*“It’s a series of projects,” said producer Atron Gregory about the “Sunrise” single release from his “The Solo Piano Group” (TNT Recordings) project. “It’s a collection of musicians I know. It’s Neo-Classical…a new-age style of music.”
Gregory explained that normally African-American musicians and artists are not mentioned when referring to this style genre, but according to Atron we are present. His goal is to highlight black musicians that play Neo-Classical and introduce the genre to a new audience. Known for helping to pioneer Hip-Hop music as manager and producer via his TNT Recordings and Management company, Atron Gregory help launch the careers of some of the most notable Hip-Hop artists and groups of our time, such as Tupac Shakur and MC Smooth, and one of the Jazz world’s pioneers – Stanley Clark.
“It’s to commemorate all the African-American pianists,” he said about why his label decided to embrace the Neo-Classical genre. “I didn’t believe it, that there were no (Neo-Classical) labels…independent…as part of our culture.”
Neo-Classical is any style of music influenced by classical music (Mozart and Beethoven). It’s about doing more with less. It’s shorter than classical selections with an emphasis on complex rhythms. It uses an array of tones that are not necessarily in harmony on acoustic instruments that provide an electronic sound, such as with synthesizers. Atron is familiar with all types of music which has included Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B and Gospel. So I guess you can say Neo-Classical is where Classical music and Jazz meets.
“The Solo Piano Group” album’s single releases are “Bedtime Lullaby” by pianist Derek McKinney on March 20, 2020; “Mellow Moods” by pianist Janice Maxine Reid on May 8th; “Sunrise” by pianist Glen Pearson on July 17th, and “Peace and Love” by pianist Michaela Overall on August 14th.
“I live in the Bay area. He (Glen Pearson) is my Bay area connection,” Atron said about Glen whose single was released at the time of my interview. “Bill Bell, head of music at the College of Alameda…spawn many entertainers and when it was time for him to retire, Glen decided he was tired of touring and took his place – he had a relationship with Professor Bell.”
Professor Bill Bell was known as The Jazz Professor and he helped mold many African-American musicians and artists into icons, such as Lou Rawls and The Supremes. Glen Pearson’s credits are just as impressive with a long history touring as pianist for the Count Basie Orchestra and scoring for the History Channel. He was the musical director of the Boys Choir of Harlem and pianist for Regina Belle, Melba Moore, Will Downing and Gerald Albright. His skills also landed him gigs on Broadway in shows that starred Gregory Hines, Arthur Miller and Patrick Stewart.
“My first introduction into music was as tour manager. Janice (Maxine Reid) was on the tour. She later became a teacher – Ledisi is one of her students. She teaches vocals and piano,” he pointed out. “‘The Solo Piano Group’ is me introducing our community to Neo-Classical new-age music. I want to introduce musicians to opportunities within that music genre, because it (the music) calms and sooths.”
Atron Gregory’s label TNT Recordings and Management was established in 1988. It played a major role in making the music of the Hip-Hop culture a well excepted genre and lifestyle; propelling artists to household-name status alongside Def Jam, Ruthless Records and Death Row Records. TNT Recordings and Management credits include the works of four-time Grammy nominated Tupac Shakur; 12-time Grammy nominated/three-time Grammy winner Jazz bass player Stanley Clark; two-time Grammy nominated Jazz pianist Rodney Franklin; American Music Award nominated N. W. A. (Niggaz With Attitudes) on Ruthless Records, noted as pioneers of Gangsta Rap which consisted of DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E and MC Ren; MTV Music Video Award and Grammy Award nominated Digital Underground which was formed by Shock G, Money B and Chop Master, and included – at one time or another – Kel Mitchell, Mack, Mystic, Saafir, DJ Fuze, and J Beats with Tupac acting as hype-man and background vocalist, and World Class Wreckin’ Cru, a group of aspiring DJs and MCs, formed by DJ Alonzo Williams (Eve After Dark night club owner) which also featured DJ Yella and Dr. Dre, with Michel’le as featured vocalists. TNT Management still handles Shock G of Digital Underground, Digital Underground, the catalog of Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and FGW Productions which provides content for Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount and Disney. All of these achievements are proof that Atron Gregory has the ability to make Neo-Classical an accepted genre by African-Americans and the African-American musicians of the genre household names in all communities starting with release of “The Solo Piano Group” project. www.TNT-Recordings.com
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, MS, MBA, MPhil has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENTS: “Uplifting Minds II” Entertainment Conference (ULMII), founded by Eunice in 1999, is into its 21st year. Next events are coming to Los Angeles Saturday, November 7, 2020 via Zoom Video Conferencing and to Baltimore Saturday April 17, 2021 at Security Square Mall. The ULMII event is a free conference offering an Entertainment Business Panel Q&A Session, a Talent Showcase and Talent Competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) where aspiring artists have a chance to receive over $15,000 valued in prizes/product/services. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com for more information or to RSVP for Zoom Access email [email protected]
‘Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life’ Exclusive Clip: Tamar Tries Some Tea to Get Snatched! [WATCH]
*We have an exclusive look at Thursday’s episode of Tamar Braxton’s ‘Get Ya Life!,’ a new WE tv docuseries that takes viewers on the singer’s journey to turn her life around.
