Speech Differences And Stutter Series-Disabled Legend Bill Withers

Bill Withers was born on 4 July, 1938. Bill Withers is an American singer-songwriter who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. Some of his best-known songs are “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Lean on Me”, “Grandma’s Hands”, and “Just the Two of Us”.

Bill Withers was born William Harrison Withers, Jr., Bill Withers is the son of a coal miner who worked for the Slab Fork Coal Company from 1917 to 1951 and a domestic for the William Gaston Caperton family that owned the coal company. Bill Withers was born in a house owned by the company on land leased from Beaver Coal Corporation, predecessor to Beaver Coal Company, Ltd, the youngest of 6 children in the small coal-mining unincorporated community of Slab Fork, West Virginia in Raleigh County. Bill Withers’ father, William Harrison Withers Sr. was a Baptist deacon and the treasurer for the local chapter of the United Mine Workers (UMWA). Bill Withers’ mother, Mattie Rose (née Galloway), was a widow and the mother of 4 children when she married William Harrison Withers, Sr. Withers’ parents separated in October 1941 and officially divorced in May 1942, and Bill Withers grew up both in a company house of the Slab Fork Coal Company in Slab Fork. In October 1941, he moved in with his Aunt Carrella Galloway Briggs’. In August 1944, he finally settled with his mother in Beckley, West Virginia and attended public school at East Park Elementary School and Stratton Junior High School in Beckley, and the coloured schools in Slab Fork.

After his Aunt Carrella died in 1949, Bill Withers formed a special relationship with his maternal grandmother, Lula Carter Galloway who came to live with his family until her death in 1953. Bill Withers then lived with his father in Slab Fork from 1948 to 1951 and attended the local segregated school. Returning to Beckley from Slab Fork after his father became ill, Bill Withers left school in the 7th grade after his father died, and worked several jobs, including a shoe shine boy in Beckley. On 15 July, 1951, William, Sr. died of azotemia and chronic glomerulonephritis when Bill Withers was 13. After his father’s death, Bill Withers lived with the family of the widow of his deceased brother Earl, Elfreida Martin. Bill Withers suffered from chronic stuttering until the age of 28.

In May 1956, at the age of 17, Bill Withers joined the United States Navy and served for 9 years, during which time he became interested in singing and songwriting. Bill Withers began writing songs to fill a need for lyrics that expressed what he felt. Following his discharge from the Navy in July 1965, he worked in the San Jose, California area and then moved to Los Angeles in 1967 to pursue a career in music.

Bill Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corporation, in the Los Angeles area, while recording demo tapes with his own money that he shopped around and performing with local musicians at the night. Although he kept his job as an assembler after he debuted on the music scene in February 1971 with the single “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the album “Just As I Am,” he was shortly thereafter laid off by Weber Aircraft Corporation.

In early 1970, Bill Withers’ demo tape was received favourably by former music manager and music executive and entrepreneur Clarence Avant of the newly created Sussex Records, Inc., distributed by Buddah Records and Interior Music Corp.. Avant signed Bill Withers to recording and publishing contracts on 8 May, 1970, and Booker T. Jones of Stax Records produced Bill Withers’ debut album. Bill Withers also signed with the business manager representing Avant, Sussex, and Interior, Paul Orland of Orland, Chase, and Mucci and the law firm representing the same, the legendary music lawyers Abraham Somer, David Berman, and Richard Leher of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP. 4 3-hour studio sessions were planned to record the album, but problems with funding caused the album to be recorded in 3 sessions with a 6-month break between the 2nd and final sessions. Finally finished in January 1971, Just As I Am was released in February 1971 at the same time as the tracks “Harlem” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” were released as singles. The album was a hit, with “Ain’t No Sunshine” making it to number 3 pop and certified gold in the September 1971. Bill Withers made 1st appearance as a singer on 26 June, 1971 in Chicago at the Opera House.

At the 14th annual Grammy Awards on Tuesday, 14 March, 1972, Bill Withers won his 1st Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Song for “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Bill Withers began touring and recording with a band assembled from all Los Angeles-based members of The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: drummer James Gadson, guitarist Bernoce Blackmon, keyboardist Ray Jackson, and bassist Melvin Dunlap. During a break in touring, Bill Withers wrote the songs for, recorded, and produced an album for the 1st time for his 2nd album, Still Bill Withers and Sussex/Buddah released it in May 1972. The single “Lean on Me” went to number 1 the week of 8 July, 1972. The album certified gold 7 September, 1972 and peaked at number 4 on the pop charts.

A Friday, 6 October, 1972 performance on a rainy night was recorded for the live album Bill Withers, Live at Carnegie Hall released 30 November, 1972. Bill Withers lost his mother, Mattie Withers to heart failure in New York in December 1972. Bill Withers married actress Donna Denise Nicholas on 17 January, 1973 in Van Nuys, CA and they divorced in October 1974 in Los Angeles, CA. This was followed by the 1974 album +’Justments.

