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Al Jarreau…

One of the truly greats passed yesterday… Had seen him in concert at least half a dozen times through the years. His voice had a range and versatility beyond anyone else in the Jazz and Fusion arena.

My personal favorite song by Al Jarreau –

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Billy Paul – 1936-2016

Philly R&B Crooner Billy Paul, whose hit single “Me and Mrs Jones” was a huge hit has passed.

Billy Paul, soul singer best known for Me and Mrs Jones, dies

Billy Paul, the soul singer best known for the number one hit and Philadelphia soul classic, Me and Mrs Jones, has died aged 80.

Paul, whose career spanned for more than 60 years, died at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, his co-manager, Beverly Gay, told Associated Press. Paul, 80, had been diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, Gay said.

Known for his beard and large glasses, Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International Records also released music by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Lou Rawls.

Martha Reeves, the Motown singer, was among those who paid tribute on social media.

Me and Mrs Jones, which reached number one in the US at the end of 1972 and number 12 in the UK, was an extramarital confession and a characteristic Gamble and Huff production, setting Paul’s thick tenor against a lush and sensuous arrangement. Many fans best remember the moment when Paul’s otherwise subtle vocals jump as they reach the title words, stretching out “Me” and “And” into multiple syllables and repeating “Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones.” (Paul himself was married to the same woman for decades).

Paul’s voice made him “one of the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide”, Gamble and Huff said in a statement late Sunday.

“Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash Me and Mrs Jones. In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded,” they said.

My favorite cover of Paul’s hit song was by the Dramatics in the Old Style of group R&B…

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Marian Anderson – On the $5 Bill

Marian Anderson was born in 1897. She was a classically trained singer in the operatic style. She was the first black singer in 1955 yo join the NY Metropolitan Opera.

A Biography –

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Prince Dead – Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016

A shock. At 57 years of age, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead at his home.

Prince, the legendary musician who brought us countless hits, such as “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry,” has died. He was 57.

The singer’s publicist confirmed the tragic news to The Huffington Post on Thursday.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57,” the rep said in a statement. “There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.”

TMZ was the first to report the news.

Earlier this week, the performer was treated for the flu aft er his plane made an emergency landing.

A representative for Prince told TMZ that the singer was feeling under the weather during his shows last week and began to feel worse on the plane. After the emergency landing, he was treated at a hospital and released three hours later.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson (after the Prince Roger Trio) on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the multi-talented performer has been called “one of the most naturally gifted artists of all time,” by Rolling Stone.

Prince was first signed to a record deal with Warner Brother Records when he was just a teenager. In 1978, he released his debut album, “For You,” followed by “Dirty Mind” in 1980 and “Controversy in ‘81.

But it was his 1982 album, “1999,” that really thrust Prince into the spotlight. The album, which went platinum, featured the Top 10 singles “Little Red Corvette,” “Delirious,” and of course, “1999.”

In 1984, Prince starred in “Purple Rain,” a film for which he created the soundtrack and original score. The artist won an Academy Award for Best original Song Score and the film took home the award for Best Original Musical. “Purple Rain,” the album, which featured the songs “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” (as well as the title track), spent 24 weeks on the top of the chart and sold over 13 million copies.

The artist would go on to act in a number of other films, including “Under the Cherry Moon” (1986) and “Graffiti Bridge” (1990), and appear in a 2014 episode of “New Girl.”

By 1989, with the release of his 11th album, “Batman,” Prince had become one of the most successful pop artists in America. He gained success at a time when stars like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson were dominating the industry, yet thanks to his ability to constantly transform, he managed to carve out a unique spot for himself.

Prince went so far as to change his name to the unpronounceable symbol O(+> in 1993, which Rolling Stone dubbed one of “the boldest career moves in rock history.” The artist used the moniker until 2000. Fans and media alike were confused by the symbol, and often referred to the singer as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” The icon famously referenced his symbolic name with his guitar during his epic Super Bowl Performance years later in 2007. The performance is hands down one of the most memorable in Super Bowl history.

