Sunday January 18th, 2004
New CD's this past week:
None to report
Music news stories this week:
Stephanie Mills Says Hip-Hop Inspired Comeback
Soul singing legend Stephanie Mills is planning to reintroduce her
distinct voice to the world. She said her musical comeback has a hip-hop
twist to it.
For "Born for This" , Mills' upcoming album, she gave up on the regiments
of the corporate music world to go indie, where many artists feel like
they control their fate.
"I took my cues to go independent from Puff [Combs] and Jay-Z and watching
them, how they manuver. On thing that helped me was looking at an
interview with Jay-Z and him saying when no record company would sign him
and so he did it himself," Mills told BET.com. "There is nothing like
having your own."
Now she has a new song, "Can't Let Him Go," that is rapidly rising up the
charts and she intends to re-establish herself- but for mature audiences.
A star of the 70's and 80's, Mills' has won a Grammy, an American Music
Award , chart-topping singles and a number of best selling albums. Her
career began in the 70's when she starred Broadway's "The Wiz," an urban
adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz."
But, Mills said she nearly gave up on the idea of continued success
because of the machine-like music industry grind.
She explained, "I've had the spotlight my whole life, so in 1990 I was
kind of not wanting to have the spotlight and I wanted to live a normal
life so I kind of dissolved my contract with MCA and moved to charlotte
North Carolina where I've been living the last ten years."
"I think I was tired and I was burned out of doing the same old things and
I no longer wanted to do what the record company wanted me to do. They
wanted me to follow the trend and I didn't want to follow the trend," she
However, after 13 years, she's re-ignited her desire for recording and
decided to release Born For This , her latest album due in March of 2004.
"With the title, [I'm saying that] I was born to do this, this is what I
love to do. I just thought it was a great title but I wasn't interested in
recording so I told BeBe [Winans, who worked on the album,] if I ever
recorded an album that was going to be the title. So I kept it."
"This is straight up classic Stephanie Mills, it has great lyrics, great
songs. If they like my other songs they will love these," she said,
Anita Baker's back after dealing with real life
Anita Baker was working on her sixth album when life intervened.
"When I'm doing the music, I like to give it everything I have, and that's
impossible to do when your parents are ill," said the queen of quiet-storm
R&B. "My earth mother had Alzheimer's; my dad had bone cancer. I buried my
birth mother and my earth mother and my dad within the space of 3 1/2
That period was an impossible time, the married mother of two said a few
weeks ago from her Detroit home. "I'm sitting here now talking about it,
and it seemed like it happened 10 years ago. But it was only a year ago."
Baker, who has collected eight Grammys, has been out of sight since 1996,
when she last toured extensively. In 1998, she paid to get out of her
contract with Elektra and switched to Atlantic Records. She was excited to
work for the legendary Atlantic executive Ahmet Ertegun, who had been
affiliated with everyone from Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles to the
Rolling Stones and Bette Midler. But she never finished the album for
"I just couldn't get it done," Baker said. "I just could not write; I was
at the nursing home [attending to her parents] every day. The stuff that I
did write during that time, it was so dark that I just kind of threw it in
the fireplace. I do regret that I wasn't able to sing for them."
She left Atlantic and concentrated on life, attending to her two ill
parents and her two sons. The boys, now ages 9 and 10, were her "saving
grace," keeping her laughing and moving from one sports competition to the
After her "earth mother" (the woman who raised her) died in November 2002,
Baker wanted to get back to singing. Not only was she grieving, but she
and her husband were separated. She felt she needed to do something to
give her stability, so she called her agent to book some concerts.
"My agent didn't believe me because he's been trying to get me back to
work for seven years," said Baker. "He put something together in the
secondary markets. We weren't sure about the primary markets. We weren't
really sure about anything. I wasn't sure if I could do it or not. I was
just very weak."
They scheduled one show for Dec. 17, 2002, in a suburban New York theater,
and there was enough demand for four shows. The concerts, Baker said, were
amazing. "It was a wonderful way to grieve and rejoice at the same time," she
By spring of 2003, Baker was willing to step up to something more high-profile,
singing the national anthem at the Pistons' NBA playoff games in Detroit.
