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Article

Deena Weinstein

Both an American Detroit-based hard rock band and the adopted name of its singer and main creative force Vincent Damon Furnier (b Detroit, MI, 4 Feb 1946). Cooper was the son of a minister and the nephew of the storyteller Damon Runyon, after whom he was named. He moved to Arizona, where he attended high school and formed the Nazz. This band eventually took the name Alice Cooper and developed an over-the-top, theatrical shock-rock style that influenced a host of other rock performers.

With snide and clever lyrics, Alice Cooper’s style was mainly hard rock, but some tunes were psychedelic and others would be suitable in a Broadway musical. After moving to Michigan, the band scored numerous hits in the early 1970s. Many of the songs were rebellious youth-focused anthems, including “Eighteen” (Warner, 1971) and “School’s Out” (Warner, 1972). Others centered on ghoulish menace or mere gothic gruesomeness like “Dead Babies” (Warner, ...

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Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Myra Ellen]

(b Newton, NC, Aug 22, 1963). American alternative-rock singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer. She emerged in the early 1990s amid a resurgence of female singer-songwriters and has been one of the few well known alternative-rock artists to use the piano as her primary instrument. She attended the preparatory division of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory but left the school at the age of 11. She began to play her own music in nightclubs at 14, chaperoned by her father, who was a preacher. After Amos moved to Los Angeles in her late teens to pursue a recording career, her band Y Kant Tori Read released a self-titled album (Atl., 1987). Although this was unsuccessful, Atlantic Records retained her six-album contract.

Amos’s debut solo album, Little Earthquakes (Atl., 1992), earned her critical acclaim for her vocal expressivity, pianistic virtuosity, and fearless exploration of a wide range of personal themes, notably female sexuality, personal relationships, religion, sexual violence, and coming of age. The album ...

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Roxanne R. Reed

Gospel ensemble. The Angelic Gospel Singers, or the Angelics, were an African American female gospel quartet based in Philadelphia. Founder, lead singer, and pianist Margaret Allison (1921–2008) a native of McCormick, South Carolina, moved with her family to Philadelphia as a youth. Allison joined the Spiritual Echoes in 1942 and learned vocal arranging, composition, and accompanying techniques. Allison’s family was affiliated with the Pentecostal Church, but stylistically her gospel sound was closer to that of the southern Baptist church and gospel tradition. Allison left the Spiritual Echoes in 1944 to form the Angelics. Joining her were fellow former Spiritual Echoes members Lucille Shird and Ella Mae Norris. The third member was Allison’s sister Josephine MacDowell. The quartet’s sound mimicked that of popular male quartets such as the Fairfield Four and the Dixie Hummingbirds with controlled harmonies and simple accompaniment. The Angelic Gospel Singers commonly performed with the Hummingbirds. As a group, the Angelics performed primarily on the Pentecostal Church circuit. Their rendition of Lucie Campbell’s “Touch Me, Lord Jesus” (...

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Akitsugu Kawamoto

American hip-hop group. It was formed in 1995 in Los Angeles by will.i.am (William James Adams, Jr.; b Inglewood, CA, 15 March 1975; rapping, vocals, various instruments), apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo, Jr.; b Angeles City, Philippines, 28 November 1975; rapping, drums), and Taboo (Jaime Luis Gómez; b Los Angeles, CA, 14 July 1975; rapping, keyboard). The group grew out of Atban Klann (1991–5), a Los Angeles-based group signed for a time to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. The Black Eyed Peas developed an approach that fused elements of global pop, jazz-rock, funk, soul, noise music, and a variety of hip-hop styles. Initially considered somewhat of an underground phenomenon, the Black Eyed Peas achieved worldwide commercial success after being joined by Fergie (Stacy Ann Ferguson; b Hacienda Heights, CA, 27 March 1975; rapping, vocals) in 2003. The group’s third and fourth albums, Elephunk (2003) and Monkey Business (2005...

