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Heart - Barracuda (1977)
Category: What's N.E.W.
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Spoken Word Tags: origins music spoken word life production new quality entertainment

Spoken word is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and intonation and voice inflection. It is a 'catchall' that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud, including hip-hop, jazz poetry, poetry slams, traditional poetry readings and can include comedy routines and 'prose monologues'.

The art of spoken word has existed for many millennia. Long before writing but through a cycle of reciting, listening and memorizing each language drew on its resources of sound structure for aural patterns that made spoken poetry very different from ordinary discourse and easier to commit to memory.

'There were poets long before there were printing presses, poetry is primarily oral utterance, to be said aloud, to be heard. Poetry, like music, appeals to the ear, an effect known as euphony or onomatopoeia, a device to represent a thing or action by a word that imitates sound. 'Speak again, Speak like rain' was how Kikuyu East African tribesmen described her verse to author Isak Dinesen, confirming Eliot's comment that 'poetry remains one person talking to another.

The oral tradition is one that is conveyed primarily by speech as opposed to writing, in predominantly oral cultures proverbs (also known as maxims) are convenient vehicles for conveying simple beliefs and cultural attitudes. 'The hearing knowledge we bring to a line of poetry is knowledge of a pattern of speech we have known since we were infants'

Performance poetry, which is kindred to performance art, is explicitly written to be performed aloud and consciously shuns the written form. 'Form', as Donald Hall records 'was never more than an extension of content.' In the African traditions, it included drumming, and the use of the 'talking drum'.

In ancient Greece, the spoken word was the most trusted repository for the best of their thought, and inducements would be offered to men (such as the rhapsodes) who set themselves the task of developing minds capable of retaining and voices capable of communicating the treasures of their culture. The Ancient Greeks included Greek lyric, which is similar to spoken-word poetry, in their Olympic Games.

The most notable U.S. exponent of oral poetry, Vachel Lindsay, helped to keep alive the appreciation of poetry as a spoken art in the early twentieth century. Robert Frost also spoke well, his metre accommodating his natural sentences. Poet laureate, Robert Pinsky, also an advocate, considered 'Poetry's proper culmination is to be read aloud by someone's voice; whoever reads a poem aloud becomes the proper medium for the poem. Every speaker intuitively courses through manipulation of sounds; it is almost as though 'we sing to one another all day'. Sound once imagined through the eye gradually gave body to poems through performance, and late in the 1950's reading aloud erupted in the United States'.

Some American spoken-word poetry originated from the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, blues music, as well as the 1960s Beat Generation. Spoken word in African American culture drew on a rich literary and musical heritage. Langston Hughes and writers of the Harlem Renaissance were inspired by the feelings of the blues and spirituals; hip-hop and slam poetry artists were inspired by poets such as Hughes in their word styling.

The Civil Rights Movement also had an impact on spoken word. Notable speeches such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" and Booker T. Washington's "Cast Down Your Buckets" incorporated elements of oration that influenced the spoken word movement within the African American community. The Last Poets was a poetry and political music group formed during the 1960s that was born out of the Civil Rights movement, and helped increase the popularity of spoken word within African American culture.

Spoken word poetry entered into wider American culture following the release of Gil Scott-Heron's spoken-word poem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on the album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox in 1970. The Nuyorican Poets Café on New York's Lower Eastside was founded in 1973, and is one of the oldest American venues for presenting spoken-word poetry.

In the 1980s, competitive spoken word poetry competitions emerged, labelled 'poetry slams.' American poet Marc Smith is credited with starting the poetry slam in November 1984. In 1990, the first National Poetry Slam took place in Fort Mason, San Francisco.

The poetry slam movement reached a wider audience following Russell Simmons' Def Poetry, which was aired on HBO between 2002 and 2007.

Outside of the United States, artists such as French singer-songwriters Léo Ferré or Serge Gainsbourg, made a personal use of spoken word over rock or symphonic music from the beginning of the 1970s, in such albums as Amour Anarchie (1970), Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971) or Il n'y a plus rien (1973), and contributed to the popularization of spoken word within French culture.

In the UK, spoken word has been utilised by musicians such as Blur, The Streets and Kate Tempest.

In the Philippines, the art of spoken word has been popularized by the hit romantic comedy series On the Wings of Love (TV series), with one of the supporting characters, Rico (played by Juan Miguel Severo) being a spoken word poet.

