Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column -William Price King – Summer Jazz – Roberta Flack The Finale


Welcome to the Summer Jazz Season where we revisit some of the amazing artists featured at the beginning of the music column back in 2015. William Price King will be taking a break from July 5th until September, but we don’t want you to miss out on the music.

This week is the last post in the Roberta Flack story with William Price King but it is definitely not the end of the story as this wonderful artist continues to perform occasionally.

I will hand over to William who has selected some of Roberta Flack’s quotes about life and music and we feature some of her live performances through the years of well loved songs.

‘Remember: Always walk in the light. And if you feel like you’re not walking in it, go find it. Love the light’

The first of the live performances is a track that was originally released on Roberta Flack’s ninth album Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway performed here with another favourite collaborator Peabo Bryson You Are My Heaven written by Stevie Wonder and Eric Mercury.

Having become established in the business and achieved recognition from fellow artists and also her legion of fans, Roberta Flack was able to take advantage of her increasing global fame. She moved into a new home in the famous Dakota apartment building in New York City which was also home to some of the biggest names in entertainment including Judy Garland and Leonard Bernstein.

This next live performance is Bridge Over Troubled Water written by Simon & Garfunkel for their 1970 studio album of the same name. The song won five awards at the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971 and has been covered many times by the top names in the music business.

‘As musicians, and as people who sell material for people to hear and absorb, it’s important that we use that voice wisely’

Roberta found herself living next door to John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. She said that on one occasion she heard him playing Imagine through the wall of the apartment. Although not in the building on the day of his murder in 1980 she later said this of their relationship.

I was very upset — and still am — by his untimely murder.”. “John and I were buddies. It was hard not to recognize him because he was so profound.”

She continues to live in the building to this day.

‘My hope is that out of all the anger and seeming hostility that we hear in some of today’s music will come some sort of coalition that will become politically involved’.

The song Oasis written by Marcus Miller and Mark Stephens was from Roberta’s 1982 solo album of newly recorded songs I’m The One.

The album releases in the 90s included Stop The World 1992, Roberta 1994 and The Christmas Album in 1997

Further acclaim for her music came in the form of recognition on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999. The same year Roberta toured South Africa, performing for President Nelson Mandela.

1999 also saw the release of her album Friends: Roberta Flack sings Mariko Takahashi a Japanese singer/songwriter and musician.

In 2003 there was a second Christmas album titled Holiday

After a recording gap of 8 years Roberta paid tribute to John Lennon and the Beatles with her album Let It Be Roberta

Here is Roberta with an acoustic version of Let it Be written by Paul McCartney. It was released in 1970 and was the final single by The Beatles before Paul left the group.

‘So see every opportunity as golden, and keep your eyes on the prize – yours, not anybody else’s’.

And finally Why don’t You Move In With Me written by Gene McDaniels was from Roberta’s sixth album Blue Lights In The Basement released in late 1977. The album would reach No 8 in the Billboard 200 and No 5 in the R&B Albums chart.

‘One of the primary qualities of a good performance is honesty’.

Buy Roberta Flack’s music: http://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Flack/e/B000APXOJE

Additional sources
http://www.robertaflack.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Flack_discography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Flack

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION https://williampriceking.tumblr.com

Connect with William

Websitehttp://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/wpkofficial
Regular Venuehttp://cave-wilson.com/ 
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of the Music Column series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-music-column/

and all the previous posts on jazz, classical and contemporary artists here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-contemporary-classical-and-legends/

Thank you for tuning in today and I hope you will join us again next Tuesday for the next series when we follow the career of Diana Krall –  Thanks Sally and William.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column -William Price King – Summer Jazz – Roberta Flack Part One.


Welcome to the start of the Summer Jazz Season where we revisit some of the amazing artists featured at the beginning of the music column back in 2015. William Price King will be taking a break from July 5th until September, but we don’t want you to miss out on the music.

The Music Column will now be posted on Tuesday mornings, just after midnight.

The first series for the summer is the fabulous Roberta Flack who has now officially retired from touring, but still delights her fans from time to time with performances.

Roberta Flack – The Early Years.

indexRoberta Flack is a musician and singer best known for her gentle arrangements and performances of Gospel, Soul, Jazz, Pop, R&B and folk music. Some of her most well-known hits include The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Killing Me Softly With His Song and Feel Like Making Love.

