Charles Jenkins’ single ‘Grace’ emerges on gospel music charts

Chicago-based artist Charles Jenkins‘ latest finger-snapper, “Grace” (Inspired People/Empire), boasts an old school Motown sample, the sonorous singing of Fellowship Chicago and a dynamic vocal assist from Le’Andria Johnson. Last week, the inspiring, mid-tempo track debuted in the Top 20 on both the Billboard Magazine Gospel Airplay (No. 19) and the Mediabase Gospel Airplay (No. 18) charts. The song anchors Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s highly anticipated and, as yet, untitled third album which is expected to release in either the 4th quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018.

The song hits iTunes and all major digital service providers on July 7. The success of “Grace” comes on the heels of Charles Jenkins opening Bishop T.D. Jakes’ bi-annual MegaFest conference with a rousing performance of the song last week in Dallas, where he taught it to an ecstatic audience of thousands. A few days before, Jenkins headlined WLOU 104.7 FM and 1350 AM’s annual SummerFest concert in Louisville, KY. “He just shut the park down,” says WLOU Program Director, Brodric Purvis in a news release. “It was his first time performing in this market and he really gave Louisville a great concert that they will never forget.”

In another career first, prior to jumping on a plane to head to the aforementioned event in Kentucky, Jenkins commanded the stage at Mamby on the Beach in Chicago. The electronic dance music festival drew 30,000 dance music fans to the city’s lakefront and featured EDM superstars such as MGMT, Flying Lotus, Misterwives and Sir the Baptist. Jenkins and his music crew opened the Saturday festivities with an energetic, rousing noon-day program of his urban-flavored tracks such as “Winning,” “Reach for the Sky” and a club rendition of his signature song, “Awesome,” which spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart in 2012. The spectacular set has already earned Jenkins an invitation to perform at next year’s event.

Pop icon Seiko Matsuda’s first jazz project goes into high gear

With over 40 music awards, a record of 24 consecutive No. 1 single hits on Japan’s Oricon charts and several hits on the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart, Seiko Matsuda has been active internationally since 1980. Now, after six years of planning, Matsuda finally unveils her first jazz album Seiko Jazz (available via Verve).
Known as the “Eternal Idol” in Japan due to her long standing career as a pop culture icon, Matsuda has historically collaborated with jazz greats in the past while leaving a visible footprint within its scene. In 2011, famed producer Quincy Jones invited her to take part in his iconic, career spanning “Quincy Jones and the Global Gumbo All-Stars” concert at Los Angeles’ legendary Hollywood Bowl. The following year, Matsuda was a featured artist on the contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay’s album Esprit de Four. Upon celebrating the 35th anniversary of her debut in 2015, she won the Japanese equivalent of a Grammy Award when she received Best Vocal Performance at the Japan Record Awards.
Seiko Jazz marks the critically acclaimed singer’s debut jazz album, produced by Shigeyuki Kawashima (the first Japanese jazz producer to receive a Grammy® Award) and arranged by Grammy Award-winning bandleader David Matthews. Matsuda is joined by Matthews’ Manhattan Jazz Orchestra to present standards such as “Smile” and “The Way We Were,” as well as the Bossa Nova staple “The Girl From Ipanema” in a way that showcases the cornerstones in the history of jazz.
“I am not only overjoyed to be able to release my album with Verve, but I also feel I have turned over a new leaf after 37 years,” Matsuda says via news release. “Holding this special appreciation to all of the people who have supported me throughout the my career, I only hope to become a better version of myself by constantly learning and taking on new challenges.”

Mitch’s Commercial Break: The Plastic Recycling Process

The Plastic Recycling Process

3D popup cards to reveal Billboard Music Award winners

dick clark productions and Lovepop announced in a news release that Lovepop will create original 3D popup cards to reveal the “2017 Billboard Music Awards” winners during the awards ceremony. Each card will be one-of-a-kind paper art, designed exclusively for the winning artist and unveiled by the award presenter. This special card reveal will replace the traditional envelope opening.

Lovepop, a maker of hand-crafted, intricately designed cards, is best known for its 3D paper sculptures. After appearing on “Shark Tank” in late 2015, Creators Wombi Rose and John Wise — along with the guidance of businessman and Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary — went on to launch a thriving business providing customers with artistic greetings that create an emotional and personal connection between two people.

