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Mr. Sha Comes To Streetwise RadioPublished on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 03:23
DJ Michael Ealey of Streetwise Radio is playing Mr. Sha an R&B, Hip Hop artist from Brooklyn, New York. While writing this and listening to Mr. Sha’s music I can’t believe I’ve never heard of him. Mr. Sha started singing at 5 years old in his family’s church and you sure can tell this man has amazing vocals. His writing style reminds me of the way Brian McKnight writes. Mr. Sha is not only a talented singer songwriter. He is also a producer and composer. He has his own record label called Shatown Entertainment. This underrated artist should be playing on the on-air station all over the country. Streetwise Radio will be playing this remarkable talented artist. Here are some of my favorite songs by Mr. Sha, “My Angel”, “Shes Mine”, “More”, “143”, “The Groove”, “Unbelievable”, “Instructions”, “1Day”, “The Last Time”, “Its Ok Its Alright”, “Gone Til Nov pt2” and “The War Between Men And Women”. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on iTunes, Live365, Pandora, MyGen365, and Athena365.
Black History Month Exclusive--Up Close and Personal with Amel Larrieux By Shelah MoodyPublished on Friday, 15 February 2013 05:42
Watching Amel Larrieux perform, as well being in her presence and listening to her speak, is a rare treat; it’s like having ice cream every day.
It is no wonder that ”Ice Cream Every Day” is the title of Larrieux’s wildly anticipated fifth solo album.
The New York based, Grammy nominated singer/songwriter played to a packed house at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco during the Christmas holiday (Dec. 26 and 27, 2012).
Backed by a multi-racial band, which included her 18-year-old daughter, Sky Larrieux on keyboards, the sultry soprano captured the audience with her achingly romantic and introspective lyrics overlaid with jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop folk and reggae rhythms driven by her longtime husband and collaborator, Laru Larrieux.
Lovers in the audience stole kisses as Larrieux serenaded them, up close and personal, with songs such as “For Real” and “Make Me Whole” and danced to the infectious beat of one of her signature tracks, “Tell Me,” which she recorded as part of the duo, Groove Theory in the early nineties. The Amel Larrieux experience was like unwrapping a belated and wonderful unexpected Christmas gift.
“Amel Larrieux’s timeless music is truly a reflection of the love and the realness she lives,” said D. Evans, a longtime follower who drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend her show. “Her positive energy is contagious from CD to shows. She's a gift to her craft.”
Spotted leaving Larrieux’s opening night show was another dedicated follower, rising young politician and arts advocate, London Breed, who was inaugurated as District 5 (which includes Yoshi’s and San Francisco’s historic jazz district) Supervisor for the City and County of San Francisco on Jan. 8.
“Amel Larrieux is an amazing singer, she’s an amazing talent—I just love incredible artists like her,” said Breed. “I support visual and preforming arts in the City; and it’s great having her. Whenever she comes to town, I make it a point to see her.”
Here are some interesting facts about Amel Larrieux: Her first name means “hope” in Arabic. Larrieux attended Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. She attended the senior prom with Questlove, from the Roots.
She has two children, Sky and Sanji Rei, with her husband/producer Laru, who hails from Haiti.
She is a self-described “scent junkie” and the night of our interview, she wore an elegant French perfume called “Serge Lutens a La Nuit.”
Shelah Moody: You’ve been collaborating musically with your husband, Laru, for 19 years. How has your relationship with him influenced your music?
Amel Larrieux: Wow, it’s probably on a more subconscious level, creatively. The fact that he’s a very objective person, an honest person and a person who I respect musically--that’s probably what’s influenced me—at least what I can think of on the surface. Also, there’s his willingness to be detached from his own music, so he can make a track; and then I can write a song, or I can get on the piano and write a song and play it to him. Either way, he has the same objectivity. That’s what’s really influenced me, because it helps me get out of my own way as a songwriter, because, as an artist-- especially as a songwriter--it’s easy to get attached to your stuff. Toni Morrison once said that if you can’t throw away what you’ve written, then it’s probably not very good.
SM: Has Toni Morrison’s work also inspired your music?
AL: It’s funny, because I’ve got tons and tons of lyrical inspiration from musical lyricists as well, but I constantly go back to Toni Morrison’s writing. I feel like, that’s when I found who I was as a writer, when I really started reading her books, really getting them. I read “The Bluest Eye” when I was younger and I got it but I didn’t get it. When my mom gave me “Paradise,” it changed my life. It cracked me open as to what I could do with my writing, and how you could use your words to build these incredible structures in just one sentence, that had nothing to do with what anyone else was doing, to have your own language and your own prose. I hear the music in her books; I hear it. I would say that Toni Morrison is as much of an influence to me as Stevie Wonder.
SM: Your music has been described as profound, loving-- romantic. Couples walk down the aisle to your music during their weddings.
AL: It’s a great honor. Honestly, I’ve never had great dreams of where my songs would end up. I’m probably a perfect Buddhist, because I’m always “right now” in this moment. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined so many people using “Make Me Whole” as a wedding song. I’ve had a number of celebrities, athletes, and others hire me to sing that song at their wedding; and also, my newer ballad, “No One Else.” They’ve had me do both songs at their weddings. It’s killer—it’s the nicest, most honorable feeling. That is really a big thing for me—that they could relate to my words so much that they’d want to use them on their wedding day.
SM: Tell me about your new album, “Ice Cream Every Day,” and what songs and concepts really excite you about the project.
