November 19, 2000 |
Songs just come to Erykah Badu. In the studio, she does her best work freestyle, tape rolling, no preparation. Melodies seize her as she walks down the street. One of the pieces on her spectacularly ambitious new disc, Mama's Gun, which arrives Tuesday, was inspired by her view from an airplane. "It was Aug. 11," and, as the dreadlocked singer would later learn, the moon was closer to Earth than it had been in decades. "I remember looking out the window and seeing this huge moon, and it was a weird color orange.
November 7, 2000 |
Madonna still has what it takes. The 42-year-old singer performed a free 20-minute concert at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom before 4,000 lucky fans. On hand for the six-song show were Gwyneth Paltrow, Rupert Everett, and John Leguizamo, who had to leave for an 8 p.m. flight, according to Fox News. "The last time I played Roseland was 18 years ago and I opened for New Edition. If Bobby Brown is in the audience, someone tell him I have a bathrobe with my name on it now, too," she said.
September 9, 2000 |
Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Erykah Badu and Bonnie Raitt were among the stars who paid tribute to forgotten soul singers at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's 11th annual Pioneer Awards. While superstars such as Stevie Wonder and the late Marvin Gaye also were honored in New York Wednesday night, the bulk of the four-hour ceremony was dedicated to lesser-known acts, such as the Chi-Lites, who faded into obscurity although their harmonies on hits such as "Have You Seen Her?" helped define the sound of the '60s and the '70s.
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.