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rhythm and blues

Singer-songwriter Gabriel S. Hardeman dies

Gabriel S. Hardeman

According to a recent news release, singer-songwriter Gabriel S. Hardeman, 68, best-known for co-writing R&B star Stephanie Mills’ 1987 #1 hit “I Feel Good All Over” and Teddy Pendergrass’ “Truly Blessed”, died on Saturday, June 16 in the Philadelphia area from complications of interstitial fibrosis. He was diagnosed with the illness in May 2000 but with medication functioned well until 2005, when he started intermittently using a portable oxygen tank. His condition improved after a 2009 single lung transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, but he recently began contacting friends to say that his prognosis was grim and to say goodbye.
 
Born December 13, 1943, in College Park, Ga., where his father was an African Methodist Episcopal pastor. He kicked off his music career by singing and playing piano at his dad’s church. His parents moved the family up north for better financial opportunities when he was still a youth. They settled in Harrisburg, Penn., before finally moving to Philadelphia where Hardeman graduated from William Penn High School.
 
After graduation, he briefly joined R&B band, the El Dantes, before going off to West Virginia State College as a physical education major. Upon graduation, he worked as a physical education teacher, and it’s during that period that The Gabriel Hardeman Delegation was born. 



“There was a talent show, and I wanted to get some kids together and do some gospel music,” he told Rashod Ollison at Philadelphia Inquirer in 2001. “’Oh Happy Day’ was hot then. I had about 40 kids, and the next thing you know, word got around and we had like, 80 kids in the choir.”
 
They started performing throughout the year, but he’d lose his best singers as they graduated from high school, so he decided to create an independent group and named it The Delegation in 1973.



“We were doing then what folks like Kirk Franklin are doing now,” he told the Inquirer. “We would go into these conservative churches, and they would tell us we were doing the devil’s music.” The group signed to Savoy Records, where they recorded hit albums such as the self-titled LP that featured the radio hit “Feels Like Fire” and earned a Grammy Award nomination.
 
Hardeman became disenchanted with the politics of the gospel world and retired from recording for a while. However, he and his wife, Annette Hardeman (from the disco era trio, First Choice, best known for “Dr. Love”) began to write songs together. They wrote Stephanie Mills’ #1 R&B hit “I Feel Good All Over,” Mikki Howard’s #2 R&B smash “Love Under New Management” and a “This Is the Last Time” and “Truly Blessed” for Teddy Pendergrass. They also did backing vocal sessions for R&B acts such as Patti Labelle, Phil Perry and Phyllis Hyman.
 
Eventually, the industry demand for them to write more salacious R&B music conflicted with their faith, and they devoted themselves to writing and producing gospel music. Aside from writing for gospel acts such as Edwin Hawkins and the Wilmington-Chester Mass Choir, Hardeman recorded his own albums for the Messiah and Birthright labels before making a comeback with the Stellar Award nominated To the Chief Musician CD in 2001. Hardeman returned to Atlanta in 2003 to take care of his elderly parents, and he became a pastor in the Belleview Circuit AME Churches in the city. He returned to Philadelphia in 2008 to take advantage of the better medical facilities in the city.
 
He is survived by his wife, Annette Hardeman, and their son, Michael.

 

P. Diddy protege Brian H. and Jamia Alesia collaborate on ‘Truly Everlasting’ soundtrack


With the smooth vocal style of Tank or Tyrese, Brian H. (aka Brian Harris), became a TV sensation as J-Rome after his stint on P. Diddy’s reality TV show, “Making the Band 4.” Now, he’s aiming to make rhythmic noise all over again. He has teamed up with rising star, Jamia Alesia, to record the sultry movie soundtrack, “Truly Everlasting” (Emtro/$13.99). It’s the companion CD to the film that has just been released on DVD.

The Jacksonville, Fla., singers sang two duets, “One Love” and “I Think I Love You.”  Alesia did three solo tracks. The mid-tempo, “He’s So Fine,” is reminiscent of SWV back in the `90s. Her warm alto shines on the groove “The One” and she shows her sass on the track, “Changed.” Brian H. rounds the collection out with five tracks: the computerized “Beautiful Girl” and the aching jam, “Truly Everlasting.” There’s also a cozy acoustic version of the latter, as well as, the catchy love songs “Take It Slow” and “Imagine.”

Brenda Jackson, known as the Diva of Romance, is the best-selling African-American romance novelist of all time. She began reading romance novels to distress herself from her hectic job as an insurance executive and wondered why there weren’t more romance novels revolving around black people and started to write her own. She’s written 80 romance novels that have sold over 3 million copies and made her the top in her field. She’s now taken one of her most popular books and bankrolled the independent film, “Truly Everlasting” that is based on her best-selling 1998 book of the same name. 

In the story, a man named Trask and woman named Felecia who have hated each other since childhood are drawn together when Felecia’s son wishes for a father to spend Christmas with since his biological father is dead. When Trask hears of Austin’s unique request from one of Felecia’s relatives, he volunteers to be Austin’s dad for the holidays. Against her better judgment, Felecia relents and allows Trask to act as Austin’s father. Forced to be around each other for the child’s sake, the adults fall in love and the story takes on a unique twist that includes a protracted custody battle for Austin.



