Tagged with "james"
Remembering Reverend James Cleveland Tags: reverend james cleveland word life production new quality entertainment feature blog

The visionary behind the contemporary gospel sound, the Rev. James Cleveland, was a pioneering composer and choral director whose progressive arrangements -- jazzy and soulful, complete with odd time signatures -- helped push the music past the confines of the traditional Baptist hymnal into new and unexpected directions, infusing elements of the sanctified church style and secular pop to alter the face of gospel forever. Born in Chicago on December 5, 1932, Cleveland was a boy soprano at Pilgrim Baptist Church, the home of minister of music Thomas A. Dorsey; as his parents were unable to afford a piano, he crafted a makeshift keyboard out of a windowsill, somehow learning to play without ever producing an actual note. When his voice changed, becoming gruff and harsh, Cleveland continued singing, developing into an expressive crooner; for the most part, however, he focused on piano, becoming a top-notch accompanist.

In 1950, Cleveland signed on as a pianist and occasional third lead with the Gospelaires, a trio led by Norsalus McKissick and Bessie Folk; although the group was short-lived, it brought him to the attention of pianist Roberta Martin, for whom he began composing. Even his earliest material reflects a bluesy, funkified style well ahead of its time, while his arrangements of traditional spirituals like "Old Time Religion" and "It's Me O Lord" were highly stylized, almost unrecognizable from their usual interpretations. By the mid-'50s, Cleveland was a member of the Caravans, not only playing piano but also narrating hymns in his rough yet relaxing voice; despite the group's success, however, he kept quitting and rejoining their ranks, earning a reputation as a highly temperamental character. He also played briefly with groups including the Meditation Singers and the Gospel All-Stars; in 1959, he also cut a rendition of Ray Charles' "Hallelujah I Love Her So," his first overt attempt to bridge gospel and R&B.

Although Cleveland kept drifting from group to group, his reputation continued to grow -- with the Gospel Chimes, he cut a series of records which veered sharply from pop-inflected ballads to fiery shouters, arranging harmonies which straddled the line between the current group style and the rapidly developing choir sound. By 1960, he was clearly well ahead of the pack; "The Love of God," a cover of a Soul Stirrers number he cut with the Detroit choir the Voices of Tabernacle, was a breakthrough hit, his fusion of pop balladry and choir spirit finally reaching its apotheosis. After years of struggle, Cleveland was now a major star, and across the country, choir directors began mimicking his style; he soon signed to Savoy, where he recorded with the All-Stars and Chimes as well as his own group, the Cleveland Singers, which featured on organ a young Billy Preston. His third Savoy LP, 1962's live Peace Be Still, made history, selling an astonishing 800,000 copies to an almost exclusively black audience without the benefit of mainstream promotion.

The success of Peace Be Still established Cleveland as arguably the most crucial figure to emerge in gospel since Mahalia Jackson; throughout the '60s, when hit status for spiritual records typically reflected sales of five thousand copies, his LPs regularly sold five times that amount. Additionally, his annual Gospel Singers Workshop Convention -- an outgrowth of his organization the Gospel Workshop of America -- helped launch the careers of numerous younger talents, a generation of artists largely inspired by the modernized sound pioneered by Cleveland himself. During the '70s, he remained a towering figure, leading his latest creation, the Southern California Community Choir, and recording prolifically; although his pace began to slow in the decade that followed -- and despite his death on February 9, 1991 -- Cleveland's shadow continues to loom large across the gospel landscape.

Source: ALLMUSIC

Music Hall of Fame - Rick James Tags: music hall fame rick james word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Brilliant hitmaker, soulful singer, riveting performer, influential producer/impresario, pioneer in the fusion of funk groove and rock attitude - Rick James was all of these and more. Flamboyant, provocative, charismatic, volatile and always outrageous, he was a consummate artist and a bona fide star.

Though best known for unstoppable funk jams like "Super Freak" and "Give It to Me, Baby," his impact is evident not only in the chart stats, but in his artistic contributions as a composer and songwriter. James authored a fleet of irresistible tracks, from club bangers to sumptuous ballads, all delivered with passion and verve. Onstage he was a sequined dynamo and engaged the audience with energetic, theatrical, sexually charged performances, commanding the stage with ferocious authority. And while his own excess ultimately consumed him, hampering the final act of his career and claiming his life, Rick James is now remembered less for his feet of clay than for his grooves of gold.

Born James Johnson, Jr., in Buffalo, New York, he was connected to the music world at birth as the nephew of Temptations singer Melvin Franklin. In an impulsive moment, at age 15, he joined the Navy; justifiably overwhelmed, he went AWOL and took refuge in Canada. It was there that he formed his first band, a rock-soul collective called The Mynah Birds, which at one point featured Neil Young. Changing his name to Rick James, he landed a deal for the band with Motown Records - but upon returning to the U.S. was tossed in the brig for deserting his Navy training. After his release he relocated to Detroit, and though the Mynah Birds dissolved, he maintained a relationship with Motown as a staff songwriter; he developed R&B band The Main Line in England and spent much of the '70s traversing the Atlantic as he developed various projects.

1977 saw him assemble his mighty Stone City Band and step into the spotlight as a solo artist. His debut LP, "Come and Get It," released by the Motown imprint Gordy in 1978, launched the R&B smashes "You and I" (#1) and pot paean "Mary Jane" (#3). He capitalized on the popularity of the latter tune by assembling a girl group, The Mary Jane Girls, who accompanied him as a warm-up act (as did a young firebrand named Prince) during his tours for subsequent releases "Bustin' Out of L Seven" and "Fire It Up." More R&B hits ensued, notably "Bustin' Out" (#8), "Love Gun" (#13) and "Big Time" (#17). And though his barnstorming jams built his reputation, James demonstrated a mastery of silky balladry as well, showcasing the supple end of his powerful pipes.

