Tagged with "r&b"
R&B and Soul Legends - Tony Toni Tone
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: r&b soul golden era word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Tony Toni Tone, formed in 1987 in Oakland, California, enjoyed a number of chart hits and good album sales for a considerable part of the nineties. The line up was a family affair with brothers Dwayne and Raphael Wiggins teaming up with Cousin Timothy Christian.

From a whirlwind start in 1988 they enjoyed an R & B number one hit with ‘Little Walter', a song that generated some criticism from gospel audiences for its use of the melody from ‘Wade in the Water'. When they followed this up in 1990 with the smash album The Revival they became mega-stars due in part to the hit singles, the fresh ballad ‘It Never Rains (In Southern California)' and the club dance tune ‘Feels Good' that were lifted from that album.

When Sons of Soul followed in 1993 it contained the epic track ‘Anniversary' written by Raphael Wiggins and the bands keyboard player Carl Wheeler. It featured Gerald Albright on sax and weighed in at a massive nine minutes and twenty four seconds. Shades of Isaac Hayes and no mistake! This original length version can also be found on the 2000 compilation ‘Heart of Soul' although truncated forms abound. Their next CD, House of Music, was released in 1996.

The band eventually sold over six million albums, but by 1996 Raphael was long gone to pursue a solo career under the name of Raphael Saadiq.

Raphael Wiggins was born in Oakland, CA, in the spring of 1966 and was playing music by the age of six. He played bass at church and school and at various local events. His big break came quickly and on leaving high school he got the chance to join Prince and Sheila E on their 1984 ‘Parade' world tour. Not surprisingly this experience inspired him and not too long afterwards he formed Tony Toni Tone.

With his metamorphosis into Raphael Saadiq success came just as quickly. Two singles for movie soundtracks, the 1995 ‘Ask of You' from Higher Learning and ‘Me & You' from Boyz in the Hood got him off to a flyer. For his next project he got together with En Vogue's Dawn Robinson and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest to form the R & B ‘super group' Lucy Pearl. Effectively it was a one album event although they returned in 2001 with a ‘live' selection. Saadiq continues to use his considerable talents to write and produce for other artists. His hand is on recent work by Macy Gray, TLC, the Roots and D'Angelo, for whom his 2000 song ‘Untitled' won a Grammy.

Despite his super stardom it was not until 2002 that he got around to releasing his debut solo CD Instant Vintage. With an old school feel that is described by Saadiq as a mix of samples, soul, gospel, and R&B, and dubbed by him as "gospeldelic", it was hailed as an instant classic and earned him five Grammy nominations. A personal highlight of the album is the appearance by Angie Stone on the dance floor-worthy track, ‘Doing What I Can'.

His follow up, the slightly funkier Ray Ray, released in 2004 on his own Pookie Entertainment label, serves as something of a reunion. Not only does he have Dawn Robinson there on vocals, Dwayne Wiggins is also featured, creating, in effect, a mini Tony Toni Tone get together.

Both Tony Toni Tone and the solo performing Raphael Saadiq have proved themselves durable guardians of the soul and funk tradition who, by appealing to urban contemporary audiences, have succeeded in keeping the faith alive.

By Chris Rizik

Source: Soul Tracks

The Art of Soul, romance, and love - Maxwell
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: art soul romance love maxwell r&b legend word life production new quality

Along with fellow founders D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell was enormously important in defining and shaping the neo-soul movement that rose to prominence over the latter half of the '90s. Drawing his greatest inspiration from the concept of the R&B auteur (looking to artists like Prince, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, etc.), Maxwell recorded some of the most ambitious R&B of his time, becoming wildly popular and often earning critical raves in the process. What was more, his recurring theme of romantic monogamy set him apart from the vast majority of his bump'n'grind lover-man contemporaries.

