Tag: Tina Turner

R.I.P. George Michael: Requiem for a Soul Man

Pop/R&B Superstar singer/writer/producer George Michael (photo via bet.com)

essay by Keith Murphy via bet.com

There’s an avalanche of thoughts that tumble through one’s mind when you are left to ponder the extraordinary (yet criminally underrated) career of George Michael following his shocking death on Christmas Day at the age of 53. But for this writer, the date of January 30, 1989, remains a moment that underlines the sheer gift, curse and deeply complex appeal of the ultimate white rhythm and blues vocalist. It was at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium during the American Music Awards where Michael stepped on a debate-igniting, cultural land mine.

The former member of the monstrous pop duo Wham! was coming off the unfathomable commercial triumph of his critically-acclaimed solo debut Faith, which would go on to sell 25 million copies worldwide (10 million in the U.S. alone). Michael was now being viewed as a worthy addition to the ‘80s holy pop trinity of Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna. When you headline your own sold-out world tour (The 1988 Faith trek became the second-highest-grossing tour of that year, pulling in nearly $20 million), fire off six consecutive top five singles on the Billboard charts (fueled by the one-two punch of the No. 1 rockabilly-dipped-in-soul title track and the dark, controlling church-infused ballad “Father Figure”) and win Album of the Year at the Grammys, you can pretty much write your own check.

But before that coronation solidified his place as a legit music industry behemoth, Michael found himself at the center of a racial tsunami when he won two AMAs for Favorite Album (Soul/R&B) and Favorite Male Artist (Soul/R&B). This was the era of the “Crossover Negro,” especially in the recording biz, as the aforementioned King of Pop and The Purple One — alongside the likes of Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, and Lionel Richie — all took turns ruling the top of the charts. Teddy Riley was leading the multi-platinum New Jack Swing wave. And hip-hop’s golden age was just kicking off, forcing MTV to create Yo! MTV Raps just to keep up with the street-infused genre’s groundbreaking stars like N.W.A., Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa and De La Soul. Black culture was cool and was only going to get cooler in the next decade.

For many African-American followers, their first introduction to the East Finchley, London native was Wham!’s 1982 cheeky, disco-rap rave-up “Young Guns (Go For It).” Michael and his conspicuously silent partner Andrew Ridgeley were pushed as cutesy teen idols that indulged in the funk.

But while Wham!’s No. 1 commercial breakthrough, 1984’s overtly day-glow single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” made them global stars, it was a heaven-sent slow jam that forever gave Michael his ‘hood pass. At just 17 years old, the gifted singer/songwriter wrote and produced the mournful torch song “Careless Whisper,” a mammoth hit that not only reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but also became a top 10 hit on the U.S. Hot Black Singles, earning its place as a quiet storm staple on R&B radio. “I’m never going to dance again/Guilty feet have got no rhythm,” remains one of that era’s most heartbreaking lines ever recorded. This was a different cat.

To read full essay, go to: George Michael: Requiem for a Soul Man

R.I.P. Composer, Pianist and Jazz Crusader Joe Sample

Joe Sample at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011. His last solo album, “Children of the Sun,” is to be released this fall. (Credit: Jean-Christophe Bott/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Joe Sample, who became a jazz star in the 1960s as the pianist with the Jazz Crusaders and an even bigger star a decade later when he began playing electric keyboards and the group simplified its name to the Crusaders, died on Friday in Houston. He was 75.

The cause was mesothelioma, said his manager, Patrick Rains.

The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Mr. Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert Hooper (better known by the self-explanatory first name Stix) began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.

Mr. Sample met the trombonist Wayne Henderson at Texas Southern University and added him, the bassist Henry Wilson and the flutist Hubert Laws — who would soon achieve considerable fame on his own — to the group, which changed its name to the Modern Jazz Sextet.

The band worked in the Houston area for several years but did not have much success until Mr. Sample, Mr. Felder, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, the Jazz Messengers. Their first album, “Freedom Sound,” released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic audiences and critical praise.

In the early 1970s, as the audience for jazz declined, the band underwent yet another name change, this one signifying a change in musical direction. Augmenting their sound with electric guitar and electric bass, with Mr. Sample playing mostly electric keyboards, the Jazz Crusaders became the Crusaders. Their first album under that name, “Crusaders 1,” featuring four compositions by Mr. Sample, was released on the Blue Thumb label in 1972.

