Thursday 6pm: The Music of Aretha Franklin Part I – (1961 – 1982)

(1961–1966)
In January 1961, Columbia issued Franklin’s first secular album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo. The album featured her first single to chart the Billboard Hot 100, “Won’t Be Long”, which also peaked at number 7 on the R&B chart. Mostly produced by Clyde Otis, Franklin’s Columbia recordings saw her recording in diverse genres such as standards, vocal jazz, blues, doo-wop and rhythm and blues. Before the year was out, Franklin scored her first top 40 single with her rendition of the standard, “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, which also included the R&B hit, “Operation Heartbreak”, on its b-side. “Rock-a-Bye” became her first international hit, reaching the top 40 in Australia and Canada. By the end of 1961, Franklin was named as a “new-star female vocalist” in DownBeat magazine. In 1962, Columbia issued two more albums, The Electrifying Aretha Franklin and The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin, the latter of which reached No. 69 on the Billboard chart.

By 1964, Franklin began recording more pop music, reaching the top ten on the R&B chart with the ballad, “Runnin’ Out of Fools” in early 1965. She had two R&B charted singles in 1965 and 1966 with the songs “One Step Ahead” and “Cry Like a Baby” while also reaching the Easy Listening charts with the ballads “You Made Me Love You” and “(No, No) I’m Losing You”. By the mid-1960s, Franklin was netting $100,000 from countless performances in nightclubs and theaters. Also during that period, Franklin appeared on rock and roll shows such as Hollywood A Go-Go and Shindig!. However, Franklin struggled with commercial success while at Columbia. Label executive John H. Hammond later said he felt Columbia did not understand Franklin’s early gospel background and failed to bring that aspect out further during her period there.

(1967–1979)
In November 1966, after 6 years with Columbia, Franklin chose not to renew her contract with the company and signed to Atlantic Records. In January 1967, she traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME Studios and recorded the song, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” in front of the musicians of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The song was later issued that February and reached number one on the R&B chart, while also peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Franklin her first top ten pop single. The song’s b-side, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”, reached the R&B top 40, peaking at number 37. In April, Atlantic issued her frenetic version of Otis Redding’s “Respect”, which shot to number one on both the R&B and pop charts. “Respect” became her signature song and was later hailed as a civil rights and feminist anthem.

Franklin’s debut Atlantic album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, also became commercially successful, later going gold. Franklin scored two more top ten singles in 1967 including “Baby I Love You” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. Franklin’s rapport with producer Jerry Wexler helped in the creation of the majority of Franklin’s peak recordings with Atlantic. In 1968, she issued the top-selling albums, Lady Soul and Aretha Now, which included some of Franklin’s most popular hit singles, including “Chain of Fools”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Think” and “I Say a Little Prayer”. In February 1968, Franklin earned the first two of her Grammys, including the debut category for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. On February 16, 1968, Franklin was honored with a day in her honor and was greeted by longtime friend Martin Luther King Jr. who gave her the SCLC Drum Beat Award for Musicians just two months before his death. In June 1968, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Franklin’s success expanded during the early 1970s in which she recorded top ten singles such as “Spanish Harlem”, “Rock Steady” and “Day Dreaming” as well as the acclaimed albums Spirit in the Dark, Young, Gifted and Black, and her gospel album, Amazing Grace, which sold over two million copies. In 1971, Franklin became the first R&B performer to headline Fillmore West, later releasing the live album Aretha Live at Fillmore West. Franklin’s career began to experience problems while recording the album, Hey Now Hey, which featured production from Quincy Jones. Despite the success of the single “Angel”, the album bombed upon its release in 1973. Franklin continued having R&B success with songs such as “Until You Come Back to Me” and “I’m in Love”, but by 1975 her albums and songs were no longer top sellers. After Jerry Wexler left Atlantic for Warner Bros. Records in 1976, Franklin worked on the soundtrack to the film Sparkle with Curtis Mayfield. The album yielded Franklin’s final top 40 hit of the decade, “Something He Can Feel”, which also peaked at number one on the R&B chart. Franklin’s follow-up albums for Atlantic, including Sweet Passion, Almighty Fire and La Diva, bombed on the charts, and in 1979 Franklin opted to leave the company.

