Happy Monday, Everyone! This week’s featured artist is Mr. Otis Redding Jr.
He may have been a Georgia native, but the name Otis Redding will always be synonymous with Memphis, Tennessee. The music he made there has become among the most influential in the 20th Century. For the man known by millions as “The King of Soul,” his ties to the city began with one of the most serendipitous moments in music history.
When the Georgia band Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers traveled to Memphis in 1962 for a session at Stax Records, Jenkins didn’t have a driver’s license so he hired a friend from Macon to drive him and his band there. Throughout their session, the hired hand asked Stax producers to let him sing. They did, and he began singing “These Arms of Mine.” That driver was Otis Redding.
Born in Dawson, Georgia on September 9, 1941, Redding moved to Macon at any early age and began competing in local talent shows in high school. He was soon forced to stop competing after winning the $5 prize 15 times in a row. After a brief stint with Little Richard’s former backup band, The Upsetters, Redding began sitting in occasionally with the Pinetoppers, until that impromptu session at Stax.
Once signed to the Stax imprint Volt Records, Redding began his rise to fame with some 30 singles including “Pain In My Heart,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” “Try A Little Tenderness,” “Mr. Pitiful,” and “Respect,” which he wrote and recorded at Stax in 1965 and which was famously covered and released in 1967 by Aretha Franklin. His six Stax studio albums and a slew of live ones also helped catapult him into the international limelight.
As popular as Redding’s recordings were, his live performances and larger than life stage presence drove crowds wild. He became a favorite at such venues as The Apollo in New York, The Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, and at various locations around the South.
Redding’s two European trips, in 1966 and 1967, introduced him to an entire new audience. Also in 1967, Redding, backed by Stax house band Booker T. & the MGs, performed before his first large, U.S., predominantly white audience at the Monterrey Pop Festival in California. He was a massive hit with the “Summer of Love” crowd, and it positioned him to become of the industry’s most successful crossover artists.
All of that sadly ended, however, just months later on December 10, 1967. While en route that day to a concert gig in Madison, Wisconsin, Redding’s private plane crashed just a few miles from Madison’s airport, killing Redding, just 26 years old, and all but two members of his traveling band, the Bar-Kays. Redding left his wife Zelma and his children Karla, Dexter, and Otis Redding III. The incident left the world in shock.
Just the month before, Redding had recorded an unfinished version of a song he co-wrote with Booker T. & the MGs guitarist and Stax executive Steve Cropper. Cropper and other Stax studio musicians finished the song and it was released in January 1968. The song was “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” and, by 1999, it became the sixth most-aired songs in U.S. history, aired more than six million times.
Redding’s songs have been covered and sampled for decades by the likes of Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, Al Green, Pearl Jam, John Mayer, Christine Aguilera, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Kanye West, and even Mae West. Among many other posthumous accolades, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
In 2010, another music industry icon covered another Redding/Cropper song. On Huey Lewis and The News’ first LP in nine years, Soulsville, Lewis performs the lesser-known hit “Just One More Day.” And it wasn’t just one more song for Lewis, who says it was daunting.
“I mean, it’s Otis Redding,” Lewis says. “I was nervous about trying to do one of his songs because there’s just never been anyone like him in the world. He was one of the greatest singers of all time.”
I hope you’re enjoying this weekend with family and friends.
I hope you’re enjoying this weekend with family and friends.
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President welcomed to the White House both student filmmakers and student scientists, hosted the Afghan president, and honored the five year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, while the First Lady championed the Let Girls Learn initiative in Japan and Cambodia. That’s March 20th to March 26th or, “The Magic Page”
We end up our romance week with John Legend.
John Roger Stephens (born December 28, 1978), better known by his stage name John Legend, is an American singer, songwriter and actor. He has won nine Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe and one Academy Award. In 2007, Legend received the special Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Prior to the release of Legend’s debut album, his career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with multiple established artists. Legend added his voice to those of other artists, assisting in them becoming chart-topper hits. He lent his voice to Magnetic Man’s “Getting Nowhere,” Kanye West’s “All of the Lights”, on Slum Village’s “Selfish” and Dilated Peoples’ “This Way”. Other artists included Jay-Z’s “Encore”, and he sang backing vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song “You Don’t Know My Name”, the Kanye West remix of Britney Spears’ “Me Against the Music”, and Fort Minor’s “High Road”. Legend played piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything”. He has gained chart topping hits from his solo work as well, including the Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, “All of Me”. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2015 for writing the song “Glory” from the film Selma.
