Monday, December 26, 2016

GEORGE MICHAEL (1963 - 2016)


The Christmas holiday took a very sad turn when it was announced that we lost another iconic artist. George Michael, the music superstar who first found fame as part of the pop act, Wham! in the '80's before finding even greater success after going solo, passed away suddenly on December 25th. Few details have been given to date but he was found at his home in Goring in Oxfordshire, England and had died of heart failure.

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London, he dreamed of being a singer since he was a child. While a teen, he worked as a DJ for school parties and clubs before meeting classmate, Andrew Ridgeley and together they were going to conquer the music world.

They put together an act called Wham! and recorded their first single, "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" in 1982. The song introduced a little bit of rap which was still a very American sound and relatively unfamiliar in pop music at the time. It didn't have much impact initially although it would find chart success later after Wham!'s follow-up single, "Young Guns (Go for It)" became a top-five hit on the UK pop chart. With the release of the debut album, "Fantastic" in 1983, the now-named, George Michael and Ridgely became one of the hottest pop acts in Britain. Then with their second album, "Make It Big" and the singles, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Careless Whisper", Wham! would become international superstars.

The duo would ride the massive wave of success with several hit singles, being part of Band-Aid to help with African famine with the charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas", performing at the concert Live Aid and becoming the first Western pop act to tour China in 1985. Not long after, Michael was ready to leave behind his teen idol image and pursue a more mature musical sound and announced the end of Wham! in 1986.

Michael's first album as a solo artist was "Faith" and released the following year. This became a major hit thanks to the title track, the controversial, "I Want Your Sex", "Father Figure", "Monkey", "Kissing a Fool" and "One More Try" in addition to a single, "I Knew You Were Waiting", a duet with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The record would go on to sell twenty-five million copies worldwide and win the Grammy Award for Album of The Year.

But this overwhelming popularity and fame put a lot of pressure on Michael. He tried to regain some control by not doing live performances nor having his image on album covers or music videos for his next album, "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" in 1990. While the album sold well, it didn't do nearly as well as "Faith" which created friction between Michael and his label, Sony. Each accused the other with failing to properly promote the record and a lawsuit followed.

After eventually settling the dispute, Michael returned to creating music and released the deeply personal, "Older" in 1994. The first single, "Jesus To a Child" was a loving tribute to Anselmo Feleppa who had recently passed away. That he had been his lover or that Michael was even gay was not publicly known at this time but the singer would come out in a big way a few years later after he was arrested for lewd behavior in a public restroom in Beverly Hills, CA.

Other legal problems would plaque Michael later as he had several issues regarding drugs and alcohol abuse. He also had health issues with him nearly dying in 2011 from a viral infection and suffering from a serious head injury after falling out of a moving car in 2013.

Michael only released five studio solo albums over his career but he went on to sell over one hundred million records. His last album released was "Symphonica" in 2014 which featured live performances from his extensive European tour that featured a full orchestra.

An amazing talent and generous spirit, George Michael will be greatly missed. Here a just a few of my favorite song from this unforgettable artist:









Friday, December 16, 2016

ANATOMY OF A SONG


I have occasionally read Marc Myers' articles in the Wall Street Journal regarding the history and background of some of the early pop songs in the rock & roll era. They are fascinatingly detailed and researched with one regular feature, Anatomy of a Song, covering how these songs came together from the composers, producers and recording artists involved. This has lead to a compilation of these articles in a book entitled,"Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B, and Pop". These memorable songs range from 1952 to 1991 and explores the evolution of popular music.

Some of the songs covered range from classic rock ("Light My Fire" by the Doors, "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks), punk rock ("(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes by Elvis Costello, "London Calling" by the Clash), Motown ("Please Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes, "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Four Tops), iconic artists ("Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley, "Street Fighting Man" by the Rolling Stones), Soul ("(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding, "Shout" by The Isley Brothers), pop ("Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups, "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper) and country ("Fist City" by Loretta Lynn, "Big City" by Merle Haggard). This would make the perfect gift for that music lover in your life. I have included a few of my favorite songs in the book for your listening pleasure:

"Oh Happy Day" - Edwin Hawkins Singers (1967) mp3

"Groovin'" - The Young Rascals (1967) mp3

"Magic Carpet Ride" - Steppenwolf (1968) mp3





"Deacon Blues" - Steely Dan (1978) mp3

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

QUEEN OF THE SOUNDTRACKS


2016 has been very good to the camera-shy Sia with her album, "This Is Acting" and the single, "Cheap Thrills" becoming major hits. But she has also been lending her talents to cinema throughout the year by providing some interesting songs for the soundtracks. She has either sang covers like "Unforgettable", the Nat "King" Cole classic for the animated sequel, "Finding Dory" or performed original material she co-wrote which were heard in films like the dark psychological horror flick, "The Neon Demon" and the documentary, "The Eagle Huntress". In addition to writing songs for film and television that others singers performed (like "Sledgehammer" which Rihanna delivered on for this summer's "Star Trek Beyond" as just one example) and making an appearance on "The Hamilton Mixtape", a pop music reworking of the songs from the smash Broadway musical "Hamilton" (and new number one album in the country), this seems to make Sia the unofficial "Queen of the Soundtracks". Enjoy a small sampling of some of the music this gifted and very busy artist has created:











Thursday, December 8, 2016

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


The number one song in America during this week in 1976 was "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)" by Rod Stewart. This tune from the raspy-voiced, English rocker spent a total of eight weeks at the top of the pop chart and ended up being the year-end number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

A high school drop-out, Stewart had wanted to be a footballer but fell in to music at first as a means to get free drinks and meet girls. He learned to play the harmonica and played with several rock bands touring around Europe. Then he discovered Sam Cooke and soul music and eagerly moved in that direction. He formed an r&b group called the Dimensions in 1963 and performed as a harmonica player and vocalist. He soon left, joining a few other soul bands before venturing out on his own without much success. Then he met Jeff Beck who invited him to join his new band, as a singer and songwriter, after leaving the Yardbirds.