It was with 1981's "Street Songs" that James' vision - booty-rocking bass, bulletproof horn charts, rock-tinged guitar riffs, new-wave synthesizer blasts and strutting, lascivious vocals - could at last be fully apprehended. The platinum disc's rambunctious "Give It to Me, Baby," a dance-floor hurricane that rivaled anything in the catalogues of peers like Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire and George Clinton, became a #1 R&B and #1 Dance hit and reached the Top 40, while "Fire and Desire," featuring his young prot�g� Teena Marie, proved a splendid Quiet Storm ballad and "Ghetto Life," a formative influence on the "gangsta" style that would evolve later in the decade, was instantly enshrined as an inner-city classic.

But it was the unstoppable "Super Freak" that made James a household name. The frisky funk anthem about a girl "you don't bring home to mother" shimmied up to #16 at pop, dominating the clubs and attracting a rabid mainstream audience (so much so that James played himself on the hit TV series The A-Team and performed the song in the episode). Unlike many a chart stomp, "Super Freak" never really went away - it became a pop perennial and a must for any hedonistic playlist.

Unfortunately, the hedonism that catapulted Rick James into the global limelight became his worst enemy. Success prompted him to party like a Roman emperor and to overextend himself - in addition to mounting his own lavish tours, he produced the Mary Jane Girls, worked with The Temptations and wrote and produced comedic actor Eddie Murphy's hit single, "Party All the Time." He continued to churn out plenty of his own hits during the early '80s, however, including "Cold Blooded" (#1 R&B, #17 Dance, #40 Pop), "Glow" (#1 Dance, #5 R&B), "Dance Wit' Me" (#3 R&B, #7 Dance), "Standing on the Top (Part 1)" with The Temptations (#6 R&B), "Sweet and Sexy Thing" (#4 Dance, #6 R&B), "Can't Stop" (#9 Dance, #10 R&B, #50 Pop), "Hard to Get" (#15 R&B), "U Bring the Freak Out" (#16 R&B), "Ebony Eyes" with Smokey Robinson (#22 R&B, #43 Pop) and several others. His last big hit as a solo artist was 1988's "Loosey's Rap," featuring distaff MC Roxanne Shant�, which vaulted to the top of the R&B chart.

In 1990, as rap music began to penetrate the mass market, the grandly theatrical MC Hammer scored a worldwide smash with "U Can't Touch This," a hip-hop cocktail that got its kick from a "Super Freak" sample. Rick James claimed his first and only Grammy Award as the co-author.

The rest of the decade was particularly rough for James, whose drug habit worsened precipitously; his legendarily bad behavior sparked legal difficulties and even a two-year prison stretch. He returned to the stage for a 1997 tour but suffered a stroke that sidelined him more or less for good. Even as his personal troubles captured headlines, James' work continued to shape popular music; the burgeoning hip-hop scene built countless tracks on the foundations of his songs. Among the best known artists to do so, apart from MC Hammer (who also sampled "Give It to Me, Baby" for his single "Let's Get It Started"), were Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Coolio, Kriss Kross, EPMD, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith), Mya, DJ Quik, Keith Murray, Busta Rhymes and Afrika Bambaataa.

James began to reclaim his reputation in the 21st century, aided by the 2002 release of the sprawling two-disc set Anthology, which at last represented the range of his work to the world. He appeared on Chappelle's Show to lampoon his high-flying superstar image in 2003, turning "I'm Rick James, @!$%#!" into a ubiquitous catchphrase. His own final studio work came in the form of a reunion with Teena Marie for her 2004 album. He was at work on a new album and an autobiography when, in August of 2004, he was found dead in his home of an enlarged heart.

Constantly reaching, growing and exploring new aspects of his talent were all part of the genius of Rick James. Since he burst upon the scene in the late 70's with his unique brand of Punk Funk music, he has been an inspiration to his peers and won the acclaim of audiences and critics alike. James' left us far too soon, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists to get their super freak on. - See more at: Official Website

Brilliant hitmaker, soulful singer, riveting performer, influential producer/impresario, pioneer in the fusion of funk groove and rock attitude - Rick James was all of these and more. Flamboyant, provocative, charismatic, volatile and always outrageous, he was a consummate artist and a bona fide star.

Though best known for unstoppable funk jams like "Super Freak" and "Give It to Me, Baby," his impact is evident not only in the chart stats, but in his artistic contributions as a composer and songwriter. James authored a fleet of irresistible tracks, from club bangers to sumptuous ballads, all delivered with passion and verve. Onstage he was a sequined dynamo and engaged the audience with energetic, theatrical, sexually charged performances, commanding the stage with ferocious authority. And while his own excess ultimately consumed him, hampering the final act of his career and claiming his life, Rick James is now remembered less for his feet of clay than for his grooves of gold.

Born James Johnson, Jr., in Buffalo, New York, he was connected to the music world at birth as the nephew of Temptations singer Melvin Franklin. In an impulsive moment, at age 15, he joined the Navy; justifiably overwhelmed, he went AWOL and took refuge in Canada. It was there that he formed his first band, a rock-soul collective called The Mynah Birds, which at one point featured Neil Young. Changing his name to Rick James, he landed a deal for the band with Motown Records - but upon returning to the U.S. was tossed in the brig for deserting his Navy training. After his release he relocated to Detroit, and though the Mynah Birds dissolved, he maintained a relationship with Motown as a staff songwriter; he developed R&B band The Main Line in England and spent much of the '70s traversing the Atlantic as he developed various projects.

