Thursday, June 3, 2010

Golden Girls theme song - tribute to Rue McLanahan

Actress Rue McLanahan passed away yesterday at the age of 76. She starred in the series Golden Girls from 1985-1992 along with Estelle Getty who passed away in 2008, Bea Arthur who passed away last year and Betty White who is still alive

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fast facts on Neil Sedaka

* Born March 13, 1939 in Brooklyn

* Singer, songwriter, pianist

* One of his earliest Billboard hits was "Oh Carol!" which was written for his then girlfriend singer-songwriter Carole King. The song made it to number 9 on the Billboard charts in 1959.

* Co-wrote with songwriter Howard Greenfield, the Connie Francis hit "Where the boys are" in 1960.

* His most famous hits include "Calendar Girl" (1961), "Breaking is hard to do" (1962), "Laughter in the rain" (1975). He had a hit again with a slower version of "Breaking up is hard to do"(1976)

* He teamed up again with Howard Greenfield to write Captain and Tenille's hit "Love will keep us together" in 1975.

* He wrote "Solitaire" which became a big hit for the Carpenters in 1975.

* Has a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

* Has been married to wife Leba since 1962 and they have 2 children.

* He still keeps up a very active performing schedule.

Friday, May 21, 2010

James BLunt

Former member of the British Army James Blunt became famous with this song "You're Beautiful" which made it to number 1 on both UK and on the Billboard Top 100 charts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy 60th birthday to Stevie Wonder!!

Its hard to believe that the Stevie Wonder is 60 years old. As a child prodigy he burst on the music scene in 1963 as "Little Stevie Wonder" with his first hit Fingertips (part 2). Since then he has had numerous hits that have become standards. Songs like "For Once in my life", "My Cherie Amour", "Signed, sealed, delivered I'm yours", "Isn't she lovely", "Happy birthday" to name a few.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fast facts on George Benson

* Born March 22, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

* Started playing the ukelele at the age of 8

* Recorded first single "She makes me mad" at the age of 10

* Became a jazz guitarist and vocalist and recorded his first album "The New Boss Guitar" in 1964. He has since recorded pop and R&B songs

* Played on Miles Davis 1968 album "Miles in the sky"

* "This Masquerade" was a Billboard top 10 hit in 1976 and won him a Grammy Award for "Record of the Year"

* Recorded original version of "Greatest Love of all" for the 1977 movie about Muhammad Ali "The Greatest"

* Other well known singles include "On Broadway", "Give me the night", "Love X Love", Turn your love around"

* Has won a total of 11 Grammy awards

* Still keeps up a hectic touring schedule

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tribute to Lena Horne

Singer, dancer, actress, civil rights activist Lena Horne (June 30, 1917 - May 9, 2010)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am woman - Helen Reddy (Tribute to mothers)

This song "I am woman" was recorded by Helen Reddy who also co-wrote the song with singer/songwriter Ray Burton. Released in 1972 the song made Helen the first ever Australian to have a Billboard number 1 hit.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Message in a bottle - The Police

"Message in a bottle" was the first single by The Police to reach number 1 on the UK charts in 1979. It came off their second album "Regatta de Blanc"

Friday, May 7, 2010

All around the world - Lisa Stansfield and Barry White

English born Lisa Stansfield had a major hit with this song. "All around the world" hit number 1 on the R&B charts making her the second white female to do this. Teena Marie was the first with "Ooh la la". It made it to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The song was again recorded with the legendary Barry White for a compilation album of his.

Lisa continued recording through the 1990s and has released musics as recently as 2004. However none of these recordings have matched the success of her first.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fast facts on David Foster

* Full name David Walter Foster

* Born in British Columbia, Canada on November 1, 1949

* At age 16 became a member of Chuck Berry's backing band

* Was the keyboard player in the Canadian group "Wildflower" which had a number 9 hit on the Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1972

* Songs that he has written include:
After the love is gone - Earth,Wind & Fire
Got to be real - Cheryl Lynn
The prayer - Andreas Bocelli and Celine Dion
Who's holding Donna now - Debarge
Through the fire - Chaka Khan
Hard to say I'm sorry - Chicago
The glory of love - Peter Cetera
I have nothing - Whitney Houston (co-written with then wife Linda Thompson)

* Wrote the entire film score for the movie "St Elmo's Fire"

* Produced the cast album for the Broadway hit musical "Dreamgirls" in 1982

* Produced Natalie Cole/Nat King Cole album "Unforgettable"

* Has produced for Mariah Carey, Deneice Williams, Michael Bolton, Paul Anka, Kenny Rogers, Brian McKnight, Dolly Parton, Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau

* Has been a judge on reality shows Popstars, Nashville Star, Celebrity Duets and Star Tomorrow.

