Sunday July 3rd, 2005
New CD's this past week:
- Raheem Devaughn - he love experience
- Vivian Green - Vivian
- Anthony Hamilton - Soulife
- Lina - The inner beauty movement
Music news headlines this week:
Luther Vandross Dies At 54
Grammy-winning soul singer and songwriter Luther Vandross, who suffered a
serious stroke two years ago as he was about to relaunch his career, died
on Friday (July 1) in a New Jersey hospital, officials said. He was 54.
"Luther Vandross had a peaceful passing under the watchful eye of friends,
family and the medical support team," said a spokesperson at JFK Medical
Center in Edison, New Jersey.
Details on the exact cause of death were not immediately available,
although the spokesperson said the singer never fully recovered from his
stroke. Vandross also had long battled diabetes and fluctuations in his
Vandross was considered the premier soul balladeer of his generation, with
a silky voice that seduced millions of fans and won over collaborators
such as David Bowie and Aretha Franklin.
Vandross' final album, "Dance With My Father," released shortly after his
April 2003 stroke, debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. It yielded four
Grammys, including song of the year for the title track, which Vandross
described as "my 'Piano Man,' my signature song." But Vandross' Grammy
success was a bittersweet affair because of the stroke.
His larger-than-life persona translated into a hugely successful,
multifaceted career. He sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and
influenced romantic crooners such as Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.
Unlike other male singers, Vandross eschewed a macho posture, but did not
come across as too wimpish, either. He was unafraid to express his
insecurities, and his legions of female fans adored him for his honesty.
But he also was sensitive about being perceived as someone who sang only
Vandross, born in a housing project in New York, started out singing
jingles and working as a backup singer for Bowie, Bette Midler and Carly
He recorded two albums as Luther for the Cotillion label before signing
with Epic -- only after insisting that he produce his own material. His
first for the label, 1981's "Never Too Much," became the first of a chain
With its blend of swing and soul, "Never Too Much" put Vandross at the
front of the "retronuevo" movement, deftly weaving modern studio
production with classic vocal intimacy.
He became a fixture on the urban music charts, and wrote for artists like
Franklin, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick, but mainstream success eluded him
until 1989, when he had his first top 10 pop hit with "Here and Now," a
track tacked onto a compilation album. That song has since become
something of a classic wedding ballad.
His own life was less happy. He dealt with his loneliness by eating, and
his weight fluctuated between 190-340 pounds during his adult life.
Four Tops Legend Renaldo "Obie" Benson Dies At Age 69
Renaldo “Obie” Benson, whose lush bass voice was a mainstay of The Four
Tops singing group for a half-century, died Friday of lung cancer. Benson,
who formed the quartet with four high school buddies, was 69 years old.
Benson's illness was discovered when he underwent surgery to have a leg
amputated a few weeks ago because of circulation problems. He also
suffered a heart attack during the procedure, according to a publicist.
In addition to holding the bottom down for the group vocally, Benson was a
proficient lyricist, having penned the peace anthem, "What's Going On."
With over 50 million records sold throughout their 50-year career, The
Four Tops were responsible for numerous classics, such as “Baby I Need
Your Loving,” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” The
group -- composed of Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul (Duke) Fakir and Lawrence
Payton -- started their career in1954 as the Four Aims but later changed
their name to The Four Tops. After signing with Motown Records in 1963,
they released hits along with Motown’s other heavyweight artists.
“Obie” Benson, born in Detroit in 1936, is survived by two members of The
Four Tops; Stubbs and Fakir. Even without a new album, The Four Tops
continued to do shows on the road. The group’s last performance was on an
April 8, show of the “Late Night Show With David Letterman.”
The 68-year-old Benson was hospitalized in
the Detroit area and has even
been visited there by Levi Stubbs, the Four Tops frontman whose own health
concerns have kept him off the road for the past few years.
This leaves Abdul "Duke" Fakir as the only founding member of the Four
Tops still working on a day-to-day basis in the group. Benson's spot is
currently being filled by Roquel Payton, the son of late Four Tops founder
Lawrence Payton, who died in 1997.
The Four Tops' next public appearance will be on August 19th in Los
Angeles. The group has a U.K. tour scheduled to begin on October 29th.
Jam & Lewis Receive ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award
Veteran songwriters and producers Jimmy "Jam" Harris and Terry Lewis were
honored Monday night at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, presented by the
performance rights society. The hit-making duo received the prestigious
ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award, which is given to ASCAP members who
have made a major impact on the legacy of rhythm and soul music.
Jermaine Dupri and Alicia Keys were also named songwriters of the year at
the star-studded event, which recognizes the top-performing songs,
writers, and publishers of the previous year. Two new ASCAP awards were
also presented for the first time: top gospel artist of the year to Smokie
Norful, and top ringtone song of the year to 50 Cent's "In Da Club."
