New Album from Brooklyn Soul GroupTHE REVELATIONSThe Cost of Living set for releaseFirst single "Why When Love is Gone" available now as free downloadThe Revelations are set to release their fourth studio recording entitled The Cost of Living (Decision/Red River/Sony RED Music) on . The new record displays the Brooklyn, NY band's trademark postmodern take on the classic soul/blues/rock sound, something The New York Times' Jon Pareles called "old fashioned soul songs for twenty-first century hard times."
Led by vocalist and songwriter Rell Gaddis, The Cost
of Living was recorded at Willie Mitchell's legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, TN and features five
original songs and three cover tunes. From the first single a throbbing cut of a 1960's Isley Brothers tune "Why When Love is Gone", to the Memphis soul drenched original "Game of Love", The Cost of Living captures listeners very quickly.
NPR says the group "blends the sounds of the bluesy rural South and gritty urban streets" and "crafts a sound that's timeless and undeniably energetic."
Produced by Bob Perry and Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell the album also features the bass driven "Mama", written by Rell and the band, about a single mother scrounging to raise her children, alongside the jaded optimism of the reggae tinged rocker "It's Okay." With the hard funk groove of "Money Makes The World Go 'Round" to the heart-broken disillusionment of the soul classic "Got To Use My Imagination" , The Revelations continue their tradition of presenting blues topics with soul music's urgency, weaving tales of perseverance despite hardship.
Alongside Gaddis (a former Roc-A-Fella signee), The Revelations feature Wes Mingus on guitar, Gintas Janusonis on drums, and newcomer Ben Zwerin on bass. The album also features Stax and Hi Records session legends Bobby Manuel (guitar), Lester Snell (keyboards), and Charles Hodges (organ).
Since they first came on the scene in 2008 with their Deep Soul EP (Decision), The Revelations have made a significant impact on the blues/soul scene. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News wrote, "The (Revelations) songs' melodies often recall the work of '70s soul stars, but they're played with a '60s fury". Adds Soul Tracks "... rich music where nothing's artificial, nothing's counterfeit, and everything's just pure, all natural soul."
The Revelations have provided musical backing for icons such as the Wu-Tang Clan and Lee "Scratch" Perry, as well as soul royalty Otis Clay, Willie Clayton, Benny Latimore, and Swamp Dogg. Their engaging and energetic live performances have won over audiences from Brooklyn to the Mississippi Delta to California as well as Europe, and helped them create fans such as A-listers B.B. King, Bobby Womack and Stevie Wonder in the process.
This is new, true soul music with a sharp, modern edge.ALBUM INFORMATION:1-Mama
2-Why When Love Is Gone3-Higher4-It's Okay
5-Money Makes The World Go 'Round
6-The Game of Love
8-Got To Use My ImaginationFree Single Download Link: Why When Love Is Gone
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Karyn White is one of my favorite singers-songwriters. In 1988, her self-titled debut album launched her career. She had three songs on this album to hit number one on the R&B charts. They were “Superwoman,” “The Way You Love Me” and the duet single with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, “Love Saw It. White released two more albums: “Ritual of Love” in 1991 and “Make Him Do Right” in 1994. Now almost 20 years later, she’s back! The songbird from the 80s and 90s is doing what she does best--ringing her fans the gift of her voice. White’s 2012 album “Carpe Diem,” has grown woman music on it. The songs “Sista, Sista,” ”Seize The Day,” “Unbreakable” and “My Heart Cries” are picks. White has an amazing vocal range. She is truly seizing the day. You can listen to Karyn White songs on Streetwise Radio. Also listen to Streetwise Radio on MyGen365, Athena365, Live365, iTunes, Pandora and Gilroy Radio.