Tagged with "legends"
Gospel Legends - The Canton Spirituals Tags: gospel legends canton spirituals word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

For many listeners, the word "gospel" conjures the sound of large African-American Southern choirs singing  joyous songs of celebration.  These  choirs began singing  traditional spirituals and  later evolved  into close knit, small groups that were the blueprint for doo-wop groups (All Media Guide).  However,  the Canton Spirituals have become more than a doo-wop group.  The Canton Spirituals are often described  an accomplished gospel quartet  that has paved the way for many gospel groups and singers.  Founded in  Canton, Mississippi,  the original group included the songwriter and singer, Harvey Watkins, Sr., who began to sing in the group at the age of fourteen, and the other original members: Eddie Jackson, Theo Thompson, and  Roscoe Lucious  (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).The Canton Spirituals has remained  the number one  gospel music quartet in the country.  They represent the best of the past and present in gospel music (i music).

The current lead singer, Harvey Watkins, Jr. has been singing and performing with the group since he was a young child.  Watkins attributes his interest in  music to his parents.  Watkins's  father and mother are still  the most important persons in his life.  Since The Canton Spirituals'  founding, they have been through heartaches and pains and many people have left the group.   Presently,  The Canton Spirituals members (Wallace Strickland, Victor Allen, Ralph Loften, Michael Richardson, Merlin Lucious, Cornelius Dwayne Watkins, and  Rufus Mapp)  are under the direction of Harvey Watkins, Jr.,  since the passing of his father, Harvey Watkins, Sr.,who died of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 16, 1994.  Harvey Watkins, Sr., until his death,  was the only original member with the Canton Spirituals  (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  In the city of Canton, Watkins's  song- writing skills, music and legacy will remain an important part of not just the city of Canton's history, but America's history also.

In July 1994, Watkins received a Legend Award at the Mississippi Gospel Music Awards.  During the same month, Second  Street in Canton, Mississippi,  was renamed Harvey Watkins, Sr., Street  in his honor (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  The Canton Spirituals have always kept  God as the cornerstone of their life and music.  Their music, according to one source, reflects the "heart"and "soul" of this rich genre and is perhaps the primary reason why they have such a loyal following (i music).  The Canton Spirituals have received numerous awards due to their dynamic and melancholic music.

In Harvey Watkins' hometown of  Canton, Mississippi, The Canton Spirituals received a Concurrent Resolution 557 in February from the Mississippi  Legislature during their 1998 Regular Session honoring them for receiving two Stellar Awards at the 1997 Stellar Gospel Music Awards and for being the only gospel quartet in America and the only Mississippi gospel artist to achieve such honors (Blackmon).  The Canton Spirituals have also received the 1998 Excellence Award for Quartet of the Year-Traditional and LP of the Year- Traditional (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  The Canton Spirituals have also won Group/Duo of the Year and Traditional group/duo at the thirteenth annual Stellar Awards (gospelcity).  Their album, Live in Memphis I, received a Grammy nomination.  They appeared at the awards show in April 1994.  Live in Memphis I was also the longest running album on Billboard's Gospel Music Chart as of November, 1994 (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).

They are currently a part of the Gloryland's Gospel Music Top 15 Quartet Albums - 1st half of December, 1998 (geocities).   Other awards and accomplishments include numerous Stellar, GMWA, Excellence, Dove, Soul Train, Urban Network Awards, and several Grammy Award nominations (i music).  The Canton Spirituals put their heart and soul into their music.  Listeners can only wonder if this is what contributes to their rising success.  The Canton Spirituals have become loved and admired not only because of their ability to sell their music, but also to sing gospel effectively, change lives and people's views on life, and, most importantly,  spread the story of Jesus and the things he does for them and what he can do everyone else.

Source: Mississippi Canton Spirituals

             By Clarissa L. Nolen (SHS)

Public Enemy - Classic Hip Hop Legends
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: public enemy classic hip hop legends word life production new qualtiy entertainment featured blog

In the late Eighties, Public Enemy introduced a hard, intense, hip-hop sound that changed the sound of hip-hop. PE's inventive production team, the Bomb Squad, tailored a unique, noisy, layered avant-garde-inspired sound that incorporated sirens, skittering turntable scratches, and cleverly juxtaposed musical and spoken samples. The group features two vocalists with wildly different styles: Lead rapper Chuck D, who delivers anti-establishment rhymes in a booming, authoritarian voice, and his sidekick/jester, Flavor Flav, who broke in with taunts, teases, and questions.

