Friday, February 27, 2015

The Recap Report: 2/27/15

The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed

Music Industry Sets Friday as New Global Release Day - Learn more about the reason for this change in music releases.

Streaming Music Companies Battle for International Ears - Find out the most powerful countries targeted for streaming and what it will take for companies to win them over.

'Glory' Leads Oscar Music Sales Surge - Rise in downloads of songs performed at the Oscars proves the power of watching live performances.

16 Surprise Albums, Ranked in Order of Surprisingness - See which albums made the list and where they placed.

No Respect For Hip-Hop’s O.G.s: Why Many Legendary MCs Still Need to Hustle - Find out the reason why hip-hop vets don't get the amount of continued success as classic rock vets.

Watch these talented middle school kids play Led Zeppelin!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Grammy Winner Sam Smith Announces 2015 U.S. Arena Tour


On the heels winning 4 Grammys, Sam Smith announced he's hitting the road again this summer. . . . this time performing in arenas.

Tour Schedule

July 17 Forecastle Festival, Louisville, KY
July 18 Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
July 20 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
July 21 Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
July 23 PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
July 24 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
July 26 WayHome Music & Arts Festival, Oro-Medonte, ON
July 27 Wolstein Center/Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
July 29 Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH
July 30 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
August 4 Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, CO
August 5 Maverik Center, West Valley City, UT
August 7 Squamish Valley Music Festival, Squamish, BC
August 8 Gorge Amphitheatre, Quincy, WA
August 11 Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA
August 12 Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ
August 14 Toyota Center, Houston, TX
August 15 Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX
August 17 Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie, TX

Click here for tix info

Black History Month: DeFord Bailey, First Black to Play on the Grand Ole Opry

As always, to celebrate Black History month, throughout February check out a series of features acknowledging parts of black history as it relates to music.

Born in 1899 in Tennessee, country and blues musician DeFord Bailey was a grandson of former slaves.  He was raised by his aunt and her husband when his mom died.  Bailey's family was very musical, playing instruments and performing string-band folk music or what they called "black hillbilly music."

At the age of 3, DeFord learned how to play the harmonica, also called the mouth harp, while bedridden for a year with pollo.  He used this time to hone his craft.  His sound was heavily influence from his rural upbringing and many sounds of his surroundings.  Eventually, Bailey beat the disease but it left his back deformed and less than 5 feet tall.  He also played the banjo, guitar, mandolin, and violin. 

In 1918, Bailey moved to Nashville to perform professionally and learned jazz, blues, and pop songs from recordings and live shows.  This allowed him to mix folk and popular music.  He made his radio debut in 1926 on Nashville's WSM show Barn Dance.  Bailey was one of the people responsible for renaming the show Grand Ole Opry, which is considered America’s longest-running radio show.  He made such an impression on the show's announcer George "Judge" Hay that he became a regular performer and was given the name Harmonica Wizard.  DeFord ended up being one of the show's top acts.  He's known for songs like Fox Chase and Pan American Blues, which mimicked the sounds of the railroad express train he heard as a kid.  This was his signature sound.

During the 1930s, Baily started to tour alongside other big stars.  Although he was accepted by white audiences while performing, off stage he still experienced racial discrimination due to Jim Crow laws.  DeFord was not allowed to eat or sleep in the same places as the white performers and many times ate by himself or slept outside in a car.

In 1941 due to a huge licensing fee dispute between the radio industry and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), DeFord was not permitted to play his audience favorite songs on the radio.  Highly upset by this, he decided to leave professional music.  During the 1960's, Bailey resurfaced and performed on a local blues TV show Night Train and gave a concert at Vanderbilt University.  For his 75th birthday, he performed some of his old favorite songs at the new Grand Ole Opry House.

DeFord passed away in 1982 at the age of 82.  In 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Two years ago, I had the opportunity to see his plaque at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Musuem in Nashville.  The mayor of Nashville declared December 14 DeFord Bailey Day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Music's Storytellers: Singer/Songwriter Sia Gives a Voice to the Complixity of Emotions

Music's Storytellers: A featured post that highlights the people who help artists bring music to life.

I first discovered Australian singer/songwriter Sia's amazing work when I heard her song Breathe Me during HBO's Six Feet Under series finale.  It was that  perfectly tied bow to end the season, capturing it in such an emotional way.  Ever since then, I've been a fan.  You might know her work indirectly from Rihanna's hit song Diamonds, which she co-wrote or her own song Chandelier, (received 4 2015 Grammy nominations) which gained her international success.

If you still have no clue, you might know Sia as the chick who conceals her face during performances.  She started doing this last year in protest for society putting more emphasis on the personal lives of artists instead of the music and art they produce.  Most of the time, Sia hides behind her trademark blond wig used in videos and live performances either by her or others like in Eminem's Guts Over Fear video where Canadian model Winnie Harlow was used to represent Sia's voice.  If you know Harlow's story and the words to Em's song, you know how strategic and symbolic this is in itself.  

