Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics and Still Sits On Her Throne!

After one listen to Aretha Franklin’s newest album (Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics) you realize why she’s the Queen. Actually maybe you won’t if this is your first introduction to her.  If you know Aretha from her 60s and 70s hits than you know, what I know, and the world knows. Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul and she does whatever she wants. You can hear her confidence in each song. You feel that she left a piece of her Soul and it sticks with you.

Many people have stated that Aretha Franklin sounds old now. Well, my friends at the age of 72, Aretha Franklin is old. I don’t care in what profession she was in (if she wasn't in music), she would be considered old. It makes this collection of 10 classics even more special. Aretha Franklin is doing what God made her to do. She’s singing her heart out and stirring souls. From her jazzy riffs to her Gospel squalls. This is not a legend simply working but a legend working it!

Only Aretha Franklin would have enough heart and voice to even attempt 10 songs that were already huge hits for other artists. All are signature songs for other artists. Can you imagine Rihanna, Taylor Swift or even Beyonce doing something so out there? Both “I’m Every Woman” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” have already been huge hits for two other artists. I love the nod to Whitney she tossed while starting the song with the Whitney arrangement and then throwing in her own signature song “Respect".

The stand out track is “Nothing Compares 2 U” The Prince written Sinead O’Connor megahit.  What Aretha and producer Andrea 2000 came up with was legendary in itself. They went big band and it is the most organic soulful song on the entire album. The blaring horns and the kickass piano is just amazing!


This is easily Aretha’s best albums since 1998’s “A Rose Is Still A Rose”.  As the title said: Aretha still sits on her throne. 

Other interesting readings: Aretha's classic reading of "Teach Me Tonight" which returned her back to her Columbia years where she recorded an entire album dedicated to one of her favorite singers; Dinah Washington, "No One" shows off her one of a kind riffs and runs. "I Will Survive" and "Midnight Train to Georgia just shows you she will always do a song her way which is breaking all the rules and creating something new. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Morning Cup of Inspiration: Jennifer Hudson - Moan

From Jennifer Hudson's not yet released album "JHUD" this is the stand out track and unfortunately it will more than likely never be released as a single.  This is one of the few songs that exist that shows Jennifer's greatness as a Soul singer.

The song isn't about showcasing her vocals but it shows her SOUL and that makes a soul song.  After listening to "Moan" you feel like she left a piece of her Soul on the song and it stays with you.

I get what Clive Davis is trying to do by leaving the album on the upbeat/dance track side but one day somebody has to realize that is not Jennifer's strength. Like Aretha and Mary J. Blige, Jennifer's strength is sharing the feeling of hurt and overcoming the hurt. Until Jennifer and the music executives realize and tap into that, I don't expect Jennifer to have a big recording career.

Hopefully "Moan" will make them realize her strength as oppose to having her sing some bubblegum type of music that anybody with auto-tunes could record.

Morning Cup of Soul: Claudia Lennear - What'd I Do Wrong

Here is something from 1973 by one time famed background singer Claudia Lennear.  She was recently featured on the Oscar winning documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom". In the 60's and 70's Claudia sung backgrounds for everybody from Ike & Tina Turner to Joe Cocker.

This is a song from her 1973 album "Phew" and it is funky, soulful, bluesy and it rocks too! That studio had to be on fire when this was recorded because it indeed is smoking!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Morning Cup of Inspiration: Karen Clark Sheard - Sunday Morning

I know somebody need this. Especially the people protesting for justice in Ferguson, Mo. I heard this in the car and I didn't even know that I needed but I did.

"On Sunday morning there's a word waiting for you, On Sunday morning let the lord minister to you."


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Morning Cup of Soul: I Wish I Knew How To Be Free

As protesters protest for freedom in Ferguson, Mo, I feel that this Nina Simone song is perfect for the Morning Cup of Soul. She is longing for the same freedom in 1967 that people in 2014 are longing for.

Tear Gas, Sniper Rifles, & Body Armor. Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri

Tear gas, sniper rifles, and body armor.
Cries for justice and for freedom.
Attack on unarmed teens and reporters.

Home sweet home, America the free?

Yes, this is happening on American soil. The Ferguson police department and St. Louis county police have declared war on American citizens. They are shooting rubber bullets into crowds, tear gassing them, and arresting them for peaceful demonstration for justice.

If you do not have a twitter account or aren't fairly active on social media, you may not know this is going on.

An unarmed teen by name of Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. Questions were raised and the Ferguson, Mo. Police department responded with no answers. What exactly was the incident that left a 17 year old teenager shot in the back and dead in the middle of the street? Was this another incident of a boy simply being black?

The information that I have gathered is that Mike Brown was walking in the street with a friend. The police officer demanded that he “Get the fuck on the sidewalk”. The teen did not move fast enough for the officer and the officer never getting out of his car grabbed the young man. The officer proceeded to put the teen into a choke hold while the teen tried to free his self. The teens friend ran for his life as this the police officer started to fire shots at Mike Brown. After shots were fired, Mike Brown also begun to run and the officer shot the unarmed teen in the back. The teen lifted his hands and yelled that he was unarmed and not to shoot again. The police officer shot the young man again and a body lay in the middle of the street for hours. From audio records that were released by the hacktivist group “Anonymous”, you could hear that the officer called for crowd control first. From the audio that I heard the still unnamed officer did not call for ambulance or even state that there had been a shooting but he called for crowd control. 


Now the citizens are dealing with an almost rogue police force that are trying to shut down mostly peaceful demonstrations and even shut down the coverage of the event to the media. On twitter other countries such as Palestine and Gaza are speaking to citizens of the United States that are in Ferguson about how to deal with tear gas. 

pictures courtesy of twitter.com 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Morning Cup of Soul: Sweet Honey In The Rock - Ella's Song [We Who Believe In Freedom Cannot Rest]

I think this is the perfect song to address the Ferguson, Mo. unrest. Sweet Honey In Rock takes the words of Ella Baker and put them into a song. "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"

"Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens." - Ella Baker

Friday, August 8, 2014

Morning Cup of Soul: Rick James - Cold Blooded

I don't want to start a debate about who the King of Funk should be but I know Rick James is on the top of my list for that title. Rick always brought the Funk and he really brought it on "Cold Blooded".