As I said I would be, last Sunday I was front and center at the Teena Marie headliner concert for Philly's West Oak Lane Jazz Festival. A close industry friend got us by the stage and I didn't move an inch for the next 90 minutes. There were seats for the early peeps, but I just stood where I could to have a nice view of the woman herself. She kicked things off with a signature tune - James Brown/Lyn Collins' "Think" (aka the very sampled "It takes two to make a thing go right..") and dove right into some Parliament Funkadelic changing words here and there referencing her "T funk" which she certainly came ready to give the crowd. If I haven't stressed this enough, Philly loves them some Teena Marie! It is truly amazing to look at her and then look out at the sea of faces, mostly African-American, just soaking up her voice, her music, her presence. Since the concert took place outside in a residential neighborhood, there were even fans standing outside on the roof (best seat in the house probably) getting their groove on. Wow! Ms. Teena is no young thing, but she ran up and down the stage, singing, side-stepping, conducting the band, and playing guitar all without missing a beat. And lest anyone's forgotten, she can hold her own with da best of em. Her shrill soprano voice can run chills up your spine, but it all looks effortless to Lady T. She took time to talk with her audience and let them know how much their support has meant to her over the years. She performed her original hit with Rick James "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" and also "Ooh La La La" (made famous again when The Fugees sampled it in "Fu-Gee-La" in 1996). See live clips below (sorry so short - my memory card got filled up!). At one point, she performed "Can't Last a Day" off her brand new album, Congo Square, which originally features Faith Evans, but she instead sang with her gifted daughter, Rose LeBeau (just 18 yrs old & a cutie pie). Overall, it's safe to say Teena Marie lives up to all the hype. She is a tremendous entertainer and a severely underrated artist whose career now spans 30 years. If that doesn't speak for itself, I don't know what does. All hail the Queen!
Check out the debut music video for our very own taragirl's latest hit single "The City"! The single is off of her EP The City: Soul Suite which features all of the funky Soul/R&B the songstress is known for (You can check it out here). Shot in HD and directed by Sosena Solomon of A Dopest Ethiopian Productions, this video showcases the great city of Philadelphia as both a gritty and beautiful backdrop, with a soundtrack built on hip-hop breaks and mean guitar. I especially love the end of the vid!
"The City" expresses the ups and downs of life from an artist's perspective. The hook (which you may find yourself singing later) captures a universal feeling of frustration, and yet perserverance in overcoming life’s challenges. One day you "own this city," and the next day you feel like the city owns you.
Watch the video and tell us what you think! Starting immediately, we'll pick one winner who comments on either the Vimeo channel, YouTube channel or below and send them a free copy of the album. But post the link to your comment below, so we know for sure!! The contest deadline is Thursday, November 25th (Thanksgiving). We will message the winner through OnSugar.
She was nearly the first wakeup call casualty of the bloodthirsty blogosphere when the gossip mavens swooped down on her maligned relationship with a married man. Fantasia’s subsequent suicide attempt lit the fire around the drama even more, with everyone from MediaTakeOutto Nancy Grace suggesting it may have been a well-timed stunt. Amidst the whirlwind of controversy, Fantasia released her long-awaited third LP Back to Me, her best and most mature work to date. The album recently debuted at #1 on the R&B Albums chart and marked her highest position ever on the Billboard 200 at #2. With the second season of her hit VH1 reality show Fantasia For Real premiering last Sunday, we’re getting to see her musical growth, personal decline, and triumphant rise all at the same time—it’s like watching a dramatic Behind the Music in fast forward. Does it get any better than this?
A marked departure from the urban street flair of her 2007 release Fantasia, this project sees her vocals soaring to new heights on soulful production that finally highlights the timelessness of Fanny’s voice. Luscious live instrumentation on tracks like the lead single “Bittersweet” highlight the rawness and realness of her trademark vocal performances. At the same time, she also seems to have tamed her infamous raspy growls, invoking it mostly for effect and doing away with it completely on tracks like the super glossy buzz single “Even Angels.” What surprises about Back to Me is its musical and lyrical maturity, as well as the diversity in the tracks. This project doesn’t emulate Monica’s soulful comeback Still Standing by being too ballad-heavy, allowing Fantasia’s voice to excite as much as it does arouse. Check out the Jim Jonsin-produced “Falling in Love Tonight,” a smooth club-ready love song that would even impress pop-locking Usher.
The highlight of Back to Me comes midway through with the instant favorite “Collard Greens and Cornbread,” where she showcases her ability to wrap her dynamic voice around classic soul over a sample of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tarrell's “Your Precious Love” and the addition of a chest-thumping chorus. The 60s soul influence continues on “Teach Me,” which evokes Lauryn Hill, and the uptempo “Move on Me.” A lot of this project plays like a literal soundtrack to the previous season of her reality show, full of family drama (“you wanna be captain/you’re gonna have to work a little bit harder for that to happen,” she sings on “Man of the House”), and yearning over love (“Who’s Been Lovin’ You”).
The premiere of the new season of her show was definitely entertaining, as was the nail-biting tease to upcoming episodes where her suicide attempt plays out before cameras. With this impressive new album, I’m glad Fanny’s back to prove why she’s one of our best and REALEST contemporary talents in R&B… we’re not only thrilled to still have her around, we’re glad she’s just being Fantasia. For real.
Fantasia For Real airs Sundays at 10p.m. on VH1
VIDEO: Fantasia breaks down on The Wendy Williams Show
First, let me just say that I am sorry for the ultra long delay in updating the blog. It's definitely alot harder than you think to constantly update your own little piece of blog heaven;-) but I am going to do my best to bring you some much-needed news and info on exciting music developments in the funk/soul part of the universe.
Girl Funk Music writer Jon and I just returned from a very cool and productive music conference on soul music in Atlanta, GA. The 5th Annual International Soul Music Summit brought together artists, producers, DJs, labels, digital marketers, managers, publicists and festival organizers from all over the country, and even a few from overseas. My artist self "taragirl" was invited to perform at one of the featured showcases; in addition we handed out new copies of my latest compilation The City: Soul Suite and gained some new fans in the process (yay!). During the day, Jon and I attended some pretty great panels on things like social networking and marketing strategy, monetizing your brand, new technology, management and the future of the music industry; and at night, we attended concerts. *See pics below for the full visual story!* On the first night, we were lucky to catch "A Tribute to Donny Hathaway" starring Frank McComb, which was incredible and even featured a cameo appearance by the lovely India.Arie! On the second night, we visited somewhat-famed Apache Cafe and saw alot of great soul acts from the conference including Konshens and his State of Mind (hip hop band from DC), Klyntel (jazz fusion group from Seattle), and Philly's own Mike Phillips (Hidden Beach recording artist and saxophonist). We also got to mingle with some other great people like soul singer Bilal, artists Choklate, Angela Johnson, Darien, Avery Sunshine, Lydia Rene, Gloria Ry'ann, Marcell and The Truth, Monica Blaire, SolStarr, The Fuzz Band, DJ Kemit and SoulTracks.com. Overall, the trip was definitely a career motivator for me and also connected me with some new friends and industry collaborators. Win-win!
Lesson of the Day: Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone mentally & physically! Conferences do cost some $$ to attend, but the return you get is not easily matched: relationships, exposure and knowledge! :-)
Hey y'all ~ As you can tell, I got a headstart on the concert season. Janelle Monae, K-OS woo hoo. I love my urban alternative artists. Good soul. Good hip-hop. Mmm mmm. My fave. Check out the video and pics (below) from Wednesday's concert at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC!