Music legend Stevie Wonder wants a judge to sign, seal and deliver a divorce.
The Motown megastar is pulling the plug on his decade-long marriage to fashion designer Kai Millard Morris, a rep confirmed to the Daily News.
“Today Stevland Morris filed for divorce, ending his marriage to Kai Millard Morris,” a statement from the rep said. “As this is a private and personal matter, he asks that the public and the media kindly respect the privacy of Kai, his children, and family at this time.”
The Grammy winner, whose hits include “Superstition,” “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” has been separated from Morris since October 2009, the paperwork obtained by TMZ states.
Wonder, 62, cited irreconcilable differences and signed the docs July 26 with two fingerprints.
He’s requesting joint custody of the couple’s two sons, Kailand and Mandla, ages 10 and 7.
There is an old saying that a “Lie can get half way around the world before Truth has a chance to get its pants on”.
There is one thing faster – music.
Since the founding of Washington, it has been tres facile to sense the French influence in the circles, grids and diagonals bequeathed by Pierre L’Enfant, and in recent years, it seems no office is more than steps away from a French (or French-named) place to buy a croissant.
You’d think Sylvain Cornevaux, cultural director of the Alliance Francaise, would consider his mission accomplished now that it’s so easy to pick up baguettes in our French-formatted city. He doesn’t.
“The bread, the architecture — these things are French, and these things are very nice, but they are also very old,” Cornevaux said. And so this month, in an effort to connect the District’s streets with the New France, he has organized a festival of French hip-hop dance.
Oui. French hip-hop dance. Does that sound oxymoronic? Au contraire, Cornevaux explains. Given the influx of immigrants from former French colonies and the general French fascination with urban American life, hip-hop culture caught on in France but quickly merged with higher-brow art. The result is choreography that’s now being exported back to the United States. And thus we have “Urban Corps: A Transatlantic Hip-Hop Festival,” which continues through Friday, May 25, at venues in Arlington County and the District.
“It is very interesting, because hip-hop was born in the U.S. but it has quickly developed in another way in France,” Cornevaux said. “Hip-hop was still an emerging artistic field in the beginning of the ’80s, but at the beginning of the ’90s, many hip-hop artists started working a lot with classical choreographers and with artistic directors of theaters. [Dancers] kept their hip-hop skills but transformed to show them in a contemporary manner. They incorporate hip-hop, mime and Capoeira,” a Brazilian blend of athletic dance and martial arts.
The Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting French language and culture, worked hard to obtain visas for 13 dancers affiliated with four French companies, and each troupe received funding from its home town or region to cover travel. The city of Nantes even paid to ship extensive sets for KLP Company’s show “Tour of Duty” to that Atlas Performing Arts Center.
“Tour of Duty” may sound like a show inspired by military battles or war video games, but according to press materials and the company’s Web site, it’s actually a narrative tracing the history of hip-hop in Brooklyn, beginning in 1960, and recounting years of gang wars and communities coming together.
Junious Brickhouse, founder of the District-based hip-hop collective Urban Artistry, is a bit skeptical about the storyline — Brooklyn? What about the South Bronx? — but suspects that the dancing will be on target. “I’ll be honest. I think there are some things that get lost in translation,” Brickhouse said, “but at the end of the day, I just want to get down with some nonverbal art.”…
Used to be, you could tell what city you were in by the music on the radio. CATV and the homogenization of channels after major radio companies consolidated the small local stations – pretty much killed that.
Chuck Brown was a DC institution. I heard Chuck Brown play the first time back in the 70′s, and have heard him play probably 15 or 20 times since. For years he played the “Cabaret” circuit – yet another institution peculiar to DC.
The he started playing a new type of music – Go Go.
Two things you needed to go to a Go Go Club…
Your dancing shoes – and a willingness to boogie all night.
