Tagged with "queen"
Queen of Soul - Mary J. Blige
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: mary j blige queen soul word life production new quality entertainmnet featured blog

I know who I am and what I can do. With each album, it’s just me continuing to grow.”

Pure, unadulterated and empowering. That has been Mary J. Blige’s calling card ever since her 1992 multi-platinum debut album, What’s the 411? And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter’s musical strong suit has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.

With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 29 nominations) and four American Music Awards, Blige is only getting started. The singer returns just as fierce and compelling on her 10th studio album, the aptly titled “My Life II … The Journey Continues (Act 1).” Released via Blige’s Geffen/Interscope-distributed Matriarch label, the new project doubles as the sequel to Blige’s 1994 classic My Life.

“The original My Life started a movement,” reflects Blige. “And every album since then, from Share My World and No More Drama to The Breakthrough and Stronger With Each Tear, has marked a point of growth and evolution for me and my fans. What’s consistent is the fact that we all remain challenged in life to get to that next level. That’s one of the reasons for this sequel. And given the climate right now—the recession, war and other issues—I remembered there was so much healing with the first My Life. So that was another perspective behind my recording the album.”

Blige once again fashions a moving testimony about love, devotion and inner strength. Providing the album’s cornerstone is the track “Living Proof.” Also the closing song for the hit movie “The Help,” the spare yet powerful “Living Proof” speaks volumes about life’s hard-won rewards. It also resonates with Blige’s own growth as a woman and a singer/songwriter whose innate connection with her fans is unshakable. Bearing witness is the song’s second verse: “So glad the worst is over \ Cuz it almost took me out \ I can start living now \ I feel like I can do anything \ Finally I’m not afraid to breathe.”

“My fans and I are living examples that you can turn a negative situation into something positive,” declares Blige. “Conceptually, people have heard me like this. But artistically, with just a guitar, I don’t think they’ve ever heard me like that before.”

And Blige’s artistic growth doesn’t stop there. She goes toe to toe with Drake on her current uptempo chart-climber “Mr. Wrong,” then displays equal doses of fervor and naked honesty, respectively, on “25/8” (sampling the late Heavy D gem “Now That We Found Love”) and “No Condition.” She taps her rap alter ego Brook Lynn for the romance-sparked “Midnight Drive.” And as she did in 1993 with the 1975 Rufus featuring Chaka Khan hit “Sweet Thing,” Blige stamps new meaning onto a dance-floor revamp of the group’s 1983 classic “Ain’t Nobody.” Rounding out Blige’s life sequel are guest turns from Nas, Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross and a first-time pairing with Beyoncé on the diva-licious “Love a Woman.”

“A lot of women are misunderstood and a lot of men think they know what to do. But they don’t,” says Blige with a laugh. “This overall topic is very important right now.”

To help map our her Life journey, Blige collaborated with such intuitive producers as Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, Danja, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Sean Garrett, Tricky Stewart and the Underdogs. “Whoever has the right track that grabs my spirit, moves me and goes with the topics I’m coming up with … those are the producers I go for,” says Blige about her creative process.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Blige began moving people with her soulful voice when at 18 she signed with Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records in 1989, becoming the MCA-distributed label’s youngest and first female artist. Influenced at an early age by the music of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight, Blige brought her own gritty, urban-rooted style—fusing hip-hop, soul and honest, frank lyrics—to the forefront on her 1992 debut album What’s the 411? The multi-platinum set, executive produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs, quickly spun off several hits, including two No. R&B No. 1s: “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.”

Earning the nickname the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” Blige began forging a unique niche for herself on the more personal second album, 1994’s My Life. Co-writing a major portion of the album this time around, Blige reaped such hits and signature songs as “Be Happy” and a cover of Rose Royce’s 1976 hit “I’m Goin’ Down.” At the time she was dealing with several serious issues in her life, including drug addiction, alcoholism and an abusive relationship.

Notes Blige, “When I went first went into the studio to work on My Life II, it occurred to me how strong I’ve become since then. And that what has made me strong is not just the joy and great things happening in my life but the trials and difficulties that cause you to want to move out of that uncomfortable place to get to the next stage. With the first My Life album, I didn’t have that understanding. I just did not know why I was suffering so bad, why I was hurting.”

