Sunday November 13th, 2005
New CD's this past week:
- Floetry - Flo'Ology
- Meli'sa Morgan - I remember
- Randevyn - Soltrain
Music news headlines this week:
Sergio Mendes Still "Timeless"
Legendary Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes gets a lift from contemporary
artists on his new album, "Timeless." Due Feb. 14 as a partnership between
Concord and Starbucks Hear Music, the set was produced by the Black Eyed
Peas' will.i.am, who also guests as a performer with the Peas.
Although the full track list is still coming together, "Timeless" is
tipped to feature contributions from Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip,
John Legend and Jill Scott.
Mendes, now 64, rose to prominence in the mid 1960s with Brazilian-themed
covers of the Burt Bacharach-penned "The Look of Love" and the Beatles'
"Fool on the Hill, both of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard pop
Maurice White Musical Headed To Broadway
Hot Feet,” a new musical featuring music and lyrics by Maurice White of
Earth, Wind and Fire, arrives on Broadway April 15 for an April 30
opening, reports Variety.
The show, featuring original songs as well as past hits such as "Shining
Star" and "September," tells the story of a young dancer with Broadway
dreams who dons an enchanted and possibly sinister pair of red shoes.
Maurice Hines, last on Broadway in 1986 with the short-lived "Uptown ...
It's Hot!," conceived the show and will direct and choreograph.
"Feet" will have its initial run at the National Theater in Washington,
D.C., March 18-April 9. It has yet to confirm a Broadway theater.
Marvin Gaye Gets Washington D.C. Memorial
After a long, five-year battle, local Washington D.C. volunteers have
convinced the city council to rename a park after one of its most famous
native sons, Marvin Gaye.
A patch of land behind a chain-link fence and near two housing projects in
Washington D.C. will be named after the Motown legend, who was born in the
Nation’s Capital in 1939 and lived there until he joined the doo-wop group
the Moonglows in the late 1950s. His next stop was Motown Records in
Detroit, where he began a run of 41 Top 40 hits, including “What's Going
On,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Let's Get It On.”
The park renaming is part of a grass roots effort by local residents to
revive one of the city’s most blighted areas.
“It’s really shaping up,” said Vincent Gray, the councilman whose ward
includes the park. “We should have done this long ago.”
Marvin Gaye Park - which Gray said the city council probably will approve
in a series of votes starting as early as this month – would join
Washington tributes to two other hometown musicians, jazz legend Duke
Ellington and conductor John Philip Sousa, both of whom have a school and
bridge named after them.
Now called Watts Branch, the 1.6-mile-long park stretches along a stream
and comes within a few hundred feet of Gaye's former home in northeast
Washington. The park already has a mosaic depicting Gaye playing piano
outdoors next to the stream.
“Marvin would definitely be honored,” Gaye biographer David Ritz told
Bloomberg. “He loved Washington and hungered for the kind of respect the
district paid to its other native sons, like Ellington.”
Headley Makes Up 'Mind' With Lil Jon, Shaggy
Vocalist Heather Headley will on Jan. 31 release her sophomore RCA album,
"In My Mind," which features guest turns by Lil Jon on "Back When It Was"
and Shaggy on "Rain." Production was supplied by Babyface and Jimmy Jim
and Terry Lewis. The title cut was co-written with Shannon Sanders
(India.Arie, Kimberley Locke) and jumps 22-19 this week on Billboard's
Adult R&B Airplay chart.
"In My Mind" is the follow-up to 2002's "This Is Who I Am," which peaked
at No. 38 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 677,000 copies in the United
States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It garnered Headley Grammy
nominations for best new artist and best R&B vocalist.
"I wanted the album to be like a book, almost," Headley says. "Where the
songs provide glimpses into my personality, taking you to some very
different places musically, and hopefully are full of fun and surprises
along the way."
R. Kelly Again Suing Jay-Z
R. Kelly and Jay-Z's doomed double billing has spun off yet another lawsuit.
Kelly, 36, sued Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, for $75 million
last year after being booted from the pair's "Best of Both Worlds" tour,
accusing Carter of sabotaging the tour out of jealousy.
