Tag Archives: motown

Alicia Keys debuts “The Gospel” at Radio One’s “The Blitz” in New York City


Reported by Ken Simmons

Alicia Keys debuted a brand new song called “The Gospel” at Radio One’s “The Blitz” on August 11, 2015 at Stage 48 in New York City. Speaking to an invitation only audience of radio programmers from across the country and music industry VIPs, the 15-time Grammy Award winner said, “I’m crazy excited. It’s ridiculous… I figured I would bring my studio to y’all and we could listen to some exclusiveness.” “The Gospel” is an intense, throbbing hip-hop track addressing urban blight; a 2015 answer to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

GB_AliciaKeysHere are the opening lyrics of “The Gospel”:

We all God’s children, products of the ghetto, Mama cooked the soup, Daddy did the yellin’

Uncle was a drunk cause it was a felon, and when he got pinched, he told them he wasn’t tellin’

Auntie was a cook, her husband was a crook, cause every job he had, they paid him off the books

Ghetto university, knowledge is all it took, in a tenement I was listening to the hook

After premiering her new song, Keys teased her upcoming CD. “I am bringing the flava of New York,” she said confidently. “We got somethin’ crazy cooking…I will take you to a place you understand. I can’t wait for you to hear it.” No word on when she will release “The Gospel” or her next album.

Radio One, which owns 55 urban radio stations, hosted the party as a showcase for artists to present new music. The list of stars performing included Ciara, Nelly, Janelle Monae with her acts Jidenna and Deep Cotton, Rita Ora, Tamia, and Jordin Sparks, plus Timbaland with his vocalist from Empire, V. Bozeman.

Ciara - EpicCiara’s spectacular six-song set was the highlight of the performances, and she gave a special shout out to her Epic Records family. As Epic CEO/Chairman L.A. Reid and Epic President Sylvia Rhone watched from a private booth, Ciara remembered how Reid launched her career thirteen years ago. “When I was 16 years old, I walked into L.A. Reid’s office,” she said. “Thank you for seeing my vision.”

Earlier in the evening, Robin Thicke briefly appeared to thank Radio One for supporting his career. Diddy also greeted the crowd as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of Bad Boy Entertainment. He commented, “I don’t take it for granted. To still be on this stage, it’s a blessing,” as the crowd roared, ‘Bad Boy…Bad Boy.’

Puff Daddy“What I do best is I provide a great platform for people,” Diddy continued. “I am a great ringmaster. I returned to Puff Daddy & The Family to introduce and support new up and coming artists, to celebrate positive energy and love.” As he looked back at his groundbreaking career, he said, “I remember the first time I heard my music on the radio. It changes your life.” Before introducing the video for his latest single, “Finna Get Loose” featuring Pharrell Williams, Diddy stated that now two decades later, his career has come full circle.

“I’m returning to the party vibe, where you’re not afraid to dance with your lady,” he announced. “I’m taking this movement across the country.”


Harlem Day This Weekend!

“Summer In The City” and “Harlem Day” This Weekend!

Read in Japanese

Food Vendors

Food Vendors

On Saturday, August 17th, it’s “Summer in the city”. Enjoy the fabulous “Fashion Flava Show” featuring the best in Urban Fashions, a Historic College Fair & Expo, an outdoor Film Festival featuring “Jim Brown; an American Hero” plus you can dance in the streets with the WBLS MasterMix Crew!

Harlem Kids

Harlem Kids

Part 1 – 12pm to 5pm

“Children’s Festival”

Featuring exhibits, games, arts & crafts, live music,

dance, free health testing, exhibits, and sports clinics.

W.135th St. (bet. – Malcolm X & A.C. Powell Jr. Blvd.