Back in he 60′s, you wanted to make music – you needed a band. There wasn’t any electronic machinery to make appropriate noises at pre-planned intervals. There wa no wizard circuitry to cover up the fact that your lead couldn’t sing…
That band for a lot of famous groups either on or associated with the STAX Label was Booker T and the MGs, who individually or as a group backed up just about anyone who was anyone in Southern Rock or Southern R&B for over 20 years. They and the Funk Brothers out of Detroit (the Motown Sound machine) defined not only soul or R&B music – but often played with rock groups. A short list of R&B Greats these guys backed included Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, and Delaney & Bonnie. A session player for the group was Isaac Hayes. Among the groups they influenced were the Beatles.
The distinctive sound of the group came from the Hammond B-3 and later the H-3 Organ, played by Booker T, and Issac Hayes – combined with the tightest base line possible laid down by Donald “Duck” Dunn, who would also play as bass for the The Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Albert King, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Guy Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Roy Buchanan, Arthur Conley, Stephen Stills, and Eric Clapton.
Dunn used a sunburst Fender Precision bass with a rosewood fretboard and a red pickguard. In 1998, Dunn collaborated with Fender to produce a signature Precision Bass, a candy apple red-colored model based on the late 1950s style, with a gold anodized pickguard, a split-coil humbucking pickup and vintage hardware. The Duck Dunn P-Bass became the basis for a Skyline Series signature bass made by Chicago bass company Lakland a few years later, which is still available.
Bass player and songwriter Donald “Duck” Dunn, a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70. Dunn was in Tokyo for a series of shows. News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.
A spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early today. She had no further details. Dunn, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1941, performed on recordings with Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and many others, and specialized in blues, gospel, and soul. He played himself in the 1980 hit movie, The Blues Brothers. He received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2007 for his work with Booker T. and the MGs.
No “Green Onions” for this – I think a little “Time is Tight” is in order -
Damn – “Street Pirates” for relatives…
Two people have been charged with extortion after police detectives say they arrested the pair for trying to sell what they said was embarrassing information about Stevie Wonder.
The duo, Alpha Lorenzo Walker and his girlfriend Tamara Eileen Diaz, have been jailed since their arrest on May 2. Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court on May 16 for a hearing in which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.
According to a felony complaint, Walker and Diaz attempted to obtain money from the Grammy-winning musician, who is identified by his birth name, Steveland Morris. An email message sent to Wonder’s studio was not immediately returned Friday.
Walker, 38, was on probation at the time of his arrest after pleading no contest to grand theft in May 2011. A judge issued a suspended three-year prison sentence in that case and he is due in court for a probation violation hearing May 31.
District attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison says Walker contacted Wonder’s representatives claiming to have embarrassing information about the musician. Detectives organized a sting and the pair were arrested. Police did not release additional details about their investigation Friday.
Walker identifies himself as Wonder’s nephew and is being held without bail because of another case.
Diaz’s bail is set at $95,000. Both are being represented by public defenders, who did not immediately return calls for comment.
Diaz was placed on three years of probation after pleading no contest in February 2011 to possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, court records show.
The case was first reported Friday by celebrity website TMZ.
Met Wyclef last year in the Airport Lounge of the Port au Prince Airport. Really a personable, well spoken guy. We talked a bit about some of his Yele Haiti projects, which you can see in action in a number of parts of the city.
Celebs have been tweeting their thoughts on the controversial Trayvon Martin case, in which a 17-year-old boy was shot to death this past February by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
But Wyclef Jean has decided to spread Martin’s story with a different approach…
The Fugees musician teamed up with Prescribed and J. Williams to create a track titled “Justice (If You’re 17)” in dedication to Martin, which was dropped today as a free download.
“Justice” starts with the lyrics, “If you’re 17/And you’re wearing a hoodie/You’re on the phone/Talking to your shorty/Make no mistake/There’s one like you/In every city/You know the story,” and later continues with, “If you’re 17 with a hoodie on/ Watch out for the neighborhood watcher/ If you’re at the right neighborhood at the wrong time/ Neighborhood watcher/ This might be your last call to your girlfriend/ The neighborhood watcher/ Man I feel for you if you’re 17.”