Sia is a freakin master at her craft and has this incredible ability to bring complex emotion to life through her commanding songwriting.  You can feel the pain or triumph in every lyric and note.  Her choruses alone are infectious and memorable.  This is further emphasized in the beautiful and thought-provoking music videos and live performances that serve as visual extensions of her songs.  In the video Chandelier, child dancer Maddie Ziegler, of the TV show Dance Moms, was featured performing a powerful contemporary dance and in Sia's live SNL performance of the song, she used a meme. 

Her calling to music is definitely genetic has her father is a composer, playwright, and band leader and her mother is a musician and songwriter.  Sia doesn't even read music or play a chord on the piano.  Usually, she'll scat until her words take form.  She names Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Sting as musical influences.  Besides her solo projects, Sia has also lent her vocals to groups like Jamiroquai and Zero 7 and has worked with a rack of successful artists like Katy Perry, Madonna, JLo, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5.

Here's just a few of the amazing songs Sia has created:

Learn more about her, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @Sia

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lady Gaga, Common & John Legend Amaze With Oscar Performances

I've never posted about Oscar musical performances before but this year I was moved to do so.  Two performances stood out for me and I had share in case you missed it.

Common & John Legend performs Best Original Song Oscar winner Glory

WOW!!!!  This was such a powerful performance as many know it stands for so much.  It surpassed their Grammy performance.  Legend's soulful sound and Common's commanding delivery was literally a winning combo.  I loved how Common came out from the black and white Selma back drop and the chorus marched in slow motion towards the front of the stage.  Brought tears to many like David Oyelowo (played MLK in Selma) and Chris Pine in the audience.

Lady Gaga performs Sound of Music Tribute

If you closed your eyes, you probably would've never guessed Gaga was producing that heavenly sound.  But her duet album with Tony Bennett proved it was possible and that she's more than just pop.  To sing songs from this iconic movie and actress Julie Andrews was such a risky move but many were left pleasantly surprised as Gaga did an AMAZING job capturing the essence of those beautiful songs. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Recap Report: 2/20/15

The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed

Janelle Monae Becomes a Mini-Mogul With Her Revamped Label - Monae takes her Wonderland imprint to the next level following in the footsteps of Diddy and Jay Z.

‘The Voice’ Coaches Respond to the Pressure to Find a Star - Pharrell points out that even though The Voice has yet to produce a standout star, the show still have positive results on the contestants that come on.

Russell Simmons Blasts Geraldo Over Hip-Hop Comments - Simmons responds to Rivera's claim that he and hip-hop are responsible for perpetuating the negative stereotypes in the black community.

The ‘surprise album’ should be the industry standard - A surprise album has its benefits but only certain artists could succeed going in this direction.

Saw this on TV and thought it was brilliant!!!  Southwest did an amazing job creating a commercial based on its wedding season audience and capturing the part of the wedding that people enjoy the most. . .jamming to the music at the reception!!!  That girl has definitely been me at many a wedding #imjustsayin

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Black History Month: Florence Beatrice Price, First Black Woman to Compose Symphonic Music

As always, to celebrate Black History month, throughout February check out a series of features acknowledging parts of black history as it relates to music.

Pianist/songwriter Florence Beatrice Price was born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Raised in a art and musical household, she learned how to play the piano from her mother who was a music teacher.  Florence was considered a young prodigy, giving her 1st piano performance age age 4 and graduating high school as valedictorian and published composer by age 14.  

Price attended New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where she studied music theory, piano performance and organ performance.  Due to the hardships black woman faced during those times, Price's mother encouraged her to pass for Mexican.  She double-majored in piano and pedagogy, the only student out of 2,000 to pursue 2 degrees.  When Florence graduated in 1906, she was 1 out of 58 students to graduate from her program.  She went on to work as a organist and piano teacher and in 1910 moved to Atlanta, GA, where she became the head of Clark University's music department at the age of 23.

Price then moved back to Little Rock where she got married and started a family.  There she started a music school and continued to compose.  After experiencing racial tensions like being denied membership in the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association, they moved to Chicago.  It was during this time she began to get her piano music published.  She joined the National Association of Negro Musicians and networked with many musicians like vocalist Marian Anderson.  It was there Price composed the "Symphony in E Minor," which won the 1932 Wanamaker Prize.  The next year, it was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, making her the 1st African-American woman to compose symphonic music and get it played by a U.S. orchestra.  

In 1935, Price divorced her husband which was rare for a woman of any color to do.  Now a single mother, she supported her children as an orchestrator for WGN radio, organist for silent films, and composer of pop music under the name Vee Jay.  Later, Florence remarried but kept her last name--another rare choice during that time.  She went on to compose symphonies, chamber music, classical music, spirituals and vocal works.  Her compositions were known for combining rhythms of black culture and black religious spirituality with European romantic sounds.  Florence even incorporated Negro spirituals in her music like My Soul's Been Anchored in de Lord, which was sung by Marian Anderson during the historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.  Other famous vocalists like Leontyne Price and William Warfield also sang her compositions.  Florence became an important figure in the New Negro Arts Movement and her work went on to influence national and international orchestras.

Other Accomplishments
  • Created more than 300 compositions
  • Inducted into the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1940)

Enjoy one of her pieces below:



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