Monday, December 25, 2017


One more artist has released a new Christmas album this holiday season and that is Motown legend, Smokey Robinson. His very first solo Christmas record is called "Christmas Everyday" and it's released exclusively through Amazon. This ten-song collection is filled with the seventy-seven year old singer's favorite Christmas classics including “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "This Christmas" and “Please Come Home For Christmas” which was one of his mother's favorite holiday songs. The title track is a re-recording of a song Robinson performed with The Miracles back in 1963. Enjoy this new version and have a very Merry Christmas:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The latest roster of musicians inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2018 was announced and there are five new members. Bon Jovi, those other rockers from New Jersey, new-wave rock group, The Cars, British rock band, Dire Straits, the English art-rock outfit, The Moody Blues and the late vocalist, Nina Simone. After announcing the seventeen nominees in October, these artists were voted on by the organization (consisting of critics, record executives and other music insiders) and by music fans who weighed in their votes with them getting one single vote to the overall total for the top-five finalists. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the gospel artist who played the electric guitar, will be acknowledged as an Early Influences this year.

The induction dinner and ceremony will be held in April in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will be filmed by HBO and shown on the network at a later date.


Formed in 1983 and named after lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, this classic rock hair band found worldwide fame with their third album, "Slippery When Wet" in 1986 and features some of their best known songs, "Wanted Dead or Alive", "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer". Bon Jovi has sold over 130 million records and performed in over fifty countries during their career.


The Cars first came on the scene in the late 1970's merging punk and new-wave to create their own unique sound. Their self-titled debut in 1978 was an immediate hit with the singles, "Just What I Needed", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Good Times Roll" and "You're All I've Got Tonight" reaching the pop charts. Guitarist, Ric Ocasek wrote most of the band's material and shared vocal duties with bass guitar player, Benjamin Orr (who passed away in 2000) and the Cars would enjoy plenty of other hits throughout the '80's before disbanding in 1988. In 2011, the surviving members of the band reunited, recorded an album, "Move To This" and went on tour.


Brothers Mark and David Knopfler along with friends John Illsley and Pick Withers formed Dire Straits in London in 1977. Influenced by jazz, folk and blues, the band found success right away with the 1978 single, "Sultans of Swing" which reached the top-ten in the U.S. and Britain but had their biggest hit in 1985 with their fifth album, "Brothers In Arms".  This record reached number one internationally, winning two Grammy Awards and selling over thirty million copies thanks to the popular songs, "Walk of Life" and "Money For Nothing".


Although this band from Birmingham, England first came to prominence as a r&b based outfit in the mid '60's,  the Moody Blues has become best known as an esoteric rock band. Adding a rich, symphonic sound to their high-concept rock albums, this influential group found worldwide success with their music and managed to hit the pop charts with the songs, "Go Now", "Your Wildest Dreams", "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)" and "Nights in White Satin". The Moody Blues have sold seventy million records throughout their fifty year career.


This legendary vocalist first wanted to become a concert pianist but after being denied entry at a prestigious school due to her race, Eunice Waymon changed her name to "Nina Simone" (so to not to disgrace her family) and began her career as a singer. Using a mixture of the blues, jazz, soul, pop and classical music to express herself, Simone became a renowned live performer and recording artist. She wrote much of her music, particularly during the civil rights movement like "Mississippi Goddam", "Four Women" and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black". But Simone was also a unique interpreter of songs, reworking musical standards and making them all her own. Some of her most popular are "I Loves You, Porgy", "Wild Is The Wind", "My Baby Just Cares for Me" and "Feeling Good".


It is said that Rosetta Nubin was only four years old when she began singing and playing guitar as part of her family's traveling evangelical troupe. By the time she was nineteen, she had ended her first marriage but took a variation of her former husband's surname to become professionally known as "Sister Rosetta Tharpe" and was a popular act throughout the 1930's and '40's performing for both spiritual and secular audiences. She is referred to as "The Godmother of rock and roll" as she was one of the first to use a distorted electric guitar in her pop-gospel music and inspired many future early rock musicians. Later in the '60's, Tharpe toured Europe and would help influence the British blues movement there.

Friday, December 15, 2017


It seems to be that you if you are a professional musician with any significant popularity, your career is not complete without a Christmas album. So here are three of the latest who have added to the endless glut of music for the holidays:


The one pop singer I thought would be the absolutely last to ever record a Christmas album would be Sia. Yet, here it is but "Everyday Is Christmas" is hardly a conventional holiday offering. First, the entire album features all original songs co-written and produced with her longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin. And the songs are not what would be anywhere near traditional yet they are fun, quirky and sometimes moving holiday-themed pop songs. Here is the lyric video for the single, "Santa's Coming For Us" which features a few familiar faces:


With her album, "Christmas After Midnight", Fantasia has made a record for grown-folks during the holidays. This collection features some of the r&b vocalist's favorite Christmas songs and done is her very distinctive style. Some of the highlights include "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)", a moving version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and a duet with CeeLo Green on their take of "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Have a listen to her sassy cover of James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto":


For her first holiday album, "You Make It Feel Like Christmas", Gwen Stefani has six original songs on her collection which she also has co-written. The title track is a duet with her country musician beau, Blake Shelton and just like their relationship, the song merges their respective musical genres. The rest of the album features her versions of familiar Christmas classics including "Santa Baby"," White Christmas" and WHAM'!s "Last Christmas". Enjoy the lyric video of Gwen and Blake's Christmas duet:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017



Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston. It's been five years since her passing and I still haven't recovered from this tragic loss. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the singer's acting debut in the box office smash "The Bodyguard" with the soundtrack album managing to become an even bigger success. This album (which largely features Houston but also contributions from Joe Cocker, Lisa Stansfield and Kenny G) took home three Grammy Awards including Album of The Year and with worldwide sales totaling over forty-five million copies has become the best selling soundtrack album of all time.

