Tag Archives: r&b

RIP Dick Griffey

Richard “Dick” Griffey, the founder of Solar Records which stood for Sound of Los Angeles Records passed away on September 24.  Solar Records was the home to many music artists I listened to back in the 70’s and 80’s including Shalamar featuring Jody Watley, Lakeside, the Whispers, Klymaxx and Midnight Star.

Dick Griffey, Founder of Solar Records, Is Dead at 71
By DENNIS HEVESI

Dick Griffey, the founder of the Solar record label — known for bringing a funky, laid back, California sound to soul, R&B and disco in the ’70s and ’80s — died on Sept. 24 in Los Angeles. He was 71.

The cause was complications of quadruple bypass surgery, his daughter Regina Griffey Hughes said.

Solar was an acronym for Sound of Los Angeles Records. It was started by Mr. Griffey in 1977 as a spinoff from Soul Train Records, a company he had founded several years earlier with Don Cornelius, the creator and host of the long-running, dance-driven television variety show “Soul Train.” Mr. Griffey had been the show’s talent coordinator.

Under his aegis, Solar signed groups like Shalamar, the Whispers, Lakeside, Dynasty, Klymaxx, Midnight Star and the Deele. And by 1980, The Los Angeles Times called Mr. Griffey “the most promising new black music executive” in the country.

Shalamar, which included several performers from the “Soul Train” show, went on to score more than a dozen hit singles, among them “The Second Time Around,” which topped the soul music charts and crossed over into the pop market. Other Shalamar hits were “Right in the Socket,” “Make That Move,” “A Night to Remember” and “This Is For the Lover In You.”Also among Solar’s biggest stars were the Whispers, who brought their intricate harmonies to hits like “It’s a Love Thing,” “Chocolate Girl,” “Rock Steady” and — their best known — “And the Beat Goes On,” which Mr. Griffey helped write. Other Solar hits include Lakeside’s “Fantastic Voyage,” Babyface’s “It’s No Crime” and Klymaxx’s “The Men All Pause.”

Solar Records had some great music back in the day.  Check out Lakeside’s Raid.

Mr. Griffey is survived by his wife singer Carrie Lucas, five children and five grandchildren. RIP Mr. Griffey.

Funky Friday

So glad it’s Friday. It was a long week and that damn 90 degree weather came back yesterday.  I thought we were through with that.

Anyway check out Tom Browne’s 1980 smash hit Funkin’ For Jamaica. It’s from his cd Love Approach. I haven’t heard Funkin’ For Jamaica in a long time.

And check out Thighs High (Grip Your Hips & Move) from his cd Magic.

The Manhattans

Feel like listening to some ole skool music?  Check out If It Feels So Good to be Loved So Bad by The Manhattans. It’s from their It Feels So Good album.

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And here’s another great song from that same album.  We Never Danced To A Love Song.  They just don’t make music like this anymore.  You can check out both songs from the cd Love Songs.

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Introducing Laura Izibor

Speaking of music artists have you heard of Laura Izibor?

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I first heard her single From My Heart To Yours on the TJMS. I love this song.

And check out her song Shine.

The Independent has an interesting article about Laura.  The Irish born singer’s cd Let The Truth Be Told is scheduled for release in June.

American dreams: Laura Izibor

Irish soul queen laura izibor is set to hit the top of us urban music. just don’t call her the next britney, by Ed power

By Ed Power
Friday April 24 2009

Laura Izibor is waiting for the jet-lag to kick in. “I stayed up until 3am writing a song last night,” she says in a super-perky tone of voice. “Which is weird ‘cos, the previous day, I took three separate flights and got four hours sleep. Shouldn’t the tiredness have hit by now?”

Izibor, christened the ‘queen of Irish soul’ by a swoonful international press, is just back from a tour of the US, her umpteenth of the past 12 months. She’s holding court in the penthouse of Dublin’s Morgan Hotel, a white on white orgy of bling befitting a hip-hop star who has lost the run of themself slightly. The topic of discussion is her long awaited first album, Let The Truth Be Told. For a debut, it’s an accomplished marriage of song-writing chops and sisterly sass — a balancing act that looks set to catapult 22-year-old Izibor from the Irish suburbs to the very top of US urban music.

