We are sad to report that jazz, funk and soul legend Donald Byrd, has died at the age of 80. This incredibly talented musician left an indelible mark on popular music that will continue to resonate. Having been sampled by some of hip hop’s most notable artists, the legends sound changed the way we heard jazz and we are blessed to have received his gift. R.I.P. Read more of this post
We were too saddened to hear of the passing of Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, the charismatic front man of funk pioneering group, The Ohio Players. We were fortunate enough to witness this incredible brother perform in the Bronx, New York a little over a year ago and can attest to the fact that he still had it. His presence and talent will be sorely missed Worldwide. Read more of this post
From the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia:
WHAT/WHO: The Brown Family, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Events DC and The Howard Theatre have invited fans of the late Go-Go artist Chuck Brown to a series of events memorializing his life and contributions to the District’s and the nation’s musical and cultural heritage.
The general public is welcome to attend the viewing, which will take place on the first floor of the theatre. Please note: no photography of any kind will be allowed inside of the theatre.
Members of the media who wish to cover the viewing should contact Barbara Martin with BrandLinkDC (working on behalf of the Howard Theatre) at 301.229.6770 or Barbara@brandlinkdc.com. Parking for camera trucks for news organizations will be allowed on T Street NW in front of the theatre beginning at 7:00 a.m. on the day of the viewing.
The general public is strongly encouraged to use public transportation for the viewing, as parking will be extremely limited and surrounding streets will be closed. The Shaw/Howard University Metrorail stop on the Green Line is located a block from the theatre (please exit towards Howard University). In addition, Metrobus operates buses on several lines along Florida Avenue NW and 7th Street NW near the theatre. To plan your trip by Metrorail or Metrobus, please visit Metro’s website at http://www.wmata.com/.
For those who are not able to use public transportation, limited parking is available near the Howard Theatre on the day of the viewing:
· Howard Center, located at 2224 Georgia Avenue (across from Howard University Bookstore)
· East Towers Lot, located at 2200 8th St. NW (behind the Howard Center lot)
· Banneker South, located at 2345 Sherman Avenue.
The use of public transportation is also strongly encouraged for the memorial service. The Mount Vernon Square/7th Street/Convention Center Metrorail stop on the Green/Yellow Lines directly services the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Multiple Metrobus and D.C. Circulator bus routes also stop on at the Convention Center on Mount Vernon Place NW, M Street NW and 7th Street NW.
Members of the media wishing to cover the memorial service should contact Chinyere Hubbard with Events DC at 202.439.5133 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A media room with access to a video feed of the memorial service will be provided.
Pool video feed of the service will be provided through the DC Government’s Office of Cable Television. For more information on the feed, please contact Kenneth Borden at 202.671.0057 or email@example.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Chuck Brown Foundation, Inc. PO Box 4558, Silver Spring, MD 20914 (www.thechuckbrownfoundation.com). The Chuck Brown Foundation is a Maryland nonstock corporation. It is in the process of applying for Section 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code.
We had to reprint this heartfelt tribute written by black radio legend, Donnie Simpson. We grew up listening to Chuck Brown AND Donnie Simpson, both are whom are the epitome of cool and class. RIP Chuck Brown.
Chuck Brown was one of the coolest and most down to earth people I’ve ever known. He died yesterday at the age of 75, but left behind quite a legacy. He was one of the creators and the unquestionable Godfather of Go Go music.
In DC, Chuck was The Washington Monument, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and The Big Chair, all wrapped up in one. I know a lot of people around the country and the world may not know all of those references, but my DC peeps know exactly what I’m talking about.
Chuck’s song “Bustin Loose” was like a DC anthem and was the first GO GO song to go #1 in the country.
His song “We Need Some Money” showed his understanding of everyday people trying to make ends meet. “Each and every dollar that I can come across, goes into my gas tank and out my exhaust. We need money.” Those lyrics ring just as true today as they did when he wrote them 30 years ago.
I once told Chuck this story and he Loved it. I was in South Africa playing golf one day and I always play with headphones on. That day I was grooving to “Go Go Crankin” by Chuck when I noticed this brother on the maintenance crew laughing and pointing at me as I rocked out.
Well it dawned on me that he would probably dig what I listening to. With all this percussion and sick rhythm, how could he not? This is where it comes from. So I asked him if he wanted to hear it. He said yes and we sat on his tractor for 20 minutes jamming to Chuck. He Loved it and I did too. I’m a DJ and no matter where I’m at, I Love turning people onto music. It was a special honor to turn someone on to the music of DC.
