Category Archives: CDs

We must never forget. From “Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Orlando” guarantees that

We must never forget.
And we won’t.
From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Orlando–recorded and filmed live on July 25, 2016 at the Disney Theatre at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and released by Broadway Records–has been released on DVD, Blu-ray and CD. Net proceeds raised from the sold-out concert were donated equally between the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, Hope and Help Center of Central Florida and Zebra Coalition.

Michael J. Moritz, Jr. served as Music Director. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied the performers. “Everyone generously donated their time and flew to Orlando to make this happen for an incredibly important purpose,” says Van Dean, one of the evening’s co-producers. Noteworthy to know: Broadway Records honcho Dean was the producer and co-conceiver of the first From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook.

Ol’ pal Liz

The special double CD/DVD/Blu-ray (from Broadway Records) includes rousing performances of “Sugar Daddy” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, performed by Darren Criss; “Sun Is Gonna Shine” from Broadway’s Bright Star, performed by Carmen Cusack; Carole King’s “Beautiful,” performed by Jessie Mueller; “The Wizard and I” from Wicked, performed by Carrie Manolokas; “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha, performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell; “All That Jazz” from Chicago, performed by Chita Rivera; “Don’t Rain On My Parade,”

Seth and ol’ pal Priscilla, who still raises the roof with “Nothing”

performed by Lillias White; “Slide Some Oil to Me” from The Wiz, performed by Joshua Henry; and “They Don’t Let You in the Opera If You’re a Country Star,” performed by Kelli O’Hara.

Savor the talents of Christine Pedi, who went New Rochelle’s Iona College . . . same as me! But she is much more famous . . .

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best in Music, CDs, Vinyl and Spoken Word

Simply put, the best box set of the year has nothing to do with music. Or singers. Or orchestrations.ssssssssssssssssssssssss Decca has released Shakespeare: The Complete Works, an unabridged collection of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, performed by The Marlowe Dramatic Society and Professional Players. In addition, there are all of the 154 Sonnets combined with the four narrative poems comes together to create an ultimate collection in one box set.

The recordings feature celebrated actors such as Sir John Gielgud, Richard Pasco, Dame Prunella Scales, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Trevor Nunn, Peggy Ashcroft, Patrick Wymarck and many others. It’s big and heavy and could also serve as a murder weapon. Just in case.

The ideal gift for those who want to keep the “Christ” in Christmas. Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Hymns is a true blessing from Time Life. This must-have 10-disc set is packed with 150 inspirational performances, a bonus 20-song CD and a collectible 48-page hymns book with lyrics.  Bonus content also includes extended conversations with Bill and Gloria Gaither, Behind the Scenes featurettes about the “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” DVDs, and an exclusive, new interview with Bill  talking about hymns.gaitherehyms
Since his early days with the Bill Gaither Trio, Bill  has enjoyed a love of hymns. That love has grown stronger over the years, and these sacred gems have reached new levels of popularity during the last 20 years of Homecoming concerts featuring stars of country and southern gospel music.  Time Life invites fans of gospel and Christian music to enjoy an unforgettable collection of the world’s most beautiful hymns personally selected by Bill himself.  The tunes are enlivened by guest performers including George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Gatlin, Marty Stuart and Alabama. The set is only available currently through TimeLife.com or by calling 800-950-7887.

Since he made his Billboard chart debut in 1964, Hank Williams, Jr. has amassed one of the most prolific catalogs in the history of the music business. Curb Records now celebrates that legacy with the release of Hank Williams, Jr: A Country Boy Can Survive, a four-disc box set that stands as one of the most comprehensive Williams sets ever released.
Focusing on his superstar era that kicked off with 1979’s “Family Tradition,” 29 of his 30 Billboard Top-40 Country hits from 1979-1990 are featured on the collection, which also includes nine of his ten number one hits (including his first 1970’s “All For The Love Of Sunshine,” with The Mike Curb Congregation.)hankjrsetThe set also contains fan-favorite album cuts, such as ‘”Outlaw Women,” “Dinosaur,” “The Blues Man” and concert favorite “My Name Is Bocephus,” which originally appeared on his million-selling 1986 set Montana Café. The fourth disc of A Country Boy Can Survive focuses on Williams’ legendary live show, including performances of such classics as “I’m For Love” and “If Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie,” as well as the iconic title cut–which will celebrate its’ thirty-fifth anniversary in 2017.
The set is available at Walmart, flyt.it/HankJr