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Lyfe Jennings is talented, amazing, story teller with that true R&B soul sound. As I’m sitting here listening to all of his music, I am truly astonished how his lyrics tell a story. This forty year old singer-songwriter, record producer and instrumentalist from Toledo, Ohio has had his struggles throughout his life. He served for 10 years for felony arson that was in 1992. He was released from prison in 2002 and his debut album was out in 2004. It was called “Lyfe 268-192”. It went platinum. I really like this album, it is soulful and he is singing about his life struggles. Even though he has put out 4 more albums since his debut he seems to still struggle in his personal life. In 2008 he got into an argument with the mother of his child. The singer kicked down the door of a house in Smyrna, Georgia, in an attempt to find Joy Pound and later fired a gun outside. Smyrna police reported a 2005 Corvette fleeing the scene, and Jennings was caught after a high-speed chase that ended when the singer smashed the vehicle. He refused a sobriety test. Jennings was handed misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass, discharging a firearm near a public highway and refusal to take a DUI test, in addition to two felony counts of attempting to elude an officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He served 2 years (2010-2012). Even though with all his challenges Lyfe Jennings is an amazing talent that is so underrated. It was hard for me to choose my favorite songs from Lyfe Jennings but I put together a small list and here it is, “Hypothetically”, “Must Be Nice”, “Never Never Land”, “Let's Stay Together”, “Stick Up Kid”, “Will I Ever”, “Cry”, “If Tomorrow Never Comes”, “Goodbye”, “I'll Always Love You”, “ABCs”, "Haters", "Hero", “It Coulda Been Worse”, “26 years, 17 days”, “Made Up My Mind” and “She Got Kids”. Streetwise Radio is playing the gift to the music world, Lyfe Jennings! You can listen to Streetwise Radio on iTunes, Pandora, Athena365, Live365, MyGen365 and Gilroy Radio.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
After listening to DJ INC & the Soul People’s song “Bubbs to do List” on Streetwise Radio, I knew I had to hear more. Their sound is pure harmony! The musicianship is fantastic. These Chicagoans with their pulse on a variety of music styles has been doing their thing for over a decade. I like their music because of the jazz, acid jazz, hip hop, house/dance, dancehall, soul, neo soul and Brazilian styles. It makes for an amazing trap sound. While listening to the CD “The Afterset Session, Volume 2,” I knew DJ INC and the Soul People’s songs were going on my playlist. Here are three songs that I like: “Outfit Together,” “Steppers Swagger,” and ‘Bubbs to do List.” Check out DJ INC & the Soul People’s music on Streetwise Radio. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on MyGen365, Athena365, Live365, iTunes, Pandora and Gilroy Radio.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
We are playing the song "Just Tell Me Now" by Shantel Robinson on
We think this dynamic and beautiful singer from Jamaica is poised to
take off .
Shantel Robinson was born on November 16, 1990 and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She attended Hydel Preparatory and Immaculate Conception High Schools. She is currently a student at the University of Technology, Jamaica where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and majoring in Finance and Banking.
Shantel Robinson recently released her debut single “Just Tell Me Now” in July 2013, and looking forward to release more singles soon. Her genres are Pop, R&B and Freestyle music. She commenced singing at the age of 4 and was a “Choir Leader” at Hydel Preparatory School and was given the honour to sing a solo-part as a “soprano singer” at the “Hydel’s Anniversary Celebration” and she was also a member of the church choir.
Shantel has always wanted to become a recording artiste and songwriter from she was in preparatory school but her mother kept telling her to complete her education first; then she can pursue her dream. She has a passion for singing and she thinks this is the time for her to pursue same and give it her best. Shantel has written all her songs and her inspiration comes from singers like Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, Beyonce and Rihanna.
During her years in Preparatory and High schools, she began participating in tracks at the age of 8 years and accomplished medals and trophies at both the “JISA Inter-Prep. Championship” and the “Boys and Girls’ Track and Field Championship”. She was a former class two Champion Girl, Deputy Captain, Class Monitor, Prefect, Runner-Up Sports Girl, Runner-Up All-Round Girl and Sports Girl of the year.