This week, Tamar is caught in the middle of a disaster between her new boo and the path to relaunch her music career. Cameras roll while David fights to protect Tamar from witchcraft.
In the clip above,Tamar wants to lose weight with diet tea. Will the tea give her what she wants?
Watch “Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life” Thursdays at 9/8c.
Tamar Braxton is back! After nearly losing everything, including herself, Tamar is determined to turn her life around and take matters into her own hands by sharing her truth in a revealing new docu-series that follows her every move. Tamar teams up with music and TV mogul Mona Scott-Young to bare it all and bring her “baggage” – aka the camera crew — along with her for the ride. But nothing can prepare Tamar for the most epic journey of her life. In a series of shocking revelations and extreme breakthroughs, it’s the most authentic side of Tamar Braxton ever as she vows to show the good, the bad and the ugly. Cameras continue rolling during Tamar’s most vulnerable hours as she invites love back into her life with her new boo David, relaunches her music career, navigates co-parenting with ex-husband Vince Herbert, and battles the pressure to reconcile and reunite with her family. In the end, will Tamar be able to bounce back and turn her life around or will all of her demons defeat her? This is her last shot.
Show ‘Em How We Do It Now! Happy 78th B’Day to Herb Fame of Peaches & Herb [EUR Video Throwback]
*There were many Peaches in Peaches & Herb throughout the decades, but only one Herb. And today is his 78th birthday.
Born Herbert Feemster on Oct. 1, 1942, in the Anacostia section of Washington D.C. , Herb changed his last name to Fame and got his start in the music business after graduating from Roosevelt High School.
While working in a record store, he crossed paths with musician and record producer Van McCoy, who would go on to record the iconic disco staple “The Hustle” in 1975.
Van McCoy ended up signing Herb to Columbia subsidiary Date Records and paired him up with Francine “Peaches” Barker, who had been part of a trio on the label called The Sweet Things under her stage name Francine Day.
From McCoy’s recordings of Fame and Barker – now called Peaches & Herb – came the single, “We’re in This Thing Together,” which was a flop — until months later in December of 1966, when a St. Louis disc jockey played the single’s B-side, a revival of the 1934 hit “Let’s Fall in Love.”
“Let’s Fall in Love” became a hit, and was followed in the next two years by several albums and singles, including the hits “Close Your Eyes,” “Love Is Strange” and “For Your Love.”
Although their careers were taking off around their media image as the “Sweethearts of Soul,” Barker got tired of her years on the road and decided to retire from the duo. Enter singer Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins), who became the new “Peaches” on stage, while Barker’s vocals remained on all of the duo’s recordings for Date Records.
Herb ended the act in 1970 and took a hard left turn by enrolling in the D.C. police academy. He was a full time police officer until 1976, when he decided to jump back into the music business with a fresh new Peaches. His mentor McCoy suggested local D.C. talent Linda Greene, whose musical training took place at DC’s Sewell Music Conservatory. Fame met Greene and the two hit it off, becoming the most successful Peaches and Herb incarnation of the three to date.
Their first of seven albums together, “Peaches & Herb,” was produced by McCoy for MCA Records and generated the lone hit single, “We’re Still Together.”
Next, Peaches & Herb signed with MVP/Polydor and released the album “2 Hot,” which went gold. It’s first single, “Shake Your Groove Thing,” also went gold and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1979.
The follow-up single was the triple platinum, Grammy-nominated hit “Reunited.” With a wink to the 1960s Peaches & Herb hit “United” (originally recorded and made a hit by The Intruders), “Reunited” reached No. 1 on both the Hot 100, the Billboard R&B chart, and in Canada. It was nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy in 1980.
Subsequent albums with Polydor produced several more hits, including the wedding staple, “I Pledge My Love.”
After changing labels again to the Entertainment Company, Fame and Greene released their seventh and final album in 1983. Scoring only one minor hit, the duo decided to call it quits. Fame returned to law enforcement and joined the U.S. Marshals Service in 1986 as a deputized court security officer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Herb Fame recruited at least five more Peacheses in subsequent years, including the first non-black Peaches. He continues to tour and perform with the Peaches du jour…
But he never quite matched the success of his run with Peaches #3, Linda Greene.
