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Kirsten Nash Interview

kirsten nash thumbnailKirsten Nash is best known as one of North America’s premiere saxophonists, singers and songwriters and yet our conversation on this day started with a place in Ms. Nash’s career that many people may not be aware of, her gift for creating outstanding musicals. She has two in her hip pocket, both of which have been produced and both of which should be picked up by major theatrical companies looking for something fresh and exciting and which will deeply move their patrons.

My first rock opera was Alice in Modernland and that was workshopped in 1997 -98 in New York.  The premiere of the play was in San Diego in 1999. We did it with Maxwell Enterprises who did Damn Yankees and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Alice in Modernland was a take on the old classic and it was about the human journey. It was a sixteen year old’s view on life and about leaving home young. It is about a journey of this gal who wanted to make it in the business. It did very well and it is a good play. Eric Nederlander (of the well-known theatrical family) wanted to do it on Broadway in October of 2008 and my manager and I had a meeting with him in New York. Eric said, ‘We are going to do it,’ that he was going to get married and they were going to fly to Italy and then they would be back.  ‘Give me a couple of weeks after we get back and we will clear out one of our theaters.’  I was ecstatic and I was like yeah! I was getting groceries one day and I was thinking, he must be getting back pretty soon and he was back. On the front of People Magazine was a picture of him and he was about to sue Jerry Seinfeld for alienation of affection, because Eric Nederlander’s wife, Read More

Maurice Williams Interview

Maurice Williams thumbnailMusic historians, fans of the Doo Wop era and the period in which R&B and Beach Music began to emerge, do not need an introduction to the music of Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, for songs such as “Little Darlin’,” first recorded by and written by Maurice Williams, the hit song “Stay,” and “May I,” are songs to which generations of music fans have sung along. After fifty years as a recording and performing singer – songwriter, Maurice Williams is attracting a lot of attention again, this time with his new album Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs 50 years… The trade mark falsettos, which put songs such as “Stay,” at the top of the charts in the 1960s and also made it a hit song years later, for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, are back once again. In 1960, Shane Gaston was serving up the falsetto vocals and on the new album it is the late Fred Mangum who provided the falsetto vocals. The combination of Maurice Williams’s vocals and Fred Mangum are pure magic.

Williams remembers how it all started, “I started singing in church and then I went to the high school glee club. Our director said, ‘Have you guys ever thought about singing Pop songs?”  We said we thought about it, but we never did anything and the director said we ought to form a Pop group. I could play piano, one guy could play guitar, another could play bass and we added some drums and I came up with The Royal Charms (for the name of the group). We started winning talent shows and we won one a Read More

Laura Rain and the Caesars

Laura Rain Photo for the front pageRiveting Riffs Magazine had the opportunity to sit in on a Laura Rain and the Caesars gig, when we visited the Detroit area during the last week of June and it was on the recommendation of Mary McGuire of the stellar band The Blood Sisters that we checked out the dynamic singer-songwriter. Rain is a powerful vocalist who is reminiscent of some of the best R&B / Soul / Funk singers to grace the airwaves and a stage. Her soulful vocals remind one of Aretha Franklin, her Bluesy inflections bring to mind Etta James, she has some of Chaka Khan’s funk and she owns the stage like Millie Jackson only minus the coarse language.

Sitting outside in Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, on a sunny Sunday afternoon and talking to Laura Rain, she has a quiet demeanor and ponders this writer’s questions thoughtfully before answering. She laughs easily and often, a warm laughter that is genuine and comes from deep within. In some ways she is the antithesis of the wailing, yelping and at times foot stomping dynamo we had witnessed twelve hours earlier and on stage a few blocks away.

She laughs lightly and says, “I don’t know, I don’t know where that comes from (her stage persona). It’s that part of me that creative force. It is an artistic display. It is a powerful force and connection that just occurs and the better that the band gets and the more that I work with certain people the better that I become it is just more connected and stronger.” Read More

NIKKOLE Is EXOTIC

Nikkole 2008 Interview thumbnailThese are pretty heady days for Los Angeles based, urban / R&B singer / songwriter Nikkole, as she just learned, that she has been accepted in eight different categories for Grammy Award nomination consideration (the nominations occur in two stages) and she also learned that she has been selected as one of ten semi-finalists for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s StarLaunch, which is being cosponsored by Nikon, CoverGirl, Pantene and bebe. The three finalists will be announced on November 10th and then flown to New York City, where on December 5th they will compete in a gala event at Terminal 5, as they open for Natasha Bedingfield and special guest Solange Knowles. If those accomplishments are not enough to make you swoon, then consider that in late July her companion video for the heat seeking missive, “EXOTIC,” occupied the top spot on Blastro, an online video site that allows music fans to see their stars in action. Nikkole out dueled the likes of Rihanna, dance queen Samantha James and the Black Eyed Peas, to capture the top spot.

Last year, was the first time that Nikkole received consideration in the Grammy Award nomination process, as she was acknowledged in three categories, and she found that process to be  Read More

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R&B Chanteuse Alisa Ohri

Alisa Ohri Photo thumbnail“As an independent artist, I think that it is amazing what we can do amongst ourselves, away from big industry and the huge record labels. There are people out there who want to hear good music and who want to make good music. I am loving it, and I think that we are in really special times,” says Alisa Ohri, a R&B singer – songwriter who now lives in New York City and who got her career kick started many years ago, singing backup vocals for a rock band in California, while she attended university and then later performed with a group that morphed into Third Eye Blind.

With her most recent album, ‘Cuz I Feel Alisa Ohri has demonstrated that an independent artist can produce a quality recording, with grooves and vibes better than most of what you will hear on FM radio stations these days. It also does not hurt that she is married to one of the funkiest bass players around Hubert Eaves IV, who for several years toured with R&B queen Erykah Badu. His father Hubert Eaves III lends his production and playing skills to Ohri’s album as well and the senior Eaves is no slouch either, as he was the mastermind behind D-Train’s music and Miles Davis once covered one of Eaves’ own songs. As for the third musician who appears on Alisa Ohri’s ‘Cuz I Feel, Alex Moseley, he was one of the two musicians who backed Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Read More

Soul Queen Stephanie Pickett

stephanie pickett thumbnailSoul singer and songwriter Stephanie Pickett’s time has arrived and that is obvious by the attention the Montgomery, Alabama goddess of song is drawing from radio stations and music journalists throughout America. During the past two years, she has been riding a wave created by her stunning vocal performance on her 2009 album Finally Made It, released on CDS Records.

Signing to CDS Records is one of those rare record deals these days that seems to be working in the artist’s favor. Stephanie Pickett had heard from several other labels that all seemed to have similar stories to tell her, “I had been trying to get a record deal for a long time and everybody that I tried would say, ‘You have a great voice, but we aren’t signing on any new artists at this time,’ and (CDS Records) were the only ones that really let me in the door and things started blossoming from there,” she recalls.

“In 2009, I was nominated for Best New Artist (by the 5th Annual Southern Soul Blues Critic Awards) and I won. A couple of times songs like “Run’n,” made the top twenty-five. Another song “Family Man,” which was written by Carl Marshall made # 1 and “Still Want You Baby,” was at # 5 or # 6, so for me to be a newcomer and getting a little attention, that’s good,” she says. Read More