Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Mixtape: Chicago Stepping/ Sean Levert

Hey Everybody!

It's time for the Monday Mixtape!

This week's mix is about Chicago stepping. Not the electric slide style of stepping...

The holding your partner close and swinging them out in gracefulness...and then back again. They hardly ever played slow jams in New York City clubs so when I traveled to other cities and experienced sensuousness of blew my mind.

R. Kelly broke the mold on my dancing experience with his first stepping tune "Step In The Name of Love". R. Kelly in the black coat(swoon) Instead of maintaining a respectable distance from my partner for fear of unwanted me and my partners were holding hands and really experienced an in tune, synchronized two-step. I would practice so many variations of it in the house, playing with my steps, kicks and twirls, that my twins are very good at stepping too. .
The DJs in New York would play the stepping tunes...but they never went further and played the slow jams that were good for stepping too. So my mix will combine what I've learned from both New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. It is heavily sprinkled with R. Kelly because he's my favorite but I'm sure you will enjoy some of the other tracks too. Shoutout to my girl Amneris who requested some slow jams for her birthday last week. The Brian McKnight is for you girl! I never knew about the Jon B song so I was very excited about finding it! The Curtis Mayfield is a classic and Gerald Levert has quite a few good songs for stepping.

Sidenote: At the passing of Sean Levert, the R&B community is in shock. My condolences go out to Eddie Levert and his family. To lose both of your sons at such a young age must be terrible for him. I wish you God's strength and blessings on your family during your time of grief.

Enjoy the mix!

Listen Here:

Download at The Mixtress:

Track Listing

Step In The Name Of Love - R. Kelly
Red Carpet/Pause Flash - R.Kelly
Love Signals - R. Kelly
DJ Don't - Gerald Levert
For The Night - Musiq Soulchild
Touching - David Banner
Stepping Out - Big Gipp
Where Do You Want Me To Put It - Solo
Steppin' into Heaven - R. Kelly
If - R.Kelly
Beautiful - Damien Marley ft. Bobby Brown
Falling - Jamiroquai
Give Me Your Love - Curtis Mayfield
I Choose You - Willie Hutch
Stay - Temptations
Find Myself In You - Brian McKnight
One More Dance - Jon B
It's Your Birthday - R. Kelly
Happy People - R. Kelly
Step In The Name Of Love (Remix) - R. Kelly

(Pictures from SteppersUSA)


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Old School Artist Spotlight: Luther Vandross Slow Songs


It's my 35th birthday to day but it is also Old School Thursday!!!

I have two mixes for you today full of Luther Vandross love songs!

There are some changes taking place around here, so please pardon the apperance while the blog is under construction.

I didn't find any dirt but I found this beautiful piece:

When making his first public appearance since his stroke, Luther said slowly:

"I wish I could be with you there tonight. I want to thank everyone for

your love and support". He then added, "And remember, when I say goodbye

it's never for long, because"--and he sang--"I believe in the power of

love!" Luther's appearance that evening would be one of his final moments in

the public.

Here are the two mixtapes. I hope you enjoy them. I know me and Scribe will !

Yearning Track Listing

A House Is Not A Home
Anyone Who Had A Heart
Any Love
If Only For One Night/Creep Creep
Make Me A Believer
Promise Me
I'd Rather
Any Love
I'd Rather
Since I Lost My Baby
Don't Want To Be A Fool
You Got me Going in Circles
How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye (Duet with Dionne Warwick)

Listen Here:

Download Here:

Romantic Love Track Listing

Love Won't Let Me Wait
4 Always, 4 Ever, 4 Love
All the Woman I Need
So Amazing
There's Nothing Better Than Love (Duet with Gregory Hines)
Here and Now
If This World Was Mine (Duet with Cheryl Lynn)
Always & Forever
The Closer I Get To You (Duet with Beyonce Knowles)
Knocks Me off My Feet
I Thought About You
I Can Make It Better
Can Heaven Wait
Dance With My Father

Listen Here:

Download Here:

Biography Below the break:

Luther Vandross was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1980s

and '90s. Not only did he score a series of multi-million-selling albums

containing chart-topping hit singles and perform in sold-out tours in

the U.S. and around the world, but he also took charge of his music

creatively, writing or co-writing most of his songs and arranging and

producing his records. He also performed these functions for other

artists, providing them with hits as well. He was, however, equally well

known for his distinctive interpretations of classic pop and R&B songs,

reflecting his knowledge and appreciation of the popular music of his

youth. Possessed of a smooth, versatile tenor voice, he charmed millions

with his romantic music.

Vandross was born in New York City on April 20, 1951, and grew up in the

Alfred E. Smith housing projects in lower Manhattan. Both of his

parents, Luther Vandross, Sr., an upholsterer, and Mary Ida Vandross, a

nurse, sang, and they encouraged their children to pursue music as a

career. Vandross Sr.'s older sister Patricia Van Dross was an early

member of the Crests in the mid-'50s (appearing on their early singles,

but leaving before they achieved success with "Sixteen Candles"), and

Vandross himself began playing the piano at the age of three and took

lessons at five, although he remained a largely self-taught musician.

After the death of his father in 1959 when he was eight years old, he

was raised by his mother, who moved the family to the Bronx. While

attending William Howard Taft High School, he formed a vocal group,

Shades of Jade, with friends Carlos Alomar, Robin Clark, Anthony Hinton,

Diane Sumler, and Fonzi Thornton. All five, along with 11 other teenage

performers, were also part of a musical theater workshop, Listen, My

Brother, organized by the Apollo Theater in Harlem that recorded a

single, "Listen, My Brother"/"Only Love Can Make a Better World," and

appeared on the initial episodes of the children's television series

Sesame Street in 1969. After graduating from high school that year,

Vandross attended Western Michigan University, but dropped out after a

year and returned home. He spent the next few years working at odd jobs

while trying to break into the music business.

In 1973, Vandross got two of his compositions, "In This Lovely Hour" and

"Who's Gonna Make It Easier for Me," recorded by Delores Hall on her

album Hall-Mark, singing the latter song with her as a duet. In 1974,

though uncredited, he sang background vocals on Maggie Bell's Queen of

the Night, and in August of the same year Carlos Alomar, who had become

David Bowie's guitarist, invited him to attend a Bowie recording session

at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. He quickly became more than an

observer, singing background vocals, serving as a vocal arranger, and

co-writing the song "Fascination" with Bowie. The session resulted in

the album Young Americans, released in March 1975, and Vandross also

went on tour with Bowie in September 1974 as both backup singer and

opening act. Meanwhile, Vandross' 1972 composition "Everybody Rejoice (A

Brand New Day)" was featured in the Broadway musical The Wiz, which

opened a run of 1,672 performances on January 5, 1975. (It was later

made into a 1978 film.) The show starred Stephanie Mills, who used

Vandross as a background singer on her 1975 album Movin' in the Right

Direction. (He also sang, uncredited, on Gary Glitter's self-titled 1975

album.) Through Bowie, Vandross met Bette Midler, who hired him to

arrange vocals for her Broadway revue Bette Midler's Clams on the Half

Shell, which played ten weeks at the Minskoff Theater starting on April

14, 1975. Midler also introduced him to her record producer, Arif

Mardin, at Atlantic Records, and Vandross began to get steady work as a

background singer and vocal arranger. In 1976, he appeared on albums by

Midler (Songs for the New Depression), the Brecker Brothers Band (Back

to Back), Roy Buchanan (A Street Called Straight), Andy Pratt

(Resolution), and Judy Collins (Bread and Roses). He also put together a

vocal quintet called Luther, consisting of himself, former Shades of

Jade members Anthony Hinton and Diane Sumler, Theresa V. Reed, and

Christine Wiltshire, which signed to Atlantic's Cotillion Records

subsidiary. Their self-titled debut album was released in June 1976. It

did not sell well enough to reach the charts, but the tracks "It's Good

for the Soul," "Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)," and "The Second Time

Around" reached the R&B Top 40.

