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.
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.
For example... For anyone who went to see Solomon Burke in latter years this is so well known...
There was a man up there, behind the keys of an organ, in constant conversation with King Sol throughout. This man was the fire in the belly of the band, feeding the music with his performances, living the music with every fiber, reaching for the sky in between and sometimes during his playing. An outstanding instrumentalist, who also played the organ for preacher Burke in church and worked with many other luminairies in music.
His name: Rudy Copeland.
Remember that name.
His story is of course so much longer and you will be well advised to go explore HERE
Here he is being excellent solo:
And here he is laying the foundation to a very memorable cut:
Us here at Musicians' Corner are great fans of this artist's contributions to music.
Thank you for the music, Mr. Copeland.
For a little more reading about Solomon Burke's band we recommend the articles with Kenneth Meredith a.k.a. 'the love man', that are featured here.
Mr. Knoel Scott is currently busy on tour with Sun Ra Arkestra, and so kindly shares what a day on these travels looks like.
We landed in Strasbourg after taking two trains from Kassel Germany
We were pleasantly greeted at the station and our equipment placed in three vehicles which had to negotiate a distance of just one hundred yards diagonally from the station to our hotel made complicated by the twists and turns of the city streets
Strasbourg is a large town (as opposed to small city) although well saturated with tourists there is a very provincial air and homey vibe (for locals).
Anyway, the Django center had s very good sound man and the public was really into the Ra vibe. Expressive, open and quite friendly after the 90 minute show, which started off rather atypically with Marshall creating two back to back improvised compositions, using the Arkestra as his palette in the very beginning of the concert, immediately commmanding the avid attentiveness of the Arkestra
I am still a bit in awe of Marshall’s limitless creativity.
After returning to our spirituall home in Strasbourg......the unique and artful Hotel Grafslar, whose convivial owner and staff were a pleasant accent to the unique creativity of design through the hotel, with each room having been designed by a different artist
My room was filled with owls and had such a beautiful vibe. Even when I fell asleep at 5am ready to miss a 7:30 departure I Heard someone call my name in my sleep gruffly snarling what what is it?.....:and saw a wrist with a blue watch in front of my eyes there was no answer cause clearly no one had called me but seeing the blue watch made me jump up to discover it was 7:15 and were to leave at 7:30
Of course I threw my belongings together, dressed and was actually on time to leave with the band.
My most notable Strasbourg moment was when I visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg and was able to purchase the last coin of the Black Madonna.
I feel so well Blessed.
We are now relaxing in the outskirts of Milan after playing two 70 minutes sets last night and waiting to resume travel on Sunday flying out of Malpensa airport to Gothenburg where we will play at Nefertiti Jazz Club. Quite fitting.
KNOEL SCOTT is a saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, writer - and a member of Sun Ra Arkestra. He is also the director for the Knoel Scott Quartet. We feel so blessed and grateful for his sharing this day in a life with us all.
I see music as a teacher. Music is always a unique language, and it breaks through a lot of limitations. The teacher-part of music has made me more confident over time. I have to become what the music demands of me. I have to be what I write about in my songs. Music has taught me how to connect better, and it is obviously how I express what I feel.
"A Love That Never Dies" - Arielle live at lovely Agape in LA
It all started with me joining a choir at the age of five, and I always saw music as something I just loved. I never dreamt of being a rock star – I just loved music. And after my first job at 15 it was clear to me that I wanted to pursue music.
I feel very grateful towards Nuno Bettencourt and his friends, because they were the first people to make something of me. They spent a lot of time on me. They got me my first record contract.
"Genie's Outta' The Bottle" off Arielle's new album Suspension/Dimension
My new album is titled Suspension / Dimension. I wanted to make a full album, and I wanted to make it independently. I funded it myself through crowd-funding, which raised $ 35 000. It’s an eleven song-album, and the theme is being in between who you were and who you are becoming. I wanted to capture the conflicting emotions of that situation. And – I don’t know about the strange times that we live in in America, but while I was making it someone actually got shot outside my house. Making the album saved me from depression. Recording it was me trying to find peace of mind, and it gave me something to focus on.