With the holiday season in full swing, UMe has several new Christmas collections sure to get you in the spirit and to soundtrack all your yuletide festivities. With classics on vinyl, new CD and digital compilations and an official Spotify playlist, there’s truly something for everyone in every format preferred by you or the ones on your good list.

In honor of Capitol Records’ 75th anniversary, A Capitol Christmas presents some of the most cherished holiday classics from Capitol’s vast catalog and legendary artists. Available now digitally, on CD and as a double LP housed in a gatefold package, the 24-track album brings together beloved Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and many more. Liner notes by compilation producer Jay Landers tell the story of each song in beautiful detail. Order and stream A Capitol ChristmasUMe.lnk.to/ACapitolChristmas

xmas-cdsThe album that started an international movement is now available back on vinyl. Released 29 years ago in 1987, A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1 brought together some of the biggest musicians of all time for a holiday album to support the Special Olympics and their mission. Founded by David Geffen, the first in the AVSC series featured a who’s who of artists including Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Madonna, John Cougar Mellencamp, Alison Moyet, Stevie Nicks, The Pointer Sisters, The Pretenders, Run–D.M.C., Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, U2 and The Eurythmics contributing a variety of seasonal staples along with original songs. With their iconic covers by Keith Haring, the A Very Special Christmas album series has become a perennial favorite on the radio and for holiday celebrations over the years.
Since 1987, the A Very Special Christmas album series has changed lives through generating over $123.4 million in royalties in direct support of Special Olympics programs, thanks to the generosity of top internationally acclaimed recording artists. Since its inception, more than $70 million has helped support 159 countries and territories resulting in more than five million new athletes participating in and benefiting from Special Olympics year-round sports training and competition programs. Each successive album in the series has honored the quality of its predecessors with timeless recordings of holiday music by some of the most influential and talented artists of their time.  Order and stream A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1UMe.lnk.to/AVerySpecialXmasVol1PR

NOW That’s What I Call Music!’s festive new holiday collection, NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmas, brims with 20 evergreen holiday favorites spanning more than 60 years, from Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby & David Bowie, and Elvis Presley to Wham!, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pentatonix, Justin Bieber and Josh Groban. Order and stream NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmasnow.lnk.to/MerryChristmasPR

For more music to get you in the mood for the holiday season, UMe has you covered with the ideal Christmas playlist. The 70-song collection features some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday music canon and pairs timeless classics from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Vince Guaraldi Trio with modern staples from Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Diana Krall, Dave Koz, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige and many others for an eclectic and festive playlist sure to be the perfect soundtrack for your holidays. Stream the playlist on Spotify: smarturl.it/UMeXmasPlaylist

And so the music is flowing, from A to Z, with the emphasis on Z . . . as in “Zappa.” Following this month’s release of three new Frank Zappa albums, the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are continuing their extensive reissue campaign by releasing five iconic works of the musical innovator on vinyl for the first time in decades: zappaCruising With Ruben & The Jets, Joe’s Garage, Lumpy GravyWeasels Ripped My Fleshand We’re Only In It For The Money. The albums spanning Zappa’s incredibly fertile late ’60s-late ’70s period will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Talk about rockin’ around the Christmas tree!

Jimmy Buffett has a brand new Christmas record guaranteed to get you in the holiday mood. Tis The SeaSon, released on Mailboat Records, features many classic Christmas favorites, as well as three new songs written especially for the album.
61ux-3alphl-_ss500-1The 13-track record also includes an updated Parrothead version of “The 12 Days Of Christmas.” Be warned.