* Was a mentor on an episode of American Idol in 2005

* Has won a total of 14 Grammy Awards

* Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame

* Has been married 3 times and has 5 daughters

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Detective TV show theme songs

This iconic detective ow starring Jack Lord ran for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980. The theme music was written by Morton Stevens.

"Rockford Files" starring James Garner ran for 6 seasons from 1974 to 1980. The theme music was composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still searching - Damian Marley (featuring Stephen Marley and Yami Bolo)

"Still searching" came from Damian Marley's album "Half-Way-Tree" which one a Reggae Grammy in 2002.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Remember Tracey Chapman?

Singer-songwriter Tracey Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 30, 1964. She came to prominence in 1988 with her platinum selling album "Tracey Chapman which contained the single "Fast Car" which peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Other singles "Talking 'bout a Revolution" and "Baby can I hold you" made it to numbers 75 and 48 respectively. Tracey won 3 Grammy awards for this album including "Best New Artist."

Tracey's second album "Crossroads" was released in 1989. However it was not as successful as her first. In 1995 her fourth album "New Beginning" sold 3 million copies and contained the single "Give me one reason" which peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Top 100. That year the single "won a Grammy for Best Rock Song."

Tracey is still active in the music business having released her eighth album "Our Bright Future" in 2008. She does alot of touring in Europe.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday inspiration

"I Need You Now" was a big gospel hit for Arkansan born Smokie Norful in 2002.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fast facts on Billboard magazine

First issue of Billboard magazine

* Founded in Cincinatti in 1894 by William H. Donaldson and James H. Hennegan as a trade paper for the bill posting industry.

* Started publishing music charts in 1936 in three music genres: Pop, Rhythm and Blues and Country and Western.

* Publishes more than 100 charts in such genres as classical, country, Latin, folk,jazz, gospel

* The Hot 100 chart was first published in 1958.

* Read in over 100 countries.

* Its website has 2.5 million unique visitors monthly.

* Chart positions are calculated based on both sales figures and airplay

* Headquartered in New York

* Owned by e5 Global Media

Friday, April 30, 2010

You put a move on my heart- Tamia

"You put a move on my heart" was Tamia's first single which appeared on Quincy Jones' "Q's Jook Joint" album in 1995. It made it to number 12 on the Billboard R&B charts. In this YouTube video clip, she performs the song at a concert celebrating Quincy Jones music.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

American Idol reject performs on results show

On last night's American Idol's results show, the platinum selling country group "Lady Antebellum" performed. Ironically, lead singer Hillary Scott tried out twice for American Idol but never made it past the first audition. She joined the group in 2006.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random music trivia

1. Garth Brooks was the first country artist to sell 10 million copies of an album.

2. The U.S. national anthem "Star Spangled Banner" was originally called "The Defense of Fort McHenry".

3. Dottie West was the first ever country artist to win a Grammy.

4. Bruce Springsteen was once the opening act for Anne Murray.

5. Wolfgang Mozart began composing music at the age of 5.

6. Billy Joel had his first hit "Piano Man" in 1973.

7. The very popular BBC music programme "Top of the Pops" was first aired on January 1, 1964 and ran until July 30, 2006.

8. In 1964, Louis Armstrong became the oldest artist at the age of 63 to have a number 1 Billboard hit with "Hello Dolly."

9. Barbara Streisand's first album "The Barbra Streisand Album" was released on February 25,1963.

10. Bob Marley and the Wailers album "Rastaman Vibrations" peaked at number 8 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1976.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aswad had a number one hit on the U.K. charts with this song in 1988. It had been originally recorded by Tina Turner on the B-side of her 1986 hit single "Typical male."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Remember Craig David?

Craig David was born on May 5, 1981 in England of a Grenadian father and English mother. He burst onto the music scene in 2000 with "Fill me in" which made number 1 on the British charts making him the youngest ever person to do this. It was released in the United States the following year and made it as far as number 15 on Billboard's Hot 100. He also had a big hit with 7 days.

