Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cassidy Haley • Moon River

Cassidy Haley

On Saturday mornings, I just like to offer up little gems,Something not too sweet, but not too bitter either. Just a nice balance, to really leave me wanting a bit more. This morning, I offer up a classic song covered by rocker Cassidy Haley. Written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, "Moon River" won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1961. It was famously featured in the iconic movie Breakfast At Tiffany's, and sung by Audrey Hepburn. This acoustic cover is quite lovely, and highlights the depth of Cassidy's voice, and why I love to hear his music. Oh, and his being really hot doesn't hurt, either.

For more about Cassidy Haley, check out his official website.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jody Watley • #1 On The Floor

Jody Watley

It is almost hard for me to believe, but it was about 25 years ago that the beautiful and talented Jody Watley ruled the dance floors with her solo debut. Born in Chicago, the young Watley was inspired by Diana Ross and many others making great music. She made her first stage appearance alongside her godfather, Jackie Wilson, at a very young age. By the time she was a teen, Watley was becoming a regular on Soul Train, a standout with her beauty, style, and slick dance moves. Along with fellow Soul Train dancer Jeffrey Daniel, Watley was selected to join Gary Mumford and become original members of the R&B group Shalamar, put together by the late, great Don Cornelius. Before long, Mumford was replaced, and soon Howard Hewett was on lead vocals. Watley was a part of the group from 1977 to 1984, taking part in hits like "The Second Time Around". Once she left the group, it was time to get to work on some solo music.

Jody Watley

In February of 1987, Watley released her solo debut, the eponymous Jody Watley. The music audience seemed to like what they heard, for the album was soon certified Platinum in sales in the US, and Gold in Canada. Part of what drove the sales was the amazing first single, "Looking For A New Love". Written by Watley and André Cymone, the song was one of the biggest selling R&B singles of the year, making it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the R&B and Dance Club Play charts.

The third single off the album made it to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the R&B chart, and #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. "Don't You Want Me" was written by Watley, Franne Golde, and D.P. Bryant. The studios loved her crossover appeal, and her ability to score on the R&B, Dance, and Pop charts with the same song. And it was certainly popular in the gay clubs in New York when I was out and about!

#10 on the Pop Chart, and #3 on the R&B chart. Once again, however, Watley reigned supreme on the Dance chart, hitting #1. Written by Watley with former Prince bassist André Cymone, "Some Kind of Lover" was the third song off Jody's debut to make it to the Billboard Pop Top 10, something not many artists can have on their resumé.

For more about Jody Watley, you can visit her official website. You can find her debut album on iTunes and Amazon. You can find the remix album, You Wanna Dance With Me?, in my CD collection, as well as on iTunes and Amazon. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Marshall Titus • If The World Could Be Mine

Marshall Titus - If The World Could Be Mine

Earlier this week, I featured some of the recent singles by my latest musical husband, Marshall Titus. There was a trio of beautiful songs that touch my heart. This one, however, makes be get up and dance like a fool. Give a listen to the 2010 release, "If The World Could Be Mine".

You can find "If The World Could Be Mine" on iTunes. To find out more about Marshall Titus, visit his official website.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Names Project 2012 & 1989


I just saw a clip about The Names Project as the quilt is being installed in Washington, DC. I immediately knew I would have to share it with you all. This is a clip shot by Aram Vartian and featuring Ebone Bell, both of whom I met while they were hard at work on the last Tom Goss Video, for "It's All Over".

Watching this reminded me of a time not that long ago, when I found a bunch of pictures in a shoebox, and then catching my breath. When I went to the original showing of the Names Project in 1987, I did not bring my camera. It was a trip to participate in the National March on Washington for Gay & Lesbian Rights. That is when I saw it. Spread across the mall, there was what seemed like miles of fabric set up in a symmetrical pattern, a beautiful patchwork quilt. People were wondering around, looking at individual 'patches.' I knew what it was, but the sheer size was jolting, at first so pretty, a beautiful quilt the quilting bee had been working on together. but then just jarring that so many had died to make this beauty happen. I returned in 1989, with friends and feeling much better prepared for what I would see. I brought a camera, and captured these pictures you find on this page. And still today, over 20 years later, they still give me pause, and can bring a tear to my eye.

