Very much hoping that the new decade has begun in a splendid way for our visitors and friends here at Musicians' Corner, Musicians On Music - we are currently doing a bit of reorganizing behind the scenes, and look forward to being back with you in March!
In the meantime there is a lot - A LOT - of material without any kind of use by-date here to look at, listen to, read and enjoy!
Born on The Isle of Man in The UK, brothers Maurice and Robin later made the move to Australia with the Gibb family. Forming the successful trio The Bee Gees with their older sibbling Barry, they would go on to achieving chart toppers and careers with longevity in the music industry.
Remembering these musical twins on their heavenly birthday with a fan-made video:
MAURICE GIBB & ROBIN GIBB, 22 December 1949 – 12 January 2003 & 22 December 1949 – 20 May 2012
It’s a rock in my life, and the place where I can express myself and not make sense – if that makes sense!
It’s like a love affair – the one thing that keeps me going.
It frustrates me at times. I want to write from the heart and be true to myself, and not try to please others or a record company – and sometimes it’s a process to get there. It’s the creation process that is not always fun. Writing songs is my favorite process all the same because I ask God what does He want the song to say. It's not about me. It can be challenging, but in the end I've grown.
I have my new single, Today Is My Day, out. It’s part of a forthcoming full project. It is about my journey becoming a singer-songwriter. In the beginning doors were closed in my face and I heard ‘No’ a lot. People told me I had something special but that I wasn’t ready. I had daggers in my back and moments of rejection. Nine years later doors once closed are now open. And things are even better now because of the perspective.
Money is not my purpose. I want to minister the heart of God. I want people to smile, laugh and dance. So I must stay focused.
Javon Inman live Redeemer
Gospel is my backbone. I couldn’t get away from it if I wanted to. But songwriting is my gift, and not just in one particular style, but across genres. And I need to use my gift.
My family has really been my greatest support. I have a wife and two teenage boys. I’m so grateful for my wife, and thankful every day for that woman.
JAVON INMAN is an award-winning gospel artist based in Maryland. With two albums behind him he has recently released the new single Today Is My Day.
Jazz has somehow found its way into the 21st century.
I was talking to some Juilliard students the other day, and I said that the only thing that is new is you guys.
We have handed you something. You are standing on the shoulders of those who have been in music. They have given you so much.
When you turned on the radio in 1985 you didn’t hear Scott Joplin. So much has happened. The 20th century was the most prolific in music, and the music sustained, but now the 20th century is gone.
Our job is to carry the torch on our own merits. We want the listeners to open their windows to artists embracing their now. You can listen to somebody’s umpteenth version of whatever, but this is not 16th century music. It’s not classical music. We have to create new music and music has to earn being called a standard.
I am asking the audience to please listen to this jazz vocalist who is the granddaughter of Ella Fitzgerald.
On my new album the musicians are playing themselves. They have forty years in this game. They are not new to this game. Julius and Andrew are new and learning.
We express how we feel about music. There are no tricks in music. You have got to put the time in.
I try not to second-guess things. There were songs left over from the latest project and I kept working them.
I sometimes imagine myself performing a certain song. I try this rhythm, that phrasing, I go with the interpretations from the musicians.
With the recording of one of the songs I was thinking that the scat singers have pidgeonholed us – why don’t I try something different? I sang with the keyboard to see what arrived from that. It is true to what happened in the live moment.
Another example from the album was I wanted to reinterpret a song from the 80s, but I brought it through the deep sounds of the chord-progressions from jazz. I applied them to something that was very pop.
I had the suggestion from Elisabeth Oei to write something about what I was always saying – that there is no jazz on tv. I went “ - What? Why not?”. I simply improvised it. I built it on a radio-jingle. The song is a point of view, but you have to turn a point of view into a form.
Another one was that my family was about to get bombarded by a storm in Florida and I wrote my own stress over that.
Photos: Janet Van Ham
I really want to see jazz on tv. The world deserves it. I would like to have this kind of conversation with the cameras rolling. I want to help facilitate bringing jazz back to the mass media.
The record companies have been dumbing down the listeners by having the publishing rights to music and having new artists record it to take the earnings.
The record companies got a little bit behind and have been trying to catch up.
We do an album and it’s a massive project, and then someone downloads a synopsis of that project called a download of a track.
CARMEN LUNDY has just released an important new album, Modern Ancestors. Perhaps we have been wondering what we do in and with music now that so many, who made the immortal music, have left us. Seeing them as though they lived a long time ago --- as much as just a 'few months' ago, firmly turns them into the rock that we stand on, instead of a galaxy we might aim for but never reach - a setup for creating the copy of the copy of the copy in music --- is a way forward. This is the statement that this album makes, turning theory into reality in musical format, as it does. We had to have a talk with Carmen Lundy about this album, which is one that people order in the physical format too, not settling for the download, which indicates that many are fully aware of the significance of this production.
Gospel artist Kirk Franklin was censored - twice - by TBN (the Trinity Broadcasting Network) as he was accepting awards for his work. He brings attention to this in a video clip.
We here at Musicians' Corner regard it as serious when artists are censored, and in this case we find it particularly sad with regards to what Franklin brought up in his acceptance speeches. We hope that this was an isolated occurence, and that media outlets take what happened here as a springboard to putting principles in place that prevent censorship of this nature this from being repeated.
We encourage you to listen to and spread what Kirk Franklin has to say about his experience, and to stand by artists if and where they are being silenced.
Musicians' Corner remembers the beautiful and talented Natasja Saad (Dou T, Little T), the Danish native with a Sudanese background, whose promising career and young life was cut short by a car accident in 2007.
Here she is performing live hours before her passing
When you break it down, to me music is a special way to generate love, and share that love and good memories with people. Everybody has a song in their heart, and music is a universal language shared by all. Sometimes you can get through to people so easy and efficiently through good positive music, and how it’s delivered.
People told me as I was growing up in church: – “You have a beautiful voice. The world needs to hear you, and we think they will!”. There must have been some powerful prayers for me, because their wish for me has actually happened, as I’ve performed for 10’s of thousands of people all over the world for the past 15 years. My gift became a vehicle that I could use to bring happiness to people. To take them back to a positive and happy place in their lives, sometimes reliving good memories through songs.
