Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Will Downing's voice is one of the most distinctive, loved and instantly recognizable voices in R&B. His flawless, emotive, buttery-smooth and agile honey-toned baritone, along with his impeccable phrasing and jazz-fueled agile runs, seamlessly bridge the worlds of R&B and Jazz. "I pinch myself everyday because I can't believe that after all this time I'm still making music for a living," shares the charismatic singer/songwriter. "19 albums and 28 years of recording later and I'm still blessed. Truly Blessed!!" Shanachie Entertainment will release Black Pearls (July 8, 2016). Black Pearls exemplifies the caliber of songs that Downing has long been associated with. An accomplished composer in his own right, Downing takes on the ultimate challenge on Black Pearls as he reinvigorates chart-topping gems originally performed by some of the greatest female voices to grace R&B. He rekindles the soul and ignites a fire in songs made famous by Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams, Randy Crawford, Cherrelle, Jean Carne and Phyllis Hyman, among others. While remaining true to the essence of the songs, Downing transforms them with the sweet nuances of his own irresistible signature sound. "Phyllis Hyman started this whole project," confesses the Grammy nominated singer who has been dubbed the "Prince of Sophisticated Soul." "I was having a conversation with a friend who also worked with Phyllis. We both agreed that "Meet Me On The Moon" was our favorite Phyllis tune. My friend suggested I remake it. I called my keyboardist/arranger Mike Logan to help with the song. After completing it, I thought maybe this is a great opportunity to pay tribute to other female artists that I have always loved. That's how Black Pearls was born!"
Black Pearls opens with the album's first single and 1988 Cherrelle hit "Everything I Miss At Home." Downing originally met Cherrelle in the 90s during a USO tour. The charismatic and charming vocalist jokes, "My sister calls 'Everything I Miss At Home' the 'you better do right song.'" Will's sublime performance hits all the right notes, signaling for an enchanting journey ahead. "'Don't Ask My Neighbors' has always been a favorite of mine," shares Downing. "The subject of communication will never grow old." Downingadmits to being a long-time fan of The Emotions, not only as a solo act but also as backing vocalists for the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire.
Angela Winbush has been a good friend of Downing's for years and he returns the favor with an impeccable and unforgettable version her #1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts, "Your Smile." "Everyone that hears the beginning of this song does one of two things. They either throw their hands in the air and say 'That's my jam' or they look at me and say "no you didn't!'" Do it he does! Will Downing will leave you breathless with his stunning version.
When you hear the opening four notes of "Get Here," you instantly know what song it is thanks to Brenda Russell, who wrote and recorded the song and Oleta Adams, who later scored a major international hit in the early 90s. Black Pearls unites Downing with many close associates including his wife, the beautiful and talented singer Audrey Wheeler, who has worked with everyone from Chaka Khan and thePointer Sisters to Freddie Jackson and Narada Michael Walden, and that is just the short list. Celebrated saxophonists Najee and Kirk Whalum also make appearances on Black Pearls.
"Street Life" will put you in the groove as Downing serves up a swingin' version of the Randy Crawford/The Crusaders hit featuring the tenor of saxophonist Najee and the funky keyboards of Mike Logan. Black Pearls keeps the hits flowing with Chaka Khan and Rufus' timeless 1977 hit "Everlasting Love." Together with Chris "Big Dog' Davis, Downing wrote a riveting arrangement of one of Deniece Williams' signature tunes, "Black Butterfly," a powerful anthem written by Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil. Dexter Wansel's "Nights Over Egypt," is given a jazzy and exotic treatment and features stellar flute work from saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Phyllis Hyman's "Meet Me On the Moon" is a standout, as Downing's crystal clear and velvety smooth vocals, impeccable diction and tender phrasing conjure up the greatest of love stories. Black Pearls closes with the magnificent "Don't Let It Go To Your Head" which features an orchestra and full horn section.
Monday, June 5, 2017
NEW YORK, NY- VP Records announces the completion of a new album deal with Grammy(R) winning R&B artist Estelle. The full length reggae album is scheduled for a fall 2017 release. The first single, ‘Love Like Ours’ featuring reggae star Tarrus Riley is available with a music video to follow.
The melodic and captivating ‘Love Like Ours’ gives fans a first taste of the upcoming album that will showcase the pivotal influence reggae music has had on the London, England born singer. Raised in a religious, Senegalese/ Grenadian household, Estelle's musical upbringing included a variety of Afro-Caribbean, Gospel, Hip-Hop and dance styles with a healthy dose of reggae music.
