Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throw Back Thursday • Sylvester's "I (Who Have Nothing)"

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For my second Throw Back Thursday post, I thought I would take a look back in history at some great performers from the LGBT community. And if I was going there, I wanted to start with the brilliant Sylvester. The performer, born Sylvester James, Jr., in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. As a youngster, Sylvester was a part of the church choir, until the persecution began as the congregation became increasingly aware of homosexuality. Sylvester soon left the area, and settled in San Fransisco. There he became involved with The Disquotays, a group of cross dressing men of color. As that group faded, he became a part of The Cockettes, a group that often played with the gender roles and traditional clothing.

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In the early 1970s, Sylvester focused on his music career, and was soon recording with his band, Sylvester and his Hot Band. In 1977, he released his first truly solo effort, an eponymous album that was a mild success. That was followed up by 'Step II', which had the hit song, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". In 1979, he released the album 'Stars', which featured the single "I (Who Have Nothing)". The song had music by Carlo Donida and lyrics by Giulio "Mogol" Rapetti, who wrote it in 1961. Since it was written in Italian, American writers Mike Stoller and Jerry Lieber adapted the song for the American audience, and offered it to Ben E. King, who released it in 1963. That same year, it was recorded by Shirley Bassey, who had the best known version of the song. This is Sylvester's Dance version of the song, "I (Who Have Nothing)".

It was unfortunate that Sylvester spent so little time recording, as he fell ill in the 1980s, before passing in 1988 from complications due to AIDS. I do wish Sylvester had more time to record, and leave us with an even greater library. You can find the album 'Stars', which featured "I (Who Have Nothing)", on iTunes and Amazon.

Throw Back Thursday • Led Zeppelin's "Stairway"

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For Throw Back Thursday, I thought I would start with one of my all-time favorite bands, Led Zeppelin. They were part of the dichotomy of my youth, when I fell in love with all kinds of music. In my early teens, it was the music of Barbra Streisand that spoke directly to my heart. Later, I found I was enamored with the Rock of Led Zeppelin. In between, I found the great music of James Taylor, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band, and so many others. I decided to go with the music of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. In 1973, the band was filmed at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The film, 'The Song Remains The Same', was released in 1976. This is a clip from the film, of the band playing their big hit, "Stairway To Heaven".

"Stairway to Heaven" was first recorded for Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, usually referred to as 'Led Zeppelin IV'. The album was released almost 43 years ago on November 8, 1971. You can purchase the remastered version of album on iTunes and Amazon.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Dark Monday • Bernadette Sings "Not A Day Goes By"

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When it comes to some of the amazing women I have managed to see performing on Broadway, I think Bernadette Peters ranks among the top. Now, I've seen some incredible talents, but her work in 'Sunday in the Park with George' still resonates with me, and that was a few decades ago. She was incredible live, sounding great, and acting the role of Dot to perfection. I was already a fan, but this still blew me away. It was said she has been a muse for Sondheim, and it was easy to understand why with this performance.

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She went on to star in 'Into the Woods', as well as revivals of 'A Little Night Music' and 'Follies'. She also performed live at Carnegie Hall in 1996, as part of a fundraiser for Gay Men's Health Crisis. The show featured song from several shows Peters had starred in, and she dedicated the second half of the performance to the works of Sondheim. The recording was later released as a live album, entitled 'Sondheim, Etc.' I must admit, I do love the album, and it inspired me to do this post. One of the songs Bernadette sang was the amazing "Not A Day Goes By", a song from the 1981 Broadway musical, 'Merrily We Roll Along'. The show was directed by Harold Prince, with a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Sondheim. The show as not a success, running on Broadway for only 52 previews and 16 performances. It marked the end of the Harold Prince-Sondheim collaborations for 22 years, which had been fruitful for both. But the score was wonderful, and Bernadette had picked this song well. This is Peters singing "Not A Day Goes By".

To learn more about Bernadette Peters, visit her official website. You can also 'like' her on Facebook, and 'follow' her on Twitter. You can find "Not A Day Goes By" on 'Sondheim, Etc.', which can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. If you like what you heard above, you should think about buying the album - available for just $5.99 at both online stores.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Robin Williams Remembered

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I have no problem admitting to the fact I was a big fan of the comedy of Robin Williams, having purchased the album "Reality...What A Concept", the live recording of a 1979 performance in New York. I would listen to it time and time again, marveling at his energy, and the way his amazing mind worked. That led me to purchase his next live album, 'Throbbing Python of Love', his 1983 release. My admiration grew as I saw him grow into the actor that could take us on journeys like he did in 'Dead Poets Society', 'Good Morning Vietnam' and 'Mrs. Doubtfire'. So when I heard he left us on August 11, 2014, I was truly saddened, and wanted to remember him fondly. This is a wonderful clip of Robin Williams, Live at the Roxy.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Marshall Titus • Send A Little Love

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From the first time I heard his cover of George Michael's "Father Figure", I was hooked on Marshal Titus' voice. There is such a seductive texture to his voice, I cannot help myself. So when I discovered he had a new single out, I was very excited. The song, "Send A Little Love", was written by Marshall and Keith Stewart, and produced by Marshall and Fritz Darjes. I love the uplifting feel to the song, and it just raises my spirits to a wonderful place. The video was shot in Hamburg, Germany, and directed by Herb Santos. This is Marshall Titus singing "Send A Little Love".

