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SYLVIA ROBINSON DIES....

Saturday, 01 October 2011 13:59 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

SylviaRobinson_092911_jpg_crop_displaySoul singer, record biz entrepreneur and the lady some called "the mother of hip-hop", SYLVIA ROBINSON has died. News agencies say that SYLVIA died on Thursday September 29th of congestive heart failure in New Jersey. She was 75.

Born SYLVIA VANDERPOOL in New York in 1936, SYLVIA began making records aged 14, under the name LITTLE SYLVIA, and enjoyed her first hit – 1957's Love Is Strange – as part of the duo MICKEY AND SYLVIA. MICKEY was actually her guitar teacher McHOUSTON "MICKEY" BAKER and the song went on to be covered by numerous other artists (including THE EVERLY BROTHERS), though it's now achieved lasting fame as one of the key songs on the 'Dirty Dancing' soundtrack.

Though the duo had a few more modest hits it was as a solo artist that SYLVIA was to seriously trouble the charts again. That was in 1973 with 'Pillow Talk'. Sexually suggestive, it could be argued that it was to be a direct influence on DONNA SUMMER'S breakthrough 'Love To Love You Baby'.

'Pillow Talk' had been released on SYLVIA'S own All Platinum label, which she'd set up with her husband, JOE ROBINSON in 1971. The label enjoyed decent success with artists like RETTA YOUNG and THE MOMENTS, but by 1979 its fortunes were in decline. Then, at a party in Harlem, SYLVIA heard three young rappers and she was intrigued. She signed them up, named them THE SUGARHILL GANG and had them record a rap over the rhythms of CHIC'S 'Good Times'. The track, 'Rappers Delight' - released on her new Sugarhill Records - rose to no. 4 on the R&B chart and... well, the rest is history. Dubbed the "first commercial rap record" (though the FATBACK BAND'S BILL CURTIS would argue differently), the song set in train a style and sound that is still thriving.

SYLVIA and JOE added more rappers to their roster and All Platinum went on to win 26 Gold Records before a disastrous business deal with MCA closed the label down; the famed Sugarhill Studio in Englewood New Jersey was destroyed by fire in 2002.

SYLVIA ROBINSON is survived by her sons JOEY, LELAND and RHONDO and 10 grandchildren. JOE ROBINSON died of cancer in 2000.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 October 2011 14:15

 

BENSON’S BACK....

Saturday, 01 October 2011 13:57 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

george_benLPSoul/jazz legend GEORGE BENSON is set to release a brand new album – 'Guitar Man'. As the simple title suggests, the LP is a project which highlights the man's unique guitar style.

The 12-song collection includes a mix of jazz and pop standards – some in a small combo setting and some solo. The side men include JOE SAMPLE, HARVEY MASON and bassist BEN WILLIAMS – a rising star on the US jazz scene.

Tunes on the album include a version of the BEATLES' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', the CHAMPS' 'Tequila', STEVIE W's 'My Cherie Amour', the standards 'Since I Fell For You' and 'Paper Moon' along with a moving take on 'Danny Boy.

In the meantime, Music Club/Rhino have just released a two CD retrospective on BENSON (see our news pages). There'll be full review of both albums here @ SJF very soon.

 

IT’S SHOWTIME...

Friday, 30 September 2011 16:50 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

gwen2Over the coming weeks London plays host to number of great soul and jazz artists and there really is something for every taste.

Sure to cause a lot of interest is the visit of 'Rockin' Chair' lady GWEN McCRAE. GWEN will be keeping the fire burning at a gig at the Islington Assembly Hall on Thursday 17th November. The Hall is part of the Islington Town Hall complex ... up there on Upper Street. As exciting is the fact that support band will be new Aussie soul stars ELECTRIC EMPIRE. Their album has rightly won rave reviews and the single 'Baby Your Loving' is shaping to be one of the year's very best.

October sees a show from the legendary Philly outfit, THE THREE DEGREES. The group which now consists of long time members VALERIE HOLIDAY and HELEN SCOTT alongside CYNTHIA GARRISON will play the Union Chapel, Compton Avenue on Monday 10th October. You can expect all the great, memory jogging hits and it's not yet confirmed whether super fan CHAS WINDSOR will be in attendance.

Jazz fans will be delighted to learn that the remarkable FOURPLAY are in London in for one show only. It's on Thursday 10th November and the venue is the lovely Clapham Grand on St John's Hill, Clapham. BOB JAMES, NATHAN EAST, HARVEY MASON and CHUCK LOEB are smooth jazz brand leaders and the show promises to be a sell out.... check out our in-depth interview with HARVEY MASON on our interviews pages.

Finally the BRAND NEW HEAVIES celebrate their 20th anniversary with two shows at Under The Bridge in West London on December 12th and 13th. The veteran Brit soul band will revisit all their past glories.... maybe given a new twist with new vocalist HONEY LaROCHELLE. Watch out too for a double CD "best of" album on the band on the way.

Check the venues for further details.

 

COMPETITION WINNERS...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 17:43 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

georgedionneIn collaboration with Music Club and Rhino, we recently ran two competitions with copies of their GEORGE BENSON and DIONNE WARWICK excellent 'Essential Selection' albums as prizes.

To win the GEORGE BENSON album, we asked who wrote the guitarist's break through tune, 'Breezin''... and the answer, of course, was BOBBY WOMACK.

To win the DIONNE WARWICK album, you needed to say which of her hits featured a lyric that bemoaned the fact that "all the stars that never were, were parking cars and pumping gas". It was, of course, 'Do You Know The Way To San Jose'.

The winners of the BENSON album were – ANDREW HAMPTON of Romford, RICHARD SAFFREY of London, J-O NILSSON of Malmo, Sweden, DAVE CHARD of Stevenage and ALAN COSTA of Brighton.

The DIONNE W winners – JUDY ROBERTS of Great Yarmouth, ALAN COSTA of Brighton, DAVE CHARD of Stevenage, KEVIN MURRAY of Wirral and YVES POQUET of Paris.

Congratulations to all the winners... watch out for more competitions soon.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 17:52

 

VESTA WILLIAMS R.I.P.

Friday, 23 September 2011 16:23 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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SJF is very sad to report the death of Ohio-born singer, VESTA WILLIAMS. The 53-year-old chanteuse was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room on Thursday 22nd September. The cause of death is as yet unknown. Though a one-hit wonder in the UK (where her infectious song 'Once Bitten twice Shy' was a Top 20 hit in 1986) she racked up several chart smashes in the USA, her biggest being 'Special' in 1991 which made #2 on the R&B charts. More recently she had recorded an album in 2007 called 'Distant Lover' for Shanchie Records. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 16:38

 

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