Craig has continued over the years to make the British charts over the years with his music even though he didn't become as big in the U.S. as many expected. However he has sold more than 13 million albums worldwide.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fast facts on Yolanda Adams

* Full name Yolanda Yvette Adams.

* Born August 27, 1961.

* Worked as a schoolteacher and part time model before becoming a full time singer.

* Was the lead singer of Houston's Southeast Inspirational Choir.

* Released her first single "Just as I am" in 1987.

* Her album "Mountain High Valley Low" released in 1999 sold a million copies.

* Best known singles include "Still I rise", "Open my heart", "I believe", "Never give up".

* It is estimated that all her records have sold over 4.5 million copies.

* Has won 4 Grammy Awards.

* Has been married and divorced twice.

* Is the mother of a daughter Taylor Ayanna born on January 26, 2001.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anita Baker - Sweet Love

"Sweet Love" was Anita Baker's first hit single. It came from her second album "Rapture" and reached number eight on the Billboard Top 100 charts in 1985.

Friday, April 23, 2010

YouTube sensation Lin Yu Chun

This is a video clip of contestant Lin Yu Chun singing "I will always love you" on the Taiwanese talent show "Super Star Avenue".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fast facts on American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi

* Full name Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi

* Born December 8, 1970

* Daughter of former New York Congressman Joseph DioGuardi

* Worked at Billboard magazine after graduating from college

* Has written songs for Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony, Leona Lewis

* Was a judge on a short lived 2006 ABC show "The One: Making a Music Star". It was cancelled after 2 episodes

* In 2007 was nominated as a co-writer for a Latin Grammy "Song of the Year". The song was "Bella Traicion"

* Joined "American Idol" as the 4th judge for the 8th season in 2008

* Also in 2008 she became Executive Vice President of Talent at Warner Brothers Records

* Married to general contractor Mike McCuddy on July 5, 2009

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maxi Priest - Close to you

Maxi Priest had a big hit with this song in 1990. It peaked at number 7 on the U.K. Singles charts and number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Secret Garden

In 1990, Quincy Jones released the single "Secret Garden" featuring the vocals of Barry White, James Ingram, El Debarge and Al B.Sure. Fast forward to 2010 and Quincy is doing remakes of his old hits with current artists, this song being one of them.

Usher and Robin Thicke are good singers but I prefer the original. The amazing Quincy Jones is one of my musical heroes. However, I would prefer if he did not remake this song.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Desmond Dekker - Israelites

Desmond Dekker (Desmond Alphonso Dacres) was born in Jamaica on July 16, 1941. In 1968 he became one of the earliest Jamaicans to have an international hit record. "Israelites" made it to the top of the UK Singles chart and into the U.S. Billboard top 10. He died of a heart attack in England on May 25, 2006.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday inspiration

"Count on me" came from the soundtrack of the 1995 movie "Waiting to Exhale." Released as a single in early 1996, it peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It was written and produced by Babyface.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Respect - An Otis Redding original

"Respect" was written and first performed by Otis Redding. It became a hit in 1965 reaching number 35 on the pop charts. In 1967 Aretha Franklin recorded it and had an even bigger hit taking it to number one. It also became her signature song.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne Bailey Rae was born on February 26, 1979 in England to a Kittian father and an English mother. She first started playing the violin at school before turning to singing. She released her first single "Like a Star" from her debut album "Corinne Bailey Rae" in 2005 which debuted at number 1 on the U.K. charts and went to number 4 on the U.S. charts.

In March 2008, Corinne lost her husband of 7 years Jason Rae to a drug overdose and took a break from the music business. In 2009 she released a single "I'd do it again" ironically written after an argument with her husband 2 months before his death. She released her second album "The Sea" on January 20, 2010. It debuted on the U.S. Billboard top 200 album charts at number 7.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Black Uhuru - Solidarity

Jamaican group Black Uhuru was formed in 1972 and with legendary drum and bass duo Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar, created a truly distinctive sound. They were the winners of the first ever Grammy given out in 1985 for their album "Anthem" which included the single "Solidarity". The group at this time comprised Derrick "Duckie" Simpson, Michael Rose and the late Sandra "Puma" Jones who was from the United States.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random music trivia

1. The word "music" come from the Greek word "mousike" which translate to "Art of the Muses."

2. The cassette tape was invented by The Philips Company of the Netherlands in 1962.

3. The world famous Carnegie Hall was built by industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891. It was originally called "Music Hall" but was renamed in 1893 after board members of the Music Hall Company convinced Carnegie to use his name.