Maxwell was born May 23, 1973, in Brooklyn, NY; he adopted his middle name as his stage moniker, keeping his real identity a closely guarded secret out of concern for his family's privacy. Born of Puerto Rican and black Caribbean stock, Maxwell suffered the loss of his father (in a plane crash) when he was just three years old. The experience made him a deeply religious child, and he first began singing in his Baptist church. Still, he didn't really get serious about music until age 17, when he began writing his own songs using a cheap Casio keyboard given to him by a friend. Initially influenced by early-'80s urban R&B, he progressed rapidly, and by 1991 he was performing on the New York club scene, despite ridicule from classmates who couldn't imagine the shy, awkward teenager doing anything of the sort. After making a name for himself, he signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1994.

Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite

Maxwell recorded his debut album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite that year, working extensively with several collaborators: songwriter Leon Ware (who'd co-written much of the material on Marvin Gaye's I Want You album in 1976), guitarist Wah Wah Watson (who'd also worked with Gaye), and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Matthewman (a longtime cohort of Sade). Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite was a romantic concept album in the vein of Gaye's greatest '70s work, with a more modern flavor courtesy of Prince's influence; inspired by a brief but intense affair, the record's giddy celebration of committed monogamy could have come off as old-fashioned as its classic influences, given the marketplace dominance of hip-hop soul at the time. Partly for those fears, it wasn't released right away, although a series of shake-ups in Columbia's management played a bigger role in the delay. It wasn't until the spring of 1996 that Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite finally appeared. Sales were slow to take off at first, even though Maxwell scored some airplay with "...Til the Cops Come Knockin'." The gold-selling second single "Ascension (Never Wonder)" lit the fuse, however, and Urban Hang Suite went platinum before a year had passed, also earning a Grammy nomination.

MTV Unplugged

Now elevated to sex-symbol status, Maxwell capitalized on his breakthrough with the MTV Unplugged EP, taken from his live MTV performance. It attracted attention and acclaim outside the R&B community with the left-field cover choices "This Woman's Work" (by art rocker Kate Bush) and "Closer" (the Nine Inch Nails hit). Additionally, the Unplugged version of "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" earned him another Grammy nomination (for Best Male Pop Vocal). Anticipation for his second full-length album was high, and when Embrya was released in 1998, it entered the charts at number three. Reviews were more mixed this time around, with some critics charging that Maxwell's ambition had crossed the line into indulgence; still, the record duplicated its predecessor's platinum sales. In 1999, Maxwell scored his biggest hit to date with the single "Fortunate," an R. Kelly composition he recorded for the soundtrack of the film Life; it was a mammoth success, ranking as the number one R&B hit of the year in Billboard magazine. Later that year, he also cut two songs for the soundtrack of The Best Man.

Now

In August 2001, Maxwell returned with his third full-length album, Now, which was touted as a return to the more straightforwardly romantic atmosphere of his debut. It entered the album charts at number one and quickly launched a hit single in "Lifetime." Maxwell didn't resurface until 2008, when he performed Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" as part of the 2008 BET Awards. A handful of intimate performances prefaced his fourth studio album, BLACKsummers'night (the first installment in a promised trilogy of albums), released in July 2009. "Pretty Wings," its lead single, was in the Top 20 of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart within three weeks of its May release.

Source: AllMusic

702-R&B Trio that played a major part in the Golden Era
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: 702 r&b trio major part golden era word life production new quality entertainment featured

702 (pronounced "Seven-O-Two"), named after the area code of their hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, was an American platinum-selling R&B trio. Originally a quartet, the group became a trio, which includes sisters Irish (born June 2, 1980), and LeMisha 'Misha' (born June 10, 1978) Grinstead, and lead singer Kameelah Williams. Irish's twin sister Orish Grinstead (June 2, 1980 April 20, 2008) was founding member and later a substitute vocalist.

