April 9, 2000 |
A few weeks back, soul-singer-turned-sex-symbol D'Angelo canceled several shows to rest his voice, giving his tour musicians three unexpected days off. Some grabbed mini-vacations. Others went home. James Poyser, the Philadelphia producer, keyboardist and songwriter who has helped forge hits by Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo and others, returned to his studio - Axis Music, on North Seventh Street - and hit the ground running. Poyser had a choice of unfinished projects awaiting him. Before going on the road, he had been producing and collaborating with new Philly rhythm-and-blues singer Connie McKendrick, crooner Will Downing, and Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers, a gospel outfit out of North Carolina.
March 28, 2000 |
What about that "Matrix" sweep, huh? That's what you'd be talking about today if, like most reasonable folks, you only had stomach or stamina enough to sit through about half the 72nd annual Academy Awards ceremony broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium. "American Beauty," the evening's big winner, didn't start piling 'em on until the last half-hour of a 4-hour, 11-minute show, another record. Richard and Lily Zanuck, as executive producers of the event, brought an elan to the production in a number of subtle ways.
March 21, 2000 |
D'ANGELO. 7:30 tonight and tomorrow night. Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby. Tickets: $50, $39, $35. Info: 215-568-3222. Take a pinch of Jimi Hendrix, a dash of Stevie Wonder and a whopping handful of Marvin Gaye, add a smoldering video and behold - the architect of a new musical style. When Michael D'Angelo Archer debuted five years ago, his music was immediately dubbed neo-soul. In an R&B era defined by unimaginative lyrics and predictable music, the cornrowed singer was warmly welcomed.
February 16, 2000 |
James Poyser doesn't mind that people don't recognize him. He just wants them to recognize his music. "Hey, if people know who I am, they know," he joked recently. "If not then, oh, well. My ego is not that big. " The Philly-based producer, keyboard player and songwriter is becoming one of the most sought-after musicians in the industry. At 33, Poyser has an impressive - and growing - list of hits and hit-makers showcasing his talents. But while he's busy creating music for living legends, new jack artists and everyone in-between, he also finds time to give back as director of the children's and youth choirs at his father's Southwest Philadelphia church, New Testament Church of God. "It's my job, period.
February 2, 2000 |
Some hip-hop acts get derailed by technical difficulties. Not Mos Def. Monday at the Electric Factory, the resourceful Brooklyn MC transformed everyday equipment setbacks into a riveting display of hip-hop improvisation. When Mos Def took the stage, fronting a Philly all-star band assembled for the occasion, his microphone didn't work. But he kept going, undaunted, shouting so persuasively that even the back of the crowded room could hear he was working hard. A few selections later, the record his DJ was using to underpin "Ms. Fat Booty" skipped.
January 23, 2000 |
What to make of the second coming of D'Angelo? Five years after his Brown Sugar kick-started the "alternative" rhythm-and-blues movement with a tight, tuneful set that recalled the invention and discipline of Marvin Gaye, the singer is back with a new message: Songwriting is overrated; vibe is everything. Voodoo, which arrives Tuesday after months of delays, doesn't exactly refute D'Angelo's first effort. But it doesn't follow its example, either. It's a carefully produced vamp cycle, an album-length lover's groan that casts this son of a Baptist minister (who appears shirtless and well-oiled on the CD cover)
November 13, 1999 |
A major art show started its weekend run yesterday in North Philadelphia, but its sounds were just as important as its sights. Two local high school jazz ensembles blanketed the Apollo of Temple with funky renditions of tunes from Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Santana and the Roots. Printmakers, photographers, painters, sculptors and jewelrymakers animatedly networked with their fans and each other. And a group of 12-year-olds from a Center City charter school banged out new and ancient rhythms on an array of perfectly pitched West African log drums created by a North Carolina craftsman who says he has never set foot in the motherland.
October 27, 1999 |
Move over, Lauryn Hill, and stand back, Erykah Badu. There was a new Miss Thang in town Monday night - and her name is Macy Gray. For months, Gray has been the subject of glowing diva-on-the-verge media portraits and insider buzz flowing back and forth from New York to Los Angeles like electricity. Her debut album, On How Life Is, released this summer, is a heady cocktail of classic soul-revue moves, vintage rhythm-and-blues grooves, postmodern sensibility, and an in-the-moment sense of perspective.
June 4, 1999 |
Urban radio giant Power 99 FM will host its sixth annual "Sistahs! - A Celebration of African American Women" tomorrow. The all-day event to be held at the Convention Center at 13th and Arch streets will feature some of R&B's hottest acts, as well as a diverse group of inspirational speakers and authors. On hand for the event will be singers Tyrese, Shanice, Chante Moore, Christlike, Silk, and Case. Erykah Badu, in all her headwrapped glory, will also be in Philly to bond with her fans.
February 28, 1999 |
The Roots, Philadelphia's consistently interesting hip-hop collective, has never been about the trend-chasing single or the merely utilitarian jeep beat. Instead, it has insisted on making art, in the form of albums whose elaborate soundscapes radically retool the usual beats-plus-noise formula, albums whose confluence of live rhythm and improvised rhyme make for a riveting, if hard-to-market, attack. This blend has established the Roots as extraordinarily important - just about everyone in every corner of urban music has worked with, or wants to work with, the elastic, hard-grooving rhythm section.