Larry Johnson's Essence of Motown perform "My Girl"
Larry Johnson live at B.B. King's
Detroit is always in my heart. I grew up in a Detroit suburb called Inkster, and that’s where I went to school and where my family lived. I love Detroit and always want to represent the D, and I still always cheer for and support the Detroit sports teams – like the Lions and the Pistons. Detroit is coming back. My brother & sister still live Downtown, and it is amazing now. I’m very proud of my city.
I wound up in Florida as my ex-wife was offered the Spanish speaking market as a trainer with General Motors back in 2003. We discussed it and together we thought it was a good move for our family to relocate. I was touring with Ali Woodson’s Temptations group at the time, and I knew they could fly me in for our shows from here just as well. Plus we have 80 degrees at Christmas!!
The many revues that Larry Johnson contributed his voice and performances to, including Theo People's Temps & Tops Revue
There has been twenty-four members in The Temptations altogether over the years. When the former members leave the group, sometimes they go on to form their own Temptations styled group. The legend Otis Williams has the name rights, so they can’t call it The Temptations, but it becomes a more of a Temptations Revue. A Temptations Revue has to have a former Temptations' member in the group. If there isn’t an actual former member in the group, then it’s a tribute group.
I got started in my 1st Temptations Revue group in 2004 with Ali Ollie Woodson, who sang lead on Treat Her Like A Lady and many other songs. He taught me the ropes and gave me my badge – and my very first stamp in my passport. Then Harold “Beans” Bowles introduced me to Richard Street in 2005, and I was in his group until he passed on, and through it continuing with Barrington Bo Henderson, and then Theo Peoples.
Larry Johnson performing with Theo Peoples
Right now I’m doing my project The Essence of Motown, and I am also involved with two other Motown projects – The Magic of Motown and Motown In Motion. I work with four fabulous singers/performers here in Florida: Michael White, originally from the Bronx, NY and Greg Woods, originally from Springfield, MA, as well as the very talented Didi McFadden and Stephani Grace. We are all pretty versatile and sing many genres of music. They are my family. I am also involved in a very successful Earth, Wind, & Fire tribute band called Elements, and we are currently getting booked for a lot of shows all over the country. I work with Garry Samms in our Motown in Motion show, and Candi Rivers in our Magic of Motown show. I also want to give a shout-out to my producers Joey Dale for Motown In Motion, and Michael Yorkell with Magic of Motown and The Elements EWF show.
When you are performing Motown, I feel you need to as closely as possible stay true to the genre. I grew up in Detroit, I have a close connection to The Motown sound. It’s deep in my heart & soul, and being actually from Detroit, I like to think of myself as a true and legitimate Motown artist. So I really care about how this music is presented. People want to hear this music as close to the way they hear it at home on their record players. You also have to present strong choreography and give people something to look at as well as listen to. You have to bring nice show wardrobe, and present an all-round great experience, which is what we strive to do every time we hit the stage.
People can see your heart, and that’s contagious and memorable. That is the formula for getting called back for repeat performances.
Elements doing Earth, Wind & Fire's "Reasons", with Larry Johnson on lead vocals
LARRY JOHNSON is a singer from Inkster/Detroit, Michigan, now based in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a former member of several of the Temptations Revues, Johnson these days continues to fly the flag for Motown in several projects - with his excellent tenor voice, pleasant stage persona, and with his management skills - as well as also representing “Elements, The Ultimate Earth Wind & Fire tribute”.
We have lived through a special time
in human history, when recorded music has meant a tremendous amount to the
world's population. The music industry has changed several times in the last few
decades, primarily because of the technological and infrastructural changes
that have taken place, and the method for making recordings in major studios
for the distribution on vinyl records has been exchanged for computer software
programs and files.
It wasn’t in fact so long ago that
the record was introduced, but its actual lifespan marks a time in history when
music artists explored music and the music fans enjoyed the journey and
outcome. Music has been an enlightening and uniting force, and the audiences have been able to follow recording artists through their lifetimes. Music has expanded
its artistic and expressional territories and artists have grown with the
This is a follow up article to the
piece published August 2nd titled “The history of music is seriously
threatened” (doh!), where we went through a few basics in how the history told about
this era is in danger, about how a lack of interest in really devoting themselves
to it on an enough large scale in music journalists, paired with a never-ending
myriad of mistakes as the story of music is told in blogs, for example, all
comes together as the history of music not getting to the future. It won’t. It
will be a story – it won’t be the story.
At the end of the previous piece we
went to urging music fans to for example fact check and edit their favorite
music acts’ Wikipedia pages. And during this summer we have been doing a
project to see what was out there, how much of it was possible to fact check,
how much of it was wrong, and if it could be changed at all – concerning one
single music act – in blogs, articles, on music forums, etc. It has largely
been an extremely depressing journey, if one is to see it as an attempt to make
the quality about what is out there concerning this act more factual.
We started on Wikipedia, which in
fact was easy enough to edit. And the edits have been left on this music act’s Wiki
page. We brought references, and it seems that these have thus far seemed solid
enough to those who have looked at this page since.
Then we went to a blog. It had a
large number of mistakes on its page devoted to the act in question, and we managed
to change a couple of things on the page through writing to the blogger, but
that was where it stopped. Although we are since thanked on said page for this
contribution, somewhat to our dismay, the page is still full of grave and
obvious mistakes in its run-down of the facts about this act, and anyone who
consults this blog for information will be mislead.
Next we talked to
the editor of a music site, who has pages devoted to this act and who also has
a printed publication devoted to it. Here too there were mistakes on the net,
and when these were pointed out we were promptly given verbal beatings by the
individual behind this site and his friend too. It was a very long exchange, in
the middle of which we were told that we weren’t allowed to read the printed
publication because “we would only find faults in it”. We had previously tried
to order it, but were denied purchase of it! Finally it was about Facebook
groups for the act, and a conversation about who was who in an old photograph
of the act, and us pointing out that it wasn’t who the admin of the group
claimed that it was lead to us being thrown out of the group slightly after
So there we are. This is probably how
anyone would fare trying to get the facts straight regarding an act whose facts
they know. The repeating pattern here is of course
vanity. None of these describers or reflectors of music did very well when edits
were suggested to them. The need to be right even if it’s wrong is more
important to a number of people, it seems, than to keep an open mind and change
a text or a thought when proof of their flaws is presented.
