Saturday, 28 June 2014

R.I.P Bobby Womack

Well i was not expecting to wake up to such sad news, The last Soul Man has died.
This time last year he was on the Glastonbury Festival line up, he could have sung all night.

                                   R.I.P Bobby Womack (March 4, 1944 − June 27, 2014)
Chris writes - Legendary singer and songwriter Bobby Womack has died after a lengthy series of illnesses.  There had been false rumors of his death for a week on the internet but Mr. Womack died this morning.
One of the most enigmatic and talented Soul men of all time,  Womack was a sort of Soul Forrest Gump, serving as a link from 50s Gospel to 60s Soul to 70s Rock and to some of the greatest musicians in each genre. Born in an extremely devout religious family, he was singing Gospel with his brothers Cecil, Friendly, Harry and Curtis as the Womack Brothers while he was still a child. The talented group was discovered by Gospel/Soul legend Sam Cooke, who redubbed them the Valentinos and transformed them into a teenage secular vocal group.
By the early 60s the Valentino's were touring with James Brown and scoring on the R&B charts with their first hit, "Lookin' For A Love." Cooke's death in 1964 sent the group on a spiral from which it would never recover. Also, Womack encountered some public fallout when married Cooke's widow less than a year later (even more ironic was that brother Cecil ultimately married Cooke's daughter, Linda, who became his partner in the popular writing/singing group Womack & Womack).
Without their mentor, the Valentinos faded, and Womack became principally a writer and guitarist for an A-list of 60s Soul and Rock stars, including Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin and others. Interestingly, while he had established himself as a top notch songwriter, it took a 1968 cover of the pop standard "Fly Me to the Moon" to jump start his solo career, hitting the Soul Top 20. Over the next 4 years, he alternated original compositions ("What Is This," "More Than I Can Stand") and pop covers ("I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "Sweet Caroline") to stay a middling Soul charter. However, from 1972-76, a series of his own excellent compositions propelled him to the top of the Soul charts. Songs like "That's the Way I Feel About Cha," "Woman's Gotta Have It," "Harry Hippie," "Check It Out" and "Daylight" provided a Southern soulfulness that more resembled the gritty Memphis and Alabama sounds of Aretha and Sam and Dave than the silky sounds emanating from Detroit and Philadelphia. During this period Womack also hit the Pop Top 10 for the first and only time with a cover of the old Valentino's song, "Lookin For A Love." He also issued some of the great Soul albums of this period, a few of which (Communication and Understanding) are revered by a generation of Soul music lovers.
Personal problems and his inability to adjust to the changing music scene (particularly the rise of disco) left Womack virtually irrelevant in the late 70s, and by 1980 it appeared he was headed for the oldies circuit. However, he signed with the fledgling Beverly Glen label and released 1982's The Poet, a surprise #1 album and Womack's best LP in years. By that time, disco had alienated Soul Music lovers, and they found solace in Womack's seven minute masterpiece, "If You Think You're Lonely Now" and the follow-up single, "Where Do We Go From Here." Unfortunately, a fallout with Beverly Glen led to a two year delay before he released The Poet II on MCA. While not as strong as the predecessor album, Poet II included a great duet with Patti LaBelle, "Love Has Finally Come At Last," which hit Soul #3. Womack scored again the next year with the excellent So Many Rivers and its haunting hit single, "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much."
Womack continued to record sporadically over the next decade, releasing fairly good material through the mid-90s. Then, after nearly a half decade break, in 1999 Womack cut two discs, a Christmas CD called Traditions and  his first Gospel CD, the critically acclaimed Back to My Roots. 
Womack's career was immortalized in a 2012 edition of TV One's Unsung.  However, he also suffered health setbacks in 2012, first being diagnosed with colon cancer and, devastatingly, later in the year was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. But in the midst of these tragedies, he released the critically acclaimed, very modern, The Bravest Man In the Universean album that reached a new generation and was on many "best of" lists for the year.
It is a shame that Bobby Womack never achieved the across-the-board acclaim that his talent deserved. While revered by both Rock and Soul musicians, his popular appeal was generally limited to Soul audiences and to two periods (1972-76 and 1982-85). However the quality of his songwriting and the singularity of his emotive, soulful voice make him one of the most important Soul performers of all time. Younger music fans should seek out his extensive recorded work as representative of the best Soul music has to offer.
It would be an understatement to say that Bobby Womack will be missed. But his unquestioned influence on the development of both rock and R&B music will continue well on into the future. Rest in peace, Bobby
Written by & posted with thanks to Chris Rizik -: Read more by clicking on this

