Monthly Archives: July 2016

6 Reasons why Motown is its Own Genre

After 57 years of Active Progress alongside Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Hip-Hop while witnessing the brutal demise of Disco, Grunge, R&B and various forms of New Wave; and even with a 10 year gap from the label’s last major release (Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & RelationshipIndia.Arie /2006), Motown may not be the Musical Institutional it once was, but it certainly remains a stellar, marketable genre most often spoken of in a category all its own.

Having digested Berry’s Official Autobiography, To Be Loved numerous times, as well as the countless other books and documentaries on The Man, The Music and The Incredible Artists, there are at least Six Invaluable Lessons EntreMusicians can Learn and Build Upon.

1) Excellent Songs. Berry, Smokey, Members of “The Corporation” and subsequent Composer/Producers placed The Song as their Number One Priority. Nothing Else Mattered. Before they Considered 10 Weeks at #1 on the Pop Charts, the Song’s Lyrics, Rhythm & Raw Emotion had to be TIMELESS…which is why Ooh, Baby Baby  will still Break Any Woman Down to This Day!

2) Flexibility. The Next Step in Targeting Timeless Material is the Ability to Flex it to Any Artist who Flips it as a Hit Again & Again. Because Motown Boasted a Roster of Excellent Artistry, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Marvin Gaye all reaped gold from Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield’s powerhouse “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Not to mention everyone else from Creedance to Roger Troutman!)

3) Intense Training.Motown developed their Artists through rigorous physical & psychological training, to the Chagrin of Some and the Delight of Others. It Was School! Those who survived the process are Icons (deceased or alive). Each were Groomed, Choreographed & Positioned for Superstardom. This Acute Attention to Detail is what propelled Diana Ross & The Supremes from the Commodes of the Chitlin’ Circuit to Swanky, Glistening Upscale Showrooms.

4) The Importance of Systems. As above, The Motown Sound was a Calculated System, often utilizing the Same Musicians, Arrangers & Producers. While Other Studios and Labels of the era also employed the same model, Motown’s Approach & Techniques were culled from Gordy’s experiences at The Ford Motor Company where every worker did his/her job the same exact way, each and every time, growing more efficient & effective with each new release, thus earning Motown the well deserved moniker, “The Hit Factory.”

5) Interdepartmental Competition. Often, the Motivation that kept Motown pumping on all cylinders was not in besting outside rivals, but the internal battles that all the songwriters welcomed and championed. Let Stevie go up against The Temptations, or Edwin Starr‘s new tune arm wrestle The Marvelettes groove. They threw all the records on the table and Only the Best Song hit The Street. This kept ALL of the Artists sharp, engaged and at their best.

6) Ownership. As the Unfolding History on this National Treasure revealed, as long as ownership remained in the hands of the Original Visionary, Motown could do no wrong. But once outside investors began to chip away at the corporate shares, the Magic weakened and once the company sold, even ace architect, Smokey Robinson left the label. However, Gordy’s genius in Maintaining Majority Ownership and Control of the Publishing is exactly what Solidifies Motown’s Position as it’s Own Musical Identity, Now & Forever.

Let’s Go and Do Likewise!

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More Than A Song…

…Contemplation in Continuous Motion, Random Thoughts Captured & Carefully Expressed. Your Promise, My Plea, The Notion of Hope, Surrender. An Anthem, A Battle Cry, Desperation, Inspiration, Seduction.

A Sunny Day, Rainy Nights, Science Fiction, Alone on an Island, Prophecy, Reflection, Praise, Unbridled Anger, Reconciliation, Celebration, Pain, The Moment Dusk Meets Dawn. Birth. Inevitable Transition.

Fusion, Soul, Blues, Worship, Life. Reality, Fantasy, Ecstasy, Logic, Truth, One Trillion Lies, Introspection, Perspective, Opinion, Insanity, Trust. Jazz, Ska, Emo, World, Hip Hop, Country, Opera, Funk & Rock.

Forgiveness, Joy, Clarity, Insight, Power, Barely Hanging On. Adventure, Declaration, Soaring Curiosity, Exposure, Light, Air, Entrapment.