Reed and Wiltshire dropped out, and the remaining trio made a second

Luther album, This Close to You (April 1977), with Vandross given top

billing, while Hinton and Sumler were credited as featured soloists. The

title song reached the R&B charts, but that wasn't enough to keep

Cotillion from dropping the group, which then broke up. (Vandross

acquired the rights to the Luther recordings and saw to it that they

remained out of print.) Meanwhile, Vandross continued doing sessions. In

1977, he appeared on albums by Nils Lofgren (I Came to Dance), Geils

(aka the J. Geils Band; Monkey Island), the Average White Band and Ben

E. King (Benny and Us), Andy Pratt (Shiver in the Night), Ringo Starr

(Ringo the 4th), and Chic (Chic). He also entered the lucrative world of

writing and singing commercial jingles, and before long was the musical

voice of everything from telephones, fast food, and beverages to various

branches of the U.S. military on radio and television. And the recording

sessions continued. In 1978, he appeared on albums by Garland Jeffreys

(One Eyed Jack), Carly Simon (Boys in the Trees), Roy Buchanan (You're

Not Alone), Quincy Jones (Sounds...and Stuff Like That!!), Norma Jean

(Norma Jean), T. Life (That's Life), Roberta Flack (Roberta Flack),

Odyssey (Hollywood Party Tonight), the soundtrack to the movie version

of The Wiz, Chic (C'est Chic), Cat Stevens (Back to Earth), David

Spinozza (Spinozza), Carole Bayer Sager (Too), Sean Delaney (Highway),

the Good Vibrations (I Get Around), and Lemon (Lemon). And he was the

uncredited lead singer on the song "Get on Up (Get on Down)," by

Roundtree, an R&B chart entry that fall. Vandross began to gain greater

attention in 1979. During the year, he appeared on albums by Sister

Sledge (We Are Family), the Average White Band (Feel No Fret), Chic

(Risqué), Bette Midler (Thighs and Whispers), Jay Hoggard (Days Like

These), Revelation (Get in Touch), John Tropea (To Touch You Again), the

Charlie Calello Orchestra (Calello Serenade), Charme (Let It In), Cher

(Prisoner), Roberta Flack (Featuring Donny Hathaway), Delores Hall

(Delores Hall, Evelyn "Champagne" King (Music Box), Ben Sidran (The Cat

and the Hat), and Soirée (Soirée), and on the soundtracks to the films

Sunnyside and The Warriors. Especially on the jazz and disco recordings,

he was just as likely to be a featured vocalist as a background singer.

And he got a prominent credit when he arranged the background vocals for

Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer's duet "No More Tears (Enough Is

Enough)," which became a number one pop hit in November 1979. He gained

even more recognition in 1980, a year in which he appeared on studio

albums by Chaka Khan (Naughty), Melba Moore (Closer), Mtume (In Search

of the Rainbow Seekers), Dave Valentin (Land of the Third Eye), the

Brecker Brothers (Detente), Terumasa Hino (Daydream), Cissy Houston

(Step Aside for a Lady), Jimmy Maelen (Beats Workin'), the Jess Roden

Band (Stonechaser), and the Michael Zager Band (Zager), as well as live

albums by Bette Midler (Divine Madness) and the duo of Roberta Flack and

Peabo Bryson (Live & More), and on the soundtrack to the film Fame. But

the most important credit for him that year was his work as lead

vocalist of the studio group Change. He sang on the band's tracks

"Searching," a Top 40 R&B hit, and "The Glow of Love," which also

reached the R&B charts, and his name was listed prominently on the

discs. This increased his profile even more, and he began circulating a

demo tape to recording companies, seeking a solo deal that would allow

him to write and produce his own records.

On April 21, 1981, he signed with the Epic Records subsidiary of the

major label CBS Records. Vandross immediately began work on his debut

album, cutting down on sideman sessions, although during 1981 he

appeared on albums by Bob James (All Around the Town), Bernard Wright

('Nard), Change (Miracles), the J. Geils Band (Freeze Frame), Hi Gloss

(You'll Never Know), the Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band (The Brooklyn,

Bronx & Queens Band), Stephanie Mills (Stephanie), and the Spinners

(Can't Shake This Feelin'), and in June 1981 his composition "You

Stopped Loving Me" was sung by Roberta Flack, with him arranging and

singing background vocals, on the soundtrack to the film Bustin' Loose

and became a Top 40 R&B hit for her. (Damaris revived the song for an

R&B chart entry in 1984.) Vandross' own version was included on his

debut solo album, Never Too Much, released in August. The LP was a tour

de force for him; he produced it and wrote six of its seven songs, the

exception being a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's Dionne Warwick

hit "A House Is Not a Home." Vandross expressed his musical vision on

Never Too Much, and that vision was of a smooth neo-soul style that

recalled the pop/R&B of his youth, particularly the music of such

predecessors as Warwick, Aretha Franklin, the softer Motown artists,

like Smokey Robinson, and some of the girl groups of the early '60s,

such as the Shirelles. To those influences, Vandross added some

contemporary elements of jazz and disco. But his approach was steeped in

tradition; he was a stylist, harking back to the past, yet pointing to a

possible post-disco future for R&B music. And R&B fans responded warmly.

The title song, "Never Too Much," topped the R&B charts; second single

"Don't You Know That?" reached the R&B Top Ten; and third single "Sugar

and Spice (I Found Me a Girl)" also charted R&B. The album hit number

one R&B in November and was certified gold in December. (It went

platinum five years later and double platinum in 1997.) But Vandross

encountered more resistance in the pop realm, where the album reached

only the Top 20 and the single "Never Too Much" only made the Top 40.

