Sunday, August 30, 2015

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

Hailee Steinfeld first came on the radar as an actress with her moving performance in the Coen brothers remake of "True Grit" that earned the then thirteen year old an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2010. She introduced her singing voice this summer in the hit sequel to "Pitch Perfect" which lead to Steinfeld signing a record deal with Republic Records. Her debut single, "Love Myself" is now out and it's pop perfection.

"Love Myself" - Hailee Steinfeld (2015) mp3









This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of "Jagged Little Pill", Alanis Morissette's emotionally raw, alt-rock album that connected with millions of listeners. She first found fame as a teen dance-pop singer in her native Canada with her self-titled debut album before being dropped by her label after a disastrous second. At a crossroads, Morissette picked up and moved to Toronto to start over. A chance introduction to songwriter/producer, Glen Ballard lead to them working together and shifting her musical direction. Only one label, Madonna's Maverick Records, was interested in releasing the edgy finished product and the rest is history. "Pill" won four Grammy Awards including Album of The Year and has sold thirty-three million copies worldwide to date. These are my favorite tracks off the album:

"You Outta Know" - Alanis Morissette (1995) mp3

"Ironic" - Alanis Morissette (1995) mp3

"Hand In My Pocket" - Alanis Morissette (1995) mp3

After finding great success with their live televised musical productions of "The Sound of Music" and "Peter Pan", NBC is preparing their latest (and one that I'm really looking forward to), "The Wiz". An interesting cast has been assembled with David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man, Elijah Kelley (who was in the musical film version of "Hairspray") is the Scarecrow, Mary J. Blige plays Evillene, the Wicked Witch and Queen Latifah is The Wiz. And as for this show's Dorothy? A nationwide, open casting-call lead Shanice Williams, an eighteen-year old theater performer from New Jersey, to make her television debut. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the previous live telecasts, return to executive produce and it's set to air on December 3rd. In honor of the upcoming show, listen to Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, from the 1978 movie version, performing the classic, "Ease On Down The Road":

"Ease On Down The Road" - Diana Ross & Michael Jackson (1978) mp3

I was hoping Miss Ross might have made an appearance here, maybe as Glinda, the Good Witch?  I am thrilled that Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway show back in 1974, will appear as Aunt Em. Enjoy this music video of Mills performing "Home", the moving, closing number from the musical she re-recorded in 1989:

ABSENT FACES IN POP MUSIC

I had read a interesting article recently in the Los Angeles Times about the difficulties of a new generation of Black female singers being...