One last thing I want to say about my brother and I’m gonna let you go go. He spent some time in jail when he was young, but it was there that he traded 5 cartons of cigarettes for his first guitar. To me that is a great example of not knowing God’s plans, the silver lining in struggles, and why we should never write someone off. We all have value. Look at what this man did with his second chance.
My deepest sympathy goes out to his beautiful wife Ja Ja and their family. I cry with you, but I rejoice too. I’m honored to have not only known your Chuck, but to have been his friend.
I just listened to a voicemail Chuck left me exactly two months ago today. It brought tears to my eyes when I heard that unique raspy voice say “I just thank God I’m still around man. I thank God for you too man.”
I thank God for you too Chuck and you will always be around. Your spirit is woven into the very fabric of DC.
After the death of Chuck Brown last week, DC locals went to the newly renovated Howard Theater in the U Street corridor to celebrate the life of the music legend. Check out a few here. We are still in shock about this and just know Chuck is looking down on all of us as we all yell “Wind Me Up Chuck!” one more time. As you can see, DC folks loooooove Chuck and you can feel the love coming through. Please stay tuned for more details about Chuck’s funeral arrangements.
LaDonna Adrian Gaines, aka Donna Summer
December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012
Donna Summer passed away quietly on the morning of May 17, 2012. The news of her death however, rang loudly, sorrowfully, all over the globe. TMZ reports that she died after a protracted battle with an undisclosed form of cancer, which added shock to the disbelief, chiefly because Donna Summer personified vibrance. Everything about her was sensational, in the positive sense of that word: voluminous flowing tresses, a wide megawatt smile, toned and shapely figure that served as the perfect canvas for sequined gowns. Early in her career it took the shape of smoldering sensuality captured in songs like “Love To Love You Baby” and images like the shot of her resplendent in white, reclining in the curve of a crescent moon, her long legs on proud display. Later in her career, the undisputed Queen of Disco would continue to wow crowds with her empowerment anthem “She Works Hard For The Money” and win Grammy® Awards in categories you might not expect, like the two she garnered for Best Inspiration Performance (“He’s A Rebel” and “Forgive Me”). Donna Summer accomplished a lot in her five decades as an entertainer that you might not expect. Donna Summer is a shining example of the universality of the soul artist.
Donna Summer reached her zenith at a time when popular music was segregated; the rise of disco represented the convergence of genres that comingled in the clubs and on the streets, but rarely met on the charts. While rock ‘n’ roll and pop were code for “white music” and “R&B” and “soul” were code for “Black music”, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Donna Summer sang—and scored hits—in whatever genre she chose. In 1978, her cover of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” went #1 and earned her a Grammy® nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance. Summer also went #1 with “Hot Stuff”, which earned her a Grammy® Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance. “Last Dance”, from her star turn in the cult classic film Thank God It’s Friday, climbed to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, scored her another Grammy® for Best R&B Vocal Performance, and earned an Academy Award® for its composer, Paul Jabara. “She Works Hard For The Money” brought the plight of women in the workforce to the top of the charts; arguably the first mainstream record to make the case for pay equity plain. Its music video was the first by a black woman recording artist to receive an MTV Video Award nomination—in 1984.
Perhaps her refusal to be categorized as an artist came from Summer experiencing international success as a theater performer and session vocalist in Germany before becoming a household name in the United States. When her rock band Crow failed to get a deal, instead of quitting, she auditioned for Hair in New York City. When Melba Moore got the part, instead of sulking, she took the role in the European production of Hair. The girl from Dorchester, Massachusetts kicked off her career in 1967 in Europe. Eventually becoming fluent in German, Summer appeared in German productions of Showboat and Godspell as well. By the time Summer starred in Thank God It’s Friday, she was a seasoned actor.
While the industry knew this full well, her gift as a songwriter was not often highlighted in the media. Donna Summer wrote a great deal of her own material. She also penned “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” for Barbra Streisand. Her songs have worked their way into contemporary hip hop and R&B as samples (“Freaks of the Industry” by Digital Underground and “Naughty Girl” by Beyonce’ echo “Love To Love You Baby”). The club classic “I Feel Love” was inducted to the Dance Music Hall of Fame along with Summer in 2004.
Donna Summer was more than the Queen of Disco. She was a rock star. A pop icon. A gospel singer. A soul siren. A dance pioneer. A sex symbol, when it meant something, when it took that certain something, to actually be one. The masses were her core audience; a rare feat for any artist to accomplish and sustain without losing their connection to that audience. Before Beyonce’, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, before Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears, there was Donna Summer. While she is now gone, her voice and music live on. As hard as she worked for the money and the music, with all the barriers as she broke? You better treat her right.
