Friday, January 20, 2006

Soul Under Fire

Say the words Angela, Isaac, Wilson and Lou in one or two sentences to any soul music lover and you are bound to see teardrops of wrecking agony. That's because the last couple of weeks has been an emotional trainwreck for fans of musical giants in the R&B and soul communities.

After grieving over the loss of R&B singing sensation Lou Rawls, we now mourn the departure of Wilson Pickett. Dubbed "Wicked Pickett" by Atlanta Records' former executive and producer Jerry Wexler for his uncanny style of singing and screaming vocals, Pickett, an Alabama native, released multiple hits in the style of "rock and roll meets soul" in the 1960s with "Mustang Sally", "Soul Survivor", "634-5789" and "In The Midnight Hour". He continued to tour the U.S. and Europe with his amazing mix of passionate energy and raspy singing, until his health recently took a turn for the worst. Yet he was optimistic to returning back to the musical soundstage, according to music journalist Roger Friedman. Pickett passed away at the age of 64 from a massive heart attack.

Another musical giant best known for his deep masculine voice, his occasional rap/talk sessions and his irresistible skill of writing and arranging songs, Isaac Hayes, was recently hospitalized on Wed, Jan 18 in Memphis suffering from exhaustion. Longtime friend and co-writer David Porter with Hayes on hits such as "Gee Whiz", "Soul Man" and "Hold On (I'm Coming)" told the press that "he's just overworked and has been performing in D.C. and in Tunica a couple of nights." Hayes brand of music has inspired the likes of R&B singers such as Alicia Keys, whom also helped shape her last two projects. He is best known for composing the #1 hit "Theme From Shaft", his epic LPs "Hot Buttered Soul" (1969) and "Black Moses" (1971) and lending his voice to "Chef" on the animated cartoon series "South Park". Other hits including "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", "Walk On By", "The Look Of Love", "Do Your Thing" and "Don't Let Go" continue to gain newer audiences with today's generation.

R&B and jazz vocalist Angela Bofill, whom has been extra quiet lately, suffered a stroke on Sunday and was paralyzed on her left side. She was released from the Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa, California. Public reports have stated that Bofill had no health insurance and will require speech and physical therapy. She has recorded jazz-influenced projects since the 1970s and charmed the public with her "Angel of the Night" album in 1978; which contained the hit "What I Wouldn't Do". In the early 80s, she gained some ground with her crossover pop/R&B style, spearheaded by worthy producers including Narada Michael Walden, Norman Conners and George Duke. "Holding Out For Love", "Too Tough" and "I'm On Your Side" were some of her greatest hits during that time period.

We lift our soul singers up in prayer and pray that they will forever be lead in the arms of our God. We wish expedient recoveries on Angela and Isaac and we will stand in the gap for Wilson's family, friends and fellow colleagues. If it had not been for their efforts and their sacrifices, the gospel music we hear today would have no musical importance. So we thank God for them and we will forever be grateful for their mighty contributions.

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