Since 2008 and the release of the crossover radio hit "Come Over" featuring reggae star Sean Paul and produced by Supa Dups (Sean Paul, Drake, Party Next Door), fans have been encouraging Estelle to record a reggae album. This project will bring their desires to life with a unique fusion of lover’s rock, afro beats and dancehall flavors anchoring her soulful, R&B vocals. "When I told some friends about doing this album" said Estelle, "they were like - 'finally!'" She continued, "everyone who knows me, understands the deep connection I have to reggae music." Estelle has joined forces with Supa Dups again on this project and her fans excitement for the full album is brewing.
"Love Like Ours" draws you in with smooth guitar and keyboard hooks and keeps the listener engaged with upbeat, feel good lyrics. "The song is shaping up to be the lover's anthem of the summer" said VP records President Randy Chin.
Estelle's performing credits include multiple nominations and a Grammy(R) win for "American Boy," her collaboration with Kanye West, The number one radio record anthem 'Thank You', a number one hit on the Billboard Top 200 with ‘Conqueror’, the epic duet with Jussie Smollet and a recurring cameo role on the FFox Network series Empire. She is also a featured character role on the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe.
Estelle has shown a wide and expanding range of talent and with this album, will complete the musical circle, showcasing one of her earliest musical influences. The singer concluded, "I’m happy to give the people what they have been asking for and I’m proud to share another piece of my life and art with the world.”
‘Love Like Ours’ exclusively premiered on The Jamaica Gleaner today.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Artist: Julian Taylor Band
Title: Coke Bottle Candy
Label: Aporia Records Inc
Genre(s): R&B / Soul / Groove
“In an era when music lovers seem to be required to like one thing, one style, one genre, we get the protean of the Julian Taylor Band – confident enough in their own abilities to delimit the genres and let the soulful beats resound from wider horizons.”
These words from acclaimed Toronto poet Robert Priest beautifully encapsulate the Julian Taylor Band’s new release Desert Star, a double magnum opus reflecting Toronto’s rich musical tapestry. Blending vintage soul, rock, roots, and a touch of hip-hop, the album is a re-birth of sorts for Julian Taylor, one of the country’s most gifted and multi-faceted singer-songwriters.
The Julian Taylor Band began as a blank canvas. They played anywhere and everywhere, as often as possible, knowing that a great band lives and dies by its live reputation. The R&B covers in their sets soon became the wellspring from which a new catalogue of original independent releases arose, landing on their debut Tech Noir, and setting the stage for the creative torrent unleashed on the sophomore Desert Star.
Taylor describes Desert Star himself as modern rhythm and blues: Deep grooves, powerful horns, and just the right amount of pop smarts. A relatively straightforward formula, yes, but Taylor ultimately envisioned the album as four distinct parts, stemming from sessions at various Toronto studios with producers Saam Hashemi, Bill Bell, Brian Moncarz, and David Engle.
“We’re really lucky that we’ve got a core fan base that’s been completely supportive since the beginning,” Taylor says. “There’s definitely been a musical evolution, even though the notion of R&B-meets-rock has always been a part of my sound. It’s just that I’ve learned so much more about songcraft in recent years, and collaborating with the guys in this band, as well as my co-writers and producers, has been a big part of that.”
“The idea to put out a double album really grew out of this huge amount of material we were working, about 70 songs,” Taylor says. “We whittled it down to 22 we felt stood on their own, and at the same time hung together as a cohesive, listening experience. Because we recorded the album over a long period of time in a lot of locations, it was a challenge to maintain a consistent vibe. But everyone was committed to serving the songs, and that’s always been my approach to making music.”
The first taste of Desert Star came early in 2016 with the release of the single “Just A Little Bit,” which received significant airplay in Canada, as well as in the U.S. and Germany. Follow-up singles “Heard Good Things” and “Set Me Free” were warmly embraced as well, with the latter spending eight weeks on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20 chart, where it peaked at number two. A couple more singles preceded the album’s release, the greasy funk jam “Fever” and “Get Loud,” which, although written in 2014, is in tune with today’s social climate with its refrain, “If a change is gonna come, we must get loud.”
It’s a message Julian Taylor has been conveying, perhaps not so directly, ever since he emerged on the Canadian scene. With combined Caribbean and Indigenous Canadian heritage, his unique perspective is a refreshing take on the country’s diverse musical landscape
Desert Star is named after a flower that grows in some of the planet’s harshest terrain, and for Taylor it made perfect sense as a symbol for his music. Beauty can also be resilient, and if one flower can bloom in a desert, many more can as well. The Julian Taylor Band is planting those seeds now, one listener at a time.