What verve! On Sarah McLachlan: Wonderland McLachlan sings classic Christmas songs including Winter Wonderland, O Come All Ye Faithful, Let It Snow, Silver Bells and more. Her signature voice and gorgeous arrangements make this a perfect holiday album.saragmc

The reissue of the  2-disc Christmas With Pavarotti (Decca) features some of the most beloved Christmas recordings from star tenor Luciano Pavarotti, including “O Holy Night,” “Panis Angelicus,” “Oh Tannenbaum,” among other arias and songs.pavarotti

Christmastime in New Orleans is a new album featuring some of the Big Easy’s finest jazz musicians in custom instrumental arrangements of holiday includingneworleans “Silver Bells” & “Jingle Bells,” the latter given a slinky, finger-snapping treatment like none other.

Breaking stereotypical expectations of a ‘seasonal’ album, Voces8’s new Decca release Winter paints a portrait of the season through a sparse and powerful aural landscape, invoking a meditative, inspiring feeling of solitude and union. voicesThe CD includes four world premiere recordings, notably a brand new work “Winter”, written exclusively for the album by award-winning composer Rebecca Dale.

A film as enigmatic as Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth is always going to conjure up mysteries in its wake and one of the biggest for the past four decades has been the fate of its much-talked-about soundtrack. Long sought after and highly celebrated by fans, the soundtrack of the David Bowie-starring film, has up until now never been available as a body of work. In celebration of the film’s 40th Anniversary and Studiocanal’s 4K theatrical release, UMe is releasing for the very first time the original movie soundtrack, featuring seminal and original pieces by Stomu Yamash’ta and John Phillips, who composed specifically for the film. fellfromearthThe full 25-track soundtrack is available now digitally and on CD. On December 16, a 19-track vinyl edition of the soundtrack featuring just Yamash’ta and Phillips’ score will be released as a double LP. For the collectors, a limited edition dual format deluxe box, which pairs the vinyl and CD releases with a 48-page hardback book with rare photos.  Order and stream The Man Who Fell To Earth: UMe.lnk.to/TMWFTE A limited collector’s edition arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus Digital HD) January 24 from Lionsgate Home DVD.

Theatre queens, die-hard fans of show music and those who simply cannot listen, not even for one more second, rap, rock or hip . . . enter Broadway Records. Van Dean is the mastermind behind masterful CDs, especially his series of evenings taped live from Studio 54/Below (which also goes under the name of the highly overrated MF). Santa baby, if you cannot bring us the inimitable Charles Busch Tony nominee and drag legend (so brilliant in Auntie Mame), then we’ll take Charles Busch–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below. On the CD, Busch brings his unique blend of songs both contemporary and from the pas. sdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdaAs our pal, New York Times critic Stephen Holden, raves “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” PS) Charles returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below on New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. Hey, Santa . . .

Carmen Cusack’s debut album, If You Knew My Story, is brimming with the deeply emotional stories and songs that brought her to Broadway. Carmen has been widely recognized for her sensitivity to past pains and joys during each moment onstage. After her time on London’s West End as Fantine in Les Misérables and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Carmen toured as the leading lady of both Wicked and South Pacific before arriving on Broadway as Alice Murphy in Bright Star, earning her a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut. ddddThe album includes songs cut from Bright Star, as well as duets with Katie Rose ClarkJoe JungPaul Telfer and Grammy Award winner Edie Brickell

Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp celebrate their 20-year friendship with Acoustically Speaking: 20 Years of Friendship–Live from Feinstein’s/54 Below. The intimate unplugged show feature songs that have influenced their lives. ttttttttttRecorded over eight nights in October 2016, Adam and Anthony strip down songs fans know and love, while also offering new and familiar stories of their lives, careers and friendship. Featuring songs from MemphisSweeney ToddCabaretHedwig and the Angry InchOnce and much more, Acoustically Speaking is the perfect celebration of two decades  of friendship.

Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (and star of Netflix’s acclaimed series, Bloodline) has followed  up his critically lauded first album Memory & Mayhem–Live at 54 Below with Girls, Girls, Girls (Live at 54 Below), a live album of the show that The New York Times hailed as “brilliantly audacious . . . deeper and richer than any conventional Broadway musical.” 61loopkvxkl-_ss500Inspired by Greek female deities, the show illustrates the treatment of women in classical myth and contemporary society. The song selections range from Loretta Lynn and Elvis Costello to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Johnny Cash.

