WIRED25: Apple’s Jony Ive in Conversation with Anna Wintour

Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive spoke with VOGUE Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour as part of WIRED25, WIRED’s 25th anniversary celebration in San Francisco.
WIRED Videos

Will AI Enhance or Hack Humanity? – Fei-Fei Li & Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation with Nicholas Thompson

In a discussion that covers ethics in technology, hacking humans, free will, and how to avoid potential dystopian scenarios, historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari speaks with Fei-Fei Li, renowned computer scientist and Co-Director of Stanford University’s Human-Centered AI Institute — in a conversation moderated by Nicholas Thompson, WIRED’s Editor-in-Chief.
WIRED Videos

Joan Baez in Conversation with Anthony DeCurtis at the 92nd Street Y – Joan Baez

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Joan Baez in Conversation with Anthony DeCurtis at the 92nd Street Y

Joan Baez

Genre: Arts & Entertainment

Price: $ 1.99

Publish Date: April 15, 2009

© ℗ © 2009 92nd Street Y

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A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman Conversation Starters (Unabridged) – dailyBooks

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A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman Conversation Starters (Unabridged)


Genre: Comedy

Price: $ 3.99

Publish Date: July 12, 2016

© ℗ © 2016 dailyBooks

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Apple’s star-studded ‘The Morning Show’ joins #MeToo conversation

Stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and showrunner Kerry Ehrin “lean into the cultural shift” of the #MeToo movement. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

Reuters Video: Entertainment

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James Ellroy in Conversation with Joseph Wambaugh (2010): Los Angeles Times Festival of Books: Panel 1104 – Mr. James Ellroy

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James Ellroy in Conversation with Joseph Wambaugh (2010): Los Angeles Times Festival of Books: Panel 1104

Mr. James Ellroy

Genre: Arts & Entertainment

Price: $ 1.99

Publish Date: August 16, 2010

© ℗ © 2010 Los Angeles Times

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Diahann Carroll In Conversation With Bob Morris (2009): Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – Diahann Carroll

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Diahann Carroll In Conversation With Bob Morris (2009): Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Diahann Carroll

Genre: Arts & Entertainment

Price: $ 2.99

Publish Date: April 25, 2009

© ℗ © 2009 Los Angeles Times

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3 Tips On How To Keep A Text Conversation Going With A Girl

If you’re not sure how to keep a text conversation going with a girl, then the following tips and tricks will no doubt help you understand the bigger picture about it. Then you can get the upper hand in regards to conversation via text.
Relationships:Dating Articles from EzineArticles.com

3 Tips From A Dating Insider On How To Make A Conversation Interesting Today

Maybe you can easily start a conversation with a woman. But what about keeping it going? Here are 3 tips from a dating insider regarding how to make a conversation interesting.
Relationships:Dating Articles from EzineArticles.com

‘We have to try to help each other’: Goalie using platform to drive conversation about mental health

Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner opened up about his struggles in an effort to lessen the stigma associated with mental illness, and his message resonated beyond hockey.
www.espn.com – NHL

3 Tips On How To Keep Conversation Going With A Girl – Guaranteed Tips To Succeed With Women

If you can figure out how to keep conversation going with a girl, you’re going to be able to get far with anyone. The more they talk, the more comfortable they are going to be with you. These are 3 tips on how to keep conversation going with a girl.
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Will AI Enhance or Hack Humanity? – Fei-Fei Li & Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation with Nicholas Thompson

In a discussion that covers ethics in technology, hacking humans, free will, and how to avoid potential dystopian scenarios, historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari speaks with Fei-Fei Li, renowned computer scientist and Co-Director of Stanford University’s Human-Centered AI Institute — in a conversation moderated by Nicholas Thompson, WIRED’s Editor-in-Chief.
WIRED Videos

A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna

The author and filmmaker Miranda July asks the pop superstar what turns her on, how she handles the pressure of public scrutiny and why she’s been Googling childbirth. (Then they become best friends.)
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A Conversation with The D.O.C.

A Conversation with The D.O.C. by Tim Sanchez (@tim_sanchez) / Photo: Mike Marshall

It was a Saturday evening in late September out in the city of Santa Monica, CA. As I walked in to a dark recording studio, legendary West Coast DJ & Producer Chris “The Glove” Taylor was sitting in front of a sound board giving coaching instructions to an artist inside of the booth who needed multiple recording takes in an attempt to lay down a verse to his liking. It was a dueling process that required patience on both the part of the recording artist and the producer and although I couldn’t see inside of the recording booth (since the lights were off), I could sense a touch of frustration from the artist as he faced the challenge of making the hook part of his song in the right pitch and melody. Recording is no easy task for any artist but especially for this particular artist who has spent the past couple of decades outside of the booth while writing for others – and that artist is The D.O.C.

As we are all familiar with his story, The D.O.C. lost his powerful voice due to a car accident after releasing his classic album “No One Can Do It Better” and writing hits for N.W.A. With that accident, the hip-hop world itself was robbed of an artist whose career could have rivaled some of the very all-time greats that are continuously brought up in Top 5 MC discussions, as The D.O.C. was that good – but with only one album to his credit, The D.O.C. often gets left out of those lists due to a lack of catalogued work.

I sat there in disbelief listening to The D.O.C. recording in his newfound voice since I’ve spend the last two plus decades hearing him talk in a raspy and rough sounding voice. This new voice, although lacking the power of the one heard on “No One Can Do It Better,” still sounded a lot more smooth and polished than the one heard on Dr. Dre’s “$ 20 Sack Pyramid” skit as “Duck Motherf*ckin’ Mouth.” After about a half hour of takes, both the artist and the producer were pleased with the results and it was then that I heard the familiar raspy voice of The D.O.C. speak in to the microphone to voice his approval and to let me know that he was ready to sit down for his interview.

Since the revelation of The D.O.C.’s recovering voice, hip-hop fans have been excited at the news and many on social media have expressed their hopes for a sequel to his 1989 classic “No One Can Do It Better” album. Although he’s been hard at work, there is no question that achieving such a goal is going to be a difficult challenge as evidenced by the studio session that I witnessed. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it just means that The D.O.C. is going to have to clear some hurdles that still remain in his path, such as regaining his voice to full strength – but if anybody can do it, it’s the doc, as he’s already faced several lifetimes of ups, downs, and challenges. AllHipHop sat down with the legendary MC to talk about his career, thoughts on the recent NWA movie, and of course his return to recording. When it’s all said and done, there’s a chance that he will make us all say once again that “no one can do it better.”

AllHipHop: I first heard you as part of The Fila Fresh Crew on the NWA & The Posse album when it first came out. I understand that the DJ for The Fila Fresh Crew was the one that hooked you up with Dr. Dre in the first place.

The D.O.C.: Yeah, our DJ Dr. Rock, was in Lonzo’s World Class Wreckin’ Cru but then he left and Dre ended up taking his spot – so he had that connection with them already. It was only a natural thing for Rock to reach out to his people when we as a group were ready to start recording. We actually recorded a lot of our stuff at Lonzo’s house.

AllHipHop: At that point, were you already familiar with Dr. Dre as a DJ and a Producer?

The D.O.C.: I knew his music from the Wreckin’ Cru stuff and also from Eazy’s “Boyz N The Hood.” I actually bought the maxi-cassette single for “Radio” and “Boyz N The Hood” when it first came out. I was a Dre fan already because I knew that his sound quality was the best sh*t smoking.

