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Spoken Word Tags: origins music spoken word life production new quality entertainment

Spoken word is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and intonation and voice inflection. It is a 'catchall' that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud, including hip-hop, jazz poetry, poetry slams, traditional poetry readings and can include comedy routines and 'prose monologues'.

The art of spoken word has existed for many millennia. Long before writing but through a cycle of reciting, listening and memorizing each language drew on its resources of sound structure for aural patterns that made spoken poetry very different from ordinary discourse and easier to commit to memory.

'There were poets long before there were printing presses, poetry is primarily oral utterance, to be said aloud, to be heard. Poetry, like music, appeals to the ear, an effect known as euphony or onomatopoeia, a device to represent a thing or action by a word that imitates sound. 'Speak again, Speak like rain' was how Kikuyu East African tribesmen described her verse to author Isak Dinesen, confirming Eliot's comment that 'poetry remains one person talking to another.

The oral tradition is one that is conveyed primarily by speech as opposed to writing, in predominantly oral cultures proverbs (also known as maxims) are convenient vehicles for conveying simple beliefs and cultural attitudes. 'The hearing knowledge we bring to a line of poetry is knowledge of a pattern of speech we have known since we were infants'

Performance poetry, which is kindred to performance art, is explicitly written to be performed aloud and consciously shuns the written form. 'Form', as Donald Hall records 'was never more than an extension of content.' In the African traditions, it included drumming, and the use of the 'talking drum'.

In ancient Greece, the spoken word was the most trusted repository for the best of their thought, and inducements would be offered to men (such as the rhapsodes) who set themselves the task of developing minds capable of retaining and voices capable of communicating the treasures of their culture. The Ancient Greeks included Greek lyric, which is similar to spoken-word poetry, in their Olympic Games.

The most notable U.S. exponent of oral poetry, Vachel Lindsay, helped to keep alive the appreciation of poetry as a spoken art in the early twentieth century. Robert Frost also spoke well, his metre accommodating his natural sentences. Poet laureate, Robert Pinsky, also an advocate, considered 'Poetry's proper culmination is to be read aloud by someone's voice; whoever reads a poem aloud becomes the proper medium for the poem. Every speaker intuitively courses through manipulation of sounds; it is almost as though 'we sing to one another all day'. Sound once imagined through the eye gradually gave body to poems through performance, and late in the 1950's reading aloud erupted in the United States'.

Some American spoken-word poetry originated from the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, blues music, as well as the 1960s Beat Generation. Spoken word in African American culture drew on a rich literary and musical heritage. Langston Hughes and writers of the Harlem Renaissance were inspired by the feelings of the blues and spirituals; hip-hop and slam poetry artists were inspired by poets such as Hughes in their word styling.

The Civil Rights Movement also had an impact on spoken word. Notable speeches such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" and Booker T. Washington's "Cast Down Your Buckets" incorporated elements of oration that influenced the spoken word movement within the African American community. The Last Poets was a poetry and political music group formed during the 1960s that was born out of the Civil Rights movement, and helped increase the popularity of spoken word within African American culture.

Spoken word poetry entered into wider American culture following the release of Gil Scott-Heron's spoken-word poem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on the album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox in 1970. The Nuyorican Poets Café on New York's Lower Eastside was founded in 1973, and is one of the oldest American venues for presenting spoken-word poetry.

In the 1980s, competitive spoken word poetry competitions emerged, labelled 'poetry slams.' American poet Marc Smith is credited with starting the poetry slam in November 1984. In 1990, the first National Poetry Slam took place in Fort Mason, San Francisco.

The poetry slam movement reached a wider audience following Russell Simmons' Def Poetry, which was aired on HBO between 2002 and 2007.

Outside of the United States, artists such as French singer-songwriters Léo Ferré or Serge Gainsbourg, made a personal use of spoken word over rock or symphonic music from the beginning of the 1970s, in such albums as Amour Anarchie (1970), Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971) or Il n'y a plus rien (1973), and contributed to the popularization of spoken word within French culture.

In the UK, spoken word has been utilised by musicians such as Blur, The Streets and Kate Tempest.