Set in the wildest decade ever, Disaster! delivered earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and unforgettable ’70s hits like “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman” and “Hot Stuff”–plus, and outrageous cast of Tony winners. Audiences and critics went wild for this hilarious homage to the era of bell-bottoms, platform shoes and the hustle.91mvtdemwrl-_sl1500_ From the moment the glitter ball started spinning, there was dancing in the seats . . . and rolling in the aisles.

Jay Armstrong Johnson blew the roof off of Feinstein’s/54 Below with his personal eclectic solo show. Broadway Records has released Jay Armstrong Johnson–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his debut album capturing the electric show, featuring songs from Broadway to radio pop to gospel, with fresh arrangements, a full all-star band, and duets with Todrick Hall, Lindsay Mendez and Billy Lewis Jr. Expect everything from Sondheim to Dixie Chicks.

UMe rushes the great news: Three collectible, expanded editions of Rush’s classic “2112”

We don’t mean to rush things, but the news from UMe deserves a push. Big time. After celebrating over 40 years together with the same trio line-up, UMe continues the celebration of the Rush catalog with the release of three 40th anniversary expanded editions of the band’s classic 1976 album 2112.

On December 16, just in time for the Jolly Fat One to put under the tree or bush, 2112—40th will be released in three distinct variations. The 2-disc/DVD edition will include a newly remastered CD of the original album by Abbey Road Studios, along with an additional CD of rare, live and previously unreleased material including newly-recorded tracks from 2112 featuring Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters along with Nick Raskulinecz, Billy Talent, Steven Wilson, Jacob Moon and Alice In Chains.unnamed-1The set’s third disc is a DVD featuring a newly restored vintage 1976 Rush concert recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, plus bonus videos of the Grohl/Hawkins/Raskulinecz track and Billy Talent track, and a new 25+ minute interview featuring Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and longtime producer/engineer Terry Brown. The new 2112 remaster originally appeared on the much-acclaimed 2015 hologram vinyl edition of the album; this marks the Abbey Road Studios master first time on CD.

UMe is also releasing a three-LP 200-gram vinyl edition incorporating all of the aforementioned audio material, plus a special laser-etched LP side, the 2015 hologram on 2112‘s  B-side and a unique turntable mat featuring the band’s iconic Starman character. Fans will also have the option of purchasing a Super Deluxe edition, incorporating both CDs, the DVD, all three LPs plus its bonus items, and several exclusive collectible items including two 12-inch x 12-inch lithos, one featuring Hugh Syme’s original Starman pencil sketching, the second showcasing a 1976 Massey Hall ticket stub; a reprint of the 1976 Massey Hall handbill and three buttons featuring each band member, all housed in a box lined with velvet flocking.download

For the first 1,000 Super Deluxe pre-order purchases at Rush.com, us.udiscovermusic.com and udiscovermusic.com,  the purchaser will receive a limited edition 7-inch pressing of the album’s first single “The Twilight Zone” (b/w “Lessons”) and a custom red star 45 large hole adapter ring, both newly designed by Hugh Syme.

All three versions of 2112—40th feature extensive liner notes by renowned rock historian Rob Bowman, and newly designed artwork by longtime Rush art director Hugh Syme. The set’s rare recordings include “Solar Federation,” spotlighting the isolated Neil Peart vocals that close the song “2112” in “Grand Finale,” two outtakes from the 1976 Massey Hall concerts including “Something For Nothing” and a nearly complete 15+ minute performance of “2112,” as well as a recently-rediscovered live version of the album track “The Twilight Zone,” which has only been performed twice in the band’s long history.

The epic 2112 album which guitarist Alex Lifeson described as “the first record where we sounded like Rush,” is widely regarded as a crucial landmark in Rush’s body of work. Although it was the band’s fourth album, it’s generally considered to be the one on which the band’s epic sound and ambitious conceptual approach blossomed. Resisting record-company pressure to focus on shorter, more radio-friendly songs, the band stuck to its guns and constructed the album’s seminal seven-part, 20-minute title piece, a conceptual suite set in a dystopian future.