Now, Kelly is seeking $16 million from Carter and his childhood buddy,
Tyran (Ty Ty) Smith, who allegedly pepper-sprayed Kelly after he walked
off the stage in Madison Square Garden. Kelly said he left the stage
because he saw Jay-Z fans in the audience waving guns and was
pepper-sprayed as he was heading back to the stage.
The new suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, claims Carter "rewarded"
Smith for the pepper-spray incident by hiring him as an executive at Def
Jam Recordings. Carter is the president and CEO of Def Jam.
"Jay-Z failed to use any reasonable care in supervising Smith and failed
to correct Smith's violent acts by taking the actions of a responsible
employer - disavowing Smith's act, firing him and allowing R. Kelly to
continue on the tour," according to the suit.
Kelly's $75 million suit is still pending, though a countersuit filed by
Carter was thrown out last May.
Wonder Did Not Want To Rush 1st Album In Decade
Stevie Wonder has taken plenty of time over his latest album, 10 years to
be exact, but the rock legend said he was determined not to be rushed.
The 55-year-old singer spoke of the sorrow behind his new record "A Time
to Love," raged about terrorism and war, joked about his blindness and
confirmed that he was no longer seeking to restore his sight through new
"The most important thing is, when I do give the music, I'm satisfied with
it, that it speaks for what I want to do," Wonder told reporters in
London, when asked why he had taken so long to return to the studio.
He added that he was not too bothered by criticism of the 15-track record.
While praising Wonder's still-soaring voice, some reviews were less
flattering about the music, with one calling the album "another anonymous
"I'm happy with the reaction that we've received," he said, interspersing
his answers at a news conference with performances of tracks old and new.
"I think there's a stereotype, with how people perceive a black artist
being supposed to do this ... To me music is music and you do whatever
feels good and right.
"For those that have some constructive criticism, I can relate to that,
I'm cool with it, but for those who have just nonsense, I just say I'm not
even thinking about it."
The penultimate song on the album is "Positivity" featuring his daughter
Aisha Morris, and while he sees himself as optimistic, personal tragedy
inspired some of his new music.
"Shelter in the Rain," for example, was written at time when both his
brother and ex-wife Syreeta Wright were diagnosed as being terminally ill.
"That time then was a very, very low time in my life, just knowing that my
brother and Syreeta were going to be here not too much longer. Obviously I
had faith, but I also knew that nothing lasts forever," he said.
He later decided to donate the net proceeds from the track to victims of
Hurricane Katrina in the United States.
The creator of classics including "Superstition," "My Cherie Amour" and
"Happy Birthday" was critical of some artists and labels who avoided
taking on serious issues.
"I think that to a great degree, reggae companies have become very
corporate and so maybe some (artists) don't have that freedom to say
whatever they want to say," Wonder said.
The nine-minute title track on "A Time to Love" is overtly political, and
includes the lines: "Not enough money for the young, the old and the poor;
But for war there is always more."
On a lighter note, when asked if he was still considering surgery to
restore his sight, he joked he would remove his trademark dark glasses and
drive away himself, before adding:
"There's nothing that is happening with my eyes as far as me being able to
Wonder, who has won more than 20 Grammy awards and sold around 70 million
records over a career that has spanned four decades, said he was not done
He plans to make gospel and jazz records, and wants to play smaller venues
before embarking on a "major tour."
Neo-Soul Duo Floetry Back In The Flow
Two years have elapsed since the release of Floetry's live album,
"Floacism," and three years since debut "Floetic." That seems like an
eternity considering the industry's prevailing what's-next attitude. But
the London duo welcomed the respite.
"You can't keep turning it out," declares Natalie Stewart (aka the
Floacist). "You've got to live a bit, or you'll just keep on writing the
same song over and over again."