Assuming, that is, America can get past the colour of her skin.

“It’s funny, the fact I’m black always, always comes up in the US,” she says. “It nearly helps win them over. But I have to acknowledge it, otherwise, it’s kind of hanging there. I recently did a gig at BB King’s in New York. It attracts a very mainstream audience. And they were all like, ‘what the hell? Black and Irish?’ So I acknowledged it and then they were like, ‘oh well, at least she said it’. They walk away thinking — hey, maybe there are black people in France, too? And in England’. They think the only black people are Africans or African-Americans. They way I see it, I’m educating them.”

She gets slightly giddy as she recalls a recent performance at Manhattan’s Nokia Theatre with Aretha Franklin. There wasn’t time to socialise with Franklin, whom the Dubliner has worshipped since she was a teenager. However, Izibor did find herself stepping into the elder stateswoman’s shoes at the last minute, when Franklin was forced to cancel an address to troops recently returned from Iraq.

“It was in Times Square and I had to go out there and welcome them home,” says Izibor, with a slight, but visible, shudder. “I was like ‘how I can I welcome these people home?’ Then I thought ‘flip it’. Standing up there in front of all those soldiers and their families, the whole thing suddenly became very real to me. I said ‘Ireland isn’t in the situation you’re in. I really feel for you. I get scared sometimes walking out on stage. But you guys — the fear your loved ones must be going through…’ It was pretty bizarre to be out there. It turned out to be a good thing for me.”

Izibor has been the subject of industry ‘buzz’ for years, but, this past six months, things have really moved up a level. Her songs — pitched somewhere between the 1970s confessional pop of Carole King and Beyonce at her more contemplative — have been placed on several prominent Hollywood soundtracks (The Nanny Diaries, PS I Love You), whilst everyone from Rolling Stone to Esquire magazine to MTV is currently pouring diesel on the hype bonfire.

Normally that sort of exposure comes at a price. And for a female artist operating in the infamously sexist world of America urban music that price tends to be personal dignity. Izibor, though, is determined to have success on her own terms and is quite blunt about refusing to degrade herself in the hope of wider exposure. Translation: no booty-call photo-shoots, no flesh-pot videos, no potty-mouthed lyrics. To her mild surprise, her PG-rating stance has turned out to be a strength rather than a drawback.

You can read it all here and check out her official site here.

Black folks and rock music

I read an interesting article over at The Root.com about black folks and rock music. Ron Fields talks about the state of r&b and hip-hop and how stale both genres have gotten.

Rock is Black Music, Too
By: Rob Fields

Rock is Black Music, Too

Hip-hop has run out of ideas. And if you need proof, consider that Lil Wayne’s doing a rock album.

Know what the problem is with black folks? No imagination.

Sounds crazy, I know, but consider black music.Every significant moment in America’s history has been accompanied by its own soundtrack. And black musicians have often written the music and the lyrics. But what’s our soundtrack now?

The music industry has imposed the same low expectations on black artists and black life that politicians and pundits have imposed on black folks with respect to education, business and simply managing our daily lives. And we’ve let it happen.

The blues and jazz gave meaning to our lives in the 20th century, and it still enjoys a fringe following. But it doesn’t fit this new age. R&B is formulaic and predictable. And hip-hop? In its commercial form—the stuff that hammers us from radio and video outlets—has painted itself and its fans into a corner, boxed in on all sides by what Brown professor Tricia Rose calls the pimp-gangsta-ho triumvirate.

Essentially, we’ve let a small group of hip-hop “artists” of limited experiences, education and vision set our cultural agenda. In this age of expanded possibilities, it is time to broaden our musical influences. Hip-hop is out of ideas. If you need convincing, consider this: The best-selling rapper of 2008—Lil Wayne—is doing a rock album. Yes, a rock album.

I don’t follow hip-hop but I do follow r&b and he’s right. There are about a handful of current r&b artist out there that I’m interested in. Back in the day (yeah I’m ageing myself) there were a slew of music artists I enjoyed listening to, spent money on their music and I still listen to them. And alot of the groups were bands. You know, those who played instruments, lol.

Not only did I grow up listening to r&b, I listened to rock music as well.  Of course back then and in some situations today if you mention that you like rock music some black folks will look at you cross eyed.  Do I care?  Hell no.  I like what I like.  Sometimes we forget that black folks gave birth to rock and roll.  I love listening to my Jimi Hendrix, Res and Living Colour cds as well as Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Queen and Phil Collins.  Ron Fields mentions several current black rock acts including TV on the RadioBen Harper and Janelle Monae.  I had a chance to listen to several of the artists and I really enjoyed watching Grammy winner Janelle Monae’s YouTube video.  It’s certainly different. I love listening to black artists who have a different sound. I get so sick of the same old sound that most black female artists especially churn out. There seems to be this unwritten rule that all black female music artists have to sound like Aretha, Anita or Whitney in order to gain approval among black folks. And if you don’t sound like them then you’re stepping outside the black folks box.

Check out Janelle’s video.

Black rock artists have gotten past the fear that prevents many of us from fully following our interests, even when those interests aren’t seen as “traditionally” black. “I grew up listening to Joy Division, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Cure….” says TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone. “I simply identified with something in the [white rock] music.” He took that music as inspiration and, along with his bandmates, created Dear Science, the sharp, angry and euphoric genre-mashing album that Rolling Stone and SPIN unanimously named their 2008 album of the year. It was also one of the blackest albums I’ve heard.

Black rock can change lives. It changed mine. In the 1980s, I was a regular, middle-class kid from the Midwest, who started listening to Top 40 radio in eighth grade as a reaction to the repetitive playlists and limited subject matter on black radio. Top 40 radio introduced me to artists like Journey (“Who’s Cryin’ Now”) and Styx (“The Best of Times”), who moved me with their melancholy and soaring guitar solos. AC/DC’s “Back in Black” gripped me with its signature opening riff. And I found it impossible to ignore the incredible songwriting and storytelling that went into The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” For me, rock was simply more creative and raw than the slick, synthy sounds on black radio. It still is.

Check out the entire article here.

Let Freedom Sing

A few days ago while looking through my cable guide I noticed a special on TV One titled Let Freedom Sing. Since it came on in the early morning hours I decided to record it. Let Freedom Sing, which is hosted and narrated by Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.,  premiered on TV One a while ago but I’m just getting around to watching it. Let Freedom Sing chronicles how music inspired the civil rights movement.  The music dates back to blues and gospel and moves forward to r&b and pop.

TV One presents Let Freedom Sing, a special that chronicles a musical and cultural past of those who cried out in song against inequality, poverty, war, and in support of workers, civil and human rights. From the beginnings of the Civil Rights Era to Watergate — creative pioneers in gospel, blues, R&B and pop brought music, medium and message together as never before, composing a soundtrack perfectly tuned to the tempo and pulse of its time.

Let Freedom Sing includes narrative voices ranging from those of former Mississippi Freedom Riders who sang every day as they risked life and limb, to Grammy-winning artists and musicians who continue to pen inspired lyrics and songs capable of moving a nation, if not the world. Beginning with Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit to Memphis’ first radio station to “go Black”, Let Freedom Sing travels through time to highlight such an historic journey.

From Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin to Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke and Public Enemy, a few daring musical innovators stood at the top of two revolutions—one cultural, the other musical—and forever changed America and the world.

Let Freedom Sing tells their story only on TV One.

I enjoyed watching this special. Besides seeing a history of music used during protest movements, especially the civil rights movement, you got a chance to see the historical contributions blacks made in music.

A collection of the music from more than 70 years of the civil rights movement is now available in a 3 disc 58 song collection.

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You can buy the cd through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and WalMart.  You can read about the music collection at USA Today.com.

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