The very best suggestion that we have
after this experience is for the enthusiasts and lovers of music, who spend a
lot of their time with their best intensions describing music, in some
format or other, is to climb down off their high horses to do some
get-togethers in virtual or actual format, and compare notes and discuss the probability
in what they have come up with, jointly. That could be a lot of fun. Because
although the situation is grave and we are in fact losing the history of music,
whatever of it that can still be saved can be a fun and rewarding activity,
where people who love music, a genre, an act, or whatever – could do
what they do in collaboration. We would get further that way. Defensiveness has to be checked at the door right now.
I just stopped touring with George for this year. He is going to start back up in January of 2020 – that’s what I’m hearing.
In the meantime there are some other things that I’ll be doing. They are not so much side-projects anymore.
George is retiring. It makes the other projects come closer. Ligedelic is my project. It’s based on funk. I am doing some things with it in November, stuff taking place in Europe. We will get the interest going. I have friends in Europe who have wanted to work with me for years. I have been so busy with George. Starr Cullars will get a CD released this year finally. We will get more things going there. I play guitar with her band. That’s full speed ahead.
When George Clinton wants to retire he has to play everywhere. They love him so much, they are begging him. We have to play Japan and Europe, and everywhere. Maybe he will stop in 2020.
George’s catalogue is so vast. He has been writing music since the 50s.
Parliament Funkadelic was such an underground thing in the beginning, but that stuff is still revelant today. George Clinton has such wit.
Party for George Clinton's Lifetime Achievement Grammy
We are so proud of the Grammy. A lot of people got together for it. And we got together for those who aren’t here anymore too.
There are only a few of us from the 70s left.
I look forward to coming home, to the me time. It's so much with we and us and our on the road. You have to give up your time. You have to smile. It’s a job.
At times you have to take out the crazyness in your life. Traveling on a regular basis is a job. The rest is part of a life of touring. You have to get that rest. George is never completely done when he’s done. After a tour when everybody has come home there are these one offs that we have to go play. You eat great at home. There is a lot of crap food on the road.
I live in San Diego. I get calls from LA. Driving up there takes a couple of hours. I’m in a relationship with Starr Cullars and we have been a couple for over twenty years.
I don’t sugarcoat things. My parents were straight. When you get out into this world, and especially into this business, that helps.
To me music is freedom. It's the very essence of who I am.
I can't imagine my life without music.
Ragan Whiteside jamming it on her 2019 release
I got started on flute when the band teacher came by. I wanted to play the drums but they were taken. I wanted to play the trumpet and it was the same thing. So I asked what was left, and the flute was. And it grew on me -- and it was destiny.
I'm releasing my 5th album, and it's about I "Jam It''. It's the music to play in the background at a backyard barbeque, the sounds there to make people go ''That's my jam!''.
Ragan Whiteside's new single release "Jam It"
My plans include finishing things up in the studio and lining up festivals for next year. There are already some excellent bookings and I'm working on more of them.
My songs are doing very well in the charts, and I have reached this success without a record label. Being independant has been rewarding, and I want to inspire others to do the same.
Ragan Whiteside is a flautist, singer and song-writer with chart success, operating in the smooth jazz lane.
Music is life to me. It’s my wake up and put a smile on my face.
It breaks up the melancholy.
I grew up in a bad neighborhood, but my Dad showed me that music could take someone around the world. It could have you playing for kings.
Growing up in the projects I lived above that. In my mind I knew that I could see the world.
I had a lot of options growing up. I was a very smart kid. My Dad (Charles Wyatt) had us do the multiple times table before we could go out and play. We were made to think that you had to earn things.
I played sports and went to school with athletes. I got a scholarship for being an advanced student, and I was so advanced that I only had to be in school between nine and eleven-thirty, and so I had a job through school. Playing sports an injury put a stop to further plans.
Later I got a job at a bank, and they loved me there. I could have just stayed there and had a career.
Eric Wyatt live in 2017
Music isn’t like magic tricks. You have to have a concept. Growing up I ran into people who said that I was no joke and that I sounded like Charlie Parker. I came to a cultural center for kids, and the leader from there, Arthur Rhames, would come to my house every day. It was almost annoying, but he was consistent. He had us do exercises. After the push-ups we would practice to tracks and record it. It was like having a band without having a band. Then we had food and then we practiced again.
I am just now releasing an album with Sonny Rollins compositions. Sonny Rollins was a friend of my family as I grew up, because my Dad was a successful musician.
Sonny Rollins hasn’t been able to play for his health, and he has a lot of music that is written but not heard. He was forgotten about to a degree by the industry, which started pushing other guys, as he wasn’t well.
This is a tribute to him. I want him to be acknowledged more, and I want to contribute these songs to the lexicon of music.
Sonny Rollins has always been gracious and kind to people. He truly is someone who knows how to treat people like you want to be treated. This basic outlook, the golden rule of Sonny, has helped me become a better musician.
Looking back on my life now I’m proud of the fact that I have helped a lot of young musicians, such as Robert Glasper, Chris and Wes Lowery, and Russell Malone. It gives a reversed confidence. Unless you know somebody in New York you can’t even get on stage.
Eric Wyatt's brand new release: The Golden Rule: for Sonny
ERIC WYATT is a New York-based saxophonist with a heavy CV!
Life is music, and music is my life. Music is the air that I breathe.
Music is voices, water, a car driving. It’s a healing force.
My music is scripture based. The word is what keeps us strong.
The title track from Vera Brown's album release
I released my CD Somebody in 2018. It got below 200 in the gospel chart, and my songs have charted with Billboard ratings. My singles from the CD are the title track “Somebody” and “Praise Goes Up”, to which I wrote the lyrics with Toni Moore, and “Yes We Can Can”, which is Alain Toussaint’s composition that The Pointer Sisters did their rendition of – and it’s still a relevant song.
My husband Benjamin Pressley produced the album, and we recorded almost all of it live at our house, where we have a studio. I have been picked up by Orchard - Sony and Somebody is about to be released worldwide September 6th. We have had expressed interest from Korea and Africa, and I’m just excited to do God’s will. Sony Orchard’s ambition is for us to reach a younger audience, and we must. We must reach the kids – they are our future. We are also talking about my 2020 release.