Along with the track, J. Williams and Prescribed made a short called “I Am”which deals with not only the Trayvon Martin case, but profiling globally.
A music video for “Justice” is expected to be released April 20.
A few of the old Juke Joints still survive. Wynton Marsalis takes on a trip down History Lane finding several Juke Joints still operating.
In a downhome neighborhood on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala., Rita James bought an abandoned building and built a happy home for the blues. Her tiny, unmarked Red Wolf club invites the entire community.
Just four years old, The Red Wolf is a real juke joint. It’s roots go all the way back to Emancipation. In the old South, poverty made life more extreme. So folks found barns, shacks, anywhere – to play, sing and dance their sorrows away. Over time, these places became known as juke joints. Within their walls the blues were born.
Every Wednesday night, Wilson takes the microphone and gets the people on their feet. But it’s the music that brings them together.
“I just make them feel good,” Wilson said. “That’s just me period. Anywhere. I make the crippled feel good – make them think they can walk again.”
First-timer BJ Miller drove 500 miles from St. Louis for a chance to blow her trombone in a place where spirits are served, and freed.
“It’s not that they just serve alcohol,” Miller said. “It’s that they are serving musicians the opportunity to express themselves – and that’s not everywhere.”
“The blues has good and sad, so it’s for good too,” Wilson said. “And you know I like the blues. I like music period, I like all music, so music cheer me on and make me feel good.”
The blues are good for the soul. Their rhythms are inseparable from the American identity, and they’re not naive. The blues tell us bad things happen all the time, and they do, and we can engage with them. The blues are like a vaccine. If you want to get rid of something, give yourself a little bit of it, and when the real thing comes – you’re ready for it.
If Rita has any say in the matter, they’ll be an integral and constant part of the future. Wilson said her club will stay open, “until I drop.”
Filed under: Black History, Music, From Way Back When to Now, The Post-Racial Life | Tagged: Black History, Blues, Clubs, community, culture, jazz, Juke Joint, Music, South, Spirit, Tradition, Wynton Marsalis | 1 Comment »
Saw a number of acts here as a kid – From Duke Ellington to Moms Mabley to Nancy Wilson and Pigmeat Markum… Even saw Tina Turner shake a shapely leg there…
During the 60′s this was one of two venues which had black musicians on stage in DC. The other being the Carter Baron Ampithater, and outdoor venue only open during the summer…
Jackie Wilson, Temptations, Booker T and the MGs – every major black act in America played here from the 20′s to the 60′s.
Marvin Gaye sang his debut hit “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” when he returned to the Howard Theatre in October 1962 with the first Motown tour. The audience went wild over its hometown son. His mother, who was in the audience, poked everyone around her and told them, “That’s my boy!” The lineup included Marv Johnson, Mary Wells, the Miracles, the Marvelettes and the Vandellas. The Supremes, making their stage debut, were the opening act. Miles Davis had been a headliner the previous week.
Before New York’s Apollo Theater, there was the Howard. Built in 1910, it was the first legitimate theater in the country open to African Americans. The Howard Theatre helped make Washington the early cultural capital of black America. Over 60 years, virtually every top African American entertainer performed on its stage, including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, the Drifters, Ruth Brown, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ike & Tina Turner.
Going to the Howard at Seventh & T in the District’s Shaw neighborhood was a part of growing up for generations of Washingtonians, some of whom went on to achieve fame of their own. Atlantic Recordsfounder Ahmet Ertegun said he got his doctorate in black music there. One of its ragtime musicians taught Billy Taylor to play piano. After Billy Eckstine won several amateur night contests at the Howard, theater manager Shep Allen told the teenager he was a professional, lent him a tuxedo and booked him to do a show. Shirley Horn said a show she saw there made her switch from classical piano to jazz. Pearl Bailey danced in the chorus line while taking voice lessons. And Duke Ellington often won the theater’s band contests with his first quintet, the Duke’s Serenaders.