1977 saw him assemble his mighty Stone City Band and step into the spotlight as a solo artist. His debut LP, "Come and Get It," released by the Motown imprint Gordy in 1978, launched the R&B smashes "You and I" (#1) and pot paean "Mary Jane" (#3). He capitalized on the popularity of the latter tune by assembling a girl group, The Mary Jane Girls, who accompanied him as a warm-up act (as did a young firebrand named Prince) during his tours for subsequent releases "Bustin' Out of L Seven" and "Fire It Up." More R&B hits ensued, notably "Bustin' Out" (#8), "Love Gun" (#13) and "Big Time" (#17). And though his barnstorming jams built his reputation, James demonstrated a mastery of silky balladry as well, showcasing the supple end of his powerful pipes.

It was with 1981's "Street Songs" that James' vision - booty-rocking bass, bulletproof horn charts, rock-tinged guitar riffs, new-wave synthesizer blasts and strutting, lascivious vocals - could at last be fully apprehended. The platinum disc's rambunctious "Give It to Me, Baby," a dance-floor hurricane that rivaled anything in the catalogues of peers like Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire and George Clinton, became a #1 R&B and #1 Dance hit and reached the Top 40, while "Fire and Desire," featuring his young prot�g� Teena Marie, proved a splendid Quiet Storm ballad and "Ghetto Life," a formative influence on the "gangsta" style that would evolve later in the decade, was instantly enshrined as an inner-city classic.

But it was the unstoppable "Super Freak" that made James a household name. The frisky funk anthem about a girl "you don't bring home to mother" shimmied up to #16 at pop, dominating the clubs and attracting a rabid mainstream audience (so much so that James played himself on the hit TV series The A-Team and performed the song in the episode). Unlike many a chart stomp, "Super Freak" never really went away - it became a pop perennial and a must for any hedonistic playlist.

Unfortunately, the hedonism that catapulted Rick James into the global limelight became his worst enemy. Success prompted him to party like a Roman emperor and to overextend himself - in addition to mounting his own lavish tours, he produced the Mary Jane Girls, worked with The Temptations and wrote and produced comedic actor Eddie Murphy's hit single, "Party All the Time." He continued to churn out plenty of his own hits during the early '80s, however, including "Cold Blooded" (#1 R&B, #17 Dance, #40 Pop), "Glow" (#1 Dance, #5 R&B), "Dance Wit' Me" (#3 R&B, #7 Dance), "Standing on the Top (Part 1)" with The Temptations (#6 R&B), "Sweet and Sexy Thing" (#4 Dance, #6 R&B), "Can't Stop" (#9 Dance, #10 R&B, #50 Pop), "Hard to Get" (#15 R&B), "U Bring the Freak Out" (#16 R&B), "Ebony Eyes" with Smokey Robinson (#22 R&B, #43 Pop) and several others. His last big hit as a solo artist was 1988's "Loosey's Rap," featuring distaff MC Roxanne Shant�, which vaulted to the top of the R&B chart.

In 1990, as rap music began to penetrate the mass market, the grandly theatrical MC Hammer scored a worldwide smash with "U Can't Touch This," a hip-hop cocktail that got its kick from a "Super Freak" sample. Rick James claimed his first and only Grammy Award as the co-author.

The rest of the decade was particularly rough for James, whose drug habit worsened precipitously; his legendarily bad behavior sparked legal difficulties and even a two-year prison stretch. He returned to the stage for a 1997 tour but suffered a stroke that sidelined him more or less for good. Even as his personal troubles captured headlines, James' work continued to shape popular music; the burgeoning hip-hop scene built countless tracks on the foundations of his songs. Among the best known artists to do so, apart from MC Hammer (who also sampled "Give It to Me, Baby" for his single "Let's Get It Started"), were Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Coolio, Kriss Kross, EPMD, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith), Mya, DJ Quik, Keith Murray, Busta Rhymes and Afrika Bambaataa.

James began to reclaim his reputation in the 21st century, aided by the 2002 release of the sprawling two-disc set Anthology, which at last represented the range of his work to the world. He appeared on Chappelle's Show to lampoon his high-flying superstar image in 2003, turning "I'm Rick James, bitch!" into a ubiquitous catchphrase. His own final studio work came in the form of a reunion with Teena Marie for her 2004 album. He was at work on a new album and an autobiography when, in August of 2004, he was found dead in his home of an enlarged heart.

Constantly reaching, growing and exploring new aspects of his talent were all part of the genius of Rick James. Since he burst upon the scene in the late 70's with his unique brand of Punk Funk music, he has been an inspiration to his peers and won the acclaim of audiences and critics alike. James' left us far too soon, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists to get their super freak on. - See more at: http://www.rickjames.com/bio.php#sthash.52G3KLKF.dpuf

Brilliant hitmaker, soulful singer, riveting performer, influential producer/impresario, pioneer in the fusion of funk groove and rock attitude - Rick James was all of these and more. Flamboyant, provocative, charismatic, volatile and always outrageous, he was a consummate artist and a bona fide star.

Though best known for unstoppable funk jams like "Super Freak" and "Give It to Me, Baby," his impact is evident not only in the chart stats, but in his artistic contributions as a composer and songwriter. James authored a fleet of irresistible tracks, from club bangers to sumptuous ballads, all delivered with passion and verve. Onstage he was a sequined dynamo and engaged the audience with energetic, theatrical, sexually charged performances, commanding the stage with ferocious authority. And while his own excess ultimately consumed him, hampering the final act of his career and claiming his life, Rick James is now remembered less for his feet of clay than for his grooves of gold.

Born James Johnson, Jr., in Buffalo, New York, he was connected to the music world at birth as the nephew of Temptations singer Melvin Franklin. In an impulsive moment, at age 15, he joined the Navy; justifiably overwhelmed, he went AWOL and took refuge in Canada. It was there that he formed his first band, a rock-soul collective called The Mynah Birds, which at one point featured Neil Young. Changing his name to Rick James, he landed a deal for the band with Motown Records - but upon returning to the U.S. was tossed in the brig for deserting his Navy training. After his release he relocated to Detroit, and though the Mynah Birds dissolved, he maintained a relationship with Motown as a staff songwriter; he developed R&B band The Main Line in England and spent much of the '70s traversing the Atlantic as he developed various projects.