In honor of the film and Ms Houston, we have the release of "I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard". This collection features all six of her original recordings from the album; "I Will Always Love You" "I Have Nothing" "I'm Every Woman" "Run to You", "Queen of the Night" and "Jesus Loves Me" and includes remixes, alternative versions and live performances of these songs. This would make the perfect gift for any fan of the movie or the incomparable Whitney Houston. Enjoy this live version of "I'm Every Woman" from her The Bodyguard Tour:


The passing of Sharon Jones last year was not only just a tragic blow to music but also to the vibrant legacy of classic soul. Jones may have started her journey in music late in life but she made up for it by creating, along with her dynamic backing band, The Dap-Kings, earth-quaking, soul-shaking r&b consistently throughout her career. Fortunately, we have been given one more opportunity to enjoy what the singer did best with the release of "Soul of a Woman". Recorded while undergoing treatment for cancer last year, Jones delivers passion and fire in to each track, never displaying for one moment any sign she was not up to the task. While it may seem like a time to be somber as you listen to this final album, Ms Jones and the Dap-Kings remind us that it's all about the celebration of soul music and the powerful joy and thrill that comes from it. Here is the video for the first single, "Matter of Time":

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


On the sixtieth year of honoring the best in all genres of music, the Grammy Awards seems to have finally presented a list of nominations that comes closest to representing the music that many people are actually listening to. Hip-hop, rap and alt-r&b, which has been the driving force in popular music for at least the last ten years, has actually made a significant and long overdue dent in the major categories. Jay Z leads with the most nominations with eight for "4:44". the rap artist's response to his wife,  Beyoncé's album of pain, betrayal and infidelity, "Lemonade", including Album of The Year. Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed, "DAMN." follows with seven while Bruno Mars received six nominations for his tasty slice of classic soul, "24K Magic" with both also vying for the best album of 2017. Lorde's long-awaited follow-up album, "Melodrama" and Childish Gambino, otherwise known as actor, Donald Glover, and his collection of psychedelic funk, "Awaken, My Love" (which received five nominations) round out the Album of The Year category. Two young performers, Khalid and SZA, who both represent thrilling new directions for r&b music, each received five nominations and competing against each other for Best New Artist along with Alessia Cara, Julia Michaels and Lil Uzi Vert.

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards will be televised live on January 28, 2018 at New York City's Madison Square Garden. This is the first time the ceremony has been held in the Big Apple in fifteen years and James Corden will once again serve as host.

Here is a partial list of the nominations for the 60th annual Grammy Awards. For the complete list of nominees, please click below:

Album of the Year:

Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino
"4:44" — Jay-Z
"DAMN." — Kendrick Lamar
"Melodrama" — Lorde
"24K Magic" — Bruno Mars

Record of the Year:

"Redbone" — Childish Gambino
"Despacito" — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
"The Story Of O.J." — Jay-Z
"HUMBLE." — Kendrick Lamar
"24K Magic" — Bruno Mars

Song of the Year:

"Despacito"— Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
"4:44" — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
"Issues" — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
"1-800-273-8255" — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
"That’s What I Like" — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist:

Alessia Cara
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels

Best Pop Solo Performance:

"Love So Soft" — Kelly Clarkson
"Praying" — Kesha
"Million Reasons" — Lady Gaga
"What About Us" — P!nk
"Shape Of You" — Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

"Something Just Like This" — The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
"Despacito" — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
"Thunder" — Imagine Dragons
"Feel It Still" — Portugal. The Man
"Stay" — Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:

"Nobody But Me" (Deluxe Version) — Michael Bublé
"Triplicate" — Bob Dylan
"In Full Swing" — Seth MacFarlane
"Wonderland" — Sarah McLachlan
"Tony Bennett Celebrates 90" —  Various Artists

Best Pop Vocal Album:

"Kaleidoscope" EP — Coldplay
"Lust For Life" — Lana Del Rey
"Evolve" — Imagine Dragons
"Rainbow" — Kesha
"Joanne" — Lady Gaga

Best Dance Recording:

"Bambro Koyo Ganda" — Bonobo Featuring Innov Gnawa
"Cola" — Camelphat & Elderbrook
"Andromeda"— Gorillaz Featuring DRAM
"Tonite" — LCD Soundsystem
"Line Of Sight" — Odesza Featuring WYNNE & Mansionair

Best Dance/Electronic Album:

"Migration" — Bonobo
"3-D The Catalogue" — Kraftwerk
"Mura Masa" — Mura Masa
"A Moment Apart" — Odesza
"What Now" — Sylvan Esso

Best Rock Performance:

"You Want It Darker" — Leonard Cohen
"The Promise" — Chris Cornell
"Run" — Foo Fighters
"No Good" — Kaleo
"Go To War" — Nothing More

Best Rock Song:

"Atlas, Rise!" — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
"Blood In The Cut" — JT Daly & Kristine Flaherty, songwriters (K.Flay)
Go To War” — Ben Anderson, Jonny Hawkins, Will Hoffman, Daniel Oliver, David Pramik & Mark Vollelunga, songwriters (Nothing More)
"Run" — Foo Fighters, songwriters (Foo Fighters)
"The Stage" — Zachary Baker, Brian Haner, Matthew Sanders, Jonathan Seward & Brooks Wackerman, songwriters (Avenged Sevenfold)