After she graduated from high school, she competed in the “Caribbean Model Search Competition 2010” at Pulse Modelling Agency and was a finalist that same year and participated in Pulse’s “Talent Bikini Show” singing Christina Aguilera’s song “Beautiful”. She was one of the models on the Reality Television Show (Season 1) “Mission Catwalk 2011” and modelled in various “Fashion Shows” by walking the runway for local and overseas fashion designers.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Studded Lineup of Performers and Presenters for the 2013 Soul Train Awards
CHAKA KHAN, GLADYS KNIGHT, VANESSA WILLIAMS, WARREN G, BORIS KODJOE, VIVICA A. FOX, JON B., VANILLA ICE AND MORE ADDED TO THE STAR-STUDDED LINEUP OF PERFORMERS AND PRESENTERS FOR THE SOUL TRAIN AWARDS 2013
The 2013 Soul Train Awards Tapes November 8th, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Featuring 90s Nostalgia Moments, a Blue-Eyed Soul Tribute and Special Honorees
NEW YORK, NY – October 30, 2013 – CENTRIC, a BET Network, today added to its star-studded lineup of performers and presenters for this year’s SOUL TRAIN AWARDS 2013. Presenters will include Bill Bellamy, Boris Kodjoe, Vanessa A. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Kandi Burruss, Michelle Williams, Vanilla Ice, Dolvett Quince, Mario Van Peebles, Raheem Devaughn, Nicole Ari Parker, George Benson, E-40, Larenz Tate, Hanif Carter, E!’s Alicia Quarles, Sommore and Vawn. Additionally, performers Chaka Khan, Doug E. Fresh, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Gladys Knight, Bobby V, Dave Koz, Jon B., Kenny Lattimore, Ruben Studdard, Warren G., Big Daddy Kane, and Stokley Williams will join the lineup of previously announced performers including Jennifer Hudson, Tamar Braxton, K. Michelle, Ron Isley, Wale, Eric Benet, Candice Glover, Kem, Chrisette Michele, Bobby Caldwell and Joss Stone. Comedian and actor Anthony Anderson will host the event in Las Vegas on November 8th, which will air on CENTRIC and BET, December 1, 2013 at 8PM ET.
This year’s show pays homage to the soul soundtrack of the 90s, allowing fans to reminisce on a decade of influential black cinema and music. The night will feature special moments and tributes including a 90’s Hip-Hop performance with Warren G, Dougie E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane and more, as well as a Blue-Eyed Soul performance featuring Joss Stone, Bobby Caldwell, Jon B. and Dave Koz honoring yesterday’s and today’s biggest blue-eyed superstars.
“We have carefully curated our lineup of performers and presenters to bring viewers a mix of today’s hottest acts, legends in soul and our favorite 90s nostalgia moments,” said Paxton Baker, General Manager and Executive Vice President, CENTRIC. “Every year we are excited to bring the rich Soul Train brand to life and look forward to making this the most eclectic and entertaining Soul Train Awards yet.”
For the first time, The Soul Train Awards will expand to a second stage featuring a rotating mix of DJs including Big Tigger. Grammy Award winning producers 1500 or Nothin’ and legendary keyboardist Greg Phillinganes have been tapped as music directors for the show and keeping the party going throughout the night.
Check out the full list of nominees below!
Best New Artist
Centric Certified Award
Best Gospel/Inspirational Performance
Break Every Chain - Tasha Cobbs
Every Praise - Hezekiah Walker
God Will Make Away - Shirley Caesar
If He Did It Before…Same God - Tye Tribbett
Life & Favor - John P. Kee & New Life
Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year
Bad - Wale feat. Tiara Thomas
High School - Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Wayne
Holy Grail - Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake
Poetic Justice - Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake
Power Trip - J. Cole feat. Miguel
Started From the Bottom - Drake
Best R&B/Soul Female Artist
Best R&B/Soul Male Artist
Album of the Year
The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake
Good Kid, m.A.A.d City – Kendrick Lamar
Kaleidoscope Dream - Miguel
Magna Carta… Holy Grail – Jay Z
The Side Effects of You - Fantasia
Unapologetic - Rihanna
Song of the Year
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell & T.I.
Fine China – Chris Brown
Love and War – Tamar Braxton
Poetic Justice – Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake
Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z
The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award
Crooked Smile – J.Cole (Jermaine Cole, Meleni Smith)
Fire We Make – Alicia Keys feat. Maxwell (Gary Clark Jr., Warren Felder, Alicia Keys, Andrew Wansel)
Lose to Win – Fantasia (Francine Golde, Dennis Lambert, Andrea Martin, Walter Orange, Harmony Samuels)
Love & War – Tamar Braxton (Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper Jr., LaShawn Daniels, Makeba Riddick)
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake (James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, Timothy Mosley, Justin Timberlake)
Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu (Roman GianArthur Irvin , Dr. Nathaniel Irvin III, Charles Joseph II, Janelle Monáe Robinson, Kellis Parker Jr.)