A successful tour in America brought the Jeff Beck Group critical acclaim and attention to Stewart. Stewart was still trying to jump start his solo career but nothing would click. He met guitarist Ronnie Wood and they became fast friends which eventually lead to them forming the blues-rock outfit, Faces. During this time, Stewart's solo career finally took off when he had his first hit single, "Maggie May" in 1971.

Stewart wrote "Tonight" with the song basically about a man deciding it's time for him and his young lover to finally make love for the first time. Swedish actress, Britt Ekland, Stewart's then-girlfriend, provided the French cooing you hear near the end of the track.

Not surprisingly, some radio stations balked due to the suggestive nature of the song and would only play an edited version. That certainly didn't stop it's success with "Tonight's The Night" becoming Stewart's second number one in the U.S. and reaching the top-ten in several countries.

"Tonight's The Night" - Rod Stewart (1976) mp3

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS


Beyoncé's alt-r&b record, "Lemonade" leads the way with nine nominations at this year's Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. She faces some stiff competition for that prize from pop superstar, Justin Bieber's "Purpose", country singer, Sturgill Simpson and his "A Sailor's Guide to Earth", Canadian hip-hop artist, Drake with one of the most popular albums of the year, "Views" and the now eligible "25", the 2015 pop release from the British singer, Adele. Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake each received eight nominations while Chance the Rapper earned seven for his debut, "Coloring Book" which he only managed to receive due to a Grammy rule change as it was issued only as a music stream rather than on a CD or digital download. David Bowie, who we lost in January, earned four posthumous nominations for his final album, "Blackstar" and recent Nobel prize winner, Bob Dylan earned a nod for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

With a total of twenty previous wins, Beyoncé could possibly make history by surpassing Alison Krauss, who is the female artist with the most Grammy wins at twenty-seven. And with sixty-two career nominations, she now has become the most nominated female artist ever.

It's sad to say goodbye to LL Cool J, who has hosted the show for the last five years, but a new host has been named. James Corden of the "Late Late Show" fame will host this year's ceremony. The 59th Annual Grammy Awards will air Sunday, February 12th on CBS.

Here is a partial list of the 2016 Grammy nominations:

Album of the Year:

“25” — Adele
“Lemonade” — Beyoncé
“Purpose” — Justin Bieber
“Views” — Drake
“A Sailor's Guide to Earth” — Sturgill Simpson

Record of the Year:

"Hello" — Adele
"Formation" — Beyoncé
"7 Years" — Lukas Graham
"Work" — Rihanna featuring Drake
"Stressed Out" — Twenty One Pilots

Song of the Year:

"Formation" — Written by Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II (Beyoncé)
"Hello" — Written by Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin (Adele)
"I Took a Pill In Ibiza" — Written by Mike Posner (Mike Posner)
"Love Yourself" — Written by Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran (Justin Bieber)
"7 Years" — Written by Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp (Lukas Graham)

Best New Artist:

Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance the Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Best Pop Vocal Album:

“25” — Adele
“Purpose” — Justin Bieber
“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande
“Confident” — Demi Lovato
“This Is Acting” — Sia

Best Pop Solo Performance:

"Hello" — Adele
"Hold Up" — Beyoncé
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” — Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

“Closer” — The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna featuring Drake
“Cheap Thrills” — Sia Featuring Sean Paul
“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots
“Culcha Vulcha” — Snarky Puppy

Best Dance/Electronic Album:

“Skin” — Flume
“Electronica 1: The Time Machine” — Jean-Michel Jarre
“Epoch” — Tycho
“Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future” — Underworld
“Louie Vega Starring. . .XXVIII” — Louie Vega

Best Rock Album:

“California” — Blink-182
“Tell Me I'm Pretty” — Cage the Elephant
“Magma" — Gojira
"Death of a Bachelor” — Panic! at the Disco
“Weezer” — Weezer

Best Rock Performance:

“Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)” — Alabama Shakes
“Don't Hurt Yourself” — Beyoncé featuring Jack White
“Blackstar” — David Bowie
“The Sound of Silence (Live On "Conan")” — Disturbed
“Heathens” — Twenty One Pilots

Best Alternative Music Album:

“22, a Million” — Bon Iver
“Blackstar” — David Bowie
“The Hope Six Demolition Project” — PJ Harvey
“Post Pop Depression” — Iggy Pop
“A Moon Shaped Pool” — Radiohead

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

“Lemonade” — Beyoncé
“Ology” — Gallant
“We Are King” — King
“Malibu” — Anderson .Paak
“Anti” — Rihanna

Best R&B Album:

“In My Mind” — BJ the Chicago Kid
“Lalah Hathaway Live” — Lalah Hathaway
“Velvet Portraits” — Terrace Martin
“Healing Season" — Mint Condition
“Smoove Jones” — Mya

Best R&B Performance:

“Turnin' Me Up” — BJ the Chicago Kid
“Permission” — Ro James
“I Do” — Musiq Soulchild
“Needed Me” — Rihanna
“Cranes In the Sky” — Solange

Best Rap Album:

“Coloring Book” — Chance the Rapper
“And the Anonymous Nobody” — De La Soul
“Major Key” — DJ Khaled
“Views” — Drake
“Blank Face LP” — Schoolboy Q
“The Life of Pablo” — Kanye West

Best Rap Performance:

"No Problem" — Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
"Panda" — Desiigner
"Pop Style" — Drake Featuring the Throne
"All the Way Up" — Fat Joe & Remy Ma featuring French Montana & Infared
"That Part" — Schoolboy Q featuring Kanye West

Best Country Album:

“Big Day In a Small Town” — Brandy Clark
“Full Circle” — Loretta Lynn
“Hero” — Maren Morris
“A Sailor's Guide to Earth” — Sturgill Simpson
“Ripcord” — Keith Urban

Best Country Solo Performance:

"Love Can Go to Hell" — Brandy Clark
"Vice" — Miranda Lambert
"My Church" — Maren Morris
"Church Bells" — Carrie Underwood
"Blue Ain't Your Color" — Keith Urban

For the complete list of nominations, click below:

2016 Grammys

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NEW SOUNDS

STING


After first finding success as the driving force behind the ska-rock band, the Police in the mid-seventies and later enjoying an equally successful career as a solo artist, Sting decided he was done with the life of a pop star around 2003. He certainly did not give up creating music as he explored classical using the lute and wrote a Broadway musical, "The Last Ship" based on his own childhood experiences. Not that it's really all that surprising but the sixty-five year old Brit has just returned to the rock arena with "57th & 9th", the singer's twelfth studio album. The title refers to the intersection in New York where he passed each day on his way to the studio. Recorded over three months, a relatively short period of time for a music project, Sting states it helped him not overthink the music and brought a sense of urgency to the songs. The album blasts through with hard-driving guitars and covers a range of topics that are of high interest to the singer right now like climate change, politics, aging and his own mortality.