AllHipHop: Even back on the NWA & Posse album, you’re rap delivery was already crisp. Where did you get your style from since Dallas wasn’t a hotbed for hip-hop?

The D.O.C.: I studied the New York guys. There really is a formula to what I was doing. It was a little bit of Slick Rick, Run, KRS-One, Rakim and then with my own style. I took what I enjoyed from those guys and fused it. You’re right, Dallas was not a hotbed for the hip-hop scene but I wanted to be great like Rakim. I actually got really angry at him (Rakim) because he was so much better than me. I started chasing him.

AllHipHop: I hear a little bit of the early LL Cool J style in some of your songs.

The D.O.C.: LL is from Run’s tree. Run is the big bro, Cool James is the middle bro, and I’m the baby bro. It’s all the same to me – a really loud, clear, articulate and confident style.

AllHipHop: Why wasn’t The Fila Fresh Crew on the album cover of NWA & The Posse? Candyman was on it and he wasn’t even a part of the album.

The D.O.C.: They took all of those pictures before I ever showed up.

AllHipHop: So the album wasn’t even complete when they took those photos?

The D.O.C.: Yeah, the group itself (NWA) was still being solidified at that point. Ice Cube himself was still in C.I.A. when they took those shots. Shortly after I arrived, everything kind of just came together.

AllHipHop: We’re you nervous at all to come out to Los Angeles and start making records?

The D.O.C.: No. I’m the king of confidence. I was actually over confident. I knew in my soul that I had to get close to what LL Cool J was doing because he was the man at the time. I played my album “No One Can Do It Better” and then I played LL’s “Walking With A Panther” and I knew that I had made it. I was on that level and it might have been jumping beyond that level. I’m really confident as a person and that can be a blessing and a curse. As a confident young man away from home, I was uncontrollable.

AllHipHop: Was it hard for you to adapt to Los Angeles when you first arrived?

The D.O.C.: Yes, it was. I’m nowhere near a thug. I’m an introvert and a reader. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I was surrounded by the gang culture and the streets – and that sh*t was like a real shock. Maybe that led to a lot of the bravado, just to make sure that I felt like I fit in, like the drinking because I was uncomfortable a lot.

AllHipHop: Since we’re talking about your early days right now, let’s talk about the “Straight Outta Compton” movie. First off all, did you see it?

The D.O.C.: Yes, I did.

AllHipHop: What’s your take on the accuracy or inaccuracy of some of those scenes in the movie?

Part 2 of this exclusive interview runs tomorrow on AllHipHop.com.


Filed under: Features, Uncategorized Tagged: N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton, The D.O.C.
Hip Hop News, Interviews and Music: Allhiphop.com

Cold Beer Conversation – George Strait

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Cold Beer Conversation

George Strait

Genre: Country

Price: $ 9.99

Expected Release Date: September 25, 2015

© ℗ 2015 MCA Nashville, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Watch Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon Have a Delightful Conversation Without Words

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon don’t needs words to advance their beautiful bromance. Just looks. Lots of touching, tender looks. 
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Cuba: The Conversation Continues – Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

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Cuba: The Conversation Continues

Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Genre: Jazz

Price: $ 11.99

Release Date: August 21, 2015

© ℗ 2015 Arturo O’Farrill, under licence to Motéma Music, LLC

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A Rational Conversation: Does Anybody Even Have Time For An 80-Minute Album?

In a musical environment that prizes economy and the listener’s ability to shuffle, skip and create playlists, is there still a place for ambitious, sprawling albums meant to be consumed all at once?

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The Donald Trump Conversation: Murdoch, Ailes, NBC and the Rush of Being TV’s “Ratings Machine”

In his first magazine cover interview and photo shoot as the leading Republican, the reality TV presidential candidate lets loose on Hillary’s email scandal (“Watergate on steroids”), Bill Cosby (“Was he drunk?”), whether he’ll go on Megyn Kelly’s show, why he won’t accept vice president, Melania as first lady, and if he even needs Fox News and the haters.

read more

Hollywood Reporter

First Listen: Arturo O’Farrill, ‘Cuba: The Conversation Continues’

The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s perfectly timed collaboration between U.S. and Cuban musicians features cutting-edge works by a carefully selected group of composers.

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The True Cost of Fast Fashion: Continuing the Conversation


“People aren’t going to care until it hurts them personally.”

That was the last comment in the closing discussion of The True Cost movie screening I co-hosted in Boston this summer.

The documentary has been sweeping film festivals and fashion media across the world with a no-holds-bar narrative of fashion’s effect on people and planet.

As I sat in the audience that night, surrounded by 100+ students, designers, entrepreneurs, mechanical engineers and concerned consumers, I could see and hear the emotions around me.

There’s something about watching a female garment worker being beaten with a club on the streets of Phnom Penh that can really grip you.

As strong as the emotions were, though, some of the most insightful comments in the post-discussion focused on how we will respond now that we’ve seen the footage and the movie is no longer playing in front of our eyes.

“We’re so detached,” one audience member said. “It’s just so hard to care about people on the other side of the world who you don’t know. Especially when there are so many other problems in the world.”

This sentiment resonates with many consumers: When there is so much to fight for in this world, how do you choose your battles?

When you’re the mom in Missouri with four mouths to feed and the cheapest store is a Wal-Mart, how do you say ‘no’ to the five dollar t-shirts that your kids will grow out of in a few months?

When you’re the university student drowning in debt, how do you make ethical fashion a part of your lifestyle?

In an ideal world, the industry execs profiting off of cheap labor would choose to change things on their own. Then consumers wouldn’t have to make a choice — it would either be ethically-made or not made at all.

But that’s not the reality we live in. The reality is that the fashion industry is a 3 trillion dollar a year business and only two percent of apparel companies source from suppliers that pay their workers a fair and living wage.


The reality is that industry giants can claim negligence because they don’t technically “own” their factories and thus don’t have to take responsibility for fair compensation.

The reality is that until consumers start making demands and asking for change, the fashion industry has no reason to clean up its act.

We’ve heard all of this before. It’s a classic chicken and the egg. A vicious cycle of rock bottom prices and consumer expectation that it should be this way. We expect the five dollar t-shirt — I’d even go so far to say, we feel entitled to it.

And that’s where the root of the problem lies. On the surface, the issues are obvious to us: pay the workers a better wage, change the supply chain, improve working conditions.

“…But I still want clothing to be cheap.”

We deflect the responsibility with the same negligence that fast fashion shareholders deflect it.

There’s nothing I can do as one person. The problem is too great to solve. The issues are too complicated. There is someone more qualified to tackle this. There are only so many hours in a day…

Why should the medical student in Boston care about the garment worker in Bangladesh?

Maybe the answer lies in actually remembering, as True Cost director Andrew Morgan says, that there are people behind the clothes we wear.

Maybe if we saw that with a different stroke of luck in the gene pool, it could be us in front of that sewing machine — we wouldn’t be so apathetic.

I don’t have the answer. Or a solution. The best I can do is lead by example and encourage others to do the same.

The best you can do is to start asking questions, educating yourself, sparking non-judgmental conversations with your friends while doing whatever you can to shine light on yet another fundamental flaw in our society —

That when it comes to the bottom line, the underdog never wins.

If you haven’t seen The True Cost documentary yet it’s streaming on Netflix for free right now.

