LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clarence Burke Jr., lead singer of the group the Five Stairsteps that sang the 1970 hit “O-o-h Child,” (see video below) has died. He was 64.
His manager, Joe Marno, says Burke died Sunday in Marietta, Georgia, where he lived. The cause of his death was not disclosed. Formed in Chicago in 1965, the Five Stairsteps included Burke and four siblings.
The group had several hits in the 1960s and ’70s, including “You Waited Too Long,” ”World of Fantasy,” and “Don’t Change Your Love.”
The Los Angeles Times says the group disbanded in the late 1970s but the brothers briefly reformed as the Invisible Man’s Band and had a 1980 success with the dance single “All Night Thing.” His family says in recent years, Burke performed solo concerts and continued to record.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If there’s a theme to this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it may be living legends. Headliners include B.B. King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Hall and Oates and Fleetwood Mac. There’s also a cast of modern-day hit makers such as The Black Keys, Maroon 5, Jill Scott, Kem, the Dave Matthews Band and New Orleans native Frank Ocean.
Over the next two weekends, fans of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be treated to traditional jazz as well as rock ‘n roll, Cajun, gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk and zydeco. “The way the talent fell into place this year, it became a very special year for us,” festival producer Quint Davis said. “It’s Jazz Fest, but it’s also B.B. King, Willie Nelson. It’s Ben Harper. It’s Hall and Oates. We ended up with probably the greatest living proponent in each kind of music we feature here.”
In all, about 5,000 entertainers will play the festival on 12 stages. The first weekend is Friday through Sunday, and the following weekend starts Thursday, May 2, and lasts until Sunday, May 5.
YouTube hopes users will get on the good foot with its new James Brown channel, featuring, concert footage, testimonials — and, of course, opportunities to purchase DVDs and other merchandise, reports Deadline.com.
“These digital destinations will continue to evolve as we program content specific to key events as well as discover and add new video assets, leveraging Shout Factory’s unique content curation capabilities,” says Jeffrey Thompson, Shout Factory’s VP of digital strategy and business development.
The launch coincides with the 45th anniversary of Brown’s Boston concert following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many historians believe that the concert helped to prevent riots from breaking out as they had in several other cities.
The Andantes, from left, Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow-Tate and Louvain Demps posing during a visit to Motown Historical Museum in Detroit. In their 70s, the unsung backing group who sang on thousands of Motown songs is finally getting acclaim for its contributions to the ground-breaking, chart-topping music made in Detroit in the 1960s and early ’70s before the label moved to Los Angeles. The trio gathered recently to see the exhibit, “Motown Girl Groups: The Grit, the Glamour, the Glory.” The Andantes are featured, with equal billing, alongside the Supremes, Vandellas, Marvelettes and Velvelettes. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Demps was no mere fan visiting what’s now the Motown Historical Museum. She was one of the women singing the angelic, high harmonies on the recording — and hearing it in Hitsville USA’s Studio A was too much. “It’s my heart, it’s my heart,” she said. For Demps and her fellow Andantes, Jackie Hicks and Marlene Barrow-Tate, moments like these have been private, since the wider world knew only their voices, not their faces. But now in their 70s, the unsung backing group who sang on thousands of Motown songs is finally getting acclaim for its contributions to the groundbreaking, chart-topping music made in Detroit in the 1960s and early ’70s before the label moved to Los Angeles.
The trio gathered recently to see the exhibit, “Motown Girl Groups: The Grit, the Glamour, the Glory,” which will run through the summer. The Andantes are featured — with equal billing — alongside the Supremes, Vandellas, Marvelettes and Velvelettes. The joyous but rare reunion was made possible by a sad event the day before: the funeral of former Miracles member Bobby Rogers. For the Andantes, it made their meeting more poignant.
“It is unfortunate that so many are gone and thank God that we are still here — all of us — to be able to see this and see our dream come true,” said Barrow-Tate, who still lives in Detroit, as does Hicks. The two are retired, but Demps, who lives near Atlanta, still sings solo or with others.
The Andantes were the go-to backup singers for most Motown artists, including Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops and the girl groups themselves. “Save the Children” came from Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” one of Motown’s greatest — and last — albums recorded in Detroit. The Andantes sang backup on many of the record’s cuts — including the title track — and even traveled with Gaye to his hometown of Washington, D.C., in 1972 to perform the disc in its entirety at the Kennedy Center. Motown Museum officials say the trio, almost always anonymously, sang on more songs than any other group at Motown. They were the female and vocal equivalent to the Funk Brothers, the label’s house band that itself was largely anonymous in its time but gained acclaim through the 2002 documentary film, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”
Frank Ocean ‘comes out’: The breakout R&B star made headlines with a small blog post in which he admitted is first love was a man. Amazingly, his admission mattered little to his fans, who helped turn his album ‘Channel Orange’ into one of the year’s biggest hits.
NEW YORK (AP) — The film “Cloud Atlas,” AMC’s reality show “Small Town Security” and the New Yorker magazine are among the nominees for the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The awards are meant to recognize and honor media for outstanding images of the gay and lesbian community.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced on Wednesday 120 nominees in English-language categories and 33 nominees in Spanish-language categories.
Other nominees include the NBC shows “Smash” and “The New Normal,” Frank Ocean for his “Channel Orange” album, the magazine People en Espanol and Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka.
The winners will be announced March 16 in New York and at ceremonies in April and May in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Major Harris, a highly-respected R&B singer out of Philadelphia, is dead at the age of 65. Harris was known for his role as a member of the Delfonics, and for later achieving success as a solo artist. Harris passed Friday morning at a hospital in Richmond, VA. He died from congenitive heart and lung failure.
Harris started his career singing with doo-wop groups in the 1960s in Richmond, some of which included theJamels,the Charmers, Frankie Lymon‘s the Teenagers and Nat Turner’s Rebellion.
In 1974, Harris launched a solo career with Atlantic Records, creating a string of hits, including “Love Won’t Let Me Wait.” His work has been sampled by quite a few contemporary groups, including Wu-Tang Clan, the Fugees and Notorious B.I.G., and resurrected in films like Quentin Tarantino‘s Jackie Brown. To learn more about his life and music, click here.
Robinson Global Sports & Entertainment Group LLC has announced it plans to develop the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum that will be a state-of-the-art, highly interactive, virtual reality experience for individuals of all ages and cultures. It will memorialize rhythm artists, promoters and others that have contributed to this music genre. Its educational and preservation values alone are needed and have been welcomed and by many U.S. cities: Cleveland, Ohio Mayor Frank G. Jackson; East Cleveland, Ohio Mayor Gary Norton; Detroit, Michigan’s The New Detroit Entertainment Inc and the Motown Alumni Association; Memphis, Tennessee Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. Continue reading “Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston Lead Inaugural Class for Induction to R&B Music Hall of Fame”→
It was an evening suitable for a legend at the historic Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood, as internationally acclaimed composer, filmmaker and philanthropist Quincy Jones was on hand to receive the Montblanc Lifetime Achievement Award. There to introduce the iconic producer were Hollywood legends Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman as well as Quincy Jones’ daughter, actress and filmmaker Rashida Jones.
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”→