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Carrie Allen Tipton

(b Henry, TN, Sept 18, 1938). American gospel music television and radio host, singer, choir director, and media executive. He began singing publicly in the Methodist church as a child, although his first exposure to gospel music came in sanctified churches. His involvement with gospel music deepened in Nashville when he served as keyboard player, singer, and director for church and civic choirs while studying at Tennessee State University. In 1978 Jones recorded the first of many albums with his small ensemble, the New Life Singers, whose aesthetic leaned more toward contemporary Christian music than black gospel. Around this time he began hosting children’s and gospel music shows on Nashville television stations. In 1980 Black Entertainment Television began broadcasting one of these programs, Bobby Jones Gospel. The popular program has featured performances by Jones’s ensembles, established gospel stars, and up-and-coming gospel artists. Firmly within the gospel entrepreneurial tradition, Jones’s other enterprises include music festivals, workshops, radio shows, the gospel opera ...

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Jonas Westover

( Chicago, IL, Nov 8, 1954). American Singer, songwriter, and producer. She began her career as a musician with the band Easy Money, which with she performed throughout the Los Angeles area. She signed with Warner Bros and began singing at clubs across the country. Her early music drew on jazz, R&B, and rock, but she moved towards mainstream pop music as she became more well known, although she still included some jazz standards in her repertoire. Her romantic relationship with Tom Waits in the late 1970s also influenced her musically. Songs from her first, self-titled album in 1979 include “Young Blood,” “Night Train,” “Coolsville,” and the jazz-inflected hit single “Chuck E.’s in Love.” The recording brought her a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Jones’s second album, Pirates (Warner Bros., 1981), also spawned popular singles including “Lucky Guy” and “Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking.” Jones also became known for her distinctive fashion, which often featured a beret, long gloves, and skin-tight pantsuits. Although her subsequent work did not garner the same level of success, she continued to sing and record throughout the 1980s and 1990s, sometimes touring with her longtime collaborator Rob Wasserman. In ...

Article

k-os  

Athena Elafros

[Brereton, Kevin ]

(b Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Feb 20, 1972). Canadian rapper, songwriter, singer, and record producer. k-os (pronounced chaos) is an internationally known Canadian musical artist whose music fuses rap, rock, reggae, and pop, among other genres. He is a self-proclaimed “rap and roller” whose music transcends musical boundaries while drawing upon his Trinidadian roots. A prolific singer/songwriter, he has produced and written the majority of the songs on his four studio albums. His debut album, Exit (Astralwerks, 2002), garnered multiple accolades including a Source Award for Best International Hip Hop artist in 2003. His follow-up album, Joyful Rebellion (EMI/Virgin, 2004), was certified platinum. Its debut single, “B-Boy Stance,” won two awards from the Canadian Urban Music Association. His third album, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (EMI/Virgin, 2006), also certified platinum, marked a lyrical departure from the social commentary emphasized in his first two albums and further showcased k-os’ versatility as a musician. For example, the single “Sunday Morning” is a melodic, pop-infused song which showcases his singing abilities. In ...

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Mark Anthony Neal

(b Chicago, IL, Jan 8, 1967). American R&B singer, writer, producer, and arranger. Kelly was born on the South side of Chicago. Raised, with his three siblings, by a single mother, he was encouraged to pursue a musical career by his high school music teacher and mentor, Lena McLin, who was the chair of the music department at the Kenwood Academy and the niece of the legendary gospel music composer Thomas Dorsey. In high school Kelly formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men), which won a $100,000 grand prize on the television talent show Big Break, hosted by Natalie Cole. The group eventually signed with Jive Records, though after creative and financial tensions, three of the members were replaced and the group renamed R. Kelly and Public Announcement. After a moderately successful debut that produced the hit singles “She’s Got That Vibe” and “Honey Love,” Kelly left the group in early ...

