In Case You Missed It: Alicia Keys Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Debut, Streams Live Concert Online

Alicia Keys giving an air hug to audience in Beacon Theatre and around the world.

Last week, A. Keyz shared the tenth anniversary release of Song in A Minor. To commemorate the occasion, Keys allowed AOL to stream a concert from New York’s Beacon Theatre. You can STILL watch the show online courtesy of the Huffington Post (AOL’s most recent purchase). Needless to say, A. Keyz proved why music lovers have been “Fallin” in love with her since 2001.

Alicia Keys Song in A Minor Beacon Theatre

Tickling the ivories, with the “15-hour candle” burning in the background.

Alicia Keys Beacon Theatre Songs in A Minor A. Keyz

FEELIN’ IT!: Like an old Jay-Z joint (Click the image above to see what I mean).

Alicia Keys Beacon Theatre Hocus Pocus A. Keyz Songs in A Minor

PUT A SMILE ON OUR FACE : “Just give me that smile…I can’t live without it.” 

Father’s Day Post: Songs for My Father: Six Songs for Father’s Day to Celebrate or Shame Your Pops)

During today’s This Week, Robin Roberts had a special sit-down chat with President Barack Obama about this special day.

The president has been outspoken about his absentee father, and even an 11-year-old puts him on the hot spot asking, off-camera, “Do you miss your father on Father’s Day?” Obama’s response (according Roberts): ‘No, I do not.’

As Roberts and This Week‘s host, Christiane Amanpour, pointed out, his interview focused more on lessons he continues to learn as a father himself, and not as the son of an neglectful one. President Obama briefly lamented the approaching “storm” of the teen years of his daughters Sasha and Malia.  He said he was thankful that he has the Secret Service people as deterrence to keep away knuckleheads.

Yet, President Obama did have some kind words for his father who inspired some of his favorite pastimes: playing b-ball and listening to jazz. He said a one-day visit with his father helped him develop his love for both.

The jazz bit inspired this blog post, since I can’t even play H.O.R.S.E anymore without embarrassing myself.

Honor Thy Father

“Song for My Father” – Horace Silver/Dee Dee Bridgewater  DDB: Love & Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s live version of “Song for My Father”:

“Father” is a jaunty, bossa-nova-tinged classic that defined the career of hard-bop pianist Silver. This song and the album of the same name celebrated the Cape Verdean heritage of his father. Dee Dee Bridgewater took a swing at it with tribute album to Silver, Love & Peace, singing the best father praising lyrics I’ve ever heard.

“Color Him Father” – The Winstons

This D.C. soul’s group 1969 single rivals The Intruders I’ll Always Love My Mama” with its “charm” (i.e. bearable sappy-ness).  Runner’s up as my favorite Father’s Day song.

Continue reading

UPDATED: Flyin’ High With “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – The Beatles vs. Natalie Cole

If it weren’t for this 1967 Beatles song, Lucy Diamond from the b-movie spy flick D.E.B.S (you will be entertained if you ever catch it on cable) would join the Man with No Name as the rare club of nameless movie protagonists.

Many believed the song referred to LSD, since its title fit the acronym. The surrealistic lyrics also suggested an acid trip inspired them. Not too mention in the late fifties, the hallucinogenic quietly became the latest trend in some golden age Hollyweird circles with stars like Cary Grant among the long-list of famous personalities to experiment with Albert Hoffman’s concoction.

However, Grant and other golden age era stars did not inspire John Lennon to write this piece. His actual inspiration was a sketch by his then-three-year old son Julian made of a nursery school classmate named Lucy Vodden. But the drawing itself still makes me wonder where did lines like “rocking horse people eating marshmallow pies” come from. Continue reading

The Beatles Finally Join iTunes (And May Possible Save ECM Recording in the Process); On “Yesterday” – The Fab Four vs. Donny Hathaway

With the hoopla surrounding the Beatles joining the iTunes library (belatedly), I decided to come up with a musical “Demolition derby” (inspired by this) pitting the Fab Four against their re-interpreters – some of whom outshine the original versions the former made famous.

Nearly every singer worth mentioning has a Beatles song in their repertoire – meaning my list will only scratch the surface of the innumerable matches that could take place. Sorry, B.O.B. but your amazing sample of “Eleanor Rigby“for “Lonely People” will not be included for one reason: I don’t like the original. So, any remake – even improvements – will not make the shortlist of match-ups.

The following series of posts will consist of all the Beatles song and their remakes that I currently have on my iPod.

Let the matchups begin: Continue reading

Rewind That Please! – Katy B’s “Louder”

Always running late
I know I should not procrastinate
It should be all hard work – I play
But sometimes hard work has to wait
There’s always somewhere new to go
And I can never say no (Say no)
I’ve been awake for a day now
24 hours yet still I want it louder
Darkness can’t get me to sleep yet
I’m not that weak yet

–          Katy B “Louder” from her forthcoming debut LP

The latest sound from London-town is dubstep and an underground singer-songwriter helping to bring the music to the mainstream bears a streaking resemblance to True Blood’s Oscar-winning Anna Paquin.