After +’Justments, Bill Withers became involved in a legal dispute with the Sussex Records, Inc., Interior Music, and Clarence Avant beginning in January 1975 and ending in June 1975. After the lawsuit settled in June 1975, Bill Withers became free to sign with another label, but started his own independent music publishing companies, Golden Withers Music and Bleunig Music with the help of business manager Edgar Fleisher Gross of International Business Management in Century City and the noted music law firm of Hardee, Barovick, Konecky & Braun of New York and Beverly Hills. Sussex Records, Inc., went out of business, with the Internal Revenue Service auctioning off all the remaining assets in July 1975 because of unpaid federal and state taxes of $62,000. Bill Withers’ new label CBS Records received notice of the auction from Sussex Records, Inc. and Clarence Avant, CBS bought the Sussex masters in July 1975 for $50,500 at the auction. Just before this time, Bill Withers wrote and produced 2 songs on the Gladys Knight & the Pips record I Feel A Song released 1 January, 1974 and performed in concert on 23 September, 1974 at “The Zaire Music Festival” which preceded the historic Ali/Foreman fight in Zaire on 30 October, 1974. Footage of his musical performance appeared in the 1996 documentary film When We Were Kings and the accompanying soundtrack album was released in 1997.

Bill Withers signed with Columbia Records in 1975. Bill Withers’ 1st release with the label was Making Music, Making Friends, which had the single She’s Lonely and was featured in the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar. The next 3 years saw an album released each year with Naked & Warm (1976), Menagerie (1977, containing the hit “Lovely Day”) and Bout Love (1978).

Due to problems with Columbia, he focused on joint projects for several years, including the Grammy-winning Just the Two of Us, which he performed with jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. released in June 1980 and winning a Grammy Award at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards on 24 February, 1982, Soul Shadows with The Crusaders, and In The Name Of Love with Ralph MacDonald, which was nominated for a vocal performance Grammy.

Bill Withers’ final new release was 1985’s Watching You, Watching Me, which featured the Top 40 R&B single “Oh Yeah”. Bill Withers hired noted music lawyer Bernard Fischbach of Fischbach and Fischbach, and got out of his contract with Columbia and retired from recording, although he continued performing live sporadically, but retired from constant touring in 1989, last performing live for the birthday party of billionaire Tom Gores of Platinum Equity Partners in Santa Monica in 2004. In 1988, a remixed version of “Lovely Day” from the 1977 “Menagerie” Album, titled “Lovely Day (Sunshine Mix)” and remixed by Ben Liebrand, reached the Top 10 in the UK, prompting Bill Withers to perform on the long running Top of the Pops that year. The original release, in 1977, had reached No. 7 in the UK, and the re-release climbed to No. 4.

After retiring, Bill Withers focused on parenting to his 2 children, Todd and Kori Withers, also a singer and songwriter, with his 2nd wife Marcia whom he married 31 December, 1976 in Van Nuys, CA, and who handles the day-to-day running of his Beverly Hills-based publishing companies. In 1987, he received his 9th Grammy nomination and on 2 March, 1988 his 3rd Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Song as a songwriter for the re-recording of Lean On Me by Club Nouveau on their debut album Life, Love and Pain released in 1986 on Warner Bros. Records.

Bill Withers contributed 2 songs to Jimmy Buffett’s 13 July, 2004 release “License To Chill.” Following the reissues of Still Bill on 28 January, 2003 and Just As I am on 8 March, 2005, there was speculation of previously unreleased material being issued as a new album. In 2006, Sony gave back to Bill Withers his previously unreleased tapes.

In 2008, a feature documentary is made about Bill Withers, called ‘Still Bill’. It is directed by Damani Baker and Alex Vlack. The movie shows Bill Withers at home jamming with members of his old band, and even brings him back on stage singing ‘Grandma’s Hands’ during a tribute concert organised for the documentary.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Advertisements

Speech Differences And Stutter Series-Disabled Legend Robert Merrill

Robert Merrill was born Morris (Moishe) Miller on 4 June, 1917 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, USA and died on 23 October, 2004 at home in New Rochelle, NY, while watching Game 1 of the 2004 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Robert Merrill is interred at the Sharon Gardens Cemetery in Valhalla, NY, which is a subdivision of the Kensico Cemetery. Robert Merrill’s headstone features an opera curtain that has been drawn open. In keeping with Jewish tradition, small rocks rest on top of the headstone.

Robert Merrill was an American operatic baritone. While there has been dispute of his birth year (some claim he was born in 1919), the social security index, his family, and his gravestone state that he was born in 1917.

Robert Merrill was born to tailor Abraham Miller, originally Milstein, and his wife Lillian, née Balaban, immigrants from Warsaw, Poland. Lillian claimed to have had an operatic and concert career in Poland (a fact denied by her son in his biographies) and encouraged her son to have early voice training: he had a tendency to stutter, which disappeared when singing. Robert Merrill was inspired to pursue professional singing lessons when he saw the baritone Richard Bonelli singing Count Di Luna in a performance of Il Trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera, and paid for them with money earned as a semi-professional pitcher.