In addition to its status as a creative landmark, 2112 was also Rush’s commercial breakthrough, becoming the band’s first album to reach the Billboard LP chart and the first Rush album to achieve Gold sales status in the U.S. (it was subsequently certified Platinum). 2112 was also Rush’s first platinum album in Canada, spawning a now-legendary Canadian tour that culminated in a three-night stand at Massey Hall in Toronto, which was recorded for Rush’s first live album, All the World’s a Stage.

 

The Zappa Family Trust and UMe make it easy to rock around the Christmas tree with 5 vinyl releases

And so the music is flowing, from A to Z, with the emphasis on Z . . . as in “Zappa.” Following this month’s release of three new Frank Zappa albums, the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are continuing their extensive reissue campaign by releasing five iconic works of the musical innovator on vinyl for the first time in decades: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets, Joe’s Garage, Lumpy Gravy, Weasels Ripped My Flesh and We’re Only In It For The Money. The albums spanning Zappa’s incredibly fertile late ’60s-late ’70s period will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl and available December 9. Talk about rockin’ around the Christmas tree!

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Zappa’s first release, the Mothers of Invention’s debut album Freak Out!, and to celebrate the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are steadily reissuing the cultural icon’s catalog and rarities from his famed vault on CD, LP and digitally as part of a long-term licensing agreement. The five vinyl releases follow new albums Meat Light (The Uncle Meat Project/Object Audio Documentary) Little Dots and Chicago ’78, released earlier this month, and several other exciting projects. The 50th anniversary of Zappa’s first single “How Could I Be Such A Fool” is also being celebrated with a limited edition pink vinyl 7-inch; the flipside will feature “Help I’m A Rock (3rd Movement: It Can’t Happen Here).”

The five albums represent some of Zappa and his cohorts’ most challenging, exhilarating and groundbreaking work.

Zappa’s first solo album, Lumpy Gravy is the work of Zappa the composer. Recorded at Capitol Studios in 1967 by legendary producer Nick Venet, Zappa’s compositions were performed by the 50-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, which included several musicians from the legendary Wrecking Crew. Armed with the session tapes and a razor blade, Zappa sat in his New York City apartment and pieced together a masterwork that included the use of tape collages, dialogue, parody, musique concrete and DADAist tendencies. The self-produced album became one of his personal favorites. The LP will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl from a pristine 1968 analog safety tape found in Zappa’s vault.zappa

In the top 300 of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums, We’re Only In It for the Money is a scathing satire of right-versus-left politics that’s as fresh in today’s charged political atmosphere as it was upon release in 1968. In part a parody of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album pits the hippies against the squares, skewering them equally, as pawns held sway by corporate sellouts catering to the masses in the name of profit.  The restored original 1968 mix is pressed on 180-gram vinyl from FZ’s approved Digital Master.

Cruising with Ruben & The Jets is the fourth Mothers of Invention album. Released at the end of 1968, the concept album was written in the style of 1950s doo-wop and classic R&B, a childhood love of Zappa’s and members of the band, including singer Ray Collins, who all came up with the idea while in the studio recording other music. It is being reissuedwith the original 1968 mix from the master analog tape on 180-gram vinyl.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the last album of recordings made by the original Mothers of Invention lineup released after it was disbanded by Zappa. The group, which included a horn section, made the blend of studio and live experimental and traditional tracks from 1967-69. Weasels Ripped My Flesh, released in 1970, provides a fascinating look at the group’s range and diversity of influences, from avant-garde tracks like “Didja Get Any Onya” to the straight-up R&B of their cover of Little Richard’s “Directly From My Heart to You.” In an interesting historical footnote, Lowell George makes an appearance here with the band previous to forming Little Feat with bass player Roy Estrada.

