Category Archives: Artist Spotlight

About Mr. Spencer by Junie Morrison

ABOUT MR. SPENCER BY JUNIE MORRISON

mr-mrs-charles-spencerMr. & Mrs. Charles Spencer
(Photograph compliments of Charles B. Spencer)

Suffice it to say, those who know Mr. Spencer would certainly rank him as the best music teacher they’ve ever had. His influence has followed me throughout my career and his willingness to support my talent and the talents of others, is unparalleled.

I first saw Mr. Spencer when I was a student in elementary school.  Our entire school was called into an assembly one morning, where we found this young African American man who announced that we were, all of us, going to sing a song in three part harmony. To top it off, the song we were to sing would be in Latin.

I had been the pianist for my church choirs for quite a few years by then so I was intrigued by the audacious approach that was being directed toward students of our entire school, most of whom weren’t even remotely interested in music. Or anything else, for that matter.

To make a short story long, in a matter of minutes, Mr. Spencer had separated us into three groups, used one of those new fangled overhead projectors; to let us “see the notes and lyrics we were singing” and the result, I swear to you, was miraculous.  Mozart’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” was performed flawlessly by my comrades and I, within a matter of minutes. And, you know how short the attention span of elementary school kids can be.

Going forward, I had the great fortune to be taught by Mr. Spencer in high school. My first year there did not see me participating in choir.  However, at an assembly, I had the good fortune to see his choir perform… it was the most amazing performance I had ever seen or heard.

“Mozart’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” was performed flawlessly by my comrades and I, within a matter of minutes.”

Unfortunately, it was very hot that day and the lion’s share of the choir passed out on stage, going down like bowling pins, in front of everyone. This was devastating to me, so I missed the first year.  After building up my courage, I signed up for the next year on.

Needless to say, Mr. Spencer’s choir was phenomenal. We learned many lessons about life as it pertains to social interactions and being competitive in general, as well as to the state of race relations around competitions and the like.

Each day, our morning roll call would be at 6:00 a.m. We liked the class so much that we would gladly pay a fine if we were even a second late, come rain, snow or hell. Anyone who would be late would stumble into the choir room, out of breath… “Did I make it?”  We would all burst into laughter and point at the collection jar for fines. At the end of the year, we would invariably have donated enough for a new reel-to-reel tape machine for recording and critiquing our rehearsals.  Awesome.

As a result, our choir was invited to perform at every high school in the area and we never walked away without winning an award for our efforts. We were even invited, every year, to perform Handel’s “Messiah” at the city’s largest cathedral during Holy Week. Keep in mind, that we performed the entire piece from memory, which is over two hours long.

“His influence has followed me throughout my career and his willingness to support my talent and the talents of others, is unparalleled.”

From a personal perspective, I was fortunate enough to be the “student choir director” at many of our concerts; copying Mr. Spencer’s incredible techniques, of course.

To be honest with you, it is hard to speak for others, but as far as I am concerned, a lot of what I have accomplished as a professional in the music business, I owe to Mr. Charles Spencer.

–  Junie Morrison

Leave a Comment because what you think matters.

Handel’s “Messiah”

The Harder We Fight (The Sweeter The Love) Junie Morrison Remix – Susanne Alt

susanne alt

From Saxify by Susanne Alt
The Harder We Fight (The Sweeter The Love)
Junie Morrison Remix

In the late summer of 2015, P-Funk sister and extremely talented saxophonist, Susanne Alt approached my studio with a request to produce a remix on one of the tracks from her new studio project, Saxify.

Both Susanne and I were in agreement that the track, The Harder We Fight (The Sweeter The Love) featuring vocals by Mavis Acquah was a good candidate for a club style remix and here is the result, released today.  Check it out on Venus Tunes!

– JM

From Saxify by Susanne Alt
The Harder We Fight (The Sweeter The Love)
Junie Morrison Remix

More on Susanne Alt at: www.susannealt.com
Get the Music:  Venus Tunes
@susannealt

mavis-acquahFeatured Vocalist Mavis Acquah
The Harder We Fight (The Sweeter The Love) Junie Morrison Remix
from 
Saxify by Susanne Alt

More on Mavis Acquah at: www.mavisacquah.com
@mavisacquah

@JunieMorrison
J
unie Morrison Facebook Page

Leave a Comment because what you think matters.