Article

Bronco  

Jesús A. Ramos-Kittrell

[Grupo Bronco, El Gigante de América]

Mexican grupera ensemble. Formed by José Guadalupe Esparza, Ramiro Delgado, Javier Villarreal, and José Luis Villarreal in 1979, this band came together at a time when the genre later known as onda grupera was still in development. Influenced by the sounds of cumbia ranchera music, and romantic ballad, the band became a decisive factor in the commercialization of the grupera phenomenon. Not only did Bronco consolidate cowboy clothing as a grupera staple but they also pioneered the use of elaborate staging, fireworks, and gigantic screens in grupera concerts. After seven years of activity Bronco reached international popularity with the hit “Que no quede huella” (1989), and in 1993 starred in Dos mujeres, un camino, a soap opera that became a commercial hit in Latin America. Clothing, concert entertainment, television, and motion pictures brought international recognition for the band in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Ultimately, these elements, accompanying Bronco’s enormous record and ticket sales, marked the mainstream emergence of onda grupera. After announcing their retirement in ...

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David Wozniak

[Five Brown Brothers, Six Brown Brothers]

American saxophone ensemble of the vaudeville and musical theater stages that was comprised of Canadian-born brothers. The group began as a saxophone ensemble led by Tom Brown (1882–1950), along with his brothers Percy and Vern; brothers Alec and Fred joined to form the Five Brown Brothers in 1908. William joined in 1912, forming the Six Brown Brothers. Personnel in the ensemble was in constant flux, and included musicians not related to the Browns. The sextet contained two each of alto and tenor saxophones, one baritone saxophone, and one bass saxophone. The Brown Brothers benefited from the “Saxophone Craze” of the 1910s and 20s, for which Tom Brown has claimed the ensemble was responsible. At the height of the Brown Brothers’ popularity, they performed in Broadway musicals and music revues such as Chin Chin (1914). The Brown Brothers’ shows were equal parts musical act and comedy show in which the Brothers often appeared in clown costumes, and leader Tom Brown performed in blackface. In ...

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Greg Schelonka

(Jaguares)

Mexican rock band. Saúl Hernández formed Caifanes in 1988 with Sabo Romo, Alfonso André, and Diego Herrera. Alejandro Marcovich joined later. Caifanes challenged the norms of mainstream Mexican rock music with their dark, somber music and by dressing in black, using makeup, and performing with disheveled hair. The band’s musical style and their appearance was at first a liability, initially preventing them from landing a record deal. They caught a break when they were invited to open for Argentinean singer Miguel Mateos and impressed his producer. This exposure and the need for Mexican labels to sign bands to compete with Argentine and Spanish bands contributed to their signing a recording contract. Their first album quieted previous doubts with strong sales. They have since been recognized as a key component in the Rock en tu Idioma (Rock in Your Language) movement and in Mexican rock not only for their commercial success but also for their musical ability. Caifanes separated in ...

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Edgardo Díaz Díaz

Puerto Rican dance band. Founded by Cayetano Cesar Concepción Martínez (1909–74), it first performed on 14 June 1947, alongside Noro Morales’ orchestra at the New Yorker Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its lineup consisted of three trumpets, three saxophones or clarinets, and a rhythm section (piano, bass, timbales, conga, and bongos), as well as a singer who alternated slow boleros with faster guaracha-like genres. Boleros were arranged in a strophic format, with lyrics in the charge of the bolerista, or bolero singer, and Concepción performing solo melodies on trumpet during introductory and inner instrumental sections. Between 1947 and 1954 Joe Valle (1921–80) was the orchestra’s main singer; he was considered to be among Puerto Rico’s most notable boleristas. The orchestra was best known for presenting its ballroom versions of the popular plena to affluent audiences. A lively sound otherwise played by arrabal and rural ...

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Charles Garrett

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Columbia, SC, 1918; d Philadelphia, PA, Sept 4, 1967). American gospel singer. She studied music at Temple University and subsequently became a school teacher. In 1938 she heard Willie Mae Ford Smith sing gospel music in Washington, DC, and decided to adopt the style. She began singing in towns in the Washington area, where she soon became known as the “Sweetheart of the Potomac,” a title that remained with her throughout her career. She began recording in the early 1950s and by 1953 was one of the major gospel stars, specializing in the “song and sermonette” (where the first half of the song is delivered as a sermon and the second half is sung). Her most popular recordings, all made during the 1950s, include “Amen,” “Evening Sun,” and “Stop Gambler.” She performed most often with the support of a male quartet, beginning a song softly and subtly, then building in volume and drama as the song progressed....