Can’t have romance without Luther Vandross.
Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr. (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in demand background vocalist for several different artists including Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Ben E. King, and Donna Summer. He later became the lead singer of the group Change, which released its certified gold debut album, The Glow of Love, in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. After Vandross left the group, he was signed to Epic Records as a solo artist and released his debut solo album, Never Too Much, in 1981.
His hit songs include, “Never Too Much”, “Here and Now”, “Any Love”, “Power of Love/Love Power”, “I Can Make It Better” and “For You to Love”. Many of his songs were covers of original music by other artists such as “If This World Were Mine” (duet with Cheryl Lynn), “Since I Lost My Baby”, “Superstar” and “Always and Forever”. Duets such as “The Closer I Get to You” with Beyoncé, “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey and “The Best Things in Life Are Free” with Janet Jackson were all hits in his career.
During his career, Vandross sold over 25 million records worldwide, and received eight Grammy Awards including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four different times. He won a total of four Grammy Awards in 2004 including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for a song recorded not long before his death, “Dance with My Father”. The song was co-written with Vandross’ friend and protégé, Richard Marx.
In high school, Vandross performed in a group, Shades of Jade, that once played at the Apollo Theater. He was also a member of a theater workshop, Listen My Brother, which released the singles “Only Love Can Make a Better World” and “Listen My Brother”. He also appeared in the second and fifth episodes of Sesame Street in November 1969. Vandross graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1969, and attended Western Michigan University for a year before dropping out to continue pursuing a career in music.
His next hit credit was on an album by Roberta Flack in 1972.[which?]
Vandross founded the first-ever Patti LaBelle fan club, of which he was president. LaBelle confirmed this in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. This ‘Oprah Prime’ interview first aired in America on November 3, 2013.[when?]
Vandross sang on Delores Hall’s Hall-Mark album (1973). He sang with her on the song “Who’s Gonna Make It Easier for Me”, which he wrote, and he contributed another song, “In This Lonely Hour”. Having co-written “Fascination” (1974) for David Bowie’s Young Americans (1975), he went on to tour with him as a back-up vocalist in September 1974. Vandross wrote “Everybody Rejoice” for the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz.
Vandross also sang backing vocals for artists including Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Ben E. King, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, and Donna Summer, and for the bands Chic and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.
Today’s romancer is Al Green.
Albert “Al” Greene (born April 13, 1946), often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including “Tired of Being Alone”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Love and Happiness” and his signature song, “Let’s Stay Together”. Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum’s site as being “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music”. He has also been referred to as “The Last of the Great Soul Singers”. Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 66.
Having noted that Al had been trying to sing like Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, Mitchell became his vocal mentor, coaching him into finding his own voice. Before releasing his first album with Hi, Green removed the final “e” from his name. Subsequently, Green released Green Is Blues, which became a moderate success. Green’s follow-up album, Al Green Gets Next to You, featured Green’s hit R&B cover of The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You”, recorded in a slow blues-oriented version. The album also featured his first significant hit, “Tired of Being Alone”, which sold half a million copies and was certified gold, becoming the first of seven consecutive gold singles Green would record in the next couple of years.
Green’s next album, Let’s Stay Together, solidified Green’s place in soul music with the title track becoming his biggest hit to date, reaching number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The album became his first to be certified gold. His follow-up, I’m Still in Love with You went platinum with the help of the singles, “Look What You Done for Me” and the title track, both of which went top ten on the Hot 100. His next album, 1973’s Call Me spawned three top ten singles including “You Ought to Be with Me”, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”. Green’s album, Livin’ for You, released at the tail-end of 1973, became his last album to be certified gold.
In addition to these hit singles, Green also had radio hits with songs such as “Love and Happiness”, his cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, “Simply Beautiful”, “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is” and “Take Me to the River”, later covered successfully by new wave band Talking Heads and blues artist Syl Johnson. Green continued to record successful R&B hits in the next several years including “Livin’ for You”, “Let’s Get Married”, “Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy)”, “L-O-V-E (Love)” and “Full of Fire”. By the time Green released the album, The Belle Album in 1977, however, Green’s record sales had plummeted, partially due to Green’s own personal issues during this time and his desire to become a minister. His last Hi Records album, Truth n’ Time, was released in 1978 and failed to become a success. Two years later, he left Hi for Myrrh Records and recorded only gospel music for the next decade and a half.