The members of Public Enemy came together at Adelphi University on Long Island, where Carlton Ridenhour studied graphic design and worked at student radio station WBAU. There he met Hank Shocklee (future brainchild of the Bomb Squad) and Bill Stephney (future Def Jam executive), and the trio became fast friends, talking philosophy, politics, and hip-hop late into the night. After rapping over a track Shocklee had created, "Public Enemy No. 1," Ridenhour started appearing regularly on Stephney's radio show as Chuckie D. Def Jam cofounder Rick Rubin heard a tape of the rap and started calling Ridenhour.

At first the rapper shunned Rubin, feeling he was too old to begin a career as an entertainer. But he eventually came up with an elaborate plan that involved Shocklee as producer, Stephney as marketer, and DJ Norman Rogers on the turntables. He recruited his Nation of Islam cohort Richard Griffin to, as Professor Griff, coordinate the group's backup dancers, the Security of the First World (S1W), whose members carried fake Uzis and did stiff, martial-arts moves as a parody of Motown-era dancers. Ridenhour enlisted old friend William Drayton, who, as Flavor Flav, would act as a foil to Chuck D's more sober character.

Calling themselves "prophets of rage," Public Enemy released their debut album, Yo!, Bum Rush the Show, in 1987. A more sophisticated version of early East Coast gangsta rappers like Boogie Down Productions or Schoolly D, the group at first went nearly unnoticed except by hip-hop insiders and New York critics. The second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, took the pop world by storm. Reaching Number 42 (Number 1 R&B, 1988), it was immediately hailed as hip-hop's masterpiece and eventually sold a million copies. Nation contained the minor hit "Bring the Noise" (Number 56 R&B, 1988), which foreshadowed Public Enemy's knack for controversy, with Chuck D calling Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan a prophet. Having referred to rap as "CNN for black culture," he castigates white-controlled media in "Don't Believe the Hype" (Number 18 R&B, 1988).

In May 1989, just after the group released "Fight the Power" (Number 20 R&B, 1989), the theme song for Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing, Professor Griff, who had previously made racist comments onstage, dropped a verbal bomb. In an interview with the Washington Times, he said Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe." Public Enemy leader Chuck D responded indecisively, first firing Griff, then reinstating him, then temporarily disbanding the group. When Griff then attacked his band mates in another interview, he was dismissed permanently. Chuck D responded to the fiasco by writing "Welcome to the Terrordome" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), a ferociously noisy track in which the rapper asserts, "they got me like Jesus." That lyric fanned the coals of controversy yet again, with Chuck D himself being branded an anti-Semite.

Public Enemy followed with its first Top 10 album, Fear of a Black Planet (Number 10 pop, Number Three R&B, 1990), which explored the nature of white racism in songs like "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "911 Is a Joke" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), and called on African-Americans to unite in "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Number 20 R&B, 1990) and "War at 33 1/3." By the end of 1990, DJ Terminator X had left for a solo career, followed by the exits of Bomb Squad members Shocklee and Stephney.

But Public Enemy's momentum only accelerated. Upon its release in 1991, Apocalypse 91 shot to Number Four (Number One R&B), spawning the hits "Can't Truss It" (Number 50 pop, Number 9 R&B, 1991) and "Shut Em Down" (Number 26 R&B, 1992). Greatest Misses reached Number 13 (Number 10 R&B) in 1992 and was criticized for its unexciting remixes. The same year, Public Enemy teamed up with thrash-metal band Anthrax for a successful update of "Bring the Noise" and a joint tour. They also opened for U2's Zoo TV Tour.

Public Enemy returned in 1994 with Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age, which included lyrics critical of the fast-rising gangsta-rap genre and its frequent glorification of violence, drugs, and money. But, like those of other older rap artists, the album debuted fairly high on the chart only to quickly fall in sales (Number 14 pop, Number 4 R&B, 1994).

Beginning in 1991, Flavor Flav had some run-ins with the law. That year, he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and served a 20-day jail sentence. In 1993, he was charged with attempted murder when he allegedly shot at a neighbor in a domestic squabble; he chose to undergo drug rehabilitation, and the charges were dropped.

