JAKI GRAHAM: The Interview

Tuesday, 03 July 2018 13:33 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBirmingham's JAKI GRAHAM has a wonderful music CV, stuffed with enviable achievements – most notably the fact that she was the first British black female solo artist to enjoy 6 consecutive top 20 hits. Of late, though, we've not heard too much from her – till this month when she emerged with a wonderful new long player, 'When A Woman Loves' (see our reviews archive). Most would see it as a kind of "comeback" however when we met up with Ms Graham for a chat about the album, she didn't see it that way and she insisted that despite what some soul commentators have said she's NOT the "forgotten woman of Brit soul"!

Not at all! I don't feel forgotten as I'm constantly working, all the time, worldwide. I definitely feel I'm a part of people's history. And although I've been quiet in the UK I've had releases internationally that have done very well, so I've still been flying the flag for the UK. The fans still give me the love and have been very patient in waiting for the new material. It's also nice to know that I get a lot of acknowledgment from my peers who recognize me as having been one of the first to open the doors for British female artists who followed.

OK tell us about your career post 80s ..... how hard have you found it to find work and get record deals.....Your PR sheets talk about a "challenging life journey" – are you prepared to tell us about that?

After all the hits in the 80s I secured a deal with Avex in Japan where it turned out I had a huge following, so the 90s was pretty busy for me too. I had the hit with Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody which was No.1 in the US Billboard Dance Charts for 5 weeks and I think the follow up single got to No.3 or 5, again for 5 weeks. The albums with Avex sold so well they decided to release another 2 albums of tracks that didn't quite make the cut for the first 3. So, with all this material I was constantly touring, whether it was across the US, Japan, Australia, Europe and then I always have gigs back home here in the UK. I suppose after leaving Avex I never really actively looked for another deal. It had been made clear in earlier years that I was probably of an age where I was too old to be able to get another deal so I was content performing live, as fortunately the hits and my catalogue have stood the test of time. As for my challenging life journey then more recent years were tough as I lost some very close friends to Cancer (which I also lost my parents to when I was younger) and amongst all this, nearly lost my husband Tony of 41 years, to heart failure which was tough. It was my daughter and manager Natalie who pushed me to record as she was convinced I had a story to tell and we could release new music ourselves, especially as we're now in the digital world of social media (which I'm still trying to get my head around). Once Tony was a bit better, the time felt right to start sourcing new songs and that was the road that's led us to where I am now.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2018 13:53




Wednesday, 20 June 2018 10:21 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


Judith Hill is talking to me from Nashville, the iconic capital of country music. It's not a place you would imagine her to be, or, perhaps, have an affinity with - after all, she's a Los Angeles-raised R&B and funk singer with gospel music roots, but the 34-year-old confesses that being in the iconic Tennessee metropolis ignites her imagination.  "It's really, really, inspiring to be here in this city," she enthuses. "It's fun because I love any kind of bluegrass and roots guitar playing." That statement is not one you would perhaps expect to hear from someone who's worked closely with Michael Jackson and Prince but it's insightful because it reveals that Judith Hill is refreshingly different and doesn't think in terms of genres - to her, then, music is music: it's a universal language and a unifying force that all can share despite their ethnic and cultural diversity.

It's a viewpoint that fits in with the theme of the singer's latest single, 'The Pepper Club,' an addictive chunk of horn-laden funk with an infectious chorus. It offers a taste of her forthcoming second, story-driven, concept album, 'Golden Child.' "'The Pepper Club is the place where everybody comes together and celebrates culture and diversity," explains Judith. "I picture it as a cultural Mecca - a place that people can come and have a good time and enjoy themselves and celebrate life, regardless of who they are and what their background is."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 June 2018 11:44



CONSPIRACY THEORIST - P-Funk's grandmaster, George Clinton brings Parliament Funkadelic to the UK for the final time

Sunday, 27 May 2018 10:36 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

    alt"The band stopped playing because I was in the middle of all these people naked..."

So says George Clinton, who is talking to me during a Hollywood press junket. He stops mid-sentence and then lets out a husky chuckle. The image that he's just conjured up is one you don't forget in a hurry.

Clinton is recalling what he believes was the most outrageous gig that his legendary band, Parliament-Funkadelic, played back in the 1970s. "I used to wear just a sheet on stage and sometimes I'd take it off and streak through the audience with nothing on," he explains. "The lights were always off when I did it but one time, somebody turned the lights on." Clinton says that he was 'under the influence' at the time but admits that even in his altered state, he was not prepared for exposing himself in public. "You think you're high enough to do that shit but when that happens you realise you're not high enough," he says, laughing uproariously at the recollection of an incident that might have ended some performers' careers - but not his. He is, after all, the irrepressible P-Funk overlord, whose name is synonymous with far-out fun and zany frolics.

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 May 2018 15:20



Her Chemical Life - Hailey Tuck talks 'Junk' to SJF

Wednesday, 02 May 2018 12:25 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


"Basically, I tried for years to get signed, obviously as everybody does," laughs 27-year-old Hailey Tuck, a jazz singer originally from Austin, Texas, whose debut album, 'Junk,' is about to be released by Sony Music. She's recalling the time, not so very long ago, when she was a struggling musician and trying to get record labels interested in her music. Evidently, it proved a tremendously frustrating and ultimately futile experience for the young Paris-based singer, who was told by several labels "your songs are too sad, like Radiohead."

That annoyed her - "it bugged me out" she exclaims - but eventually she managed to get an A&R man's attention, who agreed to see her live show. Excited by the promise of having a major record label (which for discretion's sake shall remain anonymous) declare an interest in her, Hailey arranged a showcase. "I rented out the 606 Club (in London) during lunchtime, hired a band, and rehearsed my ass off with them," says Hailey, who then reveals that A&R man didn't show up and, furthermore, didn't reply to her emails afterwards. For anyone who's been struggling to break in the music business, this, sadly, is par for the course. Summing up her experiences at the hands of record companies, Hailey says bluntly: "I felt like I was getting one night stands from frat boys all the time."

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2018 10:14



EXPOSING HERSELF - Jazz FM award winner Esperanza Spalding talks about creation, the significance of numbers, and the challenges of being an artist in a capitalist society.

Wednesday, 02 May 2018 08:42 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


Esperanza Spalding is clearly enjoying herself. She's laughing, posing for photos with friends and musical colleagues - among them Omar and Pat Metheny - while clutching a glass of champagne in one hand and a prestigious Jazz FM award (presented to her by Corinne Bailey Rae) in the other. She deservedly triumphed in the category of Digital Initiative Of The Year,  which acknowledged her innovation with the brilliant, groundbreaking album, 'Exposure,' released in 2017.  

Living up to its title, 'Exposure' set the 33-year-old bassist/composer/singer from Portland, Oregon,  the somewhat daunting task of making an album from scratch in 77 hours, while the whole session and creative process was streamed live on social media.  The resulting album, an astonishing double disc set, was released exclusively on Esperanza's website in a limited edition run of 7,700 copies and sold out within hours.  SJF's Charles Waring managed to grab a few minutes with the super-talented musical polymath before the champagne really kicked in and reduced her to a fit of giggles...


Last Updated on Friday, 24 August 2018 16:02



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