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The Names Project was started by Cleve Jones, based on something he noticed when organizing an annual march for Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco. As more people were claimed by AIDS, he started asking people to make placards of those who had passed and hang them on a wall of the Federal Building. He thought it looked like a quilt once the names were hung. From that sprung The Names Project, and the Quilt. For more information about the Names Project, to donate, host a display, or submit a square, click here.

Tyler Conti • I Will Always Love You

Tyler Conti

I saw a recent Tweet from Guy B, and it piqued my interest. He mentioned working with a talented young musician, Tyler Conti, on some new music. He sounded quite excited. Soon thereafter, I saw a Tweet from B.Slade, another artist I really respect, mentioning Tyler. I had to check him out, and discovered for myself what they both were talking about. Tyler is a handsome guy with sweet style, and a strong voice to back it all up. Check out this audio recording of Tyler singing Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" as a tribute to the late Whitney Houston.

While I hear the handsome Conti is a straight man, I hear he is quite supportive of the LGBT community. And we all know, Str8 boys need love, too. For more about Tyler Conti, check out his official website, or follow him on Twitter.

Jay Brannan • Rob Me Blind Video

Jay Brannan • Rob Me Blind
Jay Brannan • Rob Me Blind Jay Brannan • Rob Me Blind

Jay Brannan has released the new video off his latest release, "Rob Me Blind". The title cut off the new album is a dreamy exploration of love, allowing us to follow the machinations of a relationship, at least from Brannan's point of view. In the video, we see the chance meeting of Jay and a man in an elevator. There are some furtive glances from Jay, and as they travel to the 9th floor, we see various moments of a relationship. Enjoy watching "Rob Me Blind".

If you haven't already purchased Jay's amazing album, Rob Me Blind, you can find it on iTunes and Amazon. You can also buy it from Jay's online store, either Option A, the CD a download of his live album, or Option B, a bundle of the CD, live download, and a t-shirt. Jay is on tour now, currently in Australia. Jay will be touring near you soon, so check out his tour schedule here. For more about Jay, check out his official website, or follow him on Twitter.

Jay Brannan • Rob Me Blind

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Matt Doyle • Contant EP Released

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle has released his latest EP, Constant. This is a lovely companion piece to his 2011 EP, Daylight. As with the first, Constant is a collection of original songs, written by Doyle and Will Van Dyke. And once again, Matt doesn't rest on his matinee-idol good looks, instead offering up a meaty selection of songs that will keep me happy and wanting more from this artist. Although I haven't heard this out artist singing live, every time I listen to either of his recordings I want to that much more. He has such a beautiful tone to his voice, with a sweet depth.

Matt Doyle - Constant cover

While Daylight was a soulful production, Constant veers more on the Pop side, but still delivers heartfelt honesty. After a simple and straightforward opening to "What You Stole", the slips into a bluesy beat as if it were a warm blanket, and it picks up momentum, much like the the young love he sings about. Soon we hear the opening to "Don't Wait", the second track. This is an interesting mixture of of soul and pop,driving yet understated. It almost has the feel of a great Country crossover hit. Next we have the storytelling of "Can't Stay Here". With talk of dreams, innocence and life moving on, with or without you, the song lifts you up as it builds, then caresses to a conclusion. There is a nostalgic feel to "Can't Have You", a blues song that sparkles with a sequin feel. But that doesn't stop Doyle from reaching down to give a little growl from time to time. That was the perfect segue into the call and response sexiness of "Love Ain't Making Me Right". Doyle's voice adds another level of sexiness as he reaches deep down for strong emotional truth. For the final cut off the EP, he returns to the Pop sound on "Walls". It seems love is still a strong inspiration for good music, and once again Doyle makes a delivery straight from his heart.

Matt Doyle

To get a taste of this yummy EP, watch this video for "What You Stole" at the Constant release party, taped at Bon Soir Mondays at the Pink Elephant earlier this month.

You can purchase your copy of Constant from iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

Angelo's "Narcissus Drowned" Video!

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Shout hallelujah, Angelo has released his video for "Narcissus Drowned"! The sexy singer/songwriter takes London by storm, dancing his way through Soho. Catch him waking up and getting out of bed, dancin' in the streets, and enjoying friends in the club in the new video for the title song off the Narcissus Drowned album.

If you haven't made the Narcissus Drowned album a part of your collection, you can purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. For more about Angelo, check out his official website. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marshall Titus • Singles

Marshall Titus

I am not sure how I found the music of Marshall Titus. If I think back, I think I first saw a video on Nhojj's blog, back in March. Titus had released a cover of George Michael's "Father Figure". He delivered a sultry and sexy version that grabbed my attention. It wasn't until later that I discovered I had seen Marshall many years before, when he was a finalist on Star Search in 1985. But no matter when I first heard of Marshall Titus, I am a huge fan now, and I find my self compulsively listening to him. And it doesn't hurt to find out he is so damned handsome, either. So I thought I would give you all the chance to become just as addicted to him as I have been.

Marshall Titus - Falling Leaves cover

I thought I would start with "Falling Leaves", a beautiful song released in 2009. Lush and dreamy, the chorus is like a beautiful poem being delivered to perfection by Titus. It really just melts my heart.

You can find "Falling Leaves" on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.

Marshall Titus - I Will cover

I am just crazy about his 2010 release, "I Will". For me, it contains just the right amount of strength and faith to be a bit of an anthem, totally appropriate for the Pride celebrations happening across the country right now. Hell, I think I might adopt it as my own personal anthem, it just makes me feel so damn good.

You can find "I Will" on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.

Marshall Titus - Even If cover

The most recent released of this particular trio is "Even If", which was released last year. There is something so simple, and so very honest about this ballad. It starts stripped back, just a gorgeous voice over a piano. On the chorus, more instruments come into play, but they never overpower to delicate and sensitive vocals put out by Titus.

You can find "Even If" on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. You can purchase any one of these songs, but I would suggest you purchase all three, cause sooner or later, you will have them. Why waste the time? For more about Marshall Titus, visit his official website.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Notting Hill Soundtrack Pt 1

Notting Hill
Ronan Keating Lighthouse Family
The Reverend Al Green 98 Degrees
Clockwise: Notting Hill Soundtrack cover; Lighthouse Family; 98 Degrees; and Al Green; Ronan Keating.

I will admit that I think 'Notting Hill' is my favorite Julia Roberts movie, and in the top 5 of Hugh Grant's film, although 'Maurice' remains my favorite. I also thought the movie had a wonderful soundtrack, and I've been wanting to do a post forever. Once I stated putting this together, I figured out I needed to make two posts, so this is the first installment, and the second will be coming next week. But I will start with the song from the boyband which gave us Nick Lachey and his brother Drew (long before he won on 'Dancing With The Stars'), 98 Degrees. The Lachey boys were joined by Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons, two more cuties. The boys were together in the 1990s, making a few hits. "I Do (Cherish You)" was a hit in 1998, making it to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1999, it was in 'Notting Hill', adding sweetness to the soundtrack.

The next song had a rich and interesting history. It was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, and first recorded by Country star Keith Whitley, released late in 1988. The song took a few weeks, but finally sat atop the Billboard Country chart for two weeks. In 1994, bluegrass band Union Station recorded the song for a tribute album for Keith Whitley, who had passed less than a year after releasing the song. The following year, Alison Krauss rerecorded the song as her first solo single, following her time with Union Station. It was Krauss' first Billboard Top 10. Finally, in 1999, Boyzone was calling it quits, and Ronan Keating was looking for his first single as a solo artist. He was invited to be a part of the 'Notting Hill' soundtrack, and he jumped at the chance. He recorded "When You Say Nothing At All", and became the second artist to make it their solo debut, and the third to take the song on to the Billboard chart.

The next song in this post is another cover song. "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" was a huge hit in 1971 for the Bee Gees, who were worldwide Pop stars by this time. The song was credited to Barry and Robin Gibb, although in 2009, Maurice was added to the credits. In 1972, the great Al Green covered the song for his 'Let's Stay Together' album. The Reverend Al's version made it to the soundtrack to 1997's 'Good Will Hunting', 1999's 'The Virgin Suicides' as well as 'Notting Hill' and 2010's 'The Book of Eli'. In 2008, Green recorded it as a duet with Joss Stone for the soundtrack of 'Sex In The City'. But here is Al's solo version as it is heard in 'Notting Hill'.