It all started in 4th grade when I laughed as someone in my class was singing, and was told that I was next. So I got up and sang, and wound up singing for the Spring Fair.
In the College Variety pages I saw an add where they were looking for someone to travel and sing, and I knew that I could travel, so I called. That got me auditioning for Gypsy Lane, which was the Village People’s band, and made me the lead vocalist for the Ritchie Family, which I was intermittently between 1979 and 2016. I also briefly worked with The Three Degrees, doing a brief tour with them, and I have been working with my sisters on our project called Sassy Fras.
Vera Brown on lead vocals with The Ritchie Family "Give Me A Break"
I grew up in a small town, and because of the jobs that I landed I wound up in New York, where I was exposed to the grand life – to beautiful clothes and beautiful people. There were the fabulous stages. I got caught up in that and not in the drugs that came with it. I started on cocaine and moved on to crack. I developed a big taste for the drugs, and when I came off the road I wound up doing a lot of things for money. It was eight dark years of my life.
One day my baby sister walked in on me and screamed, so I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw a monster. I just fell to my knees on the bathroom floor next calling out for the Lord to help me.
Vera Brown's rendititon of "Yes We Can Can", tv performance
I went back to church and connected with the music. The more I sang the more the tendencies dropped off. I was channeling, and I will never go back to the drugs and I don’t crave them.
I’ve got skills and I went to work as a secretary, and I’m retired now. Over the years I have been involved in the church. I have directed the choir. One day my husband asked me why I didn’t do my own thing – and here we are.
We are based in Landsdale in Pennsylvania, and the music of Philadelphia inspires me. Philadelphia is a historical site for music, and we hope that it will once again be a force.
The Woodstock Festival took place on a dairy farm in Bethel the 15th through 17th of August 1969. And while many attended the event many were also stuck in traffic and never made it there for trying... The queue on the highway stretched all the way to New York! So that means that many out there recall what they did at this time fifty years ago, and that this was: being stuck in a car!
The very word "Woodstock" still means something so clear to people, and so naturally to people who weren't even born at this time too. It needs no explanation. If you say "Woodstock" you're done talking. People got you.
The word conjures up the immortal sounds of Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner. A classic moment in American history and the history of music.
A lot of the music that’s out today says nothing to me.
I went from singing in the church choir to producing.
I’m happy if I make other people happy.
As iconic as basslines get: Tony T. Money Green's work on "Gin & Juice" with Snoop Dogg
SOME THINGS ON THE YEARS WITH THE DRAMATICS
(Editor’s note: If you are new to The Dramatics you may want to check out some Dramatics’ basics to get the most out of this segment… and we strongly recommend that you check out some Dramatics’ basics and familiarize yourself, if so…because you have been missing out if you are new to The Dramatics. We get straight into things, mostly into things in the 1970s, in this text, which is a treat for those who know their Dramatics!)
L.J. Reynolds, Tony Green, Ron Banks
What it smelled like inside United Sound? OMG. Behind George it smelled of funk. They took the funk seriously and didn’t wash. And cocaine. It smelled of booty and cocaine. Around us it smelled of weed.
It looked a little like a spaceship. There was a studio to the side when you came in through the door and then eight steps down there was the main studio. It was huge. The big old board lit up. It felt like you made it when you stepped in there, just being there. Sometimes when the sessions ran late I took a snooze under those steps.
They want to move that building to the parking lot. Once they start moving things they move other things too.
It happened that we recorded in other places.
United Sound, Detroit
I came to the studio making deliveries… I was 17 and it turned out that I had a band. Surprise! So they came to see a show, and thought that we were good – and that was the start of my journey with The Dramatics. It was Ron who got me in the band.
I didn’t work with Tony Hester but I saw him work, and he really really couldn’t sing. He would say ‘’Here Ron – can you do this part?’’ and then there would be some type of noise coming out of him.
He really was the best writer for The Dramatics, and people got jealous of him for his talent. There was so much talent going down the drain with the loss of him, and The Dramatics were lost for what to do.
Tony Hester & the original Dramatics in the studio
LJ and Ron lead the band rehearsals. Ron could say things like ‘’Go to the round! Go to the round...’’. So I told the band to go to the change. That was what he meant in Ron Banks’ language.
Ron was the charismatic one. So many times when we were in places people would call out ‘’ – Hey Ron Banks’’, ‘’ – What’s up, Ron Banks?’’.
LJ would really rehearse. He can play four-five instruments, and at times I practiced with LJ every day – every day. LJ liked that and we could translate that to the band and know that we would have a hell of a show.
LJ and Ron were often arguing wanting different things. But our rehearsals were very serious rehearsals because we wanted to deliver good shows. The dance rehearsals were different rehearsals and the band got to see it at the end.
During the first years we traveled in a Trailways bus. It was a 50-seater. The group would sit in the front. The band would sit in the back. Tony Anthony, our bus-driver, got us anywhere and could handle anything. It said The Dramatics on the side, so people looked at the bus.
We slept on that bus, and you either stretched your legs across the isle or slept cramped sitting up. This is why I have arthritis now.
Once the group flew to California and the band went on the bus – and didn’t make the show. The Dramatics are great but people didn’t really want to hear the acapella show. They realized that they needed the band, that we were as important for the show to happen as they were.
After “Be My Girl” everything changed. We got treated a lot better. The group started flying places and we got two buses with beds and living rooms.
Normally we would do shows from Thursdays through Saturdays. In California we would do shows every night of the week, and two shows a night.
Our manager Forest Hamilton did the show bookings.
The Dramatics live in Houston...
The Dramatics had two roadies who carried our luggage and one valet, Andre Barber.
Usually we did shows with other groups so there wasn’t much backline to set up, as it was already there. The roadies carried our instruments.
Sometimes LJ and Ron were at the soundchecks, sometimes the whole group was there.
LJ was always going to make sure that the show would be kicking ass. We knew that we would kick ass.
The set-lists changed a lot in the beginning. At the time of the Dramatics’ reunion we kept the same show for two years. That was when Wee Gee was back for a while. I do the same thing now. I have had the same show for four years, and you work on perfecting it.
New York was a hard place to tour at times. They didn’t like us there. We played something and after we did nobody clapped. We broke New York with “Be My Girl”. It changed there after that and they started to like us.
