Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31: folk singer Tom Paxton is 76-years-old today.


Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1937, Tom has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years. In 2009, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1948, when Tom was 12, the Paxton family moved to Bristow, Oklahoma, which Paxton considers to be his hometown. Tom was about fifteen when he received his first stringed instrument, a ukulele. He also received a guitar from his aunt when he was sixteen, and he soon began to immerse himself in the music of Burl Ives and Harry Belafonte.
In 1955, Tom enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, where he studied in drama. It was here that he first found other enthusiasts of folk music, and discovered the music of Woody Guthrie and The Weavers.

During college, Tom was in a group known as the Travellers. The group sang in off-campus coffeehouse.

Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1959 with a BFA, Paxton acted in summer stock theatre and briefly tried graduate school before joining the Army. While attending the Clerk Typist School in Fort Dix, New Jersey, he began writing songs on his typewriter and spent almost every weekend visiting Greenwich Village in New York City during the emerging early 1960s folk revival.

Shortly after being discharged from the Army, Paxton auditioned for the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1960. He initially received the part, but his voice did not blend well enough with those of the group members. However, after singing his song "The Marvelous Toy," he became the first writer signed to Milt's music publishing company, Cherry Lane Music Publishing.
Tom soon became a steady performer at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village. In 1962, he recorded a live album at the Gaslight entitled, I'm the Man That Built the Bridges. During his stay in Greenwich Village, Tom published some of his songs in the folk magazines Broadside and Sing Out!, and performed alongside Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Eric Andersen, Dave Van Ronk, and Mississippi John Hurt.
Paxton signed with Elektra Records in 1964, a label which at that time featured a distinguished roster of folk musicians. Tom would go on to record seven albums for Elektra.

As the folk revival hit its peak, Tom began getting more work outside of New York City, including benefit concerts and college campus visits. In 1964, Tom took part in the Freedom Summer and visited the Deep South, with other folk musicians, to perform at voter registration drives and civil rights rallies. His civil rights song "Beau John" was written after attending a Freedom Song Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, and the song "Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney" was written about the unjust and brutal murders of three civil rights activists.
Tom with Liam Clancy

In February 2002, Tom Paxton was honored with the ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award in Folk Music. A few days later, he received three Wammies (Washington, DC, Area Music Awards); as Best Male Vocalist in the "traditional folk" and "children's music" categories, and for Best Traditional Folk Recording of the Year.

On January 22, 2007, Paxton was honored with an official Parliamentary tribute at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom at the start of his 2007 United Kingdom tour.

On May 3, 2008, Paxton was honored with a special lifetime tribute from the World Folk Music Association. In addition. Tom has been nominated four times for Grammy Awards in his career, all since 2002.

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound: The Best Of Tom PaxtonComedians & AngelsThe Marvelous ToyVery Best of Tom Paxton


For more about Tom, visit his Website at


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30: Singer Vanessa White of The Saturdays is 24-years-old today.

Vanessa Karen White was born in Yeovil, Somerset. She was drawn to performing when just a toddler. She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School on Saturdays before being offered a full time place when she was five. To help her fulfill her dream, her family moved to Stratford, London.

In high school, she appeared in several theatre productions, including the West End production of The Lion King as Young Nala and also played one of the King's daughters in The King And I from 2000-2002.

With a recording contract in hand as a soloist, Vanessa auditioned for, and was accepted as, a member of a newly-formed girl group The Saturdays  2007.

The Saturdays are a British/Irish girl group formed in London, UK in 2006. Besides Vanessa, the other four members are Frankie Sandford, Mollie King, Una Healy and Rochelle Wiseman.
The group made their recording debut in 2008 for the record label Fascination Records, a sub-division of Polydor Records. They have released three albums, and scored eight UK Top Ten singles, with only nine singles released. As of August 2010, the band have sold nearly 2 million records.

Vanessa and the other four members hit it off immediately, and due to her extensive vocal range, they dubbed her as "our Christina Aguilera." She has also been compared to American singers Alicia Keys, BeyoncĂ© and Mariah Carey.