1977 saw him assemble his mighty Stone City Band and step into the spotlight as a solo artist. His debut LP, "Come and Get It," released by the Motown imprint Gordy in 1978, launched the R&B smashes "You and I" (#1) and pot paean "Mary Jane" (#3). He capitalized on the popularity of the latter tune by assembling a girl group, The Mary Jane Girls, who accompanied him as a warm-up act (as did a young firebrand named Prince) during his tours for subsequent releases "Bustin' Out of L Seven" and "Fire It Up." More R&B hits ensued, notably "Bustin' Out" (#8), "Love Gun" (#13) and "Big Time" (#17). And though his barnstorming jams built his reputation, James demonstrated a mastery of silky balladry as well, showcasing the supple end of his powerful pipes.

It was with 1981's "Street Songs" that James' vision - booty-rocking bass, bulletproof horn charts, rock-tinged guitar riffs, new-wave synthesizer blasts and strutting, lascivious vocals - could at last be fully apprehended. The platinum disc's rambunctious "Give It to Me, Baby," a dance-floor hurricane that rivaled anything in the catalogues of peers like Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire and George Clinton, became a #1 R&B and #1 Dance hit and reached the Top 40, while "Fire and Desire," featuring his young prot�g� Teena Marie, proved a splendid Quiet Storm ballad and "Ghetto Life," a formative influence on the "gangsta" style that would evolve later in the decade, was instantly enshrined as an inner-city classic.

But it was the unstoppable "Super Freak" that made James a household name. The frisky funk anthem about a girl "you don't bring home to mother" shimmied up to #16 at pop, dominating the clubs and attracting a rabid mainstream audience (so much so that James played himself on the hit TV series The A-Team and performed the song in the episode). Unlike many a chart stomp, "Super Freak" never really went away - it became a pop perennial and a must for any hedonistic playlist.

Unfortunately, the hedonism that catapulted Rick James into the global limelight became his worst enemy. Success prompted him to party like a Roman emperor and to overextend himself - in addition to mounting his own lavish tours, he produced the Mary Jane Girls, worked with The Temptations and wrote and produced comedic actor Eddie Murphy's hit single, "Party All the Time." He continued to churn out plenty of his own hits during the early '80s, however, including "Cold Blooded" (#1 R&B, #17 Dance, #40 Pop), "Glow" (#1 Dance, #5 R&B), "Dance Wit' Me" (#3 R&B, #7 Dance), "Standing on the Top (Part 1)" with The Temptations (#6 R&B), "Sweet and Sexy Thing" (#4 Dance, #6 R&B), "Can't Stop" (#9 Dance, #10 R&B, #50 Pop), "Hard to Get" (#15 R&B), "U Bring the Freak Out" (#16 R&B), "Ebony Eyes" with Smokey Robinson (#22 R&B, #43 Pop) and several others. His last big hit as a solo artist was 1988's "Loosey's Rap," featuring distaff MC Roxanne Shant�, which vaulted to the top of the R&B chart.

In 1990, as rap music began to penetrate the mass market, the grandly theatrical MC Hammer scored a worldwide smash with "U Can't Touch This," a hip-hop cocktail that got its kick from a "Super Freak" sample. Rick James claimed his first and only Grammy Award as the co-author.

The rest of the decade was particularly rough for James, whose drug habit worsened precipitously; his legendarily bad behavior sparked legal difficulties and even a two-year prison stretch. He returned to the stage for a 1997 tour but suffered a stroke that sidelined him more or less for good. Even as his personal troubles captured headlines, James' work continued to shape popular music; the burgeoning hip-hop scene built countless tracks on the foundations of his songs. Among the best known artists to do so, apart from MC Hammer (who also sampled "Give It to Me, Baby" for his single "Let's Get It Started"), were Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Coolio, Kriss Kross, EPMD, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith), Mya, DJ Quik, Keith Murray, Busta Rhymes and Afrika Bambaataa.

James began to reclaim his reputation in the 21st century, aided by the 2002 release of the sprawling two-disc set Anthology, which at last represented the range of his work to the world. He appeared on Chappelle's Show to lampoon his high-flying superstar image in 2003, turning "I'm Rick James, bitch!" into a ubiquitous catchphrase. His own final studio work came in the form of a reunion with Teena Marie for her 2004 album. He was at work on a new album and an autobiography when, in August of 2004, he was found dead in his home of an enlarged heart.

Constantly reaching, growing and exploring new aspects of his talent were all part of the genius of Rick James. Since he burst upon the scene in the late 70's with his unique brand of Punk Funk music, he has been an inspiration to his peers and won the acclaim of audiences and critics alike. James' left us far too soon, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists to get their super freak on. - See more at: http://www.rickjames.com/bio.php#sthash.52G3KLKF.dpuf
Tina Turner; Barry White; Sly Stone; O'jays; Marvin Gaye; James Brown, etc. Tags: video month live entertainment sly stone barry white tina turner ojays marvin gaye james

James Brown will always be remembered as the God Father of Soul and the hardest working man in show business Tags: james brown god father soul music hall fame word life production feature blog

James Brown had more honorifics attached to his name than any other performer in music history. He was variously tagged Soul Brother Number One, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite and even the Original Disco Man. This much is certain: what became known as soul music in the Sixties, funk music in the Seventies and rap music in the Eighties is directly attributable to James Brown. His transformation of gospel fervor into the taut, explosive intensity of rhythm & blues, combined with precision choreography and dynamic showmanship, served to define the directions black music would take from the release of his first R&B hit ("Please Please Please") in 1956 to the present day.