In his early radio appearances as a crooner he was sometimes billed as Merrill Miller. While singing at bar mitzvahs and weddings and Borscht Belt resorts, he met an agent, Moe Gale, who found him work at Radio City Music Hall and with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. With Arturo Toscanini conducting, he eventually sang in 2 of the famous maestro’s NBC broadcasts of famous operas, La traviata (with Licia Albanese, in 1946), and Un ballo in maschera (with Herva Nelli, in 1954). Both of those broadcasts were eventually released on both LP and CD.

Robert Merrill’s 1944 operatic debut was in Verdi’s Aida at Newark, New Jersey, with the famous tenor Giovanni Martinelli, then at the end of his long stage career.

Robert Merrill, who had continued his vocal studies under Samuel Margolis made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1945, as Germont in La Traviata. Also in 1945, Robert Merrill recorded a 78rpm record set with Jeanette MacDonald featuring selections from the operetta Up In Central Park; MacDonald and Robert Merrill did 2 duets together on this album. In 1952, his role in the musical comedy film Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick led to conflict with Sir Rudolf Bing and a brief departure from the Met in 1951. Robert Merrill sang many different baritone roles, becoming, after the on-stage death of Leonard Warren in 1960, the Met’s principal baritone. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he appeared under the direction of Alfredo Antonini in performances of arias from the Italian operatic repertoire for the open air Italian Night concert series at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City. Robert Merrill was described by Time as “one of the Met’s best baritones”. The tenor-baritone duet “Au fond du temple saint” from the opera The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet, which he recorded with Jussi Bjorling, was always top of listener’s polls for the BBC’s Your Hundred Best Tunes. It was also No 1. in ABC’s “The Classic 100 Opera”, a poll in which Australians voted for the one moment in opera they could not live without. It is regarded as one of the most perfect tenor/baritone performances of all time. Robert Merrill also continued to perform on radio and television, in nightclubs and recitals. Robert Merrill retired from the Met in 1976. For many years, he led services, often in Borscht Belt hotels, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

In honour of Robert Merrill’s vast influence on American vocal music, on 16 February,1981 he was awarded the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit. Beginning in 1964, this award “established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression.”

Relatively late in his singing career, Robert Merrill also became known for singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Yankee Stadium. Robert Merrill 1st sang the national anthem to open the 1969 baseball season, and it became a tradition for the Yankees to bring him back each year on Opening Day and special occasions. Robert Merrill sang at various Old Timer’s Days (wearing his own pinstriped Yankee uniform with the number “1 1/2” on the back) and the emotional pre-game ceremony for Thurman Munson at Yankee Stadium on 3 August, 1979, the day after the catcher’s death in a plane crash. A recorded Robert Merrill version is sometimes used at Yankee Stadium today. Robert Merrill preferred a traditional approach to the song devoid of additional ornamentation, as he explained to Newsday in 2000, “When you sing the anthem, there’s a legitimacy to it. I’m extremely bothered by these different interpretations of it.” Robert Merrill received the National Medal of Arts in 1993.

Robert Merrill married soprano Roberta Peters in 1952. They parted amicably; he had 2children, a son David and a daughter Lizanne, with his second wife, Marion, née Machno, a pianist. Robert Merrill liked to play golf and was a member of the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, for many years.

Robert Merrill wrote 2 books of memoirs, Once More from the Beginning (1965) and Between Acts (1976), and he co-authored a novel, The Divas (1978). Robert Merrill toured all over the world with his arranger and conductor, the world famous Angelo DiPippo who wrote most of his act and performed at concert halls throughout the world. Robert Merrill always donated his time on the Cerebral Palsy telethon with Dennis James.

The opera show “La Traviata” inspired Robert to become an opera singer, this meant fighting his stuttering problems. Robert Merrill found that while he was singing his speech disorder would go away.

Robert Merrill’s epitaph states:

Like a bursting celestial star, he showered his family and the world with love, joy, and beauty.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lead Belly

Huddie William Ledbetter, was born in January, 1888 and died on 6 December, 1949 in New York City, New York, USA and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, 8 miles (13 km) west of Blanchard, Louisiana, in Caddo Parish.

Lead Belly was an American folk and blues musician, notable for his clear and forceful singing, his virtuosity on the 12 string guitar, and the rich songbook of folk standards he introduced.

Ledbetter is best known as Leadbelly or Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly,” he himself spelled it “Lead Belly.” This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as the Lead Belly Foundation.

Although he most commonly played the 12 string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad “John Hardy”, he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot. The topics of Lead Belly’s music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. Lead Belly also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.

