Archive for January, 2009

Atlanta Artist Finally Able to Make Dream Come True

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Some memories of the 1980s are welcome ones.

For Selita Boyd, the ’80s mark her calling to become a recording artist.

That’s when she heard Shannon’s classic song “Let the Music Play.”

Boyd was a teenager performing in local pageants.

“I love dance music,” she recalled. “I heard Shannon, and I said ‘I can do this.’ “

But life got in the way. Now 43, Boyd is a computer software consultant living in Stone Mountain.

Boyd’s dream was deferred in high school after her father suffered a back injury and was unable to work. Her mother was also incapacitated from trigeminal neuralgia, which caused debilitating pain in her face.

She was only 16 at the time, yet Boyd was the oldest of five girls, so she put her aspirations aside and got a part-time job to help support her family. Later as her career in computers flourished, she continued to care for her family.

In 1994, she founded Top Notch Recording studio in Stone Mountain, where she intended to produce songs for her CD. But work travels prevented her from getting the album done, and Top Notch became a family-run business that was used by So-So Def and Laface Records.

“I knew I was going to finish this album eventually,” Boyd said. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘No matter what, don’t give up on your dream. Finish that album.’”

Read Full Article. By Adrianne Murchison, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Obama Affecting Everything… Even Hip-Hop Culture

Saturday, January 24th, 2009


It’s the night of the election and while much of America, depending on presidential predelictions, is either celebrating in the open air or drowning sorrows behind closed doors, New York rapper Jim Jones is making an early New Year’s resolution. In the middle of rehearsal for the Off-Off-Broadway production of “Hip-Hop Monologues: Inside the Life and Mind of Jim Jones,” a theatrical re-enactment of his hard-bitten Harlem life, he makes a pledge.

Because of Barack Obama’s election, he would no longer use the “n-word.”

One of those there to hear his promise was Benjamin Chavis, the former executive director of the NAACP who now runs the activist group Hip-Hop Action Summit Network with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and had a part in “Monologues.” “We were studying for the play and when the results came in, he was so happy,” Chavis recalls in a phone interview, recalling that Jones vowed to address his friends differently. “He said he would say (the phrase) ‘This is my Obama,’ not ‘my (n-word)’.”

Fast forward 10 days and Sean “Diddy” Combs is appearing on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” After some goading from the host about the state of hip-hop, Combs says recent events might change things. “I think that you will see another level of consciousness and also another level of responsibility,” he responded. “We appreciate everybody that put race to the side and voted for him. You know, we never got the 40 acres and a mule — we didn’t get a lot of other things promised — so we’ll take this one. So maybe we’ll clean up the lyrics now.”

While these two incidents are not directly related, they point to what some sense may be a sea change in black youth culture and hip-hop culture in particular. They feel that a newfound sense of pride and respect may spill over from the political arena into the cultural. Even those on the other end of the political spectrum have taken notice. In a piece written for New York magazine called “Revenge of the Black Nerd,” conservative black writer John McWhorter enthused that it might be cool now to be a black geek.

Read Full Article. By Cary Darling, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hope in Music at the Inauguration

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


It was written by an iconic American movie composer and performed by a quartet direct from central casting — in front of a worldwide audience of millions.

It was a simple gift from composer John Williams. 

The Oscar-winning composer of “Star Wars,” “Jaws” and “Schindler’s List” pulled together this five-minute piece to commemorate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th president. 

The quartet played what Williams calls “Air and Simple Gifts” immediately before Obama was sworn in. In fact, the musicians were still playing when, according to the Constitution, Obama officially became president — at the stroke of noon Tuesday. 

Read Full Article. By Martin Steinberg, The Associated Press.