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John Clemente

Girl group formed in Coney Island, New York, in 1954. Dorothy Jones, (Ethel) Darlene McCrea, and Jones’s cousin Beulah Robertson won third place in the Apollo Theater’s amateur contest. This led to their first single, “All Night Mambo/Don’t let go” (Lamp Records, 1954). The songwriter and manager Jesse Stone got them signed to Atlantic Records, where they recorded during the period 1955–6; their second single, “In Paradise/Passing Time” (1956) was written by Neil Sedaka. The Cookies also backed other artists on the Atlantic roster, with Margie Hendricks replacing Robertson in 1956. Two years later, McCrea and Hendricks accepted Ray Charles’ offer to be part of the Raelettes.

In 1960 Jones assembled another trio, with McCrea’s sister Earl-Jean and cousin Margaret Ross. They undertook studio work with Sedaka and subsequently with Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The Cookies scored their own hits with “Chains” (Dimension) and “Don’t say nothin’ bad (about my baby)” (Dimension). They continued backing other singers and recording demos for Goffin and King, and between ...

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Bárbara Idalissee Abadía-Rexach

[El Combo]

Puerto Rican orchestra founded in 1954 by the percussionist, bandleader, and composer Rafael Cortijo (b Santurce, PR, 11 Jan 1928; d San Juan, PR, 3 Oct 1982). Its plena-influenced, percussive style gained an audience in Puerto Rico through appearances on the television show “La taberna india” and performances throughout the island, and became popular all over Latin America. The orchestra, whose members were Afro-Puerto Ricans, disbanded in 1962. However, the group’s songs, particularly those recorded by Ismael Rivera, remain part of the Puerto Rican popular music repertoire. One of its most enduring hits is “El negro bembón,” written by Bobby Capó. After legal and financial problems, Cortijo formed another orchestra, El Bonche, with his adopted niece Fe Cortijo. He lived for a time in New York, but returned to Puerto Rico and recorded a comeback album with the support of Tite Curet Alonso. In 1974 El Combo was reunited to perform a concert in Puerto Rico....

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John Clemente

Vocal quintet. It was formed in Brooklyn, New York, and was closely associated with the producer Phil Spector and the girl group phenomenon of the early 1960s. Lead vocals were generally shared between Barbara Alston (b Baltimore, MD, 1943) and Dolores “LaLa” Brooks (b Brooklyn, 1947), although their most successful hit featured the Los Angeles-based session singer Darlene Love (b Hawthorne, CA, 1941).

The group’s manager Benny Wells had them record demos in the hope of securing club work, and these caught the attention of Spector, who signed them to the label Philles. Their first hit was “There’s no other” (1961), followed by the social commentary of “Uptown” (1962, which reached number 13 on the Billboard chart), and the controversial “He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)” (1962), which was withdrawn from circulation.

By this time disagreement over material and arrangements had left the group at odds with Spector. He issued what became the group’s biggest hit without them singing a note: “He’s a rebel” was recorded in ...

Article

David Sanjek

[Mighty Dells, the]

The group collectively grew up in Harvey, Illinois, and initially performed under the name the El-Rays. They recorded an unsuccessful single in 1954 for Chess Records before transferring to Vee-Jay the following year. Their first hit “Oh What A Night” (1956) came soon thereafter. It hit the top five of the R&B singles chart, sold over a million copies, and was awarded a gold record. Their commercial ascendance was interrupted when a member was severely injured in a car accident in 1958. The Dells re-formed in 1960 and initially served as backup singers to other stars including Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, and Barbara Lewis. They rejoined Chess Records in 1966 and a year later released the album There Is, the title track of which was a Top 20 pop hit. Successive achievements on the label include their first Top 10 Pop Hit, “Stay in My Corner” (1968...

Article

Matt Sakakeeny

Brass band. Formed in 1977, they initially played traditional New Orleans brass band music at community parades and eventually created innovative arrangements and compositions heard by audiences around the globe. The horn players Gregory Davis, Roger Lewis, Charles Joseph, Efrem Townes, and Kevin Harris incorporated melodic ideas from bebop into the brass band tradition, while the rhythm section of Kirk Joseph, Benny Jones, and Jenell Marshall imported rhythms from funk and increased the tempos from their predecessors. The modern arrangements on the band’s debut album, My feet can’t fail me now (Conc., 1984), produced by the Newport Jazz Festival director George Wein, brought worldwide recognition to contemporary brass band music; two original songs, “Blackbird Special” and the title track soon became standards in the group’s hometown.