Best Rock Album:

"Emperor Of Sand" — Mastodon
"Hardwired…To Self-Destruct" — Metallica
"The Stories We Tell Ourselves" — Nothing More
"Villains" — Queens Of The Stone Age
"A Deeper Understanding" — The War On Drugs

Best Alternative Music Album:

"Everything Now" — Arcade Fire
"Humanz" — Gorillaz
"American Dream" — LCD Soundsystem
"Pure Comedy" — Father John Misty
"Sleep Well Beast" — The National

Best R&B Performance:

"Get You" — Daniel Caesar Featuring Kali Uchis
"Distraction" — Kehlani
"High" — Ledisi
"That’s What I Like" — Bruno Mars
"The Weekend" — SZA

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

"Laugh And Move On" — The Baylor Project
"Redbone" — Childish Gambino
"What I’m Feelin'" — Anthony Hamilton Featuring The Hamiltones|
"All The Way" — Ledisi
"Still" — Mali Music

Best R&B Song:

"First Began" — PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton)
"Location" — Alfredo Gonzalez, Olatunji Ige, Samuel David Jiminez, Christopher McClenney, Khalid Robinson & Joshua Scruggs, songwriters (Khalid)
"Redbone" — Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson, songwriters (Childish Gambino)
"Supermodel" — Tyran Donaldson, Terrence Henderson, Greg Landfair Jr., Solana Rowe & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (SZA)
"That’s What I Like" — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

"Free 6LACK" — 6LACK
"Awaken, My Love!" — Childish Gambino
"American Teen" — Khalid
"Ctrl" — SZA
"Starboy" — The Weeknd

Best R&B Album:

"Freudian" — Daniel Caesar
"Let Love Rule" — Ledisi
"24K Magic" — Bruno Mars
"Gumbo" — PJ Morton
"Feel The Real" –Musiq Soulchild

Best Rap Performance:

"Bounce Back" — Big Sean
"Bodak Yellow" — Cardi B
"4:44" — Jay-Z
"HUMBLE." — Kendrick Lamar
"Bad And Boujee" — Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert

Best Rap/Sung Performance:

"Crew" — Goldlink Featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
"Family Feud" — Jay-Z Featuring Beyoncé
"LOYALTY." — Kendrick Lamar Featuring Rihanna
"Love Galore" — SZA Featuring Travis Scott

Best Rap Song:

"Bodak Yellow" — Dieuson Octave, Klenord Raphael, Shaftizm, Jordan Thorpe, Washpoppin & J White, songwriters (Cardi B)
"Chase Me" — Judah Bauer, Brian Burton, Hector Delgado, Jaime Meline, Antwan Patton, Michael Render, Russell Simins & Jon Spencer, songwriters (Danger Mouse Featuring Run The Jewels & Big Boi)
"HUMBLE." — Duckworth, Asheton Hogan & M. Williams II, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
"Sassy" — Gabouer & M. Evans, songwriters (Rapsody)
"The Story Of O.J." — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)

Best Rap Album:

"4:44" — Jay-Z
"DAMN." — Kendrick Lamar
"Culture" — Migos
"Laila’s Wisdom" — Rapsody
"Flower Boy" — Tyler, The Creator

Best Country Solo Performance:

"Body Like A Back Road" — Sam Hunt
"Losing You" –Alison Krauss
"Tin Man" — Miranda Lambert
"I Could Use A Love Song" — Maren Morris
"Either Way" — Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:

"It Ain’t My Fault" — Brothers Osborne
"My Old Man" — Zac Brown Band
"You Look Good" — Lady Antebellum
"Better Man" — Little Big Town
"Drinkin’ Problem" — Midland

Best Country Song:

"Better Man" — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)
"Body Like A Back Road" — Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Sam Hunt)
"Broken Halos" — Mike Henderson & Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)
"Drinkin’ Problem" — Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Mark Wystrach, songwriters (Midland)
"Tin Man" — Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Album:

"Cosmic Hallelujah" — Kenny Chesney
"Heart Break" — Lady Antebellum
"The Breaker" — Little Big Town
"Life Changes" — Thomas Rhett
"From A Room: Volume 1" — Chris Stapleton

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media:

"Baby Driver" — (Various Artists)
"Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2" — (Various Artists)
"Hidden Figures: The Album" — (Various Artists)
"La La Land" — (Various Artists)
"Moana: The Songs" — (Various Artists)

Best Song Written For Visual Media:

"City Of Stars" — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
"How Far I’ll Go" — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho)
"I Don’t Wanna Live Forever ("Fifty Shades Darker")" — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
"Never Give Up" — Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
"Stand Up For Something" — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day Featuring Common)

Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical):

Calvin Harris
Greg Kurstin
Blake Mills
No I.D.
The Stereotypes

Best Music Video:

"Up All Night" — Beck
"Makeba" — Jain
"The Story Of O.J." — Jay-Z
"HUMBLE." — Kendrick Lamar
"1-800-273-8255" — Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

DAVID CASSIDY (1950 - 2017)

David Cassidy, the popular teen heartthrob who found fame in television and music throughout the 1970's, passed away on November 21st due to complications from dementia. Playing Keith Partridge for four seasons on the musical-comedy series, "The Partridge Family" along with his step-mother at the time, Shirley Jones (who played his mother on the show), Cassidy was able to take the music from this fictional music family and turn it in to real-life pop hits with The Partridge Family's biggest song being "I Think I Love You" which went to number one in the U.S. and sold over five million copies.

