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Article

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...

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Chadwick Jenkins

(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...

Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920; d New Orleans, June 23, 2019). American trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its début at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with Fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man, and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

David Font-Navarrete

(b Gaston, NC, Aug 28, 1936; d Baltimore, May 16, 2012). American bandleader, singer, guitarist, and composer. He was a musical icon of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He was widely known as “The Godfather of Go-go” and renowned for his live performances, which emphasized continuous, percussion-driven grooves and audience participation, all staples of the Go-go genre he developed in the 1970s. Brown’s early years were marked by poverty and crime, and he first developed his guitar playing while incarcerated at the Lorton Penitentiary. With his band the Soul Searchers, Brown developed a distinctive sound that is grounded in funk and soul, but also heavily influenced by jazz and Latin genres. His hit songs include “Bustin’ Loose,” “We Need Some Money,” and “Go-Go Swing.” In 1992, Brown recorded The Other Side with vocalist Eva Cassidy, a critically-acclaimed album of jazz and blues material. He received a NARAS Governors Award and an NEA Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award, and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in ...

Article

Dave Laing

(b Los Angeles, March 15, 1947). American guitarist, singer and composer. He began playing the guitar at the age of three. He formed the Rising Sons with the blues revivalist Taj Mahal (1965–6) and for a short time joined Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band (1967). He also worked as a session musician with such groups as the Rolling Stones (Let it Bleed, 1969) and Little Feat (Little Feat, 1971). His first albums as a leader, Ry Cooder (1970) and Into the Purple Valley (1971) showed him to be a keen student of several American traditional music forms including blues and early country music. His attempt to redraw the map of American music continued in recordings with the gospel and falsetto singers Bobby King and Terry Evans which appeared on Bop till You Drop (1979...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

[Moreira, Gilberto Passos Gil]

(b Salvador, Bahia, June 29, 1942). Brazilian composer, singer and instrumentalist. He first studied the accordion, then in 1960 organized the popular music ensemble Os Desafinados. In 1963, while at the Federal University of Bahia studying business administration, he composed his first piece, the bossa nova samba Felicidade vem depois. In 1964 he moved to São Paulo, participating in shows and composing film music, and had his first songs recorded, among which Procissão and Roda revealed his affinity with folk music. The pop singer Elis Regina promoted several of his pieces on television.

In late 1966 he went to Rio de Janeiro, where he performed alongside Vinicius de Morais and Maria Betânia, and in 1967 abandoned business administration for music. His first LP, Louvação (1967), revealed a socio-political agenda centred on the plight of the poor, and was based on expressive cultural elements of the backlands of the state of Bahia. His song ...

Article

Jada Watson

(b Seguin, TX, July 6, 1953). American country/folksinger-songwriter. She grew up in a musical home, began playing guitar at a young age, and started writing songs at the age of six. When she was 14 she began performing in honky-tonks. After college Griffith taught kindergarten by day and performed in honky-tonks at night. It was not until 1977 that she decided to pursue a career in music. She self-promoted her first two albums at folk festivals and formed her own backing band, the Blue Moon Orchestra. In 1987 she landed a recording contract with MCA Nashville and made her major-label debut with the critically acclaimed album Lone Star State of Mind, charting a single with the title track. The album also featured Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance,” which has become Griffith’s signature tune. After several unsuccessful albums Griffith transferred to MCA’s pop division in 1989 and recorded her first pop-oriented album, ...

Article

Sydney Hutchinson

(b Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 7, 1957). Dominican singer, guitarist, and composer. Known today for his merengues, Guerra began playing rock music as a teenager, first on drum set and then guitar. Following his musical training at the National Conservatory in Santo Domingo and Berklee College in Boston, Guerra formed the musical group 4.40 in 1984 together with Roger Zayas-Bazán, Maridalia Hernández, and Mariela Mercado, later joined by a fifth, Marco Hernández. The group’s name, taken from the frequency of pitch A440, reflects both their musical training and focus on Manhattan Transfer-influenced quartet singing. The first Dominican to win a Grammy for Best Tropical Album with his Bachata Rosa (1991), Guerra has also been awarded three Soberanos, the Dominican Republic’s highest prize in the arts; an honorary title from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo; and a record-breaking five Latin Grammys in 2007 for La llave de mi corazón...

