Tag: Great Soul Performances

Tuesday 6/23/2020 2pm ET: Feature Artist – Commodores

Commodores is an American funk and soul band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1968, and signed with Motown in November 1972, having first caught the public eye opening for the Jackson 5 while on tour.

The group’s most successful period was in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Lionel Richie was the co-lead singer. The band’s biggest hit singles are ballads such as “Easy”, “Three Times a Lady”, and “Nightshift”; and funky dance hits which include “Brick House”, “Fancy Dancer”, “Lady (You Bring Me Up)”, and “Too Hot ta Trot”.

The Commodores were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The band has also won one Grammy Award out of nine nominations. As well the Commodores have sold over 70 million albums worldwide.

Monday 6/15/2020 9pm ET: Feature Artist – O’Jays

The O’Jays are an American R&B group from Canton, Ohio, formed in 1958 and originally consisting of Eddie Levert (born June 16, 1942), Walter Lee Williams (born August 25, 1943), William Powell (January 20, 1942 – May 26, 1977), Bobby Massey (born 1942, Canton) and Bill Isles (January 4, 1941 – March 28, 2019). The O’Jays made their first chart appearance with “Lonely Drifter” in 1963, but reached their greatest level of success once Gamble & Huff, a team of producers and songwriters, signed them to their Philadelphia International label in 1972. With Gamble & Huff, the O’Jays (now a trio after the departure of Isles and Massey) emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul with “Back Stabbers” (1972), and topped the Billboard Hot 100 the following year with what some consider to be the first disco hit song, “Love Train.” Numerous other hits followed through the 1970s and into the 1980s and 1990s, and The O’Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and in 2013 they were inducted into National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

Tuesday 6/9/2020 5pm ET: Feature Artist – Shirelles

The Shirelles were an American girl group notable for their rhythm and blues, doo-wop and soul music and gaining popularity in the early 1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston Reeves), Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie “Micki” Harris (later Addie Harris McFadden), and Beverly Lee.

Founded in 1957 for a talent show at their high school, they were signed by Florence Greenberg of Tiara Records. Their first single, “I Met Him on a Sunday”, was released by Tiara and licensed by Decca Records in 1958. After a brief and unsuccessful period with Decca, they went with Greenberg to her newly formed company, Scepter Records. Working with Luther Dixon, the group rose to fame with “Tonight’s the Night”. After a successful period of collaboration with Dixon and promotion by Scepter, with seven top 20 hits, the Shirelles left Scepter in 1966. Afterwards, they were unable to maintain their previous popularity.

The Shirelles have been described as having a “naïve schoolgirl sound” that contrasted with the sexual themes of many of their songs. Several of their hits used strings and baiao-style music. They have been credited with launching the girl group genre, with much of their music reflecting the genre’s essence. Their acceptance by both white and black audiences, predating that of the Motown acts, has been noted as reflecting the early success of the Civil Rights Movement. They have received numerous honors, including the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and named one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone in 2004. Two of their songs, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Tonight’s the Night”, were selected by Rolling Stone on its list of the greatest songs of all time.

Tuesday 6/9/2020 4pm ET: Feature Artist – Jackie Wilson

Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. (June 9, 1934 – January 21, 1984) was an American soul singer and performer. A tenor with a four-octave range, Wilson was a prominent figure in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. Wilson was considered a master showman and one of the most dynamic singers and performers in pop, R&B, and rock & roll history, earning the nickname “Mr. Excitement”.

Wilson gained initial fame as a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes. He went solo in 1957 and scored over 50 chart singles spanning the genres of R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening, including 16 R&B Top 10 hits, in which six R&B of the repertoire ranked as number ones. On the Billboard Hot 100, Wilson scored 14 top 20 pop hits, six of which reached the top 10. Jackie Wilson was one of the most important and influential musical artists of his generation.

Wilson was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is also inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Two of Wilson’s recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. He was honored with the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Legacy Tribute Award in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jackie Wilson No. 69 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Monday 6/8/2020 12pm ET: Feature Artist – Simply Red


Simply Red are a British soul and pop band which formed in Manchester in 1985. The lead vocalist of the band is singer and songwriter Mick Hucknall, who, by the time the band initially disbanded in 2010, was the only original member left. Since the release of their debut studio album Picture Book (1985), they have had ten songs reach top 10 in the UK Singles Chart, including “Holding Back the Years” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now”, both of which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. They have had five number one albums in the UK, with their 1991 album, Stars, being one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history.