Lead Belly’s date of birth is uncertain. Lead Belly was probably born in January 1888, although his gravestone gives his year of birth as 1889. The earliest year given for his birth has been 1885, although other sources stated either 1888 or 1889. According to the 1900 census, Hudy (the spelling given in the census) is 1 of 2 listed children (the other is his step-sister, Australia Carr), of Wes and Sallie (Brown) Ledbetter of Justice Precinct 2, Harrison County, Texas. Wesley and Sallie were legally born on wednesday 26 February, 1888, shortly after Lead Belly’s likely date of birth, even though they had lived together as husband and wife for years. The 1900 census, differing from the usual census in that it lists the month and year of birth, rather than just the age, states the birth year of ‘Hudy’ Ledbetter to be 1888 and the month listed as January; Huddie’s age is listed as 12. The census of 1910 and the census of 1930 confirm 1888 as the year of birth.

The day of his birth has also been debated. The most common date given is 20 January, but other sources suggest he was born on 21 or 29 January. The only document we have that Lead belly, himself, helped fill out is his World War II draft registration from 1942 where he gives his birth date as 23 January, 1889.

Lead Belly was born to Wesley and Sallie Ledbetter as Huddie William Ledbetter in a plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana, but the family moved to Leigh, Texas, when he was 5 years old. By 1903, Lead Belly was already a ‘musicianer’, a singer and guitarist of some note. Lead Belly performed for nearby Shreveport, Louisiana audiences in St. Paul’s Bottoms, a notorious red-light district in the city. Lead Belly began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport’s Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms.

At the time of the 1910 census, Lead Belly, still officially listed as ‘Hudy’, was living next door to his parents with his first wife, Aletha “Lethe” Henderson, who at the time of the census was 17 years old, and was, therefore, 15 at the time of their marriage in 1908. It was also there that he received his first instrument, an accordion, from his uncle, and by his early 20s, after fathering at least 2 children, he left home to find his living as a guitarist (and occasionally, as a laborer). Lead Belly would later claim that as a youth he would “make it” with 8 to 10 women a night.

Influenced by the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912, he would go on to write the song “The Titanic”, which noted the racial indifferences of the time. “The Titanic” was the first song he ever learned to play on a 12 string guitar, which was later to become his signature instrument. Lead Belly first played it in 1912 when performing with Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897-1929) in and around Dallas, Texas. Lead Belly noted that he had to leave out the verse about boxer Jack Johnson when playing before a white audience.

Lead Belly’s volatile nature sometimes led him into trouble with the law. In 1915 he was convicted “of carrying a pistol” and sentenced to do time on the Harrison County chain gang, from which he miraculously escaped, finding work in nearby Bowie County under the assumed name of Walter Boyd. In January 1918 he was thrown into prison for the second time, this time after killing one of his relatives, Will Stafford, in a fight over a woman. In 1918 he was incarcerated in Sugar Land, Texas, where he probably learned the song Midnight Special. In 1925 he was pardoned and released, having served 7 years, or virtually all of the minimum of his 7 to 35 year sentence, after writing a song appealing to Governor Pat Morris Neff for his freedom. Lead Belly had swayed Governor Neff by appealing to his strong religious values. That, in combination with good behavior (including entertaining by playing for the guards and fellow prisoners), was Lead Belly’s ticket out of jail. It was quite a testament to his persuasive powers, as Neff had run for governor on a pledge not to issue pardons (pardon by the governor was at that time the only recourse for prisoners, since in most Southern prisons there was no provision for parole). According to Charles K. Wolf and Kip Lornell’s book, The Life and Legend of Lead belly (1999), Neff had regularly brought guests to the prison on Sunday picnics to hear Lead belly perform.

In 1930, Lead Belly was back in prison, after a summary trial, this time in Louisiana, for attempted homicide — he had knifed a white man in a fight. It was there, 3 years later, that he was “discovered” by musicologists John Lomax and his 18 year old son Alan Lomax during a visit to the Angola Prison Farm. They were enchanted by Lead Belly’s talent, passion, and singularity as a performer and recorded hundreds of his songs on portable aluminum disc recording equipment for the Library of Congress. They returned to record in July of the following year (1934). On 1 August, Lead Belly was released (again having served almost all of his minimum sentence), this time after the Lomaxes had taken a petition to Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen at Lead belly’s urgent request. The petition was on the other side of a recording of his signature song, “Goodnight Irene.” A prison official later wrote to John Lomax denying that Lead Belly’s singing had anything to do with his release from Angola, and state prison records confirm that he was eligible for early release due to good behavior. A descendant of his has also confirmed this. For a time, however, both Lead Belly and the Lomaxes believed that the record they had taken to the governor had hastened his release from Angola.

There are several, somewhat conflicting stories about how Ledbetter acquired his famous nickname, though the consensus is that it was probably while in prison. Some say his fellow inmates dubbed him “Lead Belly” as a play on his last name and reference to his physical toughness; others say he earned the name after being shot in the stomach with shotgun buckshot. Another theory has it that the name refers to his ability to drink homemade liquor, which Southern farmers, black and white, used to make to supplement their incomes. Blues singer Big Bill Broonzy thought it came from a supposed tendency to lay about “with a stomach weighted down by lead” in the shade when the chain gang was supposed to be working. (This seems unlikely, unless it was ironic, given his well-known capacity for hard work.) Whatever its origin, he adopted the nickname as a pseudonym while performing, and it stuck. Regarding his toughness, it is also recounted that during his second prison term, another inmate stabbed him in the neck (leaving him with a fearsome scar that he subsequently covered with a bandanna), and he took the knife away and in turn almost killed his attacker with it. Lead belly – King of the 12 String Guitar Retrieved on 30 January, 2007.