Here is one of the most haunting arrangements of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. The folk song was written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger in 1957. When they eventually married they would perform the song in folk clubs around Britain and whilst covered by various singers, it would not become a major international hit until recorded by Roberta Flack in 1972. It won Grammy awards for both Record and Song of the Year and it was ranked number one song of the year in 1972

Over her long career Roberta Flack has influenced and opened doors for many other female singers who were empowered by her spirit and talented dedication to outstanding music. She is a member of the Artist Empowerment Coalition which advocates the right of artists to control their creative properties and Roberta also founded The Roberta Flack School of Music in the Bronx in New York City. In partnership with the Hyde Leadership Chart School. The programme provides free music education to underprivileged students.

The Early Years.

Roberta was born in 1937 in Black Mountain, North Carolina to Laron and Irene Flack. Her mother was a church organist and Roberta and her family moved to Arlington, Virginia where she was brought up. She was introduced to outstanding musicians such as Sam Cooke through the family Baptist church. And she was influenced by one of the great Gospel singers of the day, Mahalia Jackson. Here is Mahalia’s powerful version of Amazing Grace.

By age nine Roberta began learning to play the piano. It was clear as she entered her teens that she was a very talented classical pianist and she was accepted into Howard University on a full music scholarship. At only 15 she was one of the youngest ever to enrol and it was here that she became interested in using her voice as another instrument. She changed her major from piano and eventually became the assistant conductor with the university choir. Whilst at Howard, Roberta met Donny Hathaway who would become her singing partner on hits such as Where Is The Love.

The song was written by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter and recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway in 1972. It reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and a week each at number one on the Easy Listening and R&B charts. It also won best Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with vocal.

Unfortunately, after graduating and continuing her studies in music, her father Laron died and to help support the family, Roberta took a job teaching music and English in North Carolina. She also taught private music lessons at her home but in the evenings and weekends her own music career began to take off in the Washington D.C hot spots.

At first she employed her wonderful musicality as a pianist and would accompany other singers including an opera singer at The Tivoli Club. During the breaks she would entertain in a back room playing piano, singing blues and folk songs with some of the pop standards of the day. These short performances developed into her own gigs several nights a week at the 1520 Club.

Roberta was still taking voice lessons and her teacher, Frederick Wilkerson told her he thought her future lay in pop music rather than in the classics. She took his advice and changed the content of her performances. Her reputation began to spread and in 1968 her professional career took off with a regular engagement at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant, in Georgetown.

Eventually Roberta was performing three or four shows a day to a very appreciative audience and that audience included some famous and influential artists of the time including Burt Bacharach and Johnny Mathis.

To close this first part of the Roberta Flack here is Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye from the 1969 album First Take released in 1969. The song had been written by Canadian Leonard Cohen and released originally in 1967

Next week we follow the meteoric rise in Roberta Flack’s career in the 70s and 80s.

Buy Roberta Flack’s music : http://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Flack/e/B000APXOJE

Additional Sources
http://www.robertaflack.com/

Photographs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Flack

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo called “Clear Cut,” and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION https://williampriceking.tumblr.com

Connect with William

Websitehttp://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/wpkofficial
Regular Venuehttp://cave-wilson.com/ 
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of the Music Column series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-music-column/

and all the previous posts on jazz, classical and contemporary artists here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-contemporary-classical-and-legends/

Thank you for tuning in today and I hope you will join us again next Tuesday for the second part of the Roberta Flack series. Thanks Sally and William.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame.


Welcome to the second part of the Aretha Franklin story and here is a reminder of this incredible artist’s honours and achievements.

From the age of fourteen to the present day Aretha Franklin has been entertaining and delighting audiences with her incredible voice. She has recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.

She has also won prestigious awards, honorary degrees and Presidential recognition. Here is just some of the highlights.

  • Twenty Grammy Awards including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Gospel Performance every year from 1968 to 1975 and further awards in 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 2006 and 2009. Aretha Franklin also one three special Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
  • Three American Music Awards – Favorite Soul/R&B Album “Jump to it” in 1983, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist in 1984 and 1986.
  • Three NAACP Awards – Hall of Fame in 1997, Vanguard Award in 2008 and Outstanding Album for “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” in 2015.
  • Some of her other honors include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as the first woman to be inducted in 1987.
  • Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, at the time the youngest recipient.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 presented by President W. Bush
  • Induction into the Music Hall of Fame in the UK in 2005 only the second woman to be inducted.
  • In 2008, a panel of peers and musical experts convened by Rolling Stone magazine voted Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time.
  • Aretha was named “MusiCares Person of the Year” in 2008.
  • Induction into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012
  • In 2014, she was granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Harvard University for her contributions to music.
  • On June 8, 2017, the City of Detroit honored Franklin’s legacy by renaming a portion of Madison Street, between Brush and Witherell Streets, “Aretha Franklin Way.”

