Although the list is about ten years old, Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers list has recently been making the rounds back through social media. No matter where you go on the internet, people are once again arguing about the validity of the list. Lists like these are ultimately pointless; even the people who write these lists probably disagree with their own rankings a week after they make them. What isn't pointless, however, is how much fun it is to argue about who should have been ranked higher. For me, the biggest problem with the list is the glaring omissions. There are timeless, hugely influential singers that are nowhere to be found on Rolling Stone's ranking, and these are just five of the biggest that were missing.
It's about 1991 or so and I'm about three or four years old, sitting in the back seat of the car while my dad drives. As was usually the case, we're listening to Chicago's Oldies station, which at the time played mostly music from the 1950s and 60s. I liked everything I heard at that time, though there were a few songs that always got younger me excited, and one of them was by The Isley Brothers.
In the 1960s, there were few vocals groups bigger than The Miracles. Starting in 1955 as The Five Chimes, the group is most famous for the lineup that featured Smokey Robinson, Claudette Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Ronald White, and Warren "Pete" Moore. I had the pleasure of having a chat with Pete Moore's daughter Monique about her father, his legacy, and what The Miracles mean to her as the daughter of a legend.
Far too often in public discussions, self-identifying "allies" in regards to the struggle for racial equality try to make the fight for equality about them. Instead of supporting the people of color, they're pulling focus, and this needs to stop. There are three important things to remember that, from one white man, I see being widespread problems from well-intentioned, but woefully clumsy white people.
In 1944, the situation was getting tense for The Ink Spots. Lead vocalist and first tenor Bill Kenny was becoming more and more in control of the band, and second tenor Deek Watson was becoming a problem. The Ink Spots liked to portray themselves with a classy and professional vibe, but Watson was anything but. … Continue reading Song Spotlight: “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons”
Cloud Nine may have been the first trip in the psychedelic soul era for The Temptations, but Puzzle People was the proof that it was here to stay. The incredible (and severely underrated) album was released 50 years ago this week, the same week that The Beatles released Abbey Road. It was a sign that … Continue reading Celebrating 50 Years of The Temptations’ Puzzle People
A prevailing theme in the historical narratives for any struggle for people of color is that some white savior came along and saved the day. People like Abraham Lincoln are emphasized, along with other white allies against oppression like abolitionist John Brown, or earlier forefathers who are seen as revolutionary simply for not being as bigoted as their peers. Meanwhile, nameless people of color by the millions were enduring the hardships, and our attention always seems to turn to the white heroes.
The year is 1968, and The Temptations have a problem. They are one of the biggest groups in the world, but their lead singer is destroying himself, and taking The Temptations with him.
In anticipation of an upcoming reissue of Marvin Gaye's sole live performance of the landmark album What's Going On, Motown has released a new, heartbreaking music video for its title track. Directed by Savanah Leaf, the video uses clips of Marvin performing live with a narrative that involves the horrors of gun violence, racial profiling, the Flint water crisis, and our broken for-profit healthcare system in a four minute package that brought tears to my eyes.
Sam Cooke was essential to desegregating audiences in the United States, but there were still two sides to the man as a performer. The King of Soul had huge crossover success, with songs like “You Send Me” hitting the top of both the Pop and R&B charts, but the Sam Cooke that white audiences saw was different from the Sam Cooke that black audiences did.