(Continued below video and Amazon portal ...)

Recommended (Press album covers for direct links to Amazon):

Chasing Lights (Updated 2009 Edition)The Saturdays: Our Story.HeadlinesWordshakerChasing Lights

White, who is the youngest member of the group, is the only one to have solo parts in every song on their 2008 debut album Chasing Lights. (When performed live the vocals of the song "Chasing Lights" are shared among all five members.) The B-side to their single "Work," "Unofficial," is a revamped version of a song White wrote during her teenage years and was originally titled "Artificial Love."

In June 2009, while The Saturdays toured the UK, Vanessa tripped over a cable before a performance in Dundee  before they were about to go on stage for the second show of the tour and tore a ligament in her ankle and missed a large proportion of the show that night. Once paramedics had strapped up her foot, she was permitted to join the band on stage in a wheelchair.

White spent the next few shows appearing on stage sitting on a bar stool and gradually began to stand for more and more songs as the tour progressed, before being able to perform her choreography again.

Along with the other members of the group, White has co-written a track on their second album, Wordshaker, titled "Deeper."

In July 2009, Vanessa provided additional vocals on Master Shortie's debut album A.D.H.D. on the "Swagger Chick" track.  In January 2010, White participated in the British ITV1 celebrity reality television programme Popstar to Operastar.

In November 2011, The Saturdays released On Your Radar with the headline single "All Fired Up."

For more about The Saturdays, visit their Website at -

Oct. 30: Keisha Buchanan of the Sugarbabes is 29-years-old today.


Keisha Kerreece Fayeanne Buchanan is an English singer-songwriter and was a founding member of the BRIT Award-winning girl group the Sugababes, originally with Mutya Buena and Siobhan Donaghy. Originally the group was called the Sugarbabies.  

During Keisha's tenure with The Sugababes, the group had seven number one singles, and two number one studio albums, making the Sugababes one of the most successful female acts of the 21st century. Buchanan was asked to leave the band in September 2009, and embarked on a solo career. The Sugarbabes now have none of the original three members.

The Sugababes had seven number-one singles, "Freak Like Me," "Round Round," "Hole in the Head," "Do They Know it's Christmas?" (with Band Aid 20), "Push the Button," "Walk This Way" and "About You Now." They have also had several top-three hits including "Ugly," "Girls" and Buchanan's final release with the group, "Get Sexy."
The group has also had six top-ten albums, two of which, Taller in More Ways and Change, went to number one in the UK and were certified triple platinum.

In terms of record sales, the Sugababes are the most successful female act of the century, and have had #1 singles in fifteen other countries in Europe and Asia — "Hole in the Head" also went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart.

Recommended (Links to Amazon):

Angels With Dirty FacesOverloaded


October 30: Otis Williams, Founding baritone for The Temptations is 72-years-old today.


Williams, who was born in Texarkana, Texas was an original member of the Motown vocal group The Temptations in early 1960. Nicknamed "Big Daddy," Williams is the group's only surviving original member.

 As a teenager, Williams put together a number of singing groups, among them Otis Williams and the Siberians, the El Domingoes, and the Distants.

At the urging of Berry Gordy at Motown, Williams and friends and band-mates Elbridge "Al" Bryant and Melvin Franklin quit The Distants. Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams from The Primes later joined Williams, Bryant, and Franklin to create the Elgins, who signed to Motown in March 1961 as The Temptations.

The Temptations eventually became the most successful act in black music over nearly five-decades. They have frequently changed their lineup and sound, but the one constant was the presence of Otis.
All seven of the Temptations' singles released between 1961 and 1963 failed to make it onto the U.S. Hot 100 pop singles charts, Still, during that time the group became known as one of the most talented and versatile groups in the country. In January 1964, Smokey Robinson and Miracles band mate Bobby Rogers co-wrote and produced "The Way You Do the Things You Do" with Eddie Kendricks on lead. The single became the Temptations' first Top 20 hit that April.
Robinson and fellow Miracles member Ronnie White wrote "My Girl", which the Temptations recorded in the fall of 1964 with Ruffin singing his first lead vocal for the group. Released as a single on December 21, 1964, the song became the Temptations' first number-one pop hit in March 1965, and is their signature song to this day.

