May 4, 2004
Re Frances Davis' response to my letter: I'm aware of Janet Jackson's middle name and that the late Damita Jo was her godmother. My point is: Back in the day, the great singers (Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne, along with Damita) didn't have to remove their clothes to sell records. They left that to the burlesque queens. A. Fitzgerald Fort Washington
October 6, 2003 |
Dianne Reeves was the only vocalist on stage with her trio Friday night at the Annenberg's Zellerbach Theatre. But she called on a long line of predecessors - singers and instrumentalists - during her two hour-long sets, conjuring spirits from Sarah Vaughan to the great aunt who showed her the mysteries of the blues. To call the Detroit-born Reeves a singer is to minimize her range. She carried on like a saxophonist in a long black dress, scatting like a soloist. She performed chromatic shifts that suggested new harmonies and vaulted intervals in stutter-steps that recalled the odd gaits of Thelonious Monk.
January 27, 2002 |
It's not her baby who's got bad timing, says Jaguar Wright, her protruding belly attesting to the boy-child who has taken residence there for the last six months. It's her record label. "This baby is coming right when it's supposed to. It's the album that's late," she says, referring to her debut R&B/hip-hop release, Denials, Delusions and Decisions, out Tuesday. It figures. Most events in Wright's life have been ill-timed. "But the truth is, I'm thankful for it," the 24-year-old North Philly native says.
July 31, 2001 |
Bilal Oliver begins "Sometimes," one of 15 neo-soul adventures on 1st Born Second, with a declaration: "This is a song that makes me spill out all my guts. " And sure enough, for the next seven minutes the Germantown native, whose Interscope Records debut comes out today, describes the riot going on inside his head. Sometimes he wishes he were drug-free. Sometimes he wants to know the truth without searching. Sometimes he pretends, because he's "afraid to be me. " Sometimes he wants to be like Moses and "round up my people, move out the ghetto, and live a better life.
February 20, 2001 |
Sunday at the Tower Theater, Erykah Badu hit the finale of ". . . & On" with a theatrical flourish: After scatting nimbly and sauntering through a series of tricky syncopations, she threw her head back, sent her arms up toward the sky, and held the pose long enough to collect applause from the adoring capacity crowd. Then, before the room got quiet, she cued "Cleva," another song from her current album, Mama's Gun. As she sang the opening line - "This is how I look without makeup" - she ceremoniously ripped off her trademark head scarf, revealing a sleek bald dome.
June 12, 1998 |
Nearly every newspaper, magazine and television story about the death of Frank Sinatra referred to his superb phrasing and knack for interpreting a lyric. His closeness to thugs and an adulterous streak aside, Sinatra could flat sing, doing what at first might be considered a no-brainer: He made every song his own. But isn't that the essence of a great vocalist? Yep, which is why great vocalists, especially great male vocalists, are rare these days. Jeffery Smith and Freddy Cole show extraordinary strength in interpreting a song, a skill many contemporary singers have forsaken in favor of merely showing off their vocal prowess.
July 25, 1996 |
"Drink up," quipped vocalist Marlena Shaw. "I'm better when you've had a few. " But the spirits most in evidence during Tuesday's late show at Zanzibar Blue, where Shaw performs through tonight, were those of jazz legends past. The 50-ish singer channeled their life force during a luminous treatment of "Until I Met You. " Borrowing the bluesy shiver of Dinah Washington, the exuberant innocence of Ella Fitzgerald and the intervallic hopscotch of Sarah Vaughan - and adding a great deal of body English - Shaw coaxed "April in Paris" from "Until I Met You. " Shaw is a very physical performer.
July 24, 1995 |
Is the human voice more powerful than a fireworks explosion? More riveting than flaming torches? It can be. Boyz II Men proved as much Friday at Camden's Waterfront Entertainment Centre, in a show that also featured Montell Jordan and TLC. Although the Boyz had help from all kinds of pyrotechnical effects, their poised voices and creamy, spreadable harmonies ruled the evening. Making their second hometown appearance in less than a year, the four Boyz II Men vocalists - Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and incredible baritone Michael McCary - danced with aerobic energy and movie-musical precision, and offered crisp, genuinely inspired treatments of familiar ballads and new-jack hits.
June 28, 1994 |
We'd be hard pressed to find a better star for the Daily News' July 4 bash on the Parkway than Smokey Robinson, the poet laureate of soul, and a musical voice for all the people. He emerged in the more tightly focused media environment of the 1960s, when a popular song could still reach out and touch an urban population through a single Top 40 radio station. Robinson touched people with song better than almost anyone else on Earth. Self-penned ballads like "Tracks of My Tears" and "My Girl," the rhythmic "Tears of a Clown" and "I Second That Emotion" are classics that still stir the heart and move the body.
June 12, 1993 |
It takes all of Sheldon Harris Ginsberg's strength just to prop himself in a chair. He relies on memory to smell his favorite foods, and on family and friends to shuffle him to chemotherapy sessions. Despite his two-year-old battle with a rare form of cancer, he can't give up the thing that lifts his spirits: music. It was November 1991 when doctors told Ginsberg, a professional trombonist, that he had a tumor in his olfactory nerve, and that he should stop playing his instrument.