Monthly Archives: March 2012

25 DAYS TIL JAZZFEST! – Aretha Franklin

ImageThere is so much I could say about this legendary woman.. I grew up on her music.  “Spanish Harlem”, “Chain of Fools”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Amazing Grace”, “Holy Holy”, “Respect”, “I’ve Never Loved A Man The Way That I Love You”, and “Dr. Feelgood”, which is the song that made me want to be a singer. Yes, Whitney Houston was The Voice.  But Aretha is THE VOICE, having had her instrument declared a National Treasure in 1985 by Governor Blanchard. Aretha Franklin has won 18 Grammy Awards for her performances, holding the record for most Best Female R&B Vocal, a total of 11.  The first 8 ever awarded on that show from 1968-1975 belong to her. She also holds 2 honorary Grammys, the NAACP Vanguard Award in 2008, and the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.  She has worked with everyone from Annie Lenox to Luther Vandross, to Mary J. Blige.

Aretha Louise Franklin turned 70 today.  And she is iconic.  Period.  There are a lot of artists we want to baptize with the Queen of their genres, but this woman is the Undisputed Queen of Soul.   Her discography, awards, accolades, acknowledgments, and tributes are so vast that it would take a book to list them all.  And not only in Soul, her Gospel offerings are still some of the best selling today, with her version of “Amazing Grace” being one of the first gospel songs to cross over into the R&B sector, and SHE was selected to perform “Nessun Dorma” in place of Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys, which places her as the only R&B artist to have performed in EVERY major genre of music. Here are a few of them.

  • June 28, 1968 – Was the second African-American woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine.
  • Has charted singles in each of the top 10 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
  • January 20, 1987 – she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • September 1999 – she was awarded The National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
  • 2004 – she was ranked #9 on the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time [Rolling Stone]
  • 2005 – Awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush, was the second woman to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, and was also inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
  • May 13, 2006 – Presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music, America’s most distinguished Arts Education institution.
  • May 14, 2007 – Presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • 2007 – Aretha Franklin’s recording of “Respect” was voted a Legendary Michigan Song.
  • September 13, 2008 – Franklin was ranked No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists list by Billboard.
  • November, 2008 – Franklin was named by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 all-time best singer of the rock era
  • January 20, 2009 – Performed during the inauguration of President Barack Obama
  • May 23, 2010 – Received and Honorary Doctorate in Music from Yale University
  • June 1, 2010 – Her recording of “Chain Of Fools” was voted a Legendary Michigan Song

And as I said, these are just a few of her accomplishments.

On April 21, 2012 at The State Theater, Tri-C Jazzfest will present Aretha Franklin in concert.  I am telling you, if you have never heard her, you need to make this a priority.  With so many of our great voices silenced, we are blessed to still have one of the Best here to enjoy.  Whether you are a long time fan or newly introduced to her, you will NOT be disappointed. Happy Birthday ReRe!


The Jazzfest this year is going to be incredible!  I can hardly wait!  Do you have your tickets? Go to for information on shows, classes, special events and more.  We live in a city that is rich in music history, and Tri-C [Cuyahoga Community College] has been a major contributor in keeping it filled with music and it’s appreciation thru the Jazzfest which is now in it’s 33rd year.

Only 25 days left…. let’s get Jazzed!

In Rhythm and Rhyme


Official Blogger

Tri-C Jazzfest 2012

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27 Days to Tri-C Jazzfest: Esperanza Spalding

I am currently listening to “Cinnamon Tree” from the new project Black Radio Society from Esperanza Spalding.  Esperanza is the first Jazz artist to win a Grammy for Best New Artist.  Thumbs up for Jazz!

Jazz is such a true representation when you say the word “music”.  The musician can convey every emotion thru their instrument that is written in lyric form for other genres. That is not to say that there are no Jazz offerings with lyrics, in fact this particular song tells of her affection and admiration for a certain someone whose essence is like the spice cinnamon. But even if there was not a single word said, from the intro of the upright you can tell this is a story of love and passion.  Jazz in it’s purest form has composition that is a true expression of the heart of the artist, and when lyrics are found to it they usually have an incredible marriage.