While Paquin hones her acting chops, her British look-a-like may be the next biggest crossover act to continue the a second “British Invasion” that some hoped the Spice Girls would spark – but failed to do – in the 1990s. Subsequent British acts (Billie Piper, Mis-teeq, Dizzee Rascal, Sugababes, Trickey, All Saints…) who followed in their wake barely registered on the U.S. Billboard charts, much less anybody’s iPod Most-Played Songs playlist (outside of my “freak-quency” folks).

Katie Brien, alias “Katy B”, is a South London singer and a graduate of BRIT School for performing arts where nearly every significant contemporary British talent attended – Amy Winehouse, Adele, Marsha Ambrosious, among the more well-known alums.

Even as a b-side of her major label single, “Louder” allowed 21-years-old Katy B to break into the Top 20 of the UK Charts.  The lead single, “Katy on a Mission,” from her debut album fared even better: The song hit number one on both the UK Dance and Indie charts.

Both songs were produced by Benga, a pioneering producer of a dubstep, a style of music that’s equal parts the pulsating 2-step/garage of Craig David’s heyday in the early 2000s (remember “Fill Me In”?) with a dash of the echoing effect dominant in reggae dub. And their other collaboration ,“Perfect Stranger”,  is a six-minute ode to a “beautiful stranger” who lefts Katy B off of her feet (à la Stevie Wonder). The magic of  her expressive voice over  the latest Benga production easily draws comparisons to the musical chemistry between R&B chanteuses from the late 1990s who acted as the muse for their respective producer (e.g. Teddy Riley & Brandy, the late Aaliyah & Timbaland/Missy Elliot and Kelis & The Neptunes). With a track record of guaranteed “ear candy,” listeners will hope that her collaboration with Benga will continue.

And the “light” Katy B sings about in her latest tune with Ms. Dynamite is definitely the spotlight which will surely continue to shine brighter on her as her fame grows to match the catchiness of her songs – and her possession of an ability growing rarer among singers in the twentieth-first century: The ability to actually sing.

3 Women – Triple Play of “Black Magic Woman”: Carlos Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” vs. Dennis Brown’s remake, José James’s “Blackmagic”

José James, a  nu jazz crooner from Minneapolis, should be more famous. But talent “doesn’t make appropriate wealth” nowadays (as Jean Grae can attest).

I made the mistake and slept on his debut album. However,  when his second album came out in February 2010, I did not repeat that mistake.

Blackmagic is more genre-bending than James’s Dreamer, since underground hip-hop producer such as Flying Lotus and British dubstep legend Benga were brought into the mix to infuse a more trip-hop, Left-field sound to the album.

Case in point: The title track which loops Dennis Brown’s sample-worthy remake of a Carlos Santana classic, “Black Magic Woman” (which was itself was a reinterpretation of a Fleetwood Mac original).

In James’s song, the voice of reggae’s late Crown Prince is overpowered by the mesmerizing but murky bass-line prominent in Brown’s version.

Out of the three, which one do you like more?

I’m partial to Brown’s rendition, since hearing him cry out (“I just…I just…I just can’t leave you alone!/You got your spell on me, baby”) before the song’s fadeout clenches it for me.   Not too mention, it’s hard to top any classic Trojan Record production. Continue reading

A Poetess Takes a Stroll on a Saturday Morn (PHOTO-SLIDE SHOW)

Shakeema Smalls poetess Howard University U St Washington D.C.

As a vegetarian, Shakeema Smalls (“The Poetess”) pays a weekly visit to “Yes! Organic Market” on the district’s U Street.  (Derrick Haynes)

I’m not any competition for Scurlockor Nykvist (yet) , but all novice photographers need time to grow and break away from their amateur status.

In the slide show below, my friend graciously allowed me to play the paparazzo while she embraced her inner Lady Gaga (she is a “little monster” after all). Before schoolwork monopolized our time and buried us alive, we spent a Saturday morning running around U Street.

Despite the stares of on-lookers and fellow grocery shoppers, I kept on shooting frames for my project while paying them no mind. Most of the shots “expanded” greatly on my initial story board.The total number of shots I took were more than I realized: 200 plus photos for an almost 20-minute photo shoot.

Shakeema Smalls Abbey Road The Beatles homage U St.

Smalls walks down “Abbey Road”…via U St. (Derrick Haynes)

Ms. Smalls starts off in her dorm room before jaunting pass U Street staples such as Uncle Ben’s Chili’s Bowl. She takes the time to stop inside of Busboys and Poets to buy a poetry book and pick up a spoken word flyer.Then she  finally heads to Yes! Organic to buy some groceries.

Up Jumped Spring” (Freddie Hubbard’s Backlash LP), a vocalese performed by the late-great Abbey Lincoln (also known as Aminata Moseka), helps the picture convey the “end of summer” feeling I was going for.

Qui sait (who knows) there might be a parte deux…