In the midst of societal ills and personal challenges I look to family and music for solace. Holy Moly! There are a few things that I am remiss about discovering at this juncture and some new releases and tunes forthcoming that I’m very excited to hear. Music serves as therapy for me, and is and will always be, the universal language that conjoins the hearts and minds of humanity.
The CDs in this piece, go as far back as last year, to as far away as June of this year. While all of the recording artists listed have certainly produced projects that are better than others amidst their repertoire, apart from one or two exceptions, none of the talent mentioned has ever made a bad record.
Last year, Ledesi [pr: leh-deh-see (K.T.)] was honored with a Grammy nomination, for her album “The Truth.” Any recognition this divine lady ever gets is unquestionably deserved, as she is unequivocally, one of the most humble and kindest singers I have had the fortune to meet. “The Truth” hit stores last March, in January she dropped “Intimate Truth,” which is a collection of acoustic versions of songs from that album. Hats off to Syleena Johnson. Another amazing talent, her CD “Chapter 6: Couples Therapy,” came out this past October. Jazmine Sullivan’s third effort “Reality Show” had a quiet release in January. Although it only features one song produced by the magnificent Salaam Remi, who brought the thunder on her previous works, the sonic delivery and her incredible voice hold up to previous works. Chrisette Michelle’s EP “Lyricists Opus” also hit the streets at the top of the year. Estelle’s new joint “True Romance” dropped last month. The London born singer made a guest appearance on the new hit show “Empire,” where she performed her song “Conqueror,” with series co-star Jussie Smollett. The “Empire” soundtrack debuted at Number-One on Billboard’s 200 chart this past week. “Lalah Hathaway Live!” is expected soon. It’s in tribute to her father’s album, “Donny Hathaway Live!,” and is highly anticipated by career long fans. The legacy of the Hathaway brand, took on the Pledge Music route to promote the album, for more details go here http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lalahhathaway. Side-Note, Lalah is currently featured on Kendrick Lamar’s new CD “To Pimp A Butterfly” http://museumofuncutfunk.com/2015/03/16/new-kendrick-lamar-features-the-music-of-the-isley-brothers/. Lastly among the Sirens, Shelby Lynne’s new CD “I Cant Imagine,” is scheduled for release on May 4th. Considered a Country singer, she’s simply one of the best singers today, and has been making music for years.
The Staple Singers were one of the earliest musical influences in my life that touched my soul with their songs “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” In February, the new album “Don’t Lose This,” by Pops Staples was posthumously released. It’s BRILLIANT, featuring the songs “Somebody Was Watching,” “Friendship” and his version of Bob Dylan’s, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” The title of the CD, was the instruction he gave his daughter Mavis Staples, who’s also featured on the record. The music of Raheem DeVaughn only gets better with every album. His latest, “Love Sex and Passion,” also dropped last month. Boz Scaggs’ “A Fool to Care” is out on March 31st. It includes guest appearances from Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams. There are nine never before released tracks on the new album “Faithful” by Dusty Springfield. In stores on April 7th, Springfield’s version of “The Look of Love,” is currently in my i-pod. Bjork’s new CD “Vulnicura,” blessed the planet on January 20th. If you’ve never seen her perform live, pleezbelieveit when I tell you attending one of her shows, is a religious experience. An icon unto herself, her scoffed at swan dress that she wore on the red carpet of the 2001 Oscars, is now on display at the MoMa museum. It’s part of a retrospective dedicated to the art of Icelandic singer.
Funkadelic released “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate” online the week of Thanksgiving last year. A three-disc offering, it includes 33 songs to mark 33 years, since the last Funkadelic album was released. The CD hit stores the week of Christmas in 2014, and features the extraordinary talents of George Clinton, Sly Stone, Blackbyrd McKnight, Lili Hadyn, Danny Bedrosian and Soul Clap, among others. Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” dropped on March 10th. One of her best in latter years, it entered the Billboard 200 at Number-Two, taking a backseat to the “Empire” soundtrack. There are three versions of her new opus, including a “Deluxe Edition” featuring additional tracks; the standard version with “Explicit Lyrics”; and a “Clean” version. Each of them have a different look for the cover art. Next week, the album “You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP PPX Sessions,” by Curtis Knight & The Squires featuring Jimi Hendrix is out. I honestly never heard of my namesake, Mr. Knight & The Squires, but the name Jimi Hendrix is internationally known. Apart from his solo success, and that he had as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, I was only aware of his days with fellow icons The Isley Brothers. I’m very curious about this new found vintage collection of music. Snoop Dogg rounds out the list of icons. His new CD “Bush” hits stores on May 12th. The “Doggfather” of rap, introduced the first single “Peaches N Cream” that features “Uncle” Charlie Wilson, on the “Empire” finale last night.
While none of the remaining artists are actually classified as FUNK, one would be in denial not to recognize the FUNK they bring, as FUNK is simply ‘The Truth’. Mark Ronson’s new single, “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars, is obviously the producer’s homage to the genre. Taken from his CD “Uptown Special” that hit the streets in January, the record also includes appearances from the legendary Stevie Wonder, Kevin Parker, Andrew Wyatt, Jeff Bhasker and Mystikal. Although The Mavericks have been adopted by Country music, they’re just an undeniable incredible band. When these boys hit the stage, the house not only Rocks, it Shakes!!! The group’s new album “Mono,” of which it’s anything but, hit store shelves on February 17th. Speaking of “Shakes,” the new Alabama Shakes comes out on April 21st. Titled “Sound & Color,” the first single “Don’t Wanna Fight,” (thanks Wayne Martin) has a thumping bass. Simply another phenomenal band, the talents of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, are one of the most refreshing contributions to music… EVER! Her raw talent is reminiscent of the extraordinary music, brought by the unsung Sister Rosetta Tharpe, of the late 30s through early 60s. Backed by the additional talents of guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, keyboard player Ben Tanner, and drummer Steve Johnson – these cats are just getting started and they’ve been around since 2009. Wrapping the FUNK section, are the Rock band MUSE, whose next record “Drones” is set for release on June 9th. MUSE is not only a bad-ass band, their lyrics are steeped in TRUTH, ie; the title of their new CD that will undoubtedly speak to the controversial use of this mechanical device.
In closing, props and recognition to Uptown Records legacy group Jodeci, whose CD “The Past, The Present, The Future” becomes available 3/ 31/ 15; and Bad Boy’s original “First Lady” Faith Evans, whose album “Incomparable” landed on 11/ 24/ 14. Although these two talents certainly have one who built ‘An Empire’ to thank, as a matter of record in this blog, said one can hardly claim the new show “Empire” is based on him. Additional shouts for new music go out to Joe Sample & NDR BigBand’s “Children of the Sun” – 11/ 17/ 14; Marcus Miller’s “Afrodeezia” – 3/ 17/ 15; Phil Perry’s “Better Man” – 3/ 19/ 15; and David Sanborn’s “Time & The River” – 4/ 7/ 15
for the love