I was in this band for a long time, and others who were include Anthony Booker and Dewayne Lomax, though maybe no one was in the band for as long as I was.
The Dramatics "Welcome Back Home" co-written by Tony Green
I wrote songs with Ron and LJ.
I couldn’t write lyrics but you can always count on me for a bass-line to build on.
We wrote songs in the basement of Ron’s house. Ron could get a little worried at times. He wasn’t a great lyricist but he really could sing.
LJ could really write and produce songs. He’s very talented and plays drums, piano, did everything himself.
The other group members didn’t show an interest in writing songs, but Lenny would sometimes show up when songs were written because he wanted to make sure that he would be singing on them.
When we did Do What You Want To Do we were on the cutting edge of a new sound, going into synthesizers. We lucked out and people liked it. It was their first gold album. Many of their albums are of course gold by now…
A LITTLE ON T MONEY MAKING THE SWITCH TO CALI
Dr. Dre, Tony Green
I got The Dramatics in the studio with Dr. Dre, and after that other soul groups came running to me asking if I could do the same thing for them – but I really couldn’t. The Dramatics were streetwise enough to do a record with Snoop Dogg, it might not have worked with another group.
I got more people from Detroit in that studio though. George Clinton of course, but also Ricky Rouse and Butch Small. Working with Dr. Dre I got a band in. That was new, because they hadn’t had one before.
The day Dre hired me was a good day.
He never had a musician of caliber in before. I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want to seem old.
He gave me drumlines and I put basslines on top. My bass was the groundwork. That was a song.Everybody added things on top of that.
It’s hard to tell me what to play. I’ma give you what you want. Just give me a beat. I played the bass for 52 years now, I’ll give you what you want.
Tony Green, Snoop Dogg
Everybody loves Snoop Dogg for his twangy little voice. He had it when he was young and he has it now. People also love him because he’s a real nice guy. He carries himself like a superstar and he always did.
His work process was that Dre had the music laid out for him, then Snoop would take all day to write for it. He did not rush his writing. He came up with something good so you are glad that you did the waiting.
They did a lot of things that were new and innovative at the time, such as the singing-rapping.
It’s good that you hear that the bassline on “Gin & Juice” is slightly off! That means that you have a good ear…
What happened was that I had just gotten the bass out of the bass bag and I wanted to tune up. Dre said don’t. I said that ‘- I’m a professional and I have to tune up’. Dre said ‘- If you tune up you’re fired’.
That bassline proves that there is no right and wrong in music.
I play the bass upside down. My father (William Austin - a well known bassist, editor’s comment) told me to put it down. I thought that he was hating on me, but later he said that he sure was glad that I didn’t listen to him.
Now my daughter turns things upside-down.
A BIT ABOUT THE PRESENT
I just signed a distribution deal with Universal.
I have a massive vault with unreleased material. I have so much great stuff that just never came out. That includes artists that just never were heard and people who did things behind the curtain. And my own material, in some cases my material that other people just took and put their name on it.
There is going to be good stuff coming out.
T Money Green and Roadwork's G Funk Review live in Detroit
TONY T MONEY GREEN is a successful and DMA-decorated bassist, composer, producer, band leader and the CEO for his label Hyped International Records – based in Detroit. After he formed his band the Roadwork Crew, in the early 70s, Green has contributed his bass magic to some of the most iconic music made in the last few decades. He is currently busy getting new and previously unreleased music to people’s ear-drums through a new distribution deal with Universal.
Herb Reed of The Platters' fame, joined this successful singing group in the early 50's, to sing on hundreds of recordings with them, and tour consistently until the time of his passing. He was the last surviving member of the early line-ups of this group.
Humanity has just now lived through a special time in history, when recorded music has had a key role in society and in people’s lives. We have seen the golden era of recorded music. There has been recording studios and music has been presented in album format. Music has been taken to new territories artistically and to new levels by its creators – and blues, gospel, and jazz have been explored as idioms and also developed into new genres, and transcended their previously known soundscapes. Music has grown in every direction, been explored and gotten to know itself through its artists. --- In short: it has been outright amazing! --- Music has truly been the soundtrack to people’s lives and to whatever took place in them, as well as in the world around the lives lived.
When future generations look back on the 20th century and the very early 21th century there is little doubt that the music that was made during this era will stand out as one of the significant elements that this period of time was about for the people who lived through that time.
The history of this is no small topic.
To find and correctly recount that history is no small matter.
It’s highly important, and will be increasingly important that this is done, to the future generations who won’t have access to ANY of the artists from this era. They won’t be able to check anything for themselves. They will not have the chance to attend any show at all with the acts from this era. They will at best have access to recorded music, if we can hope that the recorded music of this epoch is brought along as technologies change. There has been tragedies happen for the prospect of this, such as the many masters getting lost in the fire at Universal.
The other bit of the preservation is about the information that is passed on to the future.
To stand in the way of the history of music being correctly told is in fact an assault on music, and a serious hindrance for future music historians to ever be able to research or correctly describe the music of this era.
So, what do we currently have a lot of when it comes to descriptions of the music of this period of time? We have phenomena such as Wikipedia, which is often full of grave mistakes concerning artists and creators of music who are described on pages there. We have bloggers who are misinformed, and who quote each other’s mistakes. We have journalists, who generally don’t pay this aspect to music reporting much attention – and if they do often approach the history of modern music in list format, presenting ‘’the 20 best soul songs from the 70s’’ according to their staff’s opinion – or express their opinion in other formats. We thus have grave mistakes floating around about just about every music act anyone can think of, and we have a reluctance from most of the professionals to go deeper when it comes to writings about music – to actually do that work. There are books and autobiographies, often describing everything but the process – the work in the studio – what was said there, how it sounded, what were the obstacles – how a cut went from being one thing to being another and why, what the different individuals present contributed, how utterly fast an entire album here or there was recorded, how albums were put together in another way than what was intended by the artists at times and how other tracks wound up on them, the work done with getting the sound right, the challenges, the eureka moments, the structures, the chaos, the lucky mistakes, the songs that nobody involved thought much of that got huge, the songs that everybody involved thought would be hits but just got lost, the chemistry and lack thereof, the comradery, the fights, the replacements……………….the list is absolutely endless….and we ‘have’ so little of it.