Listen to Sting's first single, "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" which manages to feel familiar and fresh at the same time:



EMELI SANDE


Emeli Sandé began her professional career in music as a successful, go-to pop songwriter and producer before she dropped her debut "Our Version of Events" in 2012. This record quickly elevated her to a whole new level with it becoming a worldwide smash, particularly in England where it spent ten non-consecutive weeks at number one and became the best-selling album of the year. Only in the U.S. did Sandé not become a major sensation although the single, "Next To Me", received some airplay and peaked in the top thirty on the pop charts. That may change as the twenty-nine year old British performer has just recently released her follow-up, "Long Live the Angels". This new record does not easily fit in to the current pop atmosphere, offering moody, introspective songs that are far more spare and stripped down. But it's still her soulful voice, filled with deep emotion and electrifying power, that makes this collection truly effective.

Check out the music video for the first release from the album, "Hurts":



TOVE LO



Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson had always loved music and began writing songs when she was a child in her native Sweden. As a teen, she performed with several rock and punk bands and while in music school in Stockholm developed a close friendship with Caroline Hjelt, who would later form the pop duo, Icona Pop. This soon led her to Los Angeles and the opportunity to work with Swedish producer Max Martin. Nilsson developed her skills as a songwriter and wrote for several pop acts including Icona Pop. She started self-releasing songs with her singing under her childhood nickname "Tove Lo" on-line and "Habits (Stay High)" began to receive some attention. With this new-found popularity, Tove Lo was signed to a recording contract, released an EP, then her debut album, "Queen of the Clouds" in 2014 which brought her international fame thanks to the songs "Habits" and "Talking Body". After having to take a forced break due to vocal-cord surgery, the now twenty-nine year old singer is finally back with "Lady Wood". The title comes from the singer's expression for an aroused female and these bold songs on the album reflect a 21st century young woman's raw and honest views on feminism, love and sexuality.

Take a look at the short film, "Fairy Dust", directed by Tim Erem, which in essence is a long-form music video and features the first five songs on "Lady Wood":

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SHARON JONES (1956 - 2016)


I was very sad to hear that Sharon Jones had lost her battle with pancreatic cancer and passed away on November 18th at the age of 60. This fiery vocal powerhouse lead the band, The Dap-Kings and together were responsible for keeping the spirit of good, old-fashioned soul music alive and well.

Born in Augusta, Georgia but raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jones did not start her music career in a traditional fashion. She sang frequently in church and performed the occasional show but she wasn't able to make a living as a singer. After spending the early part of her life as an armored car guard and a corrections officer at Rikers Island, Jones had a life-altering moment. She met musician Lee Fields in 1996 and invited her to provide background vocals on a track. However she impressed producers and musicians of the backing band, the Soul Providers, Gabriel Roth and Phillip Lehman so much, they had her sing lead on a song. And at the age of forty, Jones became a professional singer. She recorded several singles on Desco Records that were well received.

By 2000, Roth and Lehman decided to split up and Roth went on to form Daptone Records and a new band, the Dap-Kings with Jones as the lead vocalist. The following year, they released "Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings", a collection of retro soul and funk, which helped them gain significant attention and a cult following. Jones and the Dap-Kings would record seven studio albums with "Give The People What They Want" earning the band their first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album in 2014 and released a Christmas album last year.

Jones was the subject of the documentary, "Miss Sharon Jones!" by Oscar-winning film maker, Barbara Kopple. Originally the goal was to focus on her unlikely career but during filming she received a cancer diagnosis and the doc shifted on her struggle to beat the disease. By the time the film premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, Jones revealed that the cancer had returned and would have to go through chemotherapy again.

Take a look at the amazing Sharon Jones along with the Dap-Kings as they successfully made the world a much funkier place:





Friday, November 18, 2016

LEONARD COHEN (1934 - 2016)


Leonard Cohen, the enigmatic and influential poet, singer and songwriter, has passed away on November 7th at the age of eighty-two. The singer had been struggling with cancer over the last few years and just released his fourteenth album, "You Want It Darker" last month which focused on his mortality and inevitable death with his signature wit and sense of humor. While he was greatly admired as a performer, it was his gift as a songwriter that made the most indelible impression.

Born in Westmount, Quebec, an English-speaking section of Montreal, Cohen first became known as a poet while attending McGill University. He won the prestigious Chester MacNaghten Literary Competition and had his work published in magazines. Cohen's first book of poetry, "Let Us Compare Mythologies" was published in 1956 and wrote other books of poems and fiction throughout much of the '60's.

However, Cohen was not making much of a living as a writer and decided to turn to music after seeing Warhol superstar, Nico perform. His song, "Suzanne", originally created as a poem, became a hit for Judy Collins in 1966 and she would later record many of his other songs. Not a natural performer, Cohen eventually gained confidence which lead to him receiving the attention of Columbia Records who signed him to the label. His debut, "Songs of Leonard Cohen" was released in 1967 which included his version of "Suzanne" and became a cult favorite in the U.S. and Britain.

Cohen would go on to record several acclaimed and highly regarded albums, with many experimenting with a variety of sounds and musical genres but it was his live performances where he would make his biggest impact. He toured extensively, traveling all over the globe for many years but after his 1992 album, "The Future", Cohen took an extended period of time away from his career.

Cohen's music was used in several films in the 1990's like "Pump Up The Volume" and "Natural Born Killers" which introduced the artist to a younger audience. It would be almost ten years before he would make new music with "Ten New Songs", a collection co-written and produced with Sharon Robinson, Cohen's long-time collaborator and was well received.