At the 1992 and 1993 Brit Awards, they received the award for Best British Group. They received three Grammy Award nominations: for Best New Artist in 1987, and “Holding Back the Years” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The band re-formed in 2015. Simply Red have sold over 50 million albums.

Michael James Hucknall (born June 8, 1960) is an English singer and songwriter. Hucknall achieved international fame in the 1980s as the lead singer and songwriter of the soul-influenced pop band Simply Red, with whom he enjoyed a 25-year career and sold over 50 million albums. Hucknall was described by Australian music magazine Rhythms as “one of the truly great blue-eyed soul singers”, while Q credited him with “the most prodigious voice this side of Motown”.

Friday 6/5/2020 12pm ET: Feature Artist – Prince


Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. A guitar virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist known for his eclectic genre-crossing work, flamboyant and androgynous persona, and his far reaching falsetto and high-pitched screams, Prince is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. His innovative music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, R&B, rock, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop. Prince pioneered the late 1970s Minneapolis sound, a funk rock subgenre drawing from synth-pop and new wave.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Prince developed an interest in music as a young child and wrote his first song, “Funk Machine”, at the age of seven. He signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 19, and released his debut album For You in 1978. Following up with his next four albums—Prince (1979), Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982)—Prince gained critical success, prominently showcasing his explicit lyrics as well as his blending of funk, dance, and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released his sixth album Purple Rain, which was also the soundtrack to his hugely successful film acting debut of the same name. It quickly became his most commercially successful record, spending 24 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200. The film itself was critically and commercially successful and also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, the last film to receive the award.

Following the disbandment of The Revolution, Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign o’ the Times (1987). He released three more solo albums—Lovesexy (1988), the Batman soundtrack (1989), and the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack (1990)—before debuting his New Power Generation backing band in 1991. In the midst of a contractual dispute with Warner Bros. in 1993, Prince changed his stage name to the unpronounceable symbol Logo. Hollow circle above downward arrow crossed with a curlicued horn-shaped symbol and then a short bar, known to fans as the “Love Symbol”, and began releasing new albums at a faster rate in order to quickly meet his contract quota and release himself from further obligations to the record label. He released five records between 1994 and 1996 before he signed with Arista Records in 1998. He began referring to himself as “Prince” again in 2000 and subsequently released 16 albums, including Musicology (2004), his most successful album of that decade. His final album, Hit n Run Phase Two, was first released on the Tidal streaming service in 2015.

In April 2016, at the age of 57, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He sold over 100 million records worldwide, ranking him among the best-selling music artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, seven Brit Awards, six American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award. He was also honored with special awards including the Grammy President’s Merit Award, American Music Awards for Achievement and of Merit, and the Billboard Icon Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2016, he was posthumously honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Minnesota. Rolling Stone placed him among its list of both the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. He is also ranked among Billboard’s Top 100 Artists of All Time list.

Thursday 6/4/20 12pm ET: Feature Artist – Four Tops

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city’s Motown sound of the 1960s. The group’s repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.

Founded as the Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades, performing from 1953 until 1997 without a change in personnel.

The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including the Miracles, the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, and the Supremes, who established the Motown Sound heard around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most other male and mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.

The group was the main male vocal group for the highly successful songwriting and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, who crafted a stream of hit singles for Motown. These included two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits for the Tops: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” in 1965 and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” in 1966. After Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1967, the Four Tops were assigned to a number of producers, primarily Frank Wilson, but generally with less success.

When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to Los Angeles, California, the Tops stayed in Detroit but signed a new recording deal with ABC Records’ Dunhill imprint. Recording mainly in Los Angeles, they continued to have chart singles into the late 1970s, including the 1973 million-seller “Ain’t No Woman”, their second release on Dunhill, produced by Steve Barri and the composers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter.

Wednesday 6/3/2020 2pm ET: Feature Year 1968


January 4 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix is jailed by Stockholm police, after trashing a hotel room during a drunken fist fight with bassist Noel Redding.

