(b Pisky, near Khar′kiv, 8/Sept 20, 1876; d Paris, Jan 8, 1945). Ukrainian composer and pianist. Aged ten he was sent, along with his brother Yakiv (later known as the composer Stepovy), to sing in the choir of the Imperial Chapel in St Petersburg. It was during his time there (1886–95) that he began to compose under the influence of his teachers Balakirev and Lyapunov. He finished studies with Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov at the St Petersburg Conservatory in 1901, the year in which the latter conducted the first performance of the Lyric Poem, op.20. Akimenko then became the director of a music school in Tbilisi (1901–03). He performed widely as a pianist, particularly in France and Switzerland, and lived for a while in Paris (1903–06) before returning to Khar′kiv. In 1914 he was invited to teach composition and theory at the St Petersburg Conservatory, a post he held until ...
revised by Luis Merino
(b Santiago, Sept 2, 1911; d Santiago, Aug 2, 1954). Chilean composer and pianist. He studied with Allende for composition and Renard for the piano at the Santiago National Conservatory (1923–35), where he then held appointments as coach at the opera department (1935), assistant professor of the piano (1937), professor of analysis (1940), and director (1945). At the same time he taught at the Liceo Manuel de Salas in Santiago. He was secretary-general to the Instituto de Extensión Musical (from 1941), a founder-director of the Escuela Moderna de Música, Santiago (1940), and a member of various arts societies. In 1943 he went to the USA as a guest of the Institute of International Education and in 1953 he was in Europe for the performance of his Wind Sextet at the ISCM Festival. His early compositions show the influences of French music and Chilean folklore; from the late 1940s his work became more Expressionist and abstract....
Lori Burns and Jada Watson
(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 ...
Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa
(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.
In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....
(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). 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 debut 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 ...
[Campbell, Bek David; Hansen, Beck]
(b Los Angeles, CA, July 8, 1970). American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. He has recorded and performed songs in a wide range of genres including folk, country, bluegrass, grunge, indie, metal, rock, lounge, Latino, and noise. An obvious contributing factor to his eclectic tastes is his artistic and performer-laden family. His father David Campbell is a string player and arranger who has worked on string parts for some of his son’s more recent albums. His mother Bibbe Hansen worked with Andy Warhol at the artist’s studio the Factory in New York at an early age and was involved in the west coast punk scene during the 1980s. His grandfather Al Hansen was an artist and performer involved in the Fluxus movement. Beck grew up around rockers and in various ethnic neighborhoods which all contributed to his music education. After spending time at the end of the 1980s involved with New York’s anti-folk scene he returned west and began performing as often and wherever he could. These gigs involved him using a leaf-blower on stage, telling stories, setting fire to his acoustic guitar, and rocking out with a boom-box backing tape. His breakthrough came in ...
Olivia Carter Mather
(b St. Louis, MO, Jan 14, 1948). American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Best known for his work as a record producer in the 1990s and 2000s, he began his career as a rock musician, hired by Bob Dylan in 1975 for his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. In the late 1970s Burnett formed the Alpha Band and recorded three albums before launching his solo career. Burnett’s solo material was critically acclaimed—he was named Songwriter of the Year by Rolling Stone in 1983—but commercially unsuccessful. He has continued to record solo albums intermittently into the 2000s, but his main work since the mid-1980s has been production.
Burnett’s credits span a wide range of genres with an emphasis on singer-songwriters and Americana; he has recorded Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp, Gillian Welch, B.B. King, the Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Bruce Cockburn, Willie Nelson, Robert Randolph, and Sam(uel Cornelius) Phillips...
[Cale, John Wheldon; Cale, J.J.]
(b Oklahoma City, OK, Dec 5, 1938). American Guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and engineer. He began his career playing in clubs in Tulsa and joined Gene Crose’s band in 1957. He made some of his first recordings when his own band, Johnnie Cale and the Valentines, worked as a backing group to Al Sweatt. By 1958 his band had become the Johnny Cale Quintette and it was with this group that he made his first recording under his own name, “Purple Onion.” A big break came in 1965 when Snuff Garrett of Amigo Studio hired him to be a recording engineer. Around this time Elmer Valentine, who owned the club Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles, suggested that Cale use the stage name JJ Cale. In 1966 he began songwriting and in 1969 was signed by Denny Cordell and Leon Russell to Shelter Records.
Cale’s success as a singer and songwriter came shortly after Eric Clapton covered his song “After Midnight.” The top-20 success of “After Midnight” and later “Cocaine” and “Travelin’ Light” began a relationship between Cale and Clapton which has lasted into the 21st century and produced the Grammy-winning album ...