By 1996, Chuck D founded the Sony-supported Slam Jamz rap label, created the Rapp Style clothing company, and released his first solo album, The Autobiography of Mistachuck. The following year he published a book, Fight the Power: Rap, Race and Reality, and soon reconvened the original lineup of Public Enemy to record the soundtrack album to Lee's 1998 film He Got Game. The project brought the group renewed visibility: The album reached Number 26 (Number 10 R&B), while the title track hit Number 78 on the R&B singles chart and won regular rotation on MTV. Chuck D closed the '90s as a typically outspoken champion of Internet distribution of music, even making Public Enemy's 1999 album There's a Poison Goin' On available first as a low-cost download.

During the 2000s, PE members stayed visible, with Chuck D lecturing on the college circuit and hosting a talk radio show and Flava Flav becoming a reality TV superstar with Flavor of Love. The group found time to put out four studio albums; none sold well but each was strong in its own way — especially Rebirth of a Nation, a collaboration with producer-rapper Paris, whose hammering beats sound straight out of 1990, and How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?, which featured a heavier, more expansive sound.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this article.

Source: Rolling Stone

Gospel Legends-Be Be and Ce Ce Winans Tags: legends be be ce ce winans gospel music word life production new quality entertainment

For more than a decade, BeBe and CeCe Winans have been among the most commercially successful contemporary gospel acts in the United States. A hallmark of their sound is their "light" version of gospel, a soothing sound enriched by modern jazz, R&B, and pop elements. Criticized by gospel traditionalists for weakening the sacred music's message by adapting instrumentation and arrangements of contemporary pop and soul music, BeBe and CeCe Winans successfully aimed at reaching the broader and younger audience that traditional gospel had largely lost. Their lyrics, which are not as heavily loaded with Christian symbolism as traditional gospel, extended the appeal of their musical message of love and respect to a broad secular audience.

BeBe and CeCe Winans' unique style won over a huge number of listeners and sent two of their albums platinum. Their album from 1988, Heaven, was with Aretha Franklin's 1972 Amazing Grace, only the second gospel record ever to go gold. Since then, BeBe and CeCe Winans have earned many more top ten hits on Billboard's R&B charts and won numerous Grammy, Stellar, and Dove Awards.

BeBe and CeCe were born into a family of gospel singers that in the 1980s and 1990s produced no fewer than four celebrated gospel acts: The Winans, Daniel Winans & the Second Half, and, of course, BeBe and CeCe. BeBe and CeCe gave their two youngest sisters, Angie and Debbie, their start singing back-up, and the two girls went on to form a duo of their own called Sisters.

BeBe and CeCe Winans' parents met in a church choir, the Lemon Gospel Chorus, in 1950 and formed their own choir after their marriage in 1953. BeBe Winans was the youngest of the seven Winans sons; CeCe was the first of their three daughters. To keep their kids off the streets of Detroit, the Winans made it a point to take them to their Pentecostal church regularly. As in many churches, singing together was a large part of the worship experience, and like so many other singers, BeBe and CeCe Winans got their start in their local church choir.

All ten of the Winans brothers and sisters were good singers and their impact on the church choir, according to BeBe, was great. "We were the chorus," he told Washington Postwriter Richard Harrington. "We directed the choir, my brother played organ and taught the songs. We were the strong tenors, the strong altos, the strong sopranos." Father David Winans did not only sing in the choir, he was also a member of a four-man singing group, the Noble Aires. He knew discipline was important if one wanted to succeed as a singer. "My father was pretty strict on the guys growing up, but they loved it," CeCe Winans told Harrington. "He drilled them so they would be perfectionists in what they did," she recalled, "but [singing] was never something they pushed on us." The four eldest Winans brothers David, Ronald, Carvin, and Marvin formed the gospel quartet the Testimonials in the early 1970s. They later changed their name to The Winans, went off to California to record their first album in 1980 and subsequently won multiple Grammy Awards.

Even as teenagers, the only music BeBe and CeCe were allowed to listen to at home was gospel music. However, growing up in Detroit in the late 1970s, it was nearly impossible for them not to be influenced by musicians from outside the gospel realm like the Temptations, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder. In the late 1970s, BeBe and CeCe, together with their older brothers Michael and Daniel, formed their own group, the Winans, Part 2 and started performing at church and family events.

