Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stax Of Music

Call it an overhaul of great soul music.

The Stax-Volt Music label, a historic mammoth of Southern soul/R&B music that swept the country from 1962 until 1974 when it closed its doors for the last time due to bankruptcy, has resurrected in a very big way. With the L.A-based Concord Music Group leading the soul revolution during the label's 50th-year anniversary and helping to revive the world-renowned music label to its former glory, Stax has since released a number of incredible re-issues, a few repackaged 'greatest hits' collections and are already working on new album releases for their new stars including neo-soul sensation Angie Stone, jazz trio Soulive and Black Moses himself Isaac Hayes.

We are pleased to say to announce that the double-disc Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration, the revived label's kick-off souvenir packaged like a collector's edition with a beautiful layout of photos and an intensive bio on the label from Rob Bowman, was released to the public in March - receiving great recognition and rave reviews for its consistency and for containing the big hits. Other projects including The Very Best of Rufus Thomas (a colossal 20-track compilation featuring all of Thomas' cool grooves) and The Very Best of Isaac Hayes (a single-disc greatest hit collection containing eighteen edit versions of Hayes' Stax hits) have since been released.

All of these promotions are being launched to celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of such a great musical institution. And you can tell it's a big deal...in fact, it's big business. The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau has even adopted the Stax reputation into their 2007 campaign and remain instrumental in helping spread the word about the vast reputation the label has earned the city of Memphis over the years.

On June 22, Concord reunite some of Stax's living heroes on the stage of Orpheum Theater in Memphis and brought the audience to their feet with great tributes and celebrations of the label's history. American Idol judge Randy Jackson and rap pioneer Chuck D. were the event's hosts and helped give the gala a modern, cool outlook. But it was the performances of a recovering Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G's, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Mavis Staples, the Soul Children and gospel sensation Rev. Rance Allen that made the night a memorable one. Also featured on the bill was Angie Stone, singing Shirley Brown's "Woman To Woman," and Otis Redding III singing "Try A Little Tenderness." Word at the Stax Site states that the show was taped and will be available on DVD in the fall. After reviewing the write-up at The Memphis Flyer and reading the stars that made this night one to not forget, we can't wait to get our copy.

On August 1, 2007, at 9:00 p.m (ET), Great Performances on PBS will air Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story - a special documentary focusing on the achievements made by Stax and featuring a number of the label's highlights and special performances.

Of course, the future of Stax Records still remains skeptical. We are not certain if the new artists will enjoy their tenure with the revived label or if they will match the capabilities and artistic definition of the giants of yesteryear. There are strong possibilities of it being a force in modern music, but who can match the contributions of Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes. Of course, that list goes on and on. But it is beautiful to see the kind of work and valued input Concord is putting into this campaign. The expectations may be high for the label, but the endless possibilities continue to remain a figment of our soulful imaginations.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Check Your Pastor

Have you been reading the headlines lately?

Not just national, but local?

The Los Angeles Catholic diocese will be releasing a record-breaking $660 million to victims of sexual abuse this week during a recent settlement. Even though the Archbishop head cardinal Roger Mahony publicly apologized for the 'sin and wrong' done to the victims, many are claiming, including the lead attorney for the victims, are claiming that the recent act of justice was "long overdue."

Heard about Pastor Joel Anthony Ward in Los Angeles, whom admitted to his church congregation that Tarshia Rodgers, the church's choir director, was pregnant with his child? Not only that, but she also has a restraining order on him due to violent threats he has delivered to her. Voice messages of his phone calls to her have been sent to multiple resources, including the local newspaper - the Los Angeles Wave. Sounds like something that was best suited for a motion picture.

And in Birmingham (AL) local news, local church hero and StreamingFaith.com minister Pastor Gregory L. Clarke, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, will be in federal court this week due to tax evasion and tax fraud totaling $40,000 dollars - including personal tax records and documents that somehow were altered and modified. Other black churches in the area are getting on television looking crazy - trying to defend him by saying he is innocent. One local minister, Pastor Stephen Green, stated if "he goes down, we all go down." I guess it's now alright to cheat on your taxes.

I'm tired of ministers and preachers that are trying to taint the Good News of our Christ with their personal affairs and misconduct. I hope you really really trust your pastor...because we are living in the last days. There are more fake prophets out there than those that are true. Don't be misguided...I don't care if that was your family church or if you and your pastor were roommates in college...if he or she is wrong, they are wrong. And they need to be punished for their senseless crimes with the same gavel of justice, just like you. Fair is fair.

I leave you with this question:
You better check your pastor.

*originally posted and recently modified by J. Matt (PRAYZE Place)

Roman Catholic Church Pays Out $660 Mil (PRAYZE Report)
Sex, Lies and Video Tape: Rev. Joel Ward (Los Angeles Wave)
Local News Featuring Rev. Clarke Court Announcement (Fox 6 News)

L.A. Catholic Diocese Pays Out $660 Mil

A record 660-million-dollar payout to hundreds of victims whom were sexually abused by church leaders and clergy members of the Los Angeles diocese of the Roman Catholic church was poised to be confirmed this week.