The Heritage Award was presented with a special introduction by music
industry veteran Clarence Avant, who gave Jam & Lewis their first
songwriting and production gig -- with "Just Be Good To Me" for the S.O.S.
Band -- while the two were still members of Minneapolis funk crew The
Currently vice chairman of the Recording Academy and an ASCAP board member
for nine years, Jam noted that he and Lewis are often overlooked as
songwriters: "First of all, as a songwriter, people think of us as
producers, but without the songs, there's nothing to produce. So I'm proud
to be a songwriter, I'm proud to be amongst this room of great people,
because there's.... the future's in this room, when we see people like
Jermaine and people like Alicia, we see the future. We know the music is
alive and well and in very good hands. So I thank people like that for
continuing to inspire us."
Lewis added that after more than 20 years in the business, he and Jam
still enjoy what they do and the people they work with. He added: "I
don't think people really understand what accepting a Heritage Award would
be, because the true meaning of heritage is an inheritance. So I think
we've gotten more out of music than music's gotten out of us. And I'm just
happy to be able to share a little bit of ourselves and our music with
everybody and hopefully we'll live a little bit more in the hat to pull
from So we love you, we thank you."
The evening also featured musical performances by Norful, India.Arie,
Everette Harp, Kelly Price, and Terrell Carter.
Alicia keys Throws Support Behind Teen Mentoring Group
Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and pianist Alicia Keys is lending her
support to a Florida-based mentoring group that helps teens age 13 to 18
become self-motivated and reach their potential. The singer has donated
several items to an online auction to support the organization Frum Tha
Fans can go on-line at charityfolks.com to bid on items that include VIP
passes to Keys' performance at the upcoming Essence Music Festival in New
Orleans and a guest pass in the studio when she tapes her "Unplugged"
album next month. Bidding ends June 30th.
Keys, who says that having a mentor was key to her musical development as
a teen, says she understand the organization's goals. She told AP,
"There's a time we all go through at a certain age where you feel like
there is no one you can turn to. Sometimes that's really the case. You
don't have a father figure, you don't have a mother figure, you don't
really have any motivational people in your life."
Other items up for auction include lunch with Halle Berry on the set of
X-Men 3, a private tennis lesson with Andre Agassi, and tickets to a
Morgan Freeman film premiere.
The artist's album The Diary Of Alicia Keys has been certified quadruple
platinum for sales of more than four million copies.
Leela James Says She Always Knew “A Change Was Gonna Come”
Los Angeles-based R&B singer Leela James released her debut album, A
Change Is Gonna Come, last week. The set borrows its title from Sam
Cooke's classic song of the same name, but recently James explained that
there's some other reasons why she titled her debut A Change Is Gonna
The singer says : "A Change Is Gonna Come came about because it
pretty much personified the story of making the album, as well as just the
process of even, as I was saying, trying to make it, period, in the
business and get a deal."
James added: "No matter what it was I was going through at the time, I
just always held close to my faith that things would come together and a
change would come to like, you know, what I was going through or what was
considered this or considered that. I knew a change would come."
Stevie Wonder Says he Didn’t Miss Having His Father Around
Stevie Wonder, who became a father for the seventh time last May 13th --
which coincidentally was also his 55th birthday -- says he never missed
having a relationship with his father, who split from the family when
Wonder was very young. Wonder admitted to Scotland's Sunday Herald that,
"I always felt God was next to me and had me in his arms. And so whether
it was a time when my mother and father weren't together any more, or
whatever it was, I was really cool because I had my father who was greater
than all fathers."
Wonder, who became blind as a result of receiving excess oxygen in his
incubator shortly after being born, also claimed that he never felt sorry
for himself because of his handicap explaining, "I didn't really
understand the severity of the circumstances. I think I was so in love
with my mother and my brothers and my sister and my friends that my focus
was not on those things."
He's currently putting the finishing touches on his first album in over 10
years, A Time 2 Love, which is due out this summer.
Wonder's next performance will be on July 2nd outside the Philadelphia
Museum of Art for the U.S. Live 8 concert.
On July 4th, he'll join Patti LaBelle and others at Elton John's
Philadelphia Freedom Concert, also outside of the Philadelphia Museum of
Art, to benefit HIV/AIDS programs and services.
Mint Condition Give Fans Behind The Scenes Peek With Free DVD
Mint Condition found a unique way to keep their fans satisfied after
waiting six years to deliver their latest album, Livin' The Luxury Brown.
The first 200,000 copies of the album included a free DVD featuring a live
performance by the band from their forthcoming full-length DVD, due this
fall. The video component documents a performance by the Twin Cities band
at Washington D.C.'s famed 9:30 Club.
Lead singer Stokley says : "With the new CD you get a free DVD,
five songs delivered to you in that package, from the actual full-length
DVD concert that we did. The full-length will be out in September, so stay
tuned for that. We're just gon' keep coming with it and coming with it."