(1980 – 1982)
In 1980, after leaving Atlantic Records, Franklin signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records and that same year gave a command performance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth. Franklin also made an acclaimed guest role as a waitress in the comedy musical, The Blues Brothers. Franklin’s first Arista album, Aretha, featured the No. 3 R&B hit, “United Together” and her Grammy-nominated cover of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”. The follow-up, 1981’s Love All the Hurt Away, included her famed duet of the title track with George Benson while the album also included her Grammy-winning cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin'”. Franklin achieved a gold record—for the first time in seven years—with the album Jump to It. Its title track was her first top 40 single on the pop charts in six years.- Wikipedia

Tuesday 6pm: Artist Countdown: James Taylor Top 40 Hits

James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single “Fire and Rain” and had his first No. 1 hit the following year with “You’ve Got a Friend”, a recording of Carole King’s classic song. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album, JT, he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from 1977 to 2007 sold over 1 million copies. He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late 1990s and 2000s, when he recorded some of his most-awarded work (including Hourglass, October Road, and Covers). He achieved his first number-one album in the US in 2015 with his recording Before This World.

He is known for his popular covers of other people’s songs, such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” and the aforementioned “You’ve Got A Friend”, as well as originals such as “Fire and Rain”. – Wikipedia

Wednesday 11pm: Feature Artist – The Kinks

Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, in 1964 by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. They are regarded as one of the most important and influential rock bands of the 1960s. The band emerged during the height of British rhythm and blues and Merseybeat, and were briefly part of the British Invasion of the United States until their touring ban in 1965. Their third single, the Ray Davies-penned “You Really Got Me”, became an international hit, topping the charts in the United Kingdom and reaching the Top 10 in the United States. Their music was influenced by a wide range of genres, including rhythm and blues, British music hall, folk and country. They gained a reputation for reflecting English culture and lifestyle, fuelled by Ray Davies’ observational writing style, and are considered one of the most influential groups of the period.

Early works included albums such as Face to Face (1966), Something Else (1967), The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968), Arthur (1969), Lola Versus Powerman (1970), Muswell Hillbillies (1971), along with their accompanying singles. After a fallow period in the mid 1970s, the band experienced a revival during the late 1970s and early 1980s with their albums Sleepwalker (1977), Misfits (1978), Low Budget (1979), Give the People What They Want (1981) and State of Confusion (1983). In addition, groups such as Van Halen, the Jam, the Knack, the Pretenders and the Fall covered their songs, helping to boost the Kinks’ record sales. In the 1990s, Britpop acts such as Blur and Oasis cited the band as a major influence.

Ray Davies (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Dave Davies (lead guitar, vocals) remained members throughout the band’s 32-year run. Longest-serving member Mick Avory (drums and percussion) was replaced by Bob Henrit, formerly of Argent, in 1984. Original bass guitarist Pete Quaife was replaced by John Dalton in 1969, and Dalton was in turn replaced by Jim Rodford in 1978. Session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins accompanied the band in the studio for many of their recordings in the mid-to-late 1960s. In 1969 the band became an official five-piece when keyboardist John Gosling joined them, being replaced by Ian Gibbons in 1979, who remained in the band until they broke up in 1996; a result of the commercial failures of their last few albums and creative tension between the Davies brothers.

The Kinks have had five Top 10 singles on the US Billboard chart. Nine of their albums charted in the Top 40. In the UK, The Kinks have had seventeen Top 20 singles and five Top 10 albums. Four of their albums have been certified gold by the RIAA and have sold over 50 million records worldwide. Among numerous honours, they received the Ivor Novello Award for “Outstanding Service to British Music”. In 1990, the original four members of The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the UK Music Hall of Fame in November 2005. – Wikipedia

Wednesday 10pm: Feature Artist – Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a British rock band formed in Blackpool, Lancashire in 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band later developed its sound to incorporate elements of hard and folk rock to forge a progressive rock signature. The band is led by vocalist/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, and has featured a revolving door of lineups through the years including significant members such as longtime guitarist Martin Barre, keyboardist John Evan, drummers Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, and Doane Perry, and bassists Glenn Cornick, Jeffrey Hammond, and Dave Pegg.

The group first achieved commercial success in 1969, with the folk-tinged blues album Stand Up, which reached No. 1 in the UK, and they toured regularly in the UK and the US. Their musical style shifted in the direction of progressive rock with the albums Aqualung (1971), Thick as a Brick (1972) and A Passion Play (1973), and shifted again to hard rock mixed with folk rock with Songs from the Wood (1977) and Heavy Horses (1978). Jethro Tull have sold an estimated 60 million albums worldwide, with 11 gold and five platinum albums among them. They have been described by Rolling Stone as “one of the most commercially successful and eccentric progressive rock bands”.