Browns life history documents one triumph over adversity after another. He was born into poverty in Barnwell, South Carolina, during the Great Depression. As a child, he picked cotton, danced for spare change and shined shoes. At 16, he was caught and convicted of stealing, and he landed in reform school for three years. While incarcerated, he met Bobby Byrd, leader of a gospel group that performed at the prison. After his release, Brown tried his hand at semipro boxing and baseball. A career-ending leg injury inspired him to pursue music fulltime. He joined Byrd in a group that sang gospel in and around Toccoa, Georgia. But then Byrd and Brown attended a rhythm & blues revue that included Hank Ballard and Fats Domino, whose performances lured them into the realm of secular music. Renaming themselves the Flames (later, the Famous Flames), they became a tightly knit ensemble that showcased their abundant talents as singers, dancers and multi-instrumentalists.

Brown rose to the fore as leader of the James Brown Revue an entourage complete with emcee, dancers and an untouchable stage band (the J.B.s). Reportedly sweating off up to seven pounds a night, Brown was a captivating performer whod incorporate a furious regimen of spins, drops and shtick (such as feigning a heart attack, complete with the ritual donning and doffing of capes and a fevered return to the stage) into his skintight rhythm & blues. What Elvis Presley was to rock and roll, James Brown became to R&B: a prolific and dominant phenom. Like Presley, he is a three-figure hitmaker, with 114 total entries on Billboards R&B singles charts and 94 that made the Hot 100 singles chart. Over the years, he amassed 800 songs in his repertoire while maintaining a grueling touring schedule. Recording for the King and Federal labels throughout the Fifties and Sixties, Brown distilled R&B to its essence on such classic albums as Live at the Apollo (patterned after Ray Charles In Person) and singles like Cold Sweat, Papas Got a Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good). His group, the J.B.s, was anchored by horn players and musical mainstays Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. Brown also recorded a series of instrumental albums, taking a break from soul shouting to pursue his prowess as an organist.

By the late Sixties, Brown had attained the status of a musical and cultural revolutionary, owing to his message of black pride and self-sufficiency. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, such message songs as Say It Loud - Im Black and Im Proud reverberated throughout the black community, within which he was regarded as a leader and role model. During this time, he began developing a hot funk sound with young musicians, such as bassist William Bootsy Collins, who passed through his ever-evolving band. Although his influence waned in the latter half of the Seventies, a cameo role in The Blues Brothers film in 1980 and his recognition as a forefather of rap helped trigger a resurgence. His records were more heavily sampled by rap and hip-hop acts than those of any other artist, and he achieved renewed street credibility by recording a single ("Unity") with rapper Afrika Bambaataa in 1984. Brown was among the first group of performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Unfortunately, his personal life took a nose-dive in 1988, as he was investigated on a series of charges that ranged from spousal abuse and drug possession to problems with the IRS. Paroled after serving two years in prison, a chastened but resolute Brown picked up the pieces in the Nineties and carried on.

If nothing else, his status as the Godfather of Soul remained unassailable. In December 2003, shortly after his 70th birthday, James Brown was the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. Brown performed through much of 2006 during his Seven Decades of Funk world tour. He died of heart failure resulting from pneumonia on Christmas Day 2006. In the following days, public memorial services attracting thousands of fans were held at New York's Apollo Theater and the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia, his hometown.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

James Brown had more honorifics attached to his name than any other performer in music history. He was variously tagged Soul Brother Number One, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite and even the Original Disco Man. This much is certain: what became known as soul music in the Sixties, funk music in the Seventies and rap music in the Eighties is directly attributable to James Brown. His transformation of gospel fervor into the taut, explosive intensity of rhythm & blues, combined with precision choreography and dynamic showmanship, served to define the directions black music would take from the release of his first R&B hit ("Please Please Please") in 1956 to the present day.

Browns life history documents one triumph over adversity after another. He was born into poverty in Barnwell, South Carolina, during the Great Depression. As a child, he picked cotton, danced for spare change and shined shoes. At 16, he was caught and convicted of stealing, and he landed in reform school for three years. While incarcerated, he met Bobby Byrd, leader of a gospel group that performed at the prison. After his release, Brown tried his hand at semipro boxing and baseball. A career-ending leg injury inspired him to pursue music fulltime. He joined Byrd in a group that sang gospel in and around Toccoa, Georgia. But then Byrd and Brown attended a rhythm & blues revue that included Hank Ballard and Fats Domino, whose performances lured them into the realm of secular music. Renaming themselves the Flames (later, the Famous Flames), they became a tightly knit ensemble that showcased their abundant talents as singers, dancers and multi-instrumentalists.

Brown rose to the fore as leader of the James Brown Revue an entourage complete with emcee, dancers and an untouchable stage band (the J.B.s). Reportedly sweating off up to seven pounds a night, Brown was a captivating performer whod incorporate a furious regimen of spins, drops and shtick (such as feigning a heart attack, complete with the ritual donning and doffing of capes and a fevered return to the stage) into his skintight rhythm & blues. What Elvis Presley was to rock and roll, James Brown became to R&B: a prolific and dominant phenom. Like Presley, he is a three-figure hitmaker, with 114 total entries on Billboards R&B singles charts and 94 that made the Hot 100 singles chart. Over the years, he amassed 800 songs in his repertoire while maintaining a grueling touring schedule. Recording for the King and Federal labels throughout the Fifties and Sixties, Brown distilled R&B to its essence on such classic albums as Live at the Apollo (patterned after Ray Charles In Person) and singles like Cold Sweat, Papas Got a Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good). His group, the J.B.s, was anchored by horn players and musical mainstays Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. Brown also recorded a series of instrumental albums, taking a break from soul shouting to pursue his prowess as an organist.