Written by Jason Schneider
Sunday, November 6, 2016
>Angeltown Recordings proudly introduces its sophomore release with an amazing masterpiece which is nothing less than delightful. Written, arranged and performed by Stephanie Cooke, "You Changed Me" is also the second single from her forthcoming album, "My Heart," and delivers on every level from her sultry vocal style and passionate lyrics to the perfectly orchestrated track produced by the dynamic duo, Sean Ali & Corey Munkjulius McCue also known as Deepsol Syndicate based out of Chicago, Ill. The rich and sexy bass line leads the way as the beautiful colors develop into this alluring story of romance. Quite the musical journey.
This one promises to keep the dancers dancing and the Soulful House Music Lovers wide open and ready for the next release.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
I want to ask you. Do you remember where you were when you first heard the song ‘Boogie Nights’ by Heatwave? I sure do. It was Saturday night and I was at Studio 47 in San Jose, California. I remember the club had two sides to it. One side was for 21 years or older and the other side was for 16 to 20 years. I was on the 16 to 20 year side and couldn’t wait to get on the other side. The guys looked better. The next day I went to Eastridge Mall in San Jose the and bought the album ‘Too Hot to Handle’. That was my intro to this funk/disco band of the 70s and 80s.
Well one of the creative remembers of Heatwave, Rod Temperton died in late September of 2016 at the age of 66. He was a phenomenal songwriter and keyboardist. This English man from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, wrote or had his hand in most of the hits for Heatwave. Songs like Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, Groove Line, Mind Blowing Decisions and Ain't No Half Steppin. Temperton not only wrote hits for Heatwave. He started working with the one and only Michael Jackson in 1978 and wrote Thriller, Off the Wall, Baby Be Mine, The Lady in My Life, Rock With You and Burn This Disco Out. Temperton amazing talent will be missed but never forgotten. I know when I hear any of the songs he wrote, I will definitely smile. R.I.P
Thursday, September 22, 2016
I am shocked. Amazed. Astonished. Dumbfounded. How have I not ever heard of this R&B singer/songwriter, Jesse Boykins III? I constantly ask myself this question every single time that powerful beat of his, trickles down my ear canal. But just recently I’ve been introduced to his music and boy can I say, that now, I am so happy to have his music in my life. Jesse Boykins III dropped his new album, Bartholomew, this year in late July, which I also found myself listening to over and over again. He started producing albums in 2008, where he released his first album, The Beauty Created. I have yet to check out his other albums, but I definitely know what I’ll be doing this week. And If you like R&B/Soul jams this album will leave you wanting more. What I like the most about this album is all the surprises. Some songs will have you bopping your head and tapping your feet as soon as that first beat drops. Whether it’s the funky beats, dancey vibes, smooth instrumental hip-hop, or those soul jams, the chill of Bartholomew is like food to the your ears. You can’t live without. The rough but chill intro “Earth girls” does a great job of preparing us for the R&B rollercoaster ride Jesse Boykins III has strapped us into. But believe me when I say this is a ride worth waiting in line for. Songs like “Everybody Shut up,” “Into You,” “I Need you,” and “Tomorrow,” just to name a few, are perfect examples of the shifts in styles he presents. Not to high not too deep, this singer-songwriter voice is also something to be amazed by. It’s a shame this artist is very underrated but if his past albums are any good as Bartholomew, I’m sure this artist is one you should be on the lookout for. Bartholomew is truly an amazing album. Now I may be overselling it a bit but my ears just can’t stay away. So, check it out for yourself and you may find yourself glued to this album like I am.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 238-9200
Thu, Jul 7 Fri, Jul 8 8:00 pm /www.yoshis.com/
With their slinky, horn-powered grooves, impeccable musicianship, and eye-popping album covers, the Ohio Players were among the top funk bands of the mid-'70s. Emerging from the musical hotbed of Dayton in 1959, the group was originally dubbed the Ohio Untouchables, and initially comprised singer/guitarist Robert Ward, bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones, saxophonist/guitarist Clarence "Satch" Satchell, drummer Cornelius Johnson, and trumpeter/trombonist Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks. In late 1961, a relative of Ward's founded the Detroit-based Lupine Records, and the group traveled north to the Motor City to back the Falcons on their hit "I Found a Love"; the Ohio Untouchables soon made their headlining debut with "Love Is Amazing," but when Ward subsequently exited for a solo career, the group essentially disbanded.