After a few years of staying out of the spotlight, Prince performed at the Grammys with Beyonce in February 2004. The two played a medley of hits, including his “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” along with Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” The following month, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Prince also released the Grammy Award-winning album “Musicology” in 2004, with the accompanying Musicology Live 2004ever tour, which grossed a whopping $87.4 million.

 

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R&B Lives…Charles Bradley

R&B isn’t quite dead yet!

Charles Bradley on long road to becoming the “screaming eagle of soul”

Success was a long-time coming for singer Charles Bradley, who was born in 1948 but released his debut album just five years ago. His experiences during those 60-plus years make for quite a story — fitting for a soul man strongly influenced by the late James Brown, reports “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason.

Early in his late-blooming career, Bradley’s backing band gave him a nickname: The “screaming eagle of soul.”

The “screaming eagle” got his inspiration from the “Godfather.” Bradley was a teenager in 1962 when his sister took him to the Apollo in Harlem to see James Brown perform.

“That’s what started it ’cause I always liked the blues, but see, James Brown is the one who put rhythm in the blues. And that’s what made it funky,” Bradley said. “And I said, ‘Now that’s what I want to be.'”

But through his first five decades, Bradley drifted between jobs. He worked as a short order cook in Maine, at a hospital for the mentally ill in New York, and much more.

“Jesus, I can’t count because I was like anywhere, anyone was going to give me a job that made me keep going. I hitchhiked to Ketchikan, Alaska,” Bradley said.

Bradley was in his fifties when he finally landed back in Brooklyn. In 2011, he was doing a James Brown tribute show in Essence Bar in Brooklyn when he was spotted by Daptone Records, who paired him with producer Tom Brennick.

“He said, ‘You do James Brown. You’re good at James Brown. Now we want to see you do you,'” Bradley recalled.

Brennick wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“Tom kept drilling me and I thought he was one of the evilest persons in this world. And he said, ‘No, you can hit that note’ and I said, ‘Tom you trying to burn my throat out, you know?’ And he said, ‘Charles, do it again.'”

But with that, Bradley gained something he did not know he had.

At age 62, Bradley finally got his break when Daptone released his debut album in 2011. The small Brooklyn label had had success with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings ,who’d also played on the Grammy-winning Amy Winehouse album, “Back to Black.”

The age wasn’t a concern for Neal Sugarman, co-founder of the label. In fact, the reaction surpassed all expectations.

“People were responding to it. And it was – it was amazing,” Sugarman said.

Bradley pours himself into every performance. Last year, he even went on stage the night he lost his beloved mother, which he called the “hardest thing I’ve ever did in my life.”

“If I didn’t, I think I really, truly would have hurt myself. I couldn’t take no more and I was looking anywhere I could go to get this pain out of me,” Bradley said.

He thinks of her, he said, whenever he sings the title track of his new album, a cover of the black Sabbath song, “Changes.”

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Leon Bridges…”River”

Off the debut Album by Leon Bridges…

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Otis Clay

Last of the last…

Years ago, when you listened to black radio, and crossed the Mason Dixon Line on the way South – the artists and type of Soul Music you heard was quite different. Singers  like Mrs Jody, Billy Soul Bonds,  Denise LaSalle, Ronnie Lovejoy, and Willie Clayton did’t quite translate in terms of mass popularity, despite singers like Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis becoming very popular.

Otis Clay, Hall Of Fame Rhythm And Blues Singer, Dies At 73

“Otis was the last standard-bearer for deep southern soul music.”

Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist Otis Clay, known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for his singing internationally, died Friday. He was 73.

The Mississippi-born Clay – whose gruff, tenor-tinged voice on blues songs such as “Trying to Live My Life Without You” varied from his haunting but hopeful baritone on gospel standards like “When the Gates Swing Open” – died suddenly of a heart attack at 6:30 p.m., said his daughter, Ronda Tankson.

