It seems every conversation about colourism in pop music must come back to Beyoncé. So it was when Mathew Knowles, record exec, former Destiny’s Child manager and Beyoncé’s father, appeared on SiriusXM radio to discuss research by Texas Southern University, where he is a visiting professor. Their study found that over a 15-year period it was lighter-skinned black women – the likes of Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and, of course, Beyoncé – who dominated Top 40 airplay. When asked how different Beyoncé’s career would have been had she been darker-skinned, Knowles was unequivocal: “I think it would’ve affected her success.”
During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history.
Jazz Night in America host Christian McBride has spent years tracing the history of some of these bands and notes that during this flourishing time for all-women groups, the 17-piece International Sweethearts of Rhythm had the most formidable level of popularity.
The teacher can be forgiven if she dismissed as an impossible dream the English schoolgirl’s declaration that she wanted to be a jazz singer when she grew up. Young Mary O’Brien was a gawky tomboy with thick spectacles — always ready for rough-and-tumble play with the neighborhood lads. She hardly matched the image of glamorous and sophisticated entertainers seen in the cinema and the picture magazines of the post-war years in London.
Nevertheless, Mary began pursuing her dream early in life. At the age of 11, she cut a demo record of Irving Berlin’s When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabama at a London music store.
How the rappers made amends for their early-career misogyny.
The Beastie Boys Book, the cinder-block-shaped testament to three decades of hip-hop shenanigans by Mike D and Ad-Rock, is a conversational and personable trip to a brighter, more fun world. It’s full of stories about MCA’s family dog stealing a pizza and Mike D getting freaked out by Bob Dylan at a party. But a bigger, more hopeful story undergirds the entire book: the Beasties’ journey from the toxic misogyny of their early days to the relative enlightenment of their late career.
In an eye-opening new documentary, hidden Native American figures are finally given credit for influencing a vast amount of popular music.
The Cowsills are an American singing group from Newport, Rhode Island, six siblings noted for performing professionally and singing harmonies at an early age, later with their mother.
The band was formed in the spring of 1965 by brothers Bill, Bob, and Barry Cowsill; with their brother John joining shortly thereafter. Originally Bill and Bob played guitar and Barry played the drums. When John learned to play drums and joined the band, Barry began playing bass. After their initial success, the brothers were joined by their siblings Susan and Paul along with their mother, Barbara. A seventh sibling, Bob’s twin brother Richard, was never part of the band during its heyday, although he occasionally appeared with them in later years.