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NEWSPublished on Wednesday, 01 January 2014 08:53
New Year Exclusive: Up Close and Personal with Henry Fambrough of the Spinners
By Shelah Moody
The Spinners perform 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Jan. 24-25, Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore Street SF, CA, 415.655.5600, yoshis.com/sanfrancisco.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Henry Fambrough, the remaining original member Spinners, one of the most influential vocal groups of all time. Throughout their illustrious career, 50-year career, the Spinners have toured the world, recorded with some of the top producers and songwriters in the music business, topped the “Billboard” charts and influenced a generations of male vocal groups with their smooth harmonies and choreography, crossover sound and natty, multi-colored suits. Along the way, all of the founding members have passed on, but Fambrough, a Detroit native, is still keeping the group going strong.
“It’s been a beautiful ride,” said Fambrough, 75.
“The Spinners are one of the premier exponents of '70's group soul and were blessed for many years with the lead vocals of the dynamic Phillipe Wynne, who went on to sing with Funkadelic,” said music historian Harry Duncan, host of the radio show “In the Soul Kitchen.” (http://inthesoulkitchen.blogspot.com).
“Their collaborations with Thom Bell, songwriter, arranger and their longtime producer and his associate, songwriter Linda Creed, exemplify some of the very best of the Philadelphia soul sounds of the '70's.”
Fambrough performs live Jan. 24-25 with the current Spinners: Charlton Washington (lead vocals), Jessie Robert Peck (deep bass), Marvin Taylor, Ronnie Moss and a five member band at Yoshi’s San Francisco.
How old were your when you joined the Spinners?
Henry Fambrough: We started from the beginning, me and Pervis (Jackson) and Billy (Henderson) and Chico (Edwards). We were the originators. That was before we got out of high school. Bobby (Smith) joined us a about two or three years later after we formed our group between 1957 and 1958. After that, we met Harvey Fuqua, who became our first manager. He and Berry Gordy’s sister, Gwen Gordy, started the Tri-Phi label together. We had our first recording, “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” in 1961. It was a hit.
SM: Who came up with the name, “Spinners?”
HF: Our first name was the Domingoes. We got tired of that because people were messing up our name, plus, we didn’t like it much, anyway. We assigned each other to go out and research and come back with another name for our group. Bobby came up with the name, “Spinners,” because he was a car fanatic. In fact, he became a collector of old cars. He would find old cars and re-do them; and put them back together they would be looking like new. At the time, there was Cadillac that had beautiful hub caps, and they called them the spinner hub cap. That’s where he got the name from.
SM: I have fond memories of watching you on “Soul Train” on Saturday afternoons as a child. Can you share some memories of the late Don Cornelius and of performing on “Soul Train?”
HF: Don Cornelius was a very, very good friend of ours. Every time we would go out there, he would come into our dressing room; and we would sit and talk for hours, sometimes before and after the show. Don was a great guy.
SM: How did “Rubberband Man,” one of my favorite Spinners’ songs, come about?
SF: Thom Bell wrote and produced it. He was our number one producer. He was great. We still keep in contact. He lives on the west coast, near Seattle, WA. Thom had a son, who used to dance; called him Fat Man. Thom wrote a song about him called “Rubberband Man.”
SM: What was it like recording one of your biggest hits, “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick?
HF: It was great working with her. In fact, we toured with Dionne Warwick for a long time before we recorded that song. She asked Thom to record her, and Thom told her that he would record her if she did a duet with the Spinners. She agreed. It’s a beautiful song.
SM: What are the most requested Spinners’ songs at your live shows?
HF: We get a lot of requests for “Rubber Band Man,” and also, “Cupid” “Could it Be I’m Falling in Love” and “I’ll Be Around.” We get so many requests that, a lot of our songs; we have to put in a medley, because if we tried to do all of our material, we’d be on stage for about four or five hours!
SM: Do you think that your moves and your musical style influenced Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5?
HF: I heard Michael and one of his brothers doing an interview, and they were asked about their favorite artists and who they looked up to. They said they liked the Motown groups, like the Temptations, the Four Tops and the Spinners. I said, oh, that’s cool!
SM: After the loss of all of your original members, what keeps you going after 50 years in the business?
HF: I love it. When I put the group back together; I did research and I tried to replace the guys who are gone with guys who had similar personalities-guys who wanted to work hard and be honest; and had good character. We’ve got a great group of guys with us. A couple of the guys are writing. We are going to take our time and put our new CD together. We got to go to South Africa in April, 2013. We are going to put together a live CD of our performances in South Africa, including Johannesburg. We did about 10 days of filming.