Cassidy was born in New York City to actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward so it's hardly a surprise that David eventually found himself drawn in to the family business. He made his professional acting debut in the failed 1969 Broadway musical, "The Fig Leaves Are Falling" but a casting director, after seeing the show, saw his potential and had him come to Hollywood. Cassidy made guest appearances on several television shows before he was cast on "The Partridge Family" in 1970. After he had some pop music success from the show, Cassidy went to work on a solo album and had his own hit with a cover of The Association's, "Cherish" in 1972. While he wanted to seen as a serious rock musician, the baggage from the show and his teen idol image made it difficult for people to separate fact from fiction.

By the time the show ended it's run in 1974, Cassidy's popularity cooled in America but he remained a major draw internationally. While on tour, a tragic event occurred when a fourteen year old girl was killed during a stampede to the stage at one of his London concerts in 1974. This tragedy along with the intense pressure of fame caused Cassidy to decide to take a hiatus from touring and acting to focus on songwriting and recording. However, by the 1980's, Cassidy found himself broke despite still having a lucrative career throughout much of the world.

He later returned to the stage, appearing in London and Broadway productions of "Little Johnny Jones", "Blood Brothers" (along with his half-brother, Shaun Cassidy) and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". Cassidy released his last studio album, "A Touch of Blue" in 2003, appeared with half-brother, Patrick on the 2009 family comedy series, "Ruby & The Rockits" and was the first fired on the 2011 season of "Celebrity Apprentice". He admitted his problem with alcohol in 2008 and faced a few arrest charges over the following years but he continued to tour with concert appearances across the USA and the UK until his diagnosis of dementia forced him to retire earlier this year. Let's look back and enjoy a few musical moments from this talented performer:

Thursday, November 16, 2017


This Number One Flashback happened the week I had just turned five years old back in November of 1967. "To Sir, With Love" by Scottish singer and actress, Lulu reached the top of the U.S. pop chart and remained there for five weeks. It also became the number one pop single of the year according to Billboard and sold over one million copies.

At the age of fifteen, Lulu (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) was the lead singer with the group, the Luvvers and they reached the top-ten of UK pop charts with a cover of the Isley Brothers' hit, "Shout" in 1964. Not long after, she left the group and went solo to become one of the biggest-selling British female singers of the 1960's.

Lulu made her acting debut with the 1967 film, "To Sir, With Love" which starred Sidney Poitier. The actor plays a teacher who arrives at a secondary school in a rough area in the East End of London where the students drove the last teacher out with their disruptive behavior and outrageous pranks. But Mr. Poitier is not having it and tries another effective approach to have these kids come around. Lulu appears as "Babs" and at the end of the film, she performs the moving title song to reflect all of the students' deep appreciation for their teacher.

This is one of my all-time favorite songs so it's probably appropriate to play this classic tune by my fellow Scorpio today on my birthday. Enjoy:

Sunday, November 5, 2017


When he was a member of the art-rock quartet, Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij was a major driving force behind the band as he was a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer and producer of much of their material. The group (featuring bass guitarist Chris Baio, drummer Chris Tomson and guitarist, songwriter and lead vocalist Ezra Koenig) were together since their college days at Columbia University and released three critically-acclaimed albums with their third, "Modern Vampires of the City" winning them a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2014.

During his time with the band, Batmanglij teamed with Wes Miles of the indie rock band, Ra Ra Riot in 2006 for a side project called Discovery that explored electronic and alt-r&b sounds but after Vampire Weekend's last release, he began to further experiment musically. Batmanglij did some work for a film, teaming up with Charli XCX and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran on a song for the soundtrack of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1", writing original music for a play by Kenneth Lonergan called "This Is Our Youth" in 2014, writing and producing tracks for Carly Rae Jepsen's well-received 2015 album, "E•MO•TION", producing the Frank Ocean's track, "Ivy" from his follow-up 2016 album, "Blonde" and worked on songs for recent releases from Haim and Solange.

All this activity may have led him to decide on leaving Vampire Weekend in January 2016 although his departure was amicable and open to working with them in the future. Now, going professionally by his first name, Rostam, he is ready to use his own voice to express himself and released his first solo album in September, "Half-Light". For his own music, Rostam further pushes conventional pop structures, using complex musical textures to create moody and emotional songs. Here are two tracks that best represents the inventive, dreamlike atmosphere on the album:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

FATS DOMINO (1928 - 2017)

"Fats" Domino, considered to be one of the early pioneers of rock & roll, has passed away on October 24th at the age of eighty-nine. I remember becoming aware of this singer through the '70's sitcom, "Happy Days" which was set in the 1950's. Whenever the character Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard) thought he was going to get lucky, he would begin singing the opening line from Domino's 1956 hit, "Blueberry Hill". This was one of many hits by the singer who would have thirty-five songs reach the U.S Billboard Top Forty and his first five singles would sell over a million copies each.

Born Antoine Domino Jr. in New Orleans to a French-Creole family, he learned to play the piano as a young man by his brother-in-law who was a jazz guitarist. He was a quick study and became so good that he was asked by Billy Diamond, a jazz bandleader, to join his group, the Solid Senders in 1947. Domino would acquire the name "Fats" from Diamond due to his large frame and after renowned jazz pianists "Fats" Waller and "Fats" Pichon but he wasn't interested in being a jazz performer.

He was pursuing a new sound, which would later be called "rock & roll", that merged piano blues, Zydeco and ragtime. He co-wrote a song called "The Fat Man" in 1953 and it went on to sell over a million copies and considered to be one of the first big rock & roll hits. Domino would cross over to the pop charts, reaching the top-ten with his next single, "Ain't It a Shame" but this was a time when radio was racially segregated and black artists didn't get as much airtime, if any at all. White artists would record popular r&b hits and find great success with them which happened with "Ain't It a Shame" with Pat Boone's milder version reaching the top of the pop charts. Domino would continue to have chart success until around the mid-sixties with the arrival of the British invasion.