What we are losing right now, have been losing for the last two-three decades now, is the story of music.
At least perhaps we could aim to get more of the most basic facts right. The who formed the bands when’s, the when was what released’s. And perhaps we could get a few, just a few of the outright lies off the internet – that are just being spread around from site to site without having a basic reference first – and therefore out of the mass media too as they are often just copying what they find on the internet without checking the validity of what is there – without checking the facts.
That would be a first level to aim for, and as a music fan YOU can help out with this. If you have a few favorite acts check the wiki pages for these acts for example, and if you find mistakes on there and/or things uttered that aren’t in fact backed by a solid reference – perhaps just a blog somewhere saying the same thing without having a solid reference either – go in and edit! Get the actual references, and go in and edit. It’s quite simple actually, and you are doing the history of music a huge favor if you do.
Music is life – it’s everything. I live music. I walk the blues. When things go good I play music. When things go bad I play music.
I like a good story, a story with a punchline. I’m a story-teller and I try to make my songs tales.
Classic Bobby Rush - "Chicken Heads"
Days working with the blues greats could be good days and they could be bad days. I’m hard to please. I know what I like and you’ve got to bring good ideas. If you do I’m listening, if you don’t it’s no hard feelings.
I didn’t start out thinking that I would transcend any genres with something I played. I didn’t think about it at all. I was just doing what I felt good about doing, playing what I felt good about playing. It’s much later since then that I started to think about what worked.
Bobby Rush in collab with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff "I Can't Find My Keys"
Working with Gamble and Huff was a true hightlight. They were my idols. Those two are the two greatest guys in American music. I thought I would pick their brains, but they thought that they would pick mine. We wanted to steal from each other, so they just let me have my way in the studio. All the same it wound up being the best stealing of my life.
After all the times that I have been nominated at the Grammys, thirty-two times all in all, I was so proud that they considered me good enough to be a winner. That knocked me off my feet. It was the best feeling. I might have been doubted sometimes, but there’s no doubting me now. The price went up too, but I still treat people fairly.
Bobby Rush "Bow Legged Woman" off the new album release Sitting On Top Of The Blues
As for the changes in the music industry, I like change. Sometimes we are caught off guard by change and become out-dated. We need to change with the times. Music that I recorded in the early 50s is still relevant, but I need to change to make it relevant. We don’t really sell records anymore. You have to adapt yourself.
I feel good about having my music remixed. I have something to offer, something worth having.
I’m still working a lot, and I’m still enthused about the work. For as long as I am I can go on. You can living without a lot of things, but you can’t live without hope.
Bobby Rush caught live "She's So Fine"
BOBBY RUSH is a Grammy-awarded blues legend with a career that spans nearly 70 years...
Music is connection to me. It's communication. That is the first thing that music is to me.
Music is creating something out of nothing. It's creating something that means something to people.
Music transcends time and generations.
Mutlu's single ''Lifeline'' off the new album Good Trouble
I am releasing my new album Good Trouble just now. It's about different aspects of where I'm at in life. It includes my social commentary and the personal struggles that I have been through.
I have done many interesting things musically, on my path, already. I opened for amazing acts such as The Blind Boys Of Alabama and Leon Russell. Such things are a great honor - just incredible to get to do things like that. I had the opportunity to exchange a few words with the Blind Boys of Alabama - amazing. I was also part of the popular series 'Live from Daryl's House' with Daryl Hall, when the show was on the internet. I was one of the first guests on it, in the seventh episode, and I was also a guest on Amos Lee's show.
MUTLU (ONARAL) is a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia. After releasing his debut album Livin It in 2008 and the EP Hypnotize, as well as supporting a number of well known acts live, he releases his album Good Trouble on all streaming services August 9th.
Music to me is a savior. I’m not sure what I would have done without it – I was in ways a little lost. Music is math and discipline – it teaches you discipline, creativity and how to get along with others. Music is a healer, it is going on trips, it helps you become a better person.
To many music is taking a break – and taking a break is healthy. That music is cut from schools and society is awful.
The most quoted live moment (to date!) with Rhonda... and she is funky...
When I first started playing jazz in Montreal, Montreal was a jazz hub. My mother played jazz all the time; Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, Ella….the list was long.
There were many excellent, older jazz players around. My brothers played jazz, and I had an environment around me where females were playing.
I don’t know how it would be seen by most parents these days if their daughters wanted to be in clubs and play music at 15. Classical is looked on with another respect, but other styles of music, if the daughters want to play?
I love all styles of music. It’s a mélange of the heart and of feeling, and I love floating between styles just like the greats have done, and like Prince did too.
I got my initial inspiration for bass from Pleasure, EWF’s Verdine White and Sly & The Family Stone, to name a top three. They are also some of the acts that I would recommend for people who want to listen to great bass-work on record.
Rhonda Smith "ITP" off her album Intellipop (2000/Slow Wine Music)
Being a musician is pure heaven, pure unadulterated fun. It’s the best job in the world. I don’t mind playing two notes - that can be fun. I only have two requirements when I’m playing. I need to hear myself and the sound has to be good.
Musicians are traveling doctors. We heal people. Music is a foundation to stand on in life.
Rhonda Smith bass solo with Jeff Beck Band
Having worked with Prince for a decade I thought to myself that I could work with anybody after him. He had the highest standards.
His rehearsals were long and intense, first of all. It was at least eight hours a day.
If he didn’t like something he certainly would tell you. Recording wasn’t allowed. He famously didn’t like bootlegs.
He didn’t read music. He would show you the part, and he would show you quickly. You had to get it. He showed you what he wanted quickly and then he was on to the next thing. He did have patience – he was extremely intelligent. But when he needed what he had showed you, the next day, he didn’t like it if you messed up. You couldn’t ask him ‘Where’s your notes?’. But the second day people did mess up. You had to be strict and get it down the first time.
There was some fun around but the process was intense. He would leave for a few hours and the band would rehearse by itself. He had other things to do, a lot to do. Sometimes he listened from elsewhere.
He was such a prolific writer with a large amount of music. You had to learn it all and retain it. Everything from the roots.