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
Body Party - Ciara
Fine China – Chris Brown
Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu
Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z
Treasure – Bruno Mars
Video of the Year
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell & T.I. (Diane Martel)
Fine China – Chris Brown (Chris Brown, Sylvain White)
Love & War – Tamar Braxton (Walid Azami)
Poetic Justice – Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake (The Lil Homie, Dave Free, and Dangeroo Kipawaa)
Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu (Alan Ferguson)
Started from the Bottom – Drake (Director X)
Alicia Keys feat. Maxwell – Fire We Make
Brandy feat. Chris Brown – Put It Down
J.Cole feat. Miguel – Power Trip
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.
Miguel feat. Kendrick Lamar – How Many Drinks
Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell & T.I. – Blurred Lines
Wale feat. Sam Dew – LoveHate Thing
Best International Performance (CENTRICTV.com)
Differentology - Bunji Garlin
The Fog - Machel Montano
Next To Me - Emeli Sande
Personally - P-Square
Ur Waist – Iyanya
Best Traditional Jazz Performance (CENTRICTV.com)
George Benson feat. Wynton Marsalis – Unforgettable
Jeffrey Osborne feat. Chaka Khan – Baby it’s Cold Outside
Tony Bennett feat. Marc Anthony – For Once In My Life
Nicole Henry – Waiting In Vain
Terrence Blanchard – Pet Step Sister’s Theme Song
Best Contemporary Jazz Performance (CENTRICTV.com)
Jose James - Trouble
Boney James feat. Rick Braun – Batucada (The Beat)
Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day
Dave Koz – Got To Get You Into My Life
George Duke – Missing You
Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance (CENTRICTV.com)
Ashanti - Never Should Have
Brian McKnight - Sweeter
Kenny Lattimore - Find A Way
Maysa - Love Me Good
Raheem DeVaughn - Love Connection
Ronald Isley – Dinner And A MovieFor more information, please visit BET.com/SoulTrain. Follow us at @centrictv and @bet, and join the conversation with #SoulTrainAwards #WeGot
Saturday, October 12, 2013
When rapper Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion) called lead vocalist L.J. Reynolds of the Dramatics and asked him to appear on his album “Doggystyle” in the early nineties, the iconic singer said a quick no.
After all, the Dramatics had 38 top 10 single from the 1970s to the 1980s, including “Watcha See is Watcha Get,” “Get Off My Mountain,” and one of the greatest “baby making” songs of all time “In the Rain.” Known for their flawless harmonies, natty suits and smooth choreography, the Dramatics have inspired a countless artists.
“I had heard of Snoop Dogg, and I didn’t want anything to do with him from what I had heard,” said Reynolds. “That was before I got to know the man. Snoop said to me, ‘Mr. Reynolds, I didn’t hurt anybody. My mother plays your records all the time, man, and I just have to have y’all on my new album. He said to me, ‘My album’s got a million orders already and I haven’t finished it yet.’ I said, a million orders? What’s the address? We went to the studio and cut the album, but I didn’t know that it would be a gangsta record. They had to do two versions, because if you listen to the uncensored version, you wouldn’t want your granddaughter to hear it.”
Ironically, appearing on “Doggystyle” and in the video “Doggy Dogg World” in 1993 could not have been a better opportunity, because it exposed the Dramatics to a new generation of hip hop fans of all races. Working with Snoop Dogg and Da Dogg pound earned the Dramatics an MTV Award.
Formed in Detroit, MI 1962 by Rob Davis, Ron Banks, Larry Reed, Robert Ellington, Larry “Squirrel” Demps and Elbert Wilkins, the group was originally called the Dynamics. Reynolds joined the group in 1972. Reynolds hails from Saginaw, Michigan, the city that produced Motown legends such as Stevie Wonder.
In a phone interview from his Detroit home, Reynolds said that he and the Dramatics are looking forward to shaking it well at Yoshi’s San Francisco this weekend.
