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Mr. Wonderful June 1, 2009

Posted by Wheneva Whateva in I Heart Music.
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Today is the start of Black Music Month, and what better way to kick it off than with Stevie Wonder.  Visit his official site for more info.  Enjoy a few of my favorite Stevie songs.


You and I

Living for the City

Standing In the Shadows of Motown February 18, 2009

Posted by Wheneva Whateva in I Heart Music, Pass the Popcorn.
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“To be acknowledged at this time in our lives after all these years is unbelievable for me as an individual and also for the rest of the Funk Brothers…You’d have thought with all those great records back in the day, it would have happened for us but it didn’t.  But better late than never.  This is the high point of our careers.”  –Bob Babbitt, Funk Brothers’ bassist

shadowsmotownEveryone can name Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations, but few knew the band that played on those records.  Motown’s Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians in Detroit to serve as the house band for Motown Records, but was not credited on the albums until 1971.  These unsung heroes became known as the Funk Brothers.  As the opening narration states, “They played on more number one records than the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined.” The film brings the musicians all together for the first time in 30 years for a show and to tell their story.  The film plays like one big jam session with a mix of first-hand storytelling and contemporary artists accompanying the band on Motown’s biggest hits.

This movie evolved from Allan Sluthsky’s book  Standing In the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson. Sluthsky is a musician himself and labored for years to find the funding for the film project.  It’s evident that the Brothers are truly happy to be together again and have their story made known to the world.  One amazing scene takes us through the layering technique of The Temptations’ “Ain’t to Proud to Beg.”  The drum starts, then the bass, throw in the guitar, and finally the tambourine, and you have the classic Motown sound.  As the Motown execs loosened the production grip the Funk Brothers moved into their psychedelic phase, especially on The Temptations’ “Cloud Nine” album.  Then abruptly Motown moved its operations to Los Angeles leaving the Funk Brothers without their main source of income.  Some followed the company there, but the sound was never the same without the collective group.

Starring the Funk Brothers: Richard Allen, Jack Ashford, Bob Babbitt, Johnny Griffith, Joe Hunter, Uriel Jones, Joe Messina, Eddie Willis
With Gerald Levert, Chaka Khan, Joan Osborne, Meshell Ndegeocello, Boosty Collins, Ben Harper
Narrated by Andre Braugher

Directed by Paul Justman

See also: Motown 50 & Xtra Xtra: Motown

Xtra Xtra: Black Oscar Gold February 16, 2009

Posted by Wheneva Whateva in Black History, I Heart Music, Pass the Popcorn.
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The 81st Annual Academy Awards will be televised on Feb. 22.  Keeping the Black History Month celebration going, here’s a list of African Americans who won the Oscar.  Tune in to see if Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) or Viola Davis (“Doubt”) will win for Best Supporting Actress.

taraji-benjaminbutton violadavis_doubt

Halle Berry – 2001 – Best Actress, “Monster’s Ball”
Jamie Foxx – 2004 – Best Actor, “Ray”
Morgan Freeman – 2004 – Best Supporting Actor, “Million Dollar Baby”
Whoppi Goldberg – 1990 – Best Supporting Actress, “Ghost”
Cuba Gooding, Jr – 1996 – Best Supporting Actor, “Jerry Maguire”
Isaac Hayes – 1971 – Best Original Song, “Shaft Theme Song” from “Shaft”
Jennifer Hudson – 2008 – Best Supporting Actress, “Dreamgirls”
Quincy Jones – 1994 – Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Hattie McDaniel – 1940 – Best Supporting Actress, “Gone With the Wind”
Sidney Poitier – 1958 – Best Actor, “Lillies of the Field”
Prince – 1984 – Best Original Song, “Purple Rain” from “Purple Rain”
Lionel Richie – 1986 – Best Original Song, “Say You, Say Me” from “White Nights”
Three 6 Mafia – 2006, Best Original Song, “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow”
Denzel Washington – 1990 – Best Supporting Actor, “Glory” & 2001 – Best Actor, “Training Day”
Forrest Whitaker – 2006 – Best Actor, “The Last King of Scotland”
Stevie Wonder – 1985 – Best Original Song, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from “The Woman In Red”

14 for Lovers February 14, 2009

Posted by Wheneva Whateva in I Heart Music, Love.
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“Just as all is born new,
Do you know what I say is true,
That I’ll be loving you always”
~ Stevie Wonder

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and no list of love songs is complete without Luther Vandross and Donny Hathaway.  If you want to get started early here are 14 love songs.

  1. Boyz II Men ~ I’ll Make Love to You
  2. All-4-One ~ So Much In Love
  3. Whitney Houston ~ I Believe In You and Me
  4. Take 6 ~ You Can Never Ask Too Much (of Love)
  5. The Spinners ~ Then Came You
  6. Usher ~ Bedtime
  7. Xscape ~ Feel So Good
  8. Stevie Wonder ~ As
  9. Teena Marie ~ Ohh La La
  10. Luther Vandross ~ Forever, For Always, For Love
  11. Anthony Hamilton ~ I Know What Love’s All About
  12. Algebra ~ I Think I Love U
  13. Donny Hathaway ~ You Were Meant For Me
  14. Mariah Carey ~ Forever

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. January 15, 2009

Posted by Wheneva Whateva in Black History, Black Is Beautiful, I Heart Music, Xtra Xtra.
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Martin Luther King was born as Michael Luther King (later changed) on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.  King entered  Morehouse College at the age of 15, and went on receive his B.A. in sociology in 1948.  King then entered Crozer Theological Seminary, and in 1951 received a B.A. in Divinity.  In the fall of 1951, King began studying for a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at Boston University, where he completed studies in 1955.  While in Boston King met Coretta Scott, who was studying concert singing at the New England Conservatory of Music.  The two married in 1953 and had four children.

Rev. King, who was ordained at the age of nineteen at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, following in the footsteps of his father who was then senior pastor. In 1954 King accepted the role of senior pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.   The modern civil rights movement was sparked in 1955 by Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white patron on a segregated public bus.  Rev. King, as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, helped lead the 381-day long Montgomery Bus Boycott through Gandhi inspired nonviolent protest.  As the movement spread to other American cities, King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech.

“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.  When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” ~ Martin Luther King

In April 1968, Rev. King was in Memphis, Tennessee supporting the “Poor People’s Campaign.” On April 4th, Dr. King was tragically gunned down by an assassin’s bullet as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.  The nation and world mourned as Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was laid to rest on April 9, 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Xtra Xtra:

Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Dr. King on the designation of his birthday as a federal holiday

Sources: The King Center; The Nobel Foundation; USConstitution.net