Artistically and commercially, these results set a pattern for Vandross'

career. Appearing regularly, his albums showed great consistency in

style and content, even to the point of featuring a cover of a classic

pop/R&B song on each disc. And while they also sold consistently to the

R&B audience, they rarely received equal support from pop fans. Having

successfully launched his solo career, Vandross might have been expected

to abandon session work; certainly, he had less time for it. But he

still enjoyed working as a background singer, so he still did it

selectively. In 1982, for example, he appeared on albums by Irene Cara

(Anyone Can See), Michael Franks (Objects of Desire), Kleeer (Taste the

Music), Bob James (Hands Down), Linda Clifford (I'll Keep on Loving You,

and Ullanda McCullough (Watching Me, Watching You). At the same time,

Vandross' demonstrated abilities as songwriter, producer, and vocal

arranger opened up to him the opportunity to work in these capacities

with some of the artists he had grown up idolizing, as well as his

contemporaries. He first turned his attention to Cheryl Lynn, producing

her R&B Top Ten album Instant Love (June 1982); writing the title song,

which became a Top 20 R&B hit; and singing a duet with her on a revival

of the 1968 Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell hit "If This World Were Mine,"

which reached the R&B Top Five. ("Look Before You Leap," from the album,

also made the R&B charts.) Next, he turned to Aretha Franklin, producing

her July 1982 LP Jump to It, and writing or co-writing four of its eight

songs, including the title track, an R&B number one; "Love Me Right,"

which went Top 40 R&B; and "This Is for Real," an R&B chart entry.

Topping the R&B chart, it was her first gold album in six years. He also

sang on Diana Ross' October 1982 LP Silk Electric. Somehow, he found

time to make his second solo album, Forever, for Always, for Love,

released in September, again serving as his own producer and writing or

co-writing all the tracks except for covers of Smokey Robinson's 1965

hit for the Temptations "Since I Lost My Baby" and, in a medley with his

own "Bad Boy," Sam Cooke's "Having a Party." Vandross' co-writers on

some of the songs were bassist Marcus Miller and keyboard player Nat

Adderley, Jr. (a former member of Listen, My Brother), musical

associates who would work with him throughout his career. A musical

complement to Never Too Much, Forever, for Always, for Love was another

R&B chart-topper for Vandross, throwing off three singles, the Top Five

"Bad Boy/Having a Party," the Top 20 "Since I Lost My Baby," and the

chart entry "Promise Me." That, of course, was as far as the R&B charts

were concerned. On the pop side, the album went Top 20 and only "Bad

Boy/Having a Party" charted. Nevertheless, the LP was certified gold in

two months and platinum in six. Vandross' multiple career tracks

continued apace in 1983. He sang on albums by David Sanborn

(Backstreet), James Ingram (It's Your Night), former Shades of Jade

member Fonzi Thornton (The Leader), Linda Lewis (A Tear and a Smile),

Stephanie Mills (Merciless), and Betty Wright (Back at You). He produced

Aretha Franklin's next album, Get It Right, composing the title song,

which hit number one R&B, with Marcus Miller, and its follow-up, "Every

Girl (Wants My Guy)," a Top Ten R&B hit. Then, he turned to another idol

of his youth, Dionne Warwick, producing her album How Many Times Can We

Say Goodbye. He and Warwick sang the title song as a duet that became

her first R&B Top Ten hit in eight years; it also made the pop Top 40.

"Got a Date," the Vandross/Miller composition released as a second

single from the album, also made the R&B charts. And, although it took

until December, Vandross managed to come up with his third solo album,

the aptly titled Busy Body. On this album, he co-produced several of the

tracks with Miller, also writing most of the material with Miller and

Nat Adderley, Jr., the exceptions being "How Many Times Can We Say

Goodbye" and a medley of the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett standard

"Superstar" with Stevie Wonder's "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What

I'm Gonna Do)." As usual, there were three singles: "I'll Let You Slide"

and "Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)"

made the R&B Top Ten, and "Make Me a Believer" was a chart entry (of the

three, only the medley scraped into the pop chart); as usual, the album

hit number one R&B, but only the Top 40 of the pop chart; and as usual,

sales certifications poured in, the album going gold in two months and

platinum in January 1985. Vandross finally eased off on his recording

schedule during 1984, if only because he was now a major concert

attraction and toured in both North America and Europe. His only credit

for the year was his composing (with Marcus Miller), arranging,

producing, and singing background vocals on the song "You're My Choice

Tonight (Choose Me)" for Teddy Pendergrass, a Top 20 R&B hit.

Vandross thus was able to lavish more time on his fourth album, The

Night I Fell in Love, released in March 1985. Overall producer credit

again went to him, with three of the eight tracks co-produced by Miller.

Six of the songs were written by Vandross alone or co-written with

Miller or Nat Adderley, Jr., the exceptions being covers of Brenda

Russell's "If Only for One Night" and Stevie Wonder's "Creepin'." The

album spawned four R&B single hits: "'Til My Baby Comes Home" (Top Ten

and a Top 40 pop hit); "It's Over Now" (Top Five); "Wait for Love" (Top

20); and "If Only for One Night." The album spent seven weeks atop

Billboard's R&B LP list, going gold and platinum simultaneously as soon

as it was eligible for certification in May and double platinum in 1990.

It also reached number 14 in the pop charts, Vandross' best showing yet.

With his own album out of the way, he made some selected appearances on

other albums during 1985, contributing a song, "She's So Good to Me," to

the soundtrack of the film The Goonies and singing on albums by Carly

Simon (Spoiled Girl), Patti Austin (Gettin' Away with Murder), and

Wonder (In Square Circle). He also sang background vocals on the

Temptations' "Do You Really Love Your Baby," a song he co-wrote with

Miller that peaked in the R&B Top 20 in early 1986. Vandross spent much

of 1986 working on his own material, only pausing to contribute

background vocals on David Bowie's soundtrack to the film Labyrinth. The

results of his efforts were first heard in June when "Give Me the

Reason" was included on the soundtrack to the film Ruthless People and

released as a single that went Top Five R&B and reached the pop chart.

Vandross' fifth album, also titled Give Me the Reason, followed in

September. His fifth consecutive R&B chart-topper, it included

additional singles "Stop to Love" (number one R&B and his first Top 20

pop hit); the duet with Gregory Hines "There's Nothing Better Than

Love," co-written with John "Skip" Anderson, a synthesizer player in

Vandross' band (also number one R&B and a pop chart entry); "I Really

Didn't Mean It" (Top Ten R&B); and "So Amazing" (an R&B chart entry of a

Vandross song previously recorded by Dionne Warwick, whose Burt

Bacharach/Hal David hit "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was revived on the LP).

Simultaneous gold and platinum certifications in December were followed

by a double-platinum award in 1990. In 1987, Vandross contributed a

song, "It's Hard for Me to Say," which he co-wrote with John "Skip"

Anderson and co-produced, to Diana Ross' album Red Hot Rhythm & Blues,

and worked as a background singer and arranger on Ava Cherry's Picture

Me and Cheryl Lynn's Start Over. He also appeared on Irene Cara's

Carasmatic, Nick Kamen's self-titled album, and Doc Powell's Love Is

Where It's At. Meanwhile, Gerald Albright covered "So Amazing" and took

it into the R&B Top 20. In 1988, Vandross sang background vocals on

Patti Austin's The Real Me and Barbra Streisand's Till I Loved You, and

he wrote "The Girl Wants to Dance with You," which became a Top Ten R&B

hit for Gregory Hines. The song appeared on Hines' self-titled album,

which Vandross produced. Otherwise, he spent the two-year interval

between his fifth and sixth albums doing shows and working on that sixth

album, Any Love, which appeared in October 1988 and was supported by a

three-month U.S. tour. By now, Marcus Miller had been promoted to full

co-producer, and other co-writers had joined the team, but the approach

was still the same. And so was the success. Any Love topped the R&B

charts and gave Vandross his first Top Ten pop album, with the usual

simultaneous gold and platinum certifications two months after release.