AL: I feel so weird because I don’t want to be biased and I can’t help it; I’ve never really promoted my own music before. With this album, I’m actually excited. I don’t know if it’s because of where I am in my life; I’m going to be 40 in March; and I am waiting to be 40. I’ve always felt like, “yay, 40!” That means that I’ve made it, like I’m halfway there. Things shift and change every year with aging, but for me, musically, what happened on this album feels so comfortable that I can actually listen to it, which is not something that’s been an interest of mine before. I actually love it, equally, the music and the songs; and I really feel comfortable with my voice. That’s the other thing, I feel like, finally, I’m sitting back into my voice and what it is. My body has molded itself into this thing that allows it to be the voice that it’s supposed to be. So, the culmination of all those things makes for something that I’m so excited about. It’s got kind of similar diversity in lyrical content and production value that most of our work has, so it’s not all one thing. It’s definitely not trend driven. I love popular music, but it’s never what comes out of Laru and I. Whatever comes out of us comes out; and if it can be included in the roster of popular music…great. It’s got a timeless feeling, which I hope is something that we carry through with all of our albums. This album is diverse, lyrically. Definitely, I’m a romantic, and I love to write a love song that’s so completely visceral that it could make you get all kinds of mushy and whatever. That’s what I’ve felt from love songs. But there are also songs about introspection and again, reflecting the things that I’ve gone through during the last couple of years in my growth. What I’ve learned from Laru is: you can be in your own head only so long as a writer, because no one will ever relate to what you do. I spend so much time listening to my friends and listening to the public, which is why I love Twitter and Facebook. I really listen and I really absorb what people are saying, whether it’s been said to me or on it’s on someone else’s page. I think that I unconsciously include it in the way that I write. So, there’s this general feeling of something that will end up in my songs. I am so grateful for social networking, because it allows me to have that connection to be able to write those kinds of lyrics and songs. Before I embraced Twitter, I was mostly using Facebook. I’m bad with names and numbers but incredibly good with faces. If I just see a flash of someone’s face, I’ll remember it, and I’ll see somebody in the audience and say, oh, I know you! And people will be like, oh my God, how do you know me?
SM: I’ve been talking with a lot of your fans this week, and they’ve described Amel Larrieux as sincere, warm, heartfelt and sultry. Many of your fans feel that they have a personal connection with you.
AL: That’s awesome! I feel that the moment my eyes lock with someone when I’m singing; there’s a personal connection. Whether I want it to be or not or whether I was expecting it-- it always happens. So I have multiple personal connections during the span of one performance (laughs). It’s really amazing. Someone I worked with a long time ago told me that the reason artists are so vulnerable and neurotic is because we are like sponges—we absorb everything. Then, it’s squeezed out of you, then you are empty and then you absorb again. It’s like, I can’t really help it; I take it in; I take it on. The thing that I’ve learned in my growth in this industry and my growth as a human being is that even if the person’s energy is not on point, not correct, now, I’m at a place where I can send love and just keep going. It used to be that I would recoil and I couldn’t perform. I know that this is going to sound crunchy granola. It’s really an amazing lesson as a performer to be able to get that close, because if I were at the level of Rihanna, I could never have that. I’m being taught these crazy, wonderful lessons about humanity and how to be graceful. I’m just so thankful for the audience to give me that chance.
SM: Speaking of the audience, I noticed during last night’s show that people would actually shout out their favorite Amel Larrieux songs. What songs, would you say, are all time audience favorites?
AL: It’s probably a tie between “For Real” and “Makes Me Whole.”
SM: Last night you did the most amazing cover of “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by the Police. In my opinion, your version is better than the original. Your band also played a few riffs of “I Can’t Help It,” from Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album. How did the Police, Michael Jackson and the music of the eighties influence your music?
AL: Huge. It was the first music that was my own. Everything else was exposed to me by my parents, who were like, super music snobs. They were always playing “sophisticated” music. It was great; I loved the music they played for me. But when you are a kid, and you are musical and creative; and you go and find that thing yourself, it becomes yours; it becomes like your stuffed animal. It was my comfort and my safety blanket. The arrangements are so incredibly lush on “Off the Wall.” To this day, our children love it as much as we did. (Laru) and I were both obsessed with Michael Jackson. I had a Michael Jackson haircut. I wanted to be Michael Jackson, as a girl! (Laru) danced like Michael Jackson. My youngest wrote odes to Michael Jackson. This man was an enigma. Whether he was writing or not, everything was just like beautiful sunlight coming out of his skin and his voice; and I could feel it as a child. As for the Police, I understand when an artist of a certain race appropriates another race’s music; I’m very clear about that. I think that Sting was very clear about his being influenced by reggae. But the way that it was done was so smart; and so very authentic and original for that time, that even today, you hear something, and you’re like, ah, that’s somebody dong that police sound. It was undeniably good, because reggae is the best music in the world. For Sting to marry reggae with rock and his bass and his jazz knowledge was just so good. That particular era for me, those musical styles were like my little special treasures; and they still resonate today, which is awesome.
Amel Larrieux Discography:
Infinite Possibilities (2000)
Lovely Standards (2007)
Ice Cream Every Day (2013)
Follow Amel Larrieux @ www.blisslife.com.
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amel-Larrieux-Blisslife-Records/25931518647
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/amellarrieux
On YouTube: www.youtube.com/artist/amel-larrieux
For upcoming shows at Yoshi’s Jazz Club, go to www.yoshis.com.
Black History Month Exclusive Acclaimed Singer Lawrence Beamen Celebrates the Black History Month and the Life of Paul Robeson with Two Dynamic Bay Area PerformancesPublished on Thursday, 14 February 2013 17:02
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