So after spending the last two years on the road -- including playing this
summer's Essence Festival in New Orleans and taking part in the national
Sugar Water Festival (with Jill Scott, Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu) --
Stewart and partner Marsha Ambrosius (the Songstress) finally were able to
book some studio time. The result is the November 8 release "Flo'Ology"
Romantic love is at the heart of this third album, which once again
centers on the unique pairing of Stewart's lilting spoken word with
Ambrosius' sensual vocals. Providing the musical backdrop is the duo's
signature, smooth blend of soul and funk.
"This album is utterly self-centered," Stewart says. "It's about breaking
ourselves down, knocking ourselves off our pedestals, building up again
and getting knocked off again. It's about articulating your feelings."
"There was no sit down and plan this thing," Ambrosius recalls. "We don't
work that way. We work on how we feel. That may mean there's some grief,
but there's also a lot of love and passion."
The album's first single, "Supastar," featuring Geffen rapper Common, is
one of two contributions from producer Scott Storch. It's No. 57 on the
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Floetry's relationship with Storch dates back to the duo's early days in
Philadelphia; Storch, then-keyboardist for the Roots, and Floetry gigged
around town as part of a new soul movement whose crusaders included Jill
Scott and Musiq.
Floetry had relocated to Philadelphia by way of London. Initially meeting
as rivals on London's basketball courts, Stewart and Ambrosius formally
teamed up as Floetry in 1997. The duo notched its biggest R&B hit so far
in 2003 with the Grammy Award-nominated ballad "Say Yes" from "Floetic."
That album has sold 792,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
As songwriters, the members of Floetry have penned tracks for Michael
Jackson, Scott, Glenn Lewis and Bilal. Recent outside projects include a
song on Earth, Wind & Fire's new "Illumination" set as well as Ambrosius'
cameos on albums by the Game and Styles P.
Floetry began a major-market promo tour October 17. On November 4, the
women started a monthlong VH1 Soul-sponsored club outing.
Blige's 'Breakthrough' Coming Early
Originally planned for February, Mary J. Blige's next studio album, "The
Breakthrough," will now arrive in time for the holiday rush, Billboard has
learned. Due Dec. 20 via Geffen, the set is led by the single "Be Without
You," a video for which will be shot this week in Los Angeles.
That song was previously tipped for inclusion on the retrospective
"Reminisce," which was expected Nov. 22 and then bumped to Dec. 6; that
set will now not see the light of day until at least next spring.
"The Breakthrough" is the follow-up to 2003's "Love and Life," which has
sold nearly 941,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen
Blige will also appear on several upcoming records as a guest artist. She
joins Jamie Foxx on "Love Changes" from his Dec. 20 J release,
"Unpredictable," lends a hand on the Notorious B.I.G. collection "Duets:
The Final Chapter" (Dec. 20, Bad Boy) and has dropped by for LL Cool J's
next set, due next spring via Def Jam.
Goapele Is Out To “Change It All” In December.
Goapele brings an infusion of fresh energy and a classic, yet new sound to
R&B music with her sophomore set, Change It All.
The Oakland, California-based songstress broke onto the Bay Area music
scene in 2001 with her ethereal EP, Closer, and the follow-up full length
album, Even Closer. Released on her family-owned record company, Skyblaze
Recordings, the album's mix of soulful grooves and thought-provoking
lyrics introduced the world to a multi-faceted artist and songwriter,
known as much for her social and political activism as for her lush
"I grew up," Goapele explains, "inspired by a tradition of soulful singers
like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, and Miriam Makeba, people who
created timeless music and positive change in the world. I'm also part of
the hip hop generation, and my influences continue to grow, so my music
has become a blend of many musical traditions."
Critics from Rolling Stone, Billboard, Essence, Vibe, and a host of
others, hailed the songstress as an emerging artist to watch and heralded
Even Closer as an album that was ahead of its time. The inspiring title
track, "Closer," notched #1's on radio playlists from San Francisco to LA
to DC to Baton Rouge, and as of August, 2005, four years after its initial
release, was #1 at the two largest urban stations in Detroit.