And thus began the Blige movement: connecting legions of fans who identify with and have accompanied her throughout her personal travails and growth—all fearlessly related through her music. Each subsequent album reads like a chapter from an autobiography: Share My World (1997), Mary (1999), No More Drama (2001), Love & Life (2003), the multiple Grammy-winning and hit-spewing The Breakthrough (2005), Growing Pains (2007) and Stronger with Each Tear (2009). Along the way, she’s lined up a string of hit singles, including “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” Seven Days,” “All That I Can Say,” “Family Affair” and “Just Fine.”

Music isn’t the only thing keeping Blige busy. She is the co-founder of the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN), whose mission is to empower women from all walks of life to reach their full individual potential. Flexing her talents as an entrepreneur, Blige launched her Melody line of sunglasses in 2009. In 2010, her “My Life” perfume became the first to sell more than 60,000 bottles in one day on the Home Shopping Network—with $1 from each purchase donated to FFAWN. A second perfume, “My Life Blossom,” was introduced in summer 2011.

Blige, who co-penned “I Can See in Color” for 2009’s “Precious” soundtrack, is also ramping up her acting career. She’ll appear next June in the Adam Shankman-directed “Rock of Ages,” the theatrical version of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical with stars Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta Jones.

As she continues her multi-faceted journey, however, one constant remains for Blige: her fans. “Being connected with their lives is what keeps me going,” she says. “They’re the reason why I am where I am: confident in knowing who I am and what I can do. With each album, it’s just me continuing to grow. And that’s the takeaway I want for my fans with My Life II … to please look at what we’ve survived and how strong we are now.”

Source: Official Website

This week we celebrate the life of "Disco Queen", Donna Summer Tags: donna summer disco queen word life production new quality entertainment

Donna Summer (vocals; born LaDonna Adrian Gaines December 31, 1949, died May 17, 2012)

Donna Summer’s lifetime in music was a study in contrasts: The “Queen of Disco,” who was a church-reared gospel singer throughout childhood and wrote most of her own songs; the diva de tutti dive, the first true pop diva of the modern era, who spent her formative years singing in a rock band. She won five Grammys and was the first artist to have three consecutive double-LP albums reach Number One.

Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948, in Boston. She was one of seven children. Her father was a butcher, and her mother was a school teacher. She began singing in church, and she made her performance debut with a church group when she was 10. She recalled that as she sang: "I started crying, everybody else started crying. It was quite an amazing moment in my life, and at some point after I heard my voice came out, I felt like God was saying to me, 'Donna, you're going to be very, very famous,' and I knew from that day on that I would be famous.”

In 1967, shortly before high school graduation, Summer moved to New York and began singing with a hard rock band called Crow. She then auditioned for a role in the Broadway musical Hair. She did not get the part, but when Hair opened in Munich, Germany, she was cast as Sheila. She settled in Germany and married Austrian actor Helmut Sommer. The marriage did not last long, but after the divorce, she kept the Anglicized version of his surname.

While in Germany, Summer began a long-term association with Munich song¬writers-producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Together, they created a string of European pop hits for Moroder’s Oasis label. Then, in 1975, Moroder licensed Oasis to America’s Casablanca Records. That same year, Summer came up with an idea for a song featuring the lyrics “love to love you.” At the request of Casablanca president Neil Bogart, Moroder and Bellotte turned the song into a 17-minute opus of orgasmic delight. Summer said she was evoking Marilyn Monroe in her singing.

“Love to Love You Baby” became a huge disco hit and then crossed over to the pop and R&B charts, reaching Number Two on the pop chart and Number Three on the R&B chart. The song was Summer’s U.S. chart debut and first of 19 Number One dance hits between 1975 and 2008 (second only to Madonna).

In 1977, Summer released a concept album, I Remember Yesterday. Moroder expanded the music’s stylistic range, adding more synthesizer. “I Feel Love,” one of the tracks from the album, went to Number Six on the pop chart and Number Nine on the R&B chart. That same year, Summer released another concept album, Once Upon a Time, which was a Cinderella fairy tale. The following year, Summer scored her first Number One hit, a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park.” That same year, she also appeared in the disco film Thank God It’s Friday. Summer won a Grammy for one of the songs from the soundtrack, “Last Dance.”

Summer had one of her biggest years in 1979, when she released Bad Girls. The album featured two Number One hits, "Hot Stuff" and the title track. Another track, "Dim All the Lights,” went to Number Two. The success of "MacArthur Park," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and the Barbra Streisand duet "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" gave Summer four Number One hits in a little over a year. "Hot Stuff" also won her a second Grammy, this one for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, the first time the category was included.