4. Elvis Presley's first number 1 pop hit was "Heartbreak Hotel" released in 1956.

5. German piano maker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg migrated to the U.S.A. and founded Steinway & Sons in 1853. By that time he had changed his name to Henry Steinway.

6. "The Sound of Music" which was originally a Broadway production and subsequent film was the last musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

7. Luciano Pavarotti became the first and only opera singer to perform on NBC's Saturday Night Live. This happened on December 12, 1998.

8. In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

9. Quincy Jones and co-writer Bill Russell were the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Original Song" category for the 1967 movie "In Cold Blood."

10. Anne Murray is the first Canadian to have a number 1 hit on U.S. charts. The song was "Snowbird" released in 1970.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mariah Carey's first hit record

"Vision of Love" was Mariah Carey's first hit record. She co-wrote this song with Ben Marguiles. It stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 4 weeks during August 1990. Mariah won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal for this song as well as winning for Best New Artist. She has gone on to have 18 number 1 Billboard hits making her second only to the Beatles who have 20

Monday, April 12, 2010

Celia Cruz and friends - yo vivire (I will survive)

This is a video clip of a 2003 tribute concert to the late "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz singing with a host other Latin music stars like Gloria Estefan, Albita, Marc Anthony, Jose Felciano, Arturo Sandoval. Also featured was Gloria Gaynor, the original singer of "I will survive. This was Celia's last public appearance before she passed away on July 16, 2003.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Take 6 - If we ever

Take 6 is primarily an a cappella style sextet. "If We Ever" came from their first album "Take 6" released in 1988. They have gone on to win 8 Grammy Awards. 6 in the Gospel category and 2 in the Jazz category.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dennis Brown - Promised Land

One of my favorite songs from the late Dennis Brown.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alejandro Sanz and Destiny's Child

Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz and Destiny's Child teamed up on the Grammy Awards 2002 show performing this beautiful song "Quisiera Ser."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

India.Arie - Video

This female self-esteem and empowerment anthem was India.Arie's first single released in 2001. It came from her double platinum debut album "Acoustic Soul". The song was nominated for 4 Grammy Awards. These were "Record of the Year", "Song of the Year", "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" and "Best R&B song".

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poor Solomon Linda

Solomon Linda

Many people don't know the name Solomon Linda but many know his very famous song. Solomon was born in South Africa and is the writer of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." He recorded this song in 1939 with his group "Evening Birds". It was first called "Mbube" which is the Zulu word for lion. The song was based on Solomon's boyhood experience chasing lions away from his family's cattle. It was released in South Africa and sold 100,000 copies. Solomon died in 1962. It is said that he had U.S. $25 to his name.

Solomon did not reap the full benefit of his song because he got a one time payment estimated at 10 shillings for recording it. In 2006, after 6 years of legal wrangling, Solomon's 3 daughters were able to benefit financially from their father's legacy because of a copyright law which says that all rights should revert to the creator's heirs 25 years after his death.

There have been over 160 versions of the song and it was used in the hit movie "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." It was recorded by the Weavers as "Wimoweh"(original word "uyembube") in 1951. The most famous version was done in 1961 by the Tokens as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It became a number 1 hit. It is estimated that all of this should have earned Solomon's estate in the region of U.S. 15 million dollars in royalties.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For Real - Amel Larrieux

Amel Larrieux has been around since the 1990s as one half of the R&B/hip hop duo "Groove Theory". In my view she has one of the best voices but has not gotten the recognition that she is due. This single "For Real" was from her solo 2004 album "Bravebird."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bob Marley - Simmer Down

Bob Marley's first hit song "Simmer Down" in Jamaica was not reggae but ska which was it's predecessor. This was done with fellow Wailers Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Cherry Smith. The song was produced in 1963 by legendary Jamaican producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One voice - Billy Gilman

Rhode Island born Billy Gilman released this inspiration song in 2000. At the age of 12, he was the youngest person ever to have a number 1 hit on the Billboard country music charts.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TV theme music from Charlie's Angels and Dynasty: A tribute to John Forsythe

Actor John Forsythe died on April 1 at the age of 92. He was the voice of "Charlie" on the detective drama "Charlie's Angels" and never appeared in person. This show ran from 1976 to 1981. The theme music was composed by Jack Elliot and Allyn Ferguson.