If you love Jazz, The Tri-C Jazzfest this year is presenting Esperanza, as well as a host of other artists.  While I will be blogging about the festival day by day in attendance,  I will share with you as much about each artist or event night as I can over the next 26 days leading up to the festival so that you can fully appreciate the richness of what we have here in Cleveland April 19-29,2012 at various arenas around the city. It is arguably the largest Jazz festival in the Midwest, filled with 10 days and nights of education and excellent offerings of music from the local to national and international status.  Last year we were treated to Ndugu Chancler, Sean Jones, Smokey Robinson, Tia Fuller, Robert Glasper and more.  This year is just as incredible.

TICKETS ARE GOING FAST!  Don’t miss out.  This year, treat yourself to a concert or 2. Or 4.  They are also featuring discount group rates, so get a gathering together and I will see you there!

Esperanza Spaldings’ new project available now on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Be sure to hear her live at the Tri-C Jazzfest Thursday April 19, Tri-C Metro Auditorium. Go to for ticket purchase information.


One Love


Official Blogger

2012 Tri-C Jazzfest

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Neolicious Review – Unplugged: Cleveland Jazz Orchestra

MOCA, or the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art is within itself something to blog about.  The art that is displayed there is always fresh, and innovative.  A different approach to a standard staple.

Perfect atmosphere for the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra: Unplugged.

Under the direction of world renowned Trumpeter and Artistic Director Sean Jones, this brilliant quintet [Sean Jones, Trumpet, Musical Director; Clifford Barnes, Keys; Tony Watson Jr., Saxophone; Joey Green, Bass, Robert “Hubb” Hubbard, Drums] took us thru 2 beautifully executed sets of music.

Starting with “Maputo” by David Sanborn [who will be here for the 2012 Tri-C Jazzfest!], the CJO set the tone for what Jazz is best known for; Unconventional Discipline.  Jazz is a peculiar bird, one which if not appreciated for it’s passion can be misunderstood or brushed off as merely “instrumental music”. But a Skilled musician can invite  you into their heart and soul where the seat of the music is born from, and you experience all of the passions, highs, and lows with each measure. There is a discipline to it, as Jazz challenges the musician and the listener with absurd time signatures, chord progressions, and tempo changes – at times all of those components in one offering.  It sounds free, crazy, uninhibited, kaleidoscopic, and breathtakingly beautiful all at the same time. It was so good that I called my producer friend in California and put him on speakerphone so that he could be blown away as well as they performed “Mo Better Blues” by Branford Marsalis.

We were extra especially treated to some original offerings.  “Chillin at da Grille” by Sean Jones, and “77 South” by Robert “Hubb” Hubbard.  Both of these men have proven to be not just accomplished musicians in the Jazz genre, but also gifted composers of  lasting music.  “Chillin…”, as Sean explained, was a result of a request from 2 patrons at a performance he was at; an older gentleman requesting a standard, and a younger man requesting D’Angelo.  Sean’s offering seamlessly crosses the lines of Traditional Jazz and Neo-Soul by blending the best of both worlds: the disciplines of Straightahead and the off- chorded structures of the Neo Soul. Not an easy feat since Neo Soul is the hybrid of Jazz and R&B and can easily overpower it’s predecessor.  It was received with a thunderous standing ovation.  “77 South” was amazing.  I would love to have it in the car booming while riding down that freeway.  The composition was focused, and mindlessly free hearted, the exact way we are when we are driving long distances – which is the motivating force behind it as he explained having to travel that highway often to see his wife.

There were so many high points! Each musician is skilled in their arena.  Everyone of them.  Robert “Hubb” Hubbard is already known in the community for his group “Hubbs Groove”, usually sitting in the seat of Musical Director as well.  It was great to hear him shed at the drums. At one point, bassist Joey Green sounded like a band of bassists, and Clifford Barnes played such an amazing solo on the keys that we could not contain it anymore and began yelling and cheering.  Tony Watson did an incredible interpretation of  ”Cherish The Day” by Sade, and was regarded as one of the better saxophonists Sean has come to play with. Culminating the evening was a bright, lively version of  “The Chicken” by Jaco Pastorius  that brought us to our feet dancing, then at the end clapping and cheering as they left the stage until they returned for an encore…and we were treated to a decadent musical indulgence – “Tutu” by Miles Davis.  It was perfectly clear why Sean Jones was the front horn man in the tribute to Miles Davis on the tour with Herbie Hancock and Marcus Miller.  It was everything it was meant to be.  Haunting. Reflective. Beautiful.