After discovering his former manager had stolen nearly all of his life savings in 2005, Cohen had to resume his career in earnest and recorded new music, "Old Ideas" in 2012 and "Popular Problems" in 2014 and went back on the road to support them.

Cohen's songs have been covered by countless musicians with his best known, "Hallelujah" is said to have at least three hundred versions recorded. It was just recently performed by Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton during the opening number of the November 12th episode of "Saturday Night Live" the preceding week following both Cohen's death and Clinton's unexpected loss to Donald Trump in the Presidential Election.

Here is a small selection of some of the fine work from Leonard Cohen:





>br />




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

After her major breakthrough album, "Come Away With Me", a sultry collection of jazz-pop that went on to sell over twenty-six million copies and win five Grammy Awards including "Album of the Year" in 2002, Norah Jones wanted to keep her options open. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as just a jazz singer, she went on with her subsequent work to cover country, folk, blues and indie rock. Jones even gave acting a try with a lead role in the poorly received Wong Kar Wai film, "My Blueberry Nights".

With her sixth studio album, "Day Breaks", Jones has returned to her roots, so to speak, as she has slipped back towards the piano-driven sounds that first brought her fame. Recorded live and inspired by a wide range of jazz music, the singer co-wrote and produced the album. Her adventurous side is still evident as Jones includes some interesting covers from Neil Young and Duke Ellington. Take a look at the video for the first single, "Carry On":



Here are a few new tunes I've been digging:

"Sexual" - Neiked featuring Dyo (2016) mp3

"Keep It Moving" - Alex Newell (2016) mp3





If you want to get a party started right, I recommend you put on anything by The Whispers. This r&b group, formed in Los Angeles in 1964 and featured Marcus Hutson, Nicholas Caldwell, Leavell Degree and twins, Wallace "Scotty" and Walter Scott, scored some minor hits throughout the 1970's but had their biggest smash on the U.S. dance chart with "And The Beat Goes On" in 1980 which topped that chart as well as the soul chart. The Whispers used their classic soul vocals and merged them with a throbbing funky beat, a perfect remedy during the post-disco era for people who still wanted to dance. Enjoy two of their big hits:

"Keep On Loving Me" - The Whispers (1983) mp3

"Rock Steady" - The Whispers (1987) mp3

The Dixie Chicks had loved Beyoncé's country-flavored track "Daddy Issues" and covered it while on their reunion tour. So it was supposed to be a magical moment when the two decided to team up to perform the song during the 50th annual Country Music Awards. But the reaction to the performance brought out a lot of ugliness and thinly-veiled racism, making a big deal about her having no place on the show. I don't seem to recall this response when another pop act, Justin Timberlake sang on the show just last year. Anyway, in case you missed it, here is a clip of the Dixie Chicks and Queen Bey performing the song on the program and I think it's amazing:


Beyonce & Dixie Chicks - Daddy's Lessons (CMA... by sophanit-smart

Sunday, October 30, 2016

PETE BURNS (1959 - 2016)


I had been out of the country for the last couple of weeks and was saddened to learn on my return the passing of Pete Burns, the outrageous lead vocalist of the dance-pop group, Dead or Alive, at the age of fifty-seven from sudden cardiac arrest on October 23rd.

The appearance of the British singer had been heavily altered since the days of the group's worldwide smash, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" back in 1985. He began with a simple nose procedure before claiming to have had about three hundred cosmetic surgeries which gave him a more feminine look with over-sized lips and a sculpted face. There were several major complications and Burns wound up spending his life savings on many reconstructive surgeries, particularly on his lips.

Since he was a child, Burns always had a unique and theatrical nature. He dropped out of school at fourteen after being called to the headmaster's office for arriving with flaming red hair, no eyebrows and an earring.

Burns went on to work at a Liverpool record store and was not exactly a model employee as he gave customers a hard time if he didn't like their selections. During this period, he met some musicians and joined several early goth bands before forming what would become Dead or Alive in 1980. By the time of their 1984 debut album, "Sophisticated Boom Boom", the group had evolved in to a synthpop outfit. The first single, a cover of KC & the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)", became a minor success in Britain.

After their first hit, Dead or Alive had several other songs reach the charts throughout the rest of the '80's like "Lover Come Back To Me", "My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)", "Something In My House" and "Brand New Lover".

With the '90's and '00's, Dead or Alive had a sporadic musical output and what was released failed to find much of an audience. Burns later turned to reality television to make ends meet and appeared on the UK versions of "Celebrity Big Brother" and "Celebrity Wife Swap". He is survived by an ex-wife, Lynne Corlett and a husband, Michael Simpson.

To honor this dynamic musical personality, here are a few videos featuring my favorites songs that spotlighted Pete Burns and his time with Dead or Alive:





Sunday, October 9, 2016

A SEAT AT THE TABLE


It must be challenging for Solange Knowles to be seen as an artist in her own right due to the overwhelming shadow of her superstar older sister. But she continues to go down her own path, stressing there is no rivalry and has very different artistic and creative goals. This is evident in Solange's tenacious third studio album, "A Seat At The Table" which is released on her own label, Saint Records through a distribution deal with Sony.

While the record may share some sonic similarities with her sister's own alt-r&b album, "Lemonade", Solange pushes the boundaries of soul music even further with her introspective lyrics and experimental sounds. She explores the complicated and volatile issues facing African-Americans today through powerful songs expressing anger, indignation, insight and empowerment.

Also like her sister, Solange is using the music video to help further express her creative vision and has released two clips for the songs, "Don't Touch My Hair" and "Cranes in the Sky" that were directed by Knowles and her video director husband, Alan Ferguson.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


The song that was on top of the U. S. pop chart during this exact time back in 1966 was "Cherish" by The Association. This group's record label had felt that the song sounded too old-fashioned yet it managed to spent three weeks at number one and has remained a timeless classic.