In Zimbabwe the art of spoken word has been mostly active on stage through the House of hunger Poetry slam in Harare , Mlomo Wakho Poetry Slam in Bulawayo as well as the Charles Austin theatre in Masvingo . Festivals such as Harare International Festival of the Arts, Intwa Arts Festival KoBulawayo and Shoko Festival have supported the genre for a number of years. Artists such as Chirikure Chirikure , Biko Mutsaurwa (Godobori) , Cynthia Marangwanda (Flowchyld) , Arnold Chirimika (SoProfound) , T Tongai Lesly Makawa (Outspoken) Tendekai P Tati (Madzitatiguru), Philani Amadeus Nyoni , Tswarelo Mothobi (A scribe called Tswa) Samm Farai Monro (Comrade Fatso) and Batsirai Easther Chigama have been active on the Zimbabwean Spoken word scene.

Spoken-word poetry is often performed in a competitive setting. Also known as slam poetry, these competitions began in 1986 when Marc Smith started a poetry slam in Chicago.

In 1990, the first National Poetry Slam was held in San Francisco. It is the largest poetry slam competition event in the world, now held each year in different cities across the United States.

The popularity of slam poetry has resulted in slam poetry competitions being held across the world.

Source: Wikipedia

How to Stay Healthy During Your Period Tags: health mental wellness period strong word life prodution new quality entertainmnet

It's important to focus on your health everyday, not just during your menstrual cycle. However, the abdominal pain, irritability, insomnia, fatigue and appetite changes women experience with their periods make staying healthy even more significant. Simple steps can improve your energy-levels, productivity and moods while menstruating.

Step 1

Exercise. The idea of stepping on the treadmill or posing on your Pilates mat may seem arduous during your period, particularly for women who experience fatigue due to hormonal fluctuations and lack of sleep. However, exercise actually helps increase your energy levels and improve your moods, as a heart-pumping routine promotes circulation and produces endorphins. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily. A brisk walk, swim or bike ride are options to get you outdoors and active, which may help boost your spirits as well.

Step 2

Sit down with a soothing cup of ginger tea rather than coffee or alcohol, which can increase anxiety and make unsteady your already undulated emotions. Ginger tea, a decaffeinated beverage, is a widely used herbal remedy for menstrual cramping and nausea. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that post-surgery and chemotherapy patients use ginger to alleviate nausea. Consult a health care professional for safety and dosage recommendations.

Step 3

Don't skimp on sleep. Generally, adults require slightly more than eight hours of sleep nightly, although a mere 35 percent actually get this amount regularly, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If insomnia occurs during your period, due to the changes in hormone levels, take a hot bath at bedtime to relax your body. In addition, exposing yourself to late afternoon sunlight may help stimulate melatonin, which regulates the circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock.

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Step 4

Eat a balanced diet. Although many women crave chocolate and other treats during menstruation, giving in to the urge to binge will only leave you sluggish and guilt ridden. Instead, eat balanced meals and indulge in moderation. If you crave chocolate, allow yourself to eat a small serving rather than an entire box of truffles.

Step 5

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for cramping, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as directed by your doctor. This will help you stay active when stomach pains steal your motivation and sap your strength. The chemical prostaglandin causes the uterus to contract during menstruation, which doctor's believe results in stomach or back pain. More than half of all women experience these achy sensations, but they don't have to slow you down.

Source: Live Strong

In memory of Tina Marie
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: tina marie art soul word life production new quality entertainment

“Music is meant to inspire/To elevate and to take you higher” “Luv Letter”

Before her untimely death at the age of 54 on the day after Christmas 2010, Teena Marie, known as “Lady Tee,” the Ivory Queen of Soul, wrote, produced, arranged and sang on 13 albums that have sold 2.5 million copies in the soundscan era. Starting with her 1979, Rick James-produced debut, Wild and Peaceful, Teena Marie’s many soul and R&B hits include “Square Biz,” “Behind the Groove,” “I Need Your Lovin’,” “Fire and Desire,” “Lovergirl” and “Ooo La La La,” a song famously sampled by the Fugees.

Teena Marie was working on her 14th and latest album for Universal Music Enterprises, Beautiful, at the time of her passing, the follow-up to 2009’s Congo Square, which peaked at #4 on the R&B chart and went to #20 on the album chart, producing the Top 12 Urban AC hit, “Can’t Last A Day.” Recorded at her Pasadena home studio and finished except for final mixes, Beautiful was seen through to its conclusion by Teena’s 20-year-old daughter Alia Rose, who sings with her Mom on two tracks, a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love” and “Rare Breed,” which she co-wrote (Alia co-wrote two more songs on the album, “Sweet Tooth” and the title song). The first single, “Luv Letter,” which has just gone to radio, is just that, an homage to Tee’s Motown roots, with nods to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” and a dedication to Alia’s father, who just happened to be a postman, like in the Marvelettes’ song of the same name.