(b Hartford, CT, Oct 11, 1964). American gospel music singer, songwriter, choral director, producer, and pianist. He taught himself to play piano by studying Edwin R. Hawkins’ award-winning album Let us Go into the House of the Lord (1968), which included the immensely popular single “Oh Happy Day.” He cites Walter Hawkins, James L. Cleveland, and Andraé Crouch as his earliest musical influences. He received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Connecticut. Later he was mentored by the classically trained gospel music director Richard Smallwood, who encouraged him to take on more varied musical styles in compositions. Carr joined Cleveland’s choir as a keyboard player in 1986 and quickly rose to become its music director. After Cleveland’s death in 1991, he began working with Crouch and later became Crouch’s music director. In 1991 he also formed the Kurt Carr Singers while working in Los Angeles. After the release of two moderately successful albums he attained widespread success with the album ...
[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]
(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...
[Laka D; Koc, Dorota Mary]
(b Oxford, England, Jan 8, 1953). English singer, pianist, composer, and music director. From a background in rock and soul bands, notably Soulyard, from 1982 to 1988 she was a member of the Guest Stars, in which she played piano and sang; she also wrote much of the group’s material. In 1982 she co-founded the Lydia D’Ustebyn Swing Orchestra, was an organizer of Early Evening Jazz, the first women’s jazz festival held in London (at the Drill Hall), and sang in the a cappella group the Hipscats (comprising five singers, including Jan Ponsford, Jim Dvorak, and Ruthie Smith, and later the pianist Alastair Gavin). An intermittent affiliation with Carol Grimes involved work in her band and in a duo. She sang and played piano with Annie Whitehead, with whom she recorded the album Mix Up (1985, Paladin 6), then led her own band, which included Claude Deppa. In the 1990s she played with Mervyn Afrika, Kate Westbrook, the percussionist Josefina Cupido, and the saxophonists Louise Elliot and Diane McLaughlin, composed and directed music for stage shows, and taught. Laka Daisical is a propulsive pianist and exciting performer heavily influenced by African-American gospel music, as exemplified by ...
Lori Burns and Jada Watson
[Angela Maria ]
(b Buffalo, NY, Sept 23, 1970). American folk singer-songwriter, guitarist, label owner, and political activist. She began performing music at local bars and busking at age nine. A fiercely independent spirit, she left home at 15 and lived with friends while she wrote and performed her music in the Buffalo area. By 19 she had written more than 100 songs and begun to build a devout grassroots following. In 1989 she founded Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994), an independent record label for which she has composed, performed, recorded, and produced all of her material. Since the late 1990s the label has released albums for other non-mainstream artists. DiFranco has also published two volumes of poetry: Self Evident: poesie e disegni (Rome, 2004) and Verses (New York, 2007).
DiFranco is a prolific lyricist whose songs communicate strong messages about gender, identity, social institutions, and politics, and address social issues including racism, homophobia, poverty, war, and reproductive rights. Much of her lyrical material is autobiographical and tackles topics including religion, relationships, motherhood, and sexuality. Her music is classified variously as folk rock, alternative rock, punk folk, and singer-songwriter folk. DiFranco has emerged as an icon of feminism and independent music making, and her career has featured solo albums, many compilations and collaborations, live albums, official bootleg releases, and an unrelenting concert calendar....
(b Dublin, Ireland, Jan 21, 1971). American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer of Irish birth. Born into a musical family, he was influenced by his father, a singer, and grandfather, an accordionist. He formed the Chanting House with the singer Susan McKeown in 1989. In 1991 he followed McKeown to New York and in 1992 they expanded the group to include the multi-instrumentalist Séamus Egan and the fiddler Eileen Ivers. In 1994 Doyle joined a group with Egan and the fiddler Winifred Horan that in 1995 became Solas. The full group, which included the accordionist John Williams and the vocalist Karan Casey, released its first album, Solas (1996), and quickly became an important traditional Irish act. Doyle appeared on Solas’s first four records and was a sideman for many of its members’ side projects, both before and after leaving the group in 2000.
Doyle released his first solo album in ...
revised by Cecilia Sun
(Peter George St John Le Baptiste de la Salle )
(b Woodbridge, UK, May 15, 1948). English composer, singer, keyboard player, sound artist, and producer. He attended art school in Ipswich and Winchester, during which time he was inspired by John Cage’s Silence to develop an interest in experimental music. He later joined the Scratch Orchestra and the Portsmouth Sinfonia. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, playing keyboard on their first two albums Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For your Pleasure (Island, 1973). By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VC5 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an “aural collagist.” After leaving Roxy Music, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with Robert Fripp) and Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In ...
[Germanotta, Stefani Joanne Angelina ]
(b New York, NY, March 28, 1986). American pop singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer. She studied music and piano from an early age and attended New York University’s Tchool of the Arts, withdrawing in her second year to pursue a performance career. After performing regularly in downtown New York clubs, Lady Gaga signed a recording contract with Streamline Records in 2007 and received an additional publishing deal with Sony/ATV. She moved to Los Angeles and released her debut album The Fame in 2008. It propelled her to stardom, selling over 12 million copies worldwide and becoming the first debut album with four number one singles on the Billboard charts: “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Love Game,” and “Paparazzi.” In 2009, she released The Fame Monster, a compilation of re-released tracks from The Fame and new hits including “Bad Romance,” “Speechless,” and “Telephone,” featuring Beyoncé. Gaga is skilled at writing danceable hits with memorable choruses. Provocative music videos complicate her seemingly innocuous lyrics and challenge pop music conventions with shocking and disturbing imagery. Gaga’s vocals are full and powerful; she often sings with a rough or strained technique for emphatic effect. Theatrics and spectacle mark her live performances. Her excessively camp and sometimes androgynous fashions, onstage and off, disrupt mainstream conceptions of female beauty and have garnered significant media attention. Gaga’s ability to present pop music as both creative art form and mass entertainment has attracted diverse audiences and has differentiated her in contemporary pop culture....
