Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 4-20-24

If you’re looking for a smooth soundtrack to unwind with, Luther Vandross has you covered. His smooth vocals and captivating stage presence made him a beloved and influential figure in R&B and soul music.

Early in his career, Vandross honed his skills not just as a singer, but as a songwriter and producer. He penned the uplifting “Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day” for the Broadway musical The Wiz, showcasing his talent for crafting memorable melodies. This period also saw him become a sought-after background vocalist, lending his voice to the recordings of icons like David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer, Todd Rundgren, Diana Ross, Ben E. King, Sister Sledge, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Judy Collins, the J. Geils Band, Irene Cara, and Bette Midler. Not only did Vandross sing on Bowie’s “Fascination,” but they wrote the song together. This experience further solidified Vandross’ own artistic vision, which he would soon unleash on the world.

Before embarking on his solo journey, Vandross dipped his toes into the world of lead vocals. He fronted the disco group Change, belting out their hit “The Glow of Love.” He also sang lead for Bionic Boogie on their track “Hot Butterfly,” and even fronted a short-lived band simply called Luther.

Quincy Jones’ “Takin’ It To the Streets,” featuring Vandross as a lead vocalist alongside Gwen Guthrie, demonstrated his ability to shine even before his solo breakout. Later in his career, Vandross would seamlessly slip back into the role of collaborator, creating magic on duets with artists like Janet Jackson (“The Best Things in Life Are Free”) and Dionne Warwick (“How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye”).

The 1980s marked Vandross’ rise to stardom as a solo artist. Tracks like “Never Too Much” and “Here and Now” became instant classics, showcasing his ability to blend vulnerability with pure soulful power.

Throughout his career, Vandross racked up accolades. He’s a Grammy Award winner with eight statues to his name, and countless other awards solidify his place as a musical giant. But beyond the trophies, his true impact lies in the way his music continues to connect with listeners. Whether it’s a slow dance ballad or a roof-raising anthem, Vandross’ music offers a timeless blend of emotion and artistry. So next time you hear that velvety voice, take a moment to appreciate the work of a true musical great, who not only delivered unforgettable solo performances but also left his mark through songwriting, production, and collaborations across genres. Today’s playlist isn’t just a collection of Luther Vandross’ greatest hits – it’s a mix of some of those tracks alongside other gems that reveal the breadth of Vandross’ musical contributions. Prepare to be surprised at where he turns up. For example, those unforgettable “ba ba”s that open Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover?” That’s Luther!

Follow Tunes Du Jour on Facebook

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram

Tunes Du Jour Presents Quincy Jones

Quincy Delight Jones Jr., affectionately known as “Q,” is a name that resonates across the vast landscape of music. Born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, Quincy Jones has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. His multifaceted career spans seven decades, and his contributions to music, film, and humanitarian causes are nothing short of legendary. Let’s delve into the life of this remarkable artist, exploring both his creative genius and his unwavering commitment to making the world a better place.

Quincy Jones’s musical journey began with the trumpet, but it soon expanded to embrace a universe of genres. From jazz to pop, from film scores to chart-topping hits, Jones’s versatility knows no bounds. He cut his teeth working with luminaries like Ray Charles and Dizzy Gillespie, honing his skills as an arranger and composer. His compositions, such as “Stockholm Sweetnin’” and “For Lena and Lennie,” showcased his innate ability to blend sophistication with soulful melodies.

However, it’s impossible to discuss Quincy Jones without mentioning his groundbreaking collaborations with Michael Jackson. As the producer of Jackson’s iconic albums—Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad—Jones elevated pop music to new heights. The pulsating basslines of “Billie Jean,” the electrifying energy of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and the haunting introspection of “Man in the Mirror” all bear his unmistakable imprint. And let’s not forget the global anthem “We Are the World,” which Jones orchestrated to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia—a testament to his unwavering commitment to humanity.

Beyond the studio, Quincy Jones’s heart beats for social causes. In the 1970s, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Martin Luther King Jr. as a founding member of Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH. His belief in the transformative power of music led him to create the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation. Through this nonprofit, he connects underserved youth with technology and music education. From South Central Los Angeles to South Africa, Jones’s foundation builds bridges, providing instruments and broadening music curricula to include American jazz greats alongside European classics.