Photo credit: The True Cost

Shannon Whitehead is the founder of Factory45, an accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch. Join a growing movement of fashion changemakers here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Style – The Huffington Post
FASHION NEWS UPDATE-Visit Shoe Deals Online today for the hottest deals online for shoes!

Locarno: Oscar Winner Walter Murch Pays Tribute to ‘A Conversation’

The triple Oscar winner recreates the Francis Ford Coppola classic through sound.

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News in Brief: Having Awkward Conversation With Coworkers In Alternate Venue Referred To As ‘Going Out To Lunch’

COLUMBUS, OH—Engaging in stilted chitchat about their spouses, exercise routines, and weekend plans at a Buffalo Wild Wings a quarter mile from their workplace, employees from local software company Cortel Systems referred to making awkward conversation outside the normal confines of their office as “going out to lunch,” sources confirmed Thursday. “So, uh, Henry, how long does it take you to drive into work in the morning?” asked account manager Elizabeth Harris, who called the brief snippets of forced conversation interspersed with long, uncomfortable pauses that took place over a chicken BLT with a side of potato wedges instead of at the table in their office kitchen a “nice change of pace.” “25 minutes? That’s not as bad as I thought. About the same as mine, you know, maybe a couple minutes longer…yeah.” At press time, Harris could be overheard referring to the individuals she solely knows …

The Onion

Cognac & Conversation – Teedra Moses

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Cognac & Conversation

Teedra Moses

Genre: R&B/Soul

Price: $ 9.99

Expected Release Date: August 7, 2015

© ℗ 2015 Shanachie Ent. Corp.

iTunes Store: Top Albums in R&B/Soul

Neil Gaiman In Conversation With Chip Kidd: Sandman 20th Anniversary Celebration – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman In Conversation With Chip Kidd: Sandman 20th Anniversary Celebration  artwork

Neil Gaiman In Conversation With Chip Kidd: Sandman 20th Anniversary Celebration

Neil Gaiman

Genre: Arts & Entertainment

Price: $ 0.95

Publish Date: November 9, 2008

© ℗ © 2008 92nd Street Y

iTunes Store: Top Audiobooks in Arts & Entertainment

Love Is In The Air On Migos’ Seductive New Track ‘Conversation’: Listen

The Atlanta rap trio shows off their romantic side on “Conversation.”

News in Brief: Man At Party Comes Crawling Back To Conversation He Thought He Could Do Better Than

SOMERVILLE, MA—Awkwardly reengaging with the small cluster of people in the corner of his coworker’s living room, party guest David Kirsch reportedly came crawling right back to a conversation he thought he could do better than, sources confirmed over the weekend. “Hey, so I just remembered that I actually had seen Beyond Thunderdome a long time ago, but that’s the only one of the old Mad Max films I’ve watched,” said the humiliated Kirsch, who reportedly circled back to the discussion about Mad Max: Fury Road and other current movies a mere five minutes after extricating himself from the group in search of a more stimulating exchange. “I should check out the others, but I don’t know how they’re gonna top Fury Road.” According to sources, Kirsch attempted to finish his drink as quickly as possible in order to have an excuse to detach …

The Onion

Industry Rules No. 1-4079: A Conversation With Lawyer Julian Petty

Once he was an aspiring rapper, now he represents Ali, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples and the estate of Biggie Smalls. He’s also worked with Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder.

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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

A Rational Conversation With Mac McCaughan And Waxahatchee

Songwriter Katie Crutchfield and her boss, Merge Records’ Mac McCaughan (who has a new solo album) talk about motivation, listening to their own music and the differences between DIY in 1994 and 2015.

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Maci On Her Co-Parenting Conversation With Ryan: ‘I Really Don’t Think He Gets It’

In this “Teen Mom OG: Featured Moment,” Maci talks about her co-parenting chat with Ryan.

Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Dr. Darnell Hunt on Diversity in Hollywood

Television shows like Empire, Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, along with films such as 12 Years a Slave and Selma, have demonstrated that productions featuring people of color in lead roles can be both popular and profitable. Indeed, these and other hits have some observers declaring a new era of diversity in Hollywood. But a new study, “2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script,” shows that decision making in the entertainment industry continues to be dominated by white men — and the result is often a skewed vision of America.

In the clip below, Dr. Darnell Hunt, the director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, which produced the report, explains why more people of color are needed in Hollywood’s executive suites.

For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley on PBS. Check our website for your local TV listings: pbs.org/tavis.
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A Rational Conversation: Colleen Green And Going Hi(gher)-Fi In 2015

What type of signal does it send when a musician moves from the bedroom to the studio?

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A Rational Conversation With ASAP Yams

A posthumously published interview reveals the New York rap impresario’s insights, directness and humor that made him so beloved in the music community.

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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

‘Reich and Sondheim: In Conversation and Performance’: Concert Review

Legendary composers Stephen Sondheim and Steve Reich chatted about their careers and introduced performances of their work in this evening presented by Lincoln Center’s “American Songbook” series

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Hollywood Reporter – Music Reviews

A Two-Night Conversation on Free Speech

Tonight I’m joined by magazine publisher Larry Flynt, Iranian-American actor and comedian Maz Jobrani, and Peter Eliasberg, the legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, for the first of a two-night conversation on free speech. Tomorrow night we pick up this conversation with KPFK Pacifica radio host Sonali Kolhatkar, comedian Roseanne Barr, and Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In the clip below, I ask Roseanne whether there’s a fine line between what is offensive and distasteful, and what constitutes an abuse of free speech.

For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley on PBS. Check our website for your local TV listings: www.pbs.org/tavis.
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The Colorism Conversation Continues in Light Girls | Oprah Winfrey Network

Filmmaker Bill Duke continues the conversation on colorism, and questions the notion that light skin makes for an easier life. Iyanla Vanzant, Raven-Symone, Erica Hubbard, Chris Spencer and many more speak out about bullying, skin bleaching and the trending separation between light- and dark-skinned people on social media.

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Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand — and the magnetism of the channel.

Winfrey provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities.

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The Art of Conversation – Kenny Barron & Dave Holland

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The Art of Conversation

Kenny Barron & Dave Holland

Genre: Jazz

Price: $ 9.99

Release Date: September 15, 2014

© ℗ 2014 Impulse ! A Division of Universal Music France

iTunes Store: Top Albums in Jazz

Unlocking The Eclectic: A Conversation With Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler

The enigmatic leader of Shabazz Palaces says his process is instinctive, non-linear and, sometimes, beyond his own understanding. Read Ishmael Butler’s extended interview with All Things Considered.

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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

A Rational Conversation: The Sound Of TDE’s Success

One of the biggest and developing stories in hip-hop is the Los Angeles label Top Dawg Entertainment. The company employs an in-house production team responsible for its best and best-loved songs.

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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

A Rational Conversation: The Sound Of TDE’s Success

One of the biggest and developing stories in hip-hop is the Los Angeles label Top Dawg Entertainment. The company employs an in-house production team responsible for its best and best-loved songs.

» E-Mail This

ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

Unlocking The Eclectic: A Conversation With Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler

The enigmatic leader of Shabazz Palaces says his process is instinctive, non-linear and, sometimes, beyond his own understanding. Read Ishmael Butler’s extended interview with All Things Considered.