Harry Duncan’s Top Spinners Picks:
**You're All I Need in Life” from Happiness Is Being with the Spinners
**I'm Coming Home” (live) from When We Were Kings soundtrack
**Sadie (live) from The Spinners Live
**Mighty Love from Mighty Love
**Love Don't Love Nobody from Mighty Love
Streetwise Radio New Year Exclusive—Superstar Jermaine Jackson Comes to San Francisco to Endorse Salvare La Vita Water, Joins Initiative to Fight Global Drought
By Shelah Moody
Hana Baba, Host/Reporter, Crosscurrents, KALW News, Jermaine Jackson, Shelah Moody, Shakira Niazi
Let’s get serious—about water. Sept. 20, 2013, was an historical day for music in San Francisco, CA. As Grammy-winning drum and bass masters Sly and Robbie and former Black Uhuru front man Mykal Roze prepared for their sold out show at Yoshi’s San Francisco, a member of America’s premiere entertainment family held a press conference at the Hotel Diva. Grammy nominated singer/songwriter/musician Jermaine Jackson, in partnership with business woman Shakira Niazi, came to San Francisco to endorse Salvare la Vita natural spring water and put his hand prints and signature on the Walk of Fame at the Hotel Diva. Check out the video footage: http://youtu.be/AhxscxoevoE.
Originally from Gary, Indiana, Jermaine Jackson rose to fame in his teens in the late sixties with his brothers—Michael, Marlon, Jackie and Tito--Jackson 5, one of the best selling groups of all time, who produced hits such as “ABC,” “I Want You Back,” “Daddy’s Home,” “I’ll Be There,” “The Love You Save” and more. Jackson eventually launched a solo career, producing his own hits such as “Let’s Get Serious,” “Don’t Take it Personal,” “Do What You Do” and “If You Think My Eyes are Beautiful,” a duet with Whitney Houston. In 1992, he produced the acclaimed mini-series and family autobiography, “The Jacksons: An American Dream.” Jackson is also known for the iconic moment on July 7, 2009 when he delivered an emotional rendition of Charlie Chaplain’s “Smile” at his brother Michael’s star studded memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Yvonne Lembi-Detert, Founder of Personality Hotels, Shakira Niazi and Jermaine Jackson
Jackson was introduced to Niazi, founder of Vita water through his wife, Halima Rashid, anative of Afghanistan, and decided to join the cause. According to the business model, for every 31 bottles of spring water that Vita sells, they provide one person with clean water for 20 years. When you purchase Vita water, your investment goes toward a portion of a new well that will be built to provide clean water to those in need.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be in a family that has had the opportunity to travel the world,” said Jackson. “What was most important to us was to try and make a difference where there were children starving, sick, etc. That’s why we put those messages in our music. I’ve seen poverty at its highest, and there is so much in the world that nobody should be in need.
“My wife knew Shakira; she was telling me about this water and she was trying to make me try it,” said Jackson. “I’m not a big water drinker, because most waters make me gag. I’ll have to have something sweet in order to drink any kind of water. I started drinking Vita water in the morning and I noticed that it was the only water that didn’t make me gag. I like the taste. I started asking more questions about the purpose behind it, because if we’re going to back something, we have to know that it’s doing something good for people. I found out that Vita is not just a good tasting water—what it is doing around the world is supplying clean water to people who don’t have it. And then there’s the whole part about building wells, I said, ‘My God, there’s no other water company doing this.’ So I agreed to come aboard and do as much as I can. I just wish that it had come around much earlier. Water is going to become very precious, more so than petroleum or anything else.”
Niazi, a native of Afghanistan based in San Ramon, CA, said her goal is to have 20 wells built in her country by the beginning of 2014. Drought and access to clean water is a pressing health issue in war torn Afghanistan.
“Water is the most important element of life,” said Niazi, who launched Salvare La Vita water in 2010. “Having access to clean water is not only a health issue; it’s an education issue, it impacts our entire livelihood. The fact is, a billion people on our planet do not have access to this luxurious commodity.”
According to Niazi, lack of access to clean water causes more deaths than many forms of violence, including war.
“I am especially moved, because as a (native) of Afghanistan, I could have been one of those statistics,” said Niazi. “Because I’m here and have access to abundance, I felt like it was my purpose in life to bridge the worlds for the better, through health and good water.”
During the press conference, Yvonne Lembi-Detert, president and CEO of Personality Hotels, which included Hotel Diva, announced that she has made a commitment to carry Vita water.
