Tagged with "christmas"
Best Christmas Album- Boyz II Men’s Christmas Interpretations
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: best christmas ablum.boyz II men word life production feature weekly blog

Boyz II Men followed their hugely successful debut, Cooleyhighharmony, with Christmas Interpretations, which is a pretty intelligent choice, given that Christmas albums by established artists tend to sell year after year, while pop albums tend to sell mostly at the time of their popularity. So this album of all new Christmas material (written by the Boyz themselves) certainly helped the Boyz flesh out their catalog. There aren't any interpretations of Christmas classics to be found on this record, save for their a cappella rendition of "Silent Night." This album is pure, lushly produced quiet storm and, because of the lack of traditional favorites, could be played at any time of year. This set differs from typical Boyz II Men albums in that it's very subdued, and vocal histrionics are kept at a minimum. This set also differs from traditional Christmas albums in that the songs generally deal with more melancholy subject matter, such as depression and suffering ("Why Christmas") and loneliness and poverty ("Cold December Nights"). It's also balanced with songs about the joys of giving (the elegant "Share Love," "Do They Know") and, of course, love ("You're Not Alone," "Who Would Have Thought"). This set also features "Let It Snow," a Top 40 duet with maestro Brian McKnight, who co-produced nearly every song on this album (it should have been titled Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight). This set is a cozy, velvety, and hip quiet storm Christmas album with touches of jazz, nostalgia, and melancholy but, at times, one yearns to hear the Boyz' lush harmonies wrapped around traditional favorites. Nonetheless, a nice chapter in the saga that is Boyz II Men.

Source: All Music

Cook up some holiday cheer - Healthy Desserts Tags: healthy desserts christmas kids health mental wellness word life production feature blog

Cookies, popcorn, and other kid-friendly holiday treats are often loaded with fat and sugar. Ditch the store-bought varieties and make these simple recipes with your young foodie. Make a treat together as a fun holiday activity, while taking the time to teach him or her about nutrition and cooking.

Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies

Simple substitutions cut out fat and sugar without compromising flavor or fun. These Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies keep saturated fat and cholesterol low, while adding a punch of fiber.

Low-Cal Sugar Cookies

These low-cal sugar cookies are quick, easy to make, and guilt free; one will only set you back 69 calories.

Flavor your own popcorn

Cut out fat by flavoring your own popcorn using canola oil instead of butter; maple kettle corn and cinnamon-sugar are both perfect winter flavor combinations.

White Peppermint Snowballs

These White Peppermint Snowballs are easy to make with your favorite brand of packaged sugar-cookie dough, or dough you create yourself. Adding in some crushed peppermint candies makes them extra festive, and the minty smell may actually help you eat less.

White Chocolate Holiday Bark

Kids will love this White Chocolate Holiday Bark. This one isn’t necessarily low in calories, but it is low in cholesterol and sodium. This treat is also packed with heart-healthy dried cranberries and antioxidant-rich almonds.

Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

These cookies boast a bright, zesty filling and spicy aroma. They make a large batch and are extremely convenient, since you can make the logs of cookie dough ahead, then pull them out of the freezer and slice and bake as many cookies as you need.

Raspberry-Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies taste decadent, yet are made with ingredients that have healthful benefits: oats, almonds, fruit, and chocolate. The thumbprints are versatile as well — use a different type of filling or other extracts to create a completely different cookie.

Chocolate Coconut Meringues

These chocolate, coconut, and almond meringue cookies are so light and airy, they are a perfect little treat that's not too heavy.

Outrageous Macaroons

These luxurious macaroons studded with pistachios and dried cranberries hail from recipe developer Katie Webster. Although you can concoct them with either sweetened or unsweetened coconut, we find that the unsweetened packs a more coconutty wallop. For a variation, substitute chopped crystallized ginger and mini chocolate chips for the pistachios and cranberries.

Almond Cherry Bites

Dried cherries, ground almonds, and a drizzle of chocolate make these cookies festive for the holidays.