Rhonda Smith with Prince - "The Everlasting Now"
I’m currently in the studio working on my 3d record. I have my band project, CIC – which stands for Canada India Canada as well as for Chronic Idiopathic Constipation…as us musicians can be a bit full of ourselves… I also do shows with Sheila E and Jeff Beck in between. My record is ready when I say that it is. It’s love in motion. I will probably debut some of the material with the group.
We have such a changed industry with manufacturing and downloads. Artists don’t even make CD:s anymore, and not full albums anymore. Figuring out how to deal with all that is part of releasing something now.
What is going on with the music business is like a version of the industrial revolution. Radio has all the control. We have had a lot of rap music, but it’s often so negative. I’m not downing any music though.
The general standard for what ‘music’ is right now, is sad. People who aren’t musicians are called musicians, and the kids don’t know the difference. Music has been taken out of what is called music now.
I don’t believe that people want to see AI play music – maybe in Japan.
The royalty streams have dried up thanks to things like Tidal. Artists' work is played as much as anyone likes – for pennies.
The only way to go, to go forward in all this is live music. We need to play live and kids need to see people play live.
Rhonda Smith - "To Get With You" from the album RS2 (2006/215 Records)
RHONDA SMITH is a bassist+ based in the US, after being born and raised in Canada. She started out working on the Montreal jazz scene and studying music at McGill University. SMITH has released two solo albums to date and famoulsy worked with Prince for a decade. Her other collaborations include Jeff Beck, Sheila E and Chaka Khan. RHONDA SMITH also now runs her band project CIC.
We are proud to announce that the recipient of The Music Journalist of the Year-award for work done in 2018 is Anastasia Tsioulcas.
The Music Journalist of the Year-award is an annual award, which was first given out here on Musicians' Corner in 2015 for work done in 2014.
With this award our aim is to highlight quality journalism on the subject of music. We are grateful to the hardworking journalists who endeavour to bring light to this art form and the world around it seen through this art form. Their work is an important contribution, to both artists and the fans of music. Quality journalism on the topic of music isn't always that easy to find, which makes it all the more important to give praise to the music journalists whose work is first-class.
This award is given out after nominations for it have been submitted by our users, and after an artist jury has selected a recipient from the nominations. During the previous years the identity of the jurors was made public. From the year onward the identity of the jurors is kept secret. Artists have to be contributors to this platform to be eligible for this jury. You can read about the award and the former recipients of it, as well as previous juries HERE.
We are elated that Anastasia Tsioulcas receives this award for her music news reporting at NPR. The jury's acknowledgement reads as follows:
"It is with great pleasure that we give Music Journalist of the Year-award to Anastasia Tsioulcas. In everything from her choice of news items to report on to the delivery of her reports, Tsioulcas reveals her broad spectrum attentiveness and efficiency. She reports on the, for the media often given, as well as the sometimes not so given, with the same level of interest, and her readers can expect her to turn up anywhere where there is a news story to be told. Following this excellent journalist will widen your horizon and keep you updated on matters to do with music that you might otherwise have missed. If every news outlet had contributors of her caliber in their ranks we would have a better world."
There is little doubt that The Dramatics is one of the greatest groups that ever worked in the music industry. Thirty plus something top ten hits, more appearances than anyone on Soul Train, went on for 48 something years, you can't even sum it up if you try - there is so much to find out about this group. And although it is in fact often times about numbers when we look at things, with music the proof is in the pudding too - and it can't even be fully described where the most deep and rich music is concerned. You could attempt to, and assign music theorists and poets for the task of describing the harmonic, melodic, rythmical, blended, rich, vast, deep sounds of the Dramatics, and they would be coming up short. The best music is indescribable. We don't have the faculties. We can wave about a bit and say SOMETHING about the music, but it will only ever be something in the midst of it ALL that could have been said had we had the vocabulary.
The Dramatics original members were Ron Banks, Larry Squirrel Demps, William Wee Gee Howard, Elbert Wilkins - and Willie Ford - all native Detroiters. The group was formed in the 60s and a trillion gazillion things happened since. And two weeks ago we had the heavy - heavy - news that Willie Ford has transitioned, and as these words are written this great contributor to music is being returned home.
Willie Ford's unique bass voice and stellar capabilities as a dancer is a combo that has made Willie Ford a true one-of-a-kind artistic presence for five decades in entertainment. He has projected the poise of someone who enjoys executing his profession to perfection on stage. He certainly is the very illustration of the gift of musical superbness that we know as The Dramatics. He was there for the creation of and massive break-through of this group, which is what most people associate with The Dramatics, and which was also the pinnacle of their chart success - and he was there for the full journey through all its twists and turns.
Willie Ford leaves a legacy of happiness to those hundreds of millions of lives that were and will be touched by what he gave of himself to the world. He is forever one of the personalities who make Detroiters extra proud to be Detroiters, and equally one of the legends who represent what music became at the very height of what has been the golden era of recorded music.
We so regret that we didn't get to hear more of him. We will always miss the solo album, and what it could have been. We can only sense what it could have been, and that's something else.
The end... Something feeling like the dignified & matured thing this legacy and five part harmony five lead singers' concept deserved. And you just look at that young crowd loving every second. Well done!
Thank you so much, Willie Ford, for what you have done for music, and enjoy that Heaven that loves to have you.
Small Note: Willie Ford recorded a song, titled ''Lie To You'', which is currently in the 'vault' of bassist Tony Green. Willie Ford sings straight through this cut. Supposedly this song belongs to its originator/s, and it shouldn't be lost to the world.
(((Even smaller note that really doesn't belong here: To those of you who come to this page from a soul music site where it's linked - we have tried to change the somewhat faulty Dramatics' ''facts'' on that page to no avail. We managed to change ONE thing and are since thanked on that page whatever we tried to get across and even if we asked to be removed... Please check the intel presented to you in life...)))
To me, music is like glue. It binds us to the Cosmos.
People ask me how am I able to scat like I do. I feel like scatting is how the Creator speaks through me. It's fast and fire-filled. Scat is my personal lanquage with The Creator. It's Cosmic information.
I respect every religion, however, I am not particularly religious. I am spiritual.
Music encourages you and inspires you.
The Cosmic Krewe performing in New Orleans earlier this year
Growing up in a jazz family grounded me. It meant going beyond what people expect. As an adult I have been told that I could give musicians all the keys, as a child.
Growing up around talent you have to be at more than your best at all times.
