Sunday March 20th, 2005


New CD's this past week:

- Avila Brothers – Moods: Soundsational
- Al Green – Everything’s OK
- Troy Johnson – Troy Johnson

Music news headlines this week:

Renee Diggs, Lead Singer Of 80's Group Starpoint Passed Away

After a long battle with MS Renee Diggs lead singer of the 80's group
Starpoint passed away friday, march 18th,
Originally the band was called Licyndiana (made up from the first few
letters of each of the group's sister's Christian names) but they decided
to change to Starpoint to pursue a recording contract and career.
Some of Starpoint's hits include "Don't Be So Serious", "Object of my
desire", "Restless" and "He Want My Body".
Renee was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1985, an incurable
disease that attacks the spinal cord and central nervous system but still
recorded three more albums with Starpoint until they disbanded in 1990.
She also remained active in the music industry as a vocal coach and as an
artist developer.
In the early 90's Renee recorded a solo album that remained shelved until
UK label Expansion acquired the rights to it and released 'Oasis' in late
Renee Diggs was 50.


Aretha Franklin Readies Album Release

The release date for Aretha Franklinís new as-yet-untitled album nears.
The duets project should drop sometime in June and it will be the first
release from Franklinís own label, Aretha Records. Through the winter the
professed “Queen of Soul” recorded in the studio with a slew of producers,
one of which included Franklin, herself. Notable collaborators include,
Faith Hill, gospel sensation Smokie Norful and composer Ollie Wilson.
There’s also a Ray Charles tribute on the album with former Temptations
singer Dennis Edwards on “Friends”, a song that Charles requested Franklin
sing, before his passing. In addition to the new label and album, Franklin
will take part in a very special tribute at the Kennedy Center in
Washington, DC tonight. The Queen will headline a gala salute to American
popular music of the 1940s being presented by the Catherine B. Reynolds
Foundation Series for Artistic Excellence. Among the other performers on
the bill are Johnny Mathis and country singer Dwight Yoakam. The concert
will include Tin Pan Alley classics, gospel, country, and more.


Lyn Collins, Voice Behind “It Takes Two” Dead At 56

Lyn Collins, whose funky vocals landed her a spot early in James Brown's
stage show and the nickname "Female Preacher," died Sunday in Pasadena,
Calif. She was 56.
Collins, whose voice was also sampled in the 1980s hip-hop hit "It Takes
Two," died of cardiac arrhythmia at Huntington Memorial Hospital in
Pasadena, her son Bobby Jackson said.
"It was very sudden. Very unexpected," he said, adding that she arrived at
the hospital last Wednesday night.
Collins, who lived in Abilene, Texas, was visiting the Los Angeles area
after having returned from a tour in Europe last month, Jackson said. She
was due to start touring again next month.
Born in Dime Box, Texas, Collins took up singing as a teenager. At 14, she
married a man who worked as the local promoter for the James Brown Revue.
The Godfather of Soul heard Collins sing and in 1970 she was invited to
join his traveling show.
Her powerful voice led Brown to nickname her the "Female Preacher," and
two years later, she cut her first solo album, "Think (About It)." In
1975, Collins released "Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now."
Over the years, Collins' songs have also appeared in various compilations,
but it was hip-hop duo Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock who exposed Collins' work
to a new generation when they sampled one of her songs for their 1988 hit
"It Takes Two."
"She was surprised and elated by how it took off," Jackson recalled. "It
really kind of spurred her. It really let younger artists know who she was.”
Since then, other contemporary R&B and rap artists have also mined
Collins' songs, including rapper Ludacris.
"She was a musical treasure that really didn't get the recognition,"
Jackson observed. "But she rose above that anyway."
The singer was forced to limit her touring in recent years because of
rheumatoid arthritis, Jackson said.
In addition to Jackson, Collins is survived by another son, Anthony, and
four grandchildren.


Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, John Legend, Kanye West And More Set For Essence Fest

Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child and Kanye West are part of the all-star
lineup confirmed to play the 2005 Essence Music Festival. Kicking off a
yearlong 35th anniversary celebration of Essence magazine, the annual
event returns to New Orleans July 1-3 with ticketed nightly concerts at
the Louisiana Superdome and free daytime seminars at the Ernest N. Morial
Convention Center. Aretha Franklin will headline the opening night's main
stage performance, with Keys, John Legend and Ruben Studdard also set to
join. Destiny's Child will anchor the July 2 bill with West, Teena Marie
and Fantasia also on board, while Frankie Beverly and Maze will close out
the final night with Lionel Richie, Kem and actress/comedian Mo'Nique.
Beyond the main stage, each night will also feature "superlounges" with
such performers as the Roots, Floetry, Terrence Blanchard, Slick Rick,
Talib Kweli, Doug E. Fresh, Jeffrey Osborne, the Wailers, Vivian Green and
Me'Shell Ndegeocello, among others. Information about hotel and travel
packages is available on the festival's Web site.


Percy Sledge And The O’Jays Inducted Into Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Last Monday (March 14th) at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City,
the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame held its 20th annual induction ceremony.
The Class Of 2005 featured the O'Jays, Percy Sledge, U2, the Pretenders,
and Buddy Guy, as well as touring business architect Frank Barsalona and
Sire Records head Seymour Stein as non-performers. An edited version of
the ceremony will air on VH1 on Saturday (March 19th) at 9 p.m. ET.
The O'Jays were inducted by pop star Justin Timberlake. Lead singer Eddie
Levert thanked two of the architects of the O'Jays sound, then expressed
his gratitude at being in the Rock Hall.


Al Green Released New Album “Everything’s OK”

Al Green has released his new album Everything's OK last Tuesday, March
15th. Green, who became an ordained minister in 1976, feels the album
contains some of his best work, telling Britain's
website that, quote, "Something about this music, this sound, what I'm
saying, the tension of how the band is playing, the erotic way these
guitars and horns, it really brings out..." Green paused and then joked,
"I should say ecstasy. I'd better leave it at that."


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