I’m celebrating the music of another great artist – someone who inspired dance music as we’ve always known it, whether we’re talking about the sexy slower grooves, or straight up techno music. This tape doesn’t have one single scratch technique on it, but I got a pretty serious juggle in there. I turned it around in less than one day, but don’t be impressed by that fully – I need some sleep! Prepare for some disco, and if you’re not into that, go listen to the Best of the Beastie Boys. Donna just passed yesterday, and I hope I can do her music justice. Enjoy an hour of the lovely voice of Donna Summer.
(If It) Hurts Just A Little
99 – Cassius
Sing It Back
I Feel Love
No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) ft. Barbara Streisand
As is typically the case when an icon dies, folks, including us, try to find all the images and videos they can to remember the nearly departed. We love this short documentary and will be looking for more as we continue to mourn the loss of the Godfather of Go Go, Chuck Brown, who died yesterday, May 16, 2012, at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. Funeral services are currently being planned. As we learn more, we will report.
They say deaths come in threes and it just makes our heart heavy to have to report the death of the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer. Just a day after the death of Go-Go’s Godfather, Chuck Brown, we are overcome with grief at the report that Ms. Summer lost her long battle with cancer. Today is an extremely sad day in the world of music.
More from TMZ:
Donna Summer — the Queen of Disco — died this morning after a battle with cancer … TMZ has learned.
We’re told Summer was in Florida at the time of her death. She was 63 years old.
Sources close to Summer tell us … the singer was trying to keep the extent of her illness under wraps. We spoke to someone who was with Summer a couple of weeks ago … who says she didn’t seem too bad.
In fact, we’re told she was focused on trying to finish up an album she had been working on.
Summer was a 5-time Grammy winner who shot to superstardom in the ’70s with iconic hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.”
Here are some of our favorite Donna Summer songs for those not as up on her work:
We are too saddened right now to write a full report about Chuck Brown but wanted to convey this horrible news to his fans throughout the World who may not have heard. More to come soon.
From the Washington Post:
Chuck Brown, the gravelly voiced bandleader who capitalized on funk’s percussive pulse to create go-go, the genre of music that has soundtracked life in black Washington for more than three decades, died May 16 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was 75.
The death, from complications from sepsis, was confirmed by his manager, Tom Goldfogle. Mr. Brown had been hospitalized for pneumonia.
Although I did not grow up when Dr. Martin Luther King was still alive, I benefitted greatly from his non-violent movement and achievements as a powerful orator and community leader. Like many, I heard Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech throughout my years in school.
Growing up in a predominantly Black city ensured that I would see a image of Dr. King in every classroom and on the fans of every church. On this day, the day he was killed, let’s all try to take a moment of silence for this incredible leader who made an indelible impact on our lives and our future. Thank you Dr. King.
On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior was assassinated.
On April 3, King spoke to an audience at Bishop Charles J. Mason Temple making one of his many famous speeches saying, “But it really doesn’t matter with me now,” he declared, “because I’ve been to the mountaintop [and] I’ve seen the Promised Land.” He continued, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
He was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A white segregationist, James Earl Ray, was later convicted of the crime.
After her husband’s death, Coretta Scott King established the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change (also known as the King Center) to promote Kingian concepts of nonviolent struggle.
She also led the successful effort to honor her husband with a federally mandated King national holiday, which was first celebrated in 1986 Additionally, she and the King siblings successfully pursued a civil case in 1999 – King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators (full transcript) – in which the jury concluded that King was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.
Here are a couple songs that instantly come to mind when thinking about Dr. King:
Sam Cooke – A Change Gonna Come
U2 – In the Name of Love
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions – We’re a Winner
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions – Keep on Pushin
I grew up with Marvin Gaye. Not literally, of course, but in the way you grow up with a popular cousin who moved away and is a big star. You see, I grew up in Washington, D.C., where Marvin Gaye grew up. Anyone who has lived in the District knows it is a very small town masquerading as a global center. There is the Washington you see on TV and then there is D.C., where the folks who work in the Government centered city live. The city is divided into four quadrants and it is generally accepted that the most affluent section is Northwest D.C. Marvin grew up in Southeast, the direct opposite of NW geographically and economically, and later moved to the Deanwood section of Northeast, not too far from where I grew up.
Marvin attended Cardozo High School off of Florida Avenue and near Howard University in NW. Growing up in the 70s and 80s in DC meant avoiding this area since it was very near to the infamous U street corridor, which back then was a den of iniquity that was to be avoided at all costs. I cannot even imagine what it was like when Marvin went there. Perhaps, it was a better time. Despite his minister father’s disdain for all things secular, Marvin would become hip to doo-wop and join several singing local singing groups. And despite popular belief, it was Bo Diddley, who discovered Marvin Gaye and not Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder.
