How I Got Over: John Legend, 2011

One of the most popular pop and R&B celebrities today, John Legend continues to find musical success through not only a distinct voice and wonderful songwriting, but also collaborations with other leading artists, from The Roots and Ludacris to Mariah Carey and Common. Here is his tribute to Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To…

My Last Tears: Honey Cone, 1970

It’s wonderful to see modern takes of old school songs, especially when they’re done well, and especially if there is a new twist  on it. Inspired by Motown’s Martha and the Vandellas as well as The Marvelettes, Honey Cone was formed in 1969 as a trio of singers who were in various singing and gospel…

Don’t Play It: Aretha Franklin, 1970

I often wonder what differentiates the good songs from the great. I imagine what accounts for greater notoriety is an essence that reaches the hearts of many over the few. I have also wondered if “good” music has inherent and timeless qualities, or if the definition of “good” always changes, subject to the zeitgeist and whims…

remember me: Timothy Bloom ft. V. Bozeman, 2010

Many artists get their start not as starlit natural performers, but instead after spending years in other roles within the industry before becoming discovered, or more often than not, forging their own path and breaking away independently. Isaac Hayes, who started as an instrumentalist, song writer, and producer for Stax is only one example of…

fun fact!

When Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records first stumbled on Aretha Franklin, he knew Franklin would have the best chance of producing hits down south with his partner at Stax. He called Jim Stewart in Memphis and asked him if he would take Franklin’s contract. Jim Stewart, then busy trying to maintain a quickly growing label with…

All I’m Askin’: Aretha Franklin, 1967

Singers have been “covering” other artists’ songs for generations now. A cover song, or often colloquially simply, “cover,” is a song that has already been released by a different artist, but has been renewed and reinvented — or, “covered” — by a different artist. Historically and practically, cover songs offer practice and inspiration to developing artists, while also — at…

Just Hold On: Etymology, Part 2

It’s time to dig again into the nature of the genre of soul music. When one looks up the definition of “soul music” — not “soul” as we had investigated before — online, one finds various versions with some common elements. Google calls soul music a kind of music incorporating elements of rhythm and blues and gospel music,…

fun fact!

Growing up, Aretha Franklin quickly befriended — and admired — another soul singer whose steps she would follow away from gospel and toward pop. His name was Sam Cooke.

A Word of Warning: Aretha Franklin, 1960

Aretha Franklin is a nearly incomparable tour de force in the world of popular music. Her strength, versatility, and musicality remain a gold standard for female vocalists, especially in the world of R&B and jazz and soul. Contemporary artists like Alicia Keys, Adele, and even the late great Whitney Houston all can give a nod…