"Cherish" represents a much simpler time in pop music when the airwaves were filled with tender songs of love and romance. The worst thing you would possibly hear would be about some boy cheating on his girl and breaking her heart. In these darker, troubling times we are living in, it wouldn't be so bad to have a little more love and kindness in our music to help soothe people.

This Los Angeles based band first hit the charts earlier in 1966 with "Along Comes Mary" which reached number seven. "Cherish" became The Association's first number one smash and first record to sell over a million copies. The group, that initially featured Terry Kirkman on percussion, Jules Alexander on lead guitar, Russ Giguere on rhythm guitar, Brian Cole on bass, Jim Yester on keyboards and Ted Bluechel, Jr. on drums, had two more major hits the following year with "Never My Love" and "Windy" which also made it to the top of the U.S. pop chart.

By the end of the decade, the hits began to dry up and by 1978, with difficulties booking gigs and getting a recording contract, The Association called it quits. Ted Bluechel, who owned The Association trademark and heavily in debt, leased out the group's name for a replacement band to perform on tour.

It didn't take long before the founding members, Kirkman, Alexander, Giguere, Bluechel and Yester along with later additions, Larry Ramos and Richard Thompson reunited The Association to perform on a '60's revival tour with The Turtles in 1984. The group continues to go out on the road to this day in a variety of 1960's package tours.

"Cherish" - The Association (1966) mp3

Thursday, September 29, 2016

HOT TRACKS


The Weeknd, who became one of the biggest pop acts of 2015, has just dropped a new track. "Starboy" is an unexpected collaboration with the French dance duo, Daft Punk and will be the title of his third album due in November. With a low throbbing electro-beat, the song is a dark examination at his struggles dealing with the overwhelming fame and success that came his way during that time. Be sure to check out his appearance on the season opener of "Saturday Night Live" on October 2nd where he will be the musical guest.

In the dramatic video for the track, it begins with the twenty-six year old Canadian killing off his former image before revealing that he has cut his trademark hair and struts around in a slick new style.





Fellow Canadian, Nelly Furtado had one of the hottest songs of  2006 when she teamed up with Timbaland and they produced a worldwide smash with "Promiscuous". She's been relatively quiet for a little while now but recently resurfaced earlier this year on a duet with Blood Orange for a song on his latest album. Then she dropped a tune "Behind Your Back" in July which she called an "appetizer" for her upcoming record.

Furtado has just released the official first single from "The Ride", her sixth studio album which is tentatively scheduled for early next year. Furtado says the beat-heavy ballad "Islands of Me" is about "narcissism, lust, isolation and altruism." and she premiered the song live during the New York Fashion Week kickoff party.

"Islands of Me" - Nelly Furtado (2016) mp3

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BEYONCE: THE FORMATION TOUR


The last time I went to a concert at Dodger Stadium was back in 2008 to see Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour. Due to the horrendous traffic to get in to the venue (which caused us to be late for the show), lousy sound system and the inability to see what was happening on stage, I swore I would never go back there to see a show.

Well, I have found myself returning to the scene of the crime to witness Beyoncé's Formation Tour on September 14th. Only the Queen Bey had the power to lure me back. Now I still think that a colossal baseball field makes it virtually impossible for a performer to connect with their audience but Beyoncé certainly tried to make it work. Using a towering, LED lighted vertical parallelogram that served as a stage prop as well as flashing images and projecting what was happening on stage upon it, this helped somewhat to draw us in to her glittering orbit.

After an army of female dancers strutted out on to the stage, Beyoncé ascended from below, kicking off the show with "Formation", the slinky first single off her critically acclaimed recent album, "Lemonade". The emphasis of the show was on those eclectic new songs and she covered most of them with highlights included the Jack Black penned, guitar-driven "Don't Hurt Yourself", the unrepentant electro-soul track, "Sorry" and the unexpected country-pop of "Daddy Issues".

But she certainly didn't forget her older material. While some of the songs were done in abbreviated forms, she performed full versions of her hits "Run The World (Girls)", "Me. Myself and I", "Drunk in Love" and  "Crazy in Love". Girl power was on full display as Beyoncé once again had an all-female band, background vocalists and dancers by her side on this tour.

During one interlude, which Bey changed from one revealing bodysuit in to another, the stage was awash in purple as Prince's version of "Purple Rain" played in honor of the late artist. 

Throughout the show, Beyoncé was determined to give you an incredible array of spellbinding effects that you couldn't believe was coming from her stage. That ranged from massive blasts of fire (which you could still feel the heat from as far away from the stage as I was) shooting in to the air, several firework displays shot in to the sky and on the actual stage and a powerful shower of colorful confetti that covered the entire arena.

Perhaps the most amazing moment in the show came near the end when the entire front of the stage was transformed in to a shallow pool of water with Beyoncé and her ladies splashing about during energetic performances of "Freedom", Destiny Child's, "Survivor" and "End of Time". I wonder if I was the only one concerned that if Bey dropped her mic during these numbers that we would be witnessing a high-profile electrocution.

By the time a drenched Beyoncé reached her final song of the night, "Halo" (and one of my favorites from the singer) alone on stage, she looked physically and emotionally drained yet quite content. She knew that she had given her all and left the audience, judging from their enthusiastic response, with a thrilling, magical and memorable evening.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A "PERFECT ILLUSION " FROM LADY GAGA


After briefly setting aside her pop music glory to pursue some acting and trip the light fantastic with the legendary Tony Bennett to record a collection of jazz standards, Lady Gaga is back to reclaim her crown. She has just dropped a new song "Perfect Illusion" and it's another surprise move from the glittering, over-the-top artist.

With writing and production assistance from Mark Ronson, Bloodpop and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Gaga has crafted a blistering raw dance-rock track instead of the usual slick pop extravaganza. She delivers a full-throated vocal assault on the song without the aid of any noticeable correction to sweeten her voice.