In advance of the awards show, Lovepop, the Billboard Music Awards and Lovepop investor Kevin O’Leary invited ABC’s “Shark Tank” cameras back into the design studio to get an insider’s look at the process of drafting, sketching and prototyping the “2017 Billboard Music Award” winner cards. “Shark Tank” will show a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “2017 Billboard Music Awards” cards on at 9 p.m. Eastern time / 6 p.m. Pacific time Friday, May 5 on ABC. The finished designs will be revealed for the first time to artists and fans during the “2017 Billboard Music Awards,” broadcast live at 8 p.m. Eastern time / 5 p.m. Pacific time May 21 on ABC.

For more information, visit www.billboardmusicawards.com or the Billboard hub at www.billboard.com/bbma.

 

Pianist Bill Carrothers joins trio Red Planet for masterful collaboration

Red Planet with Bill Carrothers, available in stores on April 14, features 10 tracks, dancing between the trio’s typically electrified romps and folk-tinged ballads, while Carrothers’ impressionistic piano weaves through the nooks and crannies of the music, spinning an elegant web of lyricism and texture. In some ways, it acts as a homecoming of sorts for Carrothers, a Twin Cities native who has long since left for New York before moving to the upper peninsula of Michigan and a busy touring schedule in Europe.

Album release shows are scheduled for the Dunsmore Room in Minneapolis on April 18 and 19, with a European tour planned for the fall of 2017. 

 

 

‘VICTORIA’ comes to MASTERPIECE this month on PBS

Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin (The Fortune Hunter), Victoria airs in seven magnificent parts, fit for a queen, on MASTERPIECE, Jan. 15 on PBS.

Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. The stellar cast also includes Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne, the British prime minister who was Victoria’s father figure and intimate friend, and Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as the handsome, brilliant and awkward Prince Albert, who stole Victoria’s heart after a rocky start.

In Victoria, writer Daisy Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and find that she is the most powerful woman in the world. Victoria charts how the new ruler rose to the challenge and weathered a series of crises — some of her own making — without ever losing her youthful charm and innate sense of justice, which made her popular with her subjects.

Victoria is a coproduction of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE. It is created, written and executive produced by Goodwin. The director is Tom Vaughn (He Knew He Was Right). The directors are Sandra Goldbacher and Olly Blackburn. The producer is Paul Frift (Restless). The executive producers are Dan McCulloch and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, presented by WGBH Boston. It is distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Musical prodigy Emily Bear set to release ‘Into the Blue’

Photo Credit: Nick Suttle

Pianist/composer Emily Bear, 15, has achieved the kinds of accolades and triumphs that take many artists a lifetime to accomplish. She’s performed at the most prestigious venues across the country and around the world, received numerous awards and honors, composed for film and television, made six appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, garnered 30 million views on YouTube, played at the White House, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, been mentored by the legendary Quincy Jones – and that’s only a partial list.

Now, with the release of Into the Blue, Bear brings us new original jazz compositions performed with her trio. The album comprises five of her original compositions plus a warm, graceful take on “My Favorite Things” that hints at the immortal John Coltrane version before veering off into dazzling variations. Exuding Bear’s own exuberant passion for music, Into the Blue is both accessible and appealing for listeners of any age.

Bear follows the chart topping success of her first album, Diversity–produced by her long time mentor, Quincy Jones–with this inspiring collection of new melodies. Her agility on the piano is matched by her skill in creating stylistic compositions – catchy, intelligent, and sophisticated.

Bear has composed and arranged for orchestra, written for film and commercials.  And while she continues to expand her musical palette, jazz holds a special place in her heart. “What I love so much about jazz is that you have a lot more freedom than in classical music,” Bear says. “Jazz has a groove that doesn’t show up in any other kind of music and I enjoy using all my musical influences to create a unique sound, familiar yet new.”

Mitch’s Books: Author chronicles poignant tale of U.S. Army hero

In Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn (Casemate Publishers), author Mike Guardia presents his readers with a memorable story of an underdog whose career was a testament to dogged determination and the will to stay alive.

On the evening of April 9, 1942, the fires on Bataan burned with a primitive fury, illuminating white flags of surrender against the dark sky. Outnumbered and outgunned, remnants of the American-Philippine army surrendered to the forces of the Rising Sun. Yet U.S. Army Capt. Donald D. Blackburn refused to lay down his arms. With future Special Forces legend Russell Volckmann, Blackburn escaped to the jungles of North Luzon, raising a private army of 22,000 men against the Japanese. His organization of native tribes into guerrilla fighters would lead to the destruction of the enemy’s naval base at Aparri.