In the Philippines, the art of spoken word has been popularized by the hit romantic comedy series On the Wings of Love (TV series), with one of the supporting characters, Rico (played by Juan Miguel Severo) being a spoken word poet.

In Zimbabwe the art of spoken word has been mostly active on stage through the House of hunger Poetry slam in Harare , Mlomo Wakho Poetry Slam in Bulawayo as well as the Charles Austin theatre in Masvingo . Festivals such as Harare International Festival of the Arts, Intwa Arts Festival KoBulawayo and Shoko Festival have supported the genre for a number of years. Artists such as Chirikure Chirikure , Biko Mutsaurwa (Godobori) , Cynthia Marangwanda (Flowchyld) , Arnold Chirimika (SoProfound) , T Tongai Lesly Makawa (Outspoken) Tendekai P Tati (Madzitatiguru), Philani Amadeus Nyoni , Tswarelo Mothobi (A scribe called Tswa) Samm Farai Monro (Comrade Fatso) and Batsirai Easther Chigama have been active on the Zimbabwean Spoken word scene.

Spoken-word poetry is often performed in a competitive setting. Also known as slam poetry, these competitions began in 1986 when Marc Smith started a poetry slam in Chicago.

In 1990, the first National Poetry Slam was held in San Francisco. It is the largest poetry slam competition event in the world, now held each year in different cities across the United States.

The popularity of slam poetry has resulted in slam poetry competitions being held across the world.

Source: Wikipedia

Bill Withers is an artist to be remembered Tags: bill withers music hall fame word life production new quality entertainment

Bill Withers was simply not born to play the record industry game. His oft-repeated descriptor for A&R men is “antagonistic and redundant.” Not surprisingly, most A&R men at Columbia Records, the label he recorded for beginning in 1975, considered him “difficult.” Yet when given the freedom to follow his muse, Withers wrote, sang and in many cases produced some of our most enduring classics, including “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me,” “Use Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands” and “Who Is He (and What Is He to You).”

“Not a lot of people got me,” Withers recently mused. “Here I was, this black guy playing an acoustic guitar, and I wasn’t playing the gut-bucket blues. People had a certain slot that they expected you to fit in to.”

Withers’ story is about as improbable as it could get. His first hit, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” recorded in 1971 when he was 33, broke nearly every pop music rule. Instead of writing words for a bridge, Withers audaciously repeated “I know” 26 times in a row. Moreover, the two-minute song had no introduction and was released as a throwaway B-side. Produced by Stax alumni Booker T. Jones for Sussex Records, the single’s structure, sound, and sentiment were completely unprecedented and possessed a melody and lyric that tapped into the zeitgeist of the era. Like much of Withers’ work, it would ultimately prove to be timeless. Reaching Number Three pop and Number Six R&B, “Ain’t No Sunshine” would go on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Song of the year. The song has since been covered more than 250 times, sampled by a bevy of rappers, and is routinely featured in movies and TV shows.

Born in 1938 in Slab Fork, West Virginia, one of 13 children (only six survived past infancy), Withers spent much of his childhood shuttling between his mother’s home in nearby Beckley and his father’s home in Slab Fork. For African-American males growing up in that part of West Virginia, working in the coal mines was about the only option available. In fact, Withers was the first male in his family not to work in the mines, opting instead to join the navy at the age of 17. Slowly learning to overcome a debilitating stammer under the employ of Uncle Sam, Withers elected to stay in the navy for nine years.

While serving overseas, Withers arranged for his mother to move from West Virginia to San Jose, California, where he joined her upon being decommissioned in 1965. For the next two years, Withers worked a variety of jobs, while cruising the local music clubs most evenings. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, he would sit in, singing blues standards with such West Coast stalwarts as Clifford Coulter and Johnny Heartsman.

His then-girlfriend bought him a plane ticket to New York, where he stayed with his sister, whose landlord happened to be Clarence “C. B.” Bullard, Atlantic A&R man and manager of Harlem’s legendary Record Shack. Bullard arranged for Withers to record a single for a short-lived West Coast label owned by Hy and Sam Weiss and Mort Garson.