But his philanthropic endeavors extend beyond borders. In partnership with Emirati social entrepreneur Badr Jafar, Jones launched the Global Gumbo Group. Their charity single “Tomorrow/Bokra,” featuring Middle Eastern singers, raised funds for children’s charities. This No. 1 hit in the Middle East garnered over 7 million views on YouTube, proving that music can heal and uplift even in the most challenging times.

And let’s not forget Hurricane Katrina. Jones stepped in to save the homes and properties of elderly jazz musicians affected by the devastating storm. His magic touch—what some call the “Quincy dust”—transforms lives, one act of kindness at a time.

Quincy Jones, now in his 90s, remains an unstoppable force. Whether he’s conducting an orchestra, mentoring young artists, or advocating for social justice, his legacy reverberates across generations. As we listen to the soulful strains of “Soul Bossa Nova” or groove to “Razzamatazz,” let’s remember that behind every note lies a man who believes in the power of love, music, and compassion. Quincy Jones—the maestro, the philanthropist, and the eternal groove-maker—continues to inspire us all.

Q produced all of the recordings on today’s playlist except the ones performed by Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Big Maybelle; on those he’s credited as the arranger.

Follow Tunes Du Jour on Facebook

Follow Tunes Du Jour on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-2-24

The Honey Cone was the first act signed to Hot Wax Records, a label started in 1968 by Eddie and Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, who previously were staff writers and producers at Motown Records and in that role wrote twelve number one singles between 1962 and 1967, two performed by The Four Tops and the other ten by The Supremes, with lead vocals by Diana Ross, who would soon leave the trio and be replaced by Jean Terrell in 1970, with Terrell being replaced in 1973 by Scherrie Payne, who before then was the singer in a group called Glass House, also signed to Hot Wax Records, who recorded “Want Ads” prior to The Honey Cone, but neither Scherrie nor the track’s producer, Greg Perry, liked their version, leading Scherrie to re-record the song with her sister Freda, who had a number 3 record in 1970 with “Band of Gold,” a song co-penned by Holland-Dozier-Holland under assumed names, but the sisters’ version of “Want Ads” was also discarded, which then led Scherrie to suggest to Perry that he try the song again with Edna Wright singing, Wright being the lead singer for The Honey Cone and the sister of Darlene Wright, the singer for the group The Blossoms, and while you may not recognize the names Darlene Wright or The Blossoms, you may know their music, for producer Phil Spector renamed Darlene Wright Darlene Love (without her knowledge) and released records by The Blossoms under the name The Crystals, who hit number 1 with “He’s a Rebel,” and should not be but will be confused with another group called The Crystals, also produced by Phil Spector at the same time he was working with Wright/Love and The Blossoms, but let’s get back to Edna Wright, who recorded “Want Ads” with backing vocals by the other two members of The Honey Cone, Shellie Clark, who a couple of years earlier was singing backup for Ike and Tina Turner, and Carolyn Willis, who toured as a member of Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, a group whose records were produced by Phil Spector and featured vocals from Darlene Wright/Love. In June of 1971 The Honey Cone took “Want Ads” to number 1. (This paragraph is pulled from my long-awaited (by me, anyway) book, which I’m trying to get out this year.) 

The late Edna Wright of The Honey Cone was born on this date in 1945. A couple of the group’s best-known songs, including “Want Ads,” are on today’s playlist.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 1-31-24

The first artist fan club I ever joined was that of KC and the Sunshine Band. I received a membership card and a Christmas card from the band when that holiday I don’t celebrate came around. I don’t think there was more to it. I joined Olivia Newton-John’s fan club a year or two later, and received a membership card and a folio filled with photos of Livvy pressed on cardboard of various sizes. Years later I joined the R.E.M. and Pearl Jam fan clubs, which came with 45 rpm records and stickers and a calendar and a VHS tape and some other fun stuff. 

Are any of y’alls in an artist’s fan club? Is it worth the price of entry? 

KC was born Harry Wayne Casey on this date in 1951. A handful of his group’s songs are included on today’s playlist. Also included is his first number one single – as a songwriter with fellow Sunshine Band member Rick Finch on George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby.”

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 12-19-23

One of the very things I ordered from the Columbia House Record and tape Club when I signed up back in 1975 was the Earth, Wind & Fire album That’s The Way Of The World, which includes their breakthrough hit “Shining Star.” Loved it then, love it now. 

The late Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire was born on this date in 1941. Lots of EWF on today’s playlist.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram