"Froggie jumped all over the stage that day..."

Monday – 20 February 2012
It’s a new work week. Yay (or something to that effect).

I am, however, rather excited as the girls – for the second time in three days – slept through the night!

Vanessa (l), Sara, and Diana

That’s right, seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. (If only I didn’t have such disconcerting dreams last night…)

The rest of the weekend was good, as well. Saturday afternoon, I judged a tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. Saturday evening, I attended Utah Symphony‘s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto N0. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 with Melissa Sanders. It was a fantastic concert.

Sunday was a relaxing day, spent mostly at home. We did venture out for a bit to Black Water Coffee Company and Fashion Place Mall… where the girls went on a shopping spree. Seriously. They cleaned up. (Okay, okay… it helped that Carter’s was having a pretty big sale. Still…) Later in the day, we headed up to SaraRules!’ parents for dinner before heading home for little girls’ bedtime. And, we wound up the evening with The Walking Dead and with me playing a little Modern Warfare 3.

And today is Presidents Day.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
After taking the weekend off from blogging, let’s get back into the swing of things with an all-music selection of notables:

  • Questlove (also known as ?uestlove), is an American drummer, DJ, music journalist and record producer.

    Ahmir Khalib Thompson (January 20, 1971) Thompson was born in Philadelphia. His father was Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the Hearts, one of the great 50s doo-wop groups. Ahmir, who started drumming at the age of 2, often accompanied his parents on tour. By the age of 8, he was well-versed in life on the road, learning how to “cut gels, place mics, place lights. Then I became the sound guy and tech guy. One night the drummer didn’t make it, and then I was [my father’s] drummer.”

    Thompson’s first gig came at the age of 13, during a performance at Radio City Music Hall. “My parents didn’t trust babysitters back in the early 70s,” Thompson told Mother Jones magazine in 2011. “So I had to play bongos on stage with them ’cause ‘No stranger’s gonna watch my son in Muncie, Indiana!’” That same year, Thompson was named the musical director for his father’s group, and he became determined to establish his own career in music.

    Questlove’s parents then enrolled him at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. By the time he graduated, he had founded a band called The Square Roots (later dropping the word “square”) with his friend Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). After high school, Thompson was offered a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, but the young musician couldn’t afford the tuition. Instead, Thompson devoted himself to making his unique style of music. The Roots’ roster was soon completed, with Questlove on percussion, Tariq Trotter and Malik B on vocals, Josh Abrams (Rubber Band) on bass (who was replaced by Leonard Hubbard in 1994), and Scott Storch on keyboards.

    Questlove currently performs with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, occasionally performing solos titled ‘re-mixing the clips’ where he draws on his production and DJ abilities to dub video clips, cue audio samples in rhythm, and play drum breaks simultaneously.

    Thompson, not one to rest on the heels of his success, has also been involved in a dizzying array of side projects. He appeared as a drummer for the instrumental jazz album, The Philadelphia Experiment in 2001, and in 2002 he released the compilation ?uestlove Presents: Babies Making Babies. He has also served as an executive producer for artists such as D’Angelo and Common; has written film scores; and drummed for artists like Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple and Joss Stone.

  • Otis Redding (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout.

    Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia to gospel singer Otis Redding, Sr., and housekeeper Fannie Redding. At an early age, he sang in the Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar and piano. From the age of 10, he took drum and singing lessons. Later, at Ballard-Hudson High School, he sang in a school band. Every Sunday he earned $6 (USD) by performing songs for Macon radio station WIBB. His passion was singing and often cited Little Richard and Sam Cooke as major influences.

    At age fifteen, he abandoned school to help his family financially. His father had contracted tuberculosis and was often hospitalized, leaving his mother as the primary financial provider for the family, while Redding worked as a well digger, gas station attendant and guest musician in the following years. His breakthrough came when he played Little Richard’s “Heebie Jeebies”, winning a $5 contest fifteen weeks in a row, until being banned.Redding was soon hired by Little Richard’s band The Upsetters.

    Redding joined Johnny Jenkins’s Pinetoppers, a local Georgia band, and also served as the group’s driver. When the group traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to record at the famed Stax studios, Redding sang two songs of his own at the end of the session. One of the two, “These Arms of Mine” (1962), launched his career, attracting both a record label executive (Jim Stewart) and a manager (Phil Walden) who passionately believed in his talent.Redding’s open-throated singing became the measure of the decade’s great soul artists. Unabashedly emotional, he sang with overwhelming power and irresistible sincerity. “Otis wore his heart on his sleeve,” said Jerry Wexler, whose Atlantic label handled Stax’s distribution, thus bringing Redding to a national market. Redding’s influence extended beyond his gritty vocals. As a composer, especially with his frequent partner Steve Cropper, he introduced a new sort of rhythm-and-blues line—lean, clean, and steely strong. He arranged his songs as he wrote them, singing horn and rhythm parts to the musicians and, in general, sculpting his total sound. That sound, the Stax signature, would resonate for decades to come.

    Redding developed polyps on his larynx, which he tried to treat with tea and lemon or honey. He was hospitalized in September 1967 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to undergo surgery. In the winter of 1967, he again recorded at Stax. One new song was (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, written by Cropper and Redding. Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and tried to create a similar sound, against the label’s wishes, and his wife was dissatisfied with its atypical melody. Redding wanted to change his musical style to avoid boring his audience. The Stax crew were similarly dissatisfied; Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn thought its sound would damage Stax’s reputation. However, Redding thought it was the best song he ever wrote and would top the charts. Redding died just three days later, when his chartered plane crashed into Lake Monona, Wisconsin. Redding was entombed at his ranch in Round Oak, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Macon. Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy. Redding was survived by his wife and three children.