The title song topped the R&B list and penetrated the pop chart; second

single "She Won't Talk to Me" went Top Five R&B and made the pop Top 40;

and "For You to Love" was another Top Five R&B hit. Vandross had by now

become an international success, and a record-breaking ten-night stand

at London's Wembley Arena in March 1989 was commemorated with a home

video, Live at Wembley. At the close of an enormously successful decade,

Vandross and Epic determined to sum things up, and in October 1989

issued the two-LP greatest-hits compilation The Best of Luther Vandross:

The Best of Love, which included two new tracks, "Here and Now" and

"Treat You Right." With those additions, the collection didn't just

summarize Vandross' career, it finally gave him his long-sought major

crossover hit, as "Here and Now," a song co-written by Dionne Warwick's

son David L. Elliott with Terry Steele, not only topped the R&B chart

but also hit the pop Top Ten, going gold in the process. It also won

Vandross his first Grammy Award, for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.

"Treat You Right" went Top Five R&B, and the set was a million seller by

March 1990. (By 1997, it was triple platinum.) Between the release of

the hits album and his next regular studio album, Power of Love, which

appeared in April 1991, Vandross as usual lent his talents to other

artists' recordings. He sang background vocals for Quincy Jones (Back on

the Block), Paul Jackson, Jr. (Out of the Shadows), and David Lasley

(Soldiers on the Moon). He contributed a song, "There's Only You," to

the soundtrack of the 1990 film Made in Heaven. He wrote and produced

the song "Who Do You Love" for Whitney Houston's album I'm Your Baby

Tonight. And he served as an arranger, producer, and background vocalist

on Lisa Fischer's So Intense, released the same day as Power of Love.

Vandross' seventh album, Power of Love suggested that the pop

breakthrough he had achieved with "Here and Now" would be sustained. The

advance single, a medley of Vandross and Marcus Miller's song "Power of

Love" with the Sandpebbles' 1967 hit "Love Power," not only topped the

R&B charts, but also went Top Five pop, and the LP, Vandross' seventh

R&B number one, was his second to penetrate the pop Top Ten. A million

seller by June 1991, it went double platinum two years later in the wake

of the further singles "Don't Want to Be a Fool" (Top Five R&B, Top Ten

pop), "The Rush" (Top Ten R&B and a pop chart entry), and "Sometimes

It's Only Love" (Top Ten R&B). Vandross' national tour to support the

album began in September 1991 and included four sold-out nights at

Madison Square Garden in October as it ran through January 1992. "Power

of Love/Love Power" was named Best R&B Song at the 1991 Grammys, and the

Power of Love album won Vandross another trophy for Best R&B Vocal

Performance, Male.

One might have supposed that all was well in the world of Luther

Vandross, but on January 2, 1992, he filed suit in Los Angeles Superior

Court against Sony Music Entertainment (which had acquired CBS Records),

citing California Labor Code Section 2855, which limits personal service

contracts to seven years. By then, he had been with CBS/Sony for nearly

11 years, fulfilling a ten-album contract that still had three albums to

go. Vandross was not the first or the last recording artist to file such

a suit, and whether he really wanted to void his contract, believing

that Epic still hadn't done enough to sell his records to the pop

audience, or simply intended to use the suit to induce the record

company to renegotiate his deal on more favorable terms, is unclear. Not

for the first or last time, the record company in question settled

quietly, not wishing to test the law. The terms of the settlement were

not reported, but thereafter, Vandross had his own vanity label, his

records going out under the Epic/LV imprint. As usual, following the

release of Power of Love, Vandross found the time to work with other

artists. He appeared on 1991 albums by BeBe & CeCe Winans (Different

Lifestyles), Patti LaBelle (Burnin'), Richard Marx (Rush Street), and

Kevin Owens (That Time Again), and he co-wrote and produced the song

"Doctor's Orders" on Aretha Franklin's What You See Is What You Sweat.

In 1992, without a new album out, he kept his name before the public

with special appearances, starting with the soundtrack to the film Mo'

Money, released in June, which featured a song called "The Best Things

in Life Are Free" (not the 1927 standard by Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown,

and Ray Henderson, but a newly written composition) that he performed

with Janet Jackson, Bell Biv DeVoe, and Ralph Tresvant (which is to say,

four of the five members of New Edition). It hit number one on the R&B

chart and went Top Ten pop. Next, Vandross wrote and performed the theme

song "Heart of a Hero" for the soundtrack of the movie Hero, released in

October 1992, and the same month he contributed a performance of "The

Christmas Song" to the seasonal charity album A Very Special Christmas,

Vol. 2. He made more modest contributions to two albums released in the

first quarter of 1993, Dionne Warwick's Friends Can Be Lovers and Eddie

Murphy's Love's Alright. Never Let Me Go, Vandross' eighth album, was

released on June 1, 1993, prefaced by the single "Little Miracles

(Happen Every Day)." Maybe the promotional staff at Epic Records was

demoralized by the recent lawsuit, or perhaps changing musical styles,

notably the rise of hip-hop, were affecting matters, but the commercial

response to Vandross' new music was slightly disappointing. The single

reached the R&B Top Ten but was only a minor pop chart entry, and Never

Let Me Go, despite marking a new pop chart peak for Vandross at number

six, stayed in that chart less than half the tenure enjoyed by Power of

Love; on the R&B chart, it crested at number three, Vandross' first new

album not to reach number one. Three further singles charted -- "Heaven

Knows," a cover of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," and "Never Let

Me Go" -- but none was a substantial hit. The falloff in sales was

actually minor; the album took one month longer to go platinum than

Vandross albums usually did. But for the first time, the singer's

momentum was slowing. Despite this, he continued his usual round of

activities, initially touring Europe to promote the album; appearing in

the small part of a hitman in the film The Meteor Man in August;

launching a U.S. arena tour that began in September and ran through

November; and, in November, singing a duet with Frank Sinatra of Rodgers

& Hart's "The Lady Is a Tramp" as the leadoff track on Sinatra's

celebrated Duets album. Then it was back to Europe for another round of

dates. Vandross also paid visits to his friends in recording studios,

resulting in appearances on the 1994 albums Paid Vacation by Richard

Marx, Restless by Bob James, and World Tour by Jason Miles. But he

clearly knew something had to be done to revitalize his own recording


An idea came from Sony president Tommy Mottola and his then-wife,

superstar Mariah Carey. Vandross had put at least one oldie on every one

of his albums: why not do an all-covers album? For most other artists,

this would have seemed like a typically clichéd record company concept,

commercial but artistically stifling. For Vandross, who was steeped in

pop music history and who had done some of his best work reimagining the

music of others, it was a natural. He even agreed to give up the

production reins to a Sony stalwart, the commercially savvy Walter

Afanasieff, whose recent clients included Carey, Michael Bolton, and

Celine Dion. The result was the modestly titled Songs, released

September 27, 1994. The album was prefaced by a cover of the 1981 Lionel

Richie/Diana Ross hit "Endless Love," on which Vandross sang a duet with

Carey. The single peaked at number two on the pop charts, a new high for

Vandross, even outpacing its number seven showing on the R&B charts. The

album went to number two R&B and number five pop, another crossover high

for the singer. With follow-up singles in revivals of Heatwave's 1978

hit "Always and Forever" (Top 20 R&B and a pop chart entry) and the

double-sided "Going in Circles"/"Love the One You're With" (the former

previously a hit for both the Friends of Distinction and the Gap Band;