After the success of "My Girl", Ruffin sang lead on the next three singles: "It's Growing", "Since I Lost My Baby" and "My Baby", all of which made it to the Top 20 in 1965. The "Classic Five" lineup of the Temptations, in1965 included Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, and David Ruffin.
The group followed with "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep," "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and the early 1967 hit "Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need." Other hit singles from this period include "All I Need," and "You're My Everything." From early 1964 to mid 1968, the Temptations became international stars, and achieved crossover success.

By 1968, after David Ruffin left, the group modified its sound to funkier and hard driving. Their single "Cloud Nine," won the Grammy Award, for Best R&B Vocal Group Performance of 1969. In 1972, after Eddie Kendrick's departure, they released a nearly seven minute-long single, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."

 In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Temptations #67 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

Definitive CollectionGet Ready: Definitive Performances 1965-1972 [DVD] - The TemptationsTemptations, Updated


Oct. 30: Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane & Starship is 74-years-old today.

Born Grace Barnett Wing in born in Evanston, Illinois in 1939, Grace was one of the lead singers of the rock groups The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship - and a solo artist - from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s.

Besides the Chicago area, Grace lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco before her family settled in Palo Alto, California, near San Francisco, in the early 1950s.

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-- "Miracles" (Jefferson Starship ) 

Slick's music career started in 1965 in San Francisco, starting her own band after seeing the Jefferson Airplane perform. Slick has said the main reason for going into music was that after seeing Airplane perform, she realized they were making more money and having more fun than she was as a fashion model.  Slick, her then husband, brother-in-law, Darby Slick, and other friends, formed a band named The Great Society. The group debuted during the autumn of 1965 and by early 1966 was one of the popular psychedelic acts in the Bay area. Grace provided vocals and played guitar, piano and the recorder. In addition, she and her brother-in-law wrote a majority of the songs.

With Great Society
By the summer of 1966, The Great Society recorded material, releasing one single in San Francisco, a precursor to the future Jefferson Airplane success "Somebody to Love" (titled "Someone To Love") written by Darby.

Before the end of the year, Jefferson Airplane's singer Signe Toly Anderson had left to start a family, and the band asked Slick to join them. She took two compositions from The Great Society: "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" (both of which became huge hits), and the band began recording an album.

In 1967, Surrealistic Pillow and its singles were great successes and Jefferson Airplane was one of the best-known bands in the country. Slick became one of the first popular female rock musicians.

Other notable songs that she recorded with Jefferson Airplane include "Two Heads", "Lather" and "Greasy Heart". The songs "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" appeared on Rolling Stone's top 500 greatest songs of all time.

After Jefferson Airplane terminated, Slick along with other bandmates formed the even more popular Jefferson Starship. Slick's solo albums include Manhole, Dreams, Software and Welcome to the Wrecking Ball.

With Jefferson Airplane

During the 1980s, Slick was the only former Jefferson Airplane member to be in Starship. The band went on to score three chart-topping successes with "We Built This City," "Sara," and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." She left the group soon after their second number one success. In 1989, Slick and her former Jefferson Airplane band members reformed the group and released a reunion album.

With Jefferson Starship

Grace was nominated for a Grammy award in 1980 as Best Rock Female Vocalist for her solo album Dreams. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 as a member of Jefferson Airplane.

She is also ranked #20 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll.

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

Dreams Somebody to Love?: A Rock-and-Roll MemoirGrace Slick & The Great SocietyLive at The Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66: Late Show: Signe's FarewellJefferson Starship. Platinum & Gold Collection

                                                     -----For more about Grace and her paintings, visit her Website at -