying Expectations, Mayor Ras Baraka is Praised in All Corners of Newark”

“What Happened, Nina Simone?” Documentary to Debut June 26 on Netflix (VIDEO)

What-Happened-Miss-Simone-poster

Today, yours truly had the honor of being a part of a community of filmmakers and journalist who helped HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd interview Academy Award-nominated director Liz Garbus about her upcoming documentary on legendary singer-songwriter and activist Nina Simone entitled “What Happened, Nina Simone?”  This feature-length look at Simone’s private as well as professional life debuts on Netflix on June 26 and I, for one, can’t wait to see it.  Check out the HuffPost Live interview below for more insight and information:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Watch 1st Full Trailer for “What Happened, Miss Simone?”, Documentary to Debut on Netflix June 26

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Netflix and RadicalMedia paired up to produce and release the documentary, “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus (“The Farm: Angola,” “USA” and “Bobby Fischer Against the World”), which will premiere exclusively in all territories where Netflix is available, on June 26.

Made in cooperation with the Estate of Nina Simone, and described as an “epic” documentary, director Liz Garbus’ film interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together, with Nina’’s most memorable songs, incorporating never-before-heard audio tapes, recorded over the course of 3 decades, of Nina, telling her life story to various interviewers and would-be biographers. Rare concert footage and archival interviews, along with diaries, letters, interviews with Nina’’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, friends and collaborators, and other exclusive materials, make this the most authentic, personal, and unflinching telling of the extraordinary life of one of the 20th Century’s greatest recording artists.

Emmy–award nominated cinematographer Igor Martinovic (“House of Cards,” “Man on Wire”) shot the film, and Joshua L. Pearson (“Made in America,” “Under African Skies”) edited. Sidney Beaumont (“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”), Jon Kamen (“The Fog of War”), Lisa Nishimura (“The Square,” “Virunga”), Adam Del Deo (“The Square”) and Lisa Simone Kelly serve as executive producers on the film.

The documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Netflix has released a first full trailer for the upcoming film, which is embedded below:

article by Tambay A. Obenson via blogs.indiewire.com

Netflix Documentary on Singer and Social Activist Nina Simone Coming in 2015

Netflix is dipping its toe into original programming again with a timely documentary on provocative musical genius and social activist Nina Simone, aka the “High Priestess of Soul.” What Happened, Miss Simone? will tell the singer’s story in her own voice using over a hundred hours of previously unheard interviews. Produced in cooperation with Simone’s estate, it will also feature rare concert videos, diaries, letters and other private materials. It was directed by Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus and will debut next year — possibly around the same time as an unauthorized Simone biopic starring Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Zoe Saldana.

Simone was a classically-trained musician who switched to soul, jazz and blues after being denied a prestigious scholarship, reportedly because she was black. During the 1960s, her music and lyrics became infused with a strong civil rights message and she spoke at demonstrations like the “Selma to Montgomery” marches, which eventually led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Describing her musical career, Garbus said that “for each of her millions of fans, Nina feels like a treasured secret.” Simone was also a controversial figure who advocated for violent revolution on behalf of African Americans, and Netflix said the film would take an “unflinching” look at her life.

The upcoming biopic joins other well-received titles from Netflix like the 3D-printing documentary Print the Legend and Academy Award-nominated The SquareWhat Happened, Miss Simone will arrive in all Netflix countries sometime next year.

Check out video of arguably her most famous protest song, “Mississippi Goddamn” below:

article by Steve Dent via engadget.com

Library of Congress Acquires Papers of Legendary Jazz Drummer Max Roach

From Max Roach’s archive: a contract for a 1956 club date; an undated photo of Roach, at right, with Art Blakey, center; a 1964 letter from Maya Angelou. Lexey Swall for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Max Roach, the great drummer and bandleader and paradigm-shifter of jazz, though he disliked that word, never finished an autobiography.  That’s a shame. He died in 2007 at 83, and his career spans the beginning of bebop, the intersection of jazz with the civil rights movement, free improvisation, and jazz’s current state of cross-disciplinary experiments and multimedia performances. Inasmuch as jazz is about change and resistance, he embodied those qualities: He fought anything that would contain or reduce him as an artist and a human being. He would have been well served by his own narrative, set in one voice.

Max RoachBut Roach was archivally minded, and, when he died, he left 400 linear feet of his life and actions to be read: scores and lead sheets, photographs, contracts, itineraries, correspondence, reel tapes and cassettes and drafts of an unfinished autobiography, written with the help of Amiri Baraka. On Monday, the Library of Congress will announce that it has acquired the archive from Mr. Roach’s family and that it will be made available to researchers.

“What I think he would hope people would see,” said the violist Maxine Roach, his daughter from his first marriage, “is that there was a lot about his life that was difficult, you know? The struggles. A lot about economics, and jazz as a word that we didn’t define ourselves.” (Roach felt that it was a pejorative term; he preferred to call it African-American music.)  “But aside from all of that,” she continued, “I hope that people see his excellence and his mastery of his skill, which helped him rise in this country that’s been so hard on black men especially, and how he went through it and what price he paid.”

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Born On This Day in 1933: Jazz Singer and Activist Nina Simone

ninasimoneEunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), born in Tyron, North Carolina and better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York and worked in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.  Among Simone’s most popular recordings were “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, “I Put A Spell On You”, “I Loves You, Porgy” “Feeling Good” and the civil rights protest song “Mississippi Goddam.”  Learn more about this amazing musician’s life and music here and watch her live performance of  “Ain’t Got No… I Got Life” below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Sony Music Honors Nina Simone As Artist Of The Month For February 2013

Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, commemorates the life and music of Nina Simone on the occasion of the singer’s 80th birthday and celebrates the iconic High Priestess of Soul as the label’s Artist of the Month for February 2013.

Nina Simone, who would’ve turned 80 on February 21, was a strong and vocal civil rights advocate who carried the message of universal rights and personal empowerment, freedom, equality and dignity throughout her career. Whether it was political or emotional or personal, she never failed to tell the truth through her music.

One of the most powerful and uncompromising artists of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a natural talent who developed into a virtuosic performer–an ineffable song stylist with concert hall piano skills and a transcendental on-stage presence. Singer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist, Nina wove classical, blues, jazz, pop, rock, R&B, folk, gospel, torch songs and world music into a body of work as eclectic as it is incomparable.

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