*Fantasia’s ready for a change in her career. The controversial singer who enjoys the company of married men said she’s going to take her music to a different genre – Rock-Soul.
She told HipHollywood.com that she’s feeling a fusion will be a better fit for her musical talents and interests.
“I’m doing something different. I call it Rock-Soul,” she said. “I love music. I grew up on good music, not only just R&B artists. I grew up on Elton John, Aerosmith, Queen, Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, all of these different types of music. So, I feel like I don’t want to be boxed in anymore on just one type of music.”
The transition could be easy for her, given her Gospel/R&B style. Though she has a really high-pitched voice that for some can get annoying, she still has this ability to reach down into the depths of a soul and touch somebody, like they do in church.
Fantasia said she’s gleaning to the path Tina Turner took as a singer – from Soul to Rock.
“I love the fact that Tina Turner, when she first came out, everybody loved her. She’s always soul, but she took a different direction, and I felt like that was her passion and where her heart was at. So, for me, that’s where my heart is. I’m going to follow it,” said Fantasia.
*On Aug. 5, Tower of Power will celebrate 40 years with a show stopping live performance at the Fillmore Theater in San Francisco. The iconic band, known for “What is Hip?” and “You’re Still a Young Man,” still knows how to get down and get funky.
Honoring tradition of big band music, Tower of Power blows audiences away with a fully outfitted band with funky twist.
Founder, Emilio Castillo who plays second sax and works the vocals, says this concert is going to be “huge.”
*Now that the Essence Fest is out of the way, D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige are about to hit the road together on a late summer “Liberation Tour” with 20 dates across the U.S.
D’Angelo is making his great comeback, bringing funk back to R&B with his upcoming album, his first since 2000’s “Voodoo.”
Scheduled “Liberation Tour” dates as of now are:
Aug. 18 — Virgina Beach, Va., Farm Bureau Live
Aug. 19 — Wantagh, N.Y., Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach
Aug. 21 — Boston, Bank of America Pavilion
Aug. 23 — Holmdel, N.J., PNC Bank Arts Center
Aug. 26 — Washington D.C., Verizon Center
Aug. 29 — Miami, American Airlines Arena
*Popular award-winning Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is getting ready to pen a memoir, expected to be released in 2014.
“Quincy Jones is a dear friend of mine and he keeps saying to me, ‘You’ve got to do a book,’” Hancock said Tuesday during a telephone interview with TheAP from Shanghai, where he is currently on tour. “I’ve had a life that has taken many interesting paths. I’ve learned a lot from mentors who were instrumental in shaping me and I want to share what I’ve learned.”
The groundbreaking Jazz player, who just turned 72 last week, is a winner of 14 Grammys and is known for his creative style of mix of Jazz, Blues, Soul, Funk and Electronic music.
The book will be, in part about his spiritual journey as a Buddhist and beyond. He’ll also discuss of course music and life.
“I am hoping this book will not only appeal to jazz fans,” he said. “Being a musician is not what I am, it’s what I do,” he explained. “To my wife, I’m not Herbie Hancock the musician. I’m her husband. When I’m talking to a neighbor, I’m a neighbor. When I vote, I’m a citizen.”
*Funk legend George Clinton is in the hospital with a staph infection in his leg, TMZ is reporting.
Clinton’s rep tells the website that Clinton, 69, went to see his doctor for a routine check-up when the decision was made to keep him in the facility so he could receive proper treatment for a staph infection in one of his legs.
The rep adds, “He will be just fine. Thank you for all your prayers and concern.”
*I kid you not: late Sunday afternoon, August 15, I was at home in front of my computer trying to decide what music to play, when I had the sudden urge to hear “Shake” by the Gap Band.
It’s not like I’d have to search for the track to hear it. Though it was the Gap’s breakthrough hit way back in 1979, that funky party groove is among some 300 songs spanning pop music’s gamut that I’ve had in heavy rotation for the past year. I play “Shake” like it came out yesterday.
I ended up not listening to the song Sunday evening. But the urge to do so came, I learned the next day, about the same time Gap’s Robert Wilson, fifty-three, suffered a massive heart attack at his Palmdale, California home. I figure my urge to hear the “Shake” was simply the sonic boom of Robert leaving the planet. I know. But I believe in stuff like that.
For many of you, Robert’s name may not ring a bell. Even if you’ve heard such Gap Band hits as “I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up and Dance (Oops, Upside Your Head),” “Burn Rubber On Me,” “Humpin,’” “Yearning For Your Love,” “Early In The Morning,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Outstanding” and “Party Train,” you don’t have to know Robert. But Bass players and lovers of funk bass do, because on bass guitar, Robert Wilson was a monster.