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Happy 74th Birthday, Music Legend Tina Turner

Tina TurnerAccording to Wikipedia.com, Anna Mae Bullock (born November 26, 1939), best known by her stage name Tina Turner, is a world-renowned singer, dancer, actress, and author, whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards.  Born and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, she is now a Swiss citizen.

Turner began her musical career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, first recording in 1958 under the name “Little Ann”.  Her introduction to the public as Tina Turner began in 1960 as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.   Success followed with a string of notable hits credited to the duo, including “River Deep – Mountain High” (1966), “Proud Mary” (1971) and “Nutbush City Limits” (1973), a song which she wrote. In her autobiography, I, Tina, she revealed several instances of severe domestic abuse against her by Ike Turner prior to their 1976 split and subsequent 1978 divorce.  Raised as a Baptist, she melded her faith with Buddhism in 1974, crediting the religion and its spiritual chant of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for helping her to endure during difficult times.

After her divorce from Ike Turner, she rebuilt her career through performances, though she initially struggled to make an impact on the music charts as a solo artist. In the early 1980s, she launched a comeback with another string of hits, starting in 1983 with the single “Let’s Stay Together” followed by the 1984 release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer which became a Grammy-winning, worldwide success. “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, the most successful single from the album, was later used as the title of a biographical film adapted from her autobiography, I, Tina.  In addition to her musical career, Turner has also experienced success in films, including a role in the 1975 rock musical Tommy and a starring role in the 1985 Mel Gibson blockbuster film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, as well as a cameo role in the 1993 film Last Action Hero.

One of the world’s most popular entertainers, she is sometimes called “the queen of rock.”  She has also been named “one of the greatest singers of all time” by Rolling Stone.  Her combined album and single sales total approximately 100 million copies worldwide.  She is noted for her energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, and career longevity.  In 2008, Turner returned from semi-retirement to embark on her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour. Turner’s tour became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008–2009.  In 1991, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This year, Turner married her longtime love Erwin Bach and has officially retired from touring.  To learn more about her life and music, click here.  In the meantime, here’s a video of a live performance of Tina’s iconic cover of “Proud Mary” from 2009, when she was 70 years young. Enjoy!

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Tina Turner Poses for Vogue Germany Cover, Singer’s First Time Gracing Glossy

tina turner vogue cover

The cover says it all: “Simply The Best!”  This April 2013 issue of Vogue marks Tina Turner’s first time gracing the iconic fashion magazine.  The legendary singer is seen rocking her signature honey blonde-highlighted hair, a silky navy blouse and what appears to be a black skirt for Vogue’s German edition, which was shot by Claudia Knoepfel and Stefan Indlekofer and styled by Nicola Knels.

Turner is 73 years old and looks like she just stepped on the stage at the “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1970 to perform “Proud Mary.”  Fashionista.com points out that the age-defying beauty might be the oldest Vogue cover star ever–snagging the title from Meryl Streep who covered American Vogue last year at the age of 62.  Either way, we’re just thrilled to see the Queen of Rock-n-Roll in all her glory. 

article by Julee Wilson via huffingtonpost.com

 

 

Rare Black Images From Ebony Magazine Finally Available To Public

Eartha Kitt (left); Dizzy Gillespie (Ebony Collection)

You’ve heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos have the ability to tell complex stories, convey important information and elicit emotional responses from viewers who may know nothing of the subject matter. One frame can change the world. Think of the iconic photographs that have come to symbolize a movement, a way of being or a slice of life.

Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima“; Moneta Sleet Jr.’s “Deep Sorrow,” featuring Coretta Scott King at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.; James Van Der Zee’s photo of black nationalist and pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey; Elizabeth “Tex” Williams’ war photographs; Art Kane’s “A Great Day in Harlem“; Gordon Parks’ “American Gothic“; Carrie Mae Weems’ “Kitchen Table Series“; and Jean Moutoussamy-Ashe’s photo book, Daddy and Me, featuring images of her late husband, tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe, with their daughter, Camera. 

Photos offer us a peek into unknown worlds and, in some cases, worlds we know all too well. Chronicling our lives and society, they capture history and the profound experiences of a complex world. The Johnson Publishing Co.’s Ebony Collection, now available to the public for the first time, does just that. This historic photo archive offers 2,000 photos taken over the last 70 years, documenting the rich and layered black experience in the United States.

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GBN Quote Of The Day

“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go–purge yourself. I did that. I had nothing, but I had my freedom… [W]hatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

— Tina Turner, Pop, Rock and R&B singing legend