John went on to star in "Dynasty" as oil tycoon "Blake Carrington." The series ran from 1981 to 1989. The theme music was composed by Bill Conti.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jamaican entertainers' U.S. visas revoked

Bounty Killa

Dancehall performers Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Mavado, Aidonai and selector Ricky Trooper all had their visitors and work visas revoked. So far there have been no reasons given.

Beenie Man

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Lady is a Tramp

The music for this song was written by composer Richard Rodgers and the lyrics by Lorenz Hart for the 1937 Broadway musical "Babes In Arms." The song was first recorded by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra with Edythe Wright on vocals. It has been recorded by Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald (duet), Shirley Bassey, The Supremes, Alice Cooper among others.

This YouTube video clip features a live performance by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gino Vanelli - I just wanna stop

Canadian born Gino Vanelli had a number 1 hit in his native country with this song. It was a number 4 hit across the border in the U.S.A. This all happened in 1978. In this YouTube clip he sings with his back up vocalist Maxayne Lewis in a 1991 Montreal performance. Gino still records albums and performs to sold-out audiences.

Monday, March 29, 2010

At last

This classic love song "At Last" was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film "Orchestra Wives" in 1941. It was performed by Glen Miller and his orchestra with Ray Eberle and Pat Friday on vocals.

It was also done by the legendary Nat King Cole in 1957.

The most famous version was done by Etta James in 1960.

Celine Dion covered it 2002. In this YouTube clip she performs the song with violinist Roddy Chong.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blue Riddim Band

Before I heard the Blue Riddim Band, I didn't think that any non-Jamaican band could play hard-core reggae music. This band out of Kansas, Missouri, U.S.A. proved me wrong. The YouTube video clip above is taken from their 1982 performance of their hit "Nancy Reagan" at the now defunct annual reggae music festival "Reggae Sunsplash" in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were nominated for a Reggae Grammy in 1985 for their album "Alive in Jamaica."

In this video clip the band is playing Burning Spear's "Tradition."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take Five - Dave Brubeck Quartet

Featured players: Joe Morello (drums), Eugene Wright (bass), Paul Desmond (saxophone), Dave Brubeck (piano)

This jazz classic "Take 5" was recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1959. It was composed by group saxophonist Paul Desmond.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TV theme songs from the 1960s

"The Munsters" theme music was composed by Jack Marshall. The series ran from 1964 to 1966.

The theme song for the TV series "Batman" was written by U.S.A. jazz trumpeter Neal Hefti. The series ran from 1966 to 1968.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Congratulations to Tamyra Gray

Congratulations to American Idol season 1 alum Tamyra Gray who is expecting a baby in July with her husband Sam Watters, formerly of the group Color Me Badd. Tamyra was a strong favorite on that first season in 2002. She finished in 4th place. In this YouTube video clip, she performs the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic "A House Is Not A Home." Many regard this as one of the best ever performances on American Idol.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reggae Symphony

Chalice was one of the most entertaining and innovative reggae bands of the 1980s. Here they perform "Reggae Symphony", a fusion of dancehall and classical music!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Old skool rapper: Kurtis Blow

This 1980 rap hit "The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow (born Kurtis Walker) takes us back to a time when rap music was clean and fun party music. No cursing, degrading women or glorifying violence like today's rap music. Kurtis is a true pioneer, being the first rapper to be signed to a major label (Mercury). "The Breaks" is the first rap single to be certified gold.

Kurtis has remained active in the entertainment industry. He has acted in and produced music for motion pictures. He also co-produced with Dexter King and performed on the single "King Holiday" to celebrate Dexter's father Martin Luther King's birthday becoming a U.S. public holiday for the first time in 1986. This single featured Whitney Houston, New Edition, El Debarge, Teena Marie to name a few.

Social problems like drug abuse have gotten Kurtis' attention. He has supported organizations trying to stem this problem. He is the founder of the Hip Hop Church and is an ordained minister

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Music and social activism: Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela

Today marks 50 years since the Sharpeville massacre in apartheid South Africa when police opened fire on a group of people peacefully protesting the country's dreaded pass laws. 69 people were killed. This incident was a major turning point in the fight against apartheid. Today this blog wants to salute the above named performers who were an integral part of the struggle to end this system.