"Fats" Domino was one of the first inductees in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award the following year, was given the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1998 and was inducted in to the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame just last year. Here is a small sample of some of the great songs by this legendary artist:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I had read a interesting article recently in the Los Angeles Times about the difficulties of a new generation of Black female singers being able to cross over to the pop charts. It really made me take notice and realize how true this has become. Female soul singers have regularly appeared on pop radio for decades and there was a high point back in the '90's when there were a large number of solo artists (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige) and vocal groups (TLC, SWV, Destiny's Child) who found major success on both the r&b and pop charts. But by the mid-2000's, a large number of these female performers seemed to fall out of favor as male-dominated hip-hop took over the charts.

What is making it particularly difficult for these new singers to crossover is that while they're using classic soul as their foundation, each one is taking their own individual approach by creating what would be considered alternative soul music, which merges electronic dance, rock and hip-hop, and doesn't easily fit in today's narrow pop music scene. As I love a great female voice, I'm going to do my little part and put a spotlight on a few of these very talented vocalists featured in this article.

If you want to read the story, please click below:

Los Angeles Times: Female R&B Artists Struggle For Attention


Jhené Aiko, the twenty-nine year old, L.A. native, began her music career as a teen by providing backing vocals for the r&b boy-band, B2K in 2002. Due to her association with this act, she was able to get signed to Sony Records and recorded an album but the label would not released it. Following this disappointment, Aiko decided to go back to school to finish her education. When she made her return to music, Aiko did so on her terms by releasing a mixtape, "Sailing Soul(s)" in 2011 which features an impressive roster of musicians lending support including Miguel, Drake and Kanye West. This lead to her opening for Nas, Lauryn Hill and Drake before getting signed to ARTium Records. Aiko released an EP in 2013, "Sail Out" which featured the single, "The Worst" that peaked at number four on the U.S. Adult R&B chart and was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song. The following year, Aiko finally has her debut album released. "Souled Out" is an alt-r&b concept album about a woman's journey to enlightenment and received plenty of critical praise. Now her follow-up album, "Trip" just came out last month without any advanced notice. Not only will Aiko be on a headlining tour to support the album through the end of the year but in January she will go on the road with Lana Del Rey with her LA To The Moon tour. Take a look at the video for the first single from the new album, "While We're Young":


Born Solána Rowe, SZA (with her stage name inspired from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan) started her career in music purely as a lark. After dropping out of college without a future career plan, Rowe was inspired to write a few songs one day. She later recorded them with a friend and eventually decided that this was something that she seriously wanted to pursue. SZA self-released her first EP, "See SZA Run" in 2012 which was met with critical acclaim with music critics describing her sound as a fascinating mix of Beyoncé and Björk. She would release two more well-received mixtapes that led to her writing songs for other artists like Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Rihanna before signing to a major label, RCA Records and releasing her debut studio album, "Ctrl" (pronounced "control") this past June. The first single, "Drew Barrymore" was named after the actress and inspired by her role in one of her early films, "Poison Ivy". You can hear SZA now on pop radio due to her recent collaboration with Maroon 5 on the rising hit, "What Lovers Do" which just reached the top-twenty. She also has just dropped another single from her album, "The Weekend" which is riding high on the r&b and pop charts.


Amber Streeter knew she wanted to be a professional singer ever since she was a little girl. She sang in church and talent shows (including tying for first place while competing on "Showtime at The Apollo") before becoming part of the teen girl-group, TG4 (which was short for "tom girls four") at the age of fifteen and signing her first recording contract. The group opened for other youth-oriented r&b acts like B2K, Immature and Lil' Bow Wow but their music never made an impact on the charts. Soon TG4 disbanded and Streeter would join another girl-group, RichGirl in 2007. This group managed to open for Beyoncé on tour but their promotional singles failed to take off. By 2011, RichGirl was done and Streeter was on her own again but her career would begin a major shift after meeting r&b bad boy, Chris Brown. She signed to his label, changed her name to "Sevyn"and sang on Brown's 2012 album, "Fortune".  Later that year, Streeter dropped her own singles, "It Won't Stop" and "Next" which brought her plenty of attention as a solo artist with them reaching the top-twenty on the r&b and hip-hop charts. This year, the determined thirty-one year old Streeter released her first album, "Girl Disrupted" with the singles, "My Love For You", "Before I Do" and "Fallen" serving as perfect representations of her brand of passionate and sensual modern soul. Check out the video for the ballad,  "Fallen" that features Ty Dolla $ign and Cam Wallace:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

TOM PETTY (1950 - 2017)

It has been sadly confirmed that Tom Petty, the hard-driving rock performer and songwriter, has actually passed away at the age of sixty-six after suffering from full cardiac arrest early on October 2nd. It had been reported that he had died when he had been initially found at his home in Malibu but that was inaccurate at that time. Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers had just completed a fortieth anniversary tour, which he had stated would be their last major cross-country tour, with the final shows held at the Hollywood Bowl near the end of September.

Petty was born on October 20th in Gainesville, Florida and first became interested in rock-n-roll as a child after meeting Elvis Presley when the singer was in town shooting a movie and later when catching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, Petty decided he was going to be a rock performer. He dropped out of school at seventeen to play bass with the band, Mudcrutch. The group found minor local success but eventually disbanded with Petty deciding to go solo. With former Mudcrutch members, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench by his side, he found additional players to form an early version of The Heartbreakers.