While BeBe was sure that he wanted to sing for a living, CeCe didn't go for a career as a singer at first, opting instead to study cosmetology. However, in 1981, Howard McCrary, musical director of the religious TV program The PTL Club and a friend of the Winans, invited BeBe and CeCe to sing in the show. Together with six other singers, they became the PTL Singers in 1982 and performed to a mainly white audience for the first time. Occasionally BeBe and CeCe sang duets on the show, including "Lord, Lift Us Up," a cover version of Joe Cocker's and Jennifer Warnes' hit, "Up Where We Belong," from the soundtrack of An Officer and a Gentleman. PTL also became their first record label. The album Lord, Lift Us Up was released by PTL in 1984. The duo's cover version of "Up Where We Belong" became a hit on mainstream radio and the duo caught the attention of several record labels.

From there they went on to sing as the gospel duo BeBe and CeCe Winans. Thanks to BeBe's big, deep voice that managed to be tender and powerful at the same time and CeCe's rich alto, they were in demand from a variety of churches. Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times described the duo's singing style as belonging to the "Megalo-Melismatic school .... swooping and dipping all over a single, poor defenseless syllable." However, in early 1984, 18-year-old CeCe Winans left PTL and moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, back to Detroit. She got married in June to Alvin Love, a sales account executive, and opened her own beauty salon. BeBe ventured into commercial jingles.

In 1985, gospel label Sparrow Records took BeBe and CeCe under its wing. They were the first black artists on Sparrow's roster and produced a single of BeBe's song "I.O.U. Me." Delighted by the high quality of their recorded work, Sparrow president Bill Hearn asked Capitol Records if they were interested in BeBe and CeCe's music. They were, and the gospel duo signed a second contract with the major label. Supported by two record labels, BeBe and CeCe Winans entered into the most dynamic phase of their career, one which would take them to the top of contemporary gospel and R&B.

After the duo signed with Capitol Records, their debut album BeBe & CeCe Winans was released in 1987 on the Sparrow/Capitol label. Producer Keith Thomas collaborated with the duo on the full vocal arrangements which were then sung by other Winans family members, including brother Marvin. Besides winning a Grammy, the album made it into Billboard's top ten spiritual albums--the category where black gospel artists are listed--and the magazine's top 20 inspirational albums--which usually represent white gospel. BeBe Winans, who co-wrote most of the catchy melodies, explained to Washington Post writer Richard Harrington that it has become their mission to demolish these divisions, because he couldn't "see the color of music."

CeCe was honored with her first Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance for a Female. The songs "I.O.U. Me," "For Always," and "Love Said Not So," went on to become hits from the album. Not only were BeBe and CeCe popular among gospel fans--they were also popular in the so-called secular market. In addition, BeBe starred in the Broadway musical Don't Get God Started in 1987. Discussing this experience, BeBe Winans told Billboard's Bob Darden, "I'd get so involved with a song that I'd go on too long. The crowd would love it, but when I'd come backstage, I had driven the producers crazy!"

The tour for their first album included mainly neutral concert halls--rather than traditional gospel venues--where BeBe and CeCe could freely perform their music. Their lyrics were often ambiguous and lacked the strong Christian messages that most pastors required for their churches. The duo also toured with Sandi Patti and with The Winans. On a trip to Poland and Russia, their religious music even received a positive review in a communist newspaper.

The duo's second album Heaven was released in 1988. Peter B. King wrote in the Seattle Times that its sound was "best described as synth-funk gospel," dominated by "synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines." For the tune "Celebrate New Life," BeBe and CeCe Winans teamed up with their friend Whitney Houston. Another song on the album, "You," was co-written by three members of the jazz gospel quartet Take 6 who also sang backup vocals. Heaven included new versions of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Kool & the Gang's "Celebration." Heaven cemented BeBe and CeCe as gospel stars of the first order. It was the first Gospel album ever to reach the top ten on Billboard's R&B charts and only the second to be certified gold.