The one-time Grammy nominee had a year of touring planned behind recent records and recognition at May’s 37th Blues Music Awards, manager Miki Mulvehill said. Clay is nominated for Soul-Blues Male Artist and Soul-Blues Album for “This Time for Real,” his collaboration with Billy Price.

“Otis was the last standard-bearer for deep southern soul music, the really gospel-inflected music that was in its heyday in the late ’60s and early and mid ’70s,” Price told The Associated Press on Saturday. “These styles change, and different styles are in the forefront, but Otis was just as strong in the past five years … For that reason, he was an icon for a lot of us who work in this genre.”

European music enthusiasts and record-collectors flock to Clay’s music because of its spare, “unvarnished” style wrought of the 1960s soul scenes in Memphis, Tennessee and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Price said.

A 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who moved to blues-steeped Chicago in 1957, Clay had just begun planning a gospel tour of the U.S., followed by a summer European tour and, later, the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Mulvehill said. His latest album is called, “Truth Is.”

But Clay was much more than a talented musician. A resident of Chicago’s West Side, he was an avid humanitarian whose charitable works included assisting development of the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

“Otis was the first one to jump on the ‘Can I help?’ train,” Mulvehill said.

Tankson, a Chicago special education teacher whose pupils include autistic children, said her father gave little thought to what benefit he’d get from performing and held nothing back, even when appearing for her students.

“He sang to them as if they paid and he was on stage,” Tankson said.

Friends and co-workers of Tankson’s, whom Clay had never met, repeatedly asked if he would sing “When the Gates Swing Open” at loved ones’ funerals. “He never let me down on that,” she said, adding that he once delayed a recording-session trip to Memphis to comply.

Clay was born Feb. 11, 1942 in Waxhaw, Mississippi, to a musical and religious family, according to his online biography. After his arrival in Chicago, he joined the Golden Jubilaires, and in 1960 became part of Charles Bridges’ Famous Blue Jay Singers, performing a cappella at schools and hotels.

“We were known as variety singers, or we were billed as (performing) ‘Old Negro Spirituals and Plantation Melodies,'” Clay said in his biography.

His recording debut came in 1965 with the rousing ballad, “Flame in Your Heart.” Four decades later, in 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy for the gospel CD, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Rhiannon Giddens – Look Out For Her Music

Did a blog on Rhiannon Giddens a while back. She is headed for the big time now.

And no…Her music is not traditional R&B – it predates it, and is based around black music as it was in the late 1800’s. A mescalin mix of souls, gospel, and country.

Enjoy!

Already bought tickets for the Tour stop in my area!

Watch: Rhiannon Giddens Featured on “CBS Sunday Morning”

Rhiannon Giddens was the subject of a feature profile on CBS Sunday Morning. Giddens spoke with Sunday Morning contributor Martha Teichner about her life in music, as a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and following the release of her T Bone Burnett-produced solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, on Nonesuch Records in February 2015.

The segment opens with Rhiannon Giddens’ show-stopping performance at the one-night-only, multi-artist concert Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. “How often can you witness a moment that changes a career?” Teichner asks. “Giddens was like a musical explosion onstage. What happened next was like an explosion in her life.”

The program goes on to examine the monumental months that have followed that performance, joining Giddens and her family during a recent leg of her tour for Tomorrow Is My Turn, which has been nominated for a Grammy Award, and looking at the musical road that brought her here.

You can watch the CBS Sunday Morning piece below.

To pick up a copy of Tomorrow Is My Turn and Rhiannon Giddens’s recent EP Factory Girl, visit the Nonesuch Store, where you can also find music by Carolina Chocolate Drops. To find out where Rhiannon Giddens’ tour takes her in the coming months, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Natalie Cole

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Rhiannon Giddens on Nina Simone biopic, Music, and Racism

Rhiannon Giddens is an emerging crossover star (former Opera star), as welcome at the Grand Old Opry as the Kennedy Center Stage.  Here she discusses the impact of discrimination as well as the new Nina Simone biopic.