The project, with its intimations of death, was a difficult one for Alia, with her mom seemingly prescient about her destiny on songs like “Rare Breed,” where she sings, “I could say I have the world here in my hands and I believe/The angels slept beside me to protect my very dreams.” She even plays a radio DJ “broadcasting to you from a heavenly station” in “The Long Play.”

“It was a very dark and emotional time for me,” explains Alia, who has just opened a Hollywood recording facility, Chateau Marie, as a memoriam, with partner, Odd Future’s “Syd tha Kyd” Bennett, using much of the equipment from her mom’s home studio. “The project was a bittersweet thing. I knew that only I could get it done, but I almost didn’t want to finish because I knew it would be the last time I’d get to work on it.”

The album was co-produced by Teena’s longtime musical director, bassist/composer Doug Grigsby, whose credits include Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey, Stephanie Mills, Teddy Pendergrass, Rick James and Luther Vandross, among others. It was recorded and mixed by Erik Zobler, whose studio credits include Jackson’s Off the Wall as well as recording projects with Miles Davis, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker and Gladys Knight, among many others. But the real impetus came from Teena’s only daughter, who made sure this final product would do justice to her mom’s legacy.

“If you listen to the lyrics, it’s almost as if she was making that transition to the spiritual world as the record was being made, which is incredible,” says Alia. “It’s like we’re going on this journey with her.”

Songs like “Rare Breed,” which also features the late Rick James’ daughter Ty lending vocal support, “The Long Play” and the closing, Middle-Eastern flavored “The Perfect Feeling,” a track which was originally slated to go on Tee’s 2004 comeback album, La Dona, lend to the eerie sensation that the late performer is speaking to us from the other side, almost as if she knew her time was up.

“That made the album very hard for me to listen to,” agrees Alia, who acknowledges her mom dedicated the record, as well as its title song, to her. “I’ve been on a journey myself. And when we began mixing it, my life and perception of things started to change. Hearing the complete work, it’s an amazing, incredible piece. I honestly don’t know how it got done. She just left it there for me to do.”

Indeed, Beautiful‘s title track is a lush ballad composed by Teena Marie when she was vacationing on the Turks and Caicos Islands with Alia, who recalls is gestation, “just walking on the beach, having fun in the sand… thinking about how much of herself was in me.”

The sexy, sassy “Sweet Tooth,” which Alia co-wrote and sings on, was a tribute to “old-school West Coast hip-hop…She was thinking of Snoop when she did that.” “Love Starved,” “Definition of Down,” “The Long Play” (featuring Tee’s longtime back-up singer De De O’Neal) and “Cart Blanc” (co-written with close friend Daphne Wayne) are love songs dedicated to finding a true romance and then sticking with them through thick and thin.

“I think my mom had many experiences in romance,” says Alia. “She was a bit of a hopeless romantic, so much so that I don’t think she was ever completely satisfied. I think that’s why she wrote such amazing love songs. That was her expertise.”

The finale, “The Perfect Feeling,” about the commingling of two souls in eternity, is rooted in the Beatles’ trip to India and George Harrison’s sitar-flavored songs like “Within You, Without You” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

“My mother was a Beatles fanatic,” says Alia. “She was crazy about them. That’s why I love the song. It has that vibe. I jut listen to it and cry. It’s that beautiful.”

Now that Beautiful is about to be released, Alia is looking forward to thinking about her own future in music with her new recording studio.

“I get to help other people, and if something comes along for me, of course, I will take that opportunity,” she says. “My mom always intended for her studio to be used by my friends, and now that’s going to be what happens.”

At the end of the day, though, Alia Rose is a young woman that lost her mother, who just happened to be a “rock star,” as she describes her, at a too-young age.

“My mom and I were very close,” she says. “We talked. I’m very much like my mother. She was not just my mom, she was my best friend and my sister. We fought like sisters, too. I know what real love is from my mom.”

As for preserving her mom’s legacy on Beautiful, Alia says, “I want people to view it as the beautiful piece of art is it. I want the fans to enjoy it because my mother loved her fans more than anything. I’m going to let them decipher what it’s all about, because it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s pretty amazing. It actually does sound like a final project.”

Beautiful is a mother’s gift to her daughter, who returns the gesture the only way she knows how, by completing it. The end result is a true labor of love.

Source: Official Website

Charles Mingus - Voices of Jazz
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: voices jazz charles mingus word life production new quality entertainment

One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Born on a military base in Nogales, Arizona in 1922 and raised in Watts, California, his earliest musical influences came from the church– choir and group singing– and from “hearing Duke Ellington over the radio when [he] was eight years old.” He studied double bass and composition in a formal way (five years with H. Rheinshagen, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic, and compositional techniques with the legendary Lloyd Reese) while absorbing vernacular music from the great jazz masters, first-hand. His early professional experience, in the 40’s, found him touring with bands like Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton.