While I appreciate the low-key approach and change of pace from Gaga, I must admit to still being underwhelmed by "Perfect Illusion". The song is certainly catchy but I don't know if I would really pay much attention to it if it wasn't from the Lady. I know it will grow on me and makes me even more curious about her upcoming album. Check it out and judge for yourself:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CULTURE CLUB TOUR 2016


Culture Club, the British new wave soul group led by the flamboyant, gender-bending vocalist, Boy George, burst on to pop scene and ruled the charts beginning in 1982 before imploding due to in-fighting and George's growing drug addiction a few short years later. The group managed to kiss and make-up for the first time in 1998 and now all the original members (which include Roy Hay on piano and guitar, Mikey Craig on bass and Jon Moss on drums) are on their first major world tour together in fifteen years.

I caught one of their West Coast stops on August 27th at the Hollywood Bowl and the band's sound was greatly enhanced with backing by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra who also opened for the band. The last time I heard George live, during a Halloween event in West Hollywood last year, the singer sounded raspy and had difficulty hitting all the notes.

When the group came out performing "Church of The Poison Mind", the Boy, in the first of three costume changes, wearing a wildly colorful, over-sized hat with matching suit, was in fine voice with three amazing female vocalists helping to fill out the song. Their hits came in a steady stream with "I'll Tumble 4 Ya", "It's a Miracle", "Time ( Clock of The Heart)" and "Miss Me Blind". Culture Club even performed a couple of songs from Boy George's solo efforts with his versions of Bread's "Everything I Own" and "The Crying Game".

During one of the costume changes, there was a surprising and quite moving moment with a brief musical tribute to David Bowie. As images of the late singer from his Ziggy days flashed on video screens, the band performed "Life on Mars?" as an instrumental with backing from the L.A. Phil which sounded amazing.

The Boy was in good spirits, making jokes about our political race and announcing some of the famous faces in the crowd (which included Sting as he told a silly, semi-uncomfortable story about him) although he appeared to almost get in to some sort of scuffle with a person in the front row but quickly dismissed them. It seems the notoriously feisty singer has actually mellowed with time.

The show closed with a re-working of their minor 1984 hit, "The War Song" which George recalls the group receiving a lot of flak back then for the over-simplistic message but now quite proud of how timely the tune has become. Culture Club came back out by audience demand and performed an encore of their best-known song, "Karma Chameleon" and closing the evening with a hard rocking cover of T. Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)". It was a really fun trip back down Memory Lane with one of my favorite bands of the '80's.

Here is the music video for "It's a Miracle" which featured highlights of the group's career at that point:



And here is Culture Club performing live recently in Australia one of favorites songs, "Black Money", which George said during our show that he has no idea what it means. And he wrote the song:

Monday, August 29, 2016

ROCK HALL - THREE FOR ALL: HEART & JOAN JETT


I caught the Rock Hall - Three-For-All tour on August 23rd at it's L.A. stop at the Forum in Inglewood which features three legendary rock bands of the '70's, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Heart. Due to my late arrival, I didn't catch Cheap Trick (although I must admit I'm not really much of a fan) but two out of three ain't bad.

At fifty-seven, Jett is still in ass-kicking shape, decked out in a leather and sequins body-suit and combat boots, as she tore through a tight set of hard-driving rock & roll. With her long-time producer, Kenny Laguna playing on keyboards and percussion, she delivered the expected hits like "Bad Reputation" and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" along with her popular covers of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)" and Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover".

Jett was only just inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame just two years ago which is shameful because she's been an important, long-time crusader of the music. As a teen, she was a part of the first all-female rock group, The Runaways and takes us back with a performance of their biggest single, "Cherry Bomb".

Jett also went back to her starring role in the family drama, "Light of Day", where she played the sister of Michael J. Fox (!) who both play in a local bar band seeking fame. The singer performed the title track, written by Bruce Springsteen, as images from the 1987 film played on the large screen behind the band. I had forgotten that Gena Rowlands was in it playing their mother (!!). The best was saved for last as Jett and The Blackhearts closed out their set with the smash 1982 number one hit, "I Love Rock & Roll" where the audience sang along, loudly confirming that phrase.

Heart was also only recently added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and I hate to think that Ann and Nancy Wilson's gender played a role in the long delay but there were bands that are less influential and sold far fewer records that were quickly inducted in to the hall.

Anyway, on the road to promote their recently released record, "Beautiful Broken" which is made-up mostly of re-interpretations of music from their earlier albums, Heart blasted on to the stage with "Wild Child", a cut off their 1990 album, "Brigade". They followed that up with a string of some of their classic tunes, "Magic Man", "Even It Up", and "What About Love". Ann, whose gritty, soulful voice has lost none of it's power, surprised the audience by giving us a little James Brown and his "Get Up Offa That Thing" before launching in to a funky version of their song, "Straight On".

Taking center stage briefly, Nancy slowed things down by performing two ballads; Heart's number one smash from the '80's, "These Dreams" and one of the new tracks off the current album co-written by Ne-Yo, "Two".

The Wilson sisters have never made it a secret that Led Zeppelin were the inspiration that lead them to pursue music and Heart paid tribute to that iconic band during their encore by performing "Immigrant Song" and the song at the center of a recent lawsuit, "Stairway To Heaven". It was a perfect way to end a perfect evening of electrifying music.

If you missed the show, have a listen to the original recordings of some of my favorite tunes. It's not the same as hearing them performed live but it's the next best thing:

 "Bad Reputation" (1980) - Joan Jett mp3

"Crimson and Clover" (1981) - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts mp3

"Barracuda" (1977) - Heart mp3

"Straight On" (1978) - Heart mp3

Thursday, August 18, 2016

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Today's tune comes from Stevie Wonder who has reliably given us wonderful music throughout the years. "If You Really Love Me" is such an amazing song with it's unusual arrangement and vibrant vocals. America agreed as this single reached number eight on the pop chart and number four on the r&b chart.

This song came off of Wonder's 1970 album "Where I'm Coming From" which was written by the then twenty-year old singer and his new bride, Syreeta Wright, a songwriter, singer and former secretary at Motown. The album was released with much resistance from Berry Gordy who liked to have complete control over the content of his label's artists. However, Wonder wanted to be able to creatively express himself without interference to explore different musical ideas and write about social issues.