“We’re going to go all the way from the beginning, from ‘Whatcha See is Whatcha Get,’ to ‘In the Rain,’ ‘Get Off My Mountain,’ ‘Fell For You,’ ‘Shake it Well,’ ‘Get Up and Get Down’ and ‘Me and Mrs. Jones,’ said Reynolds, whose vocals range from first tenor to baritone. “We’ve got a lot of fans and a lot of songs to put out for them. I’ve never been to Yoshi’s, but I hear it’s a beautiful place, and I’m looking forward to being up close and personal. That’s what’s so good about it; the audience will be able to stand there and look us eye to eye and get the message, because we are sure going to deliver it. We have five singers, a three piece horn section, and a four piece rhythm section.”
Veteran DJ, music historian and concert promoter Harry Duncan, producer of the San Francisco-based radio show, “In the Soul Kitchen” (http://inthesoulkitchen.blogspot.com) considers the Dramatics among the most important and influential of the '70's soul vocal groups, along with the Spinners and the Stylistics, the O'Jays and the Detroit Emeralds.
“The harmonies, arrangements and production of their songs like ‘Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,’ ‘In the Rain’ and ‘The Devil Is Dope’ gave them a signature sound and are '70's soul classics,” said Duncan. “Some of their songs like "The Devil Is Dope" have been liberally sampled by various hip hop artists.”
The Dramatics’ song “Oceans of Thoughts and Dreams’ was sampled by Beyonce and Destiny’s Child. Cross culturally, the Dramatics have also influenced Jamaican harmony groups such as the Mighty Diamonds, the Tamlins and the Melodians.
I asked Reynolds about the origin of the ubiquitous party anthem, “Watcha See is Watcha Get.” The song was written and produced by Tony “Uncle Fester” Hester, who also penned “In the Rain” and other early Dramatics hits.
I asked Reynolds about the origin of the ubiquitous party anthem, “Watcha See is Watcha Get.” The song was written and produced by Tony “Uncle Fester” Hester, who also penned “In the Rain” and other early Dramatics hits.
“It took us to the level where we needed to be, and all the other records followed,” said Reynolds. I have several gold records here at the house, basically, every record after ‘Watcha See is Watcha Get.’ Some people from the seventies era know about ‘Watcha See is Watcha Get,’ and in the eighties, we developed a whole other audience with hit records like ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ All of those songs sold just as many records as ‘Watcha See is Watcha Get,’ but they were sold to an R&B audience.”
After more than 40 years with the group, Reynolds is proud of the Dramatics’ diverse fan base.
“We have a pretty decent group of people who come out to see us,” said Reynolds, who has performed at large scale music festivals such as the Stone Soul Picnic. “The great thing about us is that all nationalities like the Dramatics.”
I asked Reynolds what was like recording for the iconic Stax record label during the peak of the R&B movement.
“Al Bell was running Stax records when the Dramatics got there,” said Reynolds. “It was a great experience; I mean, Stax was the soulman’s company. A lot of people wanted to go and get that Memphis sound, that Stax sound, and we were fortunate enough to become part of Stax. I’m still friends with Al Bell today, and we still do a lot of Stax records songs, such as “Ship Won’t Sail Without You’ at our concerts.
I asked Reynolds what was it like being a part of another great musical movement, the “Soul Train,” television dance show featuring Don Cornelius, whose life tragically ended in 2012.
“We were on ‘Soul Train’ probably more than any other artists,” said Reynolds. “In a 15-year span, any time we released an album, we were on ‘Soul Train.’ I have a tape here at the house, and I watch myself performing on ‘Soul Train’ from age 21 to 30. Don Cornelius was a very business oriented guy. He only smiled for the camera. When he was off camera, he didn’t smile much. At times, it seemed like he had an unhappy face, but he was a great friend. He developed something that made a lot of people famous, because once you appeared on ‘Soul Train,’ you achieved a certain amount of notoriety in the record industry.”
Reynolds is particularly proud of the Dramatics’ television history, which goes all the way back to appearances on the Mike Douglas show, Red Fox specials and Arsenio Hall.
Along with touring with the Dramatics, Reynolds is currently working on his solo career. He has two popular songs on Youtube, a remake of Marvin Gaye’s “Come Get to This” and “You Sure Love to Ball,” which he will also perform at Yoshi’s. Reynolds also runs his own record label, Motor City Hits. www.motorcityhits.com.
