If any one city can claim to be the spiritual home of soul music, it’s Memphis, where R&B, blues, and gospel have been commingling for generations. Memphis native Gedeon Luke is a student of his hometown’s soulful history, and with his band the People he makes music—like their recent full-length debut Live Free & Love—that not only replicates classic soul’s rich, organic tones but also the crucial blend of spirituality and sensuality that’s fueled the genre’s most important works. Ever an energetic proselytizer for the form, Luke made EW a primer on the soul and gospel music that inspires him.
Tag: Gospel (1-10 of 12)
Naomi Shelton has been singing professionally for over five decades, beginning in the midst of the early-’60s soul-music explosion, where she was inspired by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, and later expanding into gospel. Since 1999, she’s been fronting the long-running vocal group the Queens, which has since been rechristened Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens.
Backed by a band that includes former side men for Pickett, Sam Cooke, and James Brown, Shelton and the Queens have just recorded their sophomore record for leading soul revivalists Daptone Records. Cold World walks the blurry line between gospel and classic R&B that artists and ideas have been crossing back and forth for ages, with a rich, warm-blooded sound that comes in part from having tracked the songs live to analog tape. Shelton’s voice remains an impressive instrument, and the pleading vocal part on the album’s lead single, “Sinner,” is an ideal setting to show it off.
The legendary Etta James succumbed to leukemia this morning, and people all over are remembering the singer’s 73 years of life in different ways.
“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”
For many, Twitter provides a natural outlet to mourn and pay tribute. Celebrities as varied as Questlove, Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill, and Nancy Grace have already tweeted about James; we’ve included many of them below: READ FULL STORY
Adele returns to the top of the Billboard 200, passes 4 million sales total; Casting Crowns scores top debut
After 35 weeks on the chart, Adele’s smash album 21, which has yet to leave the Top 5, rose back into the number one spot on the Billboard 200 this week, selling an additional 106,000 copies.
That number pushed 21‘s total to a whopping 4.1 million copies, by far the biggest selling album of 2011. All told, the “Someone Like You” singer has spent 13 non-consecutive weeks atop the chart this year. Now, if she could just fix those dang vocal cords!
Christian band Casting Crowns finished close behind in second place with first-week sales of their album Come to the Well at 99,000 copies. The band’s last album, 2009’s Until the Whole World Hears, got off to a stronger start with 167,000 copies sold, but to be fair, that disc still holds the record for the highest Christian-album debut in history. Come to the Well‘s 99,000 debut is nothing to cast a stone (or crown, for that matter) at.
In third place, Scotty McCreery continues to impress as his album Clear As Day dipped just 36 percent to 57,000. That gives the country balladeer three-week sales of 342,000. His runner-up, Lauren Alaina fell down to tenth place, dropping 63 percent in her second week to 26,000. Her record, Wildflower, has now sold 95,000 copies, which isn’t incredible, but it’s not half bad considering Alaina’s lead single, “Like My Mother Does,” only peaked at number 36 on the country chart. (Not all American Idol alums are as fortunate as these two…)
Last week’s chart-topper Evanescence falls back into fourth, as their self-titled third album fell 69 percent to 40,000. It has sold 167,000 after two weeks. Meanwhile ,Tony Bennett’s Duets II rises one spot into fifth place with another 39,000 copies sold. The 85 year-old crooner’s set has moved 434,000 copies in five weeks, and sales should remain strong through the holidays.
R&B singer Joe fared alright in his debut: His latest album, The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy sold 33,000 copies, good enough for eighth place. His 2009 set Alright started at number 7 with 49,000. Check out the top ten below: READ FULL STORY
While NBC is gearing up for Season 3 of a cappella singing competition The Sing-Off (which will be recapped once again by yours truly), last year’s winning group, Committed, is getting ready to release their debut album on August 29.
The Alabama gospel sextet has just released a music video for their new single, “Break Free,” which is surprisingly not an a cappella track at all! (But don’t worry, the rest of their album, which is streaming in full here, is mostly full of vocal harmonies and void of instrumentation. That’s how we a caholics like it!)
Check out the radio edit below: READ FULL STORY
Elvis Presley died 34 years ago today. What's the best way to mark the anniversary of the King's passing?
But how will Presley-loving readers who couldn’t make it down to Memphis be honoring the King? What Presley songs or albums will you be playing? Which would be the best film to watch? Or the best book to read?
Personally, as a big fan of the later Vegas-era Elvis, I’ve been watching the fantastically exuberant–and fantastic white jumpsuit-featuring–version of “Suspicious Minds” you can see below.