In 1980, Summer switched labels, moving from Casablanca to Geffen. Her first album for Geffen was The Wanderer. The title track reached Number Three. Then, in 1982, she released Donna Summer, which was produced by Quincy Jones. The album included another Top 10 hit, “Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger).”

She Works Hard for the Money, released in 1983, was Summer’s biggest album since Bad Girls. The album reached Number Nine, while the title track went to Number Three. The album also included the song “Unconditional Love,” which featured backing vocals by Musical Youth. Summer’s success continued throughout the Eighties and into the Nineties. In 1992, Summer was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2009, Summer issued her first album of all-original material in 17 years. Crayons included three songs – “I’m a Fire,” “Stamp Your Feet” and “Fame (The Game)” – that reached Number One on the U.S. dance chart. Then, in August 2010, Summer scored another Number One dance hit with “To Paris with Love.” Over the last decade, endless covers and sampling of Summer’s music by producers and DJs have kept the five-time Grammy Award–winner’s pioneering body of work on the front line.

Donna Summer died from lung cancer on May 17, 2012. She was 63 years old.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Dinah Washington was known as, "The Queen of the Jukeboxes"
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: dinah wahsington queen jukeboxs voices jazz word life production feature weekly blog

Dinah Washington skirted the boundaries of blues, jazz and popular music, becoming the most popular black female recording artist of the Fifties.

Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones on August 29, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She grew up on Chicago’s Southside, raised by a devoutly religious mother who sang in church and taught piano. Washington learned how to play piano at an early age and became a powerful gospel singer. She and her mother became popular attractions at local churches. Eventually, Washington was drawn to more secular music, and, when she was 15, she entered a talent contest at the Regal Theater. She won the contest and began splitting her time between church performances and club appearances.

In 1943, Washington learned that Billie Holiday would be performing at the Garrick Stage Lounge in Chicago. She landed a gig as a singer in Garrick’s house band and soon found herself working in the same club as her idol. Lionel Hampton caught one of her shows and offered to take her on the road with his big band. By this time she had changed her name from Ruth Jones to Dinah Washington. She received her first national exposure while performing with Hampton’s band.

In 1946, Washington left Hampton’s band and began her own recording career. Washington’s first recordings were released by the independent Keynote label. She moved on to Apollo Records and then signed with Mercury Records, where she reigned for 15 years as R&B royalty. She scored a string of Top 10 R&B hits, including “Baby Get Lost” (1949), “Trouble in Mind” (1952), “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” (1959) and “This Bitter Earth” (1960).

In 1960, Washington also sang two Number One R&B duets with Brook Benton, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” and “A Rockin’ Good Way.” Both songs also reached the Top 10 on the pop charts. After 18 years with Mercury, Washington signed with Roulette Records in 1961.

Washington’s career ended abruptly on December 14, 1963, when she died after mixing alcohol and weight-reduction pills.

Three of Washington’s songs – “Unforgettable,” “Teach Me Tonight” and “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” – have been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. And in 1993, the U.S. Postal Service honored Washington with a commemorative postage stamp.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Queen – Ultimate rock classic band born to play stadiums Tags: queen ultimate rock band play stadium word life production feature

The epitome of pomp-rock in the Seventies and Eighties, Queen rocked radio and sports stadiums alike with booming, highly produced anthems like "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You." Onstage, the English quartet used elaborate sets smoke bombs, and flashpots — none of which were quite as captivating as the band's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, whose preening and over-the-top vocals helped make Queen wildly popular.

Queen's roots go back to 1967, when guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor joined singer Tim Staffell in a group called Smile. Staffell soon left to go solo, and the remaining two Smiles teamed up with Freddie Mercury (from a group called Wreckage) and later bassist John Deacon. They played very few gigs at the start, avoiding the club circuit and rehearsing for two years while they all remained in college. (May began work on a Ph.D. in astronomy; Taylor has a degree in biology; Deacon, a degree in electronics; and Mercury had one in illustration and design.) They began touring in 1973, when their debut album was released. After a second LP, the band made its U.S. tour debut, opening for Mott the Hoople.

Queen's sound combined showy glam rock, heavy metal, and intricate vocal harmonies produced by multi-tracking Mercury's voice. May's guitar was also thickly overdubbed. A Night at the Opera included "God Save the Queen" rendered as a chorale of lead guitar lines. (Until 1980's The Game, the quartet's albums boasted that "no synths" were used.) Queen's third LP, 1974's Sheer Heart Attack, featured "Killer Queen," its first U.S. Top Twenty hit. The LP also became its first U.S. gold.