Goapele followed up the release of her album debut by hitting the road and
taking her serene -- yet inspiring -- sound to the masses, both stateside
and abroad. Time and again, the singer wowed sold-out crowds with her
emotionally-powerful songs, energetic spirit, and electrifying shows.
While Goapele garnered the support of music critics and fans, a host of
fellow musicians and celebrities--including The Roots, Talib Kweli, Magic
Johnson, Prince and Stevie Wonder--came under the spell of her music,
style and sensibility. "I'm very excited to get the support of artists
I've long admired," she says.
For her new album, Goapele returned to her Bay Area roots to craft an
artistically challenging sophomore set inspired by her recent experiences
both in and out of the industry. The album was recorded largely at her
Skylight studios in Oakland with a combination of old friends Jeff
Bhasker, Mike Tiger, and Amp Live, and fresh collaborators like the
production team Sa-Ra Creative Partners (Jill Scott, Bilal), veteran
producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera), Bay Area hip hop producer
Bedrock (E-40, the Team) and fellow soulster Dwele.
"It was really important to me to work with the people who helped me with
my first album," Goapele says of her long-term and frequent collaborators.
"We know where each other is coming from, so there's already a strong
foundation to create from. And we've all come along way since we made
"Even Closer". Jeff [Bhasker], for example, co-wrote and produced the
title track of The Game's album, 'The Documentary,' last year, so I was
really excited to come back together in the studio with them and share our
new skills and experience."
The result is a collection of love songs and politically and socially
inspired songs that remain true to Goapele's firmly planted soul roots
while allowing her to branch out in a number of exciting, new directions.
Songs like the emotive "Darker Side Of The Moon" and "Love Me Right," with
its electro-pop funk, show Goapele taking aesthetic risks while staying
true to her signature sound.
"What I am happy about was that I don't feel like any of the
collaborations were forced," says Goapele. "They were connections that
were already there, and we were just waiting for the right time to work
Goapele collaborated with Linda Perry on "Darker Side Of The Moon," a
ballad that reflects her ability to travel far beyond the borders of
traditional R&B while strengthening the core values of sweet soul music.
"I met Linda at one of my shows in LA," says Goapele of the collaboration
with Perry, "and we talked about the possibility of working together.
Although I was a fan of her music, I really didn't know how our styles
would mesh, but I'm really proud of what we created together. 'Darker
Side' was inspired by Pink Floyd, who I had recently become a fan of and
had been a favorite of Linda's for years."
The granddaughter of German holocaust survivors and South African
grandparents who lived through apartheid, Goapele knows the importance of
giving back time, energy and resources to the community and the planet.
"I've been involved in community organization since I was 10, so it's
naturally integrated into my music. One of the reasons I wanted to be a
songwriter in the first place was so I could sing lyrics that I believed
in and that come from my heart. I draw from my own experience and the
experiences I've watched others go through. I want my music to truly
represent me, instead of trying to fit stereotypes that women in this
industry are encouraged to fit into."
The title track, "Change It All," started with a song idea," says Goapele.
"I was feeling disempowered and frustrated with the people who were
elected in 2000, and then re-elected, and frustrated about the
disappearing support for music and art and resources that are being taken
away from our local communities in order to fund a war that many of us
don't believe in."
In the spirit of Goapele's interest in positive change, she and Skyblaze
founded an online community that shares its name with her album.
ChangeItAll.org presents Goapele's musical message, highlights political
and social change-makers, and provides a forum for Goapele's fans and
others to network and create ways to promote action, creativity, courage
and positive growth for people and communities everywhere.
"In talking to the team at Skyblaze, we started thinking, 'What if we used
this opportunity to create a tool for other people to connect," she adds.
"So, instead of looking at what's wrong in the world, let's look at what
changes are already happening and use it as a way for people to organize
around those things."
For a singer whose name means 'to move forward' in Sitswana, a South
African language, her new album, Change It All, proves that enlightened
change can be a positive force in the world of music and beyond.
Note: Goapele is pronounced Gwa-pa-lay.