By the late Sixties, Brown had attained the status of a musical and cultural revolutionary, owing to his message of black pride and self-sufficiency. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, such message songs as Say It Loud - Im Black and Im Proud reverberated throughout the black community, within which he was regarded as a leader and role model. During this time, he began developing a hot funk sound with young musicians, such as bassist William Bootsy Collins, who passed through his ever-evolving band. Although his influence waned in the latter half of the Seventies, a cameo role in The Blues Brothers film in 1980 and his recognition as a forefather of rap helped trigger a resurgence. His records were more heavily sampled by rap and hip-hop acts than those of any other artist, and he achieved renewed street credibility by recording a single ("Unity") with rapper Afrika Bambaataa in 1984. Brown was among the first group of performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Unfortunately, his personal life took a nose-dive in 1988, as he was investigated on a series of charges that ranged from spousal abuse and drug possession to problems with the IRS. Paroled after serving two years in prison, a chastened but resolute Brown picked up the pieces in the Nineties and carried on.

If nothing else, his status as the Godfather of Soul remained unassailable. In December 2003, shortly after his 70th birthday, James Brown was the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. Brown performed through much of 2006 during his Seven Decades of Funk world tour. He died of heart failure resulting from pneumonia on Christmas Day 2006. In the following days, public memorial services attracting thousands of fans were held at New York's Apollo Theater and the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia, his hometown.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

THE LEGACY OF J DILLA / JAY DEE / JAMES YANCEY Tags: j dilla legacy jay dee james yancey word life production feature

James DeWitt Yancey came across like an angel on earth, singer and songwriter Steve Spacek White told Fader magazine in 2006. Most people tend to speak of him this way. His contributions to music were indeed felt as angelic, no matter the aliasJohn Doe, MC Silk, Jay Dee, or J Dilla. But the James Yancey legacy is wide-ranging. What he contributed to the lives of others was duly as significant.

He was an artist to those who worked with him, but also a son, a father, a mentor, and a friend, with interests beyond music. When he began dating a girl who worked at Detroits Dutch Girl Doughnuts, it was the best of both worlds. He would bring home at least two dozen doughnuts every night after he had already eaten one [dozen], says his mother, Maureen Yancey. The chances of him bringing home two girls were just as great as him toting his favorite confection. One wont do and two is not enough for me, wasnt just the chorus to one of his songs. He was honest, though, Maureen says with a laugh. He never lied to a girl. He always told them where home was and who he was with, and let the chips fall where they may.

Yancey and his mother were a team. It was his mother, as well as his father, Beverly Yancey, who instilled the importance of truth at a young age. My children grew to detest liars, says Maureen. So this is how it was with Dilla. If you promised him something, he expected it. If he was going to be honest with you, he expected the same thing. Honesty remained a theme in their relationship until his death; Yancey even taught his mother how to roll blunts after he fell ill and his fingers became too swollen for him to prepare his self-described medicine for himself.

Yancey was humble and generous, known to rent a limousine during the holidays and take his friends Christmas shopping for their families. He was an honest man, making him an anomaly in a music industry where honesty is ordinarily in scant supply. It was this musical sincerity that attracted fans from around the globe and made him a legend among his peers.

Among these peers was DJ Jazzy Jeff, who recalls, What separated Jay was that he was uninhibited in his knowledge of music, and he was uninhibited when it came to making his music. A lot of producers say they are, but a lot of us are industrialized as I like to call it, meaning were slaves to an industry, even when we dont realize it. We have to do something that radio will find credible, or the hip-hop community is going to understand.

When radio was a freer space and played music that people liked instead of what people paid for, the music that we heard was created by somebody in their basement being a mad scientist. Jay is a throwback to that time. Hes the guy in the basement.

****

Yancey was born on February 7, 1974 at Zieger Osteopathic Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of three children born to Beverly and Maureen Ma Dukes Yancey. The familys musical lineage was strong; mother Maureen was an opera and classical music enthusiast and father Beverly a bassist, vocalist, and 25-year performance and recording veteran. Jazz was the music he grew up with and was raised on, says Maureen Yancey. Since he was a couple of months old, he wouldnt go to sleep unless he heard jazz, so my husband had to sing and play for him to go to sleep. It was his lullaby music as a child in his nursery.

From age two, Yanceys life was nothing but musican incomparable passion in a music-laden family that included grandfather William James Yancey, a pianist in the silent film industry, and an uncle, Clemmer Yancey, a noted writer, arranger, and singer on the local Detroit circuit. Yanceys first formal instrument training came on piano and cello, where he learned to read music before taking up drums, flute, and guitar. The family lived in Detroits roughly hewn Conant Gardens neighborhood, where Maureen kept her son out of harms way by requiring that church act as an alternative to any potential maleficence. If Yancey wasnt at home working on music, he could be found singing in the Vernon Chapel AME youth choir, or as an acolyte for Holy Communion. He served as a both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, and was a member of Vernon Chapels Young Peoples Division where he was active in community service.

After graduating from Farwell Middle School, Yancey enrolled at Davis Aerospace Technical High School, sparking a struggle for independence in the Yancey household. He didnt want to be at Davis, Maureen recalls, But he was just excellent at physics, so I thought that maybe he would warm up to it, but he was interested in music. He ended up practically turning Davis into a dance hall, because every time I turned around he was going to DJ some party.

The technical curriculum at Davis helped Yancey develop a mathematical approach to music composition, but he found other aspects of the experience stifling, particularly the attire. He hated wearing his Air Force ROTC uniform, says Maureen, who went back and forth with her son in a three-year fight about him being at Davis. The conflict grew when Yancey began working with musician Joseph Amp Fiddler, who lived within walking distance from the Yancey home. Fiddler was an accomplished keyboardist, producer, and composer, best known for his tour work with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. His home studioCamp Ampwas training ground for many of the neighborhoods young musicians. Thats where we bumped heads, Maureen explains, because he was supposed to be at school early for lab class, but he was at Amps all night in the studio.