Miriam Makeba

Miriam was born on March 4, 1932 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She gave her first solo performance at the age of 13 for the visiting British monarch King George VI. She began her professional career during the 1950s in South Africa performing with groups Manhattan Brothers and The Skylarks. She also appeared in an anti-apartheid film "Come Back Africa".

At the end of the 1950s Miriam was eager to take her talents outside of South Africa because she didn't feel that she was being justly rewarded in her home country. Harry Belafonte helped her in this regard helping her to get to the United States where she recorded her famous songs "Pata Pata" and "The Click Song". Miriam recorded 30 albums from 1960 to 2006. She won a Grammy for her collaboration "An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba in 1966.

By 1960 Miriam was strongly identified with the anti-apartheid movement. That year she returned to South Africa to attend her mother's funeral only to find that the government had revoked her passport. In 1963 she testified at the United Nations against apartheid and the South African government then revoked her citizenship rights. However she gained honorary citizenship in 10 other countries.

Miriam also suffered adversity in her personal life. Losing her father when she was only 6 years old. In the 1950s she also lost her first husband whom she married in her teens. She lost her only daughter in 1985. She was married a total of 4 times including Hugh Masekela from 1966-68. Her fourth marriage to controversial civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) caused her to lose her record deal as well as concert tours. Miriam and her husband then migrated to Guinea.

Miriam was able to return to South Africa in 1990 on Nelson Mandela's invitation after his release from prison after 27 years of incarceration.

This videoclip features a guest performance by Miriam Makeba on "The Cosby Show"

On November 9, 2008 Miriam made her transition from this life doing what she had done all her life. She was performing on a concert in Italy in support of Italian writer Roberto Saviano who was fighting against organized crime in his country. She died of a heart attack while performing "Pata Pata."

Hugh Masekela

Hugh was born in Witbank, South Africa on April 4, 1939. He took up the trumpet at the age of 14 and played in his country's first youth orchestra. During the 1950s he began writing songs protesting apartheid. After the 1960 Sharpeville massacre he went into exile.

He went to England where he attended London's Guildhall School of Music and also to the United States where he studied classical trumpet at Manhattan School of Music. He had a hit record "Grazing in the Grass" in 1968 which reached the top of the U.S. charts.

Having been exiled from the country of his birth, Hugh lived in other countries in Africa such as Ghana, Liberia, Guinea. In 1980 he set up a mobile studio in Botswana
for the benefit of his fellow South African musicians who were just south of the border. However in 1985 he had to flee Botswana for England when the South African army crossed over the border into Botswana and killed 14 people accused of terrorism. 2 of these people killed were his friends.

In 1987, Hugh released his famous anthem "Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)". This anthem's call was answered when Nelson Mandela was released in 1990. Like his ex-wife Miriam Makeba, he returned to South Africa that year. He had spent a total of 30 years in exile and was able to see his mother's grave for the first time.

Hugh has released over 30 albums over the period 1964-2009. He has worked with many performers including Bob Marley, Herb Alpert, Miriam Makeba, Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Today, he still keeps up a heavy touring schedule.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Musical magic: Burt Bacharach and Stevie Wonder

This YouTube video clip features Stevie Wonder showcasing his genius on the harmonica playing the classic Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "Alfie." It is from a 1970s TV show "Shindig". Burt is present and appears totally spellbound by Stevie's performance of his song. For fans of these two legends, this clip is a must watch.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jimi Hendrix: a prolific posthumous chartmaker

This is Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance of the U.S.A.'s national anthem at the historic Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.

Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix has been dead for nearly 40 years but his music certainly is not. Since his death on September 18, 1970 he has had a staggering 34 albums reach Billboard's top 200 chart.

On the Billboard's top 200 chart for week ending March 14, 2010, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's album "Valleys Of Neptune" charted at number 4. No other performer has cracked the top 5 so long after death. Elvis Presley previously held this record. He charted at number 3 in 2003 with his album "Elvis: 2nd to none". This was 26 years after his death in 1977.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

American Idol judge Randy Jackson

Born Randall Darius Jackson in Baton Rouge, Louisana, he started playing the bass at age 13. He has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Herbie Hancock, Madonna to name a few. It is estimated that he has played on over 1000 albums. From 1986 to 1987 he was a member of the band "Journey" touring with them extensively.