Marvin’s music was a constant in my life. Many of my early years were spent at my family’s juke joint, The Funky Donkey, which was located right outside of the District in nearby Cedar Heights, MD. Cedar Heights in now District Heights, MD but I will never forget those times, waiting my turn to play pool and listening to the likes of Bobby Womack, The O’Jays and, of course, Marvin Gaye. We sold cold beer and BBQ and some of the best conversation and down home music anywhere. I recall so many BBQs and family reunions and knowing it would not be complete until we heard Got to Give It Up.
On the day Marvin was killed by his father, I was in a record store in New Carrolton, MD. I had just finished looking at posters and was picking out a Duran Duran button (yes, that Duran Duran) and somebody ran by the record store door like a modern day Paul Revere and yelled “Marvin Gaye daddy killed him! Marvin Gaye daddy killed him!” Keep in mind, this is waaaay before cell phones and answering machines (at least in my house), so we just rushed home and started making calls to anyone who had heard anything. I recall radio tributes and extensive local coverage but was shocked to learn more of the details of Marvin’s death. While Marvin and his father had had a strained relationship dating back to his childhood, it was truly tragic to know that they had not mended fences and the result was the loss of a true titan of music.
Fast forward to the early 90s, and I am driving on Spring Break in Honolulu, Hawaii with a recently purchased cassette of Whats Going On. I remember how I had lived that record when it was out, but it had become background music. My local station in DC, WHUR, played tons of Marvin Gaye, but in the S.F. Bay Area, where I was in college, didn’t play as much. And, as a DJ on campus playing mostly hip hop and new jack swing, I had perhaps lost some of the soul I grew up with. That said, when I heard that album on that dark highway by myself, I think I heard it for the first time. From the opening note to the closing refrain, you can hear the pain and desperate plea Marvin was making. While the album was not received with open arms initially by Berry Gordy, it remains my one of the best albums of all time. At the time, all of my friends and I were on edge wondering if we would be drafted for the Gulf War, so hearing the record at that time in my life really hit home.
Of course, I can never forget the first song that was played at my wedding reception by Qool DJ Marv, Aint No Mountain High Enough, by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. That incredible tune, written by Ashford and Simpson, provided the ideal backdrop for one of the best nights in my life. And finally, my 40th birthday party (DC version) was held at the ultra-hip lounge Marvin, located on the aforementioned U Street corridor, which has since been transformed into a gentrified paradise replete with the requisite bars, lounges and amenities that had been lacking for decades. It was a pleasure to enter a new phase of life at this cool spot named for one of my favorites.
Today, as we celebrate Marvin’s life and mourn his tragic loss, try not to let his message and memory slip away. He transformed music, not just soul music, but all music. His legacy will continue to grow for years to come and we will continue to do our part to uplift it.
Check out some of the following obscure Marvin Gaye pre-Motown highlights:
The Moonglows – Hey Little School Girl (Marvin Gaye – Second Tenor/Baritone)
The Moonglows – The Twelve Months of the Year (opening monologue is Marvin Gaye)
The Spinners – That’s What Girls are Made For (Marvin Gaye on Drums)
We were incredibly shocked to hear this news. According to MSNBC and other outlets soul singer Whitney Houston died today of unknown causes. She has recently been spotted with R and B singer Ray J and it has been reported that she and Ray J were on their way to Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. However, this rumor has been refuted by Ray J’s PR team. Apparently, Bobby Brown was in Memphis with New Edition preparing for a show when he heard the news. He and daughter Bobbi Christina are said to be crushed and not doing too well, which is understandable.
This is horrible news and we will keep you posted with details as we hear them. Rest in peace Whitney! Your voice and soul will be sorely missed. You changed Black music and the world with your gift.
Here are a few of the songs that made Whitney America’s sweetheart:
According to TMZ, rapper beloved rapper Heavy D, who came to national fame in the late 80′s golden era of hip with his hit “Mr. Big Stuff”, has died at the very young age of 44.
Rap legend Heavy D – one of the most influential rappers of the ’90s — died earlier today … TMZ has learned.
Heavy D — real name Dwight Arrington Myers – was rushed to an L.A. hospital around noon today … and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1 PM. He was 44 years old.
We’ve learned a 911 call was placed from Heavy’s Beverly Hills home around 11:25 AM to report an unconscious male on the walkway .