"The first night that I did that, the local news station said 'the reclusive Anita
Baker appeared to sing the anthem,' " recalled the diminutive diva, who
volunteered with a giggle that "I'm a lot rounder than I used to be."
"It's funny how people perceive you. I'm dropping the kids off at soccer
games and basketball games. I'm doing what mommies do."
In 2003, Baker also returned to the studio with producers Barry Eastmond
and George Duke, who had worked on "Rhythm of Love." She said she was able
to "write from a less intense place" than during the period when her
parents were ill. She has finished a new project and is negotiating with
two labels to release it.
A spokesman for Blue Note -- home to Norah Jones, Van Morrison and Al
Green -- has confirmed that the company has been negotiating with Baker.
The singer hopes to have the album out in the spring. Nowadays, Baker has
reversed her priorities: She lives her life, and sometimes her career
"I was definitely living the Peter Pan syndrome until I had to take care
of my parents," she said. "I'm a grown-up now, reluctantly so. But I feel
like a kid when I'm working."
L.A. Reid Leaves Arista Records
Antonio "L.A." Reid has left his post as president and CEO of Arista
Records. BMG Chairman/CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz announced on Tuesday, January
13th, that Reid was stepping down, effective immediately, as President/CEO
of Arista Records. For now, executive management at Arista will report to
BMG COO Michael Smellie, according to Radioandrecords.com.
Schmidt-Holtz said in a released statement, "L.A. is one of the music
industry's top record men. His passion for working with and developing
some of the world's best artists is unparalleled. I sincerely wish him the
best of luck in all future endeavors."
Reid took over the position in July 2000 after Arista founder and former
head Clive Davis was forced out by parent company, BMG.
Prior to taking the post at Arista Records, Reid and Kenneth "Babyface"
Edmonds founded Atlanta-based label LaFace Records, whose roster included
Toni Braxton, TLC, OutKast, Usher, and Pink.
Reid began his musical career in the early '80s as a member of The Deele
with Babyface. After the group disbanded, the two joined forces to produce
hits for Paula Abdul, After 7, Boyz II Men, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston,
Pebbles, and Sheena Easton before launching LaFace, which was distributed
by Arista Records.
Kem Recruits Floetry For “Love Calls” Remix
Detroit-based singer-songwriter Kem released a second single, "Matter Of
Time," from his critically acclaimed debut set, Kemistry, but fans are
still enjoying the lead single from the set, "Love Calls." Recently Kem
recruited Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry for a remix of his hit song. The
remix is one of the first opportunities fans have to hear Kem with another
artist as he didn't include any collaborations on Kemistry.
Kem explained that his decision to play the piano didn't go over so well
with some members of his family. He said: "I remember playing but I'm told
that part of the family didn't want me to go towards the piano but I
somehow always ended up at the piano and I fell in love with the
instrument and I never took formal lessons.”
Kem added that eventually one of his babysitters taught him how to make
chords. Kem said: "I just kinda like banged on it until we moved to
Detroit from Nashville and one of my babysitters taught me a song, 'Color
My World.' And it taught me how to make chords."
Christopher Williams Claims He Didn’t Beat Halle Berry, Says Wesley Snipes Did It
Remember Christopher Williams? The R&B singer who used to date Academy
Award-winning actress Halle Berry a long time ago is claiming he's
unfairly gotten the blame for being the guy who once beat her up so badly
that her eardrum was damaged. Williams told eurweb.com, "The stuff they
wrote about (me) and Halle was totally false. They said something like I
busted her eardrum, and I'm tired of it. I never said it before, but I'm
so tired of people thinking I'm the guy who did it. Wesley Snipes busted
her eardrum, not me."
Williams also hinted at why many of Berry's relationships have ended
badly. He said, quote, "The stars that get all of the good write-ups, you
go and meet them and they are total a**holes."
Is Williams bitter? He claimed he's not, saying, "I've been happily
married for 10 years, and I'm just into the simple realness of life now."
Williams also used to date actress Stacey Dash, and the two share a child.
Like Berry, Dash has said she too was the victim of physical violence.
However, neither Berry or Dash have named the men who beat them.