Article

Ajay Kalra

(b Los Angeles, CA, Dec 4, 1944). American country-rock singer, songwriter, bassist, mandolinist, and guitarist. He was a mainstay of Los Angeles–area folk-rock and country-rock music of the 1960s and 1970s and a successful commercial country music artist in the 1980s. Since the early 1980s he has been a purveyor of a seamless hybrid of bluegrass, country duo harmony, Bakersfield honky tonk, and West Coast country rock.

Hillman took up the guitar and the mandolin during the urban folk revival. Focusing on the latter, he played traditional bluegrass with the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers (1962–3) and the Golden State Boys, which became The Hillmen (1963–4). In 1964 he joined the Byrds. At first the group’s reticent bassist, he increasingly contributed as songwriter and vocalist to albums starting with the group’s fourth, Younger Than Yesterday (Columbia, 1967). Recruiting local bluegrass and country players, especially guitarist Clarence White, Hillman helped lay the foundations of country rock. With later Byrds recruit Gram Parsons, he firmly established that genre with the Byrds’ ...

Article

Wendy F. Hsu

(b Taipei, Taiwan, Dec 15, 1973). Rock musician and songwriter of Taiwanese birth. Hsu moved to Houston, Texas, with his family in 1989. His brother, Kevin Hsu, was a pop star in Taiwan who signed to Golden Point/BMG. Self-taught in guitar, keyboards, voice, and drums, Hsu formed in 2001 the alternative rock band Johnny Hi-Fi, which has toured extensively in the United States and Asia. As a songwriter Hsu writes songs in both English and Mandarin Chinese. He has collaborated with Taiwanese recording artists and producers and has had success overseas. His song titled “Don’t Go,” performed by Richie Ren, reached the top 10 pop music chart in Taiwan. Hsu also has toured with Taiwanese rock musician Chang Chen-Yue on his US tour in 2004.

In 2004 Hsu began organizing the Asian Rock Fest in recognition of Asian American Heritage Month in May. An annual festival series, Asian Rock Fest has brought together Asian American artists and showcased rock music talent including Eyes Like Knives, Kite Operations, Carol Bui, Burning Tree Project, Festizio, Vudoo Soul, Jack Tung, and Johnny Hi-Fi. The first Asian Rock Fest took place at The Pianos in New York. The festival continued to feature Asian American musicians after Hsu’s relocation to the west coast in ...

Article

Dave Laing

(Hercules)[Dwight, Reginald Kenneth]

(b Pinner, March 25, 1947). English composer, singer and pianist . The son of a dance band musician, he was awarded a junior exhibition to the RAM where he learned the basic principles of composition (1958–62); he was already a devotee of rock and roll and the greatest influences on his percussive piano style were Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. His musical apprenticeship between the ages of 14 and 22 encompassed classical training, work as a jobbing rock musician, journeyman songwriting and performing in a local public house. He worked at the Mills Music publishing company and played the piano and sang with Bluesology, a soul and blues group which also made a few undistinguished singles before becoming the backing group for Long John Baldry. Elton John's stage name was drawn from those of Baldry and the saxophonist Elton Dean.

From 1967 he concentrated on songwriting, working with Bernie Taupin (...