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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

Dear Governor Cuomo: A Conversation with Natalie Merchant, Plus Catching Up with Freda Payne


A Conversation with Natalie Merchant

Mike Ragogna: Natalie, what have you been up to lately beyond the new album?

Natalie Merchant: I’ve become extremely active in the fight against hydraulic fracking in New York. Where are you based?

MR: Iowa, though I grew up in New York, so this concerns me as well.

NM: Well, New York is sitting on the Marcellus Shale, which has huge reserves of natural gas, but the only way to extract them is by exploding the bedrock a mile or two under the surface and pulling the gas up using hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater which will then be contaminated. It’s also extremely radioactive down there. We’re watching what’s happened in other states with the contamination of aquifers and the devastation of previously rural areas that are now highly industrialized. There’s also quite a bit of contamination of the air that occurs with hydraulic fracturing. Anyway, I’ve been involved in that, and I made a film called Dear Governor Cuomo, because of the moratorium that was put in place by Governor Patterson before Governor Cuomo–which he has upheld.

MR: Natalie, do you think he’s weighing the economics heavily and that’s what’s affecting things?

NM: If he’s doing it for short-term gain, he would have opened the flood gates long ago. I think it’s politically very contentious because there’s a massive grassroots movement against this. Actually, we had a big victory last week, the court of appeals in New York ruled that all of the village, town, and city bans that citizen groups have put in place will be upheld. It’s a huge blow to the gas industry. Anyway, we’re just saying that it’s an extreme form of extraction that’s extremely dangerous, and we want an independent health study that tests what the impacts on the environment and health of not just humans but wildlife would be and what sort of impact it would have on our natural resources. Then we can weigh out whether it’s worth that risk. That’s happening in Colorado and North Dakota and Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania and West Virginia, there are these thirty-six other states where they’re fracking and there’s massive devastation of prairie. We’re also questioning whether it’s wise to make that a major export. We’re talking about energy independence. We can supply for our own needs, but if we’re talking about selling that gas to other countries we’ll need to get three to five times the amount. Anyway, that’s one thing I’ve been doing. I’ve also been involved in local activism in the domestic violence advocacy groups, and made another film called SHELTER. I’ve gotten into this new form of protest that is multimedia. We gather together the community activists, and in the case of Dear Governor Cuomo, we have scientists and victims from other states who have had their water contaminated, and then we put together a program with music that is relevant to the subject we’re trying to educate people about and put together an evening where we alternate between appealing to the heart and appealing to the mind, left brain, right brain. People take in the information in a completely different way than if it was given by a speaker. We also have visuals, photographs, film, and we film the whole event so that it can be a tool for activists between the organizing.

That’s what we did with the domestic violence issues, too. I got to go to some district attorneys’ offices in the two neighboring counties where I live in the Hudson Valley and we asked the prosecutors for statistics. We wanted to quantify the problem of domestic violence in our area because we felt it was a crisis but we couldn’t really sound the alarm without telling people how large the crisis was. The statistics had never been gathered in one place before, so we actually did a service to the domestic violence community by gathering the statistics and publicizing them. We found out there have been thirty-seven homicides over the past fifteen years related to domestic violence. They involved a child of three months all the way to a woman who was seventy-eight years old. People brutally murdered. And this was in this rural, bucolic environment. Then we started to look at how many domestic incident reports had been filed that year and the year before. There were tens of thousands. Then we checked how many arrests, how many convictions. When we actually did the event I decided that we as a community hadn’t acknowledged properly the deaths of these people, so I took all the names of the victims and I went back into the newspaper and I looked at the way their deaths had been reported. There was more written about a local football match than the brutal murder of two women. I decided that we have to memorialize these women.

MR: What was the commonality? When you looked at all the information, were there any conclusions that you came to?

NM: The conclusion I came to is that we need to have a community response. What was interesting was that I had this bias of, “I live in the country, this happens in the city.” It was not evenly distributed, but it was actually weighted a bit heavier in the countryside. There’s more domestic violence in the countryside, but the homicides are evenly distributed in both the urban and rural communities. That was jarring to me. But we took the thirty-seven names and we had a string quartet play a requiem, a piece that I had written, and we projected their names. It was an incredibly powerful moment for our community, to acknowledge that this was happening and to mourn these people. Anyway, I did that, and then I also did the Leave Your Sleep project which was a massive five-year project with a hundred and thirty musicians. I wrote a short book about the poets and spent a whole year talking to defendants of the poets and their estates and their executors, going to different institutions, finding photographs. A lot of those poets are so obscure there are no biographies–probably four of them had biographies. That was a really fun, engaging project that I could work on while having a small child.

MR: That approach was very original.

NM: It was interesting, I finished the project and I took it Nonesuch and Robert Hurwitz who’s been running Nonesuch for thirty years said it was the most original project he’d ever seen. I took that as a huge compliment coming from him. He’s worked with Steve Reich and Philip Glass for years.


MR: Let’s get to your latest album. It’s simply titled Natalie Merchant. You could have taken that approach before, why now?

NM: I wanted to make a distinction, I wanted to set this album apart from previously, and the album that preceded it, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, which was vocal music. I wanted to say, “This is my work.” That’s what I was trying to achieve through the self-title. It’s a piece of work that’s been in progress for probably fifteen years. I was focusing on having a family and my community activism and interpreting folk music and adapting other people’s words to music. I was also in a kind of journal-keeping fashion writing my own songs because it’s a compulsion. I have to do it. It is a kind of catharsis that comes from journal writing. So much happened in fifteen years, it’s a pretty sizeable piece of time. So much happened, not just in my private life but in the world. Wars began and ended. We as a global community recognized that we are seeing the impacts of our wanton ways on the climate, Hurricanes Katrina and Irene and Sandy. We’ve seen typhoons. This ongoing crisis of people being displaced by war and natural disaster, which I ended up writing about in the end. The UN figures–I’ve read 27.5 million people displaced by conflict. I’ve also read figures up to 40 million. It depends on what state those people are living in. Some people are living under tarps, some people have had to move to other countries to build their lives, but they still count as refugees and displaced people.

MR: Do you think there’s any solution?

NM: It would take a spiritual revolution. That’s what I’ve been praying for my whole life, that spiritual revolution. And it’s not recognition of one got or one creed. The spiritual revolution that I’m waiting for and I’m praying for is when we realize what a miracle it is that we even exist on this planet.

MR: My son and I have been watching the updated Cosmos series. In relation to the time and space of the universe, what a speck of a speck of a speck times a trillion and more each human being actually is.

NM: How very minute we are. We’re just misguided. Our brains are just large enough to completely undermine our whole existence. It’s tragedy on a scale that cannot be imagined. it just devastates me every day. We have scraped away topsoil that people in the arid regions of the world would lay down their lives for and covered it with tar. Just start with that. We don’t value what sustains us. We poison the water, we poison the air, we destroy the soil. It’s maddening. You know what’s even more maddening? To explain this to a child. I didn’t really consider that when I got pregnant that someday I would have to try to interpret the madness of my species.

MR: The hardest thing is when you try to raise them to be decent people and the world throws at them messages that are contradictory to that.

NM: And you hope that you’ve given them a strong enough foundation that they can be critical enough to say, “That’s wrong.”

MR: Yeah.