Bob Dylan once remarked, on his XM radio show, that Lead Belly was “One of the few ex-cons who recorded a popular children’s album.”

It was the Depression and jobs were very scarce. A month after his release and in need of regular work in order to avoid having his release canceled and being sent back to prison, in September 1934, Lead Belly met with John A. Lomax and begged him to take him on as a driver. For 3 months he assisted the 67 year old John Lomax in his folk song collecting in the South. (Alan Lomax (then 19) was ill and didn’t accompany them on this trip.) In December, Lead Belly participated in a “smoker” (group sing) at an MLA meeting in Bryn Mawr College in PA., where John A. Lomax had a prior lecturing engagement. Lead Belly was written up in the press as a convict who had sung his way out of prison. On New Year’s Day, 1935, the pair arrived in New York City, where John Lomax was scheduled to meet with his publisher, Macmillan, about a new collection of folk songs. The newspapers were eager to write about the “singing convict” and Time magazine made one of its first filmed newsreels about him. Lead Belly attained fame (though not fortune). The following week, he began recording with the American Record Corporation (ARC), but achieved little commercial success with these records. Part of the reason for the poor record sales may have been because ARC insisted on releasing only his blues songs rather than the folk songs for which he would later become better known. In any case, Lead Belly continued to struggle financially. Like many performers, what income he made during his lifetime would come from touring, not from record sales. In February 1935, he married his sweetheart, Martha Promise, who came north from Louisiana for the purpose. The month of February was spent recording his and other African-American repertoire and interviews about his life with Alan Lomax for their forthcoming book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). Concert appearances were slow to materialize, however, and in March 1935, Lead Belly accompanied John A. Lomax on a 2 week lecture tour of colleges and universities in the Northeast, culminating at Harvard. These lectures had been scheduled before John Lomax had teamed up with Lead Belly. At the end of month, John Lomax decided he could no longer work with Lead Belly and gave him and Martha money to go back to Louisiana by bus. Lead Belly gave Martha the money that he had earned from 3 months of performing, but in installments, on the pretext that Lead Belly would drink it all if given a lump sum. From Louisiana Lead Belly then successfully sued Lomax for the full amount and for release from his management contract with Lomax. The quarrel was very bitter and there were hard feelings on both sides. Curiously, however, in the midst of the legal wrangling Lead Belly wrote to John A. Lomax proposing that they team up together once again. But it was not to be. Nor was the book the Lomaxes published that year about Lead Belly financially successful.

In January of 1936, Lead Belly returned to New York on his own without John Lomax for an attempted comeback. Lead Belly performed twice a day at Harlem’s Lafayette theater in a live dramatic recreation of the Time Life newsreel (itself a recreation) about his prison encounter with John A. Lomax, in which he had worn stripes, even though by this time he was no longer associated with Lomax. Life magazine ran a 3 page article titled, “Lead Belly – Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel,” in the 19 April, 1936 issue. It included a full-page, colour (rare in those days) picture of him sitting on grain sacks playing his guitar and singing. Also included was a striking picture of Martha Promise (identified in the article as his manager); photos showing Lead Belly’s hands playing the guitar (with the caption “these hands once killed a man”); Texas Governor Pat M. Neff; and the “ramshackle” Texas State Penitentiary. The article attributes both of his pardons to his singing of his petitions to the governors, who were so moved that they pardoned him. The article’s text ends with “he… may well be on the brink of a new and prosperous period.” Lead Belly failed to stir the enthusiasm of Harlem audiences. Instead, he attained success playing at concerts and benefits for an audience of leftist folk music aficionados. Lead Belly developed his own style of singing and explaining his repertoire in the context of Southern black culture, taking the hint from his previous participation in John A. Lomax’s college lectures. Lead Belly was especially successful with his repertoire of children’s game songs (as a younger man in Louisiana he had sung regularly at children’s birthday parties in the black community). Lead Belly was written up as a heroic figure by the black novelist, Richard Wright, then a member of the Communist Party, in the columns of the Daily Worker, of which he (Wright) was the Harlem editor. The 2 men became personal friends, though Lead Belly himself was a-political — if anything, a supporter of Wendell Willkie, the centrist Republican candidate, for whom he wrote a campaign song.