Dark Chocolate Florentines

Master of Fine Arts student Allyson Lea Smith consulted with her mother and baked at least six variations to create this healthier version of an oat-chocolate sandwich cookie.

Fig 'n' Flax Thumbprint Cookies

We love how the ground flax adds a nutty flavor and the brown sugar caramelizes on the outside of these thumbprint cookies. Fig preserves make this cookie special; other fruit preserves could be used as well.

Orange Spice Molasses Cookies

These spiced molasses cookies have applesauce to help keep them moist and whole-wheat flour and oats to incorporate whole grains.

One Nutty Date

Financial adviser Linda Croley was inspired by childhood memories of a family treat when she created these peanut butter-date cookies. "I get a great feeling when I bite into these cookies and think of my family who are around me today and those whose memories I'll always cherish," says Croley. Once you try them, you may never make an ordinary peanut butter cookie again.

Ida's Mandelbrot

This tender-crisp, walnut-studded cookie (traditionally made with almonds, or mandel in Yiddish) was adapted from a 1950s family recipe.

Double Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chewies

These soft chocolate cookies have a big peanut flavor since they use both peanut butter and peanut butter chips.

Double Nut and Date Tassies

These two-bite pecan tart cookies satisfy the sweet tooth with far less guilt than pecan pie.

Pineapple Coconut Bites

A retired writing professor and mother of two daughters, Jessie Grearson got inspiration for these mini tart "cookies" from a pineapple-coconut bar that her mother used to make. Her version successfully uses whole-wheat pastry flour and less butter and sugar.

Source: Delish and  Health

Healthy Christmas Meals Tags: healthy christmas meals mental wellness word life production feature blog

If you are hosting the big Christmas meal this year, kill two turtle doves with one stone and eliminate the stress of deciding what to feed your guests and the stress of worrying about weight gain by choosing from the recipes below. We've rounded up tons of healthy, lighter versions of Christmas classics sure to satisfy the health-conscious and taste-conscious guests on your list.

Main Dishes

Apricot Citrus Stuffed Ham: Stuff your ham with a light, vibrant fruit and a touch of honey for an interesting and vitamin-packed spin on a Christmas pig.

Rack of Lamb with Warm Apple Lentil Salad: Let them eat lamb! Earthy lentils with warm apples make this rack of lamb dish a comfort food that's surprisingly easy to prepare.

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce: Pork chops and apple sauce--there is no combination more classic. Make that apple sauce apple CIDER sauce and we have a winner!

Salmon with Mushrooms and Red Pepper Sauce: Who says the main event needs to be meat? Wow your crowd and give them a healthy dose of Omega-3s by serving up salmon. Even the biggest carnivores will be asking for more.

Side Dishes

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Apple Stuffing: Nothing says winter like acorn squash. Bake up this healthy squash and instantly have an elegant serving bowl for the tangy cranberry apple stuffing your guests will ooh and ahh over.

Brussels Sprout Sauté: Convert Brussels sprout haters with this easy sauté. Pancetta adds a salty crunch to this bright and light dish. Top with a poached egg to really impress.

Savory Broccoli Cauliflower Roast: Keep it simple, stupid, with this roasted vegetable dish. Citrus and green olives add an interesting twist to your table.

Grilled Endive with Sage Vinaigrette: Expose your friends and family to the joy that is endive. This simple grilled endive recipe from Integrative Nutrition with a zesty vinaigrette over your Christmas table is the perfect way for them to meet.

Apple, Leek and Butternut Gratin: Skip the potatoes and slip in layers of fruit and vegetables for a gratin that's just as satisfying as the usual cheesy, carby counterpart. Trade in the fat and calories for fiber and beta carotene with this hearty recipe.

Accordion Potatoes: Potatoes get a bad rap, but it's undeserved. White potatoes pack a healthy dose of protein, fiber and potassium. Let them shine in all their carb glory with simple toppings like olive oil and herbs.