I also have the guitars that I built myself. They are going to be available for purchase. When I see a guitar on the wall I usually see things that I want to change about it, so I put features that I like to find in a guitar together in my own constructions. They come in three different colors and with different pickups. I would like for there to be a double-neck variety in the future.
My activism is important to me, and my main issue was always the whales and dolphins in captivity – they are intelligent creatures and not meant for that life. The oceans generally, are vital questions to me, with the plastic pollution, the over-fishing and many other problems. Lately it has also become crucial to me to address keeping music programs in schools.
ARIELLE is a singer, player and song-writer based in California. She released her debut album "The Whale" in 2015, which she has followed up with several EP:s and with building her own guitars. She has just released her new album and is busy touring on the back of it.
New York has definitely made me grow as a musician and vocalist. You get influenced by so much and so many all the time, and it shapes the musicianship. There are so many great singers in this city, it keep you on your toes. And all the great musicians you meet and hear and want to play with!
Being in the city for a while and doing the local thing first, then you start to want to take your band and your music out of town. It was an amazing feeling to take my guys to Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta. We really had a great time playing there.
First time I sang with Xavier Davis was at a jam session at a friend’s Christmas party years ago, and since then we always had a very strong relationship.
Music is the way I express myself, express how I feel. It is my connection to other people. It’s basically a bridge.
Music is a part of everybody’s life. It doesn’t matter what style of music, as long as there is music in people’s lives.
Blair Bryant "Lift Off"
Music has always been in my family. My mother is a musician and plays in church. My father was always a big music fan listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and the Isley Brothers.
My dad was busy when I was a kid so I used to go to church with mom. I was an active child who wouldn’t sit still, so during the services the drummer watched me while my mom played.
I became interested in the drums, and he let me try them. After that he went “ - Omg!” to my mom, “ - You have to get Blair a drum set!”, because it turned out that I had a natural connection with the drums.
I was inspired to play a lot of instruments just listening to others play. I thought to myself that I really wanted to be able to play the violin and asked myself “ - Why couldn’t I?”. And so I started playing many instruments, and God was kind and allowed me to be able to.
My love for the bass is a deep thing. But it wasn’t a given that the bass would be my first love. I started on drums. My uncle Carl was a bass player and he showed me how to play, but I didn’t really connect with the instrument at that point. I asked for a guitar for Christmas, but my dad got me a bass instead. Then my uncle got sick and passed within a week. After that I said that I was going to play the bass. All the notes just came to me then. It was like the passing of a torch.
This year I’m starting the work with my new album, which will be released next year. I’m also writing some songs inspired by the saxophone player Najee.
Music is the last true magic in the world. It changes your chemical balance. Love comes, love goes. You still have the music, like your funk tattoo. You can’t see it, like music.
We were so young. We started off a local little thing. Then we got to drive from LAX to Hollywood Boulevard. Go to New York. Going to America was amazing. Doing shows in Paris. Meeting Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau. Playing the big jazz festivals sharing the bill with the legends.
Classic Brand New Heavies - "Dream On Dreamer"
Getting to hear people say that our music changed their lives is wonderful. Hearing people say that our music touched them, even saved them, is something else.
This is an exciting year. We are just finishing an album that will be released in August. We are making it with super-producer Mark Ronson, and we’re just now adding a track for which I am recording the guitar-part tomorrow. We have our original singer and a new singer on the album as well as secret guests. The record company loves the album, which is always a good thing. We are planning a tour during the year.
The Brand New Heavies live December 2018
I also have my side project with Nick Van Gelder, the drummer I met recording Jamiroquai’s first album. We did an album titled “On Top” a few years ago. And I am doing a new album with that project.
It allows me to express different sides as a performer, and it makes for exciting times.
I think keep on funking is all we can do. We can’t make money from records anymore, but we can from going to see people.
This annual award, which was presented for the first time in 2015 for work done in 2014, is now open for nominations!
