The last few days saw the passing of two musicians – neither was big “names” nor mightily lauded, but both made contributions to black music that will endure.
On Monday 14th August ROBERT YANCY died. Robert was the son of Natalie Cole (mother and son pictured above) and Independents singer and songwriter Marvin Yancy. Of course, he was the grandson of Nat King Cole too. Robert Yancy was just 39 and died of a heart attack – like his father who suffered similarly aged just 34.
Robert Yancy was himself a musician, having worked with his mother and other soul music artists, including SWV. A spokesperson said that Robert had been working on a documentary about his mother at the time of his death, adding that he still seemed deeply upset about losing her.
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter BENARD IGHNER died the same day. Bernard will be best remembered for writing the song ‘Everything Must Change’. He was 72 and had been suffering lung cancer and spinal stenosis.
Born in 1945, Benard was a self-taught musician, proficient on piano, guitar, bass, drums, flugelhorn, alto and soprano saxophones and flute. He recorded as sideman on albums in the 70s and 80s on several labels, and worked with such artists as Sarah Vaughan and Marlena Shaw. But he will be most remembered for the song ‘Everything Must Change’. First recorded by Quincy Jones and Ighner on Jones’s ‘Body Heat’ album in 1974, the song went on to be covered dozens of times by artists ranging from like Nina Simone, Judy Collins, Nancy Wilson, George Benson and James Ingram. Ighner himself re-recorded ‘Everything Must Change’ as the last track on his only solo album, the 8-song ‘Little Dreamer’. The album was released on Japan’s Alfa imprint in 1978 and later became hugely collectable.
This week singer/songwriter Brenda Russell posted: “We lost another gifted angel…the writer of the timeless, classic song ‘Everything Must Change.’ We met in the 70’s. He was a friend to me who left an indelible mark on the world with this one song alone. I was in awe of his talent, and how he taught himself to play multiple instruments. Listen to his profound lyric and killer vocals on this track, recorded when we used live strings. Benard was gorgeous inside and out. R.I.P. Benard, kind & gentle genius.”