Cauliflower Couscous: A great dish for vegetarians AND veggie-phobics, this dish is a Christmas dinner miracle.

Vegan Sweet Potato Corn Bread Recipe: The natural sweetness of the sweet potato adds a complex flavor to the corn bread, as well as a dense, creamy texture even non-vegans will love.

Zesty Orange Quinoa Stuffing: Quinoa is a whole grain powerhouse, full of protein and calcium. Use it in place of bread crumbs for a nutrient dense stuffing with a citrus twist.

Desserts

Cinnamon and Vanilla Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of heart healthy fats. Dress them up with a little cinnamon and vanilla for a sweet treat you can feel good about.

NO Bake Pumpkin Tarts: These pumpkin tarts are gluten-free, dairy-free, bake-free and vegan. The only thing they are full of is flavor and awesome nutrition!

Apple Crisp: With a ton of fiber coming from the flax, apples and oats, this dessert is the perfect way to cap off your Christmas meal: full and satisfied without one ounce of guilt- or weight gain.

Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE-certified personal trainer and professional fitness writer. She began writing after becoming frustrated with the confusing and conflicting fitness information in the media and the quick-fix, gimmick-centered focus of the fitness industry itself. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Kelly has her own blog.

Best Christmas Albums-The Temptations Christmas Card
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: temptations christmas card best album topic discussion word life production feature blog

The Temptations Christmas Card is a 1970 Christmas album by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label. The group's first holiday release, it features each Temptation leading on various popular Christmas standards and original Christmas songs.

IN LIGHT OF THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY-WE WOULD LIKE TO CELEBRATE THE LATE LEGENDARY LUTHER VANDROSS Tags: luther vandross christmas feature word life production underground railroad


Luther Ronzoni Vandross was born on April 20, 1951 at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York City, United States.[4] He was the fourth child and second son to Mary Ida Vandross and Luther Vandross, Sr.

Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City in the NYCHA Alfred E. Smith Houses public housing development, Vandross began playing the piano at the age of three. He grew up in a musical family that moved to the Bronx when he was thirteen. His sister, Patricia, sang with the vocal group The Crests, who had a number two hit in 1958 with "16 Candles", though she left the group before the recording. Vandross's father died of diabetes when Vandross was eight years old. Luther Vandross was in a high school group, Shades of Jade that once played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He was also a member of a theater workshop, "Listen My Brother" who released the singles "Only Love Can Make a Better World" and "Listen My Brother", and appeared on the second and fifth episodes of Sesame Street in November 1969.

Vandross attended Western Michigan University for a year before dropping out to continue pursuing a career in music.

His next hit credit was on an album by Roberta Flack in 1972. He was the founder of the first-ever Patti LaBelle fan club. Luther also sang on Delores Hall's Hall-Mark album from 1973. He sang with her on the song "Who's Gonna Make It Easier for Me", which he wrote. He also contributed another song, "In This Lonely Hour." Having co-written "Fascination" for David Bowie's Young Americans, he went on to tour with him as a back-up vocalist in September 1974. Vandross wrote "Everybody Rejoice" for the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz and appeared as a choir member in the movie.

Vandross also sang backing vocals for Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Gary Glitter, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic, and Barbra Streisand.

Before his breakthrough, Vandross was part of a singing quintet in the late '70s named Luther, consisting of former Shades of Jade members Anthony Hinton and Diane Sumler, Theresa V. Reed, and Christine Wiltshire, signed to Cotillion Records. Although the singles "It's Good for the Soul", "Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)", and "The Second Time Around" were relatively successful, their two albums, the self-titled Luther (1976) and This Close to You (1977), didn't sell enough to make the charts. Vandross bought back the rights to these albums after Cotillion dropped the group, preventing their later re-release.

Vandross also wrote and sang commercial jingles during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continued his successful career as a popular session singer during the late 1970s.

