- Happy Birthday Paul Hardcastle
Birthday wishes to British multi-instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle who celebrates today (December 10). Paul was born in Kensington, London, England and began his career in the early '80s playing keyboards with the dance music bands Direct Drive and First Light. He released his first solo album in 1984 and had major hits with songs like "Rainforest" and "19." In 1986, Paul began working on soundtracks and producing remixes for artists like Barry White, Hiroshima and Third World. He released his first Jazzmasters album in 1993 and received the Billboard Smooth Jazz Artist Of The Year award in 2008. Hardcastle is busy working on two new albums, his next Jazzmasters CD and a second project which he describes as an "old school album based on the 70s and 80s," entitled Back in Time. Both albums are due in 2014. For a taste of some of the tunes he's working on, visit his Facebook page where he has posted some clips.
- New Mindi Abair CD Planned for April 2014 Release
Saxophonist Mindi Abair has been busy working on her new CD due out in April 2014 on Concord Records. She has recorded tracks with Joe Perry, Booker T, Keb' Mo' and penned new songs for this CD with Gregg Allman, Booker T, Jim Peterik (Eye of the Tiger, Vehicle), Dave Yaden (Lady Antebellum, Josh Kelley), and long time collaborators Ty Stevens and Matthew Hager. She describes the new project as "a modern rock saxophone album." Meanwhile, you can catch Mindi out on tour this holiday season for the 10th Annual Peter White Christmas Show with guitarist Peter White and trumpeter Rick Braun. The three friends are headed to Akron, OH on December 11 and will wrap up the tour on December 21 in San Diego, CA. Visit Mindi's website for more info about her new album and a full list of her concert dates here.
- Grammy Awards Nominees Include Koz, Alpert, Lorber
The Grammy Nominations Concert was held in Los Angeles last night (December 6) and the full list of nominees for the 56th Grammy Awards was revealed. In the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, Herb Alpert Steppin' Out, Boney James The Beat, Earl Klugh Handpicked, Dave Koz Summer Horns and Jeff Lorber Fusion Hacienda all received nominations. The Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album nominees include Tony Bennett Viva Duets, Michael Bublé To Be Loved, Gloria Estefan The Standards and Dionne Warwick Now. Alicia Keys and John Legend each picked up a nomination in the Best R&B Album category for Girl On Fire and Love In The Future, respectively. Adele was nominated for Best Song Written For Visual Media for her James Bond theme song "Skyfall," which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in February. In the Best Historical Album category, the Bill Withers collection The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums is up for an award. Chart-topper Bruno Mars was nominated in four categories, while Robin Thicke picked up three noms. Rihanna made the list for Best Pop Duo or Group Performance for her smash "Stay" in addition to picking up a nod for her album Unapologetic in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. The 56th Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on January 26, 2014. A complete list of nominees is availabe here.
- Earth, Wind & Fire, Robin Thicke for Grammy Nominations Concert
The Grammy Nominations Concert will air live on CBS tonight (December 6), at 10pm ET. The event will feature performances from six-time Grammy winners Earth, Wind & Fire, Robin Thicke, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Miguel and Keith Urban, among others. The one-hour special will be hosted by two-time Grammy winner LL Cool J and will take place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Arsenio Hall, Enrique Iglesias and Ed Sheeran have signed on to be presenters. The nominees for major categories will be announced during the ceremony and concert tonight, while the 56th Grammy Awards will air live on January 26, 2014 on CBS.