BeBe and CeCe's next album, Different Lifestyles, was another ambitious project that saw them pushing into other genres, characterized by the New York Times' Michael Eric Dyson as "a curriculum of musical diversity--from rap and uptempo rhythm-and-blues to a sample of a gospel shout." They also included a star-studded lineup of guest artists, including Luther Vandross, M.C. Hammer, and Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers. "Sometimes we were concerned that people may think we can't do a full album without any special guests," CeCe told Billboard's David Nathan. "But what do you do when someone like Luther calls?" BeBe and CeCe co-wrote ten of the record's eleven tracks. The first single from Different Lifestyles, "Addictive Love," was an immediate hit among radio programmers across the nation. The album eventually reached number one on the Billboard R&B charts.

Following the release of Different Lifestyles, BeBe and CeCe set off on a year of hectic touring which left them feeling exhausted. They took a year off from performing and recording. Their next album, released on Sparrow/Capitol in 1993, was their first Christmas album, appropriately entitled First Christmas. "It was fun taking songs and making them into BeBe and CeCe songs without really trying to change them because they were already great," CeCe told Lisa Collins of Billboard.

They followed up the Christmas record with 1994's Relationships. It was an album that almost didn't appear on Capitol. BeBe and CeCe had been growing increasingly dissatisfied with their record company, which they felt was not giving them the support they deserved. The bad feelings were turned to good, however, when Gary Gersh took over as Capitol Records' president and CEO in mid 1993. "We were involved in every aspect of Relationships, which included being at several marketing and other label meetings," BeBe told J.R. Reynolds of Billboard. BeBe and CeCe once again felt that they were part of Capitol's future. Nonetheless, the record was the last one the duo recorded together.

In 1996, BeBe released his first solo album, BeBe Winans, to mixed reviews on Atlantic Records. The album's first track "In Harm's Way" was, according to Jet, inspired by Ronald Winans' heart attack which had almost killed BeBe's brother. In 2000, BeBe signed with Motown and released his second solo album Love & Freedom. The album was nominated for a Dove Award in 2001.

CeCe Winans' solo career took off right from the start. Her husband Alvin quit his position at Xerox and became her business manager. CeCe's first solo release, Alone in His Presence, went gold in 1995 and was awarded a Grammy as the year's best contemporary soul gospel album. In 1996, CeCe was the first black female to win the Dove Award for female vocalist of the year. She hosted her own television show, CeCe's Place, on the interfaith cable channel Odyssey Network, and authored her autobiography, On a Positive Note: Her Joyous Faith, Her Life, and Her Everyday Blessings.She also founded her own company, CW Wellspring Entertainment, including record label Wellspring Gospel. By 2001, CeCe had recorded four solo records and had won a total of eight Grammy Awards. The first release on her own label, 1999's Alabaster Box, was certified gold and nominated for a Grammy.

Source: Planet Shakers

Classic hip hop legends - N.W.A.
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: classic hip hop legends n.w.a. word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

In 1988, with the double-platinum album Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A brought gangsta rap into the mainstream. The record was among the first to offer an insider's perspective of the violence and brutality of gang-ridden South Central L.A. With songs like "Fuck tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta" set in a chaotic swirl of siren and gunshot sounds, it also foreshadowed the 1992 L.A. riots.

In 1986, O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, born and raised in a two-parent, middle-class home in South Central—and always more interested in music and books than in gangs—met Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, who shared Cube's passion for writing rap songs. The two started writing for Eric "Eazy-E" Wright, a former drug dealer who started Ruthless Records with his profits. Eazy needed material for a group he'd signed to the label, HBO. When HBO rejected Cube and Dre's song "Boyz-n-the-Hood," about the South Central town of Compton, Eazy-E decided to record the song himself and the three started working together as Niggaz With Attitude (N.W.A).

After N.W.A's first collection, N.W.A. and the Posse, Cube took a year off to study drafting at the Phoenix Institute of Technology. When he returned in 1988, the group—now with MC Ren and DJ Yella on board—finished Eazy's solo album and started work on Straight Outta Compton. Released in 1989, the album sold 750,000 copies even before N.W.A embarked on a tour. In the meantime, a media storm developed over the controversial "Fuck tha Police," resulting in a "warning letter" from the FBI to the group's distributor, Priority Records.

After a tour, Cube got into a financial dispute with N.W.A's manager, Jerry Heller, who Cube claimed had cheated him out of royalties. The two settled out of court in 1990, and Cube moved on to a successful solo career. N.W.A continued recording and selling records but fell out of critical favor. In June 1991, the group made history again when, despite strong criticism from politicians and being banned from some retail chains, EFIL4ZAGGIN("Niggaz 4 Life" backward) reached Number One two weeks after its release.

