WBEZ | soul music http://www.wbez.org/tags/soul-music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Syl Johnson documentary seeks crowdfunding http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/syl-johnson-documentary-seeks-crowdfunding-107996 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SylJohnson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="348" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/69980678?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Syl Johnson is finally being recognized as one of Chicago music&rsquo;s living legends. Now a documentary film looks to solidify that status and convey the essence of the ever-youthful 77-year-old soul singer. But the crew needs some help to finish the project.</p><p><em>Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows</em> is already a four-year old project of director Rob Hatch-Miller and producers Puloma Basu and Michael Slaboch. The trio has funded production themselves so far, but Tuesday they <a href="http://kck.st/1716dhq" target="_blank">launched a Kickstarter</a>. Alongside a compelling trailer for the film, the Kickstarter project looks to raise $40,000 by August 8th.</p><p dir="ltr">The Kickstarter pitch states that telling Johnson&rsquo;s story is important because it &ldquo;creates a unique opportunity for people to consider the history of racial politics in America, the complexities of the music business, and issues of creative ownership and compensation.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">There was a time not too long ago that Johnson&rsquo;s legacy -- including his hits from the &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s -- could have been forgotten. As Sound Opinions&rsquo; Greg Kot said via email:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In the &#39;60s, Syl Johnson was a multi-threat singer-songwriter-musician-producer who helped shape Chicago soul, and crafted at least one classic album, &quot;Is it Because I&#39;m Black?&quot; In the &#39;70s he scored hits recording with Willie Mitchell in Memphis. But real recognition would not come until decades later when his visionary work was sampled by countless artists. He was ahead of his time.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Unfortunately Johnson&rsquo;s recording contracts were very much of their time, especially for African-American artists. That meant even though he scored 19 chart singles, he saw only a small fraction of the profits.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s somebody who sort of made his own comeback,&rdquo; said <em>Any Way The Wind Blows</em> director Rob Hatch-Miller. &ldquo;He found out that hip-hop artists were using his music and he went after money for it, and used that money to win the rights to his own catalog. Now he has his own masters and he&rsquo;s made a lot of money in a tough business.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Owning the master recordings of his catalog made it possible for Chicago label Numero Group to issue a definitive box set in 2010 called <em>Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Just before the box set&rsquo;s release, the label scheduled a tour with Johnson headlining. Numero Group associate Michael Slaboch was managing the tour.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Numero was doing their Eccentric Soul Revue tour and before they came to New York, Michael asked if I wanted to come out and film some stuff for them to put on the web,&rdquo; Hatch-Miller said. &ldquo;I filmed the interview Syl Johnson did at WFMU with DJ Trouble and I just really liked him as a character right away.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hatch-Miller, who is also a DJ at WFMU, noticed in the interview that Johnson kept mentioning he wanted to write a book about his life. &ldquo;At the end of the interview I told him that I make documentaries and was looking for a story and would totally be interested in doing a film about you. He was open to it, so we kept in communication. It was a very organic process.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Since then the crew has filmed more than 50 hours of interviews and live performances. They even accompanied Johnson to Los Angeles when <em>Complete Mythology</em> was nominated for a Grammy.</p><p dir="ltr">Finding traditional film funding has proven difficult. This is despite music documentary <em>Searching For Sugarman</em> winning the Best Documentary Oscar last year and the <a href="http://www.bigstarstory.com/" target="_blank">Big Star film</a> Hatch-Miller worked on making <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/07/big-stars-big-documentary.html?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=pulsenews&amp;mobify=0" target="_blank">a splash</a> in recent weeks.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been trying to raise money for this film really hardcore for the last year or so and haven&rsquo;t had a lot of success. I&rsquo;m a first time feature-filmmaker and frankly there&rsquo;s not a lot of money out there for films about the arts,&rdquo; Hatch-Miller said.</p><p dir="ltr">Hatch-Miller may be unproven as a feature director, but he and spouse Puloma Basu have made <a href="http://www.productioncompanyproductions.com/" target="_blank">a long string of music videos</a> with director Tom Scharpling, also a WFMU DJ. Their shot-for-shot remake of the &ldquo;Voices Carry&rdquo; video for Aimee Mann was hailed by many as the best music video of 2012 (after &ldquo;Gangnam Style,&rdquo; of course).</p><p dir="ltr">Hatch-Miller&rsquo;s experience with WFMU&rsquo;s idiosyncratic pledge drives comes through in the gifts offered to supporters of the Kickstarter. &ldquo;We want to give people more than an incentive to support a good project, we want to have cool stuff that people are actually gonna want to have.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Those incentives include a Sly Johnson tote-bag designed by <em>Project Runway</em> contestant Joseph Aaron Segal, music festival passes and packs of rare vinyl.