In 1939, Lead Belly was back in jail for assault, after stabbing a man in a fight in Manhattan. Alan Lomax, then 24, took him under his wing and helped raise money for his legal expenses, dropping out of graduate school to do so. After his release (in 1940-41), Lead Belly appeared as a regular on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray’s groundbreaking CBS radio show, Back Where I Come From, broadcast nationwide. Lead Belly also appeared in night clubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City’s surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger, all fellow performers on Back Where I Come From. During the first half of the decade he recorded for RCA, the Library of Congress, and for Moe Asch (future founder of Folkways Records), and in 1944 headed to California, where he recorded strong sessions for Capitol Records. Lead belly was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe. In 1949 Lead Belly had a regular radio broadcast on station WNYC in New York on Sunday nights on Henrietta Yurchenko’s show. Later in the year he began his first European tour with a trip to France, but fell ill before its completion, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lead Belly’s final concert was at the University of Texas in a tribute to his former mentor, John A. Lomax, who had died the previous year. Martha also performed at that concert, singing spirituals with her husband.

Lead Belly styled himself “King of the 12-string guitar,” and despite his use of other instruments like the concertina, the most enduring image of Lead Belly as a performer is wielding his unusually large Stella 12-string. This guitar had a slightly longer scale length than a standard guitar, slotted tuners, ladder bracing, and a trapeze-style tailpiece to resist bridge lifting.

Lead Belly played with finger picks much of the time, using a thumb pick to provide a walking bass line and occasionally to strum. This technique, combined with low tunings and heavy strings, gives many of his recordings a piano-like sound. Lead Belly’s tuning is debatable, but appears to be a downtuned variant of standard tuning; more than likely he tuned his guitar strings relative to one another, so that the actual notes shifted as the strings wore. Lead Belly’s playing style was popularised by Pete Seeger, who adopted the 12-string guitar in the 1950s and released an instructional LP and book using Lead belly as an exemplar of technique.

In some of the recordings where Lead Belly accompanied himself, he would make an unusual type of grunt between his verses. Lead Belly would do this grunt, “Haah!”, through many of his songs, such as, Looky Looky Yonder, Take this Hammer, Linin’ Track and Julie Ann Johnson. It gave a somewhat catchy sound to the songs. Lead Belly explains that, “Every time the men say ‘haah’, the hammer falls. The hammer rings, and we swing, and we sing”, an apparent reference to prisoners’ work songs. The grunt represents the tired deep breaths the men would take while working, singing and pausing in cadence with the work.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams was born on 5 November, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA. Ryan Adams was born to Susan and Robert Adams, . Ryan Adams’ father left home when he was 9 years old. Ryan Adams’ mother, an English teacher, encouraged Adams to read, and as a child he became familiar with the works of authors including Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath and Henry Miller.

Ryan Adams is an American alt-country/rock singer-songwriter. Raised by his mother and grandmother, Ryan Adams dropped out of school at the age of 16 and performed with several local bands before moving to Raleigh and forming the band Whiskeytown. Ryan Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker (also produced by Ethan Johns). Emmylou Harris, who was originally Gram Parsons’ singing partner, sang backup on “Oh My Sweet Carolina.” Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kim Richey as Ryan Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.

Ryan Adams is probably best known for his song “New York, New York”, which appeared on his 2001 release Gold. Ryan Adams has since released 4 more solo albums and 3 albums and 1 EP with backing band The Cardinals. Ryan Adams latest release, the EP Follow The Lights, was released on 23 October, 2007.

Ryan Adams has also produced albums by Jesse Malin and Willie Nelson and contributed to the albums of artists, including Toots and the Maytals, Beth Orton, The Wallflowers, Jesse Brand, Minnie Driver, Counting Crows, America and Cowboy Junkies. Ryan Adams also appeared on CMT’s Crossroads with Elton John.

Ryan Adams’ grandmother played a modest role in his childhood, serving as his babysitter after school while his mother worked. When he was 8 years old, Ryan Adams began writing short stories and poetry on his grandmother’s typewriter. Ryan Adams is quoted as saying, “I started writing short stories when I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby, Jr., Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac.” At the age of 14, Ryan Adams began learning to play the electric guitar that his mom and stepdad had bought him, and shortly afterwards joined a local band named Blank Label. Although Blank Label did not stay together long, a three-track 7″ record exists, dated 1991 and lasting less than 7 minutes in total.

Ryan Adams dropped out of high school in his first week of 10th grade, moving into Jere McIlwean’s rental house just outside Jacksonville. Around this time he performed briefly with 2 local bands, Ass and The Lazy Stars. Following this, Ryan Adams joined The Patty Duke Syndrome, and once played in a bar in Jacksonville. After obtaining his GED, Ryan Adams left Jacksonville for Raleigh, shortly followed by bandmate Jere McIlwean. The Patty Duke Syndrome split in 1994, after releasing a 7″ single containing 2 songs (The Patty Duke Syndrome was on one side, while the other side was a band called GlamourPuss).

Following the break up of The Patty Duke Syndrome, Ryan Adams went on to found Whiskeytown with Caitlin Cary, Eric “Skillet” Gilmore, Steve Grothmann and Phil Wandscher. The founding of Whiskeytown saw Ryan Adams move to alt-country, describing punk rock as “too hard to sing” in the title track of Whiskeytown’s debut album Faithless Street. Whiskeytown was heavily influenced by the country-rock pioneers, most notably Gram Parsons (with whom Ryan Adams shares a birthday). Whiskeytown quickly gained critical acclaim with the release of their 2nd full-length album, Stranger’s Almanac, their 1st major label release.