- Nelson Mandela, Historic South African Leader, Dead at 95
Former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the age of 95. Lauded around the world for his tireless efforts for equality and dignity for all people, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Born on July 18,1918, Mandela became the first member of his family to receive a formal education, attending Fort Hare University. His interest in anti-apartheid activism began during that time and eventually led to charges of treason in 1964. He was sentenced to life in prison and sent to Robben Island, where he spent 27 years as inmate No. 466/64. Despite the hardships he endured there, he remained optimistic about the human condition. In his book Long Walk to Freedom he wrote, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." He was released from prison in 1990 after president Frederik Willem de Klerk took office, following an international campaign that called for Mandela's freedom. South Africa formally ended apartheid in 1994 and Mandela became the first Black president of the country after receiving a majority vote in the first ever fair, democratic elections. Mandela is survived by his wife Graça Machel, three daughters Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi, four step-children, seventeen grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
- Beyonce and Goodwill Continue #BeyGOOD Partnership
Beyoncé and Goodwill Industries International announced they will continue their successful #BeyGOOD collaboration, as the award-winning singer encourages her fans to support Goodwill during the second North American leg of The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Over the summer Beyoncé's fans donated over 27,500 pounds of clothes and goods, providing over 800 hours of free on-the-job training at Goodwill Career Centers around the country. Throughout the remaining December tour dates fans can donate to Goodwill in advance and bring their donation ticket to the show or bring their donations to the concert. The first 100 fans who arrive to the concerts between 7pm and 8pm with a receipt or donation will receive a sticker qualifying them for a seat upgrade. The donated goods are sold by Goodwill in the communities where they are collected and the revenue generated funds employment programs for people with disabilities, disadvantages and other challenges finding employment. Check out Beyoncé's website for more information and a full list of her tour dates here.
- The Piano Guys Celebrate 'A Family Christmas'
The Piano Guys released their first holiday album in October entitled A Family Christmas and will be celebrating the music and the season with concerts and television performances. On December 11, The Piano Guys will perform "Angels We Have Heard On High" live on The Today Show on NBC, during the Kathie Lee and Hoda hour. On December 14, they will perform on Huckabee - FOX News Channel. The group has several holiday concerts planned as well - catch them on stage in Westbury, NY (Dec. 11), Boise, ID (Dec. 17) and Salt Lake City, UT (Dec. 21). Paul Anderson (producer/videographer), Jon Schmidt (pianist/songwriter), Steven Sharp Nelson (cellist/songwriter) and Al Van Der Beek (music producer/songwriter) are the core members of The Piano Guys. The group took the world by storm after posting their unique music and sensational videos on YouTube. Their second release, the self-titled The Piano Guys, reached number one on the Billboard New Age Albums chart in 2012. For more information about the band, visit their website here.
- John Legend Launches 'Playing it Forward' Concert Series
John Legend helped kick-off the new concert web series Playing it Forward at the Culver City Farmer's Market last week. According to Entertainment Weekly, the event was created by Crackle, the multi-platform entertainment network behind Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee among other ventures. Playing it Forward will feature surprise street performances from some of the biggest names in music across the country, all benefiting music education and charities of the artists’ choice with a $100,000 donation from Crackle. Legend performed his hit “Ordinary People,” his current single “All of Me” from his new album Love in the Future and "Shine," a song he wrote for the documentary Waiting for Superman, about the public education system in America. Legend's Show Me Campaign organization will receive the Crackle donation, using the funds to further its work to break the cycle of poverty by giving children access to quality education through the promotion of scalable, proven solutions and programs. To watch the video of John's performance and support the cause, visit the Playing it Forward website here.
- Santana, Hancock to Receive Kennedy Center Honors
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the 2013 recipients for the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. Five artists will be honored including guitarist, singer-songwriter Carlos Santana, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, pianist, singer-songerwriter Billy Joel, opera singer Martina Arroyo and award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine. The 36th Annual National Celebration of the Arts Gala will be held on December 8, 2013 on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage. The honorees will be seated with President Obama and Mrs. Obama during the gala performance and will be guests at the White House prior to the event. The Honors Gala will be recorded and broadcast on CBS on Sunday, December 29 at 9 p.m. ET.
- Phil Collins Considers Return to Music
Award-winning singer, songwriter, drummer Phil Collins retired from his music career in 2011 due to damage to his spine that prevents him from playing the drums. But according to Digital Spy, in a recent interview with the German media at a Stuttgart premiere of Tarzan, a musical based on his Disney film, he indicated he is considering a Genesis reunion. He says, "I have started thinking about doing new stuff. [Maybe playing] some shows again, even with Genesis. Everything is possible. We could tour in Australia and South America. We haven't been there yet." Known for hits like "One More Night" and "Another Day In Paradise," Phil last released a covers album of 60's Motown and Soul classics entitled Going Back in 2010.