“We will carry it exclusively for all of our guests,” said Lembi-Detert. “We can’t run a hotel without water, whether it is coming out of our drains or welcoming our guests with a wonderful bottle of water.”
Salvare la Vita Water
According to Niazi, Salvare la Vita water gets its smooth, pure taste because of its natural mineral content, which includes potassium, magnesium and calcium. There are no additives. Jackson, who is quite active on stage, said that Vita water is easy to drink because it is naturally alkaline.
During the press conference, Hana Baba of KALW 91.7 FM local public radio in San Francisco and a native of the Sudan, asked if Niazi had any plans to branch out to her country, where war and drought are prevalent.
“Vita’s mission is for everyone in the world to have safe water; that’s what we are trying to build,” said Niazi. “Annually, the United Nations provides a report on the water crisis. All of the statistics that I am referencing--the fact that more than three million people are vanishing on an annual basis, the fact that 80 percent of this burden is on women, who collect the water, the fact that 50 percent of hospital beds are occupied by people who have contracted water borne diseases-- are from this report. My strategy of how we are going to pursue this essentially follows the UN’s map of the world water crisis. On that particular global scale, the countries where more than 50 percent of the population do not have access to clean water get a red marking. We go there, first. When I started in 2010, it was my home country, Afghanistan.
“Absolutely, Sudan is on top of the list,” said Niazi. “Like Jermaine said, we envision this movement taking support from all walks of life worldwide, and as it does, we will see more reduction of the water crisis around the world.”
For more information, go to:
Holiday Exclusive—Up Close and Personal with R&B Star Ruben Studdard
By Shelah Moody
Ruben Studdard performs at the San Francisco Symphony’s Colors of Christmas Concert with Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester and Cece Winans, 8 p.m. Dec. 16-18, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, www.sfsymphony.org, (415) 864-6000.
“Silky, classy, sexy, romantic –bring you to your knees – this is how I describe the incredible voice of Ruben Studdard. He feels every note and every word he sings. He is a man with an extraordinary voice.”-David Foster, 16-time Grammy winning producer and chairman of Verve Records.
Ruben Studdard is one of those rare and gifted artists who has made the transition from reality television to international superstar. The Birmingham, Alabama native made history when he won the second season of Fox Television’s singing competition “American Idol” in 2003. As a guest judge on “American Idol,” R&B legend, Gladys Knight dubbed him the “Velvet Teddy Bear,” because of his robust vocals and flawless delivery. In 2004, Studdard received a Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Superstar.”
As an actor, Studdard starred as Fats Waller in a national tour revival of the Broadway musical “Ain't Misbehavin,” which generated a Grammy-nominated soundtrack. Recently, Studdard’s fans followed him through his courageous struggle with weight loss as a contestant on the NBC reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”
On Feb. 4, 2014, Studdard will release his highly anticipated studio album, “Unconditional Love,” produced by David Foster on Verve Records. “Unconditional Love” is Studdard’s first studio album in two years.
From Dec. 16-18, Studdard will join the annual Colors of Christmas celebration at the San Francisco Symphony, with R&B, gospel and pol music icons Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester and Cece Winans.
Streetwise Radio recently caught up with the delightful Ruben Studdard for a brief but insightful interview.
Shelah Moody: On Nov. 8, I was in the audience at the 2013 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas, watching you and Candace Glover and some of the biggest stars in R&B pay tribute to Dionne Warwick. What was that experience like?
Ruben Studdard: That was great; I really enjoyed that. I’m a big fan of Candace. I wanted to sing with her. I really love her voice. My mom told me about her being on “American Idol,” so I had to watch and see what she was all about. I sent her a message on Twitter and told her that one day, we would sing together, and it happened. To be on stage with Gladys Knight, Ron Isley, Eddie Levert, Eric Benet and Kenny Lattimore, Chrisette Michelle—it was a great tribute. I’m glad that BET and Centric asked me to be a part of it.
SM: It was a truly moving moment when you and Candace sang “A House is Not a Home.”
RS: I’m glad that I can still move a crowd.
SM: Speaking of moving a crowd, how does it feel to be performing with one of your favorite singers, Peabo Bryson, on the Colors of Christmas tour this year? You covered “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again” on “American Idol” and now you will have a chance to duet with him.