Many of the other members of the band found Ryan Adams difficult to work with, resulting in multiple line-up changes during Whiskeytown’s 5 year career. By the time of the recording of their final album, Pneumonia, in 1999, Caitlin Cary was the only founding member other than Ryan Adams still with the band. Pneumonia was the first of several collaborations between Ryan Adams and producer Ethan Johns. The release of Pneumonia was held up until 2001 because of legal troubles stemming from the merger of Universal and PolyGram.

Ryan Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker (also produced by Ethan Johns). Emmylou Harris, who was originally Gram Parsons’ singing partner, sang backup on “Oh My Sweet Carolina.” Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kim Richey as Ryan Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.

In 2001, Ryan Adams released Gold, a sprawling 16-song album with a limited edition 5 song bonus disc. Unlike Ryan Adams’ previous work the album adopted less of a country style, going on to sell 364,000 copies and making Gold Ryan Adams’ best-selling album to-date. The album earned Ryan Adams 2 Grammy Award nominations in 2002; “Best Male Rock Vocal” for “New York, New York” and “Best Rock Album”. Ryan Adams also received a nomination the same year for “Best Male Country Vocal” for his version of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” from the tribute album Timeless. Gold’s “When the Stars Go Blue” has been covered by The Corrs and Bono, Tyler Hilton and Tim McGraw.

The music video for “New York, New York”, shot on 7 September, 2001, the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks, prominently featured the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background, with Ryan Adams in the foreground singing “I’ll always love you, though, New York.” The video received a large amount of air time on MTV in the days following the attacks.

Following the success of Gold, in 2002 Ryan Adams released Demolition. A compilation of tracks from earlier recording sessions, Demolition included tracks which were recorded for but never included in his previous releases, including songs from the unreleased albums 48 Hours and The Suicide Handbook. Although the album garnered more critical attention it failed to sell as well as Gold. That same year, Ryan Adams produced Jesse Malin’s first album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, and later worked with Malin to form the punk-rock group The Finger (under the pseudonyms, “Warren Peace” and “Irving Plaza” respectively), who released 2 E.P.s which were collected together to form We Are Fuck You, released on One Little Indian Records in 2003. Ryan Adams also starred in a Gap advertisement with Willie Nelson, performing a cover of Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over.”

In May of 2002, Ryan Adams joined Elton John on CMT’s Crossroads, which brings together country artists with musicians from other genres. During the show, John referred to Ryan Adams as “fabulous one” and spoke of how Heartbreaker inspired him to record Songs from the West Coast, which at the time was his most successful album in several years. Also in 2002, Ryan Adams reportedly recorded a cover of The Strokes’ debut album Is This It, though it has never been publicly released.

During 2002 and 2003 Ryan Adams worked on recording Love Is Hell, intending to release it in 2003. Lost Highway deemed that it was not commercially viable and was reluctant to release it, leading Ryan Adams to go back to the studio. 2 weeks later he returned to Lost Highway with Rock n Roll, which featured guest musicians including Melissa Auf der Maur, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and Ryan Adams’ girlfriend at the time, Parker Posey.

Ryan Adams and Lost Highway eventually agreed that the label would release Rock N Roll as well as Love Is Hell, on the condition that Love Is Hell be split into 2 EP installments. Rock N Roll and Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 were released in November 2003, followed by Love Is Hell, Pt. 2 in December. Both albums were well received by critics, and in May 2004 Love Is Hell was re-released as a full-length album.

Love Is Hell included a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, which Ryan Adams had previously performed live, and about which Noel Gallagher once said, “I never got my head round this song until I went to see heard Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it.” The song earned Ryan Adams a Grammy nomination for “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance”.

While on tour to support Love Is Hell in January 2004, Ryan Adams broke his left wrist during a performance at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Ryan Adams fell off the end of the stage into the lowered orchestra pit 6 feet below, while performing “The Shadowlands”. Dates from Ryan Adams’ European and American tours had to be cancelled as a result of his injury.

2005 saw Ryan Adams join with backing band The Cardinals to produce 2 albums, Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights. Cold Roses, a double album, included backing vocals from Rachael Yamagata on 3 songs; “Let It Ride”, “Cold Roses” and “Friends”. Ryan Adams’ 2nd album of the year, Jacksonville City Nights, featured a duet with Norah Jones on “Dear John”. As well as releasing 2 albums with The Cardinals, Ryan Adams released the solo album 29 late in the year.

In addition to releasing 3 albums, that year Adams joined other musicians in playing a Hurricane Katrina benefit show at Irving Plaza in New York City. Ryan Adams also contributed 3 songs to the soundtrack of Elizabethtown; “Come Pick Me Up”, “Words” and “English Girls Approximately”.