the latter the Stephen Stills hit), which went Top 40 R&B and was

another pop chart entry, the album was an immediate million-seller and

went double platinum within 18 months. His commercial status restored,

Vandross undertook his usual pursuits, singing background vocals on the

occasional album (Cindy Mizelle's Cindy Mizelle [1994], Naomi Campbell's

Babywoman, Yvonne Lewis' No Strangers in Paradise [both 1995]) and

undertaking a tour that began on May 31, 1995, in San Diego, CA. For his

next album, he tried another favorite record company concept, the

holiday collection. This Is Christmas, which contained seven originals

along with only three traditional Christmas songs and restored the

production team of Vandross, Nat Adderley, Jr., and Marcus Miller, was

released October 24, 1995. It went Top Five R&B (with the track "Every

Year, Every Christmas" making the R&B Top 40) and peaked at number 28 in

the pop charts. An immediately certified gold album, it became a

perennial seller and went platinum in 2002. Also in the 1995 holiday

season, Vandross contributed a track, "The Thrill I'm In," to the

soundtrack of the film Money Train. Vandross did some touring during the

summer of 1996, and he contributed a cover of the Peter, Paul & Mary hit

"If I Had a Hammer" to the benefit album For Our Children Too, released

in September, but he spent most of the year working on Your Secret Love,

the album that would complete his Epic Records contract. It was released

on October 1, following the title song, which came out as an advance

single that made the R&B Top Five and was a pop chart entry. (The track

went on to win Vandross another Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance,

Male.) The album itself spent a week at number two in the R&B charts and

made the pop Top Ten, as second single "I Can Make It Better" hit the

R&B Top 20, also making the pop chart, and third single "Love Don't Love

You Anymore" became a minor R&B hit. Simultaneous gold and platinum

certifications arrived in December. Vandross spent much of 1997 touring,

beginning with an appearance at Superbowl XXXI on January 26 to sing the

national anthem. He did take time out to sing background vocals on

Richard Marx's April release, Flesh & Bone, however. On September 30,

Epic/LV released his valedictory collection, One Night with You: The

Best of Love, Vol. 2, which began with four new recordings, none of them

written or produced by him, but instead contributed by such usually

reliable hitmakers as Diane Warren, R. Kelly, and the team of Jimmy Jam

& Terry Lewis. Understandably, Epic didn't do much of a promotional job

on this contractual obligation release, which nevertheless reached the

R&B Top 40 and the pop Top 50, spawning a Top 40 R&B hit in R. Kelly's

"When You Call on Me/Baby That's When I Come Runnin'" and an R&B chart

entry in Jam & Lewis' "I Won't Let You Do That to Me," with a gold-disc

certification in December. While weighing offers from different record

companies, Vandross made some guest appearances, turning up on BeBe

Winans' self-titled album in October 1997, on Jimmy Reid's Forever Loved

in March 1998, and on his associate Marcus Miller's Suddenly in June. On

April 8, he performed at a Burt Bacharach tribute concert at the

Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, singing "Windows of the World" and

"What the World Needs Now." The show was filmed for television and

taped, resulting in a soundtrack album, One Amazing Night, released in

November. Vandross also paid tribute to Patti LaBelle at the same venue

on June 2 for a PBS special. Deciding on Virgin Records, a subsidiary of

the major label EMI, he presented a new album, I Know, on August 11. He

had already begun to introduce contemporary elements of rap and hip-hop

on Your Secret Love, and I Know continued this trend, but it was a

commercial disappointment, only going gold and generating just one Top

40 R&B hit in "Nights in Harlem." As a result, he left Virgin after only

this one release. During 1999 and 2000, Vandross kept his hand in with

soundtrack and session work. He co-wrote and co-produced "When You're a

Woman" for Lisa Fischer and Masters at Work, featured on the soundtrack

of the film 24 Hour Woman, released in March 1999; contributed

background vocals to Natalie Cole's Snowfall on the Sahara in June 1999;

sang and arranged for Dave Koz's The Dance in September 1999; and sang

background vocals and did vocal arrangements on BeBe Winans' Love &

Freedom in August 2000. That same month, he ended his search for a new

record company affiliation, becoming the first act signed to veteran

record executive Clive Davis' new startup label, J Records. He made his

label debut with the track "If I Was the One," included on the

soundtrack of Dr. Doolittle 2 on June 5, 2001. The song also appeared on

Luther Vandross, which was released two weeks later. Vandross and Davis

served as co-album producers, with individual tracks produced by others,

and new songwriters were brought in to give Vandross a new, current

sound. The makeover was largely successful. Leadoff single "Take You

Out" became a Top Ten R&B and Top 40 pop hit, followed by the R&B chart

entry "Can Heaven Wait" and the R&B Top 40 and pop chart entry "I'd

Rather," as the album made the pop Top Ten and just missed topping the

R&B chart, reaching platinum status by November. His career revitalized

once again, Vandross toured in early 2002, then began work on a second

album for J, taking time out to sing Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" on

Doc Powell's album 97th and Columbus and to contribute background vocals

to "Load Is Lifted" on Suzanne Couch's In the Rhythm (not released until

2005). He co-wrote the title song for his new album, "Dance with My

Father," with Richard Marx, and they combined for a heartfelt tribute to

Vandross' father. The album was finished by the spring of 2003, and

Vandross was preparing for a round of publicity work when he collapsed

in his New York apartment on April 16, 2003, the victim of a serious

stroke, apparently brought on by his diabetes and the physical strain of

his lifelong struggles with his weight. Despite his illness, J released

"Dance with My Father," which became an R&B and pop Top 40 hit and a

gold record, introducing the album, which hit number one on both charts,

a first for him. Over the next year, "Smooth Love," "Think About You,"