Article

J.W. Junker

(David Kahekilimamaoikalanikeha )

(b Honolulu, Hawaii, March 31, 1953). Hawaiian singer, songwriter, and slack key guitarist. One of Hawaii’s most prolific songwriters, Reverend Dennis Kamakahi is responsible for Hawaiian-language standards such as “Koke‘e” and “Wahine Ilikea” and English songs like “Golden Stallion” and “Maui Mountain Morning.” He composes in a poetic style inspired by earlier masters of the Hawaiian form such as Queen Lili‘uokalani and Sam Li‘a Kalainaina. Traces of country and folk can be heard in the melodies. He is also a warm, evocative singer and a ki ho‘alu (slack key guitar) master.

Kamakahi was raised in Honolulu, though his family has close ties to the island of Moloka‘i. He first learned slack key from his grandfather at age ten but cites popular artists such as Gabby Pahinui and others as main influences. During high school at Kamehameha Schools, Kamakahi formed a trio with Aaron Mahi and Kalena Silva. They received valuable mentoring from older artists such as Kahauanu Lake and The Sons of Hawaii. In ...

Article

Wendy F. Hsu

(Taro Ono )

(b New York, NY, Oct 9, 1975). American rock songwriter, singer, guitarist, and musician; son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Sean Lennon was born in New York City on his father’s 35th birthday. He attended a boarding school in Switzerland and, briefly, Columbia University. His earliest musical endeavors were associated with his mother Yoko Ono. On Season of Glass, he recited a story that his father used to tell him. He also collaborated with his mother on the albums It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) and Starpeace. In 1995, with Sam Koppelman and Timo Ellis, Sean Lennon formed his own band called IMA (Japanese for “now”). Fusing influences from contemporary indie rock music and New York City’s downtown experimental music scene, IMA performed with Yoko Ono and recorded for her 1995 album Rising. In 1996, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of the New York-based electro hip-hop group Cibo Matto invited Lennon to play bass with the group on a tour. Subsequently Lennon recorded for Cibo Matto’s second album ...

Article

Lisa MacKinney

[Koch, Lydia Anne ]

(b Rochester, NY, June 2, 1959). American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, poet, and performance artist. Lydia Lunch arrived in New York City as a teenage runaway in 1976, after a childhood of chaos, abuse, and extreme neglect. Motivated by the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, and the incendiary writing of Lester Bangs in Creem magazine, Lunch formed Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 1977. The group (which briefly included James Chance) released only a handful of singles and EPs before breaking up in 1979, but Lunch had established herself as an uncompromising purveyor of a brutal, confronting, violently sexual, and bleak artistic vision. She is considered to be a founder of No Wave, an abrasive, untutored form of noise-based punk music that was often politically charged and musically experimental. No wave often involved conventional instruments (guitar, bass, electronic keyboards) used as extreme noise-making devices to create discomforting, visceral sounds—Lunch regularly used electric guitar with a slide in this manner to piercing, abrasive effect. Lunch released her first solo album, ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Pincus, Barry Alan ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 17, 1943). American Singer, composer, pianist, and producer. Manilow’s professional career began while he was a student at the Juilliard School. His first major assignment came in 1964, when he composed the score to a musical adaptation of The Drunkard. He was also a successful composer of advertising jingles, winning two Clio awards in 1976. By the late 1960s Manilow became the music director and conductor for numerous television programs while simultaneously performing a nightclub act in New York. Finding success as a performer and songwriter, he collaborated at this time with Bette Midler and also produced her first two albums. In the early 1970s Manilow started his own record company, Bell Records, which released his first album, Barry Manilow (Bell, 1973). His first successful single, “Mandy,” from Barry Manilow II (Bell, 1974) was followed by “I Write the Songs” (1975...

Article

Daniel Party

(b Mérida, Mexico, Dec 7, 1935). Mexican singer, songwriter, pianist, and arranger. Manzanero began his professional career as a piano accompanist in Mérida in 1951. After relocating to Mexico City in 1957 he worked as accompanist for renowned singers such as Pedro Vargas, Lucho Gatica, and Angélica María. His first major success as a composer came in 1958 when Gatica recorded Manzanero’s bolero “Voy a apagar la luz.” In the following decade he became a highly sought after bolero composer. Artists such as Olga Guillot, Roberto Ledesma, and Los Panchos recorded his songs. In 1967 Manzanero released his first solo album, A mi amorcon mi amor, in which he sings his own songs with an orchestral arrangement.

