"“A lot of our audiences are kids and teens, and they want to be in on the joke. And they’ll listen again. We’re just a little looser with this stuff than most traditional first ladies.”" -- Michelle Obama, interviewed by Variety.
Anita Pointer: Civil-Rights Activist, Pop Star, and Serious Collector of Black Memorabilia [more inside]
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..
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.
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]
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.
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.
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?
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)