Update: Christmas program featuring Committed cancelled in Oklahoma City

The Christmas program featuring Sony Recording artist group Committed scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, at the Metropolitan Library System’s Ralph Ellison branch in Oklahoma City has been cancelled due to the cancellation of the “Have a Mary Mary Christmas Tour.” For more information, call Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. at (405) 524-3800.

Smooth jazz saxophonist Richard Elliot remains “In the Zone”

Richard Elliot invites loyal fans and newcomers alike to celebrate 25 years since the release of his debut album Initial Approach. Where’s the party? Where else – In the Zone, a grooving, funked up, horn splashed collection that finds the energized-as-ever tenor saxophonist paying homage to the pioneering instrumental artists of his formative years (’70s-early ’80s) whose brilliance and musical innovations inspired his own. 


“My original motivation for doing an album like In The Zone was the opportunity to reconnect with my earlier self, the musician I was when I first started out,” says Elliot in a new release. “The songs remind me of listening to my heroes in those days and seeing them perform live, feeling incredible joy and enthusiasm about the possibility of following in their footsteps. The wonderful thing is, so many years after I began performing professionally, I still feel that excitement. I love to play live more than anything. Under certain circumstances, the recording process can be arduous, but when you can tap into the kind on inspiration I draw from here, it’s a whole different, joyous experience. It’s all about feeling the same way I did back when I was 18 and dreaming that this could someday be my life.”


 Drawing on the influences of legends like Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, Elliot fashions the perfect contemporary jazz complement to Rock Steady, his 2009 recording that was inspired by the great R&B artists he grew up listening to; that collection debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart and remained on the list for over 40 weeks. In The Zone includes a simmering, hypnotic retro-soul cover of “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler),” a Marvin Gaye staple whose original instrumental version marked Washington’s first session as a leader. Beyond that, the collection is driven by nine powerful retro-flavored original songs penned by Elliot and co-producer Jeff Lorber, who share a colorful collaborative history over the past 10 years. 


Lorber, who began recording as leader of The Jeff Lorber Fusion in the late ’70s, brings his unique dual history as a Jazz Fusion pioneer and R&B producer/re-mixer to the session. In addition to his array of keyboards, including the Fender Rhodes, In The Zone features the input of longtime Elliot associates Nate Phillips (bass), Tony Moore and Lil’ John Roberts (drums), Dwight Sills and Michael Thompson (guitar), and percussionist Lenny Castro. 


“The interesting thing about my desire to pay homage to the wonderful array of R&B and jazz I grew up with on these last two recordings is that I actually wanted to do it as far back as Metro Blue,” says Elliot. “The music of the ’70s carved out a lot of where I wanted to go musically, and I felt this need to express some musical gratitude, not by doing a cover record but by incorporating a few familiar songs among originals that had references to my influences. Compared to Rock Steady, the vibe is definitely subtler on In The Zone, especially with David’s wonderfully sophisticated low-key horn arrangements, but the same love of that time is there. The vibe is the ’70s forerunner to the contemporary instrumental music that became popular in my own era as an artist.” 


Elliot is currently headlining on tour with Grammy award-winning guitarist Norman Brown. 


Shirley Murdock interview with Tavis Smiley airs this weekend

According to a recent news release, vocalist Shirley Murdock recently sat down for an interview and talked about her journey through life and music with media personality Tavis Smiley on Public Radio International’s “The Tavis Smiley Show.” The interview airs on Public Radio International (PRI) from Friday, Oct. 28 through Friday, Nov. 4. Local stations can be found at  www.tavissmileyradio.com/where.html.


The Dayton, Ohio-based singer is best known for her top 10 ’80s era R&B hits “As We Lay,” “Go on Without You,” “Husband” and “In Your Eyes.” However, in recent years, she’s become equally known for her gospel and inspirational tunes such as 2007’s “I Love Me Better than That.”

Murdock talked with Smiley about her transition from R&B to gospel and all the twists and turns in between. She also discussed her new, first live CD “Live: The Journey” and its companion music DVD.
The 17-track collection was produced by Grammy Award winner Cedric Thompson (who’s produced Yolanda Adams and Marvin Sapp) and recorded live at The Broadcast Group Complex in Charlotte, NC. R&B singers Kelly Price and Regina Belle as well as gospel singer Beverly Crawford each performed a song with Murdock and did one song as a foursome. The “Live: The Journey” (Tyscot Records) CD has debuted at #24 on Billboard’s top Gospel Albums chart while the “Live: The Journey” (Tyscot Records) music DVD debuted at #40 on Billboard’s top Music Videos chart where it shares rank alongside projects such as Taylor Swift’s “Journey to Fearless” and the band Journey’s “Live in Manila.”