The Dirty Dozen helped initiate a brass band renaissance in New Orleans, and their innovative reformulations of traditional music instigated a spirit of experimentation among their successors. The Rebirth Brass Band, inheritors of the Dirty Dozen’s famed weekly show at the intimate Glass House bar, have incorporated elements of hip hop since the late 1990s, along with their contemporaries the Soul Rebels and Hot 8. Meanwhile, the Dirty Dozen has often changed personnel and experimented with instrumentation to update their sound, while maintaining a global presence as the most prominent New Orleans brass band....

Article

Jonas Westover

Rock group. Formed in California in 1970, its original members were Tom Johnston (vocals and guitar), John Hartman (drums), Patrick Simmons (vocals and guitar), and Dave Shogren (bass guitar). Johnston and Simmons have remained with the group for more than four decades. The reference to marijuana in the band’s name did not prevent them from landing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1971, and their second album, Toulouse Street (1972), produced their first hit single, “Listen to the Music.” During this early period the band’s membership shifted often, and they changed their country-rock sound to include a fuller rhythm section and piano to support their distinctive vocal harmonies. They produced a string of successful singles, including “Black Water” (1975), and well received albums, including The Captain and Me (1973), What were once vices are now habits (1974), and Stampede (1975). The addition of the lead singer and principal songwriter Michael McDonald transformed their sound once again, leading to hit singles built around his soulful voice such as “Takin’ it to the Streets” (...

Article

Editus  

Tania Camacho-Azofeifa

Costa Rican trio founded in 1990. It was formed by Edín Solís (b Zarcero, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 22 Nov 1963, guitar), Ricardo Ramírez (b San José, Costa Rica, 11 Nov 1967, violin), and Carlos “Tapado” Vargas (b San José, Costa Rica, 22 Jan 1971, percussion).

Editus is an eclectic group based in San José, Costa Rica. Its style and sound moves from classical music to new age, from jazz to Costa Rican and Latin American folk styles, and from popular to electronic music. Editus’ musical projects, including recordings, DVDs, and tours, typically seek to increase public awareness about environmental and other causes, and to promote social activism. This commitment is clearly expressed from their first recording, Ilusiones (1994), and its single/video, “Tokú,” to their most recent, Editus 360 DVD (2008).

The quality and versatility of the group has proved attractive not only to music schools but also to critics, filmmakers, and other musicians who have invited Editus to collaborate in new artistic and musical projects. One of their most successful partnerships has been with Rubén Blades. Together, Blades and Editus produced the recordings ...

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Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

Cajun musicians. On 27 April 1928 Joseph Falcon (b nr Robert’s Cove, LA, 28 Sept 1900; d Crowley, LA, 19 Nov 1965; accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter) and his wife Cléoma (b Crowley, LA, 27 May 1906; d Crowley, LA, 9 April 1941; guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) became the first musicians to record a commercially released Cajun music record. They recorded for Columbia with Cléoma on guitar and Joseph on accordion and vocals. Their first album featured “Lafayette” and “La valse qui ma portin de ma fose” [La valse qui m’a porté dans ma fosse]. They subsequently recorded more songs for Columbia as well as for Decca until Cléoma’s death in 1941. Many of these recordings became part of the core repertoire of Cajun music as it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. Partly due to the impact of their early recordings, and also as a result of their musical talents, Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were among the most popular and influential Cajun musicians of that formative period. They shared vocal duties, with Joseph singing mostly traditional Cajun material, and Cléoma singing both traditional songs and Cajun French translations of American popular tunes, such as “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Cléoma, who was the sister of active Cajun musicians Amédé, Ophy, and Clifford Breaux, was especially renowned for her soaring, soulful vocal style. Joseph, on the other hand, had a keenness for improvising new arrangements for older traditional songs. After Cléoma’s death Joseph continued to perform, eventually with his second wife Thérèse playing drums. He produced one additional recording, a live performance at the Triangle Club in Scott in ...