Sunday May 16th, 2004
New CD's this past week:
- Teena Marie - La Dona
Music news stories this week:
R&B Singer John Whitehead Shot To Death
John Whitehead, a prominent R&B artist best known for the 1979 hit song
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now, was shot dead Tuesday, police said.
Whitehead, 55, and another man were working on a vehicle when they were
shot by two gunmen, police said. The assailants fled.
Whitehead was shot in the neck and collapsed. Ohmed Johnson, who was shot
in the buttocks, was in good condition early Wednesday, a hospital
Police said the gunmen fired a series of bullets; a young neighborhood
girl said she heard about a dozen shots.
Authorities had no immediate motive or suspects.
Investigators said Wednesday that Johnson, not Whitehead, may have been
the target of the shooting.
Gene McFadden, who was Whitehead's partner in the singing group McFadden &
Whitehead, went to the scene in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood and
stood there trembling, WPVI-TV reported.
The two men formed a group called the Epsilons in their youth and were
discovered by Otis Redding, touring with the legendary performer in the
The duo wrote several hit songs performed by others in the 1970s,
including Back Stabbers, For the Love of Money, I'll Always Love My Mamma,
Bad Luck, Wake Up Everybody, Where Are All My Friends, The More I Want and
Cold, Cold World.
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now went to No. 1 on the R&B chart and reached No. 13
on the pop chart.
Friday afternoon Whitehead was eulogized as a man devoted to his family,
music and his community.
More than 500 people attended Whitehead's memorial service in the Masjid
Muhammad Mosque. Imam Ali Ahned, who led the service, called on
Whitehead's nine children and six stepchildren to "let your father's death
be an example for you. If you are a friend of our brother, try to be
Music legend Kenny Gamble was among the mourners who recalled the man
known by the muslim name of Yah-Yah.
"You got to get the guns off the street," Gamble said later. "You got to
educate people because there is so little respect. He was a fine man and a
Isley Brothers Sign New Deal With Def Soul Classics
It's been over forty years since the Isley Brothers released their first
album, Shout!, in 1959, but the group has remained relevant in the
ever-changing music industry. Billboard.com reports that the group, which
is now comprised of brothers Ronald Isley and Ernie Isley, recently signed
a new recording contract with Def Soul Classics, a division of Def Jam
Records, and are working on a new album which will be released in early
Meanwhile, the Isley Brothers will be presented with a Lifetime
Achievement Award at the 2004 BET Awards, coming up on June 29th at the
Kodak Theater in Hollywood . When asked what was the secret of the group's
success, Ron Isley said it's been a combination of factors, including love
and prayers: "Just a lot of prayers, you know, and loving what you do, and
just being very competitive. You know, we've always been a competitive
family in this business, and you always want to try to hang there at the
top. In order to do that, you know, you have to love what you do, and you
have to be blessed -- you have to have that gift --and we just thank the
lord for letting us have the longevity that we've had."
Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis Are Moving To Los Angelos
Super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have crafted countless Number
One hits in their Minneapolis-based Flyte Tyme Recording Studios, but the
duo recently put the facility up for sale. The Associated Press reports
that the Jam and Lewis are presently building a recording studio in Los
Angeles and that they plan to have a goodbye party in Minneapolis on May
Jimmy Jam, his wife Lisa Harris, and their three kids are relocating to
Los Angeles permanently after splitting their time between Minnesota and
Los Angeles for several years.
Terry Lewis moved to Malibu , California in November 2002 but he still
maintains a home in Minneapolis .
Jam and Lewis's new recording studio, Flyte Tyme West, will be locate in
Santa Monica and is expected to be up and running by the summer. The duo
has been renting the Village Recorders recording studio in Santa Monica
since February. They used that studio to record Janet Jackson's latest
album, Damita Jo.
In addition to Jackson , the pair has produced hits for Usher, Boyz II
Men, Patti Austin, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, the Isley Brothers,
Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Mint Condition, New Edition, Mya, and
Lionel Richie Says "Motown 45" made Him Feel Special
The Motown 45 special airs Monday (May 17th), showing footage from the
all-star anniversary concert on April 4th at the Shrine Auditorium in Los
Angeles. Former Motown star Lionel Richie, who cohosted the show with
Cedric The Entertainer, said that being part of Motown 45 made him proud
to have been on the label, both with the Commodores and as a solo artist:
"It was absolutely amazing. What really kind of hit home was that I was
actually a part of the Motown story -- which, you know, you have to
understand, I started out as a fan, so to end up now as a part of this
story is just amazing. For me, it was an amazing experience just to be in
In the special, Richie performs "Endless Love," his 1981 duet with Diana
Ross, with Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child.
Also on the special are Motown alumni Smokey Robinson, the Temptations,
the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong of
the Supremes, Gladys Knight, Ashford & Simpson, the Funk Brothers, Boyz II
Men, and the Commodores, as well as current Motown artists Brian McKnight
and Michael McDonald. They're joined by Backstreet Boys, Macy Gray,
India.Arie, Nick Lachey, Joss Stone, Raven Symone, and Vanessa Williams.
Motown 45 airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Alicia Keys To Play Biracial Piano Prodigy In First Movie
Some people might wonder what Alicia Keys is doing at the Cannes Film
Festival, let alone why she's hosting a yacht party there. Turns out she's
there on business — according to her publicist, Keys is planning a foray
Keys' debut is slated to be the lead role in a biopic about biracial piano
prodigy Philippa Schuyler, to be co-produced by Halle Berry. "She wanted
to go [to Cannes], have her introduction to the film world, and say, 'I'm
here, I want to be part of Hollywood,' " Samantha Tillman, Keys'
Her big-screen debut as Schuyler will be based on the 1995 biography
"Composition in Black and White" by Kathryn Talalay, which details how the
child prodigy's musical career was clouded by her racial identity.
Born in 1931 to a black journalist and a white Texan heiress, Schuyler was
a pianist at 4 and a composer by 5. She performed at Carnegie Hall when
she was 13, leading people to dub her the "little Harlem genius" and
compare her to Mozart. But unlike Mozart, Schuyler had mixed heritage,
which caused her to be rejected by the classical elite in the United
States. She tried to pass for Caucasian but was ultimately forced to find
an audience abroad. The role won't be much of a stretch for Keys, since
she, too, is a classically trained pianist of biracial heritage.
Keys made the stop at Cannes on the way to Quincy Jones' "We are the
Future" charity concert in Rome on Sunday, her publicist said. The
singer is also doing European promotion for her album to help set up a
forthcoming tour. Word of her acting debut comes on the heels of news that
she's making forays into the literary world .
Berry, who owns the film rights to Schuyler's story, will co-produce the
still-untitled film with Marc Platt Productions ("Legally Blonde").