The first self-titled album by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers  in 1976 didn't get much attention in the States but it broke through in Britain with the single, "Breakdown". U.S. audiences soon came around and Petty and the band would have many hits here with  "Refugee", "Don't Do Me Like That", "American Girl" and "The Waiting". Petty would also release three solo albums, was a member of the supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys which included George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan and had a smash hit duet with Stevie Nicks with the single,  "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" in 1982.

Tom Petty was inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, won three Grammy Awards and has sold over eighty million records throughout his impressive career. Petty is survived by wife, Dana York and three children. Let's look back on some musical highlights from this incredibly gifted musician who will truly be missed:

Sunday, October 1, 2017


After eleven years, Fergie has finally released the long-awaited follow-up to her mega-successful debut solo album, "The Dutchess". Although an unfinished version of the entire album was leaked in July, the official version of  "Double Dutchess" is now out. Much like her debut, the forty-two year old mother and soon-to-be former wife to actor, Josh Duhamel has created another solid collection that features an eclectic mix of sounds ranging from hip-hop, reggae, soul, dance and modern pop.

Fergie decided to take full control of this project with her co-producing and co-writing nearly all of the tracks. She also decided to leave her record label, Interscope and to launch her own label, Dutchess Music. The album does feature the singles that failed to get much attention including "L.A. Love (La La)" which was dropped back in 2014 and "M.I.L.F.$" and "Life Goes On" from last year. But the new single, "You Already Know", that includes Nicki Minaj providing her trademark sassy rap, seems to be the step in the right direction. As for the hyper-sexual imagery she's projecting all over the promotional album pictures and videos, it does come across a little extreme and desperate. But I guess you do what you gotta do to get noticed in this competitive pop environment.

Taking a page from Beyoncé and her "Lemonade" album, Fergie has made videos for each of the songs on the album and assembled them together as a film called "Double Dutchess: Seeing Double". Take a look at a few of these videos:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


When she was a contestant on a new television singing competition fifteen years ago, Kelly Clarkson was able to dabble in many different genres of music each week in front of millions of viewers. That show was "American Idol" and she impressed everyone so much with her dazzling voice that Clarkson went on to become the very first winner.

The big prize was a recording contract with RCA Records and Clarkson has had a glorious career with many worldwide hits singles.  However, she has recently revealed that her time with the label was not easy. Over the seven albums she released, Clarkson had little input on song selection on most of these albums and was not allowed to venture outside of the safe and narrow world of pop music.

Now after completing the terms of her recording contract, Clarkson decided to move on to a new label, Atlantic and with that, an new opportunity to take more control of her music. For her new album, "The Meaning of Life", the singer has decided to dive deeper in to a r&b and soul sound which she was previously unable to do. Clarkson was involved in all all aspects of the recording of the album and this busy wife and mother of two even managed to find time to co-write a few tracks.

To give us a sample of what's to come from "The Meaning of Life", two songs have been released. "Love So Soft" is a blast of classic funky soul with modern trap rhythms and features members of Earth, Wind & Fire playing on the track. Meanwhile, "Move You" is a emotional ballad with Clarkson's beautiful vocals soaring in to gospel territory. If you are a fan of Kelly Clarkson, you will be very excited by this new direction and if you are not, I think this dynamic collection might make you want to reconsider:

Thursday, September 21, 2017


First up, here are some interesting music videos I like:

After taking some time off to get married and have her first child (it's a girl!) last year, Jessie Ware didn't seem to have wasted anytime getting back to music. The British songstress has just released two new songs. "Midnight" is a haunting uptempo ballad delivering what we love about Ms Ware as it features her sensual vocals and sophisticated songwriting. While "Selfish Love" is another ballad but guitar-driven with a slight bossa-nova beat that presents a completely different vibe from the singer. Look for her upcoming third album, "Glasshouse" in October. In the meantime, check out the music videos for these songs:

I recently just heard one of his songs from back in the day and it made me wonder; what happened to Christopher Cross? This singer, born Christopher Geppert and originally from San Antonio, Texas, released his debut album back in 1979 and it was an immediate success. His collection of soft rock tunes included the hits, "Ride Like The Wind", "Never Be The Same" and the number one single, "Sailing" which helped sell five million copies of the album. Cross would go on to win five Grammy Awards including Best New Artist and Album of The Year. His follow-up album in 1983, "Another Page", continued the hits with "Think of Laura", "All Right" and included "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from the Dudley Moore comedy, "Arthur" which would go on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song. But after all this immediate pop success, the easy-listening rock of Christopher Cross soon wasn't having much of an impact on the charts. He's still around making music and about to embark on a cross-country North American tour. Here are a couple of songs that I love from Christopher Cross:

"Ride Like The Wind" - Christopher Cross (1979) mp3

"Sailing" - Christopher Cross (1979) mp3

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Did anyone ever see "Streets of Fire"? It was a 1984 film by Walter Hill that was a crazy mix of action, comedy, drama and musical and featured a retro-futuristic look. Self-described as "a rock & roll fable",  Michael Paré (a rising star at the time that never really got off the ground) plays as an ex-solider who is called on to save famous rock singer (and former girlfriend), Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) who was kidnapped by a biker gang lead by Willem Dafoe in an early film role. The film also featured Amy Madigan and Rick Moranis.

