Monday, October 27, 2008

The Jennifer Hudson Tragedy

I've interviewed Jennifer Hudson twice. The first time was just before the release of "Dreamgirls," and the last time was just a month ago, when she was releasing her self-titled, debut CD. Each time, she's been sweet, gregarious, and just a pleasure; I always thought about how proud her mother must be of her.

So it is particularly painful to learn about the triple tragedy that took the lives of her mom, her brother and her 7-year-old nephew. I can't imagine the terror that little boy went through, and I just don't know why such evil happens to anyone, especially an innocent like him.

This is a difficult story to cover. I covered it the day the story broke, and again with this story today. I wish I never had to write such a story.

Billboard's Women in Music Breakfast

Billboard held it's annual "Women in Music" breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel last Friday, and besides naming the 20 power execs in music, they honored Ciara, Colbie Caillat and Deborah Harry. Harry got the icon award _ she told the crowd that she dyed her hair blonde (hence the name of her group, Blondie) because she wanted to be a movie star. But she says that painting is her true passion.
Colbie, best known for her hit "Bubbly," said that she's learned how to become a better performer in the year since she's become a platinum success.
And Ciara, whose third album is due out early next year, talked about becoming a multiplatform star, with a straight-to-DVD release of her movie "Mama I Wanna Sing," along with her recent modeling contract and even plans for an exercise video (her body was looking incredibly tight, so she definitely could teach us ladies a thing or two).
Here's some pics from the day!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Prince's Jam Session in NYC

I've had a lot of great experiences writing about music, and Prince is at the top of the list. I've interviewed him and seen him perform, and last week, got a treat as I watched five hours of Prince jamming onstage. Now, it wasn't all at once _ he performed one show for a small group of people at a loft at the Ganesvoort hotel in NYC, then another, but it added up to more than five hours _ I didn't get home till 5 a.m. We weren't allowed to take any pics, but here's a photo I snapped of the purple candle that was burning all night!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"There are not enough panties on my stage tonight ..."

AP Photo
That comment alone tells you what kind of mood Maxwell was going for in his comeback concert at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday _ the first time fans have heard his smooth tenor in several years. The suaveness that is Maxwell was on full display, as he made the ladies squeal by singing classics like "Sumthin Sumthin," "Don't Ever Wonder" and my personal favorite, "Fortunate." He also displayed a few new songs _ the standout was "Pretty Wings." You can hear a snippet of it on his MySpace page ( It's off his new CD, "Black Summers' Night," which is out sometime early next year.
I interviewed Maxwell a couple of weeks before the concert ... check out article and also the video from it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Raphael Saadiq at S.O.B.'s

Raphael Saadiq has a new record out, "The Way I See It," where the R&B veteran borrows from the Motown sound. It's like a time warp, and from what I understand, he used some of the very musicians that helped craft the legendary label's key hits.

Saadiq brought that old-school sound to his show at S.O.B.'s on Monday, but it wasn't all about the new stuff: He kept the audience members happy by not only singing those classic Toni! Tony! Tone! hits (like "It Never Rains in Southern California," "Me & You," "It Feels Good," etc_ but his own hits and that great Lucy Pearl song.

The night's biggest surprise? His physique! He took of his shirt and dang if he wasn't ripped!!! Who knew??

Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows"

I love love love this song, but a lot of men (OK, two I know) were so put off by it that they didn't even wanna listen to the rest of Jazmine's amazing album _ a bad thing, since it kicks off the CD. Give it a chance guys! If you ain't guilty, why do you need to worry about the scenario anyway! LOL!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Madonna's "Sweet" Tour

I was a little worried about going to Madonna's "Sticky & Sweet" tour kickoff at East Rutherford last night. Her last tour, 2006's "Confessions," was a disappointment to me, and I was worried that two years later, she would only get worse, not better. But I was completely totally wrong and totally blown away!

Check out my review.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pop Champagne!

I really think the Grammy for best new artist next year needs to go the vocoder. Though the vocoder ain't really new, it has transformed urban music since T-Pain came on the scene, and daggone if every brother ain't using it. Shoot, if Luther was alive today, we might even be hearing him sing "A House is Not A Home" with vocoder assistance (I keed, I keed!).

The vocoder is one of the things that makes this song SO DANG HOT, but not the only thing ... the drumbeat on this is INSANE! I wanna go dancing after hearing this righgt now, and I am in my pajamas!!!

VH1 Hip Hop Honors

VH1's 5th annual Hip Hop Honors went down Oct. 2nd at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, celebrating the music of Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature, Too Short, Slick Rick and De La Soul. I was all amped to go, but then as the night drew closer, I realized ... I would miss the Biden-Palin debate!!! Not only that, I started recalling the hot ghetto mess that precedes going to the Hip Hop Honors _ long lines, surly security guards, and crazy crowds. By the time I got to my seat, I was pretty annoyed, and ready to bounce.
But the great thing about the show is that it reminds you of everything you love about hip-hop _ how you grooved to Slick Rick in high school, partied with De La Soul's "Buddy" in college, identified with Cypress Hill when they talked about how they could "Just Kill a Man," and felt a surge of pride for the hip-hop nation every time "Hip Hop Hooray" came on. (I can't really say anything remotely positive about any Too $hort song, so I'm gonna just shut my mouth on that one). The show was amazing, as usual, with the surprise highlight being a tribute to Isaac Hayes, who was one of the more sampled musicians in hip-hop. When Chuck D and Flavor Flav came out and performed "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," I knew I had made the right decision to stay _ after all, you can catch Palin-Biden on YouTube, but you can't capture the magic that is classic hip-hop in a live setting (though VH1 will try _ the show airs a few times this month).
The show was great, and the afterparty at Opera continued the fun, with Q-Tip on the turntables. We saw Melle Mel, Luke, Kid Rock, Joy Bryant, Biz Markie, De La Soul, and Isaac Hayes son in the mix. Check out the pics!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Robin Thicke "Something Else" Party

Robin Thicke celebrated the release of his CD "Something Else" with a party sponsored by Target, but it certainly wasn't a discount affair. It was held at the swank Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center (or near it anyway!). Even though there was a piano and a mic set up for Robin to sing, he only thanked the audience and sang along when DJ Cassidy played his new song "Magic. " But it was good enough ... throngs of women flocked to his side with cameras (I was included, but hey, it was for journalistic reasons)!

Robin's wife, actress Paula Patton, was gushing with pride when her boo sang ... others at the party included Jay-Z, Diddy and Swizz Beatz.

Go check out the album ... I think it's a smart follow-up to "The Evolution of Robin Thicke."