Time to hand over to William Price King who shares the early years of her career and rise to fame in the 1960s.

Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame

After turning 18, Franklin confided to her father that she aspired to follow Sam Cooke to record pop music. Serving as her manager, C. L. agreed to the move and helped to produce a two-song demo that soon was brought to the attention of Columbia Records, who agreed to sign her in 1960.

Franklin was signed as a “five-percent artist.” During this period, Franklin would be coached by choreographer Cholly Atkins to prepare for her pop performances. Before signing with Columbia, Sam Cooke tried to persuade Franklin’s father to have his label, RCA sign Franklin. He had also been courted by local record label owner Berry Gordy to sign Franklin and her elder sister Erma to his Tamla label. Franklin’s father felt the label was not established enough yet.

“Today I Sing the Blues,” written by Curtis Lewis, reached #10 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1960. The song appeared on her 1961 album, “Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo.” The song was produced by John Hammond. Franklin re-recorded the song in 1969 on the album “Soul ‘69 and it reached #101 on the US pop chart. It also charted on the Cash Box Top 100 chart. The composer, Curtis Lewis, subsequently became one of the first black composers and lyricists to own a music publishing company on Broadway in the early 1950s.

Won’t Be Long” is the first song by Aretha Franklin to reach Billboard’s Hot 100. Written by J. Leslie McFarland and produced by John Hammond. “Won’t Be Long” peaked at #7 on the US R&B chart and #76 on Billboard’s Hot 100. This wantonly exuberant and bluesy song appeared on her 1961 album, “Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo.”

Aretha Franklin’s recordings, produced by Clyde Otis, began to display her talent at crossing into diverse genres such as the popular standards, jazz and rhythm and blues. She achieved her first top 40 single with the standard, “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody,” which also included the R&B hit, “Operation Heartbreak,” on its b-side.This was also to become her first International hit in both Australia and Canada and Aretha Franklin was named a “new-star female vocalist” in “Down Beat” magazine. In 1962, Columbia issued two more albums, “The Electrifying Aretha Franklin” and “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin,”the latter of which charted number 69 on the Billboard Pop LPs chart.

“Runnin’ Out of Fools,” penned by Kay Rogers and Richard Ahlert, is Franklin’s seventh studio album. It was arranged and conducted by Belford Hendricks, who is primarily remembered as the co-composer of numerous soft-R&B songs of the 1950s. His versatility allowed him to write in various styles, from big band swing for Count Basie, through blues ballads for Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, and country and western songs for Nat King Cole. “Runnin’ Out of Fools” peaked at #57 on Billboard’s Hot 100, staying for a period of 10 weeks.

By the mid 60s, Aretha Franklin was headlining at top nightclubs and theaters with subsequent rise in her earnings. She also appeared on rock ‘n’ roll shows such as “Shindig” but it was felt, including at high levels within the Columbia organisation that her full potential was not being exploited, especially in her early gospel success.

In November 1966, choosing not to renew her Columbia contract after six years with the company, Franklin signed with Atlantic Records.

“I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” is Franklin’s eleventh studio album.
Released on March 10, 1967 by Atlantic Records, It went to number 2 on the Billboard album chart and number 1 on the magazine’s Top R&B Selling chart. It was certified Gold in 1967. It received a number 83 ranking on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and inclusion in both the “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” (2005) and “1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die,” (2008). The album included two top-10 singles: “Respect” was a #1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop singles chart, and “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” peaked at number 9. The album was rated the 10th best album of the 1960s by “Pitchfork.”

“Respect” is a song written and originally released by Otis Redding in 1965. The song became a 1967 hit and signature song for Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few changes in the lyrics, the stories told by the songs have a different flavor. Redding’s version is a plea from a desperate man, who will give his woman anything she wants. He won’t care if she does him wrong, as long as he gets his due respect when he brings money home. However, Franklin’s version is a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who knows that she has everything her man wants. She never does him wrong, and demands his “respect.” Franklin’s version adds the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus and the backup singers’ refrain of “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…”

Franklin’s cover was a landmark for the feminist movement, and is often considered as one of the best songs of the R&B era, earning her two Grammy Awards in 1968 for “Best Rhythm & Blues Recording” and “Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female”, and was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored Franklin’s version by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It was placed number five on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” It was also included in the list of “Songs of the Century,” by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Franklin included a live recording on the album “Aretha in Paris” 1968.