Please do check it out and tell us your preferred way of marking the death of Elvis Aaron Presley: READ FULL STORY
Solomon Burke—who died in the Netherlands on October 10 from natural causes, aged 70—was once hailed as the best soul singer of all-time by producer Jerry Wexler. Obviously, that assessment is open to debate, although it’s not one I would have cared to argue about with the legendary Wexler. Certainly, Burke deserved his status as one of the bona fide greats thanks to his richly soulful performances on the likes of “Cry to Me,” “Tonight’s the Night,” and, of course, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”
Wexler might also have nominated Burke as soul’s most colorful singer. Who else can claim that, during an early lull in their career, they took a job in a mortuary? And who else brought sandwiches on tour so he could make some money on the side selling them to hungry musicians? It was also not unknown for the so-called “King of Rock and Soul” to appear on stage wearing a cape and jewel-encrusted crown.
Mavis Staples: The legendary singer on her new, Jeff Tweedy-produced CD—and the day Bob Dylan asked for her hand in marriage
There aren’t many singers who end an interview by asking if their interrogator wants a hug. Actually, in this writer’s experience, there is just one: Mavis Staples.
Yes, Staples, 71, may be more, literally, open-armed than most music legends, but she is 100% deserving of that title nonetheless. The vocalist’s family band, the Staple Singers, first hit the charts way back in 1956 with the gospel track “Uncloudy Day.” In the ’60s the group—which was led by Mavis’ father Pops—hung out with Bob Dylan, and covered Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” In the ’70s the band scored a string of soul-pop hits, including “Respect Yourself,” “I’ll Take You There,” and “Let’s Do It Again”.
The latter track was produced by Curtis Mayfield, who temporarily nudged the Staples Singers away from their usual “message”-based lyrical terrain into more lusty territory. “We got into the studio and Curtis said, ‘Now, Pops, this is your part,'” recalls Staples. “And Curtis sang, ‘Now, I like you, lady…’ Pops said, ‘Curtis, I’m not going to say that. I’m a church man!’ And Curtis said, ‘Oh, Pops, come on, man. The Lord won’t mind!’”
The Staple Singers’ soul-funk grooves, and Mavis Staples’ deep, soulful, vocals, attracted a raft of famous fans. They performed with The Band on the latter’s concert movie The Last Waltz and Prince produced two solo albums for Staples—1989’s Time Waits for No One and 1993’s The Voice.
Pops Staples died in 2000, but his daughter continues to perform—and to attract famous name collaborators. Ry Cooder produced her 2007 set “We’ll Never Turn Back,” while Wilco head honcho, and Staples’ fellow Chicagoan, Jeff Tweedy oversaw her latest collection “You Are Not Alone.” On the CD, which is released today, Staples tackles songs by John Fogerty, Randy Newman, Pops Staples, and two numbers penned by Tweedy, including the title track. She also sings the traditional number “Wonderful Savior”—a song the Wilco frontman made her record in a freezing stairwell. Hey, that’s no way to treat a living legend! “No!” agrees Staples, with a laugh. “I told him, ‘Tweedy, it’s cold out there, this is Chicago!’ We had the coldest winter in I don’t know how many years. It had to be like ten below. And you know this stairwell is even colder. I said, ‘I’m not going out there!’ He said, ‘Someone get Mavis a coat and a hat and a scarf and some gloves! And, Mavis, go out there with the rest of the guys and sing the song!’ So I did. And the song sounded so good, I suggested doing it again, but we had gotten it that first time.”
Of course she had. She’s Mavis Staples!
After the jump, Staples talks about how she came to work with “Tweedy” in the first place—and how she almost became Mrs Robert Zimmerman.
Soundgarden, Green Day, and Lady Gaga are set to headline this year’s Lollapalooza Festival, which takes place August 6-8 at Chicago’s Grant Park. The event will also see sets by Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Phoenix, Spoon, Jimmy Cliff, Devo, MGMT, Hot Chip, Cypress Hill, Mavis Staples, the Black Keys, and a presumably clothed Erykah Badu (though, of course, you never know what that lady’s going to do—which I mean as a compliment.)It was announced this morning that
Lollapalooza has always prided itself on offering an eclectic mix of acts—its initial lineup, in 1991, featured Jane’s Addiction, Ice-T, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. But this year’s list of performers seems to be the most varied for a while, and is certainly a broader musical church headliner-wise than 2009’s more obviously rockier roll call.
What do you think of the lineup? Who are you looking forward to seeing? And is there a person out there who doesn’t care for any of the announced acts? Surely not.
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)
More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Owl City remixes tourmates Lights’ “Saviour”
Erykah Badu charged with disorderly conduct for controversial video
Erykah Badu’s controversial “Window Seat” video: Matt and Kim’s Matt Johnson on inspiring her naked walk
But have we Taken Care of Business? Or should we be leaving the building in shame for what we’ve left off? Take a look and tell us what you think.
Photo credit: Doc Pele/Retna Ltd.
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