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One of the things we desperately need money for is archival research,&rdquo; Hatch-Miller said. &ldquo;[Johnson] was on <em>Soul Train</em> a bunch of times when it was a local show and apparently there aren&rsquo;t any archives of that stuff. There must be some collectors out there who have it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">They also need to travel to Memphis to delve into the &lsquo;70s era of Syl&rsquo;s career, when he worked with Willie Mitchell and Hi Records.</p><p dir="ltr">Then there&rsquo;s the hip-hop interviews.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We really want to have Rza in the film, but scheduling is really tough. When something like that gets scheduled, we have to be able to go where he is with a film crew,&rdquo; Hatch-Miller explained.</p><p dir="ltr">Hatch-Miller wants to tour Johnson to film festivals with the final product too.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We want to finish this film now while he&rsquo;s around,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We want people to know about him.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hatch-Miller points to Rodriguez&rsquo;s recent sold-out tours following the success of <em>Searching For Sugarman</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;I love Rodriguez, but he only did two good albums,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Syl Johnson did two good records in Chicago before he even became famous. I&rsquo;ve seen Rodriguez and I&rsquo;ve seen Syl Johnson. Syl Johnson is to James Brown or Al Green as Rodriguez is to Bob Dylan. And to me, Syl is closer to James Brown than Rodriguez is to Dylan.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/syl-johnson-documentary-seeks-crowdfunding-107996 JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound deliver some 21st century soul http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-26/jc-brooks-and-uptown-sound-deliver-some-21st-century-soul-93493 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-26/pic-jc brooks 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local band <a href="http://jcbrooksandtheuptownsound.com/" target="_blank">JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound</a> has been making its mark around the world lately. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke with band members about their sound and how soul and other forms of music inspire them. The band visited WBEZ's Jim and Kay Mabie Performance Studio recently to perform songs from their new record, <span style="font-style: italic;">Want More<em>. </em> </span> They kicked things off with their song, "Everything Will Be Fine." Below are a couple more songs from JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><br> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/31142601?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/31142601">J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound perform "Everything Will Be Fine" live for WBEZ's <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a></p><p><strong>"Awake"</strong><br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483807-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/JC Brooks - Awake.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p><br> <strong>"Touch Your Heart"</strong></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483807-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/JC Brooks - Touch Your Heart.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></p> Wed, 26 Oct 2011 13:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-26/jc-brooks-and-uptown-sound-deliver-some-21st-century-soul-93493 Ain't that good news? Singer Sam Cooke gets street renamed in his honor http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-17/aint-good-news-singer-sam-cooke-gets-street-renamed-his-honor-87997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/Cooke_in_studio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/E6kzP5dHuZI" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Watch the above clip of Sam Cooke singing his 1957 hit <em>You Send Me </em>on <em>American Bandstand</em>.</p><p>He's cool. Confident. Assured. "A lil' bit sexy," a female friend emailed me when I sent her this clip. And most certainly a star on the rise.</p><p>Cooke was shot to death in an Los Angeles motel at the height of his fame in 1964 under circumstances that still baffle. But his music continues to resonate nearly a half century later.</p><p>Cat Stevens, Luther Vandross, The Pretenders and countless others have remade or referenced Cooke songs over the past 40 years. Cooke songs have turned up in 20 different movies and television shows over the past two decades, according to Internet Movie Database.</p><p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl3lx3xfhtI&amp;playnext=1&amp;list=PL5817EAAA7F8F32F9"><em>Twisting the Night Away</em></a> was featured in that awful <em>Green Hornet</em> movie earlier this year. They played <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v09Rc2AAQPs"><em>Shake</em></a> in an episode of HBO's<em> The Wire</em>. And I still get the chills when Cooke's <em>A Change is Gonna Come</em> is played in a pivotal scene toward the end of <em>Malcolm X</em>. (It begins at 2:34 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M23exYfGBl8">in this clip</a>.)</p><p>Sam Cooke's latest honor comes Saturday at 2pm when a stretch of 36th Street in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood will be renamed <em>Sam Cooke Way</em>, marking the place where the late, great soul singer spent his formative years. The renamed section begins at Cottage Grove and runs east, passing the site at 36th and Ellis where Cooke's boyhood home once stood.</p><p>Cooke's great-nephew Erik Greene spent four years advocating for the honorary street renaming. Greene is also the writer of a Cooke biography called <em><a href="http://www.ourunclesam.com/">Our Uncle Sam</a></em>. I asked him a few questions about Cooke and his legacy.</p><p>Q: Why is this honorary street important?</p><p><strong>A: I was born and raised in <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_2">Chicago</span> but never had an appreciation for the rich&nbsp;musical history of Bronzeville until I researched its history for what would eventually become&nbsp;<em><u>Our <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_3" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Uncle Sam.