To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with out next group, Lighthouse Family. The British duo was made up by singer Tunde Baiyewu and keyboardist Paul Tucker. From their debut album in the UK, Lighthouse Family were huge hits, both in England and across Europe. So they were asked to be a part of the of 'Notting Hill', so they recorded a cover of Bill Wither's iconic song, "Ain't No Sunshine".

Hope you enjoyed it, and will be back next week for the second part!

Tyrannasaurus Grace • You Should Be Ashamed

Tyrannasaurus Grace

I am forever getting requests to give a listen to music, and I can never tell how it will work out. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and other times that is hardly the case. Luckily for me, listening to Much More Than A Story was much more than a pleasant surprise. In fact, it was rather wonderful. The band was brought to my attention for their song, "You Should Feel Ashamed". So I clicked on the link, and gave it a listen. I immediately had to smile, for the joyous and bold guitars emanated a wonderful energy. And lyrically, well, it starts out in your face, a rock band stepping up to confront the issues of homophobia and inequality head on, and with volume turned up to eleven...

So I was curious to discover more about Tyrannosaurus Grace, aka TGrace. The band began when friends Justin Foss (lead guitar, keys) and Tim Held (vocals, guitar, keys) began writing songs together, via the internet. Once they discovered they not only liked working together, they were also making great music, they decided to find a space in the Pacific Northwest, and make something happen. They were joined by Dave Hoffman (drums), Lakyn Bury (vocals, guitar, keys), and Jeff Gerrer (bass), and Tyrannosaurus Grace was born.

Tyrannasaurus Grace

This is definitely a band full of rockers, but it is interesting to me how they draw on all kinds of rock. I definitely hear the influences of Punk and New Wave, as well as some of the strong altrock bands of the 1990s. The eleven-song album is bold and at times brash, with TGrace carving out a sound of their own. Starting with the ethereal instrumental "Overture", we hear them embracing Electronica as well as electric guitars. With "Trust Us", we understand TGrace has a voice and wants to be heard, both literally and figuratively. They are fearless in addressing issues both personal and political, from religion to marriage equality to lust to jealousy. One of my favorites off the album is "Crutch", a strong 7th track of loud introspection. I also really like the sultry nature of "Monster". Check out this clip of the band playing live, with Lakyn Bury on the vocals.

You can find Much More Than A Story on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. To learn more about TGrace, visit their official website, or check them out on Twitter or Facebook.

Tyrannasaurus Grace

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ladies of 1995

Everything But The Girl, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt Madonna
Annie Lennox TLC
Clockwise from top left: Everything But The Girl, Tracy Thorn and Ben Wyatt; Madonna; TLC, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins; and Annie Lennox.

Not exactly sure why, but I while I was thinking about a post for tonight, Tracey Thorn's voice came to my mind, and I decided to go with it. In 1995, Tracey was the lead singer for the group Everything But The Girl, playing with Ben Wyatt. In 1995, they had a huge hit with a remix of their 1994 single, "Missing". I loved the song, and how it managed to have that beat yet still maintain that haunted quality in her voice.

Now, since I was mentally hanging out in 1995, I thought it a great opportunity to visit another fantastic song by Madonna. There were plenty from which to choose, but I decided to go with "Take A Bow". I picked it because it occurred to me that both "Missing" and "Take A Bow" have been covered by Matt Alber, and that made me happy. So here is "Take A Bow", written by Madonna and Babyface, off the Bedtime Stories album.

Now if I am just randomly including some of my favorite artists, I couldn't do without the magnificent Annie Lennox. Annie had been going solo since 1990, making some incredible music in her post-Eurythmics career. That included her 1995 hit, "No More I Love Yous". That was her first single off Medusa, an album of cover songs, all originally performed by men. It was written by Joseph Hughes and David Freeman and was first released by their band, The Lover Speaks, in 1986. But it was Annie's version I remember best.