"Buy Me a Rose," and "The Closer I Get to You" (a duet with Beyoncé

Knowles re-creating the original version by Roberta Flack and Donny

Hathaway) figured in the pop, R&B, and/or adult contemporary (AC)

charts, as the album sold over two million copies. Vandross was a

sentimental favorite at the 2003 Grammy Awards, and his career total of

trophies doubled from four to eight as he won Song of the Year and Best

R&B Vocal Performance, Male, for "Dance with My Father," Best R&B Album,

and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "The Closer I

Get to You." He made an appearance via videotape to accept his awards

and promised to return to action soon. Meanwhile, J Records had kept his

name before the public by releasing the concert collection Live Radio

City Music Hall 2003, recorded in February 2003, on October 14, 2003; it

reached number six in the R&B charts and number 22 in the pop charts. By

all reports, Vandross continued his recovery during 2004 and into 2005;

he even appeared on Oprah Winfrey's television show in May 2005. But on

July 1, 2005, it was announced that he had died, having "never really

recovered" from his stroke. During his lifetime, Luther Vandross' albums

were certified for sales of 23-and-a-half-million copies in the U.S.;

estimates of his total worldwide record sales were as high as 40

million. Sales, of course, tell only part of the story, but it is

notable that, in the precarious world of popular music, and in

particular of the notoriously fickle genre of R&B and the difficult

category of crossover pop, Vandross sold records in the millions

consistently for over two decades. It is even more notable that,

although he certainly molded his music to a certain extent to meet the

marketplace, he also imposed his own direction on R&B. Prior to him, the

popular music of African-Americans tended to jump from one style to

another with nary a look backward. But Vandross, coming along in the

wake of disco and while rap/hip-hop was in its infancy, insisted on

reverence for the soul music of the recent past and deliberately

reformulated it in an "old-school" approach that came to be known as the

black AC radio format "quiet storm." Even as rap dominated the charts in

the early years of the 21st century, he maintained his passion for

romantic, melodic music, and he drew listeners along with him. His early

death at the age of 54 robbed American popular music of one of its more

consistent and compelling voices, and it is only a partial comfort that

he left behind a substantial body of work. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday Mixtape: Luther Vandross Fast Mix

Hey Everybody...It's time for the Monday Mixtape!

Yeah...I know it's Tuesday. Did I mention that I'm a mom and wife? LOL

I'm also the chick that puts it down twice a week. Show me some love!

This week I'm featuring Luther Vandross.

I miss him so much. I will posting his biography on Thursday, along with a double mixtape of his slow songs. There's time to submit your favorites in the comments.

Luther Vandross was full of Aries chacteristics. A typical diva, I will have to dig a little to get some of the good stories. Of how he often threw shade to other divas. I'ma have some juicy tidbits LOL

But in listening to all of these Luther songs (that I own), I reveled in the fact that Luther sang about all kinds of love. Secret, repentant, hopeful, expectant and romantic. The strength and conviction in his voice when he sang "Wait For Love" convinced me to do just that.

Enjoy the music of an Aries Man close to my heart. I'll always miss you Luther!

Listen Here:

Download at the Mixtress:

Track Listing

The Glow Of Love
Never Too Much
Bad Boy (Having A Party)
Stop To Love
'Til My Baby Comes Home
I Really Didn't Mean It
Best Things In Life Are Free (ft. Janet Jackson)
Give Me The Reason
Love The One You With
Power of Love
Can I Take You Out Tonight
Your Secret Love
If I Didn't Know Better
Wait For Love

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Old School Thursday Artist Spotlight: AL GREEN

HEY Everybody!

This week's Old School Thursday Aries Artist is AL Green!

I have a lot of fond memories of AL. My parents and their friends not only played his music but discussed his life at various card and rent parties. An Aries man, Al Green is also a classic representation of my zodiac sign. Extreme highs and lows, an innovator and a legendary soul singer, Al Green, like the other Aries artists that I have profiled, somehow found his way back to the church.

I do have an issue with the official biographies that I found. According to official reports, Al Green was burned by an ex-girlfriend. The way I always heard the story told, was that Al Green had two women living in his Memphis mansion. His wife was on one side of the house and his mistress on the other. Yeah, that sounds like an Aries man. It was said that the girlfriend flipped out one day and decided to try and kill him.

I'm so glad she didn't! One regret I have is that while living in Memphis, I never made the Sunday morning trip to Al Green's church. I will do it one day, but I hear you have to pay an entrance fee which is close to the price of a concert ticket. No matter, it would be worth it to see Al.

Enjoy the mix...and think about how you never noticed how "How Can You Mend A Broken heart" was over 6 minutes Al's moans on "Simply Beautiful" were as good as lyrics...and how you felt watching his video in Dead Presidents made you "Tired Of Being Alone" too and all you really wanted was some "Love and Happiness"!

Bio and more pictures after the break.

Listen here:

Download Here:

Track Listing

Love and Happiness
I'm so Tired of Being Alone
Let's Stay Together
I Can't Get Next To You
Here I Am Baby
Let's Get Married
Sha La La
Look What you've Done For me
Call me
Take Me To The River
Put A little Love In Your Heart
Everything is Gonna Be Alright
You Are My Everything
Put It On Paper
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
For The Good Times
Simply Beautiful


Albert Greene (born April 13, 1946),better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer who enjoyed great popularity in the early and mid 1970s.

Early years
Green was born in Forrest City, Arkansas.The son of a sharecropper, he started performing at age nine in a Forrest City quartet called the Greene Brothers; he dropped the final "e" from his last name years later as a solo artist. They toured extensively in the mid-1950s in the South until the Greenes moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, when they began to tour around Michigan. His father kicked him out of the group because he caught Al listening to Jackie Wilson.

Green formed a group called Al Greene & the Creations in high school. Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, two members of the Creations, formed an independent label called Hot Line Music Journal. In 1967, under the new name Al Greene & the Soul Mates, the band recorded "Back Up Train" and released it on Hot Line Music; the song was an R&B chart hit. The Soul Mates' subsequent singles did not sell as well. Al Greene's debut LP was released on Hot Line in 1967 called "Back Up Train". The album was upbeat and soulful but didn't do well in sales. This was the only album on the Hot Line label. Green came into contact with band leader Willie Mitchell of Memphis' Hi Records in 1969, when Mitchell hired him as a vocalist for a Texas show with Mitchell's band and then asked him to sign with the label.

Rise to stardom
Mitchell predicted stardom for Green, coaching him to find his own, unique voice at a time when Green had previously been trying to sing like his heroes Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, and Sam Cooke. Green's debut album with Hi Records was Green Is Blues, a slow, horn-driven album that allowed Green to show off his powerful and expressive voice, with Mitchell arranging, engineering and producing. The album was a moderate success. The next LP, Al Green Gets Next to You (1970), was a massive success that included four gold singles as Green developed his vocal and songwriting talents. Let's Stay Together (1972) was an even bigger success, as was I'm Still In Love With You (1972). Call Me was a critical sensation and just as popular at the time; it is one of his most fondly remembered albums today. Al Green Explores Your Mind (1974) contained the song "Take Me to the River", later covered by the Talking Heads on their second album.

Return to Faith
On October 18, 1974, Mary Woodson, a longtime friend of Al Green, assaulted him, then killed herself. It is believed that she ardently wished to be more than just a friend to Al Green. One night, she left the guest quarters, then entered the main section of the house without permission. She sneaked into his bathroom to make a surprise attack. With no warning whatsoever, she threw a large pot of sticky boiling grits over him as he was undressed and preparing to shower. As Al Green writhed in pain, she ran into another part of the house and committed suicide by shooting herself.

Investigations found that Mary Woodson had committed this terrible act because she suffered a mental breakdown. Her mental instability caused her to interpret Al Green as having rejected her wish to discuss marriage with him, even though their relationship had never progressed past friendship. This assault from behind caused third-degree burns on his back, stomach and arms. Deeply shaken by the injuries, the nature of the assault and the loss of this friend who was very dear to him, Green continued to reaffirm and grow closer to his deeply held love for God. He became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. Continuing to record R&B, Green saw his sales start to slip and the critics grew steadily harsher.