</span></u></em> It was then I learned Bronzeville was home to not just Sam, but&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_4">Nat King Cole</span>, <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_5" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Dinah Washington</span>, <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_6">Lou Rawls</span>, and a host of&nbsp;other musical greats. Sam had already been recognized on the Bronzeville <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_7" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Walk of Fame</span>, but&nbsp;his exclusion on a 35th and State Street mural commemorating famous Bronzeville residents&nbsp;gave&nbsp;me the impetus to&nbsp;make&nbsp;his street naming--a more permanent&nbsp;form of recognition--a reality.</strong></p><p>Q: His music is still appreciated, isn't it? Even my teenage daughters and a couple of their friends are fans.</p><p><strong>A: Good music is eternal and has the ability to transcend all age barriers. Sam adopted a simple, straight-forward songwriting&nbsp;style, and he wrote songs the common man could relate to.&nbsp;As a result, his music is timeless--easily appreciated and&nbsp;understood&nbsp;by all ages and&nbsp;generations. This type of pure simplicity is a long-lost art form.</strong></p><p>Q: What will tomorrow's street-renaming ceremony look like?</p><p><strong>A:<em> </em>Sam's street naming ceremony&nbsp;will consist of recognizing Sam's legacy and the importance of this particular street by&nbsp;myself, my cousin Eugene Jamison who will speak on behalf of the Cook&nbsp;family, Bronzeville political representatives, and&nbsp;Gregg Parker, CEO of the<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/entertainment&amp;id=7683801"> Chicago Blues Museum</a>. I formally met Gregg after the street naming had been approved&nbsp;by the&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_8" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Chicago City Council</span>, and his musical&nbsp;interest in&nbsp;Sam and the Bronzeville&nbsp;neighborhood fueled the event to its current prominence.&nbsp;A City of Chicago proclamation will be read, and local&nbsp;celebrities may be on the program as well.</strong></p><p>Q: One last question. For decades there has been talk of a Sam Cooke movie. If one were made, who'd play Sam?</p><p><strong>A:</strong> <strong>Ever since Sam's death, talk of a movie based on his life has heated up&nbsp;on several occasions only to fizzle out and go nowhere, and&nbsp;"Who&nbsp;should play <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_9" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Sam Cooke</span>?" is&nbsp;an age-old question that's been&nbsp;kicked around by&nbsp;Sam Cooke fans&nbsp;for generations.&nbsp;In the early 70s, talk of <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_10">Marvin&nbsp;Gaye</span>&nbsp;portraying Sam was squashed when&nbsp;Gaye declared himself not worthy of the honor.&nbsp;Actors from <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_11" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Blair Underwood</span> to <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_12" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Denzel Washington</span> to <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_13">Will Smith</span> have been discussed more recently, but because Sam died at&nbsp;33,&nbsp;these actors have invariably grown too old.&nbsp;Having been fooled by the several false-starts over the years, I've stopped speculating as to who could play Sam on the silver screen, but still smile at some of the suggestions.</strong></p><p>And before we go, dig this: Sam Cooke singing Bob Dylan's <em>Blowing in the Wind.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PBDdLgBO0Nw" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 13:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-17/aint-good-news-singer-sam-cooke-gets-street-renamed-his-honor-87997 DJ Series: John Ciba of East of Edens Soul Express swings by to spin some soul http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-series-john-ciba-east-edens-soul-express-swings-spin-some-soul <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Picture 019.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Soul is back on the music scene in a big way. But for more than five years, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.myspace.com/eastofedenssoulexpress">East of Edens Soul Express</a> have been the go-to DJs for soul jams. The DJ duo has played to all kinds of crowds in all kinds of venues - from indie rockers at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.hideoutchicago.com/">Hideout</a> to potential donors at a fundraiser for our groove master-in-chief, President Barack Obama.</p><p>&quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; hosted a taste of their style all hour long thanks to one half of the Soul Express duo - John Ciba. <br /><br />And John's part of some events this weekend. Saturday, Chicago&rsquo;s <a target="_blank" href="http://www.logan-hardware.com/">Logan-Hardware</a> will re-open as a record store and more. Guest gamer <a target="_blank" href="http://www.stevewiebe.com/">Steve Wiebe</a>, star of the acclaimed documentary, &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0923752/">The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters</a>,&quot; will be there too.</p><p>East of Edens Soul Express will begin a new monthly residency, &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.mpshows.com/?venue_id=63">Gettin&rsquo; Gritty in the City</a>,&quot; at Panchos in Logan Square.</p><p>By the way WBEZ is hosting its own DJ, spoken word, and hip hop extravaganza this weekend. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wbez.org/event/2011-01-15/winter-block-party">The annual Winter Block Party</a> takes place Saturday.</p><p><strong>DJ&nbsp;John Ciba from East of Edens Soul Express spins a mini-set:</strong><br />Reggie Milner, &quot;Soul Machine&quot;<br />Ralph &quot;Soul&quot; Jackson, Vehicle&quot;<br />Joanne Murray, &quot;You Made Your Bed&quot;<br />J. Hines and Fellows, &quot;Victory Strut&quot;<br />Joe Chopper, &quot;Soul Pusher&quot;<br />Johnny Ross, &quot;Chi-ca-go&quot;<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 14 Jan 2011 15:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-series-john-ciba-east-edens-soul-express-swings-spin-some-soul