I didnt realize that Amp was doing sessions at that time. Dilla didnt tell me he was helping Amp. Amp would let him engineer certain sessions, but he never told me! His dad and I didnt have a clue that he was as involved as he was, and that he was learning that much. He didnt talk about it because he wasnt supposed to be at Amps. He was supposed to be at schoolat a school I wanted him to excel in!

Yancey was stubborn, but above all, was a great kid, says Maureen, who eventually understood the nature of her sons resolve. At times, adults may underestimate or overlook a childs ambition due to his or her youth, but in many instances, children have a clear idea of their lifes path at an early age. At two, Yancey knew his mission was to make music, even though his mother had other plans for his future. When you know that music is in your heart, she says, you have to follow that, and it helps if you have your parents support. The Yanceys were a close-knit family, and Beverly and Maureen both open-minded caregivers, so Yancey was ultimately awarded their blessing.

My husband and I had many different interestswe did a lot of different things, Maureen explains. But James was totally into his music. It was like it ran through his veins.

****

Jay was cool; he was quiet, Amp Fiddler recalls. Jay was raised well by his parents. Maureen and her husband are good people, and they lived across the street from the church I went to. Yancey began spending time at Fiddlers home the late 1980s, digging through the extensive record collection Fiddler shared with siblings and advancing his skills in live instrumentation. Under Fiddlers tutelage, the youngster was also gaining his first experience with drum machines and digital programming. He learned the sampler real quick, says Fiddler. Id show him how to quantize, how to freak poo, how to change the time signature, make the feel different, [and] make it fall ahead or behind the beat. He loved that.

Amps influence on James was wonderful, says Maureen. But Fiddler was just one of the people in Yanceys circle, a unit that the reticent teen kept small. A common refrain from those who knew him best is, Dilla didntfudge with a lot of people, although familynuclear or extendedwere family for life. Frank Bush and Derrick Harvey (Frank-N-Dank) were such figures in his life. Best friends since elementary school, We used to sing in the church choir, Boy Scouts, all of that, says Dank. We had a really interesting childhood, and music always played a part in that. Yancey befriended Ronnie Watts (Phat Kat) during hip-hop open mics at the weekly Rhythm Kitchen; Humberto Andres Hernandez (DJ Dez) was a fellow musician and regular at Camp Amp, plus a member of the Ghost Town collective of which Yancey was a part; the late DeShaun Holton (MC Big Proof) grew close to Yancey post-Ghost Town, forming the Funky Cowboys as the budding producer was outgrowing his pause-and-record method of beat-making and moving on to his early instrumentsthe Akai MPC60, E-mu SP-12, and Akai S950 drum machines and samplers.

This was me pre-Hip-Hop Shop, pre-D12, said Holton in early 2006 We go back on some real-life shit.

Rappers R.L. Altman (T3) and the late Titus Glover (Baatin) met Yancey in the late 1980s. The two were also from Conant Gardens, and later, classmates of Yanceys at Detroit Pershing High School, where Yancey would transfer for his senior year. In a predominantly Black, middle-class district like Conant, hip-hop in the late 80s was paramount, and the initial relationship between the three was based on word-of-mouth and the pursuit of neighborhood MC supremacy. Altman and Glover were part of one group and Yancey was one-half of a duo with Frank Bush. Jay Dee wanted to challenge us in rapping, said Glover in 2006. He was like, I can beat both of yall. What began as competition, however, turned into camaraderie, as throughout their many rap battles, the trio showcased such individual talent that they became fans of one anothers respective styles.

Like Yancey, Robert OBryant (Waajeed) was a promising young producer and also a talented visual artist who had been friends with Glover since they were of single-digit age. OBryant and Gloveralong with Yancey, Altman, and Yanceys cousin Que. D as crew dancerformed a quintet called Ssenepod. As OBryants art studies began to take precedence and the appeal of hip-hop dancing lessened, Ssenepod was reduced to a trio, and then to a pair as one of its members found his way into street life.

Baatin had started selling drugs, says Altman, and we went to confront him about it. He was like, Man, fuck that.I gotta do what I gotta do. Thats when we started Slum Village. Slum Village started as rebellion against Baatin, to get him to fall back into hip-hop again.

With Glover in the streets, Yancey and Altman continued to cultivate the Slum Village sound, recording with Fiddler before signing as artists with a management company run by R.J. Rice and former Detroit Pistons basketball player John Salley in 1992. Rice had long been a fixture in the Detroit music community as the founder of local R&B outfit R.J.s Latest Arrival, and like Fiddler, provided a home studio setting for Yancey to further his training. Both men recognized Yanceys tremendous potential, but it was Fiddlerperforming on the Lollapalooza tour with P-Funk in 1994who was able to help the star-in-the-making reach his potential by introducing the music of Yancey and Slum Village to Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.

Says Fiddler: I was fulfilled just by seeing him reach his goals and being exposed to the world of hip-hop like he should have been, because he had exceptional talent. I knew Q-Tip could take him there.

Free of his business with Rice and Salley, Yanceys production career began to blossom under Q-Tips directiontraveling, networking, and doing credited and uncredited work for artists such as Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, and The Pharcyde. Yet on the home front, Slum Village was stagnant. Glover had returned to the fold, but we were still broke, Altman admits. We were happy for our boy, but at the same time, me and Baatin were broke.

But Yancey would never forget his friends. He was loyal to his people, says Altman, to which Fiddler adds: I knew he would be back. They were his boys. He and T3 went too far back for him to run off and not come back. And when he came back, he came back with a vengeance. I think he realized that he needed to represent Detroit again, and he came back hard. He made some badass music during that time.

Among this music was Slum Villages seminal debut, Fantastic, Vol. 1. The widely bootlegged album sparked a stylistic movement in both the underground and mainstream hip-hop communities, and established Yancey as one of the genres brightest young artists. Prior to its initial 1996 release, Q-Tips status as an industry iconand the clandestine nature of the Ummah production team, i.e. Q-Tip, Yancey, and Tribe DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammadovershadowed Yanceys individual accomplishments. But with Slum Village finally in the forefront, the real Jay Dee was headed towards prominence.

