Monday, 16 February 2015 20:29 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


"Let me tell you, I don't know," laughs a buoyant but slightly bamboozled SYLEENA JOHNSON, in response to being asked how she manages to juggle a professional music career with looking after two young children. "I can't answer that question because I'm still trying to figure it out," says the stunningly beautiful multi-tasking, multi-talented, Grammy-nominated Illinois singer/songwriter who is due to appear in concert in London and Birmingham at the end of February alongside fellow R&B singer, Faith Evans.

The 38-year-old Chicago chanteuse - the daughter of '70s soul legend, Syl Johnson - also has a new album out, the superlative 'Chapter 6: Couples Therapy,' which is arguably her best yet. But that's not all. To complicate the singer's hectic work and domestic schedules even further she has a self-help book being published later this year and is also destined to appear with her husband on a new US reality TV show called Marriage Boot Camp. Despite her heavy commitments, Syleena managed to squeeze in an interview with SJF's not-quite-so-busy Charles Waring, and talks frankly about her life, career, new album and her deep appreciation of old school music values...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 18:06



Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:54 Bill b E-mailPrintPDF

pp1The wonderful PHIL PERRY is the consummate modern soul man. The sometime Montclairs vocalist has just released his 11th solo album – the acclaimed 'A Better Man' ( see our reviews section) . Keen to speak to all of soul's top people, SOULANDJAZZANDFUNK recently caught up with Mr Perry and we began by asking him what keeps him going after all this time. In a lengthy career he's achieved everything, worked with the very best and crafted timeless music ... doesn't he ever feel it's time to pack it all in and take to the golf course?

Never.... it's simple.... singers need to sing. I still love music too much to stop. I could never stop.

OK, the new album.... You've chosen 'A Better Man' as the LP's title cut.... why? Is it a description of you?

It's a description of any man. Every man can be better. Chris Davis (producer) wrote the hook, and I weaved the story. It's a partial description of where I am in my life as well.

Other album highlights include the two Impressions covers – 'Gypsy Woman' and 'I'm So Proud'. Why go to Curtis Mayfield's back catalogue and why those two particular songs.... I mean there are already lots of covers of them already... why not try something a little more obscure from Curtis?

In my youth, Curtis was one of the vocalists and composers that I listened to in order to develop a style of my own. He was the consummate poet. I'm not familiar with any other covers of these songs, but I chose them simply because I like them.

What do you think you bring to the two songs that are different to the originals?

.... just myself.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 13:09



Friday, 30 January 2015 13:49 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Mel_remixedOn the back of her astounding second album, 'No Deal' - released last Spring and which had UK critics raving so much that it resulted in the singer's appearance on Jools Holland's Later TV programme - jazz-influenced Belgian singer/songwriter/flautist MELANIE DE BIASIO follows it up with a 'new' long player which will released on February 23rd 2015. As its title - 'No Deal Remixed' - reveals, it represents a re-envisioning of her 2014 album by a bevy of celebrated mix-meisters. The project has been curated by British DJ, tastemaker and label boss, Gilles Peterson, and features newly deconstructed versions of key songs from 'No Deal' by Toshio Matsuura, the Cinematic Orchestra, Eels, Seven Davis Jr, Hex, Jon Wayne and Chassol.

Belgium-born Di Biasio - who became the recipient of a Best Session Award at the 10th Worldwide Awards for her performance on Gilles Peterson's BBC6 radio show - has been earning plaudits for her spellbinding live performances as well as her recordings. Here, on the eve of her new LP, the charismatic chanteuse talks at length to SJF's Charles Waring about the original 'No Deal album plus her formative years and key influences...


Last Updated on Friday, 30 January 2015 14:11



Friday, 09 January 2015 11:28 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

The-Three-Degrees_new"That was mind-blowing," exclaims Valerie Holiday (pictured far right), the longest-serving member of the legendary vocal trio, THE THREE DEGREES, who married supper club glitz and glamour with sweet soul grooves. The Boston-born singer, who has been with the group since 1967, is recalling the time that the group performed in front of British royalty - Prince Charles no less, who was celebrating his thirtieth birthday at the time - in 1978. "We were invited to Buckingham Palace for the announcement of his marriage to Princess Diana," continues Valerie. "It was quite exciting. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I was awake in there because it was nothing but dignitaries, so it made us feel very, very special."

Indeed, the group - which recently celebrated half-a-century together and have been officially recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records as the longest-running girl-group of all time - have enjoyed a 'special' relationship with not only British royalty but also the British public for forty years. Their enduring popularity means that they're no strangers to this sceptered isle and to prove the point, the group are set to undertake a lengthy UK tour later this month. Their itinerary, which comprises twenty dates, includes performances scheduled as far north as Wakefield and as far south as Exeter and Weymouth.

Recently interviewed by SJF's Charles Waring, Valerie recalls key moments in the glamorous group's storied career, including, crucially, their productive hit-making stint at Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International empire in the early '70s...


Last Updated on Friday, 09 January 2015 12:05



Wednesday, 07 January 2015 12:38 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

V2_Shirley_Jones_Because_You_Love_Me"It's been a lot of years, huh?" So says Motor Town singer Shirley Jones - who accompanies her words with a wry, philosophical chuckle - as she reflects on her long recording career. It began almost forty-five years ago when, as a teenager, she sang alongside her two sisters, Brenda and Valorie, as The Jones Girls. After a clutch of non-charting 45s for different companies in the early to mid-'70s - among them, Holland-Dozier-Holland's Music Merchant imprint, Paramount, and Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label - the Jones siblings signed with Gamble & Huff's iconic Philadelphia International label in 1979 and scored US R&B hits with 'You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else,' 'I Just Love The Man,' and 'Nights Over Egypt.'  In the mid-'80s the group disbanded and Shirley - the eldest of the trio - stepped out to start a solo career that yielded a US R&B chart topper, 'Do You Get Enough Love,' in 1986.

The Jones Girls reunited in 1992 for the album, 'Coming Back' - which was especially popular in the UK, where it was recorded - but then fell off the radar again (sadly, the youngest of the siblings, Valorie, passed away in 2001). Shirley served up her second solo album, 'With You' in 1994 only to disappear for over a decade until she reappeared in 2010 with an indie label inspirational album, 'Feels Like Heaven.' Five years on and the singer, now sixty-one, is back with a fabulous new single, the slinky dancer groove, 'Because You Love Me,' released on the UK label, Expansion. In a recent interview with SJF's Charles Waring, the chanteuse talks her about her new record, vividly recalls her days in The Jones Girls and reveals that younger members of the Jones family are entering the music business...


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 January 2015 17:05


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