January 6 – The Gibson Guitar Corporation patents its Gibson Flying V electric guitar design.
January 13 – Johnny Cash performs his famous concert at Folsom State Prison in California.
January 20 – The Who and the Small Faces start with a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
February 1 – Universal Studios offers the Doors $500,000 to star in a feature film, which is never made.
February 4 – The Bee Gees make their American television debut on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
February 12 – Jimi Hendrix is given an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington. Hendrix is also given the key to the city.
February 16 – The Beatles, Mike Love, Mia Farrow, Donovan and others travel to India to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at Rishikesh.
February 18 – David Gilmour joins Pink Floyd, replacing founder Syd Barrett, who had checked himself into a psychiatric hospital.
February 21 – McGraw-Hill, Inc., outbids eight other publishers and pays $150,000 for the U.S. rights to Hunter Davies’ authorized biography of the Beatles.
February 22 – Florence Ballard of the Supremes is released from her contract with Motown.
February 27 – Doo-wop Singer Frankie Lymon is found dead at his grandmother’s house in Harlem, New York, of a heroin overdose
March 1 – Johnny Cash and June Carter are married in Franklin, Kentucky, with Merle Kilgore as best man.
March 8 – Bill Graham opens the Fillmore East in an abandoned movie theater in New York City.
March 25 – The 58th and final new episode of The Monkees airs on NBC.
March 30 – The Yardbirds record their live album Live Yardbirds at the Anderson Theater.
April 5 – James Brown appears on national television, in an attempt to calm feelings of anger in the United States following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 6
Pink Floyd announced that Syd Barrett, who was replaced two months earlier amid deteriorating mental health, had officially left the group.
April 7 – Singer/pianist/songwriter Nina Simone’s performance at Westbury Music Fair is dedicated to the late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The song “Why? (the king of love is dead)” by Gene Taylor is performed for the first time. The show is partially released on the Emmy nominated album Nuff Said (1968).
April 29 – The rock musical Hair opens on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre.
May 4 – Mary Hopkin performs on the British TV show Opportunity Knocks. Hopkin catches the attention of model Twiggy, who recommends her to Paul McCartney. McCartney would soon sign Hopkin to Apple Records.
May 5 – Buffalo Springfield performs together for the last time in Long Beach, California.
May 7
Aretha Franklin records her live LP Aretha in Paris at the Olympia Theater.
Karlheinz Stockhausen begins composing his fifteen intuitive music works, Aus den sieben Tagen.
May 14 – At a press conference, John Lennon and Paul McCartney introduce the Beatles’ new business concept, Apple Corps, Ltd., an entertainment company that included a recording studio, a record label, and clothing store.
May 26 – Blues artist Little Willie John dies in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.
May 30 – The Beatles begin recording The White Album (officially titled, simply, The Beatles). Sessions would span over 4 months, ending on October 14.
June 20
David Ruffin is fired from The Temptations due to his ego and because he began inquiring into the Temptations’ financial records, demanding an accounting of the group’s money.
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas make their debut at the Copacabana in New York City, winning a rave review in The New York Times. The engagement was recorded but remains in the Motown vaults.
July – Release in Brazil of the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and others, with arrangements by Rogério Duprat, inaugurates the Tropicália movement in music.
July 7 – The Yardbirds perform for the last time before disbanding.
July 9–14 – The International Eisteddfod takes place in Llangollen, North Wales
July 18 – Mina presents her Italian white soul hits “Se stasera sono qui” and “Colpo al cuore”. The performance is transmitted live without playback from the Auditorio A of the Radiotelevisione Italiana regional headquarters in Naples.
August 1 – Jeff Beck Group releases their album Truth. A seminal work of heavy metal, it incorporates blues and hard rock. It introduced the talents of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.
August 4 – Yes performs for the first time, at a summer camp.
August 5–10 – The Royal National Eisteddfod takes place in Barry, Wales.
August 21 – Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. At this evening’s performance of The Proms in London, the USSR Symphony Orchestra plays with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.
August 23 – Simon & Garfunkel give a live concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California. A recording is later released on CD in 1994 by Australian company Vigotone Records as Voices of Intelligent Dissent.
September 7 – Led Zeppelin performs for the first time, billed as The New Yardbirds (the Yardbirds had disbanded two months earlier, and guitarist Jimmy Page has subsequently formed this new group). Also this day, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premieres on NBC.
September 14 – Two sons of singer Roy Orbison, 10-year-old Roy DeWayne Orbison and 6-year-old Anthony King Orbison, die in a house fire in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Orbison’s youngest son, Wesley, is miraculously saved by Roy’s parents.
September 15
Song of Summer, Ken Russell’s noted TV documentary about Frederick Delius, is shown for the first time as part of the BBC’s Omnibus series.
PocketDiscs are released in several test markets in the United States.
September 19 – The Who begin recording Tommy, a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family.
October 7 – Jose Feliciano at Tiger Stadium for 1968 World Series in Detroit sing a personal and controversial soul version of “Star-Spangled Banner”, this was the first time for the National Anthem in a different style.
October 8 – The soundtrack for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet is released, containing popular “What Is a Youth” tune.
November 8 – John and Cynthia Lennon are divorced.
November 11 – Three days after their divorce, John Lennon costars with Yoko Ono in Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, which ends up being a flop.
November 17 – Diana Ross & the Supremes replace The Beatles’ hugely successful “Hey Jude” at number-one in the U.S. with “Love Child”; this would be the last of five turnovers at number-one between the two most successful music acts in America during the 1960s.
November 22 – The Beatles (also known as “The White Album”) by The Beatles is released. Also released is The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks.
November 26 – Cream plays their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It will be the last time Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker play together until their 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
December 2
Jimi Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler quits over differences with Hendrix during the recording of Electric Ladyland
Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company perform their last concert together before Janis goes solo.
Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream airs on NBC and finished as not only the highest rated TV show for the week it was broadcast, but the highest rated Television Special of 1968.
December 9
A political confrontation at the Planten un Blomen Hall in Hamburg results in cancellation of the scheduled premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s oratorio Das Floß der Medusa, a score dedicated to Che Guevara.
TCB airs on NBC starring Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, becoming the first variety special in America to feature an exclusively African American cast.
Shinjuku Music Festival is broadcast for the first time by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting.
December 11 – The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was filmed. Acts included The Rolling Stones, The Who, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, The Dirty Mac, and Marianne Faithfull. This is the last appearance of Brian Jones as a member of The Rolling Stones.
December 20 – Peter Tork announces he is leaving The Monkees.
December 22 – The Animals reunite for one benefit concert at the Newcastle City Hall while Eric Burdon & The Animals are disbanding.
December 31 – Small Faces break up when Steve Marriott storms off the stage.