“Ain’t No Way” is a song written by singer-songwriter Carolyn Franklin, Aretha’s elder sister, as the B-side to her 1968 hit “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone.” Aretha recorded the song and released it on her acclaimed “Lady Soul” album.

The song peaked at #16 on the “Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Hot R&B Singles Chart in 1968. Carolyn and members of the Sweet Inspirations performed backing vocals on the track. The Sweet Inspirations’ founder Cissy Houston showcased her operatic like upper range during Franklin’s bridges and the ending of the track.
In 1983, Whitney Houston made her world debut on “Merv Griffin Show Show” singing the tune with mother Cissy Houston.

Christina Aguilera performed the song to great acclaim in a tribute to Aretha during the 53rd Grammy Awards.

Franklin’s chart dominance soon earned her the title “Queen of Soul,” while at the same time she also became a symbol of black empowerment during the civil rights movement of the time. Franklin was enlisted to perform at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during which she paid tribute to her father’s fallen friend with a heartfelt rendition of “Precious Lord.”

Buy Aretha Franklin Music: https://www.amazon.com/Aretha-Franklin/e/B000APBG6M

Official website: http://arethafranklin.net/

Additional Information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo called “Clear Cut,” and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION https://williampriceking.tumblr.com

Connect with William

Websitehttp://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/wpkofficial
Regular Venuehttp://cave-wilson.com/ 
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to seeing you again next week.. William is working this week but will be back to respond to comments in a few days. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Jazz Singer, Musician and Composer – William Price King


William Price King  and I are taking a break from the music series the next couple of weeks as I prepare for my trip away. But we begin a brand new one on Wednesday 21st with the life and career of the pop legend Madonna.  I hope you will join us.

In the meantime I would like to share the creative artist interview from last year in case you missed meeting William Price King in person.

William has been a source of wonderful histories of many of the great performers in the last century and here are the links to the directories.  I hope if you missed any of the posts you will catch up now.

You can find all of the previous artists from 2014 – 2018 in this directory

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-contemporary-classical-and-legends/

And the new Music Column posts – starting with Bono and U2 in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-music-column/

Onto the interview with William.

Back in April 2014 I met William Price King on Twitter. I was planning on bringing my Sunday Show that I presented on ExpressFM in Portsmouth over to my blog with interviews and music.. William has a huge following on Twitter and it was with some trepidation that I contacted him and asked if he would consider being a guest for the new show. He accepted immediately and little did I know that it would result in such a wonderful friendship and collaboration.

It was not long before the subject of a regular music spot came up and as William is a Jazz singer, musician and composer with a love of the iconic artists of the 20th century such as Nat King Cole and Mel Torme, that is where we began.

However, William actually began his career as a classical singer and composer and recently he has provided a fabulous insight into the work and dedication needed to succeed in this very demanding singing discipline.

Over the last four years we have enjoyed posts on Jazz royalty, Classical artists and now contemporary legends such as Bono and Uw

I hope you are as excited as I am to celebrate four years of great music with this new series about Madonna… and here is an interview to bring us up to date along with some performances that I am sure you will enjoy.

wpk-la-gaude

What style of art attracts you the most and why? Who is your favourite artist?

My favorite period for art is Impressionism. My favorite artist is Claude Monet. There is something very peaceful in Monet’s paintings and his relationship with nature. I discovered that when I lived in Manhattan and worked at the Metropolitan Museum. Like a magnet I was strongly attracted to his art.

This exhibit, “Monet at Giverny” was on display for a short period of time and I spent most of my “breaks” breathing in the atmosphere his paintings created. I adored his perception of nature, his landscapes,and the seasonal changes he created on those landscapes.They demonstrate his skill at outdoor painting, his obsession with color, and his appreciation of light. My favorite painting by Monet is “Water Lillies (Nymphéas).”

Who is the best actor or actress you have ever seen on television of film and tell us why.

My favorite actress is Meryl Streep. What I like the most about her is that she is meticulously attentive to the nuances of performance, imbuing every gesture with the values of craftsmanship and an enormous respect for quality. She masters the accents of an impressive amount of regions and countries, as seen in “The Deer Hunter” from western Pennsylvania, “Sophie’s Choice” from Poland, “Out of Africa” in Kenya, and Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” to name a few.

She has proven over and over that she can do anything, that she can play any role with consummate skill, resourcefulness and dignity. I appreciate her using her stature as an artist to speak out and engage in human rights activities, and being a strong advocate for the arts and humanities.

