Musician Spotlight

Musician Spotlight

Charmaine Neville

When the brass brands come parading down the road, all the people in the neighborhood run from their houses to join the party.The people who dance behind the brass band are called a “second line.” In New Orleans, the parades, the style of dancing, and even the music are all called “second line”— second line parades, second line dance steps, and second line music. Charmaine Neville is a member of the famous Neville family, one of the most important musical families in New Orleans because of the worldwide success of the Neville Brothers. Music in New Orleans is often a family affair, and traditions are passed down from one generation to the next.

Enjoy Charmaine Neville on our New Orleans Playground album!

Kermit Ruffins

No young artist has managed to update the sounds of traditional New Orleans jazz more convincingly than Kermit Ruffins. Emerging out of the fiery brass band tradition, where he helped spark a revival during the 1980s, Kermit released his first of seven solo albums in 1992. His music embraces the timbres and the bittersweet romance of Louis Armstrong while retaining the bouncing, parade inspired beats of the brass bands. Kermit is a regular fixture on the streets of New Orleans, where he rarely misses a second line (brass-band street parade) and often passes out barbecue from a grill on his truck bed. At the same time, he is the most serious and thoughtful of musicians, mindful of his musical ancestors while always looking forward to the next development.In “Drop Me Off in New Orleans,” these strains come together—the history,the streets,the new sounds in the clubs—all reflected in Kermit’s unmistakable voice.

Enjoy Kermit Ruffins on our New Orleans album!

Nina Simone

The civil rights movement redirected Simone’s life and music. She began inserting shouts of “freedom!” into her stage performances as early as 1960 and, in short order, became one of the most outspoken civil rights activists, using the stage as her bully pulpit. Simone became politically radicalized through her experiences of racism and through close friendships with African-American writers Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Well-known for her protest songs, such as “Mississippi Goddam” and “Sinnerman,” Simone spent most of her life in self-imposed exile in Barbados, Liberia and France. This song captures an earlier persona, yet, ironically, it is probably now Simone’s most recognizable song. “My Baby Just Cares for Me” became something of a jazz hit in the late 1980s when it graced a Ridley Scott-directed commercial for Chanel perfume. Simone passed away at her home in the south of France in 2003, but her music and legacy continue to influence countless musicians around the globe.

“My Baby Just Cares for Me” is a song that praises a lover’s fidelity. It was recorded on Simone’s debut album, Little Girl Blue (1958), a trio session of standards with Jimmy Bond (bass) and Albert “Tootie” Heath (drums). At the time, Simone was a recent graduate of Julliard High School, and despite her melding of jazz, blues and cabaret styles, she hoped to return to her classical studies. “Bach was my chief musical influence,” she reflected in 1970, and occasionally even inserted Bach pieces into her performances.

Enjoy Nina Simone on our Jazz album!

Earl King

Anytime you listen to Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Joe Walsh, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Derek Trucks and countless other well-known guitarists, you are hearing the spirit of Albert King shining through. One of the most revered and influential guitarists in the history of the blues, King left a blues legacy equaled perhaps only by someone who shared his last name and small Mississippi hometown: B.B. King. Born in 1923 in Indianola, Mississippi, Albert King learned to sing and play guitar in church, but his main inspiration was T-Bone Walker. King bought his first guitar for $1.25 and lived in Arkansas, Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago during his long career.

King’s biggest hits occurred after he was signed by the legendary Memphis label Stax in 1966. With Booker T. & the M.G.’s as his backing band, King cut such seminal tracks as “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Crosscut Saw,” and “As the Years go Passing By.” King performed actively until his death from a heart attack in 1992.

“Dust My Broom” was written and originally recorded by Robert Johnson in 1936 and has become a standard that has been recorded by everyone from Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf to John Mayall and ZZ Top. Albert King recorded his version in 1984 for the Stax release I’m in a Phone Booth, Baby.

Enjoy Earl King from our Blues Party album!

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