(b Covington, TN, Aug 20, 1942; d Memphis, Aug 10, 2008). American soul singer, keyboard player, songwriter and producer. He first recorded for the Memphis-based Youngstown label in 1962. In the first half of the 1960s Hayes also wrote songs and played sessions for the Goldwax and Phillips labels in Memphis, backing singers such as Jeb Stuart, Dorothy Williams and Spencer Wiggins. As a member of the saxophonist Floyd Newman's band, he eventually found his way into Stax where he co-wrote one side and played on both sides of Newman's solitary single in 1963. Hayes was then hired for a variety of Stax sessions to replace the keyboard player Booker T. Jones while Jones was at college. Soon thereafter Hayes began helping with arrangements and by 1965 had formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist David Porter. Hayes and Porter became the foremost writing and production team at Stax, creating seminal chart hits for artists such as Sam and Dave, the Charmells, Ruby Johnson, Mable John, Carla Thomas, the Soul Children and the Emotions. Their material leaned heavily on gospel roots, some songs, such as Sam and Dave's ...
[Johnson, James Ambrose ]
(b Buffalo, NY, Feb 1, 1948; d Burbank, CA, Aug 6, 2004). American Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. After growing up singing on street corners in Buffalo, New York, he fled to Toronto, Canada, to avoid the draft in 1964. Using the pseudonym Big Jimmie, he formed the group the Sailorboys with future members of Steppenwolf. The band changed its name to the Mynah Birds and released “Mynah Bird Hop/Mynah Bird Song” for Columbia Records Canada. After auditioning unsuccessfully in 1966 for Motown Records, the band re-formed, including Neil Young, and recorded an album. However, its release was canceled following disputes with their manager, who reported James absent without leave and he was briefly imprisoned.
James returned to Detroit, where he was hired by Motown Records as a songwriter and producer; he worked with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Spinners, and Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, before leaving in ...
Lisa L. Rhodes
(b Wynnewood, PA, Sept 22, 1958). American Rock singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist. She spent several years in Rockville, Maryland, after which her family relocated to West Covina, California, when she was in her early teens. As an habitué of Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, she was exposed to glam rock music and musicians, notably Suzi Quatro, an early and profound influence. It was here, in 1975, that she met the producer Kim Fowley, as well as Sandy West and Cherie Currie, both of whom subsequently worked with Jett as members of the all-girl glam rock band Thomas Salway. The band’s other original members were Lita Ford and Jackie Fox. The group was signed to Mercury Records in 1976, and their first album, The Runaways, was released soon thereafter. They released three more albums, including Queens of Noise (1977), on that label. The group severed ties with Fowley in ...
[Smith, Jonathan Mortimer ]
(b Atlanta, GA, Jan 27, 1971). American rapper, music producer, and DJ. As a prominent figure in popularizing the Atlanta based Dirty South movement, Lil Jon began making a name for himself as a producer with a talent for club remixes in the mid-1990s. In 1997, he formed his own group, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, which included fellow rappers Big Sam and Lil Bo. Their first album Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album, released in 1997, featured the sounds of the developing crunk genre, a style of music that originated in the mid- to late-1990s with the Memphis-based group Three 6 Mafia. General characteristics of crunk music include heavy basslines, shouting vocals often utilizing call and response, and drum machine rhythms. Unlike most hip hop, the focal point of crunk is the music and the beat rather than the lyrics. Crunk is more often associated with party music than with personal or socio-political concerns. Though Lil John did not invent crunk, he added much to it, including roaring synthesizer lines. Lil Jon’s ...
(b Corfu, Feb 27, 1864; d London, Feb 25, 1932). Greek composer, pianist, music director, and choir director. He studied in Naples (Conservatorio S Pietro a Majella) and right afterwards he settled in Athens, teaching music and conducting choirs. His exuberant musical activity fertilized the theatre life of the Greek capital. His rivalry with the choir director Lodovico de Mento led the theatre troupes of the era to engage choirs and small orchestras performing live music on stage. Soon he composed incidental music not only for Komeidyllio (a Greek version of the French vaudeville), but also for ancient dramas. He was conductor of the first opera troupe in Athens and also composed choral church music, which, however, elicited strong resistance. He published a music magazine (Mousiki Ephimeris) and he wrote a lot of songs setting to music works of significant Greek poets. He also collaborated with the vaudeville author Dimitrios Kokkos, who was a self-taught composer. In ...