LaVern Baker had a strong, soaring voice and scored hits such as Jim Dandy, Tweedle Dee, and I Cried A Tear. She also did some well-received duets, such as You're The Boss with Jimmy Ricks or Shake A Hand with Jackie Wilson. Her life wasn't as smooth as her voice, though; her hits were constantly ripped off by a white singer, and when she went to Vietnam to entertain American troops, she came down with pneumonia and was left behind by the others on the tour. "She described the fantastical saga that ensued: "I didn't know what to do, who to go to. The tour was gone and I was in a strange country where telephone service was practically nonexistent. I hitched with farmers on wagons to Bangkok…. I'd had to slog through rice paddies in water up to my shoulders in some places to get to Bangkok, so by the time the Marines got me to the base I'd had a relapse."" The difficulties were just beginning..
Barihunks. A blog about hunky baritones. That is all.
Bobby Womack--one of the last surviving soul greats from the Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding generation--has died. Nicknamed "The Preacher" for his authoritative, church-trained voice and the way he introduced songs with long discourses on life, Womack never had the success of contemporaries like Marvin Gaye, Al Green or Otis Redding. For a good part of his career, he was better known as a songwriter and session musician. [more inside]
So some lunatic put together an interactive chart of the vocal ranges of the most popular musicians of the last couple of generations (based on their studio albums), and it turns out that Mariah Carey only came in second... to Axl Rose. [more inside]
There was more to the L.A. hit music sound than the Wrecking Crew (previously). The Ron Hicklin Singers (Facebook page) lent their distinctive sound to movie and TV theme songs, and as you'll hear in this demo, were the secret sound behind certain prefab bands.
Sixth-grader Jackson C. Frank was horribly burned when the boiler at his Cheektowaga, New York, elementary school exploded March 31, 1954, killing fifteen of his classmates. While recovering from his injuries, Frank was introduced to the guitar, and the insurance settlement he received a decade later helped fund a trip to England, where he recorded his first and only album. [more inside]
From the Borough of Brooklyn comes Dollar Van Demos: a showcase of talented musicians, rappers and comedians performing inside a dollar van with real passengers. [more inside]
A big, blunt woman with a wicked sense of humor, Ms. Nilsson brooked no interference from Wagner's powerful and eventful orchestra writing. When she sang Isolde or Brünnhilde, her voice pierced through and climbed above it. [more inside]
Sugar Pie DeSanto says, "I like to sing blues, R&B, and pop and I think I do them pretty well". [more inside]
Guitarist and banjo player Erik Darling died last Sunday at age 74. His arrangements of traditional songs played a significant role in the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. [more inside]
Clever! Peppy! Immensely entertaining! The opening sequence of the Dick Cavett Show was a little masterpiece of 60s pop graphics. A similar aesthetic is at work here in this 60s era PSA reminding you to vote. Here's some jazzy 60s animation: a commercial for Beechnut Gum. And lots more typically 60s animation and graphics on display here in this Animation Commercial Collection.
Unfortunately there is not much on the web about the greatest cabaret singer who ever lived, the wonderful Mabel Mercer. So I am adding this new animated Guinness commercial made for the Rugby World Cup to pad out this post. [more inside]
Broadway's original Effie White, Jennifer Holliday, has been very open about how haunted and snubbed she felt during the production of the Dreamgirls movie. In particular she was hurt when, without permission, her own singing voice was used in a theatrical trailer to promote the production that had completely shut her out. Yesterday at the BET Awards she was finally given some overdue recognition and invited to join Jennifer Hudson onstage for a duet of the song she made famous. You may have heard the song a hundred times, but try to make it 101. 'Cuz seriously, the girls can sing. Previously.
Bollywood Dreams. Bollywood in a nutshell: Bollywood is the name given to the Bombay (Mumbai)-based Hindi-language film industry in India. Bollywood films are colorful, crammed with singing, dancing, loads of costume changes. In the past there were often absurd and hilarious take-offs on Western films or superstars, such as the Beatles, Michael Jackson , Elvis,70's music and hair styles. Spectacular collection of Bollywood posters and vintage original poster art for sale and t-shirts. Stats and faqs. The history of Bollywood, brief chronology [pdf]. The main actors, images. The main actresses, images. Some of the renowned songs and the singers who sang them. Bollywood song lyrics and audio at the excellent Music India Online. [more inside]
Luther Vandross is gone. The great R&B balladeer died today, apparently due to complications from a stroke he suffered two years ago. Believers in an afterlife can hope he's enjoying a dance with his father. After all, he did believe in the "Power of Love". RIP.
R.I.P. Bobby Short. One of the finest cabaret singers of all time, and a Manhattan fixture at the Carlyle Hotel since 1968, Short died of leukemia yesterday. He was 80. Listen to an NPR tribute. Time Magazine once said of him, "In an increasingly inelegant world, Bobby Short is the very symbol of elegance." Thankfully, many of his best recordings are available on CD. (Requisite Wikipedia entry.)
A Pretty URL Is Like A Melody: By a waterfall, I'm calling Who's Who In Musicals, diligently compiled by John Kenrick, a wonderful little resource.
Yesterday's post about Buddy Holly, spurred me to look deeper into the pop charts back when American Pie was in the top 40. I was fairly amazed at the list of songs charting that week. We've got Horse With No Name, Heart of Gold, Mother and Child Reunion with artists like Harry Chapin, Roberta Flack and Nilsson. Sure, there's some pop pabulum, but I was blown away at the litany of performers whose very personal songs, and not very pop themes, were all be charting together. When compared to today's chart, it makes you wonder - what happened to the pop performer as an artist? Is there room for a unique artistic voice in today's pop?
We, the undersigned, think you're untalented. Why do over 20000 people think that RnB singer Ashanti didn't deserve her Soul Train Lady of Soul Entertainer of the Year award? What does Soul Train make of all this?
I Nominate Richie Havens As The Most Criminally Unappreciated Recording Artist Ever: In this recent Guardian article, John Aizlewood asked "How on earth did this man miss the boat?" Indeed! His voice is deep and beautiful, his guitar-playing is exciting and innovative and, to my mind, he's the best and busiest no-nonsense live performer around. On his website he generously shows us how to play guitar in his own special way. He also comes across as an inspiring, wonderful human being. And yet, for all his Woodstock kudos, he's more well known for his voice-overs on commercials(McDonalds and Pepsi, for example) than for his music. His new record, Wishing Well, is just out. But nobody seems to care. He's a hero in Europe but negligently seen as a hippy in his native land. There are a lot of other unnaccountably underrated and unknown veteran artists around. Grrrr! Who's yours?
Now, I've never been a BIG fan of either Frank Sinatra or Robbie Williams. Sure, I've a lot of respect for the former, and the latter's a great singer and entertainer from the UK. But last nite, I was converted. Anyone see A Night With Robbie Williams on TV in the UK last night? (more inside)