Meanwhile, Murdock’s current inspirational/gospel radio single “Dream” is moving up the gospel radio playlists around the country. It’s receiving heavy substantive rotation on Sirius XM satellite’s Praise Channel 64 and Murdock was also recently a guest in the VIP Lounge with DJ Cayman Kelly on Sirius’s XM’s Heart & Soul Channel 48. Murdock also recently sang the song on The National Mall during the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Unveiling ceremony where President Barack Obama spoke about Dr. King’s legacy.

“The song is anointed because it’s full of the word,” Murdock says of the inspiring ballad of hope and perseverance. “It’s like the voice of God speaking directly to your spirit, reminding you, that He’s not a man that He should lie … if He spoke it, will He not do it? This song will stir up and rekindle that word, that’s been spoken into your spirit and remind you that your dream can not…will not die.” For more information on Shirley Murdock, go to www.tyscot.com or http://twitter.com/#!/ShirleyMurdock

Singer Shirley Murdock collaborates with Bishop T.D. Jakes on radio single “Dream”

Veteran soul and gospel vocalist Shirley Murdock is on a journey just as the title of her forthcoming release The Journey (Tyscot Records) suggests.  
Back in the ’80s, Murdock set out to become a gospel singer, but her path led to becoming a back-up singer for the funk band, Zapp. 
Bandleader Roger Troutman eventually snagged Murdock a record deal with Elektra Records, where she recorded Top 10 R&B hits such as “As We Lay,” “Go on Without You,” “Husband” and “In Your Eyes.” In 2002, renowned evangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes made Murdock’s lifelong dream of recording a gospel CD come true when he released her first gospel album, Home.

Jakes has now made another dream come true for Murdock. A while back, he launched a “Back to the Bible” conference. When Murdock’s husband and songwriting partner, Dale DeGroat, heard about it, he wondered if there was a theme song for it. 
“Dale e-mailed Bishop one evening and shared some ideas with him about a song,” said Murdock, in a recent news release. (Murdock first collaborated with Jakes on his 1999 Sacred Love Songs set.) 
“By 8 a.m. the next morning, Bishop had e-mailed Dale some incredible lyrics. If you’ve ever sat down and talked to Bishop … OMG, then, you know his words are so full of wisdom, knowledge and revelation.” 
So DeGroat and Murdock took those lyrics, added music and crafted a new radio single, “Dream.”
“The song is anointed because it’s full of the word,” Murdock says of the inspiring ballad of hope and perseverance. “It’s like the voice of God speaking directly to your spirit, reminding you, that He’s not a man that He should lie…if He spoke it, will He not do it? This song will stir up and rekindle that word, that’s been spoken into your spirit and remind you that your dream can not…will not die.”
The song is one of 12 musical chestnuts that Murdock either wrote or co-wrote for The Journey, produced by Kevin Bond (who’s produced Yolanda Adams and Marvin Sapp) and recorded live at The Broadcast Group Complex in Charlotte, NC. R&B singers Kelly Price, Regina Belle and gospel powerhouse Beverly Crawford performed with Murdock on various tracks.
The Journey will be released Oct. 8, 2011, and is Murdock’s second gospel project with Tyscot Records. For more information on Murdock, go to www.tyscot.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shirley-Murdock/138053567564.

Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival presents U.S. debut of “Sing The Truth!”

(From left to right: Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright)



According to a recent news release, Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, New York, will present the U.S. debut of Sing The Truth!, a new production that honors the music and spirit of great women of jazz, folk, R&B, gospel and the blues.  Featuring African-born songstress Angelique Kidjo, pre-eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, and genre-defying jazz singer Lizz Wright, this meeting of three critically-acclaimed, powerhouse vocalists will pay musical tribute to the legacies of three recently departed, iconic female artists: South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, American jazz vocalist, actress, civil rights and political activist Abbey Lincoln, and “the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” American folk musician and human rights activist Odetta.  Sing The Truth! will also feature songs by other great women of music, ranging from Billie Holiday to Aretha Franklin, Joan Armatrading and Lauryn Hill, along with original songs.
The original Sing The Truth! premiered as a 2004 JVC Jazz Festival concert at Carnegie Hall, New York City, and celebrated the music of Nina Simone. 

The all-star Sing The Truth! ensemble for the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival performance will feature Geri Allen on piano and keyboards, music director Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, James Genus on bass, Munyungo Jackson on percussion, and Romero Lubambo on guitars.  This remarkable group of musicians will go everywhere and anywhere that Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright feel the music takes them.  The audience will be along for a memorable ride.
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center runs from Saturday, June 25 to Sunday, June 26, 2011.  Other artists scheduled to appear include Michael McDonald, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Wein & the Newport All Stars, Donald Harrison, Jr., The Bad Plus, Ben Allison, Marcus Strickland, and many more.  For the complete lineup of artists and performances, go to www.spac.org
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is produced by SPAC and Absolutely Live Entertainment.
Located in scenic Saratoga Springs, New York, Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been the site of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival since George Wein established it in 1978.  With an inside seating capacity of 5,200, lawn seating of 20,000, world class talent and just three hours driving time from either Boston or New York City, SPAC’s Jazz Festival draws thousands of jazz lovers from across the Northeast and the United States.