Probing Probabilities, Imagination on Parade, Selfishness, Generosity.

Purist Love wrapped in Harmony, caressed by Rhythm, whistling a haunting Melody…

…Have I Missed Anything?

I was listening to John Klemmer’s “Lifestyle” on Vinyl while musing through this post.

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Your Song, Your Story, Your Voice

In Today’s Tumultuous Climate, with Raging Debates driving Social Media & Talk Shows and the Extraordinarily Divisive Atmosphere pervading even the smallest towns in these so called United States, it’s often easy to Ignore the Anointing available to EntreMusicians and Creatives to turn the tide.

The Inherent Power we Possess in Pointing Others toward Peace, Honor, Dignity, Unity and dare I say, the Promise of True Brotherly & Sisterly Love Does Indeed Exists, If We’d All only take a moment to Step Back, Breathe, Think, Pray & Righteously Engage.

As EntreMusicians & Artists, it’s Not Enough to Document the Current Reality, but to Prophecy of the Possibilities we all have access to as Citizens of Planet Earth.

Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Shirley Verrett, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Joan Dresner Bernstein, Gloria Larry House, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder (whose lyrics from “As” were recently recited by Dallas Police Chief David Brown during the Memorial for the Fallen Officers) and countless others uniquely utilized their Art to Soar over Sadder Times, creating a Soundtrack of Resilience, Hope, Salt & Light to Keep Us both Grounded and Looking Up.

So what about You?

How will You employ Your Song, Your Story, Your Voice and even Your Life to Shine as a Beacon in such a tremendously dark time in our country?

Lift It Up! Let It Shine! Sing It Loud! Say It Proud and Show Us The Way!

Here is a song I Wrote with the Dynamic Lyricist & Singer, Marlon Saunders, entitled “Just Think,” produced in a more peaceful period, but relevant for Today & Tomorrow.

 

I was listening to Jeff Lorber’s “It’s Fact” on vinyl while composing this blog!

 

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POWERLESS??

SPOTIFY AND APPLE ARE AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS…, Apple in Talks to Acquire Jay Z’s Tidal“…, YOUTUBE’S DOMINANCE TAKES A BEATING“…, & The Music Industry Just Lost a Big Fight with the Government Over Royalties” are just a few recent Headlines glaring in the faces of EntreMusicians. And the New News is Spotify Tops 35m Subscribers which continues to support the David & Goliath mock-up we’ve been fed for decades.

Sure, there are Certain Things that Intimidate Us, Most of Us are NOT Millionaires.

But Are We Powerless?  Or Do We Merely Think We Are? Who Convinced Us of This?

Are we Really in No Position to Change this Music Game and Reroute Our Artistry Directly to Our Individual Friendbase while Bypassing The Current System?

Is the notion of An Independent Streaming Model Available to Each EntreMusician Intelligent Enough to Create Continual Content too Difficult to Imagine?

If a $1.99 / $2.99 Exclusive Access Tier from Our Own Individual Channels were Created & Maintained, a Far Fairer Form of Compensation, and perhaps Appreciation, of our Art would be Enjoyed. Obviously, We’d Bear Sole Responsibility for Building & Nurturing our Tribe, but the Truth is We Do This Now while Reaping No Advantages

These Are the Questions I Continue to Ask, Conversations I Constantly Engage and the Plan I AM Currently Implementing.

In Numbers 13 (OT), Moses sends out 12 Spies to Investigate the land The Lord had appointed for them To Conquer. Forty Days Later, 10 of them returned with a Thoroughly Wimpy & Faithless Answer – even confessing that they felt as small as grasshoppers amidst the citizens there and must have looked the same way to them! 

If You’d keep reading, You’d find that the other two spies, Joshua & Caleb Radically Disagreed with the 10 punks and Courageously Inspired the People to Take The Land!

Now You Can Guess Who The Lord (who is a Staunch Rewarder of Faith) Was Ultimately Pleased With…

So, Are You a Joshua or a Caleb?

Or Are YOU Powerless?

 

While I wasn’t listening to any music while composing this blog, Earlier I was digging on Ahmad Jamal’s “Blue Moon

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