Conceptually and musically as challenging as anything Zappa released in the ’70s, three-act rock opera Joe’s Garage was released as two separate packages in 1979 (the new release arrives as a three-LP set). Zappa described the dystopian tale as “a stupid little story about how the government is going to do away with music.” The rock opera proved prophetic years later when the government began to examine ways to limit the spread of explicit content in music. The song cycle, conceived over a weekend, tells the story of a young rock ‘n’ roller who’s thrown into prison and released into a world turned upside down by evil corporate, political and religious forces who’ve outlawed music. Zappa used the practice of “xenochrony” to record parts of the album, taking previously cut live guitar solos and overdubbing them onto new studio tracks. This 2016 vinyl edition is mastered in all analog by Bernie Grundman using the 1979 1/4” safety master tapes from The Vault.

Taken together the albums are a master’s class in subversive wit, creative genius and uncompromising artistry that flies in the face of convention.

 

Queen Latifah and a bunch of newcomers promise a gay ol’ time with the new series “Star”

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Gee, we hope the Queen doesn’t show up on “Star” this way . . .

A star is born. Well at least not until December 14, when Star, a new series featuring original music and stunning music performances, set for a special  premiere on FOX. Republic Records and Twentieth Century Fox Television have entered a partnership to present music from the show.

Created by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Lee Daniels, co-creator and executive producer of Empire, and Tom Donaghy, Star follows three talented singers–running from their pasts and desperate for a new start–with ambitions of stardom, as they navigate the cut-throat music business on their road to success.  But reality soon dawns on the girls’ fantasies, and they start to learn that ambition often comes at a cost.

“Monte Lipman and his team at Republic Records continue to be at the forefront of what’s new and evolving in today’s current music scene,” says Daniels. “They know how to push boundaries and take risks–which is the essence of this new series and our group of girls.  We’re looking forward to what is going to be a beautiful collaboration.”

Adds Mark Pearson, Executive Vice President, Brand Management and Digital, TCFTV: “Monte, Tom and everyone at Republic demonstrated a passion for STAR that impressed us all. They understood the show, they had a vision for what to do with our performers and they offered really innovative A&R and marketing ideas. Republic is the perfect musical partner for Lee and Tom’s inspired new series.”

So what the fuss? Meet Star (played by newcomer Jude Demorest), a tough-as-nails young woman, who came up in the foster care system and decides one day to take control of her destiny. Star tracks down her sister, Simone (second newcomer Brittany O’Grady), and her Instagram bestie, Alexandra (third newcomer Ryan Destiny), and together, the trio journeys to Atlanta with the hope of becoming music superstars.

Queen Latifah stars as Carlotta, a surrogate mother to the young crew;  the series will also feature guest star Lenny Kravitz.

Watch the official trailer for STAR HERE

 

 

Masterworks Broadway raises the curtain of three top-notch CDs

Once again, Masterworks Broadway has raised the curtain on a triumvirate of classic albums from the archives. Each CD is accompanied by new album pages and photos. Brava!

may-19-1958-rehearsing-new-negro-musical-comedy-a-rehearsal-was-held-e0r5nt
Claudia McNeill rehearsing “Simply Heaven,” May 19, 1958

Starring Claudia McNeil and Melvin Stewart, Simply Heavenly was written by Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes based on his novel “Simple Takes a Wife and Other Simple Stories.” With music by David Martin, Simply Heavenly was originally produced for the Off-Broadway 85th Street Playhouse. The show transferred to Broadway’s Playhouse Theatre on August 20, 1957, when fire violations forced the closure of the original venue.  Hughes continually looked to the musical stage for success following the groundbreaking 1947 original production of Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice’s Street Scene for which he wrote lyrics. Set in Harlem of the ‘50s, Simply Heavenly follows Jess Simple as he tries to raise enough money for a divorce so he can marry his new love and eloquently captures the color, humor and poetry of that time and place.
McNeil had made her Broadway debut as a replacement cast member in the groundbreaking original Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She would later originate the role of Lena Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun both on Broadway and in the feature film.

Based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic novella, A Christmas Carol was presented annually at New York City’s Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from 1994 through 2003.

Over its nine years, A Christmas Carol featured a slew of notable actors as “Scrooge” including F. Murray Abraham, Tim Curry, Tony Randall, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Jim Dale and Roger Daltrey.

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The cast of “Spoon River Anthology”; Joyce Van Patten (left) and Betty Garrett (center) . . . their backs, at least!