Dancing in the Street

Dancing in the Street

Part 2 – 12pm to 2pm

“Dancing In the Street”

W. 135th  St. (bet.  F. Douglass Blvd. & St. Nicholas Ave.)

Part 3 – 2pm to 3pm

The Fabulous Fashion Flava Show

Part 4 – 3pm to 5pm

“Uptown Saturday Concert”

Part 5 – 12pm to 5pm

International Vendors Village

Featuring Arts & Crafts, Music, Clothing,  Jewelry and more

Part 6 – 7pm to 10pm

Outdoor Film Festival

In Concert With Imagenation present:

“Jim Brown: An American Hero”

On The Great Lawn of St. Nicholas Park

W. 135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave.

Harlem People

Harlem People

On Sunday, August 18th, it’s “Harlem Day”! Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. They’ll be live entertainment, an auto show, exhibits and vendors all day long! Catch a “Health Village” filled with information on keeping you healthy, a small business expo & fair plus a special celebration of the music of Motown.

All weekend long enjoy a free children’s festival with games, music, exhibits and so much more it’s all free and right in the heart of Harlem on West 135th Street, Saturday, August 17th and Sunday, August 18th get there early!

Site I

W. 135th  St. (bet. 5th Ave. & Malcolm X Blvd.)

10am – 4pm

• Upper Manhattan Auto Show

12pm – 6pm

•   The NY City Health Village

Health testing, education and information

•    Upper Manhattan

Small Business Expo & Fair

• HARLEM WEEK /USTA Tri-State Junior

Tennis Clinics

At Howard Bennett Playground

•    5th Avenue Stage • 1pm – 7pm

Salutes to South African Music Legends

•  International Vending & Exhibits

Site II • 12pm – 7pm

W. 135th St. (bet. Malcolm X & A.C. Powell Jr. Blvds.)

• NY City “Children’s Festival” (Day 2)

Theme: “Back to School”

• On the YMCA Stage 12pm to 6pm

– Dance, Jazz, Spoken Word, Hip-Hop, R&B

Site III • 1pm – 7pm

St. Nicholas Main Stage

Ex Motown Artist, Gladys Knight

Ex Motown Artist, Gladys Knight

W. 135th St. and St. Nicholas Ave.

Celebrating The Music of Motown

More Info

“Motown: The Musical” review by Ken Simmons

Motown: The MusicalLunt-Fontanne Theatre


“Motown: The Musical” review

by Ken Simmons

“Motown: The Musical” is a joyously delightful play featuring the classic R&B music of Berry Gordy’s historic label created in Detroit, Michigan that revolutionized the record industry in the 1960’s with its superstars Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and The Jackson Five. Starring Brandon Victor Dixon in a superb performance as Gordy, this dazzling production tells the story of how Motown was founded in the Motor City and became “the sound of young America.”

More of a concert than a traditional play highlighted by an amazing 60 songs, “Motown: The Musical” captures the historical significance of the era as the company thrived and provided the soundtrack for the civil rights movement, the protests against the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Written and produced by Gordy, the story begins in 1983 as he feels so betrayed by so many of his artists, composers and producers leaving him for bigger contracts at other companies that he’s refusing to attend the “Motown 25th Anniversary” television special. Eventually he changes his mind and joins all his past and current stars on stage for the reunion, but not after recalling the joy and the pain of the rise and fall of Motown.

Motown: The Musical Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

The core of “Motown The Musical” is the relationship between Gordy and Diana Ross which began when he discovered her teen group The Supremes, leading to their love affair and launching her solo career as one of the greatest female solo artists. Valisia LeKae, who is nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Musical, perfectly captures the persona and the voice of the Motown diva. One of the most memorable moments of the play is when she strolls into the audience and recruits people to join her in singing Ross’ signature song, “Reach Out and Touch.” Gordy was simultaneously her lover and her boss, and the play illustrates the dilemma caused by their business and romantic relationship. Eventually they break up, and Ross, like Gaye and the Jackson Five, abandoned Motown for bigger pay days at major labels.