Heavy-metal fans loved Queen (despite Freddie Mercury's onstage pseudo-dramatics, which had more to do with admitted influence Liza Minnelli than with Robert Plant), and the band's audience grew with its breakthrough LP, 1975's A Night at the Opera. It contained the six-minute masterpiece "Bohemian Rhapsody," which featured a campy, operatic section in which Mercury's voice was spread over dozens of tracks. "Bohemian Rhapsody" stayed at Number One in England for nine weeks, breaking the record Paul Anka had held since 1957 for his "Diana."

Queen had eight gold and six platinum records. The group's U.S. Top Forty include "Killer Queen" (Number 12), 1975; "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Number Nine), "You're My Best Friend" (Number 16), and "Somebody to Love" (Number 13), 1976; "We Are the Champions" b/w "We Will Rock You" (Number Four), 1977; "Fat Bottomed Girls" b/w "Bicycle Race" (Number 24), for which the group staged an all-female nude bicycle race, 1978; "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (Number One), 1979; "Another One Bites the Dust" (Number One), 1980; "Under Pressure" with David Bowie (Number 29), 1981; "Body Language" (Number 11), 1982; and "Radio Ga-Ga" (Number 16), 1984. At first their hits were march-like hard rock, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s the group began to branch out. In 1980 they released The Game which featured two big hits in the rockabilly-style "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and the disco-style "Another One Bites the Dust," a close relative of Chic's "Good Times," that went to Number One pop and R&B. The Game became Queen's first American Number One album.

In 1981 Taylor released a solo album, Fun in Space, and later in the year the band recorded with an outsider for the first time, writing and singing with David Bowie on "Under Pressure," included on both their platinum Greatest Hits and Hot Space. One side of Hot Space was typically bombastic rock, while the other contained funk followups to "Another One Bites the Dust." Fans were relatively cool to Hot Space and it did not go platinum. Queen's next LP, The Works (Number 23, 1984), marked a return to hard-rock form. It contained the nostalgic "Radio Ga-Ga."

Queen ceased to be a commercial force in the States; its next two LPs didn't even go gold. Yet all over the world the group retained its regal status. The gold Innuendo, which went to Number 30 here, shot to Number One in Britain in early 1991. By then rumors were rampant that Mercury was ill with AIDS, something the group continually denied. That November he released a statement from his deathbed confirming the stories. Just two days later he died of the disease in his London mansion at age 45.

On April 20, 1992, the surviving members of Queen were joined by a host of stars—including Elton John, Axl Rose, David Bowie, Def Leppard, and many other admirers—for a memorial concert held at Wembley Stadium that was broadcast to a worldwide audience of more than one billion. The concert raised millions for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS awareness and education fund established by the band members and their manager, Jim Beach. Ironically, around the time of the Wembley concert, Queen was enjoying its greatest American popularity in years, thanks to the memorable scene from the movie Wayne's World, in which main characters Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) and buddies sing along to "Bohemian Rhapsody" as it blares on the car radio. The re-released single soared to Number Two. A posthumous Mercury solo album was released in 1992.

In 1993, May released his second solo album, Back to the Light, and continued recording solo and with the Brian May Band. Roger Taylor recorded three albums with a sideline band, the Cross, which began in 1987. He eventually resumed his solo career. In 1995, Queen finally completed its swan song Made in Heaven (Number 58), which features vocals recorded by Mercury during the last year of his life. In 1996, a statue of the singer was unveiled in Montreux, Switzerland. In 1998, a box set of their first eight LPs entitled Crown Jewels was released.

Queen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Compilations, DVDs and archival live recordings continued to emerge throughout the new millennium. The Queen name was brought back in 2005 as "Queen + Paul Rodgers," a band that featured the former lead singer of Free and Bad Company. Return of the Champions, a 2005 double disc on the Hollywood label, documents a show where Rodgers joined Brian May and Roger Taylor at the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield. An album with the Rodgers-fronted lineup, The Cosmos Rocks, was released in October 2008 to poor reviews.

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

This week's celebrity pick is the gorgeous, Queen Latifah
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: gorgeous queen latifah celebrity pick word life production.feature blog

Famed musician and actress Queen Latifah was born on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. Her debut album All Hail to the Queen sold more than 1 million copies, and the single "U.N.I.T.Y" earned Latifah her first Grammy Award. Latifah has also garnered acclaim for acting; she earned her first Oscar nomination (best supporting actress) for her performance in the blockbuster musical Chicago.

