Your Weekly Weekend Music Mix | 6/6/14

 MUSIC INSTA-BABE: Rita Ora

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Rita Ora is a British singer-songwriter who released her first album in 2012 and is currently featured on Iggy Azalea’s song “Black Widow” from the chart-topping album “The New Classic”. She is currently signed to Roc Nation and one can hope that a follow up album is forthcoming. Rita Ora is a babe. You should follow her on Instagram @RitaOra. And fellas … she’s newly single too!

KILLER COVER: Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan Covers Joy Division

I’m a huge Depeche Mode Fan. When I found this cover of Dave Gahan covering the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” I lost my shit. Terrific cover.

Marvin Gaye Doesn’t Need Instrumental Accompaniment

The video below is a just the vocal feed of live performance. Who says you need instruments to sound good. This video proves that if you can sing …. you can sing. The first few seconds are silent (it’s just the vocal feed, so you can’t hear the introductory instrumentation. For your auditory pleasure, the a cappella track of Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. You’re welcome.

MUSIC NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

It’s been quite an eventful week for the Beastie Boys. Earlier in the week, in a very classy and moving tribute, the Beastie Boys announced that they will no longer record new music after the death of Adam Yauch pka “MCA”. On Thursday, a jury in New York’s Federal Court found that Monster Energy violated the Beastie Boys’ copyright and now has to pay out a $1.7 Million judgement. I guess this case is proof that a one word email of “Dope” can’t constitutes a sufficient meeting of the minds for contractual purposes. LOL.

New video of Justin Bieber singing racist lyrics to one of his songs surfaces, and all I can do is shake my head in disgust. How many second chances do you give a kid who seems to have a sense of entitlement? Personally, I’m just tired of it.

Chris Brown was recently release from prison after serving part of a one-year sentence for violating his probation. He has vowed to change his ways. Personally, I hope that he’s being sincere about his proclamation. I like his music, and he needs to keep his ass clean and stay out of trouble and just make good music.

Pharrell announces that the new album he’s working on with Snoop will win Snoop a Grammy. He even went as far as to say that the album he’s producing for Snoop is even better than his own latest effort. If that ain’t high praise, I don’t know what is.

BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING

This 8 year old from Norway is AMAZING. Angelina Jordan got her “start” performing on (and winning) Norway’s Got Talent. She has a voice that is beyond her years, and it blows me away every time I hear her sing. Ugh. Simply marvelous. If her voice impresses you as much as it does me, you really need to follow her on Facebook and check out her other videos.

365 Songs in 365 Days: A Woman’s Commitment To Sing

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I feel like I do a good job at picking friends whose passion for music is as strong as, or greater than, mine. In fact, for some of them, the music is actually in their blood. Literally.

Tina Watkins is a friend of mine since elementary school (her brother was in my 6th grade class). I remember going to her parent’s house and hanging out in their home recording studio. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that Tina’s mother was a member of The Sylvers; a very popular  R&B/soul and disco group during the 1970s who released 11 albums between 1972 – 1984. Let me assure you, she got the music genes in the family.

Earlier this year, sometime in March, she posted a youtube video wherein she proclaimed that she was going to try her best to sing one song for every day of the year: 365 songs in 365 days. Whether with instrumental backing or a cappella, in her kitchen or in the car, by herself or with friends, armed with only the video in her phone, she’s been religiously knocking them out.

I caught up with her to find out what motivate her to do this project. Here’s what she had to say:

MMM14: For those who don’t know you, who are you and why did you start this 365 songs in 365 days project?

TINA: Well, like I told my dad- It’s good for goodness’ sake. He loves watching them. I’m a writer, fiancée, friend, daughter, sister, dog/ cat/ turtle parent, cook, fashion designer, artist and community activist. I work to make the world a better place, one day, one song, one smile, one act of kindness at a time.

One Monday night in March I was singing my heart out in the shower (happens often) and just didn’t feel like stopping. I was having fun. And I thought, why should I stop, and why shouldn’t I share?

My promise to me is to share a song a day: If even one person enjoys it then I’ve spread some joy. And that’s a good thing. I started the next morning.

MMM14:  What’s your background in music (lessons, projects, musicals, etcs)?