Rhiannon Giddens: “Songs don’t change anything; they inspire people to change things”

This is her newest release –

And something a bit more “folksy”

And if you don’t believe “The Grand Old Oprey”…Here she is there…

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Jimmy Ruffin

Another Motown great, Jimmy Ruffin – older brother of Temptations great, David Ruffin…

As I recall, Jimmy originally recorded “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” which would be covered by several other Motown groups –

And, my personal favorite by him – “I’ve Passed This Way Before” –

Motown Singer Jimmy Ruffin Dead At Age 78

Jimmy Ruffin, the Motown singer whose hits include “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Hold on to My Love,” died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.

Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer’s children, confirmed Wednesday that Ruffin had died. There were no details about the cause of death.

Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991 at age 50…

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1936, in Collinsville, Mississippi. He was signed to Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, and had a string of hits in the 1960s, including “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” which became a Top 10 pop hit.

He had continued success with songs such as “I’ve Passed This Way Before” and “Gonna Give Her All the Love I’ve Got,” but Ruffin marked a comeback in 1980 with his second Top 10 hit, “Hold on to My Love.” The song was produced by Robin Gibb, the Bee Gees member who died in 2012.

Ruffin worked with his brother David in the 1970s on the album, “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.”…

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Gospel Legend – Jessey Dixon

Jessey Dixon, most noted as a Gospel legend, but influential in popular music, has passed away. The star, best known outside of Gospel circles for performing with Paul Simon, wrote songs for a number of pop music greats, including Cher, Diana Ross, and Randy Crawford – and performed with Earth Wind and Fire as a keyboardist.

Jessy Dixon Dead: Gospel Legend Dies In Chicago At 73

 Jessy Dixon, a singer and songwriter who introduced his energetic style of gospel music to wider audiences by serving as pop singer Paul Simon’s opening act, died Monday. He was 73…

During a more than 50-year career, Dixon wrote songs for several popular singers, including jazz and rhythm and blues singer Randy Crawford. He later wrote songs performed by Cher, Diana Ross, Natalie Cole and Amy Grant.

But it was for his gospel singing – religious music that combined the rhythmic beat of blues, jazz and soul – that Dixon first gained attention. It was during an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1972 with his Jessy Dixon Singers that Dixon first came to Simon’s attention. For the next eight years, Dixon toured with the pop icon, collaborating on Simon’s `Live Rhymin’ Simon’ and `Still Crazy’ albums.

Dixon also played keyboard with Earth Wind and Fire and guitarist Phillip Upchurch…

Born March 12, 1938, in San Antonio, Dixon’s professional compass was set by gospel music legend James Cleveland, who heard Dixon’s teen group perform at a theatre in the south Texas city. Dixon said Cleveland liked the group, but he liked Dixon more and persuaded him to move to Chicago to join his group, the Gospel Chimes, as both a singer and pianist.

Chicago’s South Side was the place to be for a gospel musician, especially in the early 1960s.

“Going to church was like going to school,” Dixon said. At church, he heard the likes of Mahalia Jackson and blues pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey, who is credited with creating modern gospel singing.

“Reading his (Dorsey’s) music and studying it, he was the one who wrote for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis Presley and Pat Boone,” Dixon said. “All these people were singing his music and were making it commercial.”

Dixon credited the creativity of artists like percussionist Maurice White and blues singer Willie Dixon, no relation, inspired him to compose. He started with choral music for Chicago’s Thompson Community Singers, for which he sat at the keyboards. Several of his early songs have become classics, sung in churches across America, including: “Sit At His Feet and be Blessed,” “These Old Heavy Burdens” and “I Love to Praise His Name.”…

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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New Soul Songstress Amy Winehouse Dead

Been a long tragic struggle. I think most people are guessing that the drugs finally won…

Amy Winehouse Dead: Singer Found Dead At London Home

Troubled, Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her North London home, Sky News is reporting. The Daily Mail reports that police have confirmed the passing.