When help arrived, we’re told Heavy D was conscious and speaking — and was transported to a nearby hospital.
He died a short time later.
Cops are investigating the death — and so far, there are no obvious signs of foul play. Police are currently at the home.
We are deeply saddened by this loss. Heavy D was a pioneer and a true heavyweight in every sense of the word. He will be remembered as one of the rappers responsible for taking rap to the masses. His sound and energy were immediately popular and he will be sorely missed.
We were very sad to hear of the loss of R&B singer, Vesta Williams (March 18, 1963 – September 22, 2011), who was reportedly found dead in a hotel room in Los Angeles, CA on Friday morning. However, it is believed that she passed away the previous night, Thursday, September 22, 2011. The cause of her death is unknown at the time of this post. We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to her family.
A message on her website simply said:
Vesta is no longer with us. She passed away
Thursday, September 22nd., 2011 in Los Angeles.
We don’t know why yet.
More information will be posted as we find out.
The site will remain in it’s original form for now.
Vesta we don’t know how, we don’t know why, we just know we’ll miss you so much.
Vesta Williams was a strikingly beautiful woman with one of the strongest voices in contemporary R&B. She hit the scene in 1986 with her hit, Once Bitten, Twice Shy, which charted in the U.S. and across the pond in the U.K. While she had several charting singles throughout her 20+ year career, she will likely be best known for her 1989 Top 5 hit, Congratulations, the lyrics of which feature an ex-lover coming to grips with the pending nuptials of her former beau. She was a gifted singer whose best work can and will always be heard on the Quiet Storm each night. She will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace Vesta!
Here are a few of her biggest hits:
Congratulations (Peak position #5 R&B)
Sweet, Sweet Love (Peak position #4 U.S. R&B )
Special (Peak position #2 U.S. R&B)
Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Peak #9 U.S. R&B)
Vesta Williams (March 18, 1963 – September 22, 2011) was an AmericanR&Bsinger. Originally credited by her full name, she has sometimes been simply billed as Vesta since the 1990s. Although Williams never had any albums certified gold nor any Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she scored six Top 10 hits on the USBillboardR&Bchart - including a #2 hit – from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s.
Her 1988 sophomore release, Vesta 4 U, produced the Top 10 R&B hits “Sweet Sweet Love”, “4 U”, and “Congratulations”, with the latter peaking at #55 on the Hot 100 chart, her only single to appear in that chart. This would also be her most successful album, and her only album to appear on the US Billboard 200, peaking at #131. In 1991, Williams released her third album entitledSpecial, and the title track as a single. That single became her highest charting song on the R&B chart at #2, but sales of the album were less than that of Vesta 4 U. Her next album, 1993′sEverything-N-More, produced only the minor R&B hit “Always”.
In 1989, Polygram Records purchased A&M Records. Williams 1998 album Relationships was released under the Polygram name, and it became a modest seller and appeared on the R&B chart. After this album, A&M/Polygram Records parted ways with her. She continued to be a session singer, landing spots on albums by such artists as Phil Perry, Howard Hewett, and George Duke.
This is really sad news but unfortunately news that seem to be closer in recent months. Soulful British singer, Amy Winehouse, was found dead today at her London home. While this news does come as a complete surprise, it is really sad to see such an incredible voice silenced. Amy was crying out for help for years and noone could seem to reach her enough to really turn her around. Very sad. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the cycle of stardom, that we forget that not every fall from grace is accompanied by a profitable rise from the ashes. As with other greats who have died at a young age, look for her to be even more of a draw in her death. Sad, but true. Watch iTunes and Billboard next week if you don’t believe me. Rest in Peace Amy.
“Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead Saturday in her London home, police said. She was 27.
Winehouse shot to fame in 2006 with the album “Back to Black,” whose blend of jazz, soul, rock and classic pop was a global hit. It won five Grammys and made Winehouse — with her black beehive hairdo and old-fashioned sailor tattoos — one of music’s most recognizable stars. But her personal life, with its drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and destructive relationships, soon took over her career.
Police confirmed that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at the home in Camden Square northern London; the cause of death was not immediately known. London Ambulance Services said Winehouse had died before the two ambulance crews it sent arrived at the scene.
Singer and actress Kelly Osbourne, who helped Winehouse check into a drug addiction treatment facility in 2008, was one of many who grieved for the singer on Twitter.
“I cant even breath right now im crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy and will never forget the real you!” she tweeted.
The singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, had arrived in New York this weekend to prepare for his U.S. performing debut Monday night at the Blue Note jazz club, but upon receiving news of his daughter’s death was heading back home to London to be with his family, his publicist Don Lucoff said.”