This caused some serious tension between Wonder and Motown. When he turned twenty-one, his recording contract had a clause which allowed Wonder to void it upon becoming legally an adult and refused to resign with the label. During this standoff, Wonder worked on his music independently before finally signing a new contract with Motown in 1972 which allowed him complete creative control and a higher royalty rate.

After all the drama, the singer's most successful and popular period began, leading to the albums, "Innervisions", "Fulfillingness' First Finale" (with each winning Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards) and "Talking Book" (which features the classic songs, "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" and "Superstition").

"If You Really Love Me" - Stevie Wonder (1971) mp3

Friday, August 12, 2016

TAKE TWO: TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY




Terence Trent D'Arby seemed to come out of nowhere and dropped, "Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby" which became a critical and commercial smash selling more than eight million copies worldwide before just as quickly falling off the radar. With his striking good looks, slick dance moves and musical gifts which had him also writing, producing and playing multiple instruments on the record, D'Arby appeared on his way to becoming a major act yet his follow-up work failed to generate much wide appeal.

It would seem obvious to compare him to Prince, who had just entered superstar status around this time, but D'Arby is a performer with a grittier edge, closer in style to James Brown than the Purple One. The album, celebrating it's thirtieth birthday next year, is frenzied collection of glossy soul that still holds up very well today.

He was born in New York and his family moved frequently around the country before settling in Florida. As a teen, he had some success as a lightweight boxer but decided to go to college. After dropping out of school, D'Arby joined the army but was dishonorably discharged for desertion while stationed near Frankfurt, West Germany. He decided to stay in Europe and joined a band called The Touch and recorded an album in 1984.

D'Arby soon traveled to London and based on the strength of his demos, he was signed to Columbia Records. His debut album was released in 1987 and became an instant number one hit in the UK with the first single, "If You Let Me Stay" reaching number seven on the pop chart there. His home country was slower to pick up on the artist, with the first single not even cracking the top forty, but the next single, "Wishing Well" would hit number one on the U.S. pop and r&b charts.  With additional singles, "Dance Little Sister" and "Sign Your Name" reaching the charts, D'Arby had one of the biggest albums of the year.

However during this time of his new found fame, D'Arby's behavior became erratic and difficult. Long before Kanye West made arrogance an art form,  he boldly announced that "Hardline" "was the most important album since the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper". The relationship between the singer with his record label and management team also became seriously strained by his antics. His next three albums, which were far less commercial in sound than his first, did not impress the buying public or critics and by 2000, he left behind his record company and the name "Terence Trent D'Arby".

He legally changed his name to "Sananda Maitreya" in 2001, moved to Milan, Italy and started his own independent record label, Treehouse Pub. His music moved in a far more striped-down, esoteric direction with elements of rock, funk and experimental sounds. Maitreya's latest studio album, "The Rise Of The Zugebrian Time Lords" was released last year.

Have a listen to two of my favorite songs by the artist formerly known as "Terence Trent D'Arby":

"Dance Little Sister" - Terence Trent D'Arby (1987) mp3

"Let's Go Forward" - Terence Trent D'Arby (1987) mp3

If you are unfamiliar with the former Mr. D'Arby, then you probably should have a visual introduction as well. Here is a bonus of the video for one of his biggest hits, "Wishing Well":

Sunday, July 24, 2016

MISS SHARON JONES!


For over twenty years with the funky, horn-driven back-up band, The Dap-Kings by her side, Sharon Jones has been a driving force at keeping the spirit of good old-fashioned soul music alive and well.

Back in 2013, Jones was in the process of releasing another record and going out on tour to promote it when the singer was diagnosed with cancer. After postponing the album, she had surgery on her liver and underwent chemotherapy. In "Miss Sharon Jones!", Oscar-winning film maker, Barbara Kopple examines her struggle to recover from the disease while Jones' long-time band mates, who are all very close and supportive, have growing concerns about money and the future of their careers since they are far from household names. As pressure mounts and the situation looks very bleak at times, Jones' deep faith and infectious optimism keeps her steady on a positive path.

The documentary made it's premiere at last year's Toronto Film Festival where it was rapturously received. "Miss Sharon Jones!" will open in New York on July 29th before hitting the rest of the country throughout August. Be sure to check this out.



And that postponed album, "Give the People What They Want" was released a year after her recovery with Jones and the band making it back on the road. The record received plenty of critical acclaim and would earn the band their very first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. Now, it you are unfamiliar with Miss Jones and the Dap-Kings, here's a little sampler of exactly what they do:





Saturday, July 16, 2016

HOT TRACKS


First up, we have Britney Spears who has just dropped a new song, "Make Me" which is the first release from her upcoming ninth studio album. With an obligatory guest appearance by a rapper (here we have G-Easy), this beat-heavy, sexy ballad has Spears cooing seductively about having her man make her do whatever he'd like. I think this just might be the hit that will bring her back to the top of the charts.




With the 2016 Rio Olympics just a few weeks away, it's time to hear an inspirational anthem to help get everyone pumped up for the event. Katy Perry has been assigned that job and "Rise" is the song. This Max Martin produced ballad is intended to lift up and inspire and does so with Perry's robust vocals and lyrics with an encouraging positive message. The music video drives it all home with powerful images from past Olympics.




Finally, we have Tinashe with "Superlove", an '90's inspired, throw-back jam. The track is a part of "Joyride", her highly anticipated follow-up to her 2014 studio debut, "Aquarius" that featured the million-selling smash, "2 On". This hypnotic song, produced by The Dream and Tricky Stewart, may feature a familiar vibe that will certainly remind you of the great Aaliyah yet Tinashe manages to make "Superlove" stand out as a modern classic.

"Superlove" - Tinashe (2016) mp3

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

NEW SOUNDS

MAXWELL



It's quite clear that Maxwell likes to take his time, After an eight-year gap between his 2001 release "Now" and 2009's "BLACKsummers'night", the neo-soul vocalist has finally returned with a follow-up. This sequel, "blackSUMMERS'night" arrives seven years later and is certainly worth the wait. With his reliably smooth voice,  Maxwell delivers more lovely ballads and inspirational songs on love and relationships. Despite the still quite striking forty-three year old artist calling this new collection "progressive soul" which is a merging of gospel, disco, rock and a touch of psychedelic pop, the album doesn't offer any real surprises or major shifts in sound, just his sensual, old-school, funk-driven vibe that made him a major player back in the '90's.