In a statement, the London Metropolitan Police said, “Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16.05hrs today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene. Enquiries continue into the circumstances of the death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.”

suspected drug overdose took the life of the singer, Nick Buckley of the Sunday Mirror tweeted.

She’s battled drug addiction for years, having most recently checked back into rehabilitation in May.

Winehouse entered treatment in late 2007 for drug problems, including admitted heroin use.

Earlier in the day, Tim Gatt of Sky News tweeted a statement from her manager saying that she was canceling upcoming performances, writing, “Amy Winehouse is withdrawing from all scheduled performances. Everyone involved wishes to do everything they can to help her return to her best and she will be given as long as it takes for this to happen.”

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Gladys Horton, Lead Singer, Founder of the Marvelettes

“Deliver the letter…The Sooner the better!”

Another of the 60’s favorites…

Gladys Horton

Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes Dead at 66

Gladys Horton, the powerful soul singer who co-founded the all-female Motown ensemble the Marvelettes, died late Wednesday in a nursing home outside of Los Angeles. The 66-year-old’s cause of death is unknown, though she was recovering from complications due to a stroke she suffered last year, her son told the Associated Press.

Horton was born in 1944 in a suburb of Detroit and raised by foster parents. She joined a glee club in high school and almost immediately recruited four club members, including Georgia Dobbins, to create the modestly named the Casinyets (as in, can’t sing yet).

The group’s big break came in 1961 with an audition for Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson of the then-startup label Motown. They weren’t originally given the opportunity — they had placed fourth in their high school’s talent show, with the top three receiving auditions — but were granted an exception.

The quintet wowed the label with a second audition, performing what would become their first hit single, ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ co-written with Dobbins’ friend and songwriter William Garrett. They settled on a new band name, the Marvelettes, and recorded the song with the infamous Funk Brothers backing them. The song and its eponymous album skyrocketed to the top of the charts.

The fame was short-lived, however. While the group released several records over the next six years, they failed to garner the same success as their debut. During that time one member, Juanita Cowart, had a nervous breakdown and quit. Another, Georgeanna Tillman, was diagnosed with lupus and left. At the same time, Motown began to shift its focus to newer artists better positioned to compete with suddenly popular English rock bands like the Beatles.

Horton left the group in 1967 to get married, and never returned fully to music. She devoted herself to taking care of her handicapped son, and largely stayed out of the public eye, even during the controversy that surfaced when the Marvelettes chose to continue performing with no original members. She performed only occasionally in the ensuing decades with no apparent interest in launching a solo career, billing herself simply as “Gladys Horton from the Marvelettes.”

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Etta James Has Dementia, Lukemia

Etta James ill, family battles over money

Singer Etta James, known best for her iconic recording of “At Last,” is gravely ill, diagnosed with dementia and undergoing treatment for leukemia, according to court documents.

The 72-year-old Woodcrest resident’s illness came to light as part of a civil case in Riverside County Superior Court in which Artis Mills, her husband of 41 years, is seeking control of more than $1 million of James’ money.

Her son Donto James wrote in a court declaration that he does not object to money being released for her health care. But he is asking that it be overseen by a third party, “to avoid present and future family conflict and discrepancies.”

Dr. Elaine James, no relation to the singer, declared in the court documents that the singer has multiple medical conditions, including dementia, an organic brain syndrome and a recent diagnosis of leukemia.

The Beverly Hills doctor said she and other medical staff give James continuous medical care and supervision in the singer’s home in the Woodcrest area, near Riverside.

Dr. James said the singer isn’t able to sign her name and requires assistance with feeding, dressing and hygiene, but does recognize her husband and children. The doctor said James has been admitted to the hospital on occasion but returns home with round-the-clock care.

 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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