****

If Q-Tip and Yanceys Detroit family were influential in the early phases of the producers career, then Roots drummer and hip-hop town crier Ahmir Questlove Thompsonwith help from soul marvel Michael DAngelo Archerwas his fiercest advocate as the 90s came to a close. The night that Q-Tip finally let D have a copy of Fantastic, Vol. 1, Quest recalls, D played five cuts on my telephone. Then I had him play the cassette through the phone onto my answering machine, and thats all I did when I was on tour in Europe. Id call my machine just to hear the third Fantastic interlude. D was in love with Estimate. The Roots and DAngelo were at the center of one of the more creative collectives in hip-hop and R&B historya group that included Common, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Bilal, James Poyser, and Jill Scottand Yanceys reputation among his peers began to grow in spades. His workload also increased, and the combination of greater professional demand and differences in focus led to distance between him and the other members of Slum Village.

It was more the expectation of things [to come] that made Dilla want to leave the group, says Altman. He wanted to put more of a street edge on Slum Village, which was cool, but we werent living the lifestyle that he was living. Not to mention that Yancey was very much an individualist; he was selfless, but also a private man who didnt desire a lot of attention. Press, label politics, and the overall life of a hip-hop superstar wasnt his calling, so by the time Fantastic, Vol. 2 was released in 2000, he was largely a member of Slum Village in name only, although continuing to produce for the group on its next two albums.

In 2000, Yancey also produced ten songs on Commons gold-selling Like Water For Chocolate LP and contributed to Erkyah Badus platinum Mamas Gun. This earned him two Grammy nominations for Commons The Light (Best Solo Rap Performance, 2001) and Badus Didnt Cha Know (R&B Song of the Year, 2001). The following year saw the release of Yanceys solo debut Welcome 2 Detroitthe first artist album to be commissioned by and released on BBE Records. 2001 also brought the Fuck the Police single, which became one of the more popular entries in his catalog.

That song was totally true, says Maureen Yancey. He caught so much flack from the police for being a clean young man. The police department was down the street from where we lived, and every time he pulled off theyd stop him and harass him. They even tossed the car once looking for something; because he was young and clean-cut, they thought he was selling drugs.

Proof was at the house one evening when James had another run-in with them. He had only gone to the gas station which was three doors away. I told him not to get upset because he was hurt to tears. He was so angry and just tired of being harassed, so I told him, Look, this is what you doyou go downstairs and make a song about it, and you laugh in their face. And thats when he came up with the F the Police thing. And people are still singing it today! Every time I go somewhere, thats one of the songs they play.

Ironically, as a teen, Yanceys first job was a junior police cadet with the Detroit Police Department. But over the course of his adolescent and adult lives, his opinion of law enforcement gradually became more contemptuous as he experienced persecution for simply being young, black, and liking his clothes wrinkle-free. Thankfully, the profiling didnt deter his professional growth. In the years following Fuck the Police, he extended his collaboration with Busta Rhymes to an unprecedented five consecutive albums in addition to signing a production contract with MCA Records. As MCA was in the process of folding into Geffen Records, an undaunted Yancey released his second solo effort, the Ruff Draft EP.

Yancey briefly toured Europe in January 2003 in support of Ruff Draft. Upon his return to the States, he took ill. Exhaustion and malnutrition were initially considered possible causes, but a trip to the emergency room revealed thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a rare blood condition. Despite ailing health, Yancey remained a creative force throughout the year, teaming with renowned Los Angeles producer Madlib for the landmark Jaylib LP and crafting a blistering remix of Four Tets As Serious As Your Life. At the urging of longtime friend Common, Yancey relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles in the spring of 2004, a year that also brought a return to his musical roots. One such effort was his work on mentor Amp Fiddlers Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, and another, his interpretation of Jack McDuffs Oblighetto for the Blue Note Revisited LP.

The Blue Note remix was something he was proud of, mother Maureen recalls. It touched something deep in him because it was in a different vein, and it was also the music he grew up withjazz. It was his lullaby music as a child when he went to sleep in his nursery, so it meant a great deal to him. He probably got more out of that than any gold or platinum plaque.

Sadly, Yanceys health began to worsen. Maureen moved to L.A. in November of 2004 to be closer to her son, who became seriously ill as the year came to a close. He would eventually be diagnosed with Lupus, a condition wherein the bodys immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. The Lupus led to kidney failure and repeated dialysis treatments and hospital visits, yet Yancey wouldnt let his physical state keep him from reaching out to fans. His work output slowed; Steve Spaceks Dollar, and Love Is and Its Your World from Commons Be LP were notable 2005 productions. But his spirit was strong enough to allow him to tour Europe for a few weeks from November to December with Frank-N-Dank, DJ Rhettmatic, his mother, and friend and confidant Dave New York Tobman. He wasnt supposed to go, says Frank, who had been friends with Yancey and Dank for nearly his entire life. But he said, You know what? Im going to do itIm going to go and rock in a wheelchair. It was like this was going to be the last time for him and his niggas to bring this shit full circle.

Yancey spent his final months doing what he loved the mostcreating music. He released Donuts, his third solo LP, on February 7, 2006 before passing away three days later at the age of 32.

Maureen Yancey was extremely close to her son, and he left her with his guidance on how he wanted to be remembered. We shared the same dream and worked towards it together, she says. He prepared me for what I have to do. He accepted his condition, and in order to make me strong and make sure I did what I have to do, he had to instill some things in me.

So Im great. I havent mourned. Im not mourning, Im celebrating, because Im just so excited about him getting the credit he worked for and deserves; [Were] letting the world know just how great he was with what he did.

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