Kirk Whalum

*An avid believer in the “great communicator” sax legend Kirk Whalum took a calling to honor another legend, one of the most prolific singers and songwriters of all time, Donnie Hathaway.

In his newest project “Everything is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway,” not only did Kirk enlist the daughter of the legend – Lalah Hathaway – as guest vocalist on the project, but he also features the talents of Musiq Soulchild, Robert Randolph, Rick Braun, Jeff Golub and Christian McBride – with Gil Goldstein and John Stoddart arranging. “Everything is Everything” is released on Mack Avenue Records/Rendezvous Music.

“Their songs that compose of his repertoire, songs he wrote, songs that are identified with him…and his interpretations,” said Whalum about the content of the new project.

If you are a Donny Hathaway lover like I am, this CD is a must to get. It will truly remind you or introduce you to the musical wonders of the man.  His daughter has his soulful yet gentle approach to a song, as evident on “You Had To Know.”

“They were very happy with the job we did,” Kirk said when asked how Lalah and her mother felt about the tribute CD.

This is not the first time Kirk Whalum has released a tribute CD. He released “The Babyface Songbook” which was an unbelievable project of Babyface signature songs. This project will certainly take you back in time to that Donny Hathaway era and style of music, but with just enough difference to bring you back to the present time.

Aside from the thought provoking “You Had to Know” I was also feeling “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” “Valdez in the Country,” featuring Jeff Golub, “Everything is Everything,” and “We’re Still Friends” featuring Musiq.

“Musiq is someone with a natural organic connection with Donny Hathaway,” Whalum pointed out to me when I mention how closely they sound.

Kirk, who was recently named President and CEO of Stax Museum of American Soul Music, debuted at #4 on Billboard Jazz Album Chart and #11 on the Billboard Gospel Chart with this last project “The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III.”  “Everything is Everything” is sure to do just as good.

For more on this “Everything is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway” log onto www.KirkWhalum.com.

Ted Lange’s ‘Let Freedom Ring’ is a ringing success

Ted Lange (2nd from left) and cast of 'Let Freedom Ring'

“That liberty bell won’t ring until all men are free,” were words that were echoed in the new Ted Lange play, “Let Freedom Ring.”

Everyone is raving about the new play, which made its world-wide premiered recently at the Stella Adler Theatre in Los Angeles before a star-studded audience. The play stars Lange, Garrett Morris, J.D. Hall, Lou Beatty, Jr., Chrystee Pharris, Eddie Goines, Christine Kludjian, Shani Shockley, Christopher Warren and Williams Stephens who all gave an exceptional performance. The play runs every weekend in September.

“Let Freedom Ring” offers historically interesting points of view in a serious, but yet, entertaining way. Garrett Morris’ character (Grandpa) was the mood changer bringing laughter when and where needed.  J.D. Hall’s character (Reverend) was a mood changer too, thanks to his believable acting, the light mood changed to dark quick.

The script to “Let Freedom Ring” was admirable, with surprises and thought provoking ways of presenting historical facts that had a twist of imagination.

The stage props and costumes were truly a large factor in how the play took the audience on a time-machine to the past. Lange’s character (Prince) was the voice of reasoning throughout, but then gives everyone a shock near the end.

“Let Freedom Ring,” written and directed by Ted Lange, and produced by Mary Lange, is a must to experience. I can still remembering some of the lines in the play, like the barmaid telling her employee (mistress) “remember my face.”