We flip things around a bit at Musicians’ Corner. Usually when you read about music in the media what you read was written by a journalist. On this site artists write and speak about music with minimal journalistic involvement. Usually it is journalists who express opinions about music and musicians in the media. On this site musicians are about to express an opinion about music journalists – in the form of giving an award out! Yes, usually when awards are given out they are given by journalists to artists…
With this award we want to encourage accomplished journalistic work about music. It is of great significance to us all, to artists as well as to music fans.
Who among music journalists dug deeper, was in the right place, expanded your horizon, did the best interviews, took you back, described this art form and the world through it, in 2018? Who among music journalists deserves an award for outstanding work last year? In your opinion? Let’s have it!
We are open to nominations for the award until 5/1/2019. You are welcome to nominate a music journalist you read, listen to or view, a music journalist you work with, and if you are a music journalist you can nominate yourself too.
Please nominate using the form below. Include the name of the journalist/s you nominate and links to journalistic work by the nominee/s. The recipient will be selected by an artist jury based on the shortlist of journalists that YOU provide through nominating. This Award is given for work done in the previous year.
To read about the Award, and the previous recipients and juries, please visit the Award section on this platform.
I am just as busy now as I was in 2014, when I first did an article with Musiciansʼ Corner.
I came into the new year with a few exciting gigs. Iʼm working with a lot of incredible artists. Tab Benoit and Ani DiFranco are two of my regular gigs.
Iʼm also working with producer Don Was. A couple of years ago we did The last Waltz 40th tribute show at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and the tribute turned into The Last Waltz 40 tour. That lead to a Bob Marley tribute lead by the Marley brothers, which lead to an Elvis 68 Comeback special tribute filmed for NBC - and a tribute to Willie Nelson in front of 18 000 people that was filmed for A&E. I was part of the house band on side of Don Was and we backed at least 12 different country artist including Vince Gill and Willie Nelson. That was my first country gig, but it was as if I had always been playing country music… Those shows are really special once in a lifetime-events, so I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of those performances.
On top of that I'm working with a new project with John Medeski (of Medeski Martin and Wood) with his group Mad Skillet which was born out of a few late night jams in New Orleans during the NOLA jazz fest. Medeski produced a Dirty Dozen Brass Band record in the late 90ʼs entitled Buck Jump. So it was good to reconnect with him, and now there is a fresh release titled “Mad Skillet”.
I play locally with my band Swampgrease and other projects that I put together, but generally Iʼm too busy doing other peopleʼs projects.
Terence Higgins on the drums with Swampgrease live (2015)
I grew up listening to a lot of different music, and now I get calls to go do cool gigs, across all genres. I just do what I do naturally. I paid a lot of dues, and I take peopleʼs music seriously. Don Was could have called any A-list drummer in the world to play these huge shows. I think it takes a lot of trust to and level of comfort to offer the drum chair for these incredible star studded events. Iʼve been really busy juggling all my regular gigs and as soon as I see a break in my schedule thereʼs another call – and I'd like keep the ascending trend.
I live in New Orleans, but I feel like Iʼm just visiting. I always have my bag packed. Sometimes there are several offers at once. The people I work with keep our relationships family-oriented and they understand that I have to prioritizeʼ. If I canʼt make an Ani show she will do her gig solo. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band allowed me the freedom to take other high profile gig offers without jeopardizing my position.
On the side of the touring gigs and studio sessions I have also been involved in producing a few drum sample packs. The most recent was the Greasy Groove pack released by the Loop Loft, who has recently partnered with Native Instruments.
Remembering Didier Lockwood. Monsieur Lockwood did an article with us in 2014, and it didn't take many moments into our talk with him before we realized that we had set up way too little time for the article. A man of great depths! The article became a flicker of something, as we faced the fact that we had in fact missed an opportunity to dive deeper. But the subtext speaks volumes. We always intended on getting back to him, and we especially wanted for someone to do an artist-to-artist interview with him to really get in there, into the conversation on the inside of music. Sadly this never happened, and it is without a doubt one of our biggest regrets here on Musicians' Corner.
A quartet that blows our minds: Didier Lockwood, Mike Stern, Tom Kennedy, Dave Weckl
Didier Lockwood, 11 February 1956 – 18 February 2018