The last works as a group to contain new material were released in 2003, though the band continued to tour until 2011. Anderson said Jethro Tull were finished in 2014, however in September 2017 Anderson announced plans for a tour to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the band’s first album This Was, and then record a new studio album in 2018. The current band line-up includes musicians who have been members of Anderson’s solo band since 2012. The band began a world tour on March 1, 2018. – Wikipedia

Saturday 9am: Feature Band – The Bangles

The Bangles are an American pop rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1981. They scored several hit singles as that decade continued. The band’s hits include “Walk Like an Egyptian”, Billboard magazine’s number-one single of 1987, as well as two number-two hits, “Manic Monday” and “Hazy Shade of Winter”, and their 1989 number-one single “Eternal Flame”.

Their classic line-up consisted of Michael Steele on bass and vocals, founding members Susanna Hoffs on vocals and rhythm guitar, Debbi Peterson on drums and vocals, and Vicki Peterson on lead guitar and vocals. The band currently consists of Hoffs, Debbi Peterson and Vicki Peterson, along with touring bassist Derrick Anderson (since 2008)). – Wikipedia

Wednesday 9am: Feature Artist – Brooks & Dunn

Brooks & Dunn is an American country music duo consisting of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, both vocalists and songwriters. The duo was founded in 1990 through the suggestion of Tim DuBois. Before the foundation, both members were solo recording artists. Brooks wrote number one singles for John Conlee, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Highway 101; both he and Dunn also charted two solo singles apiece in the 1980s, with Brooks also releasing an album for Capitol Records in 1989. However, they began hitting the charts together in 1991.

Signed to Arista Nashville in 1991, the duo has recorded ten studio albums, one Christmas album, and three compilation albums for the label. They also have released fifty singles, of which twenty went to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs charts and nineteen more reached top ten. Two of these number-one songs, “My Maria” (a cover of the B.W. Stevenson song) and “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You”, were the top country songs of 1996 and 2001, respectively, according to the Billboard Year-End charts. The latter is also the duo’s longest-lasting number one, at six weeks. Several of their songs have also reached the Billboard Hot 100, with the number 25 peaks of “Ain’t Nothing ’bout You” and “Red Dirt Road” being their highest there. Brooks & Dunn also won the Country Music Association Vocal Duo of the Year award every year between 1992 and 2006, except for 2000. Two of their songs won the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: “Hard Workin’ Man” in 1994 and “My Maria” in 1996. All but two of the duo’s studio albums are certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America; their highest-certified is their 1991 debut Brand New Man, which is certified sextuple-platinum for shipments of six million copies.

The duo’s material is known for containing influences of honky-tonk, mainstream country, and rock, as well as the contrast between Brooks’ and Dunn’s singing voices and on-stage personalities, although some of their music has also been criticized as formulaic. Their 1992 single “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” helped re-popularize line dancing in the United States, and 2001’s “Only in America” was used by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama in their respective presidential campaigns. Brooks & Dunn has collaborated with several artists, including Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Mac Powell, Billy Gibbons, and Jerry Jeff Walker among others.

After announcing their retirement in August 2009, they performed their final concert on September 2, 2010 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Both Brooks and Dunn have continued to record for Arista Nashville as solo artists. Dunn released a self-titled album in 2011, which included the Top 10 country hit “Bleed Red”, while Brooks released New to This Town in September 2012. The duo reunited in 2015 for a series of concerts with McEntire in Las Vegas, Nevada. – Wikipedia

Tuesday 10pm: Feature Artist – Peter, Paul & Mary

Peter, Paul and Mary was an American folk group formed in New York City in 1961, during the American folk music revival phenomenon. The trio was composed of tenor Peter Yarrow, baritone Noel Paul Stookey and alto Mary Travers. The group’s repertoire included songs written by Yarrow and Stookey, as well as covers written by other folk musicians. After the death of Travers in 2009, Yarrow and Stookey continued to perform as a duo under their individual names.

Mary Travers said she was influenced by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers. In the documentary Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On — A Musical Legacy members of the Weavers discuss how Peter, Paul and Mary took over the torch of the social commentary of folk music in the 1960s.

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Peter, Paul and Mary received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. – Wikipedia