Article

Gelsey Bell

[Arthur] (Morgan)

(b Richmond, VA, May 28, 1953). American songwriter, producer, guitarist, and vocalist, primarily active in Brazil and the United States. The son of American missionaries, Lindsay grew up in Brazil from the age of three and moved back to the United States when he was 18. In 1977, he started No Wave band DNA as the guitarist and singer. Included in Brian Eno’s famous 1978 No New York compilation, DNA was active until 1982. Lindsay played guitar with the Lounge Lizards from its beginning in 1979 until 1981. He was subsequently a founding member the Golden Palominos, led by drummer and composer Anton Fier, as a guitarist and singer, but left the group after their debut album in 1983. Known for his unconventional guitar playing, Lindsay is untrained and has developed his own techniques that do not involve chords, often focus on rhythm rather than harmony, utilize unique tunings, and are sometimes described collectively as “skronk.” Lindsay’s early vocal style is characterized by talk-singing, shouting, surreal lyrics, and glossolalia. In ...

Article

J. Ryan Bodiford

[J.Lo ]

(b Bronx, NY, July 24, 1969). American Puerto Rican actress, singer, dancer, producer, and entrepreneur. She is the highest paid Latina actress to date and has attracted similar commercial appeal as a pop, hip hop, and Latin-influenced recording artist, selling over 55 million albums in the first decade of her musical career.

The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Lopez participated in minor film and theater productions from an early age. Following high school, she attended numerous auditions before landing her first major gig in 1991 as a “fly girl” dancer on the sketch-comedy program In Living Color. In 1997 she gained attention with her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the film Selena. She has since starred in box office hits such as The Wedding Planner (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), and Monster in Law (2005).

Already an established actress, Lopez launched her singing career in ...

Article

Dave Laing

(b Woodbridge, Suffolk, March 25, 1949). English songwriter, singer and record producer. During the 1970s he was a key figure in the development of English pub rock and punk rock. His early career was spent as a member of Brinsley Schwarz, a guitar- and organ-based group which set out to translate the American pop of the Band and the Byrds into an English urban context. Lowe sang, played bass guitar, and composed such songs as Nervous on the Road, Don’t lose your grip on love and What’s so funny (’bout peace, love and understanding), recorded by the group between 1970 and 1975. Next he collaborated with the club-owner and producer Dave Robinson in setting up Stiff Records (1976), which recorded such figures as Elvis Costello and Ian Dury. Lowe produced the first British punk rock album, by the Damned, before resuming his own musical career. In the late 1970s he had hit records with ...

Article

Jared Pauley

[Shimura, Tsutomu; (“Tom”)]

Rapper, producer, and songwriter. Shimura was born in Tokyo, Japan to Japanese and Jewish Italian American parents. His delivery is noted for incorporating multiple syllables and an extensive vocabulary. Growing up in Berkeley, California, he was a co-founder of the independent label Quannum Projects, which has released albums by Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Pigeon John, and others, including his own projects.

Early in his career, Shimura went by the name Asia Born but later changed it to Lyrics Born. His first single, “Send Them,” was released in 1993. The song was produced by DJ Shadow, and it featured the B-Side single “Entropy.” He later formed a group with Lateef the Truthspeaker called Latryx, and they released Latryx (The Album) in 1997.

Lyrics Born’s greatest commercial success as a solo artist occurred in 2003 with the release of his album Later That Day. The album featured the song “Callin’ Out,” which ended up being a surprise hit. The song was licensed by Electronic Arts for use in video games and by the Coca-Cola Company. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Shimura is also active as a voice-over actor, lending his voice to several shows and cartoon programs on Cartoon Network’s ...

Article

Maestro  

Athena Elafros

[Williams, Wesley Maestro Fresh Wes ]

(b Toronto, ON, March 31, 1968). Canadian rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Maestro (formerly Maestro Fresh Wes) is rightfully known as the “godfather” of Canadian hip hop. His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), sold more than a million copies, and the debut single from the album, “Let Your Backbone Slide,” was the first Canadian hip hop track to appear on Billboard’s Top 20 Rap Singles Chart. The single was also the first Canadian hip hop track to achieve gold status in Canada. In part due to his success, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) introduced a rap category at the 1991 Juno Awards; he won the first Juno Award for best rap recording. For most of the 1990s he lived in the United States, releasing several albums, including The Black Tie Affair (1991), Maestro Zone (1992), and ...