For me, this was the perfect introduction into the 2012 Jazz Season.  I encourage you earnestly to find your way to a Cleveland Jazz Orchestra concert THIS YEAR.  Do not hesitate!  I first heard them when they did the tribute to Afro Cuban Moods last year.  We have INCREDIBLE musicians here in Ohio.  Let’s come out not just to support – but to experience a lost art in the mainstream of music.

Real, Pure, Live Musicianship.

Til then!


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NeoSouljah Official Blogger for 2012 Tri-C Jazzfest!

Last year I had the distinct honor of hosting and performing at the first ever Poetry and Jazz collaboration within the Tri-C Jazzfest.  Most don’t know (including some people right here in the city) that this Jazzfest is the largest in the Midwest.  Yes. It even surpasses the Cincinnati Jazz Festival by way of size and content.  It runs for a whopping 11 days consecutively with day and evening events, as well as a few dates prior. There are classes, tributes, and each night an incredible concert including the All-Stars concert which pairs together artists you may never see on one stage together.  This year for the All Stars David Sanborn, Gerald Albright, Maysa and a few others are scheduled.

This year they are not having the poetry session, however I was able to inquire via a very good friend of mine about a being a blogger for the Jazzfest as I had done one last year.  They said YES.  I am the Official Blogger!

 Now I am totally beside myself on this.  Not just because of the artists, but because of the ART itself.

What I love about Jazz is that it’s what I call a “Structured Random”. What I mean by that, is that there is a structure; be it Straight-ahead in some crazy 6/4 time signature or Nu-Jazz with a straight pentameter but more R&B infused, within that structure the artist whether vocal or instrumental can color outside the lines. And it still fits.  To hear such a great lineup of artists from the new [Esperanza Spalding] to the seasoned [David Sanborn] to all things encompassed [Aretha Franklin] is sure to be the best earcandy ever.

Do yourself a favor.  If you love Jazz, or if you just love real music with real musicians, get a ticket.  Get 3, or every night if you can.  It is the best investment you will make musically this year.  For more details check out


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New Season, New Adventures

Hey There!

ok, I know.. I have been promising to do a blog for the longest time.  So much happens that I need to, but so much happens that sometimes I just don’t have time.  You’ll have to get in the car and go with me lol!

Ok lots to cover quickly, so here goes:

1. WHY THE BLOG NOW? Several reasons.  I do have a lot going on, and while I love to pen and paper write and talk on the phone, my new responsibilities don’t allow that much time for those luxuries. Not like I would prefer but hey, if I had time for that all of the day then my life is not progressing.

2. MAGAZINE – I am now the Co-Founder and Sr. Editor/Music Reviews for the fastest growing, #1 magazine on the internet (yes, I said it).  It’s called Purifying the Mic/Blueprint of Soul Music.  I run it with a very good and dear friend named Reginald Ford.  Recognize the name? You should.  He is the man, the brain, The Voice behind LOTL Radio: Rebirth of The Quiet Storm, one of the top 10 internet radio shows on Blogtalk, and now also airs Syndicated on Live 365. (check it out ).  I LOVE our musicchild!  It’s filled with interviews from Blueprint artists (we don’t like the term “Old School”) that have paved the way for us newer artists to emerge, like The Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Enchantment and more.  Then there is the indie section, which showcases as many great indie artists as I can get my hands on that month along with a featured one.  Interviews with Industry people; professional background vocalists, publicists, more.  And great information on things to look for in contracts, vocal care, more!  be sure to check it out, and PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT.  The “Like” button has made us so anti-social

Here is the link:

3. NSV Chapter 2 – I am currently taking submissions for new music.  Jazz and NeoSoul or pure R&B only.  If you are interested, please check me on facebook for my contact info.

4. LIFE – If you have heard rumblings about me relocating, they are TRUE.  I am moving west.  Houston, TX.  Super excited about the prospect of meeting new people, experiencing new things, and maybe finally meeting that 6’9″ guy to walk me down the red carpet haha.. (everything is bigger in Texas).  I will be within the next 8 or 9 weeks or so, so stay tuned for updates on possible Neo sightings at the mic! hahah..

Well, that is it for now.  I hope with this little detail you now understand why you don’t see me as much, hear from me as much, or get to interact that much.  If not.  Hey.. GET OVER IT hhahaa.. aww.. c’mere.. I didn’t mean it..


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