In Las Vegas, sisters LeMisha and Irish Grinstead, and their friend Kameelah Williams, were students at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts. Irish, her twin sister Orish, and LeMisha occasionally sang in the lobby of Caesars Palace where they were discovered by actor/comedian Sinbad. He visited their home in order to convince their parents to send the trio to Atlanta for a convention and music competition. Though the girls missed the deadline for entry, Sinbad used his name to get them in. "Sweeta than Suga," as they were then called (Sinbad suggested the name), came in second in the competition. As the convention was nearing a close, they met Michael Bivins (of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe) who agreed to work with the sisters. They were briefly joined by their cousin Amelia Childs. After they made their recorded debut on Subway's hit single "This Lil' Game We Play", Amelia dropped out of the group and was replaced by Kameelah Williams. After recording a few demos as a quartet including "Steelo", and "Get It Together", Orish decided to leave the group (even though her vocals appear on the first album). Bivins continued to work with different producers and songwriters to get the right feel for their first album. The reconfigured group was christened "702," which is Las Vegas' area code, a name which Bivens suggested.

Their debut album, No Doubt shot to #1 on Top Heatseekers. Missy Elliott co-wrote & produced 4 songs on the album including the smash hit single "Steelo" and its remix. The album spawned the 3 hit singles: "Steelo", "All I Want" and "Get It Together". "Steelo" with altered lyrics was used as the theme song to the Nickelodeon television show Cousin Skeeter & "All I Want" was featured in the Nickelodeon movie Good Burger. 702 also performed on Nickelodeon's All That. "Get It Together" exploded by giving the group a #3 R&B single and a #10 Pop single on the Billboard charts. The album earned them a Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award in 1997. It sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. In addition to the album, 702 opened for New Edition, Keith Sweat, and Blackstreet during the 1996-97 New Edition reunion tour. They also appeared on Elliott's debut album Supa Dupa Fly on her 1998 song "Beep Me 911" which didn't make it onto the American charts but reached #14 on the UK Singles Chart. The girls also sang with Busta Rhymes' new artist Rampage. "My Friend" was featured on the soundtrack to Men in Black. In 1998, 702 made cameos in the sitcoms Sister, Sister and Moesha.

After going gold with their debut album, they released their self-titled second album, 702. The first single from the album "Where My Girls At?" was written and produced by Missy Elliott and made #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went gold. The single spent months on the chart, became nominated for the song of the year, and gained them a 1999 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination. The album made the Top 40 on Billboard 200 and earned them a 2000 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination and sold more than 500,000 copies going gold. 702, before releasing their second album, had also sang the national anthem for the WNBA season opener. 702 was also a part of Brandy's Never Say Never tour. On June 18, 702's LeMisha gave birth to her son Tony Lyndon and left in order to take care of her son. Orish took her place during LeMisha's brief absence. They also made a cameo in the 1999 ABC-TV movie Double Platinum starring Brandy and Diana Ross. 702 also signed a deal with Wilhelmina Models. "You Don't Know" and "Gotta Leave" were released but failed reach the success "Where My Girls At? did. In 2000, 702 along with Eric Bent were Brian McKnight's opening act for his tour supporting his album Back at One.

Once the hype for the second album died down, 702 took a hiatus from the spotlight. Kameelah Williams decided to part from the group and go solo. She briefly became the new protg of Faith Evans and signed a deal to be managed by Faith and her husband, Todd Russaw, under their Pedigree MGI Management. Kameelah sang backup and wrote 3 songs for Faith Evans' album, Faithfully. She also sang backup for Missy Elliott on her Miss E...So Addictive third single "Take Away". In 2001 it was rumored that she joined the R&B band Total but this was denied later that year.

The Grinstead sisters, the remaining members of 702, decided to retake their place in the spotlight and enlisted Cree Lamore to replace Meelah. Under the revamped 702, they recorded the lead single "Pootie Tangin" for the Chris Rock movie, Pootie Tang. The song failed to make any charts but earned them a 2002 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination.