  • Tupac Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), was an American rapper and actor.

    Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed. His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s; he was born just one month after his mother’s acquittal on more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the New York Panther 21 court case.

    At the age of twelve, Shakur enrolled in Harlem’s 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, which was performed at the Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. As a teenager, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he took acting and dance classes, including ballet. While living in Baltimore, he discovered rap and began performing as MC New York.

    In June 1988, Shakur and his family moved to Marin City, California. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur’s, Strictly Dope; the concert led to him being signed with Atron Gregory who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital Underground in 1990.

    In 1991, Shakur emerged as a solo artist – using the name 2Pac – with his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. The track “Brenda’s Got a Baby” reached as high as number three on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. His second album Strictly 4 My N. I. G. G. A. Z. crossed over to the pop charts, with singles “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up.” The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies. Around this time, Shakur also appeared in several films, including Poetic Justice (1993) opposite Janet Jackson.

    Tupac became quite a sensation, earning praise for his musical and acting talent as well as condemnation for his explicit, violent lyrics. Many of his songs told of fights, gangs, and sex. He appeared to be living up to his aggressive gangster rap persona with several arrests for violent offenses in the 1990s. In 1994, he spent several days in jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes and was later convicted of sexual assault in another case.

    Shakur himself fell victim to violence, getting shot five times in the lobby of a recording studio during a mugging. On the night of November 30, 1994, the day before the verdict in his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan by two armed men in army fatigues. He would later accuse Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw after the shooting—of setting him up. According to the doctors at Bellevue Hospital, where he was admitted immediately following the incident, Shakur had received five bullet wounds; twice in the head, twice in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. He checked out of the hospital, against doctor’s orders, three hours after surgery. In the day that followed, Shakur entered the courthouse in a wheelchair and was found guilty of three counts of molestation, but innocent of six others, including sodomy. On February 6, 1995, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison on a sexual assault charge.

    After serving eight months in prison, Shakur returned to music with the album All Eyez on Me. He was reportedly released after Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight paid a bond of more than $1 million as part of Shakur’s parole. In his latest project, Shakur as the defiant street thug was back in full force on this recording. The song “California Love” featured a guest appearance by famed rapper-producer Dr. Dre and made a strong showing on the pop charts. Besides his hit album, he tackled several film roles.

    On a trip to Las Vegas to attend a boxing match, Shakur was shot while riding in a car driven by Knight on September 7, 1996. He died six days later on September 13 from his injuries. His killer has never been caught. Since his death, numerous albums of his work have been released, selling millions of copies.

  • Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years

    Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock; November 26, 1939) was born in Nutbush, Tennessee, the daughter of Zelma Bullock, a factory worker, and Floyd Richard Bullock, a Baptist deacon, farm overseer, and factory worker. Zelma Bullock later relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. Floyd Bullock moved to Detroit and later settled in California. Anna Mae and her sister relocated to Brownsville where they were raised by their grandmother.  She performed on several talent shows as a child and sang at her church choir. She later moved to St. Louis and, following her graduation from high school in 1958, took work as a nurse aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

    In between the time Anna Bullock had moved to St. Louis, she was enthralled by the city’s thriving nightclub scene and her sister often took her to several of the clubs, much to their mother’s chagrin. Anna was introduced to Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band after her sister took her to Club Manhattan where Alline served as a barmaid. Anna pursued Ike Turner for months asking him to let her sing with his band. When she was seventeen, she sang during a band intermission to a B. B. King song which impressed Turner. Eventually Turner allowed her to join the band as a background vocalist. Turner gave Bullock her first stage name, “Little Ann,” during this time and included her in his record, “Box Top”, which was a local hit in St. Louis.

    In November 1959, when a male vocalist failed to show up for a recording session, Anna was told to give a guide vocal to the song. Ike Turner then sent the song to New York where he met with Sue Records president Juggy Murray and played the song to him. Upon hearing it, Murray insisted Turner keep Anna’s vocals on the song, giving Turner a $25,000 advance, convinced the song would be a hit single. In response to this, Turner decided to form a duo around him and Bullock. In the process, he changed her stage name to “Tina Turner.” The two achieved considerable success as a rhythm-and-blues vocal duo and became known for their electrifying stage and television performances. However, after years of abuse, the marriage and professional partnership was officially dissolved in 1976.

    After a slow start, Turner’s solo career took off with a remake of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together in 1983. Her much anticipated solo album, Private Dancer, won four Grammy Awards and sold well over 20 million copies worldwide. Subsequent albums include Break Every Rule (1986), Tina Live in Europe (1988, Grammy for Female Rock Vocal Performance) and Foreign Affair, which included the hit single “(Simply) The Best.” In the 1990s, she released Wildest Dreams and Twenty Four Seven.Turner also launched an acting career, appearing in the films Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome starring Mel Gibson and The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has also made several recordings for soundtracks, including “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” “Goldeneye,” and “He Lives In You” for The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.

    In 1993, Turner’s best-selling 1986 autobiography I, Tina was made into the motion picture What’s Love Got to Do with It? starring Angela Bassett. Her soundtrack for the movie went double platinum in the U.S.

    Though she is now semi-retired, Turner does make rare appearances and recordings. She returned to the stage in 2008 to embark on her “Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour.” It became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008 and 2009.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.