In closing, I asked Reynolds for his personal definition of soul.
“When you feel something and you put it out, the other person has to feel it, too,” said Reynolds. “If they don’t feel it, then you ain’t got no soul. When you put it out like James Brown singing ‘Get up off of that thing,’- that’s soul. Soul is a person who knows how to deliver, like Teddy Pendergrass and even L.J. Reynolds. You say to yourself, wow, he got soul!”
Friday, October 4, 2013
I remember seeing Mishon Ratliff on the television show Lincoln Heights in 2007. I was watching an episode and he was singing, I thought this guy man can sing. Well this 20 year old actor, dancer, musician and singer from Los Angeles California, has a single out called “Older Girl”. This song will have the Cougars jumping out of their skin. I had no idea that he had out put three mix-tapes and was doing his thing as a singer. The three mix-tapes are “The Homecoming” in 2010, “Introducing Yung Hustle” in 2011 and “The Gift” in 2013. Mishon had four singles that did well on the R&B charts they were “Break You Off”, “You're The One”, “Excuse Me Mama” and “Turn It Up” I like all of them. Tune into Streetwise Radio and listen to “Older Girl” and other songs from the talented Mishon Ratliff. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on MyGen365, Athena365, Live365, iTunes, Pandora a Gilroy Radio Station.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
What can I say about Richard Darbyshire a real old school soul singer? This 53 year old U.K. artist from Stockport and Cheshire, England reminds me of Lou Rawls. Who still is one of my all-time favorite singers? What I like about Richard Darbyshire is his songwriting style is very uplifting and positive. He has written songs for Lisa Stansfield, Mike Francis, Frank Musker, Richard Niles, James Last, Level 42, Jennifer Rush and many others. It amazes me that the artists from the U.K. are underrated and you don’t get to hear them hear in the U.S. Some of my favorite songs that from Richard Darbyshire are “This I swear”, “Wherever Love Is Found”, “Nothing Can Keep Me Away”, “Love Will Provide” and “When Only Love Will Do”. DJ Michael Ealey has done it again. If you like listening to real amazing soul singer’s tune into Streetwise Radio and get your soul on. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on Pandora, iTunes, MyGen365, Live365, Athena365 and Gilroy Radio.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Michael Jackson’s Former Chef Hosts Aug. 29th Birthday Dinner For the King of Pop By Shelah Moody Photo by Livonn Adam
Who: Chef Mani Niall hosts a birthday dinner in honor of Michael Jackson, with surprise guests!
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, August 29th.
Where: Sweet Bar Bakery, 2355 Broadway, Oakland, CA
Info: www.sweetbarbarkery.com, 510-788-4997.
As a teenager and devout Michael Jackson Fan, I made a pilgrimage to his favorite hangouts, the Golden Temple vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood, CA. One blazing summer day, my best friend and I caught several busses just to catch a glimpse of the exotic building with the gleaming pointed dome where our idol regularly dined, but we never went in. Ironically, decades later, I had the privilege of meeting Mani Niall, who studied under chef Akasha Richmond at the Golden Temple, and later became Michael Jackson’s private chef during the time he was recording his iconic “Thriller” album in the early eighties.
I spoke with Niall during the grand opening of his Sweet Bar Bakery (located in downtown Oakland, a few blocks from the historic Paramount Theatre) in December as the hands on chef waited on customers and pulled his delicious creations from the oven. Niall shared fond and poignant memories of Jackson, who would have turned 55 this year.
In honor of the King of Pop’s birthday, Niall will host a birthday dinner at the Sweet Bar Bakery, featuring a variety of Jackson’s favorite entrees and desserts on Thursday August 29, creating magic with his food as Jackson did with his music.
Shelah Moody: As an award winning chef to the stars, what made you decide to open a bakery in the Bay Area?
Mani Niall: Well, I owned a bakery in Los Angeles for many years, and after moving to the Bay Area, I took a break from that world. But in the back of my mind, I wanted to own my own bakery again. I sold the bakery in LA to my partners, and it kept going for about another 10 years. If you open a good bakery in the right neighborhood, it has a life. I think bakeries are less competitive than restaurants. Bakeries are very heart and soul; they are very neighborhood. I was always on the lookout for finding the right place at the right time.