"Streets of Fire" is a hot mess of a movie but still a thoroughly watchable and entertaining mess. One bright spot is the music soundtrack. The film's title comes from a Bruce Springsteen song from his 1978 album, "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and was supposed to be sung by the Ellen Aim character at the end of the film. However, negotiations broke down and the song was dropped. Jim Steinman, best known for his theatrical rock ballads performed by such artists as Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler, was brought in to provide new material. He wrote "Nowhere Fast", the thrilling opening number and the ballad, "Tonight Is What It Means To be Young" for the finale. Diane Lane did not actually sing so professional vocalists, Laurie Sargent and Holly Shepard performed the songs with their voices blended together and were called Fire, Inc.

The biggest hit from the movie was "I Can Dream About You", written by Dan Hartman. In the film, the song was sung by session singer, Winston Ford and performed by the fictional doo-wop-soul group, The Sorels that featured Mykelti Williamson (recently seen in the film, "Fences") and future director, Robert Townsend ("Hollywood Shuffle", "Eddie Murphy Raw"). Hartman recorded his own version and was released as a single where it reached number six on the pop charts.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Sam Smith, the British singer who burst on the scene back in 2014 with a debut album, "In The Lonely Hour" which won him four Grammys including Best New Artist, has made his return to music. Today, he just released a new single, "Too Good At Goodbyes" and it's another mournful ballad that Smith does very well. It may be a little safe and predictable but the song is quite moving and I can't wait to hear more. Have a listen for yourself:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

WALTER BECKER (1950 - 2017)

Walter Becker, the inventive guitarist, producer, songwriter and co-founder of the jazz/soul influenced rock group, Steely Dan, passed away on September 3rd. No cause of death has been given at this time but he had missed performances in July as the group was a part of the Classic East and Classic West rock festivals due to an undisclosed illness.

Born in Queens, New York, Becker was quite musical as a child and first learned to play the saxophone before later switching to the guitar. In college, he met Donald Fagen where they formed a a connection through music. They formed several bands together before Becker dropped out of school and they went to Brooklyn to try their hand as a songwriting team.

The duo ended up in Southern California in 1971 and formed Steely Dan, which at the time was a full group which included guitarists Denny Dias, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and drummer Jim Hodder. Becker was mainly the group's bass player and co-songwriter with keyboardist and vocalist, Fagen at the time before eventually becoming the guitarist by their third album, "Pretzel Logic" in 1974. This was the group's breakthrough and featured the hit, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" that peaked at number four on the pop chart. This was the last album with Steely Dan as a band as Becker and Fagen would just rely on studio musicians to fill out their sound on albums and tours which included Michael McDonald who would later join the Doobie Brothers and drummer, Jeff Porcaro who would become a part of Toto.

During the time of their success, Becker had become seriously addicted to drugs and along with that came other problems. In 1978, Becker's girlfriend, Karen Stanley died from an overdose in his apartment and was later sued by her family for wrongful death. Shortly after that, Becker was hit by a cab in New York. After the stressful recording sessions for Steely Dan's 1980 album, "Gaucho", Becker decided to end his musical partnership with Donald Fagen.

Becker moved to Maui where he sobered up and eventually found his way back to music. He produced for several acts including Ricki Lee Jones' 1987 album, "Flying Cowboys".  He first worked again with Fagen in 1986 as they both played on model/singer, Rosie Vela's debut album, "Zazu". The duo officially came back together in 1993 as they went on tour as Steely Dan for the first in nineteen years. They didn't record an album until 2000 with "Two Against Nature" which went on to win four Grammy Awards including Album of The Year. Becker released two solo albums during his career with "11 Tracks of Whack" in 1994 (which Fagen co-produced) and "Circus Money" in 2008. The musician is survived by his wife, Elinor and they have two children.

In tribute to Walter Becker, here is a song he created with Donald Fagen as Steely Dan:

"Deacon Blues" - Steely Dan (1978) mp3

Monday, August 28, 2017


After the incredible success of her 2014 album, "1989" and the following world tour which was the highest-grossing of 2015 that placed her into global superstar status, Taylor Swift decided to lay low for a while. During this time, she made a couple of musical collaborations (most notably with a One Direction member she didn't date) but her most news-worthy events were spent fighting for artist's rights against Apple Music and Spotify and winning a legal battle against a grabby DJ.

At the stroke of midnight on August 25th, Swift has reemerged with new music. She has been known to use her music as a way to express her unpleasant experiences with people she has known while paying them back for perceived or actual slights. Yet with her newest single, "Look What You Made Me Do", the singer seems to have taken an even darker turn.

Co-written and produced by the busy Jack Antonoff (who also produced tracks on "1989"), the song uses elements from an unlikely source of Right Said Fred's 1991 hit, "I'm Too Sexy" while Swift goes on a rampage about someone who has wronged her. It also ignites plenty of speculation on who she may be referring to as her recent bouts include Katy Perry and Kanye West along with his wife. This intriguing bit of dance-pop presents Swift in a different light. Gone is the sweet and good-natured singer and now we have an edgy and angry persona. But is this the new Taylor Swift? For in the middle of this record, she boldly announces that the old Taylor Swift is dead. From the tone of this song, I'm not quite sure I really like this new version of the singer.

Taylor Swift's sixth album is called "Reputation" and will out on November 10th.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


People have been in a wild frenzy over the solar eclipse happening on August 21st, beginning around 8:46 AM Pacific time. For those who may not know, this occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the image of the sun from view. The last total eclipse which was visible across the U.S. happened almost one hundred years ago on June 18, 1918.

If you plan to watch, remember you can seriously damage your eyes if you look directly at this eclipse. Make sure you get special protective glasses (regular sunglasses will not do) if you plan on watching.