Archdiocese head Cardinal Roger Mahony -- who has been accused by angry victims of attempting to conceal abuse cases during his tenure -- apologized to the hundreds of victims as he confirmed the settlement on Sunday.

"Once again I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who's been abused by priests, by deacons, by religious men and women or by lay people ... It should not have happened and should not ever happen again," Mahony said.

Ray Boucher, the lead attorney for the victims, said the settlement, which in some cases related to abuse dating back to the 1940s, was "long overdue."

Now we are wondering when the black church will be under investigation by the government for the hundreds of boys and girls that have been sexually abused. Oh forgot, the African-American community are too afraid to speak out about those things. If this blog could preach the stories of the many viewers or closet-PRAYZEHYMN supporters that have been victimized and are afraid to speak out, because of fear and rejection, the world would know how hypocritical the church has been. Half of those quiet individuals are doing the same thing their foes have done to them, so will the circle ever be unbroken.

Our prayers remain with the Roman Catholic church. You are not alone.

*Quotes taken from the Associated Press - link below


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beauty Must Be Skin Deep

Secular and mainstream publications grab all of our attention - from their layouts, graphic design, originality and artistic presentation. Maxim, GQ, Ebony, Sister2Sister, People and Vanity Fair are some of the mighty giants in the press that have gone to the level of high expectations to give their readers a taste of jovial delight for their eyes and mind. From juicy gossip to its illustrious photo shoots, we cannot resist the power of a good read that they unfortunately provide with great results.

But gospel-oriented and Christian magazines are jumping on board to achieve such feats - call it "mimic ministry." Everything we do in our weekly publications, they did first. Such as the Top 10, gossip columns, event calendar, big photo layouts, paparazzi photo spreads. But there should be no war over these things. So childish to do such a thing.

But Shereese Hair & Beauty Magazine caught our attention in a big way with their announcement of the Top 20 Most Beautiful Gospel Artists in their July issue. Even though we aren't surprised to see Yolanda Adams making the number one spot, some of the voters' choice may have been judged by "skin deep beauty." Tye Tribbett even made the list at an astonishing placement of number 10. This is probably due to extreme fanatics and probably by those that forgot this was a beauty magazine. God forbid if the rapture takes place and the Top 9 take flight. We demand a recount.

The list also included:
#2 Donnie McClurkin

#3 CeCe Winans
#4 Shirley Caesar
#5 Smokie Norful
#6 John P. Kee

#7 Kirk Franklin
#8 Mary Mary
#9 Vickie Winans

The results were judge by readers' votes and were compiled by the Dallas-based publication. Shereese Magazine is targeted to reach African-American women ages 18-49 years old.

Shereese Magazine
Top 20 Most Beautiful Gospel Artists [Shereese Magazine]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just Bloggin'

Real. Coolin' Just coolin'
(Listening to Levert's Just Coolin')

Okay people. Had to update the blog with sumthin' fresh. And lately, there's been a lot going on. Lots more in mainstream. Kelly Clarkson's latest project - the one Clive Davis dubbed as being "dark and dangerous" is getting bad press lately and may be the biggest sharpshooting disappointment this year from any of the Idol's superstars. Except if you wanna look at AI's Paris Bennett's indie-project - which contains a very low-budget and home-engineered beats. Mandisa is dropping her Contemporary Christian project, "True Beauty," next week...should be VERY exciting. Next!

Sorry if I'm comin' off too hard - but you know how I feel about obvious gospel artists trying to get CCM dollars.

Then there's the Kelly Rowland (Ms. Kelly) project - in stores now. AHotMess stated that the project is bound to sale 100K in its first week. We will see how she fairs out on Soundscan and Billboard when she's put up against T.I's new release.

Now for the gospel.
Somebody shout "GOSPEL!"

Richard Smallwood's project (Journey: Live In New York) drops in sales considerably. He placed number 6 this week , after debuting at number 1, on Billboard two weeks ago. In mainstream, dropping to number 6 isn't such a bad thing, but in a small genre like gospel, it hurts. Currently standing in the top spot on the gospel charts is the surprising Tyscot new release from Bishop Noel Jones' church choir. I don't ever remember a Tyscot release ever hitting the #1 spot...so this is incredible news for the small-yet-quickly expanding music label from Indianapolis. The Detroit crew - J Moss and the Clark Sisters - are still sitting in the Top 5. And R&B diva and icon Patti LaBelle tells Tye Tribbett and CCM artist Nicole Mullen to get outta my way as she sails back to number 8 this week with her on-fire gospel project. It's been an interesting week at Billboard in the gospel world for sure.

We are expecting to see Marvin Sapp hit the Top 5 for next week with his latest release, Thirsty. The album features new and recycled praise-and-worship music penned by a number of writers including Martha Munizzi, Jason Nelson and Jonathan Dunn. The former Commissioned singer sounds good on the project - and fits well in the worship stuff. Even though we prefer a diverse set of material on projects these days. Makes the world happy that way. Expect a full review at PRAYZEHYMNOnline.com in days to come. Not much I say now about the new release - but I will reveal that even though it's nowhere close to the infectious Diary of A Psalmist - it is more rewarding than his last project, Be Exalted.

Now I'm off to my other job...and then to see Transformers at the movies. Hope 2 see you there.