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

Maxwell  

Jonas Westover

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 23, 1973). American Soul and R&B singer, songwriter, and producer. From a young age he was interested in gospel and soul music, and began composing songs, writing over 200 by the time he was in high school. In 1994 he was signed by Columbia Records. Drawing on classic soul singers such as Sam Cooke and James Brown as models, Maxwell worked closely with producer Leon Ware to create Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996), which has been described as an example of Neo-soul. Featuring his silky voice and sensual accompaniment, singles “Sumthin’, Sumthin’” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” helped the record become a multiplatinum seller; it was also nominated for a Grammy award. Maxwell became a major musical presence, making a tremendous impression on MTV’s Unplugged television program in 1997. He released two more albums within the next few years—Embrya (1998) and Now (2001)—and both performed well on the R&B charts, achieved impressive sales, and were lauded by critics. Maxwell took a brief respite from recording, but his next record, ...

Article

Rob Bowman

(b Chicago, June 3, 1942; d Roswell, GA, Dec 26, 1999). American soul and funk singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer. During the 1960s and early 70s he created the sound of Chicago soul. He initially came to prominence performing on and writing a number of hits by the Impressions, the between 1958 and 1970. Beginning in 1960 with Jerry Butler's top ten hit He will break your heart, Mayfield also pursued a career writing, producing and playing on records by a number of other successful Chicago artists, including Major Lance, Gene Chandler and Walter Jackson and, in the 1970s, the Staple Singers and the Detroit-based Aretha Franklin. In 1966 Mayfield became an entrepreneur with first the Windy C and then the Mayfield and Curtom labels. Curtom proved to be the most successful of these ventures, releasing hits by the Impressions, the Natural Four, Five Stairsteps, the Staple Singers, Donny Hathaway and June Conquest, Leroy Hutson, Mystique and Linda Clifford....

Article

Ian Brookes

(b New York, NY, Jan 16, 1884; d Palm Springs, CA, April 21, 1985). American Impresario, music publisher, band manager, record producer, songwriter, and singer. He was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in New York. There, as a teenager, he worked as a song plugger and singer before establishing a music publishing business in 1919 with his brother Jack. With its emphasis on the work of black musicians, Mills Music became an important locus for jazz and dance band music. A shrewd business operator with a sharp eye for talent, Mills extended his business interests in the 1920s. He became manager of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (1926–39) and promoted several other African American bandleaders including Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, and Don Redman. He also organized a series of recording sessions under his own nominal leadership, Irving Mills and His Hotsy Totsy Gang (...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Hansjörg ]

(b Urtijëi, Italy, April 26, 1940). Italian producer, singer, and composer. He began his career in Germany in the mid-1960s as a singer. Early in the 1970s he began to experiment with synthesizers and eventually forged a distinctive sound that became a sensation in the next two decades. From the mid-1970s he produced records by the singer donna Summer , notably the notoriously steamy, synth-driven 17-minute “Love to Love You Baby” (1975), which became an international hit and helped to propel the disco craze. The pair subsequently collaborated on Summer’s “I feel love” and “Bad Girls” and later won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. Moroder also became known for scoring films, including Midnight Express (1978) for which he won an Academy Award. His songs for Flashdance (1983) and Top Gun (1986, “Take my Breath Away”) also won Academy Awards, and his work on ...

Article

Eddy Determeyer

[Melvin James ]

(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in 1933. His charts for the Lunceford band were distinguished by contrasts, crescendos, and unexpected melodic variations, thereby setting new standards in big band swing and close-harmony singing. His use of two-beat rhythms also set his arrangements apart.

In 1939 Oliver was hired by the trombonist Tommy Dorsey and turned his band into one of the hardest swinging and most sophisticated ensembles of the early 1940s. In 1946 he started his own big band. During the late 1940s and 1950s he mainly did studio work, as a music director for the labels Decca, Bethlehem, and Jubilee. He continued to lead big bands and smaller ensembles, recycling his old Lunceford and Dorsey successes and performing new arrangements. Along with Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, Oliver must be rated one of the top arrangers of the swing era and infused almost every chart with vigor and surprise....

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Alvis Edgar ]

(b Sherman, TX, Aug 12, 1929; d Bakersfield, CA, March 25, 2006). American country musician and businessman. He is widely considered the central figure of the Bakersfield sound, and his dominance of the country charts in the 1960s challenged Nashville’s hegemony and bolstered the West Coast country scene in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. During the 1950s he worked as a guitarist and session player for several Bakersfield artists before signing with Capitol Records in 1957. In 1963 he began a streak of 14 consecutive number-one country hits with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Other hits included “Together Again” (1964), “I’ve got a tiger by the tail” (1965), and a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” (1969).