NM: That’s the goal of good parenting; to raise critical children who can look at the world with a strong base and a critical eye. And then you hope and pray. The other thing that I’ve really wanted to do is provide a protective environment for her long enough to have an authentic childhood. I think every child deserves that. It’s just heartbreaking that so few children get the opportunity. That protective coating that you put on your child, it seems like the whole world is conspiring to bust it open, with the types of film that are created and the books and the video games and the violence and wanton destruction that exists in the world. I’m just constantly shielding my child. I’m really thankful that I live in the country. When I take her to the city, we’re just assaulted by the imagery. I have no control.

MR: Do you see a spiritual renaissance happening to the planet?

NM: I think it’s happening on a tiny scale. When people say, “Are you optimistic or pessimistic?” I say, “I’m optimistic about individual transformation, but it’s the massive institutions that take so long to change.” They’re so inflexible. I’m pessimistic about that. What can we do about the stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world? What can we do about it? Nothing. What can we do about the carbon in the atmosphere at this point? There’s nothing we can do. What can we do about the great lakes? What can we do about the icebergs? This is going to a dark place, but that’s why I made a dark album. I just feel that people need consolation. If Billie Holiday had never recorded “Strange Fruit” 1939 would have been remembered as just the year that The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind were released and the Andrews Sisters had a number one hit about whatever, and we wouldn’t know that there were artists who saw the world for what it was, saw the dark of the world and were disturbed by it. Billie Holiday had the courage to make art about it.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

NM: I would just encourage them to dig deep into themselves, find their authentic heart and be vulnerable. Allow people to see that part of themselves, because that’s what people are going to respond to. I think that’s what’s going to be your lasting legacy. Think about that. What would you like to bring into the world. I think the most powerful thing you can put into the world is that part of yourself that’s felt so deeply.

MR: And that would probably not only be good for the art, but for the human as well.

NM: Mm-hmm. There are so many other aspects to a musician’s world these days, it started with the MTV business. Younger people are just more conscious of trends and branding. That kind of thing didn’t occur to us years ago. There weren’t that many platforms for it. You had a record cover and you had a poster, and that was it. Then came MTV and then came the internet. It’s fascinating and it’s fun to play with and there’s so much you can do with it if you have that capacity. But a lot of artists are just songwriters or singers or guitar players and that whole visual component and having to constantly promote yourself, that can be daunting.

MR: It sure can.

NM: I remember what it felt like, and it still feels like that. When you connect with another person over a piece of music that you both love… We were doing that on the tour bus the other night. My guitar player pulled out his guitar and we were singing songs for hours after we’d already played music for five hours between sound check and the show. We just love it, that feeling of connection and camaraderie, it’s so powerful. Everybody wants to feel like they’re included. That’s what music is about, to me. It’s inclusion. “I feel that. You feel that? We feel the same thing,” whether it’s feeling it with the artist or later on with someone else as you share that same piece of music.

MR: An anthem is a powerful uniter.

NM: Think of how powerful Nirvana was. Think of how powerful Bob Dylan was. Some people are like lightning rods.

MR: That’s a good way to put it. Natalie, we really haven’t talked much about the album yet, can you walk me through it just a little?

NM: This is a survey of fifteen years of work. It wasn’t that I just wrote ten songs in the last fifteen years, I probably wrote thirty or more. But this collection began to coalesce, these songs seemed to belong together more than any of the others. The thing that they all seemed to have in common was they seemed to be about transformation on some level. They also seemed to be about intensely personal subjects, or the world at large. Somehow I wanted to make that connected. I wanted intersections between public and private like we all have. I’ve always used this technique of creating characters and then either inhabiting those characters or having a dialog with them, which happened a lot on this record. “Ladybird” is a woman who has reached that point in her life where she feels extremely dissatisfied but knows that she has created a life that she can’t abandon. So it’s about self-sacrifice, it’s about yearning, it’s about limbo and assessing your life from wanting to change but not being able to because there’s so much at stake.

MR: How does it feel to have created one of the most memorable singer-songwriter albums, Tigerlily?

NM: It was as much a surprise to me as anybody. After 10,000 Maniacs, we had toured for years, we’d done that large MTV Unplugged album, it was kind of the pinnacle for us, with “These Are Days” on that last album. Then I kind of got to the edge of the precipice and I jumped off and I said, “I just want to start again and I want to make a little, quiet record with a little band.” I paid for the record myself, I produced the record myself, I did all the preproduction in my garage and I recorded it pretty quickly at Bearsville Studios. I was so close to the ground with that record, and then it exploded and sold five million copies. Still to this day, when I play those songs, there’s such a huge response. I’m actually re-recording the record next year with all these beautiful string arrangements that I’ve written for all these orchestral shows. I decided, it’s the twentieth anniversary of the release of this record and I’d like to revisit these songs. The truth is I don’t have to revisit them because they’ve stayed a part of my repertoire throughout my life.

MR: Has the material evolved as Natalie Merchant has? Have the lyrics or the arrangements changed significantly over the years?

NM: I think I was pretty precocious, because they’re still extremely relevant, songs like “Carnival” and “Wonder.” The thing that I find really wonderful is how it was embraced by people. One of the things that we’re actually doing is interviewing people at these concerts I’m doing right now about Tigerlily and hearing their stories. The song “Wonder,” in particular, because it’s become an anthem for sick children. It’s become an anthem for children with physical and mental challenges, and it’s so much about the love and support of the parents in helping those children overcome any obstacle. I’ve talked to doctors who said, “We don’t really know how to understand that impact that something like your song has on children, but it has an impact. It has healing properties.” I’ve actually had doctors tell me that.

MR: I’ve heard quite a few artists say they modeled their albums after Tigerlily.

NM: I don’t think of myself as extremely influential or important. I sort of think of myself as a fringe artist. An out there, cult artist on the fringe.

MR: Would you say that you’re still developing as a human?

NM: I hope so! I think having a child really changed me in a really profound way. I have been living on the edge of society, just passing through towns for years. If I put all the years I toured together, end to end, it would be twelve solid years of sleeping in a different bed every night. All the while I was yearning for a home and a place to belong. I think that when I settled in one place and I had a family and watched my child grow up and became somebody who people depend upon on my community in a real way, not just, “Oh while I’m in town maybe I’ll do a benefit for you,” but in an, “Oh, you need someone there at ten o’clock to set up chairs? I’ll be there. You need someone to make all these cupcakes? I’ll be there. You want me to teach the kids civil rights? I’ll be there,” way. Becoming a part of a stable community was very transformative for me. When you embrace a place as home you want to protect it. I remember when I met Pete Seeger. I’ve been in the Hudson Valley for twenty-seven years now, and Pete much, much longer. I remember we took the train together down to the city and by chance we bumped into each other at the railway station upstate. We had this lovely talk all the way down to the city and I remember him telling me, “Natalie, you just have to find a place, make it your home, and stay there.” He said, “Musicians get lost.” It was a wonderful source for that advice. So I took that to heart.

MR: What a beautiful moment. I would add–my perspective coming from being a new parent–that your child also is your home. That could be as big a part of it as one’s geography.