His use of melodic chromaticism, extended harmonic language, and slower tempi is representative of the jazz-influenced bolero moderno style, first popularized by composers Vicente Garrido and Álvaro Carrillo. In his own late 1960s recordings Manzanero made a conscious attempt at modernizing bolero further by incorporating features of contemporary rock and roll, such as teen-oriented lyrics, and usage of electric musical instruments and drum kit. His contributions played a key role in the development of balada, the genre that eventually replaced bolero as the quintessential Latin American romantic popular music....

Article

Susan Fast

(b Macclesfield, Nov 29, 1933). English guitarist, keyboard and harmonica player, singer and composer. He formed his own bands in Manchester in the late 1950s and early 60s and, influenced by Alexis Korner, formed Blues Syndicate and moved to London. In 1963 he formed the Bluesbreakers with John McVie and others. The personnel of this band was fluid, and many aspiring blues musicians served their apprenticeship in it. Certain important line-ups were briefly established, the first including McVie (bass), Hughie Flint (drums) and Eric Clapton (guitar; formerly of the Yardbirds). They recorded the important and commercially successful Bluesbreakers – John Mayall with Eric Clapton (Decca, 1966), a mixture of original material by Mayall and covers of blues standards, and which is the first blues/rock album to be so completely dominated by the guitar.

Clapton left the group shortly afterwards and Peter Green replaced him; Aynsley Dunbar also replaced Hughie Flint. The new line-up recorded the album ...

Article

David Gutman

(b Liverpool, June 18, 1942). English pop singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and composer , member of the Beatles, the. His first major assignment away from the Beatles was the music for the film The Family Way (Decca, 1966). His solo album McCartney (Apple, 1970) marked the group’s demise, and set a pattern for the future: where even the most celebratory Lennon-McCartney songs had included a sense of loneliness and alienation, McCartney’s 1970s work turned cosily domestic. The amateurish WildLife (Apple, 1971) was the first to appear under the imprimatur of Wings, and the group’s albums Band on the Run (Apple, 1973) and Venus and Mars (Capitol, 1975) were major commercial achievements which helped to restore McCartney’s credibility. In 1977 the Arcadian single Mull of Kintyre sold over 2·5 million copies in Britain alone. From the 1980s McCartney reasserted himself as a solo artist and maintained a high international profile through duets with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. His most artistically successful albums were ...

Article

Tania Camacho-Azofeifa

(b Nicaragua, Sept 28, 1962). Nicaraguan singer, songwriter, percussionist, and composer. He moved to the United States in 1978 with his mother at the end of the war of liberation against dictator Anastasio Somoza. The rest of his paternal family—including his father Luis Enrique, his uncle Carlos Mejía Godoy, and his younger brother Ramón Mejía (stage name Perrozompopo)—remained in Nicaragua supporting the Revolution. All are influential singer-songwriters and composers in Nicaragua.

Luis Enrique started his musical career soon after his arrival in the United States, and Sony Records released his first album Amor de medianoche in 1987. Filled with salsa ballads (salsa romántica), it broke new ground in the dancing scene both in the United States and Latin America. With his rising popularity, he came to be known as “Príncipe de la Salsa” (Prince of Salsa). He won many gold and platinum records, awards, and Grammy nominations over the next nine years, recording mostly salsa albums for Sony. Sony has continued to release compilations of his music while Luis Enrique has collaborated with many prominent artists, including Gloria Estefan, Arturo Sandoval, Ricky Martin, and Chayanne, among others. He has also recorded with Polygram Latino and ventured into production with his own record label, Chazz Music....