What It Meant To Inspire A Song On Solange’s New Album

Funk Artist Junie Morrison Explains What It Meant To Inspire A Song On Solange’s New Album

by Lakin Starling – The FADER

The legendary musician dropped gems about the power of Solange’s creativity on A Seat at the Table and the song “Junie.”

junie-morrison-interview-breadalone2

On Solange’s new album A Seat at the Table, the singer beautifully pares the layers of black identity while giving respect to legendary black musicians. The day before the album was released, Solange revealed via Twitter that the “great” funk musician Junie Morrison was the inspiration for the song “Junie.” Morrison’s own impact on the world of funk starts with his role in the 1970’s as a writer, arranger, and producer for the soul-funk band Ohio Players. Later in the decade, Morrison wrote and produced music for the pioneering cosmic collective Parliament Funkadelic.

Solange channels some of Morrison’s musical liberation in the song “Junie,” an ultra-groovy jam that confronts the appropriation of black culture. She sings: You want to be the teacher/ Don’t want to go to school/ Don’t want to do the dishes/ Just want to eat the food.

In a recent conversation, Morrison shared his reaction when he learned that Solange named the song after him. “I believe that Solange has a great talent for representing and promoting freedom,”Morrison told The FADER over email. “Freedom to be outwardly and inwardly creative.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
When did you find out that Solange was going to name the song “Junie” after you?

To be honest with you, I found out about that particular song just a few days before it was released. She kept it very close and wanted to surprise me with the news. When she informed me about her song, I was a bit taken aback by the surprise but very appreciative that she wanted to put time and energy into creating it. She indicated that she had written a song around my vibe and inspiration, and also indicated that it was very long and called, “Junie”. Suffice it to say, I was like, WHAAAT???!!!

She communicated to me that she wanted to tell me the story of how much my track “Super Spirit” made an impression on her and inspired her to name her creation, “Junie”. She wanted me to hear her creation and speak to me about it. My initial reaction to hearing the song itself was the same as I had while listening to the rest of “A Seat At The Table” –– Wow! This young person has a whole funk load of talent. It’s all good.

Solange Knowles - A Seat at The Table

Solange Knowles
A Seat at The Table

Had you known Solange before the song was recorded?

I instinctively knew Solange, only through the connection we all have as beings on this planet. Strangely enough, it was almost akin to what one would call fate, especially since her brother-in-law started his career by sampling one of my early creations called, “Ecstasy.” Fate is funny that way because I have also been a fan of Solange’s music for years. I liked, among others, “T.O.N.Y.” and “I Decided” quite a lot. In fact, my good friend and great music aficionado, Melissa Weber a.k.a., DJ Soul Sister, formally brought us together, earlier this year.

a-seat-at-the-table Solange Knowles

In what ways do you think Solange channels you and your spirit in “Junie”?

I believe that Solange has a great talent for representing and promoting freedom. Freedom to be outwardly and inwardly creative. In a lot of ways, she resembles me, without a doubt. Being female, however, her talents are very intuitive and have a certain depth of expression, not withstanding the fact that I do have a tendency push the envelope inside of my own diversity.

In your solo projects, you’ve addressed some controversial topics. “A Seat at the Table” is deeply aware of our current moment and directly confronts feelings surrounding black identity. How does that speak to your legacy and music career?

It speaks volumes. Aside from it being a great compliment, it also alludes to the fact that we spend a great deal of time, as beings on this planet, asserting our individuality and uniqueness as if we wear those attributes as a badge of honor. I believe Solange intuits that this type of attitude is the only attribute needed to keep our world from changing. Our awareness is as wide and varied as there are stars in the sky. So I ask, which one of those stars will say that the other does not belong there? Imagine, if you will, the universe acting in as anti-social a way toward its stars, galaxies, and nebulae as we do with our diversity here on earth. There would be real problems in the cosmos.

solange

She showcases a variety of sounds on the album. What struck you about her choice to use a funk-inspired instrumental to address cultural appropriation?