The Howard closed in 1970, a victim of desegregation, competition from larger venues and the 1968 riots. A 1975 reopening lasted only two weeks. Occasional shows followed, but it wasn’t the same. The theater was a go-go palace when it finally closed in the early ’80s.
Gloria Thomas Gantt, 85, was a cashier at the Howard from 1959 to 1970. She became a manager for shows in the late ’70s.
I worked with Tina Turner, James Brown, B.B. King, Gladys Knight & the Pips. All of the big stars, I got a chance to work with them.
The Temptations had people all up and down the aisle. At that time, they were Number One. They were the star of the show. The women used to go crazy. Throw up their bras and underwear and everything onstage. Then they would write down their phone numbers. The star of the show, David Ruffin, would come down into the audience [when he sang] “My Girl.” If you were sitting there, he would sing to you. He would take the numbers and put them in his pocket and just keep right on singing. He never missed a beat.
Women would call me at the box office. “Could you tell me where so and so in James Brown’s band, where they are stayin’?” I’d say, “Honey, that’s a good question, ’cause I don’t know.” But somehow they would come in and go backstage, and they would find ’em… (More)
Lionel Richie, Barry White, and Teddy Pendergrass have to account for about 1/2 of the marriages in the US with their crooning over the past 25 years. After a long time out of the public eye Richie ha started hitting the public circuit again.
A new album in the making?
May seem a bit strange that a black urban guy likes Bluegrass – but I come by it honestly. My Dad was a West Virginia “Hillbilly” who listened to Bluegrass every Sunday on the radio when one of the local AM stations did a special show. And I am not ashamed to say that as a kid I enjoyed the hell out of trekking up and down those hills when we went to visit that side of the family – and have been known to take a trip up there when in need of a little solitude and reevaluation.
There are Master Musicians, and when you listen to them – it really doesn’t matter what the style of music is. Earl Scruggs 3 finger down Banjo style that he invented is used now by about 80% of the people who play Banjo.
Here’s an original Earl Scruggs/Lester Flatt piece from the 40′s -
It may be impossible to overstate the importance of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs to American music. A pioneering banjo player who helped create modern country music, his sound is instantly recognizable and as intrinsically wrapped in the tapestry of the genre as Johnny Cash’s baritone or Hank Williams’ heartbreak.
Scruggs died Wednesday morning at age 88 of natural causes. The legacy he helped build with bandleader Bill Monroe, guitarist Lester Flatt and the rest of the Blue Grass Boys was evident all around Nashville, where he died in an area hospital. His string-bending, mind-blowing way of picking helped transform a regional sound into a national passion. (more…)
Been a long time since Roberta essentially walked away from the music industry.
1970s hit maker Roberta Flack is back with a new album after spending more than a decade off the radar. But don’t expect new R&B-pop tracks from the classic soul artist on Let It Be Roberta. Flack takes a creative approach to her latest album, covering 12 signature classic by the Beatles, including “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” each with a unique and soulful twist.
The four-time Grammy-winning singer is no stranger to blending different musical genres together, and Let It Be Roberta demonstrates Flack’s talent for musical ingenuity.
Let It Be Roberta releases Feb. 7.
The love ballad has seemingly left the scene in terms of black music in America. Every day chances that there will be another Bary White, Teddy Pendergrass, or Luther seem to get dimmer and dimmer – as the assorted wannabes and no-talent noisemakers flood the scene…
An interesting take on why no more “Love” in R&B.
When I was a teenager trying to figure out what the ladies liked, I would turn on the TV on Saturday afternoons to catch “The hippest trip in America.”