With Meelah returning to the group, replacing Cree Lamore, 702 returned to record their third album. The album Star was released in March 2003 and made the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. The girls worked with singers Mario Winans, Faith Evans and Clipse and producers The Neptunes, Mike City, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs. The single "Star" and "I Still Love You" failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 but did make Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "Star" at #98 and I Still Love You" at #49. The album earned them two Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nominations later in 2003. Also in 2003, 702 shared lead vocals on the track "Gamble It" from the album "Emotions" by Sirena. Irish Grinstead appeared in The Brewster Project in 2004. In 2006, 702 appeared on the independent album E Sharp Presents. The composition of that group was Misha, Irish and Orish Grinstead but the cd cover image from their second album "702" appears on the cover. LeMisha Grinstead, under the name "LeMisha 702", in 2007 released a song titled "What I Got" that appeared on the independent album E Sharp Presents vol. II. Original member Orish Grinstead, twin sister of Irish, died on April 20, 2008, from kidney failure at the age of 27. She can be seen as one of the original four members of 702 in the video, "This Lil' Game We Play" with Subway.

In 2010, Kameelah Williams confirmed via her official Twitter that she is now permanently solo and is currently working on her solo album.Kameelah also has a child with artist Musiq Soulchild.

The group's vocals from Missy Elliott's "Beep Me 911" were recently sampled in Danny!'s tribute song, "Go That-a-Way".

On December 13, 2013, 702 with Williams performed their first show in nearly 10 years at 90s R&B Christmas Reunion, along with Total, Latocha & Tamika Scott of Xscape, Changing Faces, Tweet & Sunshine Anderson in Toronto, ON.

Source: Wikipedia

Soul and R&B Legend - Al B Sure
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: soul r&b art soul word life production new qualtiy entertainment featured blog

Al B. Sure! (Albert Joseph Brown III, b.) is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. During the late 1980s, Al B. Sure! enjoyed a brief run as one of New Jack Swing's most popular romantic singers and producers.

Brown was a star football quarterback in high school,and he turned down a scholarship to the University of Iowa to pursue a career in music. In 1987, Quincy Jones selected him as the first winner of the Sony Innovators Talent Search. Subsequently, Al would go on to work with Jones on several projects, most notably the platinum single "Secret Garden" from Jones' double platinum album Back on the Block. On this recording Al was one of a quartet with Barry White, El DeBarge, and James Ingram.

His solo debut album from 1988, In Effect Mode, sold more than two million copies, topping the Billboard R&B chart for seven straight weeks. The album included his memorable "Nite and Day" single. Al received numerous Grammy and American Music Award nominations, and won an AMA for Best New R&B Artist. He also received several Soul Train Award nominations, and won the award for Best New Artist.

As a writer and producer, Al introduced the multi-platinum group Jodeci and teen R&B performer Tevin Campbell (also one of Quincy Jones's former protégés), as well as Faith Evans, Dave Hollister, Case, and Usher to the music scene.

In 1991, Al co-starred with Martin Lawrence in a television pilot titled Private Times. Other cast members included ER's Michael Michele and The Five Heartbeats' Michael Wright. Al's various talk show appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, The Arsenio Hall Show, Rolanda and Donahue. Al's television and acting performances include Showtime at the Apollo, Soul Train and The Soul Train Music Awards, the Grammys and the American Music Awards, Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel Air and ABC's Magic Johnson Special from Hawaii. Al also hosted MTV Jams.

In 2000, Al's ABS Entertainment launched a television development division, and he served as co-executive producer of the HBO Comedy Special starring Jamie Foxx, filmed at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California.