At that point, the nucleus of Middlebrooks, Jones, and newly added guitarist Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner returned to Dayton; there they recruited saxophonist Andrew Noland and drummer Gary Webster, the latter a somewhat elusive figure whose true involvement in the group's convoluted history has never been definitively answered — some sources credit him as a founding Untouchable, others even as the band's early leader. In any case, by 1967, with the subsequent addition of singers Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, the newly rechristened Ohio Players were signed as the house band for the New York-based Compass Records, backing singer Helena Ferguson on her lone hit, "Where Is the Party," before issuing their solo debut, "Trespassin'," which hit the R&B charts in early 1968.
Although the Players' trademark bottom-heavy, horn-driven sound was already blossoming, their follow-up, "It's a Cryin' Shame," flopped, and as Compass teetered on the brink of bankruptcy they exited the label. (Their early Compass sides were later packaged as First Impressions.) The Players then landed on Capitol, where 1969's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" was a minor hit; an LP, Observations in Time, soon followed, with covers of "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow" offering a strong hint of the stylistic detours to follow. In 1970 the group disbanded, however; Fears and Robinson both mounted solo careers, while the remaining members again decamped to Dayton, eventually re-forming with keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison, trumpeter Bruce Napier, and trombonist Marvin Pierce.
Influenced by the groundbreaking funk of Sly & the Family Stone — and with the nasal, cartoon-voiced Bonner assuming vocal duties — the new Ohio Players lineup made their debut with the single "Pain," issued on the small local label Rubber Town Sounds; it was soon picked up for distribution by the Detroit-based Westbound label, reaching the R&B Top 40 in late 1971. An LP, also titled Pain, appeared that same year, and was followed in 1972 by Pleasure, which launched the absurdist smash "Funky Worm." Ecstacy appeared in 1973, and after 1974's Climax, the Players signed to Mercury; the label change also heralded yet more lineup changes, with keyboardist Billy Beck replacing Morrison (who later signed on with Parliament) and drummer Jimmy "Diamond" Williams taking over for Webster.
At Mercury, the Ohio Players enjoyed their greatest success; not only did their sound coalesce, but they became notorious for their sexually provocative LP covers, a tradition begun during their Westbound tenure. Their 1974 Mercury debut, Skin Tight, was their first unequivocal classic, launching the hit title track as well as "Jive Turkey." Its follow-up, Fire, remains the Players' masterpiece, topping the pop charts on the strength of its bone-rattling title cut, itself a number one hit; "I Want to Be Free," one of the band's few attempts at social commentary, was also highly successful. 1975's Honey — which featured perhaps the Players' most controversial and erotic cover to date — was another monster, generating the chart-topping masterpiece "Love Rollercoaster" in addition to the hits "Sweet Sticky Thing" and "Fopp."
The insistent "Who'd She Coo?" from 1976's Contradiction, was the Players' last number one R&B hit; "O-H-I-O," from 1977's Angel, was their last major hit on any chart, and as the 1970s drew to a close, the band's fortunes continued to decline. 1979's Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee was their final Mercury effort, and upon signing to Arista, the Players returned with Everybody Up, followed by a pair of dismal releases on Boardwalk, 1981's Tenderness and 1982's Ouch! After 1984's Graduation, four years passed prior to the release of their next effort, Back; no new material was forthcoming, although various lineups continued performing live well into the following decade. Founding member "Satch" Satchell died in late 1995, while "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks passed on in late 1996.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Do you ever hear a song that takes you back and you know exactly where you were? As I was listening to Change’s song "The Glow of Love" it reminded me of good times, simpler times when I was single and mingling.
Change was an Italian-American group that was formed in Bologna, Italy in 1979 by Jacques Fred Petrus businessman and executive producer and Mauro Malavasi. Many considered Change to be a clone of Chic. Granted, there were some similarities both featured dynamic bass lines in their music. They were fronted by mostly studio singers but there was one unknown singer at the time by the name of Luther Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005). One of my all-time favorite singers. Oh, could that man sing? Change had their time in the spotlight during the late 70's and early 80's. However, Change did score on the charts with some significant dance tunes. "A Lover's Holiday," the group's debut single, was a very danceable song that fit in with the current pop hits. "Searching" and "The Glow of Love" benefit enormously from the vocals of Luther Vandross. Some more of my favorite tunes are, "Paradise", "Change of Heart" and "Turn On Your Radio".
People don’t remember Change until they hear their songs. Streetwise Radio is playing their songs, so checkout this blast from the past.