But Blackburn’s remarkable accomplishments didn’t end with the victory in the Pacific. He played a key role in initiating Army Special Forces operations in Southeast Asia, became commander of the 77th Special Forces Group and later took command of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group (SOG), charged with performing secret missions. Blackburn also revitalized the Special Operations campaign in South Vietnam, conducting full-scale operations against the NVA and Viet Cong in Laos and Cambodia. Following his return to the U.S., Blackburn was the architect of the infamous Son Tay Prison Raid, the largest prisoner-of-war rescue mission — and, indeed, the largest Army Special Forces operation — of the Vietnam War.

During a period when U.S. troops in Southeast Asia faced guerrilla armies on every side, America had a superb covert commander of its own. This book follows Blackburn through both his youthful days of desperate combat and his time as a commander, imparting his lessons to the new ranks of Army Special Forces.

An internationally-recognized author and military historian, Mike Guardia is also a veteran of the United States Army. He served six years on active duty as an Armor Officer. He is the author of the widely-acclaimed Hal Moore: A Soldier Once … and Always, the first-ever biography chronicling the life of Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore, whose leadership was popularized in the film We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.  As a lecturer, Mike Guardia has given presentations at the U.S. Special Operations Command and the George Bush Presidential Library.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degreee in American History from the University of Houston and currently resides in Texas.

For more information, please visit:  https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Commander-Donald-Blackburn-Guerrilla-Special-ebook/dp/B0169GGSFY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Mitch’s Commercial Break: Mary Kay’s Mint Bliss Energizing Lotion for Feet & Legs

Check out Mary Kay’s refreshing mint lotion that helps tired feet and legs feel revived! http://expi.co/01Fxv6

Mitch’s Travel: Kickoff new year with wellness/fitness getway to Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic’s all-inclusive resorts and world-class, white-sand beaches beckon travelers from all over the globe for rest and relaxation. But with the new year calling – and new fitness resolutions for 2017 – travelers should consider jetting to Dominican Republic for a fitness or wellness getaway. From outdoor activities and wellness retreats to luxurious hotel gyms, there are exercise options for every type of fitness getaway this winter.

“Dominican Republic’s wide range of travel options and activities may surprise travelers. Our country is so versatile, not only are we the premier destination for beach vacations, but we have the natural playground and high-quality service perfect for a fitness trip,” said Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism in a news release. “There are so many exciting attractions to explore, you will stay active no matter where your trip takes you.”

Home to both the highest and lowest points above sea level in the Caribbean, the boundless array of outdoor activities will keep a traveler’s muscles moving. For travelers looking for something less rigorous, yoga classes can be found in tucked-away bungalows. With so much to keep moving on a wellness getaway in Dominican Republic, R&R can be saved for home.

For example, Dominican Republic’s lush greenery and impressive mountain views can’t be found in any gym, so skip the treadmill and opt for a nature walk or hike. The country’s most rigorous hike, Pico Duarte, located in the central part of the county, is the highest peak in the Caribbean. Reaching an elevation of 10,125 feet, travelers can embark on a two-, three- or four-day trek to the top that is sure to challenge people of all fitness levels. The hike offers views of varying landscapes from tropical trees to cloud forests.

A rising travel trend, wellness retreats offer travelers a chance to forget about the busyness back home and focus on exercising their mind, body and soul. Yoga retreats can be found throughout the country, but are especially popular in the lush ecotourism hotspot of Samaná. The area’s breathtaking landscape, complete with waterfalls, mountains and mangroves, provides the perfect balance of nature and tranquility for a yoga retreat. Travelers can also opt for a yoga class on the beach to unwind. Sometimes, taking a deep breath is just what the doctor ordered.

Classes and retreats welcome yogis of all levels and practices, including acro, ashtanga, ahtah, asan and more. Some wellness retreats even provide health professionals for a complete wellness experience. There are also several meditation centers that offer more wellness retreats to help with pain issues and/or stress management.

So whether a traveler is searching for meditation, spirituality or strength training on your wellness getaway, Dominican Republic has it all.  Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism’s official website at: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.