Chasing the dream, in 1967, Withers moved to Los Angeles to work with Garson, who produced and arranged Withers’ first single, “Three Nights and a Morning,” the only release on the obscure Lotus Records. When “Three Nights and a Morning” sank without a trace, Garson introduced Withers to jazz pianist Mike Melvoin, who then recommended him to Charles Wright (“Express Yourself”); Wright, in turn, connected Withers with keyboardist Ray Jackson, then a member of Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Withers was working for McDonnell Douglas, and then Weber Aircraft, assembling washrooms and air stairs; he used his earnings to record demos with Jackson of “Justified” (later recorded by Esther Phillips), “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” (subsequently cut by Diana Ross), and a couple of other songs.

After being rejected by several labels and industry moguls, the tape eventually landed in the hands of Clarence Avant, founder of Sussex Records. Liking what he heard, Avant wanted Bones Howe, who’d just produced several Fifth Dimension hits, to produce Withers’ first record. Avant’s friend, Stax VP Al Bell, had a stroke of genius and suggested that Booker T. Jones produce the record. Jones opted for a stripped-down ensemble, employing Booker T. & the MG’s bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and drummer Al Jackson, with Jones himself handling keyboards and guitar. Stephen Stills sat in on piano on a couple of tracks, including “Grandma’s Hands.”

During a third session, held six months later, Chris Ethridge and Jim Keltner replaced Dunn and Jackson. Jones crafted the ethereal string arrangement for “Ain’t No Sunshine” and suggested that Withers bring his carpet-covered drafting board to the studio – it was the same board Withers used at home to stomp out the beat while playing acoustic guitar. It was also Jones who convinced Withers that repeating “I know” over and over again would increase the tension in the song exponentially.

In 1972, by the time Withers was ready to record his second album, Still Bill, Jones had relocated to Northern California. Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band had recently split up, and Ray Jackson, drummer James Gadson, guitarist Benorce Blackmon, and bass player Melvin Dunlap had joined forces with Withers, creating one of the greatest unsung ensembles in R&B history. Rehearsing the new material in Gadson’s garage, Withers – with the help of Al Bell – persuaded Avant to let him produce himself.

“Al Bell is my guardian angel,” asserts Withers. “Clarence is a business guy. Al Bell is a music guy who did business. Al Bell got me!”

The result was an extraordinary sophomore effort that includes both “Use Me” (Number Two pop and R&B) and “Lean on Me” (Number One pop and R&B). Heavily in demand, Withers then wrote songs for both José Feliciano and Gladys Knight, while turning down opportunities to write soundtracks for what he considered to be degrading blaxploitation flicks. Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall and +’Justments followed, the latter producing three R&B hits, before Sussex Records went bankrupt in 1975. Columbia bought the company’s tapes at auction and, in a separate deal, signed Withers to a long-term contract.

Four albums, Making Music, Naked and Warm, Menagerie and ’Bout Love appeared on Columbia in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1979, each album getting further and further away from the funky, sparse sound that had originally made Withers such a success. When Withers blanched at a Columbia A&R man’s suggestion that he record a cover of “In the Ghetto,” his career was placed on hold.

“I couldn’t get into the studio from 1979 to 1985,” he says.

Unable to record for his own label, Withers cut “Soul Shadows” with the Crusaders in 1980 and then the Top Five hit “Just the Two of Us” with Grover Washington Jr. in 1981. The latter appeared on Washington’s label, Elektra, and won Withers his second Grammy for Best R&B Song. Staying on the jazz-pop tip that had worked so well with the Crusaders and Grover Washington Jr., Withers recorded a Number 13 R&B hit with Ralph MacDonald, “In the Name of Love,” released on Polydor in 1984, and in 1985 recorded – under his own name – a final album for Columbia, Watching You, Watching Me.

“I didn’t navigate that corporate thing well,” explains Withers. “They would have some A&R guy that had nothing to do [with me] culturally, didn’t understand at all where I was from, or what I was doing or why. . . . That’s when it ended for me.”