Charles Aidman adapted and starred in Spoon River Anthology, a play with music based on Edgar Lee Masters’ renowned collection of short free-form poems. With music by Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn and Hal Lynch, Spoon River Anthology weaves the epitaphs of the residents of fictional small town Spoon River into a chilling history of turn-of-the century America. Also starring Betty Garrett, Joyce Van Patten and Robert Elston, the show opened at the Booth Theatre on September 29, 1963 and ran for 111 performances. This original Broadway cast recording of Spoon River Anthology is making its CD debut.

 

Local songwriters sing, sing a song, for the 2017 Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD

Pittsburgh a most desirable city? Don’t think so . . . it boats some of the country’s worst air, high crime rates and roads that are more cracked than Trump’s family.

But the music is good. Or so we hear. And we hear that non-profit music organization Calliope will be hosting the Annual Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD release soiree on Friday, November 4. For a mere $7, you can join the Calliope crew for an evening of “remarkable performances” by dozens of participating Pittsburgh songwriters. (The 2017 CD features 29 Pittsburgh-area songwriters.) The gala is being held at The Roots Cellar, “the acoustically-sound subterranean room at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.” It’s very difficult to find: Note the address is 6300 Fifth Avenue.Jewel 4 Panel-PSC2017

Working under the auspices of Calliope, the Songwriters Circle conducts a weekly songwriters’ open stage at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, holds monthly meetings focused on song craft, places songwriters in front of audiences and produces this annual compilation album series to help to nurture regional songwriters and foster community among artists who are compelled to write songs. Whew! Since the project started in 2005, more than 100 local songwriters have participated in this album series. You can find some of their CDs at CDBaby.com.

Get in the groove by getting more info at calliopehouse.org or by visiting pittsburghsongwriterscircle.org.

 

Go tell it on the mountain: Jennifer nettles releases her first Yuletide CD

 

Christmas is being doubly good to Jennifer Nettles. She stars in Dolly Parton’s straight to DVD Christmas special, and she’s prepping for the season early with the release of her first holiday album, To Celebrate Christmas, out October 28 on Big Machine Records. The 10-track collection highlights Jennifer’s signature Country twang while her enthusiastic spirit illuminates the mix of festive anthems and traditional standards.

Wrapping each track with care, Grammy-winning producer Julian Raymond joined Jennifer in the studio. The project shines with star-studded collaborations, including dynamic harmonies with Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel on “Little Drummer Boy,” and the jazz-influenced melody alongside American-soul sensation Andra Day on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.” Friend and mentor, 40DD-17-36 Parton, penned “Circle Of Love.” 1

“I’m such a lover of this season and all of the magical feelings that surround us during the holidays so it will be exciting to share it with fans at our live shows,” coos Jennifer. “Especially since the birth of my son, who arrived to us in December, I’ve found even more joy Christmas traditions and music. Having both Idina and Andra lend their idyllic voices to some of my favorite songs is the bow on top!”

 

 

Olivia-Newton John teams with two friends to create a CD that helps healing the pain of loss. Brava!

As gifted author Anne Lamott has said: “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Loss causes intense feeling of being lost. The pain seems endless. The darkness seems to shroud the heart. Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky have teamed  to lend vocal and songwriting talents to create Liv On, (UMe), a collaborative, newly recorded 11-song collection intended for those who wish to transcend loss while walking a journey toward new-found meaning and hope.  This powerful new album, now available through all digital partners, emerges on CD on October 14.71rscbpkf1l-_sl1200_

This inspiring new project grew out of the trio’s personal experiences with loss and illness, which they all survived to Liv On and celebrate each day with a depth of gratitude. This labor of love stemmed from the trio sharing their stories together and expressing their deepest feelings from the most difficult to the most celebratory. It’s the hope that this music can uplift hearts burdened by grief while at the same time bring comfort to the listener.

“As a group, it’s our intention with this album to create songs with a message of compassion and hope,” says Newton-John. “They are for anyone facing a time of challenge in their life, whether it is grieving a loss—or on the journey to health and recovery.”