Bass-player Ricky Kinchen added that the DVD, which also includes
backstage footage and interviews, will give fans a rare behind-the-scenes
look at the band: "Our fans get to see another side of us that they
probably don't know. You know, we're always serious musicians and all this
stuff, but there's a whole 'nother side of the band where the band is
just, like, crazy. And you know, it's fun to be around these guys. You get
to see that on the DVD, just us telling stories about each other when we
first met, all kind of crazy stuff."
Mint Condition's Livin' The Luxury Brown recently reached Number 35 on the
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Beyonce Says Destiny’s Child Finale Was Planned
While some fans may be reeling from the recent news that platinum-selling
super group Destiny's Child is breaking up after their current tour wraps
in the fall, singer Beyonce says that the big hint was in the title of the
group's last album, Destiny Fulfilled.
"Destiny Fulfilled ... is not a coincidence," Beyonce told AP. "This was
something that we thought about. And it was really important for us to end
this chapter when we were successful."
She added that the group isn't fond of the term "breakup," which falsely
implies that there was some animosity between herself and members Kelly
Rowland and Michelle Williams. "We'd like to say that it's the end of a
chapter in our lives," says Beyonce, who released her million-selling
debut, Dangerously In Love, in 2003. "Not because one person wants to go
solo. Or not because we don't like each other. Or because we're not
selling records anymore. But because it has to end at a certain point."
The Houston-bred girl group burst onto the scene as a quartet in 1997 with
the single "No, No, No (Part 1)" from their Destiny's Child debut. By
their third album, 2000's Survivor, they were whittled down to a trio with
the addition of new member Michelle Williams.
Rowland's debut solo set, Simply Deep, was released in 2002; Williams has
released two solo sets: 2002's gospel album Heart To Yours and 2004's Do
You Know. In addition to her releasing her multi-platinum solo set,
Beyonce has forged a career in film.
Destiny Fulfilled debuted at Number One on the Billboard Top 200 chart in
December and has sold more than 2.7 million copies in the U.S., according
to Nielsen SoundScan.
Ruben Studdard Accuses Ex-Manager Of Theft And Forgery
American Idol winner Ruben Studdard filed a complaint Monday (June 27th)
with the Birmingham, Alabama, police department accusing ex-manager Ronald
W. Edwards of identity theft and forgery. The Associated Press reports
that the singer alleged that Edwards forged paperwork in late 2004 giving
him power of attorney over Studdard.
The 26-year-old Studdard also claims Edwards used his credit cards to take
$105,000 and wrote checks to himself for $150,000. Studdard sued Edwards
and his marketing company, SEZ Inc., in February, claiming Edwards misused
more than $246,000 of Studdard's money. Edwards denied the allegations,
and says that Studdard owes him money. Edwards filed a petition for
Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 17th, prompting a stay in the lawsuit.
Ruben Studdard performs next on August 6th at the Plymouth Memorial Hall
in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The American Idol's most recent CD, I Need An Angel, came out in November
of last year
Keith Sweat To Launch “Summer Sweat” Tour
Veteran R&B singer Keith Sweat will launch his Summer Sweat tour on July
7th in Jacksonville, Florida. Soca sensation Elvis White will open for the
singer, and K-Ci & JoJo will appear on the tour's first three stops.
Sweat's last release was a best-of compilation, The Best Of Keith Sweat:
Make You Sweat, which was released last year. Some of the singer's biggest
hits include: "I Want Her," "Something Just Ain't Right," "Make It Last
Forever," "Make You Sweat," and "Merry Go Round."
Summer Sweat Tour dates (subject to change):
July 7 - Jacksonville, FL - The Florida Theater
July 8 - Tampa, FL - Carol Morsani Hall
July 9 - Tallahassee, FL - Leon County Civic Center
July 22 - Charleston, SC - North Charleston Coliseum
July 23 - Nashville, TN - Nashville Municipal Auditorium
July 29 - Augusta, GA - Bell Auditorium
July 30 - Macon, GA - Macon City Auditorium
Aug 4 - Charlotte, NC - Cricket Arena
Aug 5 - Richmond, VA - Richmond's Landmark Theater
Aug 6 - Norfolk, VA - The Constant Convocation Center
Aug 7 - Baltimore, MD - Lyric Opera House
Aug 11 - Phoenix, AZ - Celebrity Theater
Aug 12 - Kansas, MO - City Midland Theater
Aug 26 - Greenville, SC - Peace Concert Hall
Aug 27 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Civic Center
Aug 28 - Raleigh, NC - BTI Center for Performing Arts
Sept 2 - Miami, FL - James L .Knight Center
Sept 9 - Houston, TX - Reliant Park Arena
Sept 10 - Dallas, TX - Majestic Theater |
Sept 16 - Minneapolis, MN - State Theater
Sept 17 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater