Tag: 1960s soul

Throwback: Happy 71st Birthday, Stevie Wonder!

JOVM celebrates Stevie Wonder’s 71st birthday.

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Diana Ross!

This week is a rather auspicious week in music history: Yesterday Elton John and Aretha Franklin shared a birthday. And today, the legendary Diana Ross turns 77, I firmly believe that we should celebrate our legends while we have them — and Diana Ross is one of the most influential and important out of the entire Motown Records universe.

So I thought the best to celebrate her birthday would be to post some throwback live footage of Ms. Ross doing her thing.

Throwback: Black History Month: James Brown

Amazingly, the month has managed to fly by: Today is February 13, the 13th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

James Brown is without a doubt, one of the most important and influential artists of the past century. Rock, soul, R&B, dance music, pop, funk and hip-hop all are indebted to the legendary godfather of soul, the soul brother #1. Sadly, I never got a chance to see Brown live — but if you saw him in the height of his powers, Brown was a transcendent performer.

Seriously, can you think of anything more righteous than James Brown playing “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” in Kinshasa? Probably not.

Throwback: Black History Month: Stevie Wonder

The month is flying by: Today is February 11, the 11th day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience. Of course, I hope that throughout this month you’ll remember — and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Simply put, Stevie Wonder is a genius and a treasure. We should appreciate him, love him and protect him for the rest of his days. This post is centered around live footage — and the live footage from the 70s is transcendent. Seriously.

Throwback: Black History Month: Aretha Franklin

February 10 is the tenth day Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience. Of course, I hope that throughout this month you’ll remember — and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Tonight I thought it would be best to write about Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. You can Google any pertinent biographical information but I have a story about ‘retha that I’ve mentioned on several occasions: I landed in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport early in the morning one mid-January Sunday. After going through customs and retrieving my suitcase — a suitcase that I had gratefully borrowed from a girlfriend — I took the commuter train into Amsterdam Centraal Station to discover that I had a couple of hours before anything was open.

A smiling, blonde waitress waved me in a few minutes before they were about to open. They had an oldies radio station on the air, playing familiar and beloved hits from a variety of decades. Within about two hours of being in Amsterdam, I was reminded of how ubiquitous Black music and culture are, and how important the Queen of Soul is when this radio station started playing ‘retha — and the waitress happily sung along in slightly accented English. Now, whenever I hear ‘retha, I think of that Dutch waitress singing along.

Throwback: Black History Month: The Supremes/R.I.P. Mary Wilson

Today is the ninth day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience.

Through the month — and throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to understand and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture
Black music is American music.
Black history is American history.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

I was awakened to see an alert from CNN that read “Mary Wilson, co-founder of The Supremes dead at 76.” I knew then that a tribute post to Wilson — and the legendary Supremes would be necessary.

The Supremes were one of the best selling, most popular acts of their day. They were also among a handful of Black acts that saw widespread mainstream success: They were not only Ed Sullivan Show mainstays, they were on practically every single variety show and entertainment show in the country — and they knocked off The Beatles from the top spot of the charts, eventually dominating the charts with hit after hit after hit after hit.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Rhythm Scholar Takes on a Beloved Motown Classic

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculous prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. During that same period, the JOVM mainstay has developed a reputation for crafting slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, hip-hop, New Wave and a growing list of  other genres and styles. 

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him tackling the beloved and classic Temptations tune “Just My Imagination.” Perhaps unlike his other remixes, this particular one reveals a subtle yet deft touch: while retaining the original’s memorable and gorgeous melody and the legendary soul act’s impeccable harmonies, the JOVM mainstay’s take manages to gently push the song up about a decade by adding some lush Rhodes, a soulful horn line, some conga and a soaring string arrangement — all of which gives the material a dreamy, gossamer-like air. 

New Audio: Nature Sounds Re-Issues a Late and Under-Appreciated Soul Classic

The Exciters were a Queens, NY-based R&B and soul quartet that could actually trace their origins to when its founding members Brenda Reid (lead vocals), Carolyn “Carol” Johnson (vocals), Lillian Walker (vocals) and Sylvia Wilbur (voclas) formed an all-girl vocal act, The Masterettes as a sister group to another local act The Masters in 1961. As The Masterettes, Reid, Johnson, Walker and Wilbur released their first single “Follow the Leader” in early 1962; however, Wilbur left shortly after the single’s release and was replaced with Penny Carter. And with their new member The Masterettes auditioned for renowned songwriting and production duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, eventually winning a recording contract. Shortly after the contract was signed Carter left and was replaced by The Masters’ Herb Rooney, who later married Reid, and of course with the addition of Rooney, the quartet officially changed their name to The Exciters.

As The Exciters, the Queens-based R&B/soul quartet rose to national prominence with their 1962 smash hit “Tell Him,” which landed at number 4 on the US pop charts. The act continued to release well-regarded music for several years, including 1969’s Caviar and Chitlins through RCA Records, during what may be one of the most important, influential and commercially successful periods of the genre’s history. Coincidentally, some years later The Exciters’ Rooney would go on to write and produce Melvin Bliss’ Synthetic Substitution, which is arguably one of the more sampled albums in hip-hop.

Despite The Exciters’ relative success, Caviar and Chitlins had been out of print for several decades, until Brooklyn-based label Nature Sounds, a label that has released works from J. Dilla, Doom, Camp Lo and Masta Killa, recently released a vinyl re-issue, as well as the first digital release of the material ever. The re-issue’s first single is the sensual “Fight That Feelin,'” a song in which its narrator expresses that her desire for her lover has become insatiable, that her lover is much like a drug she can’t quit. And my goodness, this track should remind you of your parents soul collection and old episodes of Soul Train.