SM: When and how did you meet Michael Jackson?
MN: I was working at a little restaurant (the Golden Temple) in Hollywood, where Michael was eating when he was recording “Thriller.” He really liked the food. I came to work one day and the manager told me that Michael Jackson had been eating there and he loved the food and he wanted food brought to the studio. Since we were launching a catering department, the job fell in my lap. The next thing I knew, I was bringing food to the studio, and Michael would still come into the restaurant once in a while. When I would bring food to the studio, I would bring food to Michael and Quincy Jones and one day, Paul McCartney. I think Michael was very comfortable with me. It was an easy fit, an easy connection. He liked my food, and I wasn’t pushing it in his face. I was very comfortable feeding Michael and his guests, whether they were celebrities or his friends from his church. From there, Michael asked me to do more and more catering.
SM: Tell us about some of Michael Jackson’s favorite foods.
MN: Spicy, New Mexican enchiladas. That was a dish that we had on our menu that he loved. Occasionally, we did Moroccan shish kabobs. We did a vegetarian version of a Chinese chicken salad with tofu and roasted Portobello mushrooms, almonds and cashews and a miso lime dressing—very similar to something that we make here at Sweet Bar. Michael had a big sweet tooth! He liked his spicy ethnic foods and he liked his desserts. His favorite desserts were ice cream, sweet potato pie and cookies. I used to make these maple, almond and pecan shortbreads that we called “ookies.” Michael’s bodyguards teased him; here was no sugar or white flour, so they weren’t cookies, they were “ookies.”
SM: When was the last time that you saw Michael Jackson?
MN: Let me tell you the story--it is really amazing. I hadn’t worked for Michael for a couple of years. I used to have a long beard and long hair and I had shaved it all off. One of Michael’s bodyguards recognized me at a concert on the “Bad” tour. The bodyguard didn’t recognize me at first, but when he realized who I was, he yanked me out of the audience and we went backstage and he brought me right to Michael. Michael didn’t recognize me, and his bodyguard started laughing, and said, “Michael, this is Mani!” Michael ran his hand over my chin and said, “your beard is gone, your face is so smooth!” Michael gave me a big hug and said “it’s so good to see you!” We chatted for a minute. Then, Michael ran onto the stage, because the concert had started. I floated back to my seat, feeling like a million bucks! I got to see Michael performing on his own. When I was working with him, he was with his brothers on the “Victory” tour. This was Michael, doing Michael’s music, with his dancers, doing the video (routines) from “Thriller” “Beat it” and “Smooth Criminal.” I was on cloud nine. I had that connection with him backstage; that was the last moment.
SM: What do you think of the Michael Jackson fan community in the Bay Area?
MN: They are amazing! They are insane in a wonderful way! They’ve created these flash mobs, and they have the dances down to the very last moves. It’s nice that they are not just motivated by Michael; they are motivated to learn and share and bring that joy.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I grew up in the era of the true soul singer and the real deal R&B musicians. Keni Burke happens to be one of those singer musicians. Keni Burke’s music is the kind of music you would hear back in at the day. You would go to a party or club and just dance and have fun with your peeps. This 59 year old singer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, keyboardist and bass guitarist used to be a member of the Five Stairsteps a group from Chicago, Illinois. The groups biggest hit was and still one of my all-time favorite songs "O-o-h Child". In 1977, he released his self-titled debut album, which featured the songs "Keep on Singing", "Shuffle", and "From Me to You". This talented artist was so underrated. Keni Burke has put his skills as a guitarist and bassist to work. He has played with some major artist of our time like, Sly & the Family Stone, Natalie Cole, Billy Preston, Terry Callier, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Dusty Springfield, Diana Ross, and Gladys Knight. I like Keni Burke’s music it is feel good music it has a mix of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, Smooth Jazz. Some songs that are going on my playlist are “Risin' To The Top”, “Never Stop Loving Me”, “Who Do You Love”, “From Us to You and One Minute More”. Tune into Streetwise Radio's Soul City and listen Keni Burke songs. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on Gilroy Radio, Pandora, and iTunes, MyGen365, Live365 and Athena365.
