Slyvia Moy, Who Co-Wrote Hits With Stevie Wonder

On Recording “My Cherie Amour” – Watch on YouTube

Remember the Stevie Wonder hit “Oh My Marcia”? Of course, you don’t. But you’ve heard it by the name Stevie’s producer Sylvia Moy gave it – “My Cherie Amour.” The first female producer at Motown, Moy is credited with keeping Wonder at the label when it was unsure of how to adjust to the young prodigy’s changing voice. Working with Wonder and frequent song collaborator Hank Crosby, she discovered a new avenue for Wonder’s talent.

If you check out her page on Discogs, you’ll discover that Moy has 926 writing and arrangement credits. In that list (it runs for 38 pages) are included hits like “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” “I Was Made To Love Her” and “Never Had A Dream Come True.” The list includes songs that earned 20 BMIs and 6 Grammy nominations.

She and Crosby were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sylvia Moy, September 15, 1938-April 15, 2017

“Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” on Spotify

Follow the LGMR Soul/R&B/Funk 2017 Playlist here.

 

Junie Morrison, Funkadelic Hall Of Famer and Ohio Player

Suzie Supergroupie–Listen on YouTube

Walter “Junie” Morrison was one of those guys, like Prince, who could hear the music in his head and then pick up all the instruments, push all the buttons and turn all the knobs and come out with a one-man-band, fully-formed hit. He apprenticed with the Ohio Players, leading them to their first #1 R&B hit, “Funky Worm,” which he gets most of the credit for, as a writer, producer, arranger and keyboardist.

After a few years helping to send the Ohio Players on an upward trajectory, he moved to George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic. Clinton admired the young sideman, noting that Junie “could do it all, and if you weren’t careful, he would.” It was for his work with Parliament-Funkadelic that Junie earned his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honor. Junie (1954-January 21, 2017) would move on to produce a number of solo albums.

“Funk is an excellent platform for moving or removing the ills that may be present in our lives.” –Junie Morrison

My last post was on David Axelrod, a producer/arranger whose heyday was in the 60s and 70s, and who would become a go-to source for hip-hop samples. So was Junie. Many artists dug into his catalog for sounds. “Funky Worm” alone was sampled by N.W.A., Ice Cube, Kris Kross, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince and De La Soul. Solange recorded a tribute to Junie on her Grammy Award-winning project A Seat At The Table.

I get much of my news on musicians from Google Alerts, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and other mainstream sources. But I do like to branch out for information from other sources. For Junie, I turned to Okayplayer, a site started by ?uestlove of The Roots in 1999. It bills itself as “the original progressive urban music site.”

“Funky Worm” on Spotify

“Junie,” a tribute to Morrison by Solange–on Spotify

Greg Lake of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

“Lucky Man” – Watch on YouTube

Greg Lake was a founding member of two influential progressive rock bands of the 60s and 70s. First he was a bassist and vocalist for King Crimson with guitarist friend Robert Fripp. But after seeing the band through its debut album, In The Court of the Crimson King, he broke off to join The Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson, whom he had met while the two bands toured together.

Lake (November 10, 1947-December 7, 2016) did not like the “progressive” label. He sought to create a distinctive rock music that traced its roots to European music traditions as opposed to American blues. ELP’s grandiose stage shows and baroque arrangements were hits with fans, but not always with critics. Village Voice writer Robert Christgau dismissed them as “as stupid as their most pretentious fans.”

For ELP, Lake played guitar and sang. His autobiography, Lucky Man, is named after the group’s popular song of the same name, which Lake wrote when he was only 12. Rolling Stone lists it as one of the “10 Essential Songs”of ELP.

“Karn Evil 9 1st Impression” 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 George Martin Who Helped Shape the Sound of The Beatles

Paul McCartney: From the Archive – George Martin

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to include producers and have generally preferred to focus on the performers instead. But it’s hard not to make an exception for Sir George Martin, the producer known affectionately as the “Fifth Beatle.” Throughout the group’s short but prolific career, he mentored, collaborated with and helped the group reach the pinnacle of rock stardom. It’s hard to think of another celebrity producer so adept at morphing to an artist’s changing tastes and doing it with such mastery.

The Beatles – The Making of “Please Please Me”

Martin, a classical and jazz producer (with a few comedy albums to boot!), was not initially interested in overseeing a pop band. But he graciously agreed to hear them in the studio, and he saw enough raw talent to give it a go. He ushered them through their initial hits–the songs that sparked the British Invasion and launched Beatlemania. But as they pushed themselves away from being teen idols to experiment with new kinds of songs and recording, he had the musical knowledge and expertise to help them along.

Beatles Song Tribute

It’s amazing when you stop to think that only a handful of years separated “Meet The Beatles” from “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper’s.” Martin was the wizard in the control room who helped make the group’s creative dreams come true. He added strings to “Yesterday,” over the initial objections of Paul McCartney. He showed them the effects of playing tape backwards and even cutting up and reassembling sounds, techniques that can be heard in songs like “I Am the Walrus” and “A Day in the Life.” With each Beatles album, new heights were reached and the rest of the rock world scrambled to stay relevant, often trying to mimic the sounds, instrumentation, recording techniques and attitudes that The Beatles originated in Sir George’s lab.