NM: But I think if everybody embraced and protected their home, we’d be golden. The familiarity is important. Once you know a place and love it you want to protect it. When we were organizing both the anti-fracking event and when they tried to start a logging campaign in the state parks of New York we toured all around New York state having petition drives and playing concerts and we publicized that there was this plan to allow logging in the state parks and a cement factory in the Hudson. We ended up presenting a petition to the governor with signatures from a hundred and twenty artists from New York who didn’t want that to happen. Even things like noticing that the Headstart playground was falling apart in my local town, just being more proactive. It just goes on and on. I decided I would not do shows in my community for anything but the benefit of my community. You know who I learned that from? Fugazi. When they played in Washington, if they charged money, it was to benefit their home.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne


A Conversation with Freda Payne

Mike Ragogna: We have quite a few things to talk about here, especially your new album, Come Back To Me Love. So who is this love you want to come back to you?

Freda Payne: [laughs] That’s an interesting one, no one’s ever asked me that one before… “Who is this love you want to come back?” I guess all the loves I’ve ever had. The ones who are still living, anyway. [laughs] The song “Come Back To Me Love” is about a person who separated or split up for a little while but they still love that person and want them to come back into their life. I’m just saying that you can read that any way you wish.

MR: You recorded one of my favorite jazz songs, Kenny Rankin’s “Haven’t We Met?” It’s become a real standard over the years, huh?

FP: Oh yeah! I had become friendly with Kenny Rankin, I got to meet him doing a special annual benefit at the home of director Oz Scott here in Sherman Oaks. It was for The Jackie Robinson Foundation, he had it at his home, he has this huge backyard. It’s an event where he invites close to about four hundred people and it’s called Jazz On The Grass. He had artists like the late George Duke, Marcus Miller, everybody. It’s just one of those kinds of events where you could go and see Sheila E., or Lalah Hathaway or anybody like that. I’ve done it several times where I was also one of the guest artists as was Kenny Rankin. We met and got to be friends. Of course he passed away two years ago, but the thing is that I always liked that song. When I was in the process along with my fellow producer and orchestrator Bill Cunliffe I said, Bill, I’ve always liked that song “Haven’t We Met?” and he said, “Yeah, I like it, too!” and that’s how that came about.

MR: Kenny Rankin’s death was a surprise. I know that he reached a certain level of fame and appreciation, but it almost seems like especially after albums like Silver Morning, he should’ve been a household name.

FP: He was special. He was really a special musician and singer. You’re right, he should’ve gone to even greater heights of fame.

MR: Yeah, it’s unfortunate. Let’s look at some of the other material. Do you have any stories of how you related to this material when you were younger?

FP: Every single one. “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” I always thought of that as a cool standard, a swinging upbeat song to do, and of course everyone knows Cole Porter.

MR: What about the songs by Tom Robinson?

FP: Tom Robinson wrote six of the songs on the album and I like all six. “Lately” is something I think a lot of people can relate to in terms of another personal relationship that’s not quite in balance.

MR: There are two more by Gretchen, “Come Back To Me Love” and “Whatever Happened To Me.”

FP: “Whatever Happened To Me,” you know when you’re kind of perplexed and not sure of yourself, it’s almost like a psychological kind of thing where you go, “Hey, wait a minute, what’s going on here, what am I doing? Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” [laughs]

MR: [laughs] Nice.

FP: Then there’s “You Don’t Know,” that’s like you’re on the prowl. You know that feeling when you’re out there at a singles bar, or you’re at a club or a supermarket or ayour gym and there’s somebody that comes in who’s at your spin class or your yoga class and you start noticing them–“You don’t know what I’m feeling, you don’t understand. I love you with a passion, baby, my heart’s in your hand. You’ve got to know that I just want to be with you.” You’re out there trying to hook up.

MR: It’s funny, you swing the words when you talk about it as much as you swing them when you sing them.

FP: Yeah, when you get into it–I don’t know if I told you, but I have more of myself and what I like and my choice of songs on this CD than I’ve ever had ever in my entire recording career. Usually when you work with a big company and they give you a producer or, in this case I chose my producer. I’d already worked with him and he’d been currently working with me as an accompanist as well and he has his own name, Grammy Award Winner Bill Cunliffe–as well as a Thelonius Monk Award winner. We both chose these songs and these things I wanted to do. We basically chose from about twenty two of Gretchen and Tom’s songs the six we liked the best.

MR: How about “Save Your Love For Me”?

FP: Oh! “Save Your Love For Me,” that goes back to the sixties. Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson. I always loved that song. I never sang it before I did it on the album. I never performed it ever. Now I’m doing it. I always liked that song. There are always songs you’ve always liked but you never did. “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” is the only one of them on the whole album that I had been accustomed to performing prior to this.

MR: Did you discover more layers of the material as you delved into them this time?

FP: Yes I did, and guess what? As I go and start performing them in front of people in clubs and theaters and areans or wherever I’m going to perform them it’s going to get better, because I like it better as I go.

MR: And it seems like you had a blast with these songs.

FP: I’m having a blast, and I have a blast when I perform them. When you’re doing material that you love, it’s so much better. There are songs that I’ve recorded in the past, songs from the seventies where I wasn’t that into the song but I did it because the producer said, “We need to do this, this is the best song for you,” but I wasn’t that crazy about it. As a result I wound up not really performing those songs that much.

MR: Yeah, and who can blame you? It gets a little painful to sing songs you’re not into.

FP: Yeah, it is. Now, I’ve got to say, my hit “Band Of Gold” that I had back in the early seventies, I do that because people love it so much and I get requests for it no matter what I’m doing. Let’s say I do a whole jazz show and I come back with “Band Of Gold” for the last encore, people love it! They want to hear “Band Of Gold” because that’s how they know me.

MR: And also “Bring The Boys Home” during a time in history when yet again we had a war and people were raising their voices to bring the troops home.

FP: Right.

MR: “Band Of Gold” and “Bring The Boys Home” were both about that same topic, was that a concept that was close to you?

FP: I’ll put it this way: I’m far from being a Jane Fonda. I am not on that cutting edge at all. I did the song because bascially number one I believed in it and number two I felt the deep, heartfelt sentiment and the emotional tag of it–that you could feel the pain of people who had relatives or loved ones or husbands or daughters over there. And to be honest with you, the company was trying to get a hit record.

MR: So was it really Holland-Dozier-Holland and Invictus Records directing that?

FP: They called me into the office to play the demo of the song and upon my first listen it brought tears to my eyes. I said, “This is right on time. This is what the public would probably want to hear,” and they said, “Yeah, we feel the same way, too. You need another hit record to follow up ‘Band Of Gold.'” So that’s how it all happened.

MR: Wow. Interesting. You weren’t exactly Crosby, Stills & Nash, but you really put a voice and a face, an identity, to the concept of, “I’m a real person, let’s bring the troops home.”

FP: Right. I mean, I wasn’t walking down Pennsylvania Avenue protesting and getting arrested, but just like Crosby, Stills and Nash and all these other singers, I was in the pop vein who did cutting edge material delivering messages through their lyrics and their artistry. A lot of poets do that, too.

MR: Exactly. You’re one of the centerpieces of the Holland-Dozier-Holland Invictus story.

FP: I am. There was a documentary done a few years ago and they entitled the documentary “Band Of Gold,” because that was the biggest seller during the time they had the label.

MR: It was a huge record. But you also brought “Joy” and “Deeper & Deeper” and other non-topical songs.

FP: And when I did “Band Of Gold” I got nominated for a Grammy for “Best R&B/Soul Singer (Female)” and then I got nominated, twice actually, for the album Contact.

MR: That’s right! That’s right! To me this is a jazz album, what you’ve just put out.

FP: It’s definitely a jazz album, on a jazz label.

