YES, this is exactly the career boost that Alexandra Burke needed! The opportunity to display her vocal skills and rid herself of the drama, controversy and unfortunate song and image choices that have been plagued her since her 2008 X Factor(y) win. For those who haven’t got a clue what I’m harping on about, well it was recently announced that Ms Burke will be taking residency at the iconic Royal Albert Hall in June to perform the songs from Lady Sings The Blues, the classic 1972 biopic about troubled jazz chanteuse Billie Holiday, portrayed brilliantly by Diana Ross. Performing with a full jazz band, Alex will sing her own interpretations of Billie’s classic jazz/blues standards like Good Morning Heartache, God Bless The Child and Strange Fruit. I love Alex’s voice and have always said that her raspy alto would be better suited to traditional adult/contemporary R&B as opposed to saccharine pop and disposable dance music. It will be interesting to see where her career will head after this show, but it looks like it’s finally moving in the right direction.
For details of tickets visit here
The trailer to the 1972 biopic Lady Sings The Blues – maaan, I loved that film
If you tuned into The Voice UK this evening you would’ve witnessed the appearance of US songstress Kym Mazelle, who auditioned for the show but sadly missed out on a place for the next round because the judges failed to select her. Kym was a musical titan in the late 80s/early 90s, releasing her own material as well as lending her soul charged vocals to hits by Soul II Soul and The Blow Monkeys. What was interesting about Kym’s appearance on tonight’s show was the awkward exchange between her and Will.iam. He was obviously unaware of who she was which was surprising given their similar experiences as African American musicians forging careers in the UK.
Neo-soul heavyweight, Dwele embarks on a European tour this month performing at London’s Jazz Cafe on the 17th, 18th and 19th of April. Famed for his tender romantic ballads, the singer has steadily built up a solid fan base in the UK who will no doubt be out in full force to support the cool, charismatic singer. Tickets are priced from £25.75, visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk for details.
This Saturday be sure to tune into the Community Channel at midnight (SKY channel 539, Virgin Media 233) to see a much-anticipated documentary called The Key, produced and directed by actress Kyla Frye. Featuring interviews with British actors like Jimmy Akingbola, Aml Ameen and Sheila Nortley, to name a few, Kyla gains from them an understanding on what it takes to progress in an industry where opportunities are few and far between for black and minority actors. Produced under the company she founded, Fryeday Entertainment LTD, the young actress decided to develop her own production company to provide a platform for talent that is often ignored by the mainstream. Good on her. See a clip from the documentary below.
I interviewed Five Star front-woman Deniece Pearson a few weeks back, and while my adult professional self was calm and composed, my 12 year old self was excited, psyched and doing mental back flips for the entire duration of the conversation. If you grew up in the eighties you’ll feel me on this. Five Star were HUGE! The accomplishments speak for themselves: the group had a total of six top 10 UK singles, their album Silk & Steel hit the number one spot and they became the first black British group to top the UK album charts in 1987. The siblings were also named Best British Group by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) which was like the equivalent to what the Brits/Grammy’s are today, and performed for the Queen and Prince Phillip at the Royal Variety Performance.
I’ve created a bawse playlist on Spotify called UK Got Soul. Featuring UK artists from the last 30 years including Soul II Soul, Brand New Heavies, Loose Ends, Floetry, Mica Paris – give it a whirl and let me know what you think, and whether you think I’ve missed out any other essential bangers.
Wishing you a happy and restful Easter!
Happy Good Friday folks! How are you planning on spending your day? If you are around this evening at 9pm, be sure to tune into BBC Four to watch a profile of music producer extraordinaire Nile Rodgers. I assumed every music lover was familiar with Mr Rodgers, but apparently not. Nile is the founding member of the disco group Chic, who reinvented himself as a pop producer after Disco died a sudden death in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Whether you know his name or not, you are bound to know at least several of his hits. From Madonna’s Like A Virgin, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Sister Sledge’s We Are Family and Diana Ross’ Upside Down and I’m Coming Out – Rodgers was one of the most prolific pop/soul hit makers of his generation and the predecessor of the ‘star producer(s)’ who would later follow like Jam and Lewis and LA & Babyface.