In 1978, Luther sang lead vocals for a disco band called Greg Diamond's Bionic Boogie on the song titled "Hot Butterfly." Luther also sang with the band Soirée, where he was the lead vocalist on the track "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and contributed background vocals to the album along with Jocelyn Brown and Sharon Redd, each of whom also saw solo success. He also sang the lead vocals on the group Mascara LP title song "See You in L.A." released in 1979. Luther shines with his impeccable singing supported by his group's co-members David Lasley and Ula Hedwig. Luther also appeared on the group Charme's 1979 album Let It In, most notably on a remake of Toto's hit single Georgy Porgy.

1980–2003: Career successLuther Vandross finally made his long desired career breakthrough as a featured singer with the vaunted pop-dance act Change, a studio concept created by French-Italian businessman Jacques Fred Petrus. Their 1980 hits, "A Lover's Holiday" (by Romani and Willoughby), "The Glow of Love" (by Romani, Malavasi and Garfield) and "Searching" (by Malavasi), of which Vandross sang on all three, opened up the world for Vandross. And there was no doubt about whether Vandross liked the song "The Glow of Love". In an interview that Vibe Magazine did with him in 2001 Vandross said, "This is the most beautiful song I've ever sung in my life." Vandross was also originally intended to perform on the second and highly successful Change album "Miracles" in 1981, but declined the offer as Petrus didn't pay enough money. Vandross' decision rapidly led to a recording contract with Epic Records that same year but didn't stop him from doing some background vocals on "Miracles" and on the new Petrus created act, The B. B. & Q. band in 1981. During that hectic year Vandross jump-started his second attempt at a solo career with his debut album, Never Too Much. In addition to the hit title track it contained a version of the Burt Bacharach / Hal David song "A House Is Not a Home". The song "Never Too Much", written by himself, reached number-one on the R&B charts. This period also marked the beginning of frequent songwriting collaboration with bassist Marcus Miller, who played on many of the tracks and would also produce or co-produce a number of tracks for Vandross. The Never Too Much album was arranged by high school classmate Nat Adderley, Jr., a collaboration that would last through Vandross's career.[6]

Vandross released a series of successful R&B albums during the 1980s and continued his session work with guest vocals on groups like Charme in 1982. Many of his earlier albums made a bigger impact on the R&B charts than on the pop charts. During the 1980s, Vandross had two singles that reached #1 on the Billboard R&B charts: "Stop to Love", in 1986, and a duet with Gregory Hines—"There's Nothing Better Than Love."[7] Vandross was at the helm as producer for Aretha Franklin's Gold-certified, award-winning comeback album Jump to It. He also produced the disappointing follow-up album, 1983's Get It Right. In 1983, the opportunity to work with his main music influence, Dionne Warwick, came about with Vandross producing, writing songs, and singing on How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye, her fourth album for Arista Records. The title track duet reached #27 on the Hot 100 chart (#7 R&B/#4 Adult Contemporary),[8] while the second single, "Got a Date" was only a moderate hit (#45 R&B/#15 Club Play).

In 1985, Luther Vandross first spotted the talent of Jimmy Salvemini, 15 at the time, on Star Search. He thought Salvemini had the perfect voice for some of his songs. He contacted Salvemini, who was managed by his brother Larry. A contract was negotiated with Elektra records for $250,000 and Luther agreed to produce the album. Luther even contacted old friends to appear on the album, Cheryl Lynn, Alfa Anderson (Chic), Phoebe Snow and Irene Cara. After the album was completed, Luther, Jimmy, and Larry decided to celebrate. On January 12, 1986, they were riding in Luther's convertible Mercedes when it crossed the yellow lines of the two lane street and smashed into two vehicles. All three men were rushed to the hospital. Larry Salvemini died during surgery, and Vandross and Jimmy Salvemini survived. At first, the Salvemini family was supportive of Luther. In 1986, Luther faced vehicular manslaughter charges as a result of Larry's death. Vandross pled no contest to reckless driving. The Salvemini family filed a wrongful death suit against Vandross. The case was quietly settled out of court with a payment to the Salvemini family for $700,000. The album called "Roll With It" was released later that year.