Wednesday 6/3/2020 1pm ET: Feature Artist – Deniece Williams


Deniece Williams (born June Deniece Chandler; June 3, 1951) is an American singer, songwriter and producer. Williams has been described as “one of the great soul voices” by the BBC. Williams has won four Grammys with twelve nominations altogether.

Deniece Williams has a four-octave range and distinctive soprano voice. Her vocal range was also pointed out by The New York Times, “Miss Williams mounted a spectacular vocal display in which her penetrating, feline soprano soared effortlessly to E flat above high C, and she worked various vowel sounds into prolonged feats of vocal gymnastics.” In pointing to Williams’s similar vocal ability as her former musical icon and colleague (Minnie Riperton), Mark Anthony Neal, in referencing Jill Scott’s agility in displaying vocal acrobatics, states, “Scott draws on her upper register recalling the artistry of the late Minnie Riperton and “songbird” Deniece Williams.” According to Monica Haynes of Post-Gazette.com, Williams “has the kind of range that would make Mariah Carey quiver”.

Friday 12am ET: Feature LP: Spyro Gyra – Collection (1991)

Collection is the fifteenth and debut compilation album by Spyro Gyra, released in 1991. The album cover showed a couple of fairies above a city with flowers.

The first two tracks are new recordings. “Mallet Ballet” is a live recording from a 1979 promo EP. “Harbor Nights” is from the live album Access All Areas. The remaining tracks are the original studio versions.

1. “You Can Count On Me” (Tom Schuman) – 3:27
2. “What Exit” (Julio Fernandez) – 3:40
3. “Nu Sungo” (Manolo Badrena) – 4:10
4. “The Unknown Soldier” (Jay Beckenstein) – 5:16
5. “Morning Dance” (Jay Beckenstein) – 3:57
6. “Old San Juan” (Jay Beckenstein) – 6:41
7. “Shakedown” (Jeremy Wall) – 4:22
8. “Mallet Ballet” (Jeremy Wall) – 6:15
9. “Catching the Sun” (Jay Beckenstein) – 4:41
10. “Para ti Latino” (Oscar Cartaya) – 4:15
11. “Incognito” (Tom Schuman) – 5:56
12. “Harbor Nights” (Jay Beckenstein) – 6:52
13. “Limelight” (Dave Samuels) – 4:27
14. “Breakout: (Jeremy Wall) – 4:37

Wednesday 12pm ET: Feature Artist – Stevie Wonder (Part 2)


Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music, he is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians in the history of music. Through his heavy use of electronic instruments and innovative sounds, Wonder became a pioneer and influence to musicians of various genres including pop, rhythm and blues, soul, funk and rock.

Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy known as Little Stevie Wonder, leading him to sign with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11. In 1963, the single “Fingertips” was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart. Wonder’s critical success was at its peak in the 1970s when he started his “classic period” in 1972 with the releases of Music of My Mind and Talking Book, with the latter featuring the number-one hit “Superstition”. “Superstition” is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner Clavinet keyboard. With Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976) all winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Wonder became the tied record holder, with Frank Sinatra, for the most Album of the Year wins with three. Wonder is also the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases.