Eventually he settled in New York where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950’s– Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself. One of the few bassists to do so, Mingus quickly developed as a leader of musicians. He was also an accomplished pianist who could have made a career playing that instrument. By the mid-50’s he had formed his own publishing and recording companies to protect and document his growing repertoire of original music. He also founded the “Jazz Workshop,” a group which enabled young composers to have their new works performed in concert and on recordings.

Mingus soon found himself at the forefront of the avant-garde. His recordings bear witness to the extraordinarily creative body of work that followed. They include: Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown, Tijuana Moods, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Ah Um, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, Let My Children Hear Music. He recorded over a hundred albums and wrote over three hundred scores.
Although he wrote his first concert piece, “Half-Mast Inhibition,” when he was seventeen years old, it was not recorded until twenty years later by a 22-piece orchestra with Gunther Schuller conducting. It was the presentation of “Revelations” which combined jazz and classical idioms, at the 1955 Brandeis Festival of the Creative Arts, that established him as one of the foremost jazz composers of his day.

In 1971 Mingus was awarded the Slee Chair of Music and spent a semester teaching composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the same year his autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, was published by Knopf. In 1972 it appeared in a Bantam paperback and was reissued after his death, in 1980, by Viking/Penguin and again by Pantheon Books, in 1991. In 1972 he also re-signed with Columbia Records. His music was performed frequently by ballet companies, and Alvin Ailey choreographed an hour program called “The Mingus Dances” during a 1972 collaboration with the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company.

He toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States until the end of 1977 when he was diagnosed as having a rare nerve disease, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis. He was confined to a wheelchair, and although he was no longer able to write music on paper or compose at the piano, his last works were sung into a tape recorder.

From the 1960’s until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music. When asked to comment on his accomplishments, Mingus said that his abilities as a bassist were the result of hard work but that his talent for composition came from God.

Mingus received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation (two grants). He also received an honorary degree from Brandeis and an award from Yale University. At a memorial following Mingus’ death, Steve Schlesinger of the Guggenheim Foundation commented that Mingus was one of the few artists who received two grants and added: “I look forward to the day when we can transcend labels like jazz and acknowledge Charles Mingus as the major American composer that he is.” The New Yorker wrote: “For sheer melodic and rhythmic and structural originality, his compositions may equal anything written in western music in the twentieth century.”

He died in Mexico on January 5, 1979, and his wife, Sue Graham Mingus, scattered his ashes in the Ganges River in India. Both New York City and Washington, D.C. honored him posthumously with a “Charles Mingus Day.”

After his death, the National Endowment for the Arts provided grants for a Mingus foundation created by Sue Mingus called “Let My Children Hear Music” which catalogued all of Mingus’ works. The microfilms of these works were then given to the Music Division of the New York Public Library where they are currently available for study and scholarship – a first for jazz.  Sue Mingus has founded three working repertory bands called the Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Orchestra, and the Mingus Big Band, which continue to perform his music. Biographies of Charles Mingus include Mingus by Brian Priestley, Mingus/Mingus by Janet Coleman and Al Young, Myself When I Am Real by Gene Santoro, and Tonight at Noon, a memoir by Sue Mingus.

Mingus’ masterwork, “Epitaph,” a composition which is more than 4000 measures long and which requires two hours to perform, was discovered during the cataloguing process. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the piece itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller, in a concert produced by Sue Mingus at Alice Tully Hall on June 3, 1989, ten years after Mingus’ death.

The New Yorker wrote that “Epitaph” represents the first advance in jazz composition since Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige,” which was written in 1943. The New York Times said it ranked with the “most memorable jazz events of the decade.” Convinced that it would never be performed in his lifetime, Mingus called his work “Epitaph,” declaring that he wrote it “for my tombstone.”

The Library of Congress purchased the Charles Mingus Collection, a major acquisition, in 1993; this included autographed manuscripts, photographs, literary manuscripts, correspondence, and tape recordings of interviews, broadcasts, recording sessions, and Mingus composing at the piano.

Sue Mingus has published a number of educational books through Hal Leonard Publishing, including Charles Mingus: More Than a Fake Book, Charles Mingus: More Than a Play-Along, Charles Mingus: Easy Piano Solos, many big band charts— including the Simply Mingus set of big band music charts– and a Mingus guitar book.

Reprinted in part from More than a Fake Book © 1991 Jazz Workshop, Inc.

Links to Additional Biographical and Historical Information on the Web

Library of Congress
An index to the holdings of the Charles Mingus Collection, Music Division of the Library of Congress.
http://www.loc.gov/performingarts/encyclopedia/collections/mingus.html

Wikipedia entry

 

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