So in tribute, here is a musical offering in celebration of this once-in-a-lifetime event:

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I can't believe it but it's been forty years since "Best of My Love" by The Emotions landed at number one on the pop chart during this week. This enduring classic, written by Maurice White and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire, spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, won the group a Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group and the single would sell over a million copies.

The Emotions, made up of the Hutchinson sisters, Jeanette, Sheila and Wanda, hail from Chicago and began singing together professionally in 1962 as teens. Their first taste of success came when their single, "So I Can Love You" reached the soul chart in 1969. After their record label, Volt folded in 1975, the trio met Maurice White and he took an interest in the group. He got them signed to his label, Columbia and began work on an album. Their first project together, "Flowers" was released in 1976 and the singles, "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love" and the title track, became big hits on the soul chart. But it was the follow-up album, "Rejoice" that gave the Emotions' the biggest smash of their careers. Their last major chart appearance would be providing backing vocals on Earth, Wind & Fire's 1979 top-ten hit, "Boogie Wonderland".

The Emotions still occasionally perform together, with younger sister, Pamela filling in for Jeanette. Enjoy this rare live appearance of the group performing their hit on "The Midnight Special" show back in 1977:

Saturday, August 12, 2017


The last time we heard from Pink it was with her musical contribution to Disney's 2016 "Alice in Wonderland" sequel, "Alice Through The Looking Glass" and the top-ten hit, "Just Like Fire" (which was probably the best thing about that movie).

Now the thirty-seven year old singer is officially back with a song from her upcoming seventh album, "Beautiful Trauma" due out in October. "What About Us" (co-written with Johnny McDaid and Steve Mac who also produced the track) seems to be about bringing attention back to all the people that have been forgotten during this current volatile political climate. This low-key, uptempo ballad is a bit of a surprise and even a little underwhelming as a lead single but it's message is important and right on time. Have a listen:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

GLEN CAMPBELL (1936 - 2017)

Glen Campbell, who was a popular entertainer in the '60's and '70's on the country and pop charts, has passed away on August 8th after a valiant battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was officially diagnosed with this in 2011 and soon embarked on a final tour the following year. He made his final television appearance on the 2012 Grammy Awards where he did a thrilling performance of one of his biggest hits, "Rhinestone Cowboy" with this song reaching number one on the country and pop charts back in 1975. Campbell also did his last recordings in 2012 and 2013 which would become his sixty-fourth studio album, "Adiós" and was just released this year in June.

Born the seventh of twelve children to Wesley and Carrie Campbell in Billstown, Arkansas, Glen was given a guitar as a child and learned to play from his Uncle Dick Bills who was a professional musician with his band, the Sandia Mountain Boys. Campbell dropped out of high school and later went to join his uncle's band in 1956 and stayed with the group until he started his own band in 1958.

Campbell decided to head to California to try and become a solo artist in 1960. He did manage to get a recording contract with Capitol Records but his singles were not successful. However Campbell did become a very popular studio guitarist and was part of the famous "Wrecking Crew" session musicians who backed everyone from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra.

Campbell did not give up on his dream to become a recording artist of his own and finally had a breakthrough in 1967 with "Gentle On My Mind" which hit the Billboard Top 40 and earned Campbell two 1968 Grammy Awards for Best Country Male Vocalist and Best Contemporary Male Vocalist. The hits continued for the singer with "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston" and "Southern Nights" to name a few. Campbell became so popular that television came calling with him first making appearances on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" before getting his own variety show, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" which ran from 1969 through 1971. Campbell even made a few movies with the most notable being the 1969 John Wayne film, "True Grit".

A documentary, "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me" was released in 2014 and covers his struggles with Alzheimer's and the farewell tour. A song from the film, "I’m Not Gonna Miss You", written by Campbell and Julian Raymond, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. In tribute, here are a few clips of the talented Glen Campbell performing some of his best known songs:

Friday, July 28, 2017


This tune is a song I have heard many times and my reaction is the same every time I hear it. So this time I want to make a comment on this.

"Woman To Woman" was a number one soul hit in 1974 for Shirley Brown and even crossed over to the pop chart, reaching number twenty-two. She was an artist on Stax Records with this single selling over a million copies and was one of the last big records for the legendary label.

If you are not familiar with this tune, let me fill you in; the song starts off in spoken word with Shirley finding the phone number of her man's mistress, Barbara in his pockets and decides to call her. Now I can understand someone wanting to confront a person messing with their spouse and setting them straight but Shirley lost me completely when she rattles off her reasons why Barbara should back off. She proceeds to boast that she pays for her man's clothes, car and "every piece of food he eats" and will do anything to keep him. It just seems sad to me that this woman so desperately wants to hang on to her cheating man who clearly doesn't respect her nor appreciate everything she has done for him. I know I may be betraying my gender but I think she deserves better than this. Have a listen to the song and judge for yourself:

"Woman To Woman" - Shirley Brown (1974) mp3

The following year, Barbara Mason (best known for her 1965 hit, "Yes, I'm Ready") came out with an answer song to Shirley Brown's tune. After a lengthy musical intro and a snippet of Brown's opening line "Barbara, this is Shirley", "From His Woman To You" tells Barbara's side of this affair. What I find humorous is that the man in the middle of all this drama between these women remained silent. Now that's an answer song I would have liked to have heard. Here's a bonus of Barbara Mason's song:

"From His Woman To You" - Barbara Mason (1975) mp3


The title of Lykke Li ’s fourth album, “ so sad so sexy ” perfectly describes her music. The Swedish singer/songwriter has always crafted...