1995 was a time of CrazySexyCool, at least if you were a TLC fan. The album, released at the end of 1994, was a breakthrough for Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, starting with the first single "Creep". The song, written by Dallas Austen, zoomed up the charts, and paved the way for future hits to come, including the "Waterfalls".

Have a great Sunday night and enjoy your week!

Sunday Morning with Sam Harris

Sam Harris

I thought today we would spend the morning with Sam Harris, a man who leaped to fame after his appearance on the original Star Search program. He was the little guy from Oklahoma on the first season of the show, with the huge voice. When he owned the stage as he sung "Over The Rainbow", he also stole the hearts of many in the viewing audience. His career has included stage, television, and records, and still goes strong, adding directing and producing to his list of talents. In 2003, he recorded a sweet and subtle mash-up of the songs "The Voice" and John Lennon's "Imagine" that was used by many to solute the brave members of the armed forces.

Sometimes you can tell when a singer truly feels deeply about a song they are performing. You can see that is the case when Sam sings Paul Simon's anthem for the ages, "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

Sam has done his fair share of musical theater, in Regional theaters, national tours, and on Broadway. That includes Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a wonderful show, to be sure. Watch and listen to the stunning performance of the beautiful song, "Close Every Door To Me".

You can find more about Sam Harris on his official website. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He is also singing a song on the upcoming release from Tony-winner Levi Kreis, something I look forward to hearing. You can find him music on Amazon and iTunes.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vera, Nina, Kay, Linda & Diana Sing!

VeraLynn Jazz Nina Simone
Linda Ronstadt Kay Thompson Diana Krall
Clockwise from top: Vera Lynn; Nina Simone; Diana Krall; Kay Thompson; and Linda Ronstadt.

It is Saturday night, and time for another post devoted to those incredible ladies who make us feel every ounce of hurt, every pang of love, and the softness of a kiss. While being backed by a big band. A week or so ago, I made up a couple of playlists in my iTunes so I thought I would give the first five songs of the first one, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I lead off with the voice that many said saw the British through World War I and World War II, Vera Lynn. She sings a romantic British song written in 1939 with by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, that soon became a standard many of the greats were singing. Vera recorded "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" in 1940, and it is just so very beautiful.

I don't know if anyone can say enough about the gifted Nina Simone. Nina managed to make every song her own, with an unusual yet amazing arrangement. This is her singing the song "For All We Know", a 1934 song with music by J. Fred Coots and lyrics by Sam M. Lewis. This is Ms. Simone performing it in 1961.

I've already gushed on about Linda Ronstadt in earlier posts, but I can never seem to get enough of her. In the Mid-80s, when she was still making regular trips to the top of the Billboard charts, Ronstadt decided she wanted to record some of the great songs of the 1930s and 1940s, and have Nelson Riddle conduct the orchestra. She made three albums, and the second was Lush Life. That record included a stunning version of "Falling In Love Again", a song composed by Friedrich Hollaender as "Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fuß Auf Liebe Eingestellt" (literally: "Head to toe, I'm ready for love"). The song was originally performed in the film Der Blaue Engel (English translation: The Blue Angel) by Marlene Dietrich, who also recorded the most famous English version. However, here is the Ronstadt's "Falling In Love Again", released in 1984.

Kay Thompson was a woman of many talents, and one of those was her voice. While Thompson might be better known today as the writer of the Eloise book series for children, she was also the god-mother of Liza Minnelli (who many think was the inspiration for Eloise), and a singing and movie star in her own right. This is a clip of her singing "All Over Nothing At All" by Jack Jenney and His Orchestra featuring Kay on piano. The song was written by Peter Tinturin and Jack Lawrence, and featured in the 1937 film, Manhattan Merry-Go-Round.

I truly enjoy the music of Canadian chanteuse, Diana Krall. This contemporary torch singer can weave her spell with an ease and seductive nature just draws you in. I can't be the only one to think that, for she managed to hook Elvis Costello, her husband since 2003, and the father of their twin sons. Here is a recording of her singing "I Remember You", written by Victor Schertzinger and the great Johnny Mercer.

Have a great Saturday night!


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