Caroline Crawley, Co-Founder and Lead Vocalist for Shellyan Orphan

“Epitaph, Ivy & Woe” Live on The Tube (1987)–Watch on YouTube

Carolyn Crawley was lead vocalist for Shellyan Orphan, a British duo she co-founded with guitarist Jemaur Tayle. They recorded four albums between 1987-2008. The group allegedly took its name from the Shelley poem “Spirit of Solitude.” (I had no luck in finding where in this dense and lengthy poem.)

In addition to Shellyan Orphan, Crawley (August 8, 1963-October 4, 2016) also recorded with Babacar on its eponymous album. You can hear her on the track “Midsummer.” She can be seen in a video cover of Syd Barrett’s “Late Night,” which she did with the band Mortal Coil.

“Midsummer” with Babacar on Spotify

Rod Temperton, Keyboardist for Heatwave, “Thriller” Songwriter

“Always and Forever”–Watch on YouTube

Who’d of thunk that a lad from Lincolnshire would grow up to be a disco/funk/soul/R&B hitmaker, catch the attention of Quincy Jones and end up writing the title track for the best-selling album of all time?

But that was Rod Temperton (October 9, 1949-September/October 2016). A keyboardist for the disco and funk band Heatwave, Temperton was tapped by Quincy Jones to contribute song ideas for Michael Jackson’s debut solo LP for Epic. The resulting “Rock With You” hit No. 1, and Jones called on Temperton for Jackson’s next album, Thriller. Temperton not only wrote the title song, but he also thought up the Vincent Price narration.

In addition to Jackson, Temperton penned songs for George Benson, Donna Summer, The Brothers Johnson and Manhattan Transfer. He received an Oscar nomination for his contributions to the soundtrack of The Color Purple. 

“Boogie Nights” on Spotify

Kashif, R&B Artist and Producer for Arista

“Love Changes” with Meli’sa Morgan on Soul Train (1987)

Kashif Saleem, born Michael Jones (December 26, 1956-September 25, 2016), started his professional career as a 15-year-old keyboardist with B.T. Express. After spending four years with the group, he left to join Stephanie Mills.

In 1983 he went solo for the Arista label and produced a string of hits, including four  Grammy nominations. Considered by some to be Arista’s answer to Prince and Warner Bros., Kashif was an early pioneer of the use of synthesizers in R&B.

He recorded with Kenny G, George Benson, Melba Moore, Dionne Warwick, Al Jarreau and others. Perhaps is most-famous collaboration was with the young Whitney Houston for whom he produced the hit “You Give Good Love.” He also produced and sang “Thinking About You” with Houston on her debut Whitney, which has sold 25 million copies.

“Help Yourself to My Love” on Spotify




Sir Neville Marriner, Founder & Conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

“Piano Concerton No. 20 in D Minor, K.466”

I would be falling down in my role as civic booster if I did not mention that Sir Neville Marriner was music director of my hometown orchestra, The Minnesota Orchestra, between 1979-1986.

But it was as founder and conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields that Sir Neville is most remembered. Begun in 1958, the Academy was made up of 12 of the best musicians in London, hand-picked by Sir Neville. Marriner (April 15, 1924-October 2, 2016) was an accomplished musician at the time, serving as principal second violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra.

According to his obituary in The Telegraph, Sir Neville made some 600 recordings of 2,000 musical works and the Academy is the world’s the most-recorded orchestra. Among their recordings was the soundtrack for the Mozart biopic Amadeus for which they won a Grammy. The Academy was known (quoting The Telegraph) for its “fresh, technically brilliant, interpretations of the pre-classical and classical repertoire,” but it moved on to Romantic and early-modern music. In the process, the ensemble grew to about 70 musicians.

“Requiem, K. 626. Rex Tremendae Majestatis” on Spotify


Mohammad Heydari, Persian Santur Player

“Havas Meykadeh”–Watch on YouTube

Mohammad Heydari was a santur player, who lived and performed in Iran until the 1979 revolution. He migrated to Italy and ultimately to Los Angeles.

The santur is a hammered dulcimer with a 3-octave range. To achieve its range, it has 18 bridges and strings made of three different metals.

Heydari (January 1937-August 23, 2016) was the composer of the nostalgic songs “Zahre Jodai” and “Bahar Bahar,” both of which were performed by the popular female Iranian singer Hayedeh, who also moved to Southern California.

“Delam Gerefteh” on Spotify

Oscar Brand, Long-time Folksinger and Radio Host

Oscar Brand with Simon Sisters Plus Peter Yarrow–Watch on YouTube

If you look through Oscar Brand’s catalog on Spotify, you’ll find a host of curious titles such as 100 Proof Drinking Songs and Bawdy Songs Goes to College. But since we’re in a presidential election year that’s in particular need of humor, I’ve included a track from Brand’s Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996.

While Brand (February 7, 1920-September 30, 2016) recorded many albums as a singer-songwriter and folk archivist, his enduring record is as a radio personality. For 70 years, he was host of WNYC’s “Folksong Festival,” which earned him a Guinness World Record as the “Longest-running radio programme by the same host.” (More lofty awards include several Peabodys and an Artistic Achievement Award from the Winnipeg Folk Festival.)

During his long tenure at the radio show, he hosted a who’s who of folk greats, including Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Harry Belafonte and Bob Dylan.

“The Union Wagon (Millard Fillmore)” on Spotify