Since 1985, withers has spent his time raising a family, living off his considerable songwriting royalties, and enjoying life out of the spotlight. On occasion, he will write a song at the request of a friend, contributing two such compositions to Jimmy Buffett’s 2004 album License to Chill, one to George Benson’s 2009 CD Songs and Stories, and most recently, in 2013, penning “I Am My Father’s Son” for the unveiling of a statue of basketball great and Withers’ friend Bill Russell.

Withers’ gifts are many and varied. His ability to address fundamental aspects of the human condition not commonly considered in popular music, such as friendship (“Lean on Me”), the importance of one’s grandparents (“Grandma’s Hands”), and male vulnerability (“Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Let Me in Your Life,” “I Hope She’ll Be Happier” and “Better Off Dead”) sets him squarely apart from most rock and R&B artists. His knack for simple, memorable, yet poignant turns-of-phrase is equally remarkable, and his melodic gifts are extraordinary.

Alongside Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway and Gil Scott-Heron, Withers was the leading figure in the nascent black singer-songwriter movement of the early 1970s. In addition to his quintessential ballads, he also crafted funky groove-based songs such as “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?,” “Use Me” and “Railroad Man,” situating himself squarely within current and past African-American traditions. He penned a number of songs addressing social issues specific to black culture, history, and living conditions, including “Harlem,” “Cold Baloney” and “I Can’t Write Left Handed,” all featured on the superb 1973 set, Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall. The latter track may be his finest moment on record, with Withers masterfully articulating the incredibly moving lyric with a variety of blues and gospel vocal devices.

Withers’ songs have proved to have a life of their own. In 1987, Club Nouveau cut a dance version of “Lean on Me” that topped the pop charts, settled at Number Two R&B, and garnered Withers his third Grammy for Best R&B Song. Originally a Number Six R&B hit for Withers in 1977, a 1988 remix of “Lovely Day” by Dutch DJ Ben Liebrand reached the UK Top 10. Eight years later, Meshell Ndegeocello had a Number One dance hit with a cover of “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?” That same year, Blackstreet, featuring Dr. Dre, hit the top of the charts with “No Diggity,” featuring a prominent sample from “Grandma’s Hands.”

Other artists who have sampled Withers’ recordings include DMX, Jay Z, Akon, Kanye West, Tupac Shakur, Fatboy Slim, and R. Kelly. In addition, Withers’ songs have been covered by a staggeringly diverse array of artists, ranging from Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Isaac Hayes, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, and Gil Scott-Heron to Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Maroon 5, Brian Eno, Michael Stipe, Alt-j and the cast of Glee.

In 2005, Withers was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Two years later, “Lean on Me” was enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  

- See more at: https://rockhall.com/inductees/bill-withers/bio/#sthash.RkukWftA.dpuf

 

Planet Rock - By Reginald C. Dennis Tags: planet rock roll hall fame orgins music word life production new quality entertainment

When the surviving members of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five assembled in the grand ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and triumphantly accepted the honor of becoming the first hip-hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was the ultimate endorsement of this unlikely and often maligned genre’s rugged march towards parity, respectability and acceptance.

It might have taken nearly 35 years for the hip-hop’s standard to navigate the nine or so miles from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx — the movement’s ancestral home and headquarters of DJ Kool Herc and his famed Herculoids sound system — to midtown Manhattan, but on that night in 2007, when it finally took its place alongside the others, the circle of rock and roll edged that much closer to completion.

Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.  And in some circles, even after the 2009 induction of Run-D.M.C — the group credited with establishing the rap/rock hybrid as a genre of its own — questions regarding hip-hop’s overall merit and legitimacy still persisted.

Hip-Hop — a sub-culture created by and for a segment of the population that had little in the way of formal artistic training or access to the reigns of institutional power— might have blossomed from a local underground youth movement into a global lifestyle with enough street smarts to change the course of most aspects of entertainment, fashion, sports and commerce, but was it really rock and roll? Most would agree that hip-hop music was a state of mind held mostly aloft by endless tales of dangerous women, fast cars, narrow escapes, and the ongoing triumph of the outlaw, but was it truly art?  Its seductive appeal might have fueled the international sales of hundreds of millions of records and introduced scores of devastatingly compelling sounds, tones and production techniques to the world at large, but was it truly music?