He became a record executive in the 1990s serving as vice-president of Artist and Repertoire(A&R) at Columbia Records. He was there for 8 years before moving on to MCA Records where he served as senior vice-president in the same category for 4 years.

In 2002 he was chosen to be a judge along with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul on Fox's phenomenal hit series "American Idol".

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Congratulations to Jimmy Cliff

My heartiest congratulations to my fellow Jamaican Jimmy Cliff for being one of 5 acts inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame on Monday night. This is a fitting tribute to one of the pioneering voices of reggae music. He was presented with his award by Wyclef Jean.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mission: Impossible theme song - tribute to Peter Graves

From left: Phil Morris, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Lupus.
In front: Peter Graves

Peter Graves died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday March 14, 2010 just 4 days short of his 84th birthday. He was best known for his role as Jim Phelps in the series "Mission: Impossible." This show ran for from 1966-73, Graves appearing in season 2 and remaining with the show until its end.

The theme song was composed by Argentine Lalo Schifrin who is also a pianist and conductor.

"Mission Impossible is is one of my favorite TV theme songs. As a teenager I learned how to play it on the piano.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who is Georg Solti?

When most people think about Grammy Award winners, the name Georg Solti would probably not ring a bell. However, he has the most wins with 31 out of a total of 74 nominations for classical music. He was born György Stern in Budapest, Hungary in 1912 and started playing the piano at an early age and became a conductor in 1935. His father changed his name to conceal the family's Jewish ancestry because of anti-semitism. Solti and his family fled from Hungary to Switzerland in 1939 to escape the Nazis.

Solti's career really took off in the 1960s winning Grammy Awards conducting recordings with Vienna Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and finally the Chicago Philharmonic. He won his first Grammy in 1962 and his last in 1997.

For all his achievemts, he was given an honorary knighthood by the British in 1971 but was only able to use the title "Sir" in 1972 when he became a naturalized citizen.

He was scheduled to conduct his 1,000th performance with the Chicago Philharmonic in October 1997 to celebrate his 85th birthday but died suddenly in September of that year of a heart attack. He was buried in his homeland of Hungary.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tessanne Chin

Jamaican Tessanne Chin first came to musical prominence when she won an open audition and was picked to open for a Gladys Knight/Patti Labelle concert staged in Jamaica in 2000. She went on to tour as a back up singer for Jimmy Cliff and was also a member of Jamaican rock band "Mile High". She branched out on her own. Her music can be described as a fusion of reggae and rock music.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who is Lori Lieberman?

Lori Lieberman was watching singer Don McLean in concert and was inspired to write a poem "Killing Me Softly With His Blues". The poem with some rewrites from Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox became her 1972 original recording "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Of course this song has been more famously identified with Roberta Flack who made it a Grammy Award winning Billboard number 1 hit in 1973. The Fugees also had a hit with this song in 1996.

Lori remained active in the recording industry during the 70s through the 90s, releasing her music on independent labels. The video clip above features Lori in a 2009 performance of the song.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jorge Ben Jor - Mas que nada

The song "Mas que nada" is mostly identifiable with Sergio Mendes who made it one of Brazil's biggest ever international hits in 1966. However what is less known is that this song was written and previously recorded by Jorge Ben Jor in 1963. He was born Jorge Duilio Lima Menezes and took his stage name from his Ethiopian mother's last name Ben. In 1989 he added "Jor". He is still active having performed on the Brazilian leg of the Live Earth concerts held in 2007.

This is a clip from 1969 of a performance by Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 with Tom Jones.

Sergio Mendes performing with the Black Eyed Peas in this 2006 music video.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who is Hal David?

Hal David is the lesser known lyrical partner of composer Burt Bacharach. He was born in New York City on May 25, 1921 and started his songwriting career in the 1940s. He teamed up with Bacharach in 1957 and together they wrote all the famous "Bacharach" songs like "I say a Little Prayer","Do You Know the Way to San Jose", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", to name a few.

Outside of his partnership with Bacharach, David wrote the lyrics for the theme song "We Have All the Time in the World" for the 1969 James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". He also has written many country music hits including the 1984 hit "To all the girls I've loved before" sung by Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias.

