Off the debut Album by Leon Bridges…
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 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.”
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.
Already bought tickets for the Tour stop in my area!
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.
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.
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…
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” –
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.”…
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, 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.”…