MR: But jazz these days also hints towards R&B, funk, all these other areas that it has embraced over the years.

FP: Because jazz came from all of that. Jazz came from funk which came from the gospel church which came from the pentecostal church and the baptist church. Jazz has also infiltrated the hip hop world, you hear a lot of jazz infused into certain mixes.

MR: And there’s the connection to the blues.

FP: Oh yeah, the blues is jazz, too, as far as I’m concerned. You go to a jazz club and you can hear–as artistic as some jazz artists might be–when they start playing some blues that’s a whole other thing. There’s raw blues, the pure blues, and then there’s blues intermixed with jazz. It’s more of a jazz inflection on blues chords. For instance, in my show, I do a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. When I do the “St. Louis Blues,” there’s a version that Ella did that I kind of emulate. She starts it off rubato but slow, the piano is playing very slow, bluesy chords, it’s funky. It might have been Tommy Flanagan or someone like that as her pianist at the time and they’re playing real funky blues for let’s say twenty four bars of the song and then they’ll jump start it and go back to the top with an uptempo version of it and do it like that. That’s a very clever way of doing the blues.

MR: Lots of people know you as a pop R&B singer, but you actually started out as a jazz singer with Quincy Jones, and now you’ve sort of come full circle. What is it about jazz that got you into this and keeps you fulfilled now?

FP: I think it speaks more to my intellect musically, based on how I’ve been trained and how I was brought up. It speaks to my inner soul, I’ll put it that way. I didn’t really get into R&B until I was in my early twenties, and that’s because of Motown becoming more sophisticated and using better arrangers.

MR: That’s a good point, they sort of took a few steps forward from what was R&B to establish “The Motown Sound.”

FP: Now we call them The Funk Brothers, but the musicians who were employed by Motown and did a lot of the Motown sessions, whom I wound up working with back then–Earl Van Dyke became my musical director for twelve years, he was one of the key Funk Brothers.

MR: But Holland-Dozier-Holland had those original Motown roots anyway–is that how the crossover happened?

FP: Yeah, absolutely. I went to high school with Brian Holland. I had met Eddie Holland when I was fourteen years old. Berry Gordy, Jr. brought him to my house. That was when Berry was trying to get me to become one of his artists. This was pre-Motown years. Berry Gordy wrote three songs for me and took me into a studio in Detroit called United Sound, recorded them, and he wanted them to sign me as an artist. My mother wouldn’t follow through with it because she wouldn’t agree to his terms.
MR: [laughs] That seems to be the cutoff with some artists, why they were or weren’t on Motown.
FP: Same thing with Aretha Franklin, don’t you think he tried to get Aretha Franklin? She had her dad, the Reverend Franklin and he sat down with Berry and said, “No go. No go.” She went to Columbia and then Atlantic and the rest is history.

MR: But it’s interesting how you’re Detroit, it’s a natural fit, you went to school with Brian.

FP: Oh, and I forgot, I’m leaving out Lamon Dozier. He’s an integral part of HDH. I went to school with Lamont all through middle school. I went to school with Lamont from the sixth grade to the eighth grade. I had more of a history with Lamont. It’s almost like we’re all from the same pot.

MR: Have you had reunions, especially with Lamont, over the years?
FP: Oh yeah, I just did a think in honor of Lamont here in Beverly Hills on June seventh. The brand new Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills which opened just last year, a man by the name of Charlie Fox–have you ever heard of him?

MR: Of course, Gimbel & Fox.

FP: He asked me to participate in honoring Lamont Dozier as well as David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash at the Annenberg. I participated in that with my sister, who was one of the Supremes. So I just saw Lamont recently. As a matter of fact I just bumped into him at the supermarket the other day!

MR: [laughs] Nice!

FP: And also in 2011 I did a tour with Lamont over in Europe with Sir Cliff Richard. We did a nine city tour of all arenas called the Soulicious Tour. Lamont was one of the acts along with Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, James Ingram, Percy Sledge and myself.

MR: Where is the album with all of you performing together? With all of these friendships over the years, it seems like you’d have a lot of fun doing more tours and collaboration albums.

FP: You’re absolutely correct. That’s what happened with the Soulicious Tour in the UK, but something like that would go over well here in the States, I think.

MR: I think so, too. What is your advice for new artists?

FP: It depends on what stage. If you’re trying to be discovered I’d say try to get on these talent contests that are flooding the market now, like American Idol, The Voice, X-Factor, Rising Star, because that seems to be one of the quickest, easiest avenues to get exposure. The other way I see it with this world of technology that we’re being sucked into more and more, get on YouTube or Facebook or whatever. Try to perform as much as you can for local things in your city, maybe clubs or little music festivals, just get exposure. That’s the only thing I can say. Don’t be quick to turn any opportunity down. I remember once a wise person said to me, “Sometimes something good comes in a small package.” It’s not always, “Oh, this is a big opportunity, you’re going to really excel with this.” I’ve done shows where the money was just enough to pay for my weekly grocery bill, or a play where you’re doing regional theater and the money really couldn’t support me, but you do it because it could lead to something bigger and better and it comes back to you four- or five-fold. And it also enriches you as an artist!

MR: Can you remember anything in particular like that? You’ve have both overtly big breaks and nice subtle relationship with people that led to something nice.

FP: Yeah, sure, I did a musical called Blues In The Night back in 1990. The salary was like, “Are you kidding me?” but I did it for the love of the music and the art and fact that it was muscial theater and I am an Equity member from having done a string of Broadway musicals on the road. It always led to something else. I did Blues In The Night and that led to me doing Jelly’s Last Jam here in L.A. before it went to Brodway, and then that led to me doing the first and only national company after it left Broadway and making much better money for a whole year. That’s what I’m talking about.

MR: When does Come Back To Me Love, Part 2 come out?

FP: [laughs] Well that’s up to the company! That’s up to Mack Avenue if they want me to do another one. I’m certainly hopeful that it might result in that. What do you think?

MR: If there isn’t another one by this time next year I’m going to write a protest letter.

FP: [laughs] Maybe you should let them know that, too.

MR: Well, I did mention that I liked the album

FP: You know what’s so funny, Mike? I’m getting this kind of response from people who know me from “Band Of Gold” and “Bring The Boys Home.” I was thinking, “All these people who like those songs so much are probably into the R&B and pop stuff and they probably won’t really like this that much,” but I’m getting very positive responses from people. And although it’s a jazz album, I call some of these songs urban pop. The one I think could be a good crossover tune is “I Just Have To Know.” Another one I like is “Lately.” It moves nicely.

MR: There must’ve been other songs you considered that didn’t fit on the album. I bet when you’re performing this album there are a few others you sneak in there.

FP: Yeah, I do some more stuff. Actually, when I perform live I still do “Band Of Gold” and I may throw in some other standard tunes.

MR: This album is like, “Hello again, Freda Payne.”

FP: All right!

MR: Is there anything left to cover? I know we only touched on Broadway a little bit.

FP: When you think of Broadway shows I’ve done, I’ve done Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, I’ve done eight companies of Blues In The Night, I’ve done some plays by a playwright named Donald Welch, I did A Change Is Gonna Come. Most recently I did a film version of play called Divorce, strictly as an actress, there’s no singing involved. You can get that on DVD.

MR: I was going to ask you about that. Do you have an acting bug? Do you want to fulfill a little more of that, too?