Members of N.W.A made the police blotter often during the early 1990s, mainly for assault charges that ended up being dismissed or settled. Dr. Dre was involved in the most notorious case when he was charged with attacking the female host of a television rap show in 1991. He pleaded no contest and paid an out-of-court settlement to the host. In 1992, Dre was arrested for assaulting record producer Damon Thomas and later plead guilty to assault on a police officer, eventually serving "house arrest" and wearing a police-monitoring ankle bracelet. Eazy-E also raised eyebrows in the rap community when he attended a fund-raising lunch for President George Bush, donating $2,500 for the privilege.

By early 1992 N.W.A was over, its members scattered to solo careers. Dre left both the group and Ruthless to co-found Death Row Records with Marion "Suge" Knight. Eazy-E later claimed in a lawsuit that Knight had negotiated Dre's exit with the help of baseball bats and pipes. MC Ren's Kizz My Black Azz EP (Number 12, 1992) went platinum. But aside from Ice Cube, Dr. Dre has had the most chart success: In 1993 The Chronic (Number Three) went triple platinum, appeared on a number of critics' year-end top-10 lists, and spawned several hits. "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" (Number Two pop, Number One R&B) and "Dre Day" (Number Eight pop, Number Six R&B) featured the rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, who later in the year had his own hit album (produced by Dre), DoggyStyle (Number One pop, Number One R&B). As a sign of lingering bad feelings, Dre also used his solo album and accompanying videos to ridicule Eazy. In October 1993 Eazy responded with It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa (Number Five pop, Number One R&B). Eazy also found success with Ruthless nurturing the trio Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, with whom Eazy recorded the single "Foe tha Love of $" (Number 41 pop, Number 33 R&B, 1995).

Two years later, Eazy-E split with longtime manager Jerry Heller. Communication among the former N.W.A members quickly improved. Soon Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and the others were talking about an N.W.A reunion project. Though he had been the first to leave the group for a very successful solo career, Ice Cube later expressed regret that N.W.A had never built on its early potential. Then, in 1995, Eazy-E died from complications of AIDS. Both Dre and Cube visited him in the hospital shortly before he died. The Ruthless impresario was married two days before his death, and his estate quickly became mired in a barrage of lawsuits filed on behalf of business associates and heirs (which included nine children by seven different women). A final solo album, Str8 Off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton (Number Three pop, Number One R&B), was released in 1996.

At Death Row, Dre enjoyed continued popular success, both as house producer and as a performer in a duet with Tupac Shakur on "California Love" (Number Six pop, 1996). But Dre unexpectedly left Death Row that same year and soon formed Aftermath Entertainment (in association with Interscope). By now an outspoken critic of the highly publicized West Coast–East Coast hip-hop feud, Dre's first post-Death Row single was "Been There, Done That." Dre also discovered a white Detroit rapper named Eminem, whose Dre-produced albums made him as controversial as N.W.A had been a decade before. As Dre prepared to release his followup to The Chronic, he filed suit against Death Row for copyright infringement over the label's unauthorized release of Suge Knight Presents: Chronic 2000, a compilation album that Dre felt unfairly "used" his "Chronic" title. (He later dropped the suit.) Dre's own 2001 (Number Two pop, Number One R&B, 1999) featured such guests as MC Ren, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem.

The long-rumored N.W.A reunion finally began to take shape that same year. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and MC Ren recorded "Hell Low," the opening track on Cube's War & Peace vol. 2 (The Peace Disc), and a new track credited to N.W.A also appeared on the soundtrack to Cube's film Next Friday. That was followed by a national arena tour in 2000 with Dre, Ren, Snoop Dogg, Warren G., and Eminem. Separately and in joint interviews, the former N.W.A partners talked up a proposed album called Not These Niggas Again, but by 2001 any further studio recordings were not, in Dre's opinion, strong enough to release.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this article.

R&B and Soul Legends - Blue Magic Tags: rb soul legends blue magic word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group and one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group's original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as "Sideshow", "Spell", "What’s Come Over Me", "Three Ring Circus" and "Stop to Start."

Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book 'A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s',"although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer".) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.