After a long absense, Al returned in 2009 with Honey I'm Home, his first release on the Hidden Beach label.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikepedia article Al B. Sure

Source: SoulTracks

Soul R&B Legend- The Manhattans Tags: soul r&b legend manhattans word life production new quality entertainment featured blogs

The Manhattans were one of those classic R&B vocal groups who manage to achieve incredible career longevity by adapting their style to fit changing times. Formed in the '60s as a doo wop-influenced R&B quintet, The Manhattans reinvented themselves as sweet smooth soul balladeers during the '70s. In doing so, they somehow overcame the death of lead singer George Smith, and with new frontman Gerald Alston became more popular than they'd ever been, landing an across-the-board number one hit in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye." Under the leadership of Winfred "Blue" Lovett (who also composed some of the group's biggest hits), The Manhattans survived as a viable chart act well into the '80s, over two decades after their formation.

The Manhattans got together not in their namesake location, but in nearby Jersey City, NJ, in 1962. The group was centered around lead singer George "Smitty" Smith and bass (and sometime lead) vocalist Winfred "Blue" Lovett; the other original members were Kenny Kelley, Richard Taylor, and Edward "Sonny" Bivins, the latter of whom sometimes co-wrote material with accomplished songwriter Lovett. In 1964, The Manhattans signed with the Newark-based Carnival label and teamed up with producer Joe Evans; they scored their first hit in early 1965 with "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)," a number 12 R&B hit that established their way with a ballad right from the beginning. It was the first of eight singles for Carnival, a string that continued up through 1967. None were huge hits, but nearly all of them reached the Top 30 on the R&B charts, and are still prized by collectors of vocal-group soul for their aching harmonies, Smith's intense leads, and lack of concession to mainstream pop audiences.

In 1969, The Manhattans signed on with DeLuxe and issued several singles over the course of 1970. Unfortunately, Smith fell ill that year, and the group hired Phil Terrell as a temporary fill-in. Sadly, Smith passed away in 1971; he was replaced on lead vocals by Gerald Alston, who brought a smoother, more pop-friendly sound to the group. That quality soon became apparent when the Lovett-penned "One Life to Live" zoomed into the R&B Top Five in late 1972, giving The Manhattans their first major hit. The following year, they left DeLuxe for Columbia, where their debut single, "There's No Me Without You" (written by Sonny Bivins), equaled the R&B chart peak of "One Life to Live" by reaching number three. Initially working with producer Bobby Martin, The Manhattans' records now fell into line with the sweet, string-laden sound of contemporary '70s soul. The Manhattans hit the R&B Top Ten again in 1974 with "Don't Take Your Love" and 1975 with "Hurt," but their biggest success was still to come.

In early 1975, The Manhattans had recorded a Blue Lovett composition called "Kiss and Say Goodbye," which was released as a single almost a full year later. It became the second platinum single in history (after Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady") and their first number one hit in the spring of 1976, not just on the R&B charts, but the pop side as well -- a remarkable feat, considering that they'd never had a single peak higher than number 37 on that survey. While it proved difficult to match the crossover success of "Kiss and Say Goodbye," The Manhattans reeled off a string of Top Ten R&B hits -- "I Kinda Miss You," "It Feels So Good to Be Loved So Bad," "We Never Danced to a Love Song," and "Am I Losing You" -- that lasted into early 1978 and made them staples on the newly emerging quiet storm radio format. Their momentum slowed over the next couple of years, but they came back strong in 1980 with "Shining Star" -- not a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire hit, but a co-write by their new producer Leo Graham. "Shining Star" reached the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts, went gold, and won a Grammy -- overall, not a bad haul.

The Manhattans' last major hit came with 1983's "Crazy," which put them in the R&B Top Five for the final time; they bade farewell to the Top 40 in 1985 with a cover of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me." That year Richard Taylor left the group, which carried on as a quartet for a few years; Taylor passed away in December 1987. Gerald Alston signed with Motown as a solo artist in 1988, upon which point the group finally parted ways with Columbia and recorded an album for the small Valley Vue label before disbanding. Alston and Lovett reunited in 1993; with new members Troy May and David Tyson, they toured regularly into the new millennium, with the occasional recording appearing on a small label.

Source: All Music-Artist Biography by Steve Huey

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