The answer to all of these questions and concerns is a resounding yes.

As its supporters have always known and understood, hip-hop is but the latest iteration of a conversation America has been having with itself for the past 400 years. It is a conversation that began with African slaves brought to toil on foreign shores, where traditions were lost and remembered and recreated.  Languages were lost, but the drums remained. Banjos, soul claps and raw husking ditties informed joyful noises of praise, struggle and faraway triumph. And out of this hardship, a portion of American song was forged.  The volume of this conversation — mostly one-sided but always passionate — escalated throughout the 20th century and with the advent of population migrations, new technologies and a restless desire to be heard, wondrous innovations like jazz and the blues soon accompanied a nation’s slow crawl to maturity.

Rock and Roll, what rough living blacks euphemistically called sex, was born during this modern struggle.  World-weary badmen celebrated the improbable mythology of a people who would not be silenced or contained.  Men and women who, though they dwelled in a world that was an arm’s length away from fairness and justice, still heroically fought to be counted.

Not long after helping to create a safe harbor where those charged with safeguarding America’s future could meet, influence and collaborate, did rock and roll change and evolve.  The “Bo Diddley Beat” gave way to a British Invasion and the native sounds — often labeled “devil’s music”— of young America spun off into soul, folk, rock, funk and the early stages of an unfortunate self-segregation. Though infinitely enjoyable, the music of this new era seemed to lack something. Yes, there were grand theatrical displays and men and women still sang songs turbocharged with the hubris and swagger of entitlement, but where was the danger?  Where was the shock of the new?

As it happens, it was already being created, forged and honed for the battle ahead.

By the mid-1970s, the generational alliance between black and white teenage America had eroded and broken apart. Institutions of learning, though desegregated, became hotbeds of racial conflict as students — emboldened by the strict formats of their local radio stations — refused to dance to each other’s music. Separate but equal proms became workable solutions and what little racial harmony there was could easily come undone around the question of whether or not disco sucked. Young black faces no longer felt welcome within the halls of rock and roll and young whites no longer sought blacks to guide them through their turbulent adolescences.  Marginalized, disappointed and culturally estranged, the tastemakers of America needed a reason to come together.

Hip-hop and punk gave both tribes the opportunity to bring something to the table.

If “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang — the “Rock Around the Clock” of 1979 — spread the rap gospel to the world beyond the five boroughs of New York, then “Rapture” — Blondie’s unexpected 1980 homage to the still evolving genre — quickly made real the notion that young whites searching for new thrills might once again find something worthwhile on the bleeding edge of black culture.  This cultural mingling worked both ways as men like as Afrika Bambaataa — long known for his eclectic musical tastes — incorporated the best parts of NYC’s other revolution — the outré sounds of punk, electronica and new wave  — into his DJ sets and studio recordings.  In fact, many of the kids who flocked to Bambaataa’s Bronx River parties did so to escape the increasingly formulaic, toothless and watered -down direction that black music had stumbled into and embraced a menu of breaks and beats that skated effortlessly through the funkiest moments of James Brown, Bob James, Sly Stone and the Meters.  With the advent of the rhythmic scratch — courtesy of Grand Wizard DJ Theodore — hip-hop suddenly had its signature sound, a defiant corruption of technology that was strikingly innovative and undeniably urgent. And when the masters of ceremony took to the stage, audiences were treated to an endless barrage of cleverly rhymed boasts, intoxicated harmonies and outrageous volleys of shouted call and response. Topical, magnetic and capable of traveling at the speed of thought, this was the genesis of a new American dialog, one sorely needed and long overdue.  And if rock and roll has a purpose, it is to get people in a position, either intellectually or geographically, to communicate with one another.  Hip-Hop merely achieved that mandate on a grander scale and in half the time.