FP: Yeah, sure, that goes along with the territory. Look at all the singers who are doing a lot of acting, now. Especially rap artists.

MR: It’s a natural fit.

FP: There’s a lot of them out there.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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A Letter Home: A Conversation with Neil Young


A Conversation with Neil Young

Mike Ragogna: Neil, your new album A Letter Home, might be the most personal album of your career. You recorded singer-songwriter classics that are dear to you with an old Voice-o-Graph recording booth that was popular during the forties and fifties. What inspired you to take this approach?

Neil Young: Well, I was visiting with my friend Jack [White] in Nashville and we were using his studio for a Willie Nelson tribute that we did for Willie’s birthday. Jack and I share a love of gizmos. We like mechanical things. So Jack was showing me some of his old gizmos and at the same time he was recording. People were coming and recording on the booth because it’s like from the state fair or something so people used to make records and send them to their friends, you’d put in a quarter or whatever and be able to record a record and send it. It was kind of like the email and voice mail of the day. So he was showing me this and people were coming in and making records, and the limit of the duration is two minutes and twenty seconds. I was working with it, and I put something down on it, just a little bit of song that I’d written or something. I listened to it back and I said, “Okay…all right! Why don’t I make an album on this thing?” He said, “Yeah, we can make an album!” I said, “Give me a little time to think of what it is,” but I’d also been working in the back of my mind on a roots project–“roots” being, “Where did I come from? What made me who I am? What music has effected me over the years? What feelings have I gotten from music that really made a difference? Where did the music that I love come from? What did it sound like?”

As all of this was percolating in the back of my mind, Jack was recording on his little machine that he has and I thought, “Ah, this all comes together for me.” So that’s when the idea came to do the album. It took me three months to locate the right songs and learn them and transcribe the lyrics. So I would find the lyrics somewhere and I would copy them out by hand, because that’s the way I remember things really well, as well as I do remember things, which is not that well, but that’s another subject for another time, probably the medical part of Huffington Post. But anyway, I did that and I created this record just singing those songs. I had a list of songs and I went in with Jack three months later after I had compiled the right list of songs that I really believed in and I practiced and I learned the chords really got used to what the little intricacies of the songs were. There are some great songwriters here. It’smore of a tribute to songwriting and to those folks that wrote those songs and to the art of singing a song and having it be what it is instead of it being a big production. So that’s kind of what it is.

MR: You cover a couple of Willie Nelson songs, Gordon Lightfoot songs, a Tim Hardin song… These are all songs that resonated with you strongly, right?

NY: Oh yeah, that’s the only reason I do them. They have to resonate with me personally in my life and what I believe and how I feel, on a personal level and on world levels. “On The Road Again” is kind of a world-level song for me. It’s like, “Yes, I love this, this is how I feel, I’m that kind of guy, I AM that guy.” Then there are other songs in there that are extremely personal and loving songs that are about relationships and my life at the time. I was living those songs, so they all work for me.

MR: There are songs on this album that seem to relate to other periods of your life or even other songs you recorded. For instance, “Needle Of Death,” “Needle And The Damage Done,” of course, comes to mind.

NY: Yeah, and “Ambulance Blues,” which is another song that I wrote is based on Bert Jansch’s “Needle Of Death,” it’s almost the same chords, you can see how I copped all the changes, I was so influenced by him I basically rewrote his song with a different theme. That’s the folk process, which is something that some people are still into. I am, so it means a lot to me.

MR: Over the years, when you wrote for your various albums, were you inspired by some of these songs?

NY: Oh yeah. These songs meant a lot to me, the feelings in these songs, more than maybe the style–with the exception of Bob [Dylan]’s songs, of course, which I was extremely influenced by. I was mostly influenced by the sentiments in the songs and by the inner feelings in songs and the way they resonated with me and my own life and how I felt, the oneness with the writers of these songs.

MR: I know your mother passed and this is basically a “letter” to her. If this letter had been sent home a little earlier, what do you think the reply would have been?

NY: Oh, she would’ve liked it. She would’ve loved it, just the fact that I was communicating and it was for her. I didn’t plan that thing. Jack told me, “You know, they used to send messages on these records. It wasn’t always just music, there’d be a message.” Rather than write a letter, because maybe some people couldn’t write, they used these recordings to say what they thought and send a message. So that’s how that worked.

MR: You show the essence of the song with these recordings, it doesn’t rely on technology or production values for its level of quality. It interesting how popular music has progressed in the exact opposite direction, relying more on technology than ever before.

NY: I have deviated now and then on different projects, but for me, it’s mostly about the feeling and the performance. If you’re talking about the performance of the song and getting the feeling out, there’s no reason to even listen to it after you’re done if you felt it when you sang it. If I feel it when I sing it and I go, “I did it, that’s it, that’s how I feel, that’s what I did and that’s what the song meant to me, I got the message out,” then I don’t even have to hear it. I don’t care what it sounds like because I’ll never be able to do it as good as that again, so it doesn’t matter. I just move on. The whole idea of a singer-songwriter singing the song from the heart, singing a song that means something to them and actually singing a song that’s good enough to stand up on its own without any accoutrements, without any production, without any machines supporting it, without any formulated beats, without any computer making sure that all the rhythms are justified so that everything is perfect, you take all those things away and put a great song there with a great performance, even if it’s not by the greatest vocalists in the world or the greatest guitar player or instrumentalist in the world, if that person is believing what they’re singing and it’s truly there and the song is great and the song is written from a real place, then the song’s going to resonate with anybody who wants to listen to it.

MR: Neil, it’s also interesting that your PONO system celebrates the audiophile approach, the other extreme of what you did with this project.

NY: Well, it does. It celebrates something else. This project, released through PONO, will be clearer than anything anyone’s heard of this project. Even if it’s the vinyl version of this project where you can hear the clicks and pops and surface noise, the sound of it will be more. In the digital realm, copying this song and playing it back on PONO will be clearer than anything anyone’s ever heard, with more depth than ever before and with more of the emotions of the song revealed than they got the first time because there’s just more there. When you’re dealing with feelings and you’re dealing with the ears, which are clearly the window to the soul–there’s nothing like the ears, everything else is pretty well surface, although smelling is good, but visualization is mostly just a temporary rush. Feeling from the soul, coming in through the ears, that’s what PONO’s all about. It reveals everything that the song has to offer, everything that the original recording of the song contains is revealed and PONO will be a revolution for music as far as being able to actually enjoy it. It’s for music lovers. It’s for people who really enjoy listening to music because finally, they will get what they deserve. It will a revolution for those people.

MR: You’re still very passionate about the PONO.

NY: Well, I’ve put a great deal of my time into it because I feel that the art of the recorded sound is the history of music and everything needs to be preserved in a way that it’s worthy of.

MR: Do you think there will be more letters home? Are you intrigued to do more of these kinds of projects?

NY: You know, the future’s a huge, gigantic place. I have no idea what’s going on out there, I’m just going to walk into it and see what happens.

MR: Well you are the master of the creative process. Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue those kinds of paths?

NY: They just have to do what they feel like doing and not listen to anybody else.

MR: Is there any guidance that these future artists might need?

NY: Inner guidance. Listen to yourself. Everybody’s got their own.

MR: Cool. Is there anything in your near future that we also should be excited about?

NY: I hope so! I don’t know what it is, but I’d say, “Better be ready for it.”

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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