RS: Oh, my God, you have no idea. There are a lot of great things that have happened for me, and one was winning “American Idol,” and being able to perform with people who I admire is something that continues to happen to me. I’m really thankful that I have an opportunity to perform with Peabo. I’m a really big fan of his voice and his music. I have a very eclectic musical palate, so I am a fan of Melissa Manchester; and who doesn’t love Bebe and Cece Winans? My cousin and I would do concerts, singing their music. I can’t wait to take a picture with Cece Winans and send it to my cousin!
SM: Tell me about your new ballad “Meant to Be,” the first single from your upcoming album, “Unconditional Love.” I just listened to the song and the lyrics, the arrangements are amazing.
RS: Thank you so much. It was written by me, and David Foster. We started writing the song while I was on “The Biggest Loser,” and we finished up after I was done. It’s really a great song; and I’m glad that it turned out as good as it did. I’m looking forward to getting all of the feedback from it.
SM: I really love the lyric in the song that says, “when we have love for ourselves, only then can we love someone else.”
RS: Right. That’s a really important thing. You know, a lot of times, we go around searching for love, but you’re really not able to love anyone until you really love yourself completely. That is a powerful line for me as well.
SM: What was it like working with David Foster, who also accompanied you on piano at the Soul Train Awards.
RS: We’ve been working together for the last five years and he’s been a mentor to me for the last five years. This is the first time that we’ve decided to do an album together. It’s been great; it’s like going to school, honestly. I was a music education major in college, but being around people like David is like going to a professional school. I took away a lot from his work ethic and how hard he works to produce a great product. I think everybody is going to be pleasantly surprised when they hear this album.
SM: There are certainly some romantic stunners on this album, including covers of the Carpenters “Close To You," which includes Stevie Wonder on harmonica, Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Teddy Pendergrass’ “Close The Door” and a duet with Laylah Hathaway on “With You I’m Born Again” originally recorded by the late Syreeta Wright and Billy Preston.
RS: Well, the title of the album is called “Unconditional Love,” and it’s all about timeless love songs. That’s what we wanted people to take away from this, that feeling of undying love that you have for somebody.
SM: Gladys Knight nicknamed you the Velvet Teddy Bear. Do you have a collection of velvet teddy bears that fans have given you?
RS: I do not (laughs).
SM: What advice would you give to aspiring singers who are trying to make it to large scale vocal competitions such as “American Idol?”
RS: You know, there really isn’t that much advice that you can give anybody. The most important thing is that you just have to do your best. There are people who go into auditions half-heartedly and won’t make it, so you have to always give everything on the audition tape.
SM: So, what are Ruben Studdard’s plans for the holidays?
RS: I will be working. On Christmas Eve, I have a show in West Palm Beach. I might just take a holiday from the holiday this year.
The Gershwin’s Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical “Porgy and Bess” Comes to San Francisco
By Shelah Moody
What: George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”
When: Thru Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013
Where: SHN Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St. San Francisco,
This weekend, one of the year’s most celebrated events, the revival of the Gershwin’s Tony Award inning Broadway musical “Porgy and Bess,” ends its wildly popular run at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 8.
First Produced in 1935, “Porgy and Bess” deals with universal themes of poverty, alienation, drug addiction, violence, racism and above all, love. The stellar cast includes Alicia Hall Moran (Bess), Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy), Alvin Crawford (Crown) and Kingsley Leggs (Sporting Life).
Alicia Moran Hall (Bess) being interviewed by news anchor Melissa Culross at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre.
Opening night, Nov. 13, included a host of glitterati in the house including Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Susan Lori Parks, (“Top Dog/Underdog”) who adapted the book, “Porgy and Bess,” Diedre L. Murray (who adapted the musical score), San Francisco District 5 Supervisor London Breed, Thomas Robert Simpson, Jefferson Award winning artistic director of San Francisco’s AfroSolo Theatre Company, broadcast journalists/authors Belva Davis and Barbara Rogers, image consultant Kelly Armstrong and more.
Diedre L. Murray, Thomas Robert Simpson and Susan Lori Parks
Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy) and Thomas Robert Simpson, Artistic Director of the AfroSolo Theatre Company in San Francisco.
Indeed, the “Porgy and Bess” was made famous by incredible score, which includes jazz and opera standards such as “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “I Loves You, Porgy,” “Bess You is My Woman Now,” “I Got Plenty of Nothing,” and one of this writer’s all-time favorite compositions, “Summertime.”
Before the grand opening of “Porgy and Bess,” I spoke briefly with Michael Strunsky, Ira Gershwin’s nephew and executor of his musical estate.
Shelah Moody: What does it mean to you, to bring this classic production to San Francisco?