Wonder’s “classic period”, which is widely considered to have ended in 1977, was noted for his funky keyboard style, personal control of production, and series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album. In 1979, Wonder made use of the early music sampler Computer Music Melodian through his composition of the soundtrack album Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants”. It was also his first digital recording, and one of the earliest popular albums to use the technology, which Wonder used for all subsequent recordings. Wonder’s 1970s albums are regarded as very influential; the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983) wrote they “pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade”.

Wonder has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has won 25 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time. He was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the 1984 film The Woman in Red. Wonder has been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Tuesday 4pm ET: Feature Artist – Stevie Wonder (Part 1)


Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music, he is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians in the history of music. Through his heavy use of electronic instruments and innovative sounds, Wonder became a pioneer and influence to musicians of various genres including pop, rhythm and blues, soul, funk and rock.

Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy known as Little Stevie Wonder, leading him to sign with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11. In 1963, the single “Fingertips” was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart. Wonder’s critical success was at its peak in the 1970s when he started his “classic period” in 1972 with the releases of Music of My Mind and Talking Book, with the latter featuring the number-one hit “Superstition”. “Superstition” is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner Clavinet keyboard. With Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976) all winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Wonder became the tied record holder, with Frank Sinatra, for the most Album of the Year wins with three. Wonder is also the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases.

Wonder’s “classic period”, which is widely considered to have ended in 1977, was noted for his funky keyboard style, personal control of production, and series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album. In 1979, Wonder made use of the early music sampler Computer Music Melodian through his composition of the soundtrack album Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants”. It was also his first digital recording, and one of the earliest popular albums to use the technology, which Wonder used for all subsequent recordings. Wonder’s 1970s albums are regarded as very influential; the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983) wrote they “pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade”.

Wonder has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has won 25 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time. He was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the 1984 film The Woman in Red. Wonder has been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

In Memoriam: Millie Small (1946 – 2020)

Millicent Dolly May Small CD (October 6, 1946 – May 5, 2020) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, best known for her 1964 recording of “My Boy Lollipop”, which reached number two in both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100. On her UK records, she was usually credited mononymously as Millie.

She had a brief relationship with Peter Asher of the 1960s duo Peter & Gordon. In her August 2016 interview with U.S. journalist Tom Graves she said the relationship had been platonic.

She lived in Singapore from 1971 to 1973 before returning to the United Kingdom where she lived for the remainder of her life. She had a daughter, Jaelee, born in 1984, who studied art and the music industry and is a singer-songwriter.

Millie Small died on May 5, 2020 in England, reportedly from a stroke. News of her death was first announced to the Jamaica Observer by Chris Blackwell, who last met Small some 12 years before her death. He remembered her as “a sweet person” with a “great sense of humor”. Blackwell also credited her for popularizing ska on an international level “because it was her first hit record”.

Thursday 2pm ET: Feature Artist – Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio


Raydio is an American funk and R&B vocal group formed in 1977, by Ray Parker Jr., with Vincent Bohnam, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael.

Ray Erskine Parker Jr. (born May 1, 1954) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. As a solo performer, he wrote and performed the theme song to the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. He also performed with his band, Raydio, and with Barry White.

Monday 7pm ET: Feature Artist – Main Ingredient


The Main Ingredient is an American soul and R&B group formed in Harlem, New York City in 1964 as a trio called the Poets, composed of lead singer Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Panama-born Tony Silvester. They made their first recordings for Leiber & Stoller’s Red Bird label, but soon changed their name to the Insiders and signed with RCA Records. In 1968, after a couple of singles, they changed their name once again, this time permanently, to The Main Ingredient. The name came from a Coke bottle.

They then teamed up with record producer/arranger Bert DeCoteaux. Under his direction, the Main Ingredient reached the R&B Top 30 for the first time in 1970 with “You’ve Been My Inspiration”. A cover of The Impressions’ “I’m So Proud” broke the Top 20, and “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)” went into the Top 10. In 1971, they scored again, with the McPherson-penned black-power anthem “Black Seeds Keep on Growing,” but tragedy struck that year. Don McPherson, who had been suddenly taken ill with leukemia, died unexpectedly. Stunned, Tony Silvester and Luther Simmons re-grouped with new lead singer Cuba Gooding, Sr., who had served as a backing vocalist on some of their previous recordings and had filled in on tour during McPherson’s brief illness.