Monday, July 29, 2013
When I first heard Marcus Canty on American Idol in 2007 he was great and was only 16. Even though the judges cut him, I knew he was going to be remarkable. What the heck were the judges thinking? Apparently they don’t have an ear for good music. After all they cut Jennifer Hudson. Marcus was born in Bowie, Maryland on January 22, 1991. This 22 year old R&B, soul singer, dancer and musician can hold his own with the best of them. Marcus was influences by some great singers like Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Boys II Men Mary J. Blige, Monica, Bobby Brown, and Whitney Houston. His song “Won't Make A Fool Out Of You” was in the movie Think Like A Man. His debut album “This…Is Marcus Canty” was released in 2013. Yes, he can sing some songs that I put on my playlist. They are “User By You”, “Won't Make A Fool Out Of You”, “Tonight”, “Three Words”, “Stay In Love”, “Don’t Pass Me By” and In Out. Streetwise Radio is playing songs from Marcus Canty’s album “This…Is Marcus Canty”. I think he did a great job. I hope on his next album he uses more live musicians because he was fantastic on American Idol. You can listen to Streetwise Radio on MyGen365, Live365, Athena365, iTunes and Pandora.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Harleighblu is an R&B singer/songwriter from Nottingham, England. She grew up listening to her mother’s R&B and soul records. Harleighblu had the entertainment bug at an early age. She started writing music at the age of 7 at a community recording studio. Harleighblu began entertaining school friends with impromptu performances at break times. She is an 21 year old amazing talent has two singles out “Play Me”, “Casanova” and “Enough Now” I like these songs they are so funky. Harleighblu’s debut album is due out on Tru Thoughts records this summer 2013 called “Forget Me Not”. I can’t wait to hear her album if it’s anything like these three songs it’s going to be marvelous. Tune into Streetwise Radio and listen to songs from Harleighblu. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on Pandora, iTunes, Athena365, MyGen365 and Live365.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Listening to Streetwise Radio I’ve come across some underrated artists that should be played on the on-air stations and are not. Willie is so underrated in my opinion he should be one of those artist. This sexy 32 year old R&B singer from Harvey, Illinois can deliver a sensual song. He should be right up there with some of the artist he collaborated with like Avant, Joe, Ginuwine and Jagged Edge. I’ve never heard of him until Streetwise Radio. Before he became known to some, he sang with a Chicago based group called “Kwiet Storm”. After 10 years with this group he went solo in 2006. He gained notoriety from being on MTV’s Making the Band 4 in 2007. Streetwise Radio is playing the song “Morning” his 2012 single. Willie Taylor is definitely an R&B singer that sings strictly for grown folks. If your young and appreciate good music you will like him too. Tune into Streetwise Radio and listen to Willie Taylor or listen to Streetwise Radio on Pandora, iTunes, Live365, MyGen365 and Athena365.
Monday, July 1, 2013
After hearing Soulpersona’s songs “Flying Easy” and “Life Time” on Streetwise Radio I had to know where this artist came from. Soulpersona is from North London. He is a talented musician, producer and arranger. He got his first big break in 2002 from his supporter and good friend Jocelyn Brown. Soulpersona has worked with some soulful artists around the world such as Darien, Sibel Thrasher, RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production) Deborah Jordan, Replife, Kia Bennett ( D’angelo backing vocalist), Oliver Cheatham and Princess Freesia. He has also worked as musical director for Leon Ware, Jean Carne, The Valentine Brothers, The Jones Girls and his Digisoul Band. What I like about Soulpersona is the lady’s he has featured on is songs have voices that compliment his music. All three of his albums “Soulcoaster”, “The Remixes” and “The Lapdancer” were skillfully produced. Some of my favorite songs are "Weightless (featuring Deborah Jordan)”, “Alright (featuring Replife & Princess Freesia)”, "So Natural (featuring Kia Bennett)”, "Girl's Gotta Get Her Lovin", "Ava's Fantasy", “Flying Easy (featuring Deborah Jordan)” and “Lifetime”. I’m a fan for life! Tune into Streetwise Radio and listen to songs from Soulpersona. Also tune into Streetwise Radio on iTunes, Pandora, Athena365, Live365 and MyGen365.