Robert’s style, like only every other “popping,” “slapping” and “thumping” bassist to play the instrument from the ’70s on, was heavily influenced by the legendary Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone and later Graham Central Station. The two had more than bass in common. Just as a young Graham developed his iconic thumping style in church –accompanying his mother on piano, he thumped and slapped the strings to make up for there being no drummer–Robert also honed his funkiness in the house of the Lord, holding down the bottom every Sunday for his piano -playing mother and brothers Charlie and Ronnie at their Pentecostal minister father’s church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It was locally based country rocker Leon Russell who “discovered” the Wilson Brothers and band playing top 40 covers in a Tulsa bar. Russell (who as a songwriter, had penned such future pop classics as “Superstar,” “A Song For You” and “This Masquerade”) told them he was looking for a backing band to take out on tour.
Russell gave the Wilsons all his albums and checked off the songs they’d need to learn if they were interested in auditioning for him. During his talk, the band remembered Russell saying the most important part of a song’s live performance is a strong beginning and ending. “So, those are the only parts of his songs we learned,” Gap vocalist Charlie Wilson told me recently, laughing. “When we auditioned, our performance of the songs themselves were rough, but our intros and endings were tight as hell, so he hired us.”
In addition to working as Russell’s live band, Gap (the initials are for Greenwood, Archer and Pine, the three intersecting streets in Tulsa’s historically black Greenwood area) recorded one obscure album for the rocker’s Shelter label and another for Tattoo Records before joining Los Angeles entrepreneur Lonnie Simmons’ Total Experience Productions. Simmons landed the Wilson trio a deal with Mercury in 1978.
It was during the final minute-plus of “Shake”–whose action-packed arrangement pinched from Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 cover of the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life”–that Robert officially put the funk world on notice. Channeling the Ohio Players’ Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner by singing along with his blistering solo, Robert made those bass strings moan.
But then, the soft-spoken Robert usually communicated more through his bass than with words. In all the times I interviewed the Gap Band, I don’t think Robert ever said more than a couple sentences. Throughout the ’80s, the youngest Wilson brother struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.
He reunited periodically with Charlie, who launched a solo career several years ago, to do Gap dates (Ronnie left the fold to become a bishop). At the time of his death, Robert was working on an album to be released this fall, co-produced by fellow Oklahoma bass man Wayman Tisdale, who died of cancer in 2009. Tisdale referred to Robert as one of his first mentors. Now they’re both gone.
I’m writing about Robert Wilson because he deserves the honor. It is heartbreaking enough that modern black music continues to lose some of its greatest artists. But recent untimely passings such as Parliament/Funkadelic vocalist/guitarist Gary Shider and guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, who, with his younger bassist brother Bootsy Collins, augmented one of James Brown’s mightiest bands and played with Parliament/funkadelic before ultimately launching Bootsy’s Rubber Band, represent the loss of a certain kind of musician.
These guys didn’t read music; they created from a crevice deep within their souls. Music courses can teach technique, but just try learning from a book the spirit, passion and emotion with which these guys played. They’re not being replaced by younger musicians.
Which is why I wish there existed a machine you could hook humans up to–much in the way you attach an external hard drive to a computer–and extract from them their various gifts. That way, when certain people pass on, their incredible talents would remain, to be used and appreciated.
It’s a silly, selfish thought, I suppose. But for Robert Wilson to leave here and take all those chops with him is a doggone shame.
Steven Ivory is a journalist/author who has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via STEVRIVORY@AOL.COM
Listen and groove to Robert Wilson (on bass) and The Gap Band’s “Shake”:
*R&B/Funk guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, a veteran of James Brown’s J.B.’s, Parliament-Funkadelic and his younger brother William “Bootsy” Collins’ Rubber Band, died of cancer last Friday at his home in Cincinnati, reports the AP. He as 66.
Bootsy Collins said in a statement that “my world will never be the same … Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”
Bootsy’s wife, Patti Collins, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Catfish “was a father figure to my husband. He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”
Catfish, eight years Bootsy’s senior, suggested his brother put bass strings on an old guitar. After being recruited by James Brown, they played on such classics as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” “Super Bad” and “Soul Power.”
By 1971 they had left Brown’s employ, going on to form the House Guests and then joining Funkadelic in 1972 for albums such as “America Eats Its Young” and “Cosmic Slop.” Catfish remained with the group — which also lost guitarist Garry Shider to cancer in June — until the mid-’80s.
“(Catfish) was a hell of a musician,” keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who played with the guitarist in Funkadelic, told the Enquirer. “People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”
Below, Catfish with the JBs in Paris, 1971. Bootsy is on bass.