‘Negative Exposure’: Film Flips the Script on Racism to Achieve Racial Reform / VIDEO
*For centuries, Black people in America have been subjected to systemic racism that has touched every sector of their lives. With ongoing displacement, exclusion, bias, segregation, and socioeconomic injustices, an overwhelming population of Black people find themselves woefully and wrongfully denied fair housing, a quality education, bountiful employment, affordable health care, and a fair justice system. For White people, it’s the opposite.
Yet, what if the tables were turned, which presented a reversal of Black and White roles in America? Imagine if Black people were the privileged sector of society and benefactors of golden opportunities in their lives. Suppose White people were transmuted to assume subservient roles that many Black people have struggled to shake since slavery.
In the recently released film, “Negative Exposure,” such reversals of Black and White roles come to fruition. The movie’s storyline follows Jayson Gresham (Taylor Katsanis), a young WHITE MAN trapped in the ghetto, where vicious cycles of poverty, hopelessness, racial profiling and police harassment have been a daily way of life for generations. Jayson’s longtime friend is Bones (Darrell Snedeger), a White hoodlum who controls everything that’s illegal in the hood, specifically the sale of drugs and gang activities.
Nevertheless, Jayson seeks a better life for his young daughter and himself. However, Blacks maintain a system of racism to keep Jayson and other ghetto-dwelling Whites suppressed. As a result, Jayson, through interactions with Bones, faces decisions and consequences that will alter his life in definitive ways.
The film was shot in Columbia, South Carolina – although it could have been shot in any American city, where impoverished communities and underserved populations fight for survival.
“The film’s concept has been brimming in me for about eight years,” said Bishop Eric Warren Davis, who is the film’s executive producer and stars as Pastor Kingsley, an elite Black clergy with ruling class privileges, who is ultimately faced with soul-searching decisions in the name of humanity. “After the Trayvon Martin deadly shooting, I found myself having discussions with interracial groups and saw the lack of empathy, even in rooms with multicultural pastors. That’s when the concept came to me to make a movie where there is a reversal of roles. I saw the film as a way to deliver a powerful message about racism.”
According to Davis, he created E.D. Legacy Films in Columbia, South Carolina. Last year, Davis and his film company partnered with writer/director/producer Tony Tite of Atlanta-based Global Star Media TV/Films. Tite wrote the movie script and served as the film’s director. The two men assembled a production crew out of Atlanta and an integrated cast of actors and actresses from Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The movie, said Davis, was shot in 21 days, wrapping up production in early March of 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the film from being shown in movie theaters, at the moment, “Negative Exposure” can be seen on Vimeo, an on-demand film/video hosting, sharing, and services platform. On Vimeo, the movie can be rented or purchased. However, Davis said talks are still on-going with national and international movie theaters to show the film.
“The feedback from the film has been very positive,” said Davis. “We expected some pushback because people are going to have their biases. Most people thought because the film was directed by a Black person that it was going to have an angry message. This movie has black and white points in it that had to be made but the ultimate message is loving one another and having empathy for one another. But there were some hard points made in the movie to get to those messages.”
Davis believes “Negative Exposure” is right for this moment in time, although racism has been around for centuries. And there are countless news stories of police brutality and other injustices against Black people at a rate too frequent to count. However, the tragic murders of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd represent only a few Black lives that have been lost to the rages of racial and inhumane hatred. What has followed these fatal encounters have been mass protests, coast to coast.
“The reasons why there are so many protests across the country and the world is that people are tired of systems based on stereotypical perceptions that are not in step with a changing world and generations,” said Davis. “The world is crying out for ‘justice and change.’ It’s no longer classism or racism as usual, there has to be a clearer picture, and in ‘Negative Exposure’ we offer the opportunity to look at where we need to be moving as a society.”
Based on the film’s potent message, the movie has garnered the attention of The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). With its 700 members, the organization represents more than 50 million Americans across the country. NBCSL has adopted the J.A.Y.S.O.N. (Just as Your Son) Resolution, which is based on a concept from the movie. During the upcoming NBCSL 44th Virtual Annual Legislative Conference in late November into December, the group will screen the movie as part of a central discussion. The organization is targeting more than 100,000 young people to watch the film.
“Negative Exposure” is seen as a call to action in an effort to expedite legislation to transform policing into a model that is equitable and safe for all communities, specifically those inhabited by people of color,” said Davis. “We want to take audiences out of the dark into the light and joining forces with NBCSL to strengthen political advocacy in local communities is one way to accomplish this goal. This film stands as a beacon for social and racial reform!”
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