Friday, 27 June 2014

Three Degrees Fayette-Gone Too Soon


In Loving Memory of Fayette Regina Pinkney

(January 10, 1948 – June 27, 2009). She is best known as a member of the all girl group, The Three Degrees along with, Sheila Ferguson & Valerie Holiday in the classic line up.When Fayette Pinkney met Richard Barrett in the mid-1960s, she had no idea of the journey she would be taken on. Mr Barrett, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was looking for. A solo singer and member of the Valentines in the 1950s, he had himself enjoyed chart success. Moving on from that, he had managed and produced such acts as Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Little Antony and The Imperials and also the Chantels, who he had discovered in 1957 and worked with well into the 1960s. The Girl Group explosion was only just starting then. By the mid-60s, it had taken over - three, sexy black girls being the usual formula - one singing lead while the other two shimmied away in the background providing a few oohs and aahs. But Barrett wanted more - and knew he could get it. He wanted three soloists -each with their own talent and individuality, who together could harmonise and sing any tune he threw at them. This was his vision - this was The Three Degrees. With Fayette as the mainstay for couple of years and after a few other ladies came and went, by 1967 the Group was settled. To Faye's sweet soprano, Sheila Ferguson added her sexy velvet tones which were both complimented by Valerie Holiday's soulful earthiness. Three amazing singers who could hold their own as soloists, but whose amazing blend and harmony would eventually rock the World.

This line-up would remain together for 9 years, until Fayette decided to leave the Group, both for her own personal reasons and also to pursue her education. During that time and especially with the added help of legendary Philly Producers Gamble and Huff, Mr Barrett and the Ladies became a musical tour-de-force. From minor soul hits on the Roulette Label, notably their remake of the Chantels' "Maybe", to huge Worldwide smashes for Philadelphia International Records; Dirty Ol' Man, Year Of Decision, When Will I See You Again - the list goes on - more in England, Europe and Japan than in their native USA, they quickly became the most popular Girl Group of the era. Live Shows - with Barrett conducting and acting as Musical Director - sold out in minutes. Worldwide travel was the norm. But for Faye, enough was enough.

Fayette Pinkey Billie Holiday  solo  from Three Degrees - Live In Japan album

She left the group in the Summer of 1976, for her own reasons which right now, are really irrelevant. She missed her family, that was for sure. Her brother, Nathaniel has said that she had a much longer career once out of the spotlight .After leaving the group, Fayette was a project coordinator for Opportunities Industrialization Center in North Philadelphia from 1979 to 1983. Also, in early 1979, she recorded her only solo album, "One Degree" in London for Chopper Records. It is a collection of up-tempo numbers and ballads which perfectly showcased all her talents, from lead to harmony singing. It was produced by Keith Mansfield and Geoff Morrow and was a project that she and her many friends and fans were immensely proud of. In 1984, he said, she earned a master's degree in human services, which required no undergraduate degree, from Lincoln University. After working as a personnel coordinator, she was at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1989 to 1994, first as an administrative assistant, then an education coordinator.Most recently, her brother said, she was an intake counselor for United Healthcare Services in Philadelphia, from 2001 to last month. She also continued to sing with her Church's Inspirational Choir and also with a unique Group called the Intermezzo Choir Ministry which gave her great joy and in her spare time worked as a Vocal Coach. She gave birth to a daughter, Ayana Alexandria in January 1994, but tragically lost her a few days later due to the mystery of SIDS. Fayette passed away on Saturday 27th June 2009 in Lansdale PA of acute respiratory failure. She was surrounded by family and friends. Fayette was all about PEOPLE. She loved them - and people adored her. Her warmth and genuine nature endeared her to everyone, fans, friends and family alike. Her eyes shone, her smile sparkled and anyone who knew her was blessed to have her in their lives.I know I was. She was my friend for 35 years - and I miss her dreadfully and always will. This quote from the lovely Lady sums it up completely - may she rest in everlasting peace. Heaven now has another Angel. God rest her Sweet Soul. "Yes, I do still love people and I love to make them smile. So many have been a blessing to me and I try hard to b a blessing to others. I've enjoyed being home and wouldn't trade my family for the world. This is quality of life. I have been through a lot but I know I am blessed." - Fayette Pinkney By Jeremy Levinson Posted with thanks to  . Precious Moments of Fayette, Sheila and Valerie - The Three Degrees Group!