Liv On–means “to thrive, to have hope and to remember.”  The message is clear in the lyrics of the album’s title song:

Live on, Live on
Brighter skies will come again
Cry the tears you cry
And then live on, live on
Love is all we leave when we are gone . . .
Live on

Loss and grief occur for many reasons—whether it’s losing a loved one, a relationship, one’s health, a pet or a job. It’s important to remember that each person’s grief is as individual as his or her DNA—and there truly is no timeline for healing from loss.

With the fast-paced society we live in, we are often forced to “get over things.” However, for every individual, grief has its own clock.  Olivia, Beth and Amy called upon their personal experiences in creating this collection of songs which will aid, uplift and comfort those working their way through the maze of grief and loss. While taking into consideration the many causes of grief, they hope to provide the unique ability for those in need of support to heal through this music.

With songs such as “Don’t Know What To Say,” “My Heart Goes Out to You,” “Immortality” and “Stone In My Pocket,” the lyrics express different phases of the delicate recovery process while validating the experience so the listener can heal once again and soar. In addition, each artist revisits songs that have brought love and light to many of their fans. The album includes new interpretations of “Grace and Gratitude” (Newton-John), “Sand and Water” (Nielsen Chapman) and “I Will Take Care of You” (Sky).

Why is this CD important? It’s estimated that approximately 76 million Americans and tens of millions more globally are set to enter into the end of life care continuum either as patients or caregivers.  At no time in our country’s history have we seen such an unprecedented need for bereavement care.

Liv On harnesses the unique talents of these three internationally-recognized artists – and showcases the transforming power of music—to heal and shed light on the fact that it’s OK to grieve—and that the process is different for everyone. The message of Liv On is clear and affirming: the reason we grieve is because we love, and therein lies the strength for healing.

“We are honored to partner with the artists and mission of this project by contributing funds for creating a unique grief outreach and educational initiative to coordinate with this inspiring music,” says Paul VerHoeve, President of the Gentiva Hospice Foundation.

Directing the outreach and educational initiative is Dianne Gray of Hospice and Healthcare Communications. Gray explains, “It’s how we grieve that asks so much of us.  We have choices to make as we venture forth. ‘Liv On,’ the music and the resources, will help people do just that—live on!”

 

Something so strong: Crowded House celebrates their 30th anniversary with reissues of their entire catalog

A reason to put up with crowds: Crowded House will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by reissuing their entire catalog in two-disc CD packages and 180-gram heavyweight vinyl, unlocking a wealth of rare material that has been personally selected by Neil Finn and the band. They will be released on Friday,  November 18 through Universal Catalog, and are available to pre-order at the official Crowded House Store.  Digital versions will also be available on November 4.

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The two-CD packages will feature the original album with a bonus disc of rarities, B-sides and previously unreleased home demos and outtakes unearthing more than 100 unreleased tracks across the campaign. Each CD package will be delivered in high quality fan-deluxe packaging, with extended notes featuring new interviews with the band and memorabilia from personal and fan archives in a 36 page book. Exclusive CD bundles will also be available here.

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That’s Finn on the left

True to the original releases, there will also be classic reissues of each album on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl. These are all cut from the original analogue tapes at Abbey Road Studios. The LPs will not include bonus tracks.

Says Finn: “We are thrilled all seven of our albums are about to be reissued in all formats including vinyl, each one accompanied by a rich trove of rarities including writing demos and other unreleased musical curiosities, as well as new original artwork from my dear friend Nick Seymour. This has been many years in the making with much of the exhaustive listening, editing and remixing being done by the keeper of knowledge Jeremy Ansell in Auckland. It has been a labor of love for us and our mission all along was making a superlative quality, definitive document of Crowded House’s unique history for all the fans who have given us their affection over the years.”

 

 

 

This November, almost 20 years to the day when Crowded House said Farewell to the World with a celebrated concert held on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House, they return to that iconic space to celebrate their induction into the ARIA Hall Of Fame at the 2016 ARIA Awards.

Crowded House will perform two very special Encore shows exclusive to Sydney and Australia, their only appearances worldwide during 2016, on Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26.