People don’t remember Change until they hear their songs. Streetwise Radio is playing their songs, so checkout this blast from the past.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
I love to hear artists who have their own take on music. The originality of how they put it all together is mind blowing. I can’t believe Ahmed Sirour, this guy is awesome. This composer, arranger, producer, sound engineer from Brooklyn, New York is a self-taught musician and a gift to the music universe. I say this because his remixes and mash ups of songs like, "Always Get Away" - Lenora Jaye, "Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson, "Brazilian Skies" - Bill Summers, "Eleanor Rigby" - The Beatles, "Family Affair" - Sly & The Family, "Love Wicki Like This" - The Fatback Band &Faith Evans and "The Funky Keyboardist" - Clyde Stubblefield/James Brown is pure genius. Ahmed can put out a series of singles and albums. Some are Jazzy, Funky instrumentals, poetry and some have singers on there that can truly sing no auto-tunes anywhere. Singers like Yvette Rovira, Yahzarah, Lenora Jaye and Michelle Thompson. Ahmed Sirour in my opinion is one amazing musician that no doubt will be going on my play list. Check out Ahmed Sirour’s, The B’Earthday Boy Collection on Streetwise Radio you will be amazed at this talented musician and become a fan.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Back in the late 80s if you were having a house party and you wanted to get the party started all the
DJ had to do was play “Da Butt” by EU. This song doesn't get the credit it deserves. We were doing this dance all most thirty years ago. Da Butt has influenced the dance they call twerking. It reminded me of Spike Lee’s movie School Daze a musical comedy drama. Which was based on his involvements at Atlanta's Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. It made me go back and watch it. I’m glad I did, it reminded me of how he has stayed true to himself. He’s always socially conscious and he makes movies about that, like his latest movie “Chi-Raq”. Well enough of that, that’s another story.
Back to EU they were a Go Go band out of Washington D.C. in the 80s and 90s. Go-Go is a popular music subgenre associated with funk that originated in Washington, D.C. They had several chart making songs of course “Da Butt” was their biggest hit. They also had “Taste Of Your Love” and “Buck Wild”. Fun Fact: E.U. recorded “Knock 'em Out, Sugar Ray” without any keyboards. Just vocals, drums, percussion, bass, horns and lead guitar. They were a funky band here are two more funky songs with that Go-Go beat, “Future Funk” and "Livin Large". EU experienced a return in the mid to late 1990s. They partnered with the jazz, gospel and pop singer Maiesha Rashad. They performed under her, Maiesha and The Hip Huggers featuring E.U. They have headlined events and concert venues such as B.B. King's Blues Club and Grill, DAR Constitution Hall, Black Family Reunion and D.C.'s Stone Soul Picnic. Another fun fact: In 2012, "Da Butt" was licensed for an Xbox 360 game Dance Central 3. EU was a funk band that truly brought the funk. For all you who haven’t heard of Experience Unlimited or EU check them out on Streetwise Radio. Enjoy!
Monday, February 8, 2016
December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016
My heart breaks! I’m so blessed to have grown up in the 70's. I just remember afros, beads, and good times! Simple times, the best times. Ever since Earth Wind & Fire began back in the 70s, I have loved their music. I had the honor of seeing Earth Wind & Fire in the 70s and the 80s. Each time I saw them they were fantastic! How many bands can claim, that not one of their songs is about anything negative? Always about love, happiness, celebration and being the best you can be. I heard someone say, Maurice wasn’t really a singer. I wanted to slap the mess out of them. I challenge them, go on YouTube and look for: Unreleased song by Maurice White/ EWF. The man not only could sing but had a beautiful voice. He and Philip Bailey were the lead singer of the group. He was also an amazing songwriter and the main songwriter. There will never be another like Maurice White. I had a lot of favorite songs back in the day but two of the most beautiful songs ever recorded in my opinion was “Reasons” and “Devotion”. Every time I here, “After the love has gone”, “Would You Mind”, “Can't Hide Love”, "That's The Way of The World", “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Let's Groove”, “Fantasy”, "That's The Way of The World" and “Sing a Song” . I will remember Maurice White with a smile on my face. The World has lost an Icon a legend to Parkinson's disease, he passed away in his sleep. Thank You Lord for giving him to us for 74 years. Maurice White the founder of EWF, has inspired so many people around the world. With his amazing music and great message. He was indeed a Shining Star and we will all Keep our Heads to the Sky! Thank You for what you left us in your music that will live forever. R.I.P. you will be missed.