Hal David has received many honors. He has 20 gold records, is a member of The Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the Grammys Trustees Award.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Etana - I am not afraid

One of Jamaica's leading performers is Etana. Her name means the strong one. Her birth name is Shauna McKenzie. She migrated to the U.S.A. when she was 9 years old. her music career began when she dropped out of college to sign with Universal Records as a member of a group Gift. She eventually left because she was not comfortable with the sex symbol image of the group. She returned to Jamaica in 2002. Etana released her debut album "The Strong One" in 2008. She has toured U.S.A., Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Academy award original song winners from the past

Today the 82nd annual Academy Awards are being given out. Among the categories is an award for best original song which was first given out in 1934.

"The Way you look tonight" won for the movie "Swing Time" in 1936. The lyrics were written by Dorothy Fields and the music composed by Jerome Kerns. It was performed by Fred Astaire who is featured in the video clip.

"When you wish upon a star" won for the movie "Pinocchio" in 1940. The lyrics were written by Ned Washington and the music composed by Leigh Harline. The original performance was by Cliff Edwards.

"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" won for the movie "Song of the South" in 1947. Lyrics were written by Ray Gilbert and the music composed by Allie Wrubel. It was sung by James Baskett(featured in clip).

"Mona Lisa" won for the movie "Captain Corey" in 1950. Music and Lyrics were done by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston. Performance by the legendary Nat King Cole.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Clive Davis - Rock and Roll Hall of famer

On March 6, 2000 exactly 10 years ago today, Clive Davis a lawyer turned music executive was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He became president of CBS Records in 1967. During his tenure he signed artists like Janice Joplin, Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Pink Floyd, Earth, Wind & Fire.

In 1974 he became president of Arista where he signed artists like Barry Manilow,Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Whitney Houston. He left Arista in 2000. At present he is chief creative officer at Sony BMG.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stage names versus real names

Many performers use stage names instead of their birth names. The following are a few examples.

Tony Bennett (born Anthony Dominick Benedetto)

Chubby Checker (born Ernest Evans)

Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley)

Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stephens)

David Bowie (born David Robert Jones)

Charo (María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Rasten)

Crystal Gayle (born Brenda Gail Webb)

Jimmy Cliff (born James Chambers)

Boy George (born George Alan O'Dowd)

Bono (born Paul David Hewson)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hot Hot Hot

Arrow (Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell) was born in the Caribbean island of Monserrat. His recording of "Hot hot hot" was a massive hit selling an estimated 7 million copies worldwide. The song has been covered by other performers and has appeared on movie soundtracks like "Bend it like Beckham" and "Beverley Hills Chihuahua.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Northern Lights - Tears are not enough

"Tears are not enough" was released in 1985 around the same time as the original "We are the world" to raise funds for starving Ethiopians. It was a Canadian production featuring vocalists Paula Anka, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray among others. The song was written by Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance and David Foster. Even though it was not as popular as "We are the world", many critics thought it was a better song.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Soul Makossa

"Soul Makossa" was released in 1972 and hit no. 35 on the Billboard charts in 1972. The composer is saxophonist and vibraphone player Manu Dibango (born Emmanuel Dibango N'Djoké)in Cameroon. This tune is a unique mix of traditional Cameroonian music with jazz and funk. "Makossa" means dance in Duala which is a Cameroonian language. Parts of "Soul Makossa" have been sampled in "You wanna be starting something" by the late Michael Jackson and "Don't stop the music" by Rihanna.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bob Marley to the world

Bob Marley's music was known and loved by people all over the world. The videos below feature performances of his work by other artistes.

This version of "No woman no cry was done by Brazilian singer Jussara Silveira

Another Brazilian singer, the legendary Gilberto Gil does a version of "Three Little Birds."

This version of "Get up stand up" was done by U.S.A.'s Christian metal band P.O.D. It features rapper Ja Rule

This version of "Redemption Song" was done by jazz singer Cassandra Wilson of the U.S.A.

Instrument inventors

The earliest trumpets can be traced to Egypt in 1500 B.C. The photograph at the left shows a trumpet dating back to 300 B.C. created by the Moche people of Peru.

The pipe organ owes its existence to the hydraulis (photo at left). This was invented by Greek mathematician Ctesibius of Alexandria. The instrument used water and evolved to today's pipe organ which uses air.

The piano first known as the pianoforte was invented around 1720, by Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori.

The clarinet was invented by German Johann Denner at the turn of the 18th century.

The saxophone was invented by Belgian instrument manufacturer, Adolphe Sax in 1841.

The electric organ was invented by Canadian Morse Robb in 1928.