The first single, "Lake By The Ocean" has been riding high on top of the adult r&b chart and I'm sure there will be more to come.



BLOOD ORANGE


Dev Hynes, or as he's better known, Blood Orange, has been devoting much of his time of late working on music for several pop artists. Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira, FKA Twigs, Florence and the Machine, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kylie Minogue are just a few of the artists that have benefited from the dynamic writing and producing talent of this thirty-year-old Brit. Now, he's ready to focus on himself with a third Blood Orange CD, "Freetown Sound". Far removed from the lightweight fizz of hit-making pop, this record explores the racial, sexual and political tensions happening in the world today. Adding to the quirky rhythms and hook-less tunes are a collection of eclectic guest performers ranging from the expected (Jepsen and Debbie Harry) and the unexpected (author, Ta-Nehisi Coates and slam poet, Ashlee Haze).

I love that a track now on this record, "Hadron Collider" (that features a long-absent, Nelly Furtado) was first released only as a promotional cassette tape last December and sold during his shows at the Apollo Theater. Have a listen:

"Hadron Collider" - Blood Orange & Nelly Furtado (2016) mp3

Fergie is once again back with some new music. Much like what happen with Gwen Stefani, Fergie dropped a song, "L.A. Love (La La)" way back in 2014 after a long absence from the scene but nobody was feeling much love for the tune.

After regrouping, the forty-one-year-old singer is giving it another try with a sexy little ditty called "M.I.L.F.$" (pronounced "MILF Money"). If you don't know what a M.I.L.F. is, well, let's just say it means someone that would enjoy an intimate encounter with a mature woman with children. To be perfectly honest, I'm not really feeling this song but I do love the music video. The colorful, hyper-sexual clip, directed by Colin Tilley, is littered with hot fashion models like Alessandra Ambrósio, Chrissy Teigen, Amber Valletta, Devon Aoki, Angela Lindvall as well musician, Ciara and the notorious, Kim Kardashian who all happen to be mothers. And model, Jon Kortajarena plays the milkman lusting after all these women. You must check this out:



Finally, here is that infamous video by Kanye West for his latest single, "Famous". Inspired by the painting, "Sleep" by Vincent Desiderio, the clip features notable figures like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bill Cosby, Taylor Swift, Rihanna (who provides vocals on the track), West, former girlfriend, Amber Rose and his wife, Kim Kardashian, all sleeping nude in a bed together (with the help of synthetic look-alike bodies). Personally I think all the outrage and shock about this video is much ado about nothing but take a look and see for yourself.  BE WARNED: NUDITY MAKES THIS NSFW:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


This week's number one flashback goes back forty years with "Silly Love Songs" by Wings. This group was formed shortly after Paul McCartney left one of the world's most famous rock bands, the Beatles in 1971. The original Wings line-up included Denny Laine on guitar and bass, Denny Seiwell on drums and McCartney's wife, Linda on keyboards. Over the years, musicians would come and go and at the time of their fifth studio album, "Wings At The Speed of Sound", the band featured the McCartneys, Laine, Jimmy McCullouch on guitar and Joe English on drums.

This classic came about after McCartney, who had been accused for years about writing nothing but songs about love, wanted to give a witty and direct response to critics about his music. Sir Paul certainly had the last laugh with "Silly Love Songs" as it has remained one of the singer's most enduring and popular tunes.

"Silly Love Songs" became the band's fourth U.S. number one single and a year after their sixth and final chart-topper in 1980, "Coming Up", Paul McCartney and Wings parted ways after the former Beatle had re-teamed with producer George Martin to work on a new record and mutually decided to use other musicians.

As a treat, take a look at the original music video for the song. It's the perfect time capsule of the wild, chaotic and seemingly a lot of fun life on the road for Paul, Linda and the band:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

RICK ASTLEY AT "50"


Rick Astley, who many Americans will remember for his infectious '80's dance-pop classic "Never Gonna Give You Up", has just returned to the top of the UK pop charts with his latest album. It has been twenty-nine years since the still boyish-looking British singer last hit that mark with his debut "Whenever You Need Somebody" back in 1987.  He had retired from music in 1993 but came back in 2002 and later became an viral Internet sensation when his hit song became a meme called "rickrolling".

Taking it's title from Astley reaching this birthday milestone last February, "50" delivers more of the soulful pop songs he's been doing long before Adele was even in diapers. The singer's eighth studio album will not hit stateside until October and there's word he plans to tour the country which he hasn't done in many years. In the meantime, take a look at the video for the gospel-flavored pop single, "Angels On My Side":

Sunday, June 19, 2016

IN LOVING TRIBUTE TO ORLANDO


It has been a week later and the world is trying to recover from the devastating tragedy that occurred in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub. The senseless loss of forty-nine innocent and beautiful lives is still very hard to comprehend. As a way to heal and to help with the difficult times ahead for the survivors and the families of the victims, a few musical artists have made creative contributions to assist in the best way they can.

Christina Aguilera has released a moving ballad called "Change" She will be donating 100% of the song’s proceeds for the next three months to the National Compassion Fund to directly benefit the Orlando shooting victims and their families. You can purchase the song right now through Apple Music.



Out singer/songwriter, Melissa Etheridge has written a powerful song dedicated to the victims of this terror attack. Using the name of the gay club for inspiration, "Pulse" deals with coping with pain and loss while reinforcing the never-ending power of love. When the single is officially released, proceeds will be going to a LGBT charity.

"Pulse" - Melissa Etheridge (2016) mp3

UPDATE: I have to include the recently released, wonderful single of the Hal David/Burt Bacharach song "What The World Needs Now is Love" sung by Broadway For Orlando. This collective of performers of the New York stage, past and present, came together on June 15th to record this classic with 100% of proceeds going to the LGBT Center of Central Florida. It is available now for download through BroadwayRecords.com and iTunes, Take a look at the video of the recording that features plenty of faces you will recognize

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston . It's been five years since her passing...