I knew the minute I heard it, I needed to have "Send A Little Love" in my music collection. You can purchase "Send A Little Love" from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Marshall Titus, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lauren Bacall • But Alive

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I have been a fan of Lauren Bacall for as long as I remember. When I was just a young kid, I remember sitting in front of the television, watching the black and white movies, often starring Humphrey Bogart and Bacall. I hadn't realized it then, but they were a couple, which certain helped with their stunning chemistry. So when I heard of Bacall's passing not long ago, I was truly sad. I had long believed Bacall was truly underrated, having never been nominated for an Academy Award for a performance until 1997, when she was nominated for 'The Mirror Has Two Faces'. After all, her work in the 1944 film 'To Have and To Have Not' opposite Bogart is just so darned impressive, I was hooked on her from the first time I watched it. This is Bacall with her famous 'whistle' scene.

I was so much a fan, I couldn't wait to purchase her autobiography, 'Lauren Bacall By Myself', with amazing stories and insights into her life. For me, there was an incredible honesty on the pages, and I couldn't put it down. I loved the fact she was born in The Bronx, and raised in Brooklyn, and went on to become a big movie star in Los Angeles. Of course, Bacall moved back to New York later, for that is where she felt most at home.

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Bacall also had an impressive Broadway resumé, first starring in 'Goodbye Charlie' in 1959, as well as star turns in 'Cactus Flower' in 1965, 'Applause' in 1970, and 'Woman of the Year' in 1981. There were several other appearances on the New York stage. Bacall also earned two Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for her performances in 'Applause' and 'Woman of the Year'. I thought it would be nice to see a video of her performance of "But Alive" from 'Applause', with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams.

Lauren Bacall passed away on August 12, 2014, about a month before her 90th birthday. Her beauty, talent, and style will all be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, Lauren Bacall.

David Raleigh • The Videos

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Later on tonight, I will be in New York City to attend the launch of the latest from David Raleigh, the wonderful singer, songwriter, and pianist. I first discovered Raleigh about four years ago, when he worked on a project with some very talented men, but I will get to that shortly. Once I heard him, I needed to hear more, so I soon found his solo stuff. Man, am I glad I did. His music is just as special ass the man is, and I can't get enough. You want to know much I love David? I will be traveling to see him, and will be missing one of my favorite guilty pleasures, 'Sleepy Hollow'.

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As I said before, I first found David by way of a project he worked on with some very talented men. David collaborated with Tony Award winner Billy Porter, the gifted Sir Ari Gold, and intriguing Alan Cumming on "That's What Friends Are For", a new look at the classic best remembered for the 1985 version by Dione Warwick and Friends, with Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder joining Dione to raise money for AmFar. The song was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. Raleigh, Porter, Cumming and Gold revived it to also raise money, for the Ali Fortney Center, a New York City shelter for homeless GLBT youth. The song was produced by Nathan Leigh Jones. This is David, Billy, Alan and Ari with "That's What Friends Are For".

You can purchase the single from iTunes. I think the money will still go to the great cause. Watching this video, and purchasing the song, lead me to find other music by Raleigh, and I was able to do that fairly quickly. Not long on YouTube, and I had a great new music video I kept watching, time and time again. There is such joy and love emanating from the core of "I Do!", and I knew once again, I was addicted. This is David Raleigh with the great song, "I Do!".

I quickly found out that "I Do!" was just the first single off his recently released album, 'Beginning Again'. Once I found it, I purchased the album, and found a wealth of great music that warmed my heart, and inspired my soul. I was very excite when it was time for a second video to be released, and was thrilled it was the beautiful "One Together". The song is a stunning song that goes directly to the heart of love, and I just adore it. This is the official music video for "One Together".

I must admit, I was near giddy with excitement when I heard David would release "Do It To Me", the first single/video from the new album, 'The Equation of Love'. And once I heard it, I was understood why. The song once again as the joy and love I have come to expect from Raleigh's music, and more. It made me so eager to hear the rest of the album, and I am so glad that time is almost hear. This is the official music video for "Do It To Me".

This evening, I will be hearing many of the songs from 'The Equation of Love' played live, and be leaving with my own copy. For that, my friends, you can be jealous. Or you can join us! To learn more about David Raleigh, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. You can find his music at your favorite online music stores. You can purchase 'Beginning Again' from iTunes and Amazon. Today is the official release date for 'The Equation of Love', and you can find it on iTunes and Amazon.


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