By cultural appropriation, I believe you mean “What happens when stuff gits stole.” If so, I would consider it a perfect way to illustrate the point. One should only remember, however, that to sample a piece of fruit pie need not be the only experience. There will always be more pie to fruit.

Read the original interview at The FADER website.
Lakin Starling @lakinimani is a staff writer at The FADER
@JunieMorrison

@solangeknowles
More on Solange:
Solange Music.com
Saint Heron
Get the music: A Seat at The Table
Melissa Weber @ djsoulsister

Leave a Comment because what you think matters.

It’s True! Black Girls Rock. They Also Jazz…

It’s definitely true that black girls rock.  Hopefully you are aware that black girls also jazz.

Today, the spotlight is on three of the hottest, most incredibly talented lady artists in the world of professional African American Music:

Esperanza Spalding, Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Esperanza SpaldingESPERANZA SPALDING

Four-time Grammy Award winning recording artist,
jazz bassist, cellist, vocalist and composer.

Geri AllenGERI ALLEN

Award-winning jazz pianist, composer, music producer and an Associate Professor of Music with a master’s degree in ethnomusicology.

Terri Lyne CarringtonTERRI LYNE CARRINGTON

Grammy award winning drummer,
composer, producer and bandleader.

Y’know, rather than talk, just gonna let their performance speak for itself.

Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington
Jazz in Marciac – Unconditional Love


For more information about these awesome artists visit:
http://geriallen.com/
http://www.esperanzaspalding.com/#emily
http://www.terrilynecarrington.com/

 

James Brown – Sound On Sound Article

Classic Tracks: James Brown ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’
Producer: James Brown • Engineer: Ron Lenhoff
Excerpt from Article by Richard Buskin

James Brown

‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ was James Brown’s statement of intent as he abandoned soulful ballads in favour of a raw and frenetic new sound.

“Most of the time, working with James Brown, it would be down to the first complete cut,” recording engineer Ron Lenhoff told me when I interviewed him in 1988. “He’d say to me, ‘Ron, are you ready?’ and if I said, ‘Yes,’ he would cut it. After that, if he got all the way through it without stopping, I’d better have it on tape. I never ran into the situation where I didn’t have it on tape, but I sure as hell always worried about it.”

James Brown Portrait

Lenhoff captured many of Brown’s most iconic performances during the halcyon years when he was signed to the independent King Records label in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was founded in 1943 by one Syd Nathan, who, after initially owning a record store there, launched King as a country‑oriented label and, in 1944, based it within an old chemical plant in Cincinnati’s Evanston neighbourhood…


James Brown & The Famous Flames.
Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
Label: King Records. Released: 1964
Producer: James Brown
Engineer: Ron Lenhoff
Studio: King Records

Read the rest of the article on: Sound On Sound Music

Dam-Funk Interviewed by LA Record

DAM-FUNK: DON’T STAY IN THE DARKNESS

dam-funk

Dam-Funk –  Invite The Light
(Album due to drop, Fri., September 4, 2015 on  Stones Throw.) 

Excerpt from interview by LA Record:
This album begins and ends with that transmission from Junie Morrison. On the first instance, it says, ‘If we invite the light, it will surely come to us. If we invite the funk, it will never let us down.’ But at the end, he adds the line: ‘Therefore, we must invite the light, in order to survive.’ That raises the stakes—is this album about life and death for you?

Dam-Funk: I appreciate you asking. In order to survive … it’s supposed to be almost like a blueprint, in the way it starts out optimistically and then goes deep into the darkness and then comes out. I’m telling you right there, in the record, that if you just free your mind of all negativity … like ‘Virtuous Progression,’ I’m saying if you get to that point that you can actually calm down the voices in your head and whatever distractions you have, to live this kind of life. Yeah, we can laugh, we can play—and also do some devious things as well, because it’s just human nature—but at the end of the day, you have to realize, ‘I still want to invite the light in my life and walk through that door.’ There’s a promo—a little 15-minute thing that I’ve done on my Instagram—and I’m walking towards a door and I open it and I walk through the door, and there’s a big light shining. That right there is summing up the record. It’s a choice. You don’t have to stay in the darkness all the time…
Read the entire article on:  LA Record

Leave a comment because what you think matters.

Dam-Funk is at:  Stonesthrow.com/DAMFUNK