Soul Legend Returns to Atlanta

Thursday, January 15th, 2009


Shortly before James Shaw, better known as the Mighty Hannibal, performed at the Earl on a Saturday night in January 2007, an entourage of Civil Rights activists gathered around him. The packed audience of mostly white twentysomethings stood in rapt attention. It was the first time that the blind Bronx resident had returned to his hometown to play a show in nearly 25 years. Those in the crowd didn’t want to miss a chance to honor an unsung hero, one who played an essential role in breaking down the racial barrier in Atlanta’s music scene more than 40 years ago.

Sixties activist Willie Ricks, aka Mukasa Dada, best known for coining the slogan “Black Power,” took the stage to read an official proclamation that made Jan. 12 Mighty Hannibal Day in Atlanta, because of the musician’s work in furthering human and civil rights.

As the show started, the four fidgety members of Atlanta rock phenom the Black Lips stood as his backing band, sweating bullets and trying hard to hold the music together long enough for the hot-tempered soul man to make it through his politically and spiritually charged set. When most of the songs were penned, society referred to them as “race records.” It was an era when blacks and whites in the South rarely intermingled.

The rest of the country saw change coming when black and white teenagers started dancing together on “American Bandstand.” Closer to home, venues such as the Atlanta City Auditorium were divided down the middle by a rope. Blacks stood on one side, whites on the other. When Hannibal and the members of a band of white musicians called Dennis St. John and the Cardinals joined forces, the city took notice.

“Back then, we had more guts than a hog!” Hannibal laughs. “They were college kids, and when they’d see a big black buck wearing overalls staring them down they’d get scared,” he says. “Just like when I played in white clubs and I saw someone in the audience chewing tobacco, I got scared. But we looked out for each other and we always made out OK.”

St. John remembers those years well. “Hannibal was a real pioneer,” he says.

Read Full Article. By Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

Atlantans to Perform at Inaugural Events

Thursday, January 15th, 2009


Atlanta rapper-actor Bow Wow has signed on as the only hip-hop artist to perform at the “Kids’ Inaugural: We Are The Future,” the Jan. 19 event at the Verizon Center that incoming first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha will host for the children of military families.

And Atlanta R&B band Brick has been asked to perform for “The African Nation of Kenya” inaugural party Jan. 20 at the Gaylord Hotel — along with Aretha Franklin and The O’Jays— according to Brick lead vocalist/saxophonist/flutist Jimmy Brown. (President-elect Barack Obama’s late father was born in Kenya).

“Of course it’s an honor,” said Brown, whose group is known for such mid-70s singles as “Dazz,” “Dusic” and “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”. “The Inaugural Committee called our promoter about two weeks ago; and I mean, why would we say ‘No’?”

Read Full Article. By Sonia Murray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Local Faces to Look for in 2009

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

860765_height370_width560.jpg MMX gives our predictions on the local bands that will make us proud in 2009.This is a photo gallery. To see the full gallery and all 9 local artists, click here. By Kelley Hagen and Jana Hicks, Metromix Atlanta.

Atlanta Elvis Interpreter Brings New Faces to The King

Thursday, January 8th, 2009


If Elvis Presley were still alive, he’d turn 74 on Thursday. Would he still have hair? Would he have lost the battle with the waistline? Or would he have taken a turn for the better?

“Suppose he got on a physical fitness kick?” wonders Mike Geier, leader and avatar of big band Kingsized and the rockingest Elvis interpreter in Atlanta. “I see him as that skinny 70-something-year-old guy, walking into the coffee shop every morning at 8 a.m. with his bike shoes on.”

Hmmm. A skinny Elvis sounds like a skinny Santa Claus. But Geier is known for taking Elvis into new, uncharted territory, booming out versions of “Purple Rain” as the King might have. He’s done Elvis in a tuxedo and Elvis in drag.

Geier and his 12-piece band, plus 12 dancers, put on special Vegas-worthy Elvis shows twice every year, right around Elvis’ Jan. 8 birthday and his Aug. 16 death day. On Jan. 10, Kingsized will be celebrating the birth of the King at that Little Five Points gem, the Variety Playhouse.

Read Full Article. By Bo Emerson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.