TINA: According to my mom I started singing at age four. In harmony. Singing in public used to terrify me, so about 15 years were spent in groups (choir/ a cappella/ girl bands etc.) The more voices I could hide behind the better. I remember singing with you in Chadwick’s a cappella group Ted led for a while, you have an amazing voice.

MMM14: <blushes>

TINA: At Occidental college I studied opera for a couple years under voice scholarship. More than anything else, my learning came through blending in harmony with different female vocalists (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, India Arie, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Sade, Jill Scott.)

Believe it or not I’ve written more than a hundred songs, but most have never seen the light of day (thank goodness- a lot of them were awful).

MMM14: Do you have the songs already planned out? Do you take requests? What are you planning as a last song?

TINA: Nope. Maybe. No idea.

Honestly, there’s no plan at all. All I’ve committed is not to spend too much time on them. Which is hard because it’s such fun and I’m a perfectionist. From the moment I begin thinking about the song for the day to when it’s posted takes around 15 minutes every day. I’ve made up some of them as I sang.

It’s especially challenging when it’s been a hard day because that comes out in my singing. Being authentically joyful really is a choice and this has reminded me every day to choose happiness and share that.

I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can get without having to learn new songs. So if a request happens to be a song I already know I’ve taken it. I’m getting married this year also, so seeing how this fits around my life is fun.

No idea what the last song will be… Maybe something original. Something with interpretive dance (insert evil laugh). Something fun. Something good.

I don’t think she has to worry about what song she sings (even if she makes it up, which she’s done on occasion). Odds are it will be something fun … definitely good.

Other people have tried doing this as well. Some with professional production, and fancy cameras, but Tina’s endeavor proves that the joy of singing really doesn’t need fancy production. With technology being what it is today, you can use your phone to record video and share you passion or joy with whoever is willing to listen. Ah, the joy of singing.

Here are some of my favorites. Follow her  Youtube account to see what else she decides to post.

As an added bonus, another youtuber “remixed” her a cappella performance of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love”. See, the Internet can be fun!

 

 

The Time I Kicked It With John Stephens

I sang in an a capella group at Cornell University. I have very fond memories of my time singing with the group. We traveled and performed around the world and got to experience a lot of things that other college students could only dream of. Throughout my four years in the group (95-99), I always kept an ear out for new recordings and cool arrangements from other campuses.

As it turned out, one of my best friends growing up went to the University of Pennsylvania. He knew that I was interested in a cappella music, and gave me a copy of a CD when I came by one year to visit. He told me of a friend who had an amazing voice, who was in the University of Pennsylvania a cappella group called The Counterparts.  The album was called “Housekeeping” the singer’s name was John Stephens, and the song he sang on was “One Of Us“.

A few years later, while I was attending law school, and working part-time, I happened to be living in a “guest room” in the back yard of the home my friend and his brother were living in. My friend let me know that  John Stephens was heading into town and would be crashing on the couch for a few nights. He told me that John was in town for meetings with some labels, and that maybe I should see if the firm I was working for at the time would be interested in trying to set up a meeting.  My buddy made a copy of John’s demo (which I thought was dope by the way) and I tried to pitch him to the firm, but they were too busy or too skeptical to really pay any attention to me.  Maybe I should I have tried to persuade them a little harder, but hell … I was attending a cut-throat law school, and working part time, so I figured that if they weren’t interested, it wasn’t any skin off my back.  I had enough on my mind.

One night while we were all kicking it at a bar, I mentioned to John that I had the one CD of his college a cappella group, and we talked to each other about our backgrounds in music.  I found out that, like me, he was the business manager of his a cappella group.  His knowledge of music, though, was definitely far superior to mine, and he obviously seemed to have much more passion than I did in pursuing a career as a singer.  My career as singer was limited to a few auditions for the revamped “Star Search” and vocals for original music used in a short-lived animated series called “Phatheadz” (sp? … I can’t even remember it anymore) that was available to watch on the no-longer available site urbanentertainment.com…. but I digress… We drank the night away, and did what what young men in their early 20s do at bars.  From what I can remember, it was a good time.

John’s meetings must have went pretty well…. he ended up getting deal with a label, and has had a pretty decent career. I still have his a cappella group’s CD, but I wish I could find that CD of demos I was given before he was signed. D’oh!

Click here to find out who John Stephens is.