I’d close my bedroom door to make sure my younger brother wasn’t watching, and then I’d imitate the latest dance moves on “Soul Train,” the African-American dance show. Standing in front of a mirror, I’d unleash a series of spasmodic dance moves before embarrassing myself too much to continue.
Soul Train’s dancers never had that problem. As the show’s festive theme song played, wiry dancers in tight double-knit pants shimmied across the dance floor. I loved the huge afros, the lapels that were so wide you could land a small plane on them, and the suave “Soul Train” host, Don Cornelius, who signed off each show by declaring, “We wish you love, peace … and sooooulllll!”
But most of all I loved the music on “Soul Train,” especially the slow jams. They had everything — evocative lyrics, head-bopping grooves, soaring string arrangements and a whole lot of talk about love.
Yet when I listen to R&B today, I ask myself the same question Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway posed in their classic 1972 duet: “Where is the Love?”
Listening to black music today is depressing. Songs on today’s urban radio playlists are drained of romance, tenderness and seduction. And it’s not just about the rise of hardcore hip-hop or rappers who denigrate women.
Black people gave the world Motown, Barry White and “Let’s Get It On.” But we don’t make love songs anymore.
I asked some of the stars who created the popular R&B classics of the late 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. Their answer: The music changed because blacks lost something essential — something that all Americans, regardless of race, should regret.
“We had so much harmony”
Some of what we lost, they say, was an appreciation of love itself.
Earth Wind & Fire keyboardist and founding member Larry Dunn says a new generation of black R&B artists is more cynical because more come from broken homes and broken communities.
“How are you going to write about love when you don’t know what it is?” asks Dunn, whose new album ”N2 The Journey” contains a remake of one of Earth Wind & Fire’s most famous ballads, “Reasons.”
EWF, which gave us 1970s classics such as “After the Love is Gone,” didn’t create songs just to make hits, Dunn says. They also wanted to change lives. The group was known for songs like “Devotion” and “Shining Star” that celebrated love of self and God.
Those sentiments may sound hokey now, but Dunn says EWF could tell their songs had the intended effect. People played EWF love songs at their proms and weddings, and people still write letters of thanks to the group today.
“We had one guy who came up to us before a show and told us that we had helped him get off heroin,” says Dunn, who is as relentlessly upbeat and warm as EWF’s music.
Kenny Gamble brought the same ambition to his sound. Gamble is the co-founder of Philadelphia International Records, known as the Motown of the ’70s. The record label patented “Philly Soul” — tight, sophisticated arrangements with lush strings that formed the backdrop for classic love songs such as Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” and Teddy Pendergrass’ “Come Go With Me.”
Yet Gamble’s songs were also driven by black pride and self-help. With his co-producer and songwriter Leon Huff, Gamble created social conscience anthems like “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and “Love Train” by The O’Jays.
Both the love songs and those with messages sprang from the same source, the belief that loving one another and your community was important, says Gamble, who still lives in Philadelphia renovating blighted neighborhoods through his nonprofit, Universal Companies.
“We had so much harmony, so much purpose in our music,” he says. “Our whole purpose was the message is in the music, and that message was to love one another and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Love songs flowered during that era also because black people were more optimistic, music critic Rashod Ollison wrote in an essay on Barry White, the rotund singer with what Ollison described as the “low-as-the-ocean-floor bass voice” who gave us love songs such as “Never Gonna’ Give You Up.”… (more)
In my view the tightest close harmony done in the past 50 years… Ever notice nobody ever tries to cover the old Dells or Harold Melvin songs? That harmony born of 20 or more years singing together is the reason – and you ain’t gettin’ that out of a synthesizer in 15 minutes on the cheap…
Wayman Tisdale wass best known as a hoops superstar. What is less known about him was his love for music.
Faced with cancer, Tisdale lost a leg – and a career in sports. But the music remained.
Here is Wayman in a live performance, back in April 2009, a month before he passed away. Wayman is still an inspiration.