Michael Strunsky, nephew of Ira Gershwin
Michael Strunsky: The wonderful thing is that we’re actually bringing a new version of “Porgy and Bess.” It was first produced in 1935; George Gershwin wrote it as an opera. But you know, opera is a tough nut to crack for a lot of people. It’s not such as an exciting event as a Broadway style musical. My uncle, Ira, co-wrote the lyrics to all of the songs. Even though this is not a particularly happy story--it’s a sad story of how people survive--it appears more understandable to people in this form than in opera form. The music is just spectacular.
SM: What’s your favorite song from “Porgy and Bess?”
MS: If I had to take it as a song and not the theatrical piece itself, it would be “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” which the character Sporting Life sings to the villagers in the second act.
We are playing the song "Just Tell Me Now" by Shantel Robinson on
Shantel Robinson was born on November 16, 1990 and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She attended Hydel Preparatory and Immaculate Conception High Schools. She is currently a student at the University of Technology, Jamaica where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and majoring in Finance and Banking. Check out more of her bio here and see why we think she has a great future in the music world.
Up Close and Personal with Rising R&B Star DēP By Shelah Moody
“Think deep; and nothing is happenstance.” This is the motto of a former gospel singer, currently hot on the R&B scene, who goes by the name of DēP. As a songwriter, background vocalist and opening act, DēP has worked with the likes of Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell, Kirk Franklin, Dave Hollister, Kelly Price, Avant, Brian McKnight, Scarface, Dwele, Solange Knowles, Michelle Williams, Fantasia, Fred Hammond and more. He has embarked on a successful solo career with songs such as “Something More,” “Contract” and “Celebrate” A southern gentleman, with a honey dripping accent, the sultry tenor hails from Houston, Texas.Click here for full interview.
I’ve never heard of Marlon Saunders until I heard his song “The Beginning of Never” on Streetwise Radio. I really like this soul, jazzy, R&B singer-songwriter from Chestertown Maryland. This talented artist has his own independent record label, called Black Honey. Check out the more of this brilliant artist here.
Up Close and Personal with L.J. Reynolds of the Dramatics By Shelah Moody
Peter Tosh Birthday Celebration at Ashkennaz Berkeley
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Sultry Reggae Singer Maxi Priest to Deliver the Gospel of Soul at Yoshi’s Oakland By Shelah Moody
Reggae on the River.
The San Jose Jazz Festival
The Monterey Bay Jazz Festival
GLORIA RY'ANN BIO: “Music is the fabric of my soul.”Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 07:14
Not since Minnie Riperton has there been a more enchanting songstress with a glass-shattering high octave vocal-range. This show-stopping beauty Gloria Ry’ann is riding on the success of her current single releases “O.M.G.” and “Back With You”. Gloria is the treasured find for today’s music lovers. Entertaining crowds large and small across the country, Gloria has performed with the likes of pop princess Rihanna, Oscar-winner, Jennifer Hudson, legends Ashford & Simpson, Patti Labelle and the late Teddy Pendergrass.
Gloria has appeared on “The Today Show,” “106th & Park,” “The Mo’Nique Show,” The Tom Joyner Morning Show, The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and MTV European Music Awards as a supporting vocalist and as a soloist. “Music is the fabric of my soul,” Gloria says.
A Chicago-south-side-native, Gloria grew up with a love of music that was fostered by her mother who encouraged her to sing and perform for family and friends. Back then, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Teena Marie were among the vocal heroes of young Gloria who soon began lessons with the world-renowned composer Dr. Lena Mc Lin. Over time, Dr. Mc Lin helped Gloria nurture her skills as a artist that gave her the confidence to relocated to New York City and focus on her music career. “I knew moving to New York would be my push to pursue my dreams to make them my reality.”
Her determination is paying off. Emerging as a dynamic vocalist, with a four- octave range, Gloria Ry’ann has been featured throughout the country as a headlining music act. Her music has found a home on radio stations around the world. Listeners are flocking to her sound on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube as well as live performances that convey a style, which Gloria describes as “positive, vibrant, classy, sensual, and sometimes naughty.” “From middle voice to the whistle register, Gloria is in possession of a vocal tone that is simply beautiful,” says Carl Smith of GrownFolksMusic.com. “I, for one, have reserved a space in my musical radar screen for [her] and I think you should, too.”
Here are her links to her music and contact info:
TWITTER: hrefundefined@Gloriaryann" target="_blank">@Gloriaryann
FACEBOOK: Gloria Ryann
FB MUSIC PAGE: http://facebook.com/pages/Gloria-Ryann-Music/256607467688769
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