Owens’s songs eschewed themes of hard living and rambling for a portrayal of the male subject as a lonely victim of romance. With his backing band, the Buckaroos, he developed a bright, driving sound which he described as a freight train feel: heavy bass and drums accompanying two Fender Telecaster electric guitars played by Owens and the guitarist Don Rich. The twangy Telecaster sound and high, close harmony of Owens and Rich characterized many of his recordings. The Buckaroos both toured and recorded with Owens, a contrast to country norms. Owens thus established an alternative to the popular “countrypolitan” sound produced in Nashville (he also never joined the “Grand Ole Opry”); in doing so he inspired such country-rock musicians as Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also marketed himself as a hard-country artist free of pop influence; in ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Hattiesburg, MS, Jan 3, 1943). American Composer, lyricist, producer, arranger, actor, and singer. He is best known for collaborating with other artists and for writing the lyrics to the Beach Boys’ album Smile with Brian Wilson. Although he began his career as a child actor throughout the 1950s, he turned to music in his teens, learning guitar and performing with his brother, Carson. He landed a record contract in 1964 with MGM, then moved to Warner Bros. two years later, mostly working as an arranger and a session musician. In 1966 he recorded on the Byrds album Fifth Dimension (Columbia) and began his work on Smile. His songs such as “Surf’s Up” and “Wind Chimes” impressed Wilson, who championed Parks’s work. However, due to strife within the band—caused partly by objections to such songs as “Cabinessence”—Smile went unreleased at the time. Parks went on to work on solo projects, and in ...

Article

Jessica L. Brown

(b Springfield, MA, April 15, 1965). American Singer, songwriter, and producer. She was raised in a musical household, which exposed her to a wide variety of music. In 1989, while performing in a variety of small venues in San Francisco’s Bay Area, she was recruited into the band 4 Non Blondes as lead singer. The band released their debut album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Interscope, 1992); it contained the group’s biggest hit, “What’s going on?,” which was written by Perry and brought the band’s pop-rock sound and Perry’s powerful voice to mainstream audiences. Perry has identified herself as a lesbian, and during the Billboard Music Awards in 1994 she attracted attention by performing with the word “dyke” on her guitar. Before 4 Non Blondes could complete a second album, Perry left the band to pursue a solo career. In 1996 she released In Flight to critical praise but poor commercial sales. In ...

Article

Prince  

Charlie Furniss

[Nelson, Prince Rogers; The Artist Formerly Known As Prince; TAFKAP]

(b Minneapolis, 7 June 1958; d Chanhassen, MN, 21 April 2016). American rock and pop singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. As a teenager he began playing the guitar, drums, and piano and formed his first band while still at school. Over the next few years he made a number of recordings and became acquainted with studio production skills. In 1977 he signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records that allowed him complete creative freedom, which at the time was almost unprecedented among black solo artists. His first album For You (1978) failed to enter the charts, but Prince (1979) fared a little better and contained the hit ‘I Wanna be your Lover’. Around this time he formed his first touring band which established his precedent for using black, white, male, and female musicians. His third album Dirty Mind (1980) lost much radio airplay owing to its sexually explicit themes and it was not until ...

Article

Andrew Flory

(Brockman, Jr. )

(b Tuskegee, AL, June 20, 1949). American Rhythm-and-blues and pop singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. He attended Tuskegee Institute as an economics major, where he helped to form the Commodores, the during the late 1960s. Richie broke from the group in 1981 to start a solo career, remaining with Motown Records until 1992. As a member of the Commodores, Richie played saxophone on upbeat numbers, and often performed as vocalist and pianist on ballads. He became known for composing sentimental ballads that featured emotive vocal performances, such as “Easy” (1977), “Three Times a Lady” (1978), and “Still” (1979). Richie branched out from the Commodores in the early 1980s, working with pop-country singer Kenny Rogers, for whom he wrote and produced the hit “Lady” (1980), and Diana Ross, with whom he performed his song “Endless Love” (1981) as a duet that reached the top of both the pop and black singles charts. He left the Commodores after recording the ...