In 2010 cultural diversity is the fulcrum that turns the world of culture. Today’s generation has never known a world without the cross pollinating effects of BET and MTV. Their musical heroes are just as likely to rap as sing and many are proficient at both as a matter of course. Rappers perform with live bands and DJs often accompany rock groups. Samplers and drum machines are legitimate means to an end and the sales of turntables nearly equal those of guitars. The 21st century is the age of the cultural mash-up, a digital age where all things are welcome, equal and accepted.  It’s what Afrika Bambaataa called “Planet Rock.”

To deny hip-hop an honored place in rock’s narrative is to take a tremendous leap backwards and disregard a near century’s worth of shared cultural markers. In the tradition of rock and roll hip-hop was born from the everyday struggles of black life. Locked away from upward mobility, its marginalized creators celebrated the earthy pleasures of the moment.  Championed by influential DJs, its innovative sounds, topics and rhythms were propelled to national prominence.  Imitated, maligned and feared, it quickly achieved supremacy over its era and became institution unto itself. And it is the enduring power of that institution that we recognize.

Source: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.

Charles Jenkins-Gospel Legend Tags: charles jenkins true worshipper gospel music word life production new quality entertainment

Faith Leader, Social Engineer, Entrepreneur, Idea Maker, Communicator, and Friend are just some of the words that describe Charles Jenkins who is a leader widely respected and revered for his generous heart, innovative thinking, contemporary leadership, diverse influence, business savvy and holistic approach to social change and large-scale community development. Jenkins lives a lifestyle of giving.

For 15 years Jenkins has been widely known as the Senior Pastor of the historic Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago, a rapidly growing multi-location congregation founded by civil rights pioneer Reverend Clay Evans. Under Jenkins’ leadership at Fellowship, each year thousands of individuals in need are fed, clothed and impacted through various outreach efforts.

Jenkins is also Founding President of Fellowship Educational and Economic Development Corporation (FEED), a 501c3 that focuses on education, community development, job creation, public safety, and urban renewal in Chicago inner-city neighborhoods. FEED is currently leading a multi-million dollar expansion effort known as The Legacy Project estimated to education 1500 inner city students, and produce 400 new jobs creating a socioeconomic oasis to enhance Chicago’s Southside. Jenkins is also the founder of Gladiators, a mentoring program that focuses on teaching young African-American men how to fight to win in life. Additionally among many efforts to curb Chicago’s violence, Jenkins convened street gang founders to broker strategies for intervention and peace.

Jenkins’ service to others spans beyond his local context to global efforts. He has traveled internationally serving the poor alongside leaders of Charity Water, who build clean water wells around the world, World Vision who feed and educate millions globally, and Compassion International an organization that transforms the lives of poor children. In 2010, along with award winning artist Donald Lawrence, Charles convened recording artists such as Common, Lalah Hathaway, Marvin Sapp and others along with national leaders for a benefit known as Chicago’s Hope for Haiti which raised over $150,000 for victims of the devastation.

Jenkins is also a multi award-winning songwriter, 5 time Stellar award-winning recording artist, music producer, author and connector. Jenkins is the founding CEO of Inspired People LLC, a music company conglomerate committed to globally inspiring people through music, fashion, resources, and enriching events. In 2012, under his indie label, Jenkins spun the company’s first project “The Best of Both Worlds,” which debuted the #1 Christian Album in America on iTunes and Amazon, while also debuting as the #1 gospel album on Billboard remaining for 3 weeks. Additionally, from this highly acclaimed album came the global mega hit “Awesome” penned by Jenkins which remained #1 on the Billboard Gospel Song charts for over 5 amazing months becoming an international anthem being translated into multiple languages around the world. In 2015 Jenkins produced and released his sophomore album “Any Given Sunday” which was his second consecutive album to debut at #1 on the Billboard gospel album chart spawning his latest Billboard chart topping hit “WAR”.

Jenkins’ leadership further extends to the public sector where he serves on a number of community, corporate, educational and governmental boards. Jenkins has served on The Board of Trustees for The City Colleges of Chicago, The Advisory Board of The Illinois Attorney General, The Advisory of Chicago’s iHeart Media, and The Advisory Board of The Illinois State Treasurer. Jenkins also served for served for 3 years as an Illinois State Commissioner for The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and as a member of The Presidential Steering Committee for President Barack Obama. Furthermore as a sought after voice Jenkins has been a featured speaker on widely respected stages including the International Business Dinner during 2011’s National Prayer Breakfast Week at The White House, The Inauguration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and The Inaugural Prayer Service of President Barack Obama in 2013.

Graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters of the Arts in Urban Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Jenkins has also received countless awards and citations for his service including being inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers and Scholars at Morehouse College, being selected as one of Black Enterprise Magazine’s Urban Business Game Changers under 40, a GRAMMY® Certificate, BMI Song of The Year Award, and many more. Jenkins is also a recipient of Illinois’ Gift of Hope’s highest honor, The Lifesaving Partner Award for leading thousands of African Americans to become organ donors in Illinois saving countless lives. A man of balance, Jenkins is married to Dr. Tara Rawls Jenkins and has 3 beautiful children Princess, Paris, and Charles III. Jenkins loves Jesus, loves his family, loves serving and helping others and enjoys a good cup of coffee. Charles Jenkins lives by his own personal mantra “Don’t Box Me In!”

Source: Official Website

Sam Cooke on Word Life Production's Music Hall of Fame Tags: sam cooke word life production music hall fame featured blog

In the Fifites and Sixties, Sam Cooke helped invent soul music by merging gospel sounds with secular themes. Cooke's pure, elegant crooning was widely imitated, and both his voice and his suave, sophisticated image influenced generations of soul men.

One of eight sons of a Baptist minister, Cooke was born on January 22, 1931, in Clarkesdale, Mississippi, and grew up in Chicago. As a teenager, he became lead vocalist of the Soul Stirrers (which later included Johnnie Taylor), with whom he toured and recorded for nearly six years. By 1951 Cooke was a top gospel artist, already boasting his now-famous phrasing and urban enunciation.

Hoping not to offend his gospel fans, Cooke released his pop debut, "Lovable" (1956), as Dale Cooke, but Specialty Records dropped him for deserting the Soul Stirrers. He released his own "You Send Me" the following year, and the 1.7-million-selling Number One song was the first of many hits. In the next two years his several hits — "Only Sixteen" (Number 28, 1959), "Everybody Likes to Cha Cha" (Number 31, 1959) — concentrated on light ballads and novelty items. He signed to RCA in 1960 and began writing bluesier, gospel-inflected tunes.

Beginning with his reworking of "Chain Gang" (Number Two) in August 1960, Cooke was a mainstay in the Top 40 through 1965, with "Wonderful World" (Number 12, 1960), "Sad Mood" (Number 29, 1961), "Twistin' the Night Away" (Number Nine, 1962), "Bring It On Home to Me" (Number 13, 1962), "Another Saturday Night" (Number 10, 1963), and "Shake" (Number Seven, 1965).

The nature of Cooke's death on December 11, 1964, tarnished his image. Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda motel in L.A., claimed she shot and killed the singer in self-defense after he'd tried to rape a 22-year-old woman and then turned on Franklin. The coroner ruled it a justifiable homicide. There still remain questions about the circumstances surrounding Cooke's demise.

Two months after his death, "Shake" peaked at Number Seven on the singles chart. The posthumously released "A Change Is Gonna Come," which Cooke wrote after hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," hit Number 31 in 1965. It represented a return to Cooke's roots, placing him back in the spiritual setting from which he had first emerged just nine years earlier. The song has a long legacy in social movements; it was played in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic Malcolm X and quoted by President Barack Obama in his 2008 victory speech.

Cooke also was a groundbreaking independent black-music capitalist. He owned his own record label (Sar/Derby), music publishing concern (Kags Music), and management firm. His hits have been covered widely by soul and rock singers — "Shake," for instance, has been interpreted by Otis Redding and Rod Stewart — and his influence can be heard in the music of artists as varied as Michael Jackson, Al Green and the Heptones. Rappers including the Roots, Nas and the late Tupac Shakur also have invoked Cooke's name in their songs. Cooke was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986; three years later the Soul Stirrers entered separately.

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

Source: Rolling Stone

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