1977's The Belle Album was critically acclaimed but did not regain his former mass audience. In 1979, Green was injured while performing, and interpreted this accident as a message from God. He then concentrated his energies towards pastoring his church and gospel singing, also appearing in 1982 with Patti Labelle in the Broadway musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. His first gospel album was The Lord Will Make a Way. From 1981 to 1989 Green recorded a series of gospel recordings, garnering eight "soul gospel performance" Grammys in that period. In 1984 director Robert Mugge released a documentary film, Gospel According to Al Green, including interviews about his life and footage from his church.

Bio Credit

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Shadow 90's

Hey Everybody!

It's Time for the Monday Mixtape!

This week I'm doing the Shadow 90's! I spent so much time in that club...I probably should have sought therapy...but the Shadow was cheaper. Plus louder!!!!

I got my favorite drink recipe there : "Sex in the Shower"...Hennessey, Absolut and Cranberry. Two is me.

Enjoy the mix...and birthday is next Thursday!!!

Listen here:

Download at The Mixtress:

Track Listing:

I'm So Into You- SWV
No,No,No Pt2 - Destiny's Child ft Wyclef Jean
Gone Til November Remix - Wyclef Jean, R. Kelly, Canibus
Danger - Mystical
Shake It Fast - Mystical
Deja Vu - Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq
I Get Around - Tupac
California Love - Tupac
How Do You Want It - Tupac
Making Me High - Toni Braxton
Party Aint A Party - Queen Pen
Music Makes Me High - Lost Boyz
Jeep, Lex - Lost Boyz
Too Close - Next
Wifey - Next
Phenomenon - LL Cool J
Still Not A Player - Big Pun
It's So Hard - Big Pun
You Are Everything (Remix) - Dru Hill

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

OST Artist Spotlight: Aretha Franklin

Aries...The first sign of the zodiac. Natural leaders.

Hey Everybody...It's time for the Aries Artist Spotlight!!!! Thanks for the birthday wishes (wink @AS)'s only 2 weeks from today!!!! I love yall...all of yall...(and yall too. I wish u the best)

This weeks Aries artist is Aretha Franklin. The Queen!

I don't know about yall...but I am so tired of these gossip sites talking about Aretha and disrepecting her...especially when one of the loudest malcontents looks like a bulldog! For real...I'm sick of it. Like you haven't worn the same outfit twice because you thought you looked good in it! Like you haven't paid attention to society and did whatever you felt you wanted to do or worn what you wanted to wear...or even said what you wanted to say!!!

This woman is an icon and m-fers need to respect her as such.

That said...I'm such a stan for Re-Re. I can listen to her songs from the 60's and 70's and they apply to my heart in the present time. When Aretha sings gospel, I want to rededicate myself to Christ! When she sings about broken hearts, I am reminded of how it USED to feel. I'm a stan.

So here's the mix and the Biography is below the break. Enjoy one of our beautiful queens and remember that Aries Divas will tell you just how it is and how it should be. I am no exception to that rule!

Listen Here:

Download Here

Track Listing

I Say A Little Prayer
Baby I Love You
Spanish Harlem
Rock Steady
Jump To It
Freeway of Love
Who's Zoomin' Who
The House That Jack Built
Since You Been Gone
Chain of Fools
Rose Is Still A Rose (with Lauren Hill)
Oh Me Oh My
I Never Loved A Man
A Natural Woman
Giving Him Something He Can Feel
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Oh Happy Day (with Mavis Staples)
Hurts Like Hell (Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack)

Biography and more Pictures after the break!


Early life and career
Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee to the Rev. C. L. Franklin, a Baptist minister, and Barbara Siggers Franklin. Aretha's parents had a troubled relationship and they separated when Aretha was six. Siggers died of a heart attack when Franklin was ten. The fourth of five siblings, Aretha's father's first pulpit after Memphis was in Buffalo, New York. The family subsequently moved to Detroit, Michigan where Rev. Franklin assumed the pulpit of the New Bethel Baptist Church, and gained national fame as a preacher. Adept at the piano as well as having a gifted voice, Franklin became a child prodigy. By the age of fourteen, she signed a record deal with Checker Records, where her father recorded his sermons and gospel vocal recordings and issued The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin in 1956. Her earlier influences included Clara Ward and Mahalia Jackson, both of whom spent a lot of time in Aretha's home.
Teenage pregnancies derailed Franklin's gospel career when she gave birth to the first and second of her four sons in 1955 and 1957. By the time she returned to singing, instead of performing gospel and inspired by the successes of idols Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke, Aretha decided to secure herself a deal as a pop artist. After being offered contracts from Motown and RCA, Franklin signed with Columbia Records in 1960. Her recordings during that time reflected a jazz influence inspired by Washington and moved away from her gospel roots. Franklin initially scored a few hits on Columbia including her version of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)", which peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1961, and the Top 10 R&B hits, "Today I Sing The Blues", "Won't Be Long" and "Operation Heartbreak". However, by the end of 1966, with little commercial success in six years with Columbia and desperate for a sound, she accepted an offer to sign with Atlantic Records. According to Franklin years later, "they made me sit down on the piano and the hits came."
"Queen of Soul"
In 1967 Franklin issued her first Atlantic single, "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)", a blues ballad that introduced listeners to her gospel style. Produced by Jerry Wexler, the song became Franklin's breakthrough single reaching the Top 10 on the Hot 100, and holding the #1 spot for 7 weeks on Billboard's R&B Singles chart. The B-side to the single, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man", charted on the R&B side, and introduced a more gospel element to Franklin's developing sound.
Her next single, "Respect", firmly launched Franklin to superstardom. Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding, Franklin's feminist version of the song became a hit reaching #1 on both the R&B and the Pop charts and helping her Atlantic debut album, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, reach million-seller status. In the next ten months, Franklin released a number of top ten hits including "Baby I Love You", "Chain Of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".
In early 1968 Franklin won her first two Grammies (for "Respect"), including the first Grammy awarded in the "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" category. Franklin went on to win eight "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" awards in a row. Over the next seven years, Franklin continued to score hit singles including "Think", "The House That Jack Built", "I Say A Little Prayer" (a cover of Dionne Warwick's hit), "Call Me", "Don't Play That Song" and "Spanish Harlem".
By the end of the 1960s, Franklin's position as The Queen of Soul was firmly established. Her albums were also hot sellers; one in particular, 1972's Amazing Grace, eventually sold over two million US copies, becoming "the best-selling gospel album of all time". Franklin's hit streak continued into the mid-1970s. 1973's emotional plea "Angel", produced by Quincy Jones and written by Franklin's sister Carolyn, was a stand out single that became yet another #1 on the R&B chart. The subsequent album Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), however, was not successful.
1974's Gold-certified single "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" hit #1 R&B and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. By 1975, however, with the expanding exposure of Disco and the popularity of fellow Atlantic artist Roberta Flack, relations between Franklin and Atlantic Records were starting to strain. As a result, Aretha was recording poor material such as 1975's listless You album, and her record sales declined dramatically. Franklin had peaked while the music industry was moving on to younger black female singers such as Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, and Donna Summer.