Rapper, record producer and actress Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. The second child of Lance and Rita Owens, Latifah is best known for her social politics, acting skills and gift for rhyme. When she was 8 years old, a Muslim cousin gave her the nickname Latifah, meaning "delicate and sensitive" in Arabic. Latifah began singing in the choir of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and had her first public performance when she sang a version of "Home" as one of the two Dorothys in a production of The Wizard of Oz at St. Anne's parochial school.

In her first year of high school, Latifah began informal singing and rapping in the restrooms and locker rooms. In her junior year, she formed a rap group, Ladies Fresh, with her friends Tangy B and Landy D in response to the formation of another young women's group. Soon the group was making appearances wherever they could. Latifah's mother was a catalyst; she was in touch with the students and the music. She invited Mark James, a local disc jockey known as D.J. Mark the 45 King, to appear at a school dance. The basement of James's parents' house in East Orange, which was equipped with electronic and recording equipment, became the hangout of Latifah and her friends. They began to call themselves "Flavor Unit."

Breakthrough Album

James was beginning a career as a producer and made a demo record of Queen Latifah's rap Princess of the Posse. He gave the demo to the host of Yo! MTV Raps, Fred Braithwaite (professionally known as "Fab 5 Freddy"). The recording captured the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who immediately signed Latifah, and in 1988 issued her first single, "Wrath of My Madness." The track met with a positive response and afforded her the opportunity to launch a European tour, and to perform at the Harlem's famed Apollo Theater. The next year Latifah released her first album, All Hail to the Queen, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies.

Business Acumen

As she began to earn money, Latifah displayed an interest in investment, putting money into a delicatessen and a video store on the ground floor of the apartment in which she was living. She came to realize that she had a knack for business, and realized that there was an opening for her in record production.

In 1991, Latifah organized and became chief executive officer of the Flavor Unit Records and Management Company, headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey.

By late 1993, the company had signed 17 rap groups, including the very successful Naughty by Nature. In 1993, Latifah recorded a jazz- and reggae-influenced album titled Black Reign. While the album sold more than 500,000 copies, the single "U.N.I.T.Y." earned Latifah her first Grammy Award in 1995.

In the 1990s, Latifah branched out into acting. She made her big screen debut in Spike Lee's interracial romance drama Jungle Fever (1991). The following year, Latifah appeared in the crime thriller Juice with Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur. She soon landed a leading role on the small screen, appearing in the sitcom Living Single from 1993 to '98. The comedy, which also starred Kim Coles, Kim Fields and Erika Alexander, proved to be a ground-breaking show. It remains one of the few sitcoms to focus on a group of African-American women.

A talented performer, Latifah continued to tackle both comedic and dramatic parts. She co-starred in 1996's Set It Off with Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox, playing as a lesbian bank robber. Two years later, Latifah teamed up with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito for the comedy Living Out Loud (1998). She also appeared with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in The Bone Collector.

Perhaps Latifah's most acclaimed film role to date came in the 2002 hit musical Chicago, starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger. Her portrayal of prison matron Mama Morton gave her a chance to show off both her singing talents and acting skills. For her work in the film, Latifah earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She lost to Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Latifah went on to receive strong reviews for 2003's romantic comedy Bringing Down the House co-starring with Steve Martin. The following year, she experienced some disappointment with Taxi, which co-starred Jimmy Fallon. The comedy proved to be a critical and commercial dud. She fared better with Beauty Shop (2005) and her voice-over work in the hit animated film Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).

In 2007, Queen Latifah again delighted movie-goers with her musical talents. She appeared as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray with John Travolta. Her crime caper Mad Money (2008) with Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes received much colder reception. Returning to drama, Latifah gave a strong performance in The Secret Life of Bees (2008).

On the small screen, Latifah has made a number of guest television appearances over the years, including on the shows 30 Rock and Single Ladies. She also co-starred in the 2012 TV remake of Steel Magnolias with Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Jill Scott. Latifah branched out in a new direction the following year. She will enter the daytime television market with a new talk show. The Queen Latifah Show will debut in the fall of 2013. The program promises to be a mix of interviews and comedic and musical performances, according to BET.com.

In addition to acting, Queen Latifah serves as a spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics. She even has her own line with the company: The Queen Collection.

© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved. Source: Biorgraphy.com http://www.biography.com/people/queen-latifah-9542419?page=1

 

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