In 1986, Vandross voiced a cartoon character named Zack for three Saturday morning animated PSA spots for ABC Television called 'Zack of All Trades'.

The 1989 compilation The Best of Luther Vandross... The Best of Love included the ballad "Here and Now", his first single to chart in the Billboard pop chart top ten, peaking at number six. He won his first Grammy award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1991.

More albums followed in the 1990s, beginning with 1991's Power of Love which spawned two top ten pop hits. He won his second Best Male R&B Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 1992 with the track "Power of Love/Love Power" winning the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in the same year. In 1992, "The Best Things in Life Are Free", a duet with Janet Jackson from the movie Mo' Money became a hit.

In 1993, Vandross had a brief non-speaking role in the Robert Townsend movie The Meteor Man. He played a hit man who plotted to stop Townsend's title character.

Vandross hit the top ten again in 1994, teaming with Mariah Carey on a cover version of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's duet "Endless Love". It was included on the album Songs (Luther Vandross album), a collection of songs which had inspired Vandross over the years. He also appears on Frank Sinatra's posthumous Duets album. At the Grammy Awards of 1997, he won his third Best Male R&B Vocal for the track "Your Secret Love". A second greatest hits album, released in 1997, compiled most of his 1990s hits and was his final album released through Epic Records. After releasing I Know on Virgin Records, he signed with J Records. His first album on Clive Davis's new label, entitled Luther Vandross, was released in 2001, and it produced the hits "Take You Out" (#7 R&B/#26 Pop), and "I'd Rather" (#17 Adult Contemporary/#40 R&B/#83 Pop) Vandross scored at least one top 10 R&B hit every year from 1981-1994.

In 1997, Luther Vandross sang the American national anthem during Super Bowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.

In September 2001, Luther Vandross performed a rendition of Michael Jackson's hit song "Man in the Mirror" at Jackson's 30th Anniversary special, alongside Usher.

In 2002, he gave some of his final concerts during his last tour, The BK Got Soul Tour starring Luther Vandross featuring Angie Stone and Gerald Levert.

In 2003, Vandross released the album Dance With My Father. The title track, which was dedicated to Vandross' memory childhood dances with his father, won Luther and his co-writer, Richard Marx, the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The song also won Vandross his fourth and final award in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category. The album was his first to reach number one on the Billboard album chart. The video for the title track features various celebrities alongside their fathers and other family members. The 2nd single released from that album, "Think About You" was the Number One Urban Adult Contemporary Song of 2004 according to Radio & Records.

In 2003, after the televised NCAA Men's Basketball championship, CBS Sports gave "One Shining Moment" a new look. Luther, who had been to only one basketball game in his life, was the new singer, and the video didn't have any special effects like glowing basketballs and star trails like it did in previous years. This song version is in use today.[9]

2003–2005: Vandross suffered from diabetes and hypertension, both of which ran in his family.

On April 16, 2003, Vandross suffered a stroke at his home in Manhattan, New York. At the time of his stroke, he had just finished the final vocals for the album Dance With My Father. His collaborator on the album was pop star Richard Marx, whom Vandross had met in 1989 and been friendly with since. The two worked together on numerous projects over the years, with Vandross appearing on three of Marx's albums. Upon its release, Dance With My Father became the first and only Luther Vandross record to hit #1. It was also his biggest-selling studio album ever, selling nearly 3 million copies in the United States alone. The title track was also a hit, and won the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

He appeared briefly on videotape at the 2004 Grammy Awards to accept his Song of the Year Award, where he said, "Whenever I say goodbye it's never for long because I believe in the power of love". Other than an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he was never seen in public again.

Vandross died on July 1, 2005 at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey at the age of 54. The apparent cause of his death was a heart attack.

His funeral was in New York City on July 8, 2005. After two days of viewing, Vandross was entombed at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey. Much of his estate was left to friends and his godson Mark West.

 

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