Decline and tragedy
In 1976, Franklin's Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack of the film, Sparkle, briefly brought Franklin out of her funk. It was her first album to reach Gold status since the landmark Amazing Grace. The suggestive "(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel" became a number-one R&B smash and reached #28 on the Pop side. However, it was Aretha's only Pop Top 40 appearance during the second half of the 1970s. Her later period Atlantic albums including Sweet Passion, Almighty Fire and La Diva were critical as well as sales failures and to top it off Franklin owed major debts to the IRS for failure to pay back taxes. Her recording contract with Atlantic ran out at the end of 1979 and neither Aretha nor the company had any desire to renew it. On June 10, 1979, Franklin's minister father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was seriously wounded during what was said to be an attempted robbery at his Linwood Avenue home in Detroit, leaving him in a comatose state in which he remained until he died in the summer of 1984.

Return to prominence
In 1980, Franklin's career was given a much-needed boost thanks to a cameo appearance on The Blues Brothers, singing Think as Mrs. Matt Murphy. That same year, Clive Davis signed Aretha to his Arista Records. The singles "United Together" and "Love All The Hurt Away" - a duet with George Benson - returned her to the Top 10 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. But it was the spectacular 1982 album, Jump To It, produced by longtime admirer Luther Vandross, and the title-track 45 that gave Aretha her first R&B chart-topping and pop success since "(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel". The Jump To It album enjoyed a long run at #1 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart (even the Zoomin' album only reached #3). It won an American Music Award, was nominated for a Grammy and was certified Gold in early 1983 - Aretha's first Gold disc since the 1976 Sparkle album.
The following year Franklin and Vandross collaborated again on the disappointing Get It Right. But in 1985, Franklin's sound was commercialized into a glossy pop sound as she experienced her first-ever Platinum-certified album, Who's Zoomin' Who?. Yielding smash hits like the Motown-influenced "Freeway of Love", the title track, and her duet with rock duo Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves", the album became the first Platinum certification of Aretha's entire career, reintroducing her sound to a younger generation of fans. In 1986, Franklin did nearly as well with an album simply titled Aretha which yielded her first number-one pop single in two decades with the George Michael duet, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". The album is noteworthy for the striking cover which was Andy Warhol's last work before his death. Other hits included her cover of The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the girl group-inspired "Jimmy Lee". When Aretha was taken out of print, it had sold over nine million copies worldwide.
Aretha returned to gospel in 1987 with her album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism which was recorded live at her New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. However, the disc was a far cry from her 1972 effort Amazing Grace and had middling sales. Subsequent follow-ups such as 1989's Through The Storm and 1991's What You See Is What You Sweat sold poorly and failed to produce any major mainstream hits - other than the former album's Elton John-featured title track - but her career got a slight boost in 1993 when she scored a dance-club hit with "Deeper Love" off the Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit soundtrack. In 1994, she scored a top forty hit with the Babyface-produced ballad, "Willing To Forgive".
Franklin returned to prominence with her 1998 album, A Rose Is Still A Rose. The album's mixture of urban contemporary, hip-hop soul and soul was a departure from Franklin's previous material. The title track, produced by Lauryn Hill, gave her a smash hit on the R&B and Pop charts and earned a gold single while the album was certified gold also, the first time since 1986's Aretha that any of the singer's albums went gold. That same year, with less than twenty-four hours to prepare, Franklin stepped in for Luciano Pavarotti to sing "Nessun Dorma" at the 1998 Grammy Awards. (Pavarotti, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award that night, was too sick to attend.) She gave a soulful and highly improvised performance in the aria's original key, while firmly stamping out the year with a captivating performance during VH-1's "Divas Live" telecast.
Recent years
Following the success of A Rose Is Still A Rose, Franklin has continued recording if only sporadically. Her most recent release was 2003's So Damn Happy, which included the Grammy-winning track "Wonderful". Shortly after its release, Franklin left Arista Records after twenty-three years with the company. She has since started her own label, Aretha Records, and plans to issue her long-promised new album, A Woman Falling Out Of Love in 2008. She is also coaching young actors during auditions for a musical based on her autobiography, From These Roots.
In 1998, Franklin also took again her role of Mrs. Murphy in Blues Brothers 2000, this time singing her old hit "Respect". Like in the 1980 movie, she plays the possessive wife of the lead guitarist of the Blues Brothers Band, singing the song during a row with her husband about his joining his former band.
Aretha has released a new album "Jewels In The Crown: All-Star Duets With The Queen" The disc features duets performed with Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Richard Marx, John Legend, Annie Lennox, Mary J. Blige, Frank Sinatra, George Michael, Christina Aguilera, George Benson, Fantasia, Gloria Estefan, and Mariah Carey. A duet with Faith Hill has been recorded but it's not on the album. The album includes two new recordings with Fantasia, on the lead single "Put You Up On Game" and John Legend. The lead single "Put You Up On Game" hit radio on October 1, 2007 and became the number one most added song on Urban AC radio the following week. The album also includes Aretha's historical rendition of "Nessun Dorma" from the 1998 Grammy telecast. The album was released November 13, 2007 on Arista Records.
On February 8, 2008, Franklin was honored as MusiCares "Person of the Year", two days prior to the 50th Annual Grammy Awards where she was awarded her 20th Grammy.

Personal life
Twice divorced, Franklin is the mother of four grown sons. Two of her sons, Kecalf and Teddy, are active in the music business. Teddy is the musical director and guitarist of Franklin's touring band. From 1961 to 1969, Aretha was married to her manager and co-writer Ted White. In 1978 she married Cooley High actor Glynn Turman. White had been a decade older than Aretha while Turman was four years younger. The marriage lasted until late 1982 when Franklin and her family returned permanently to Detroit. She and Turman officially divorced in early 1984.
She is the godmother of Whitney Houston, who also grew up to be a pop star, rising to fame in the mid 1980s. A still image of Franklin was shown in the closing scene of Houston's late 1985 video for the single How Will I Know.

Awards and achievements
On January 3, 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In May 1987, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Musicology degree from the University of Detroit.
In September, 1999, she was awarded The National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #9 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. To give perspective to this honor, only the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Little Richard finished ahead of her on this list. Ray Charles finished at number ten, right behind Franklin.
In 2005, she was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.
In 2005, she became the second woman (Madonna being the first, a founding member) to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
On May 13, 2006, she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the Berklee College of Music.
On May 14, 2007, she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She is the youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.
First black woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine.
On February 8, 2008, Franklin was honored as MusiCares "Person of the Year".
On February 14, 2008, Franklin was given the Vanguard award at the NAACP Image awards.
In 2008, Franklin was added to PETA’s ‘Worst-Dressed Celebrities of 2008’ after appearing at the Grammy awards in a full length fur coat.
Grammy Awards
Franklin has won twenty Grammy Awards in total during her nearly half-century long career (she first charted in 1961), and holds the record for most Best Female R&B Vocal Performance award with eleven to her name (including eight consecutive awards from 1968 to 1975 - the first eight awarded in that category). (bio credit)

And DJ Diva Loves her with all her Heart.

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