Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan Releases New Single “Like Sugar”

In a red-hot, era-spanning collaboration, The Queen of Funk and multiple Grammy winner Chaka Khan has teamed up with Major Lazer founder and Grammy-nominated producer Switch (M.I.A., Beyoncé, Rihanna) to drop brand new track, Like Sugar, which you can get a taste of below. Not only does it represent a scintillating collaboration between two leading talents, but it’s also a statement of intent as the first release from Switch’s new label imprint Diary Records.

Comebacks are en vogue in the world of music, but how often do two influential artists join forces to produce a track every bit as good as their classic material? While Chaka Khan has returned to touring, new tracks have only emerged sporadically since her 2007 album ‘Funk This’. Like Sugar demonstrates that her voice soars with as much power and emotion as it did back when her solo career exploded with ‘I’m Every Woman’, forty years ago.

The track is the first taste of Chaka Khan’s long-awaited new album on Diary Records, details of which will be announced soon.

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Ella Fitzgerald Louis Armstrong

Cheek To Cheek: Celebrating The Perfect Partnership Of Ella And Louis

The old adage that opposites attract couldn’t be more apt in the case of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, whose album collaborations for Verve Records, in the late 50s, resulted in some of jazz’s finest and most memorable duets. Texturally, their voices were like satin and sackcloth – Ella’s was refined and caressed the ear with its super-smooth contours; Louis’ was a rough, gravelly, bark-cum-rasp that was almost rustic by comparison. In sonic terms, then, Ella and Louis juxtaposed in a way that could safely be described as beauty meeting the beast, and yet the contrast in their vocal timbres resulted in a musical chemistry that made their recordings compelling and unforgettable.

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald first recorded together in 1946, for Decca. At that time, Ella – then 29 – was a rising star of the contemporary jazz scene, having broken out with drummer Chick Webb’s group six years earlier. Louis, on the other hand, was 45 and, despite the decline in popularity of both New Orleans jazz and big band swing, had not lost his star status. The pairing of the two singers was, perhaps, a musical marriage of convenience: the young aspirant seeking credibility and validation in the jazz community by forging a union with a bona fide legend (the man who had practically invented scat singing) and someone who was regarded as jazz’s most august elder statesman. Teaming up with Bob Haggart’s orchestra, Ella and Louis duetted on the single ‘You Won’t Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart)’, a smoochy ballad, backed with the livelier and more playful ‘The Frim Fram Sauce’. Despite the popularity of the record, the duo didn’t record in the studio again (largely because of Armstrong’s busy itinerary) until four years later, when they cut ‘Can Any One Explain (No No No!)’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ for their next single, accompanied by Sy Oliver’s orchestra. (more…)

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Sam Cooke

Black History Month Spotlight: Sam Cooke

The late and truly great Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on 22 January, 1931. Imagining this great vocal stylist as a senior citizen is especially poignant when you remember that he was a mere 33 when he was shot to death in a motel in December, 1964. His passing was insalubrious, but in just a few short years of success, his songs and his unmatched singing technique had already influenced many of the upcoming generation of stars.

Sam-CookeSam’s good looks and innate style made him a real hearththrob, but let’s not forget that he was also one of the first African-American musicians with a true grasp of the music business and how it worked. He would form his own record label and publishing company, almost unheard of for a black artist at the time.

The mind boggles at what he might have gone on to achieve, as a figurehead in the Civil Rights movement, as a solo artist and, maybe, in collaboration with some of his peers and admirers. Sam Cooke and, perhaps, Aretha Franklin, who swooned at him as a teenage girl? Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and many more besides would all surely have queued up to work with him. Perhaps even, collectively or individually, The Beatles.

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Fats Domino

Fats Domino Dead At 89

Legendary New Orleans singer/piano player Fats Domino has died at the age of 89, according to TMZ.

Domino died in New Orleans while surrounded by friends and family, his daughter told the publication.

Fats Domino’s resume is nothing short of incredible. He has sold over 65 million albums worldwide, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

Among his big hits are “Blueberry Hill”, “Ain’t That A Shame” and “Walking to New Orleans”.

Fats Domino – “Blueberry Hill”

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