Ryan Adams befriended Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, after first meeting him at the Jammys awards in New York in 2005. The 2 performed Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s Grateful Dead classic, “Wharf Rat”. Ryan Adams performed at subsequent outings of Phil Lesh and Friends, including a 2 night stand at Red Rocks Park outside of Denver, Colorado and on New Year’s Eve 2005 at the Bill Graham Event Center in San Francisco. Throughout 2006, Lesh’s live performances included compositions by Ryan Adams, including several from Cold Roses (“Cold Roses”, “Let It Ride”, and “Magnolia Mountain”).

In early 2006 Ryan Adams performed a solo tour of the United Kingdom, often accompanied by Brad Pemberton (drummer for The Cardinals) and on the final date in London by Neal Casal. Ryan Adams then toured the United States with The Cardinals, including a performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Ryan Adams and The Cardinals then returned to the UK in the summer to begin a tour of Europe.

Ryan Adams produced Willie Nelson’s album Songbird, while he and The Cardinals performed as Nelson’s backing band. The album was released in October, 2006. Ryan Adams also opened for Nelson at the Hollywood Bowl later that fall, a show that featured Phil Lesh on bass and multiple Grateful Dead songs. Late in 2006, Ryan Adams experimented with hip hop music, adding to his website 18 albums worth of new recordings under various pseudonyms, featuring humorous and nonsensical lyrics.

After announcing and subsequently cancelling a performance at Stonehenge as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival, Ryan Adams released his 9th album on 26 June, 2007, titled Easy Tiger.

The album includes many tracks which were debuted during 2006’s tours, as well as other older tracks which were previously unreleased. Later that year, Ryan Adams revealed that he had endured “an extended period of substance abuse” that ended in 2006. Ryan Adams indicated that he routinely snorted heroin mixed with cocaine, and abused alcohol and pills. Ryan Adams beat his addiction with the assistance of his girlfriend at the time, Jessica Joffe, using Valium therapy and occasionally attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

On 23 October, 2007 Ryan Adams released Follow the Lights, an EP featuring 3 new songs: “Follow The Lights”, “Blue Hotel”, and “My Love For You Is Real”, along with live studio versions of other previously released songs. Ryan Adams also appeared as a guest musician on Cowboy Junkies’ 2007 album and DVD Trinity Revisited, a 20th-anniversary re-recording of their classic album The Trinity Session.

In a 7 November, 2007 post at the Ryan Adams Archive, Ryan Adams stated that the Cardinals will start working on a new album in Paris, France, after the band’s west coast tour ends. According to Ryan Adams, the album will be entitled The Cardinals III/IV. Ryan Adams stated that the record will “reflect the Cardinals you hear live, during those 2 set nights.” Ryan Adams also said that he will be recording a solo record in 2008, reminiscent of “an old style crooner record”. In a second post, dated 12 November, 2007 Ryan Adams stated that he has experienced significant hearing loss over the course of the 2007 tour. An excerpt from the post reads, “I lost so much on this tour too. It was humbling. I lost most of my hearing in my left ear and possibly some now on the right. It is rather dramatic and something I am going to have to learn to live with and work around. But it is a huge challenge.”

According to various sources, The Cardinals III/IV has a tentative release date for later in the year, coinciding with a fall tour.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Harry Ritz

Harry Ritz was born on 22 May 1907 and died on 29 March 1986. Harry was 1 of The Ritz Brothers that were a comedy team who appeared in 1930s films, and as live performers from 1925 to the late 1960s. Although there were 4 brothers, only 3 of them performed together. The 4th brother, George, acted as their manager. The influence of the Ritz Brothers was greater than their film career, in part because of their long career as nightclub entertainers. They influenced actors including Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, and Sid Caesar. In his 1976 film Silent Movie, Mel Brooks paid tribute to the Ritz Brothers by casting Harry in a cameo (he’s the nutty fellow leaving a tailor’s shop). It was the actor’s last role.

Keep visiting: http://www.lifechums.wordpress.com more Celebrities featuring Shortly ………….

Bookmark and Share

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Jane Horrocks

Jane Horrocks was born on 18 January 1964. Jane is an English actress, musician, and singer. While working on Road, a play directed by Jim Cartwright, Jane warmed up by doing singing impressions of Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, and Ethel Merman, among others. Cartwright was so impressed with her gift for mimicry he wrote the play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice to showcase her talent. Jane’s voiceover talents have been used on the big screen in films like Chicken Run (2000), Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001), and Corpse Bride (2005).

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com/ more Celebrities featuring Shortly ………….

Bookmark and Share

Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte – Harold George Belafonte, Jr. was born on 1 March, 1927.Harry is an American musician, actor and social activist. One of the most successful Jamaican musicians in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style in the 1950s. Due to problems with dyslexia, Belafonte dropped out of high school and at the age of 17, he joined the US Navy for a couple of years. After that, he returned to New York and settled there. Belafonte became involved with the American Negro Theatre and soon began singing in clubs around the city.

Keep visiting: http://www.lifechums.com/ more Celebrities featuring Shortly ………….

Bookmark and Share