The group was one of the earliest acts produced by Norman Harris, a Philadelphia recording veteran. The group's harmonies were supported by the MFSB studio house band. Their first early song release in 1974 was "Spell" which went onto the Billboard R&B charts at number 30 (it was written and co-produced by Mills).

Their second release became their first Billboard US Top 10 hit single, "Sideshow". It was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in August 1974. It climbed to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart. A follow-up, "Three Ring Circus" also sold well, reaching #36 in the pop chart and #5 R&B. MFSB guitarist Bobby Eli wrote both "Sideshow" and "Three Ring Circus". Their debut self-titled album was released later in the year.

Because their first three singles releases were slower songs, the group became known mostly for their ballads.

The album Thirteen Blue Magic Lane in 1975 maintained the group's popularity and spawned their version of the popular dance number "We're On The Right Track", as well as the ballad "Chasing Rainbows". The song "What's Come Over Me" from their debut album was re-worked as a duet with Margie Joseph dubbed in alongside Mills' original lead vocals. The new approach saw the song climb to #11 on the R&B chart again in 1975.In total the group had two R&B chart singles in 1975 and four in 1976.

The group had their first world tour that year which lasted for 42 weeks. The tour included 48 states in the United States, five countries in Europe and a 10-day stay in the Philippines. They concluded their tour with a two-week engagement in the Virgin Islands.

Blue Magic were known also for their choreography. As a visually oriented group, they had several major television appearances, including Soul Train, The Mike Douglas Show, The Jerry Blavat Show, Dancin' On Air, and A.M. Philadelphia.

In April 1975, they were chosen as the best new group of the year which earned two Ebony Awards. The first was presented in New York by Aretha Franklin, the second in Florida by the female recording artist Vanity.

They have shared the stage with other performers such as The Jacksons, Lionel Richie, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Earth, Wind & Fire, New Edition, The Stylistics, Mick Jagger and others.

The group also contributed background vocals for Alyson Williams and the Rolling Stones (on the song "If You Really Want To Be My Friend" from the album It's Only Rock 'n' Roll).

By 1977, the group's popularity was faded with the rise of disco music and changing music styles, and despite the group continuing to record consistently they failed to chart. Subsequent label moves to Capitol Records for a reunion with Norman Harris (who had left two years earlier) and then the smaller label Mirage resulted in some smaller R&B charting, but no major success.

Background singer Richard Pratt left in the early 1980s. After singers Vernon and Wendell Sawyer left, the remaining two members Mills and Beaton hired two other singers and traveled to Los Angeles, California to record with Skip Scarborough and some members of the popular group Earth Wind & Fire on the album "Message from the Magic."

In 1988, the original group got back together and had some renewed popularity in late 1989 with the album, "From Out of the Blue."

In 1990, The Amsterdam News carried the story of Mills' near-fatal car accident. The other members of the group brought in new lead Rod Wayne (real name Roderick Bronaugh), who remained with the group until 2004. Bronaugh now teaches at Tennessee State University. After Rod Wayne, Wade Elliot and Leemy Walters, other leads. Ted Mills has reunited with Wendall Sawyer and Keith Beaton. Both Vernon Sawyer and Richard Pratt have their own groups.

After surgery in 1996, Mills returned to the music scene as a solo act, recording an album for Casablanca Records that year entitled "This Magic Is Real", featuring the remake of "Tear It Down."

Mills appeared in the touring play, "Girl, He Ain't Worth It" with The Manhattans, Meli'sa Morgan and Tito Jackson, and appeared in the play "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places". In 2007, Mills recorded the album "3 Tenors of Soul" with Russell Thompkins, Jr. and William Hart, released on Shanachie Records and produced by Bobbi Eli.

Officially, the group known as "Blue Magic", featuring members Keith Beaton, Wendell Sawyer, Fernando Kee, and lead vocalist Leemy Waiters tour worldwide. Waiters replaced Wade Eliot, who had replaced Rod Wayne in 2004. The name was formally trademarked by Wendell Sawyer and Keith Beaton some years earlier. Ted Mills has reunited with Wendell Sawyer and Keith Beaton May 2013.

Vernon Sawyer tours with his own Blue Magic group, with members Freddie Ingleton, Bennie "BJ" Dixon and Reynardo. Richard Pratt has his own group as well.

Source: Wikipedia

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