Tag: music icon

Solange, the Polymathic Cultural Force

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 4.23.38 AMA MONONYM IS possessed of a certain celebrity: Prince, Madonna, Iman. No surname needed, thank you very much. Just a couple of syllables and the whole of the mononym’s grandeur flashes across our consciousness.

Solange. Two mellifluous syllables and her face springs to mind: the fierce, open gaze, those striking full eyebrows. Solange the singer, songwriter, choreographer, visual and performing artist, with four, soon to be five, albums to her name. Solange the 2017 Grammy winner: Best R&B Performance, “Cranes in the Sky.” Solange, who earlier that year performed for President Obama and the first lady at their final White House party. Solange, whose acclaimed 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table” yoked artistry to activism with its piercing inquiry into race and identity in America, with lyrics such as, “You got the right to be mad / But when you carry it alone, you find it only getting in the way.” Solange the culture maker, whose performance art, digital work and sculpture have been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Tate Modern in London. Solange, named the Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year in 2018.

Aretha Franklin Had Power. Did We Truly Respect It?

The Queen of Soul sang the most empowering popular song ever. But even though she was brimming with it, we don’t think of her as an artist with swagger.

Officially, “Respect” is a relationship song. That’s how Otis Redding wrote it. But love wasn’t what Aretha Franklin was interested in. The opening line is “What you want, baby, I got it.” But her “what” is a punch in the face. So Ms. Franklin’s rearrangement was about power. She had the right to be respected — by some dude, perhaps by her country. Just a little bit. What did love have to do with that?

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Depending on the house you grew up in and how old you are, “Respect” is probably a song you learned early. The spelling lesson toward the end helps. So do the turret blasts of “sock it to me” that show up here and there. But, really, the reason you learn “Respect” is the way “Respect” is sung. Redding made it a burning plea. Ms. Franklin turned the plea into the most empowering popular recording ever made.

Ms. Franklin died on Thursday, at 76, which means “Respect” is going to be an even more prominent part of your life than usual. The next time you hear it, notice what you do with your hands. They’re going to point — at a person, a car or a carrot. They’ll rest on your hips. Your neck might roll. Your waist will do a thing. You’ll snarl. Odds are high that you’ll feel better than great. You’re guaranteed to feel indestructible.

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Ms. Franklin’s respect lasts for two minutes and 28 seconds. That’s all — basically a round of boxing. Nothing that’s over so soon should give you that much strength. But that was Aretha Franklin: a quick trip to the emotional gym. Obviously, she was far more than that. We’re never going to have an artist with a career as long, absurdly bountiful, nourishing and constantly surprising as hers. We’re unlikely to see another superstar as abundantly steeped in real self-confidence — at so many different stages of life, in as many musical genres.

That self-confidence wasn’t evident only in the purses and perms and headdresses and floor-length furs; the buckets and buckets of great recordings; the famous demand that she always be paid before a show, in cash; or the Queen of Soul business — the stuff that keeps her monotonously synonymous with “diva.” It was there in whatever kept her from stopping and continuing to knock us dead. To paraphrase one of Ms. Franklin’s many (many) musical progeny: She slayed. “Respect” became an anthem for us, because it seemed like an anthem for her.

The song owned the summer of 1967. It arrived amid what must have seemed like never-ending turmoil — race riots, political assassinations, the Vietnam draft. Muhammad Ali had been stripped of his championship title for refusing to serve in the war. So amid all this upheaval comes a singer from Detroit who’d been around most of the decade doing solid gospel R&B work. But there was something about this black woman’s asserting herself that seemed like a call to national arms. It wasn’t a polite song. It was hard. It was deliberate. It was sure. And that all came from Ms. Franklin — her rumbling, twanging, compartmentalized arrangement. It came, of course, from her singing.

Because lots of major pop stars now have great, big voices, maybe it’s easy to forget that most Americans had never heard anything quite as dependably great and shockingly big as Ms. Franklin’s. The reason we have watched “Showtime at the Apollo” or “American Idol” or “The Voice” is out of some desperate hope that somebody walks out there and sounds like Aretha. She established a standard for artistic vocal excellence, and it will outlast us all.

Her Eyes Were Watching the Stars: How Missy Elliott Became an Icon

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She’s been making ahead-of-the-curve music and mind-bending videos for 20 years—and that’s no fluke. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah goes behind the curtain with the ultraprivate creative genius.

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of ELLE, on newsstands now.

At the photo shoot, the accoutrements of being her precede her. A tray of acrylic nails and an almost-empty bottle of professional-grade nail polish remover are carried by Bernadette Thompson, the Takashi Murakami of manicurists. A tall, strong-looking man walks around distractedly, wheeling a Louis Vuitton duffel bag that is smaller than his forearm; from time to time, he spins it in a wide circle out of boredom. Jewels—gold chokers, hoop earrings, and rings in a velvet-lined box—are attended to by a thin young man wearing a black Balenciaga fitted cap and high-top Nikes. There’s a bottle of jewelry cleaner harnessed to his chest and a chain of styling clips attached to his hoodie strings; he looks listless, like he has given his body over to the task. On the table, someone has set down two Kangol hats, one tan, one black: fuzzy, wearable homages to the golden era of hip-hop. They sit there like low-key crowns.

READ MORE: https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/a44891/missy-elliott-june-2017-elle-cover-story/

Confirmed: Andre 3000 To Play Jimi Hendrix In Upcoming Biopic (Photos)

Although there has been some uncertainty regarding his involvement, it seems rapper Andre 3000 is shooting the Jimi Hendrix biopic, “All Is by My Side,” after all. He was spotted on set of the film in a the town of Bray, Ireland, in full wardrobe … rocking an Afro and authentic gear, as he looked over a balcony. As you can seen from the photos, Andre is trying to hide his face and cover-up his wardrobe. Maybe his involvement is supposed to be secret? Reports say the film, starring André, will explore Hendrix’s early career, including his time spent in England in 1966 and 1967 while working on his classic debut, Are You Experienced. A release date was unknown at press time.

READ MORE: http://www.ballerstatus.com/2009/03/23/two-jimi-hendrix-albums-coming-this-year-new-deal-formed/#.T8Vcb5lYu1I