There wasn’t much of an alternative to becoming an artist, but I did have an experience with one project. I was in my late teens and called myself a band leader even if I wasn’t working as one. I decided to put a band together without the cats. It was the hardest gig of my life and I recall thinking that maybe music wasn’t working out. It was only in that moment.
My mother used to always have the cats at the house, and I wanted to be an entertainer from an early age, and it was jazz that it was about.
What I envision for the future first of all is working with my husband, Michael Ray. I want to take our respective and mutual visions forward. We are working on a hologram with the College of New Jersey. It began when he received his lifetime achievement award and we sat and spoke with them. He can’t always be with us in the Cosmic Krewe physically because of his other commitments. That is where the idea of a hologram originated, and he is very interested himself. We need a team to pull it off. We have to pre-shoot the concert, and the gig has to be choreographed for the interaction with the hologram. After that you can cut and slice it.
It will take us at least a year to get this right. I would love to have it ready by the end of 2020.
We have strong ties to the college of New Jersey, and they have truly embraced me as an artist. We are also thinking of New Orleans in this and other contexts. Michael lived there for ten years and they love him there.
My family is the first jazz family of Newark, and we just did a concert honoring the Phipps family and their legacy. As I started my set, I called their great names, Ernest Phipps (Piano), Gene Phipps Sr, (Reeds) Bill Phipps, (Tenor Sax) Nat Phipps (Piano/Vocalist), Angie Phipps (Music Educator), Harold Phipps (Drummer/Percussionist) and Gene Phipps Jr. (Sax/Flute). I did this concert with some musicians who played with the Phipps longer than me even: Radam Schwartz, Gene Ghee, Clifford Howell, G.Earl Grice, Norman Mann.
I didn't spend much time with my Mother or my father because they were both constantly on the move, however.
I grew up knowing I was a Phipps, I was a Jazz singer and I was strong & independent. My mother was murdered in Newark when I was a teenager, but she grounded those four things.
I want to talk about the youth and jazz – music in general. We have a legacy to pass on. We have theory and the foundations of jazz to pass on. I heard an interview with a rap artist the other day and he said that he doesn’t like instruments… Jazz needs to do something about the future. We can’t continue to sound like music from the past. And we have to be relatable. Jazz hasn’t changed much for a very long time. Where are we going? I hear jazz in neo soul and love it. I’m not saying this to play down other genres, but we can’t have other genres without jazz.
The Cosmic Krewe - "Yolinda"
LARANAH PHIPPS-RAY is the 1st lady of the 1st family of jazz in Newark and one of the creators behind the Cosmic Krewe!
Trombonist Nick Finzer is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas. He has shared some excellent pointers in a great clip, which you can watch below. Having a basic plan for how you are going to build the infrastructure for a career in music, if you are a budding musician, is brilliant and time-saving way of going forward. Finzer also believes in the merits of an education, but if you chose to get one or not, his "5 things to do after jazz school" offers worthwhile intel.
Why you should go to jazz school?
Some of the most important musical connections you will make in your life will start with the community at the institution you choose to attend.
The musicians I play with most frequently, I’ve known since jazz school!
Building a strong and supportive community around you and your career is essential for pushing you artistically, helping you navigate the industry, and having friends who can help you sort out this crazy musical life!
NICK FINZER is an award-winning trombonist with an impressive CV and a master's degree from Juilliard. He is also an author and an educator.
Tray Deuce / Ron Westray - one and the same - and different sides of creativity the way it's supposed to be
LET'S BE CLEAR: Tray Deuce is not about a mid-life-crisis, or the 40 yr. old rapper syndrome. I wanted to rap before I started playing trombone. I spent the majority of my career in a band with a horn up to my mouth. “Just shut up and play the trombone.” Right? Further, Tray Deuce is a reflection of my compositional interests and the expansion of my skills in electronic music. Tray Deuce Is my way of saying I don’t care about perceptions and opinions (to put it nicely). SMILE. In MUSIC, I please MYSELF....first. Critics should focus on whether or not they like the Music, not on my decisions as a musician.
Drop Mic- TD
Take in the sounds of Tray Deuce:
RON WESTRAY is a musician and composer best known for his work with Wynton Marsalis. Ron joined York University's Music Department in 2009 as the Oscar Peterson Chair In Jazz Performance, a position endowed by the Government of Ontario to commemorate legendary Canadian jazz artist Oscar Peterson. Ron Westray produces his alter ego, Tray Deuce, doing hardcore rap, West Coast rap, funk, jazz, headnodic, heavy backbeat.
This time of the year is usually busy for musicians. Here in the USA, as well as in Europe, festivals seem to happen every week from April to August. It makes sense that people stayed in for the winter and are ready to get out in the sun! New Orleans Jazz Fest and Festival International de Louisiane are two big festivals that just finished here in the gulf coast region. And Hangout Fest just happened too. It’s my personal favorite, because it’s the only festival I’ve been to that’s on a beach!
After NAMM in January and a calm February, I worked with 6 bands in 2 months. A lot of time goes into balancing each band’s schedules and rehearsals. At Festival International in April, I played with 2 bands on the weekend, after staying awake the night before to do 2 early morning news (04:30 & 05:30) TV performances. I slept before that evening’s show and the festival weekend was a success.
I’m currently touring with the artist Brother Dege, pronounced like, “Brother Deedj”. In Europe, the band is known as Brother Dege & The Brotherhood, while in America, we are known as Brother Dege & The Brethren. It’s an interesting translation artifact.
Our latest album, Farmer’s Almanac, was released in 2018 along with several music videos. We toured across Europe & USA playing the new music, and 2019 saw the release of the deluxe edition vinyl. We are excited to return to Europe for two festivals in Switzerland this summer and a full tour later in October. I’m personally excited to return to Lucerne, one of the first places I ever visited in Europe, and where Keb’ Mo’ will be playing on the same festival date as us. That will be the third time I’ve played a festival date next to Keb’ Mo’! He’s one of my favorite blues artists, and I hope we’ll have time to watch their show. He and his band are just incredible.
Brother Dege "Country Come to Town" off the album Farmer's Almanac
KENT BEATTY is a successful and busy bassist for hire, as well as a member of Brother Dege & The Brethren, who are doing very well with their recordings and performances.