“Motown: The Musical” also presents the ongoing creative battle Gordy had with Gaye who rebelled against Gordy’s direction. Gaye demanded to express his social consciousness, leading to his classic What’s Going On album which Gordy initially refused to release. Unlike Gaye, Robinson was Gordy’s close friend and his strongest supporter. Charl Brown masterfully portrays the falsetto crooner and earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance By An Actor In A Featured Role In A Musical. Robinson was by Gordy’s side from the beginning of Motown, comforting and inspiring his mentor as an artist, the label’s principal composer, and later as a company Vice President.

Motown: The Musical Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

“Motown: The Musical” is one of the most entertaining plays you will ever witness featuring some of the greatest songs of the all time from Ross and The Supremes, Robinson and his group The Miracles, Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and many more. Gordy faced a monumental task telling the Motown story in only two and a half hours. Unfortunately due to the concentration on his relationship with Ross and wanting to spotlight the enormous Motown song catalog, two of Motown’s legends are unjustly relegated to cameo appearances. We do hear The Jackson Five’s first four number one hits, “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There,” but there is very little dialogue from the brothers. Their appearance is one of the highlights of the play and leaves you wanting more of their music and their history, especially from Michael Jackson. Stevie Wonder receives even less attention with a much too brief three song segment–“Fingertips, Part 2,” “For Once In My Life,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and virtually no dialogue at all.

The story is scattered, incomplete, and fails to consistently flow and provide depth and meaning to many aspects of the Motown legacy. But the essence of “Motown: The Musical,” the incredible music that is as relevant and exhilarating today as it was fifty years ago, makes this a very special production worthy of its four Tony Award nominations. The exceptional talent and charisma of Dixon as Gordy, LeKae as Ross, Brown as Robinson, and the entire cast who expertly recreate the voices of the Motown artists make “Motown: The Musical” must see Broadway!


Chuck Jackson In The House!! The 30th Anniversary Celebration of Mama I Want To Sing #2

 Chuck Jackson3


The 30th Anniversary Celebration of Mama I Want To Sing – Part 2 – Chuck Jackson

“Any Day Now” fame, Chuck Jackson was in the house!

To fans of genuine rhythm and blues music, the name Chuck Jackson needs no introduction. His soaring baritone transformed such songs as “Any Day Now” and “I Don’t Want to Cry” into international chartbusters whose soulful declarations have transcended the test of time. When I spotted Mr. Jackson at the “Mama, I Want To Sing” 30th Anniversary Gala, I couldn’t resist asking him a few questions.

H2N:                  Hello Mr. Chuck Jackson. How are you? We are happy to see you.

Chuck:               Thank you.

H2N:                  Where is your base?

Chuck:                Well, I’m all over the place. I just returned from Detroit where I performed a few shows.

Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson

H2N:                  Currently you are in New York. Did you see “Motown The Musical”?

Chuck:                No, not yet. I believe it opens in April. It is only in previews right now. I spoke with Smokey Robinson on the phone last night. He told me he would invite me to the show. Yes, I will see it soon.

H2N:                  The first time I saw your show was at Sweetwaters around the mid 80’s and Mike Tyson was in the audience waiting for his fiancée at the time, Robin Givens. Do you remember that show?

Chuck:                Yes, as a matter of fact, I was just thinking about that. She became a big actress after that. I did many shows at Sweetwaters. The club is gone now.

H2N:                  We are so glad that you are still around. Can we expect new music from you anytime soon?

Chuck:                 Yes! I’m working on my new album. It’s funny that this time I’m signed to the first label I was signed to. Smokey Robinson wrote a song for me for this album and I’m also working with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and many others.

H2N:                  Sounds great! Does that mean that you are going to give us the classic Chuck Jackson album?


Chuck:                Yeah, the record company told me to be myself. They want me to sound like me. I’m very excited!

H2N:                  We can’t wait! Will you be touring to Japan soon?

Chuck:                Yes, as a matter of a fact I think we got an offer but I don’t know exactly when. I know I have many fans in Japan and I’d love to go over there and do shows.

H2N:     Thank you.