What is your definition of success?

Success is very unique and personal for each of us. Often times in our society success is determined by what others have decided that success is, such as personal worth which is measured by what we have to show for what we have done – money, diplomas achieved, or goals reached.

And most of the time the determining factor of success is the degree to which a person is validated and approved by others. I, like most people, fell prey to that concept. Now, with age, I believe that if you love what you are doing, then you are successful.

If you live life as a sincere human being, then you’re successful. If you try to ease suffering in others, then you are successful. If you are kind, then you are successful.

And most of all, if you can love, without conditions, then you’re successful.

What are the most significant changes in the way that Jazz is performed in the last thirty years?

Many different types of jazz have been recorded and performed over the last thirty years, from traditional styles to fusion, acoustic, and electric styles, with an interesting combination of influences resulting in unique and very artistic types of music.

The term “jazz” has expanded to take in a wide variety of music, from very commercial “smooth jazz” and “latin jazz,” to pop vocal stylings of artists like Norah Jones.

Many young musicians are performing and recording exploratory types of jazz, taking risks and creating new music on a high artistic level. Older jazz artists, on the other hand, still follow the established jazz tradition. It is not uncommon to find young musicians today who blend all styles of jazz together and create new styles, using the latest computer technology.

Jazz, like people, society, and the culture it reflects, is constantly evolving.

You studied classical music and have composed and performed Jazz and some contemporary music over the last thirty years. If you were beginning your career today would you choose a different style.. If so why and if not why?

Singing classical music, pop, and jazz has been a very rich experience for me. Classical music opened the doors to the great composers in both vocal and instrumental music and struck a chord deep inside me. I identified with Schumann, for example, on a very profound level. Of course, having studied music in school and at university, it prepared me for my future, not only as a singer but also as a vocal coach. Contemporary music (pop music) opened the door to jazz.

I found a kind of freedom in jazz that does not exist in classical music. In classical music what you see in the score is what you sing and nothing else, whereas in jazz one can modify and improvise on what is written in the score which opens the door to more creativity. As a composer as well as a singer, if I had to start all over again I would go the same route. I am a much better musician because of it.

After such a wonderful career in both performing and coaching young singers, is there still a dream that you would like to achieve in relation to music?

Yes there is. About 15 years ago someone gave me a cd of Harmonic Singing, or Overtone Singing as some call it. I was taken aback by what I heard and profoundly moved. Harmonic singing is believed to have its origins in south west Mongolia. It is a voice technique wherein one sings two or more notes at the same time. This happens when one sings one note where the overtones or harmonics are amplified by changing the shape of the resonant cavities of the mouth, larynx and pharynx. It is extraordinary. So, when I retire from singing jazz, I intend to participate in workshops which teach this type of singing. I did one years ago and it was fascinating and I look forward to starting again one day. It is very meditative.

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo called “Clear Cut,” and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION https://williampriceking.tumblr.com

Connect with William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – https://twitter.com/wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

And to finish things off…. But Not For Me.

 

 

 

My thanks as always to William and I am so delighted that we will be enjoying his music contributions into a fifth year here on the blog.

 

An Evening with William Price King – Christmas Music – Jingle Bells by Natalie Cole.


Another Christmas special from William Price King with Christmas day almost with us and this time the all-time favourite.. Jingle Bells.

There are a number of ‘historical’ notations about the origins of Jingle Bells. It was composed around 1850 by James Lord Pierpont in or around Savannah or Massachusetts and was allegedly inspired by the town of Medford’s sleigh races. Hence the song’s original title of One Horse Open Sleigh.

It might well have been composed around Thanksgiving rather than Christmas and it its long history it has been a drinking song.  Some to the lyrics might imply this and also to the fact that going on a sleigh ride offered a rare opportunity to be alone with your sweetheart!

Anyway here it is performed by the lovely Natalie Cole..

Wherever you are, and whoever you are dancing with during the holidays.. Merry Christmas and please drop in again soon.

William and Sally

About William Price King.

williampricekingAbout William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of William’s posts on Jazz, Classical and Contemporary artists in this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

An Evening with William Price King – Christmas Music – I’ll Be Home for Christmas


Today one of the most popular Christmas songs that was written over 70 years ago to boost the morale of soldiers serving on the front line. Since then it has become one of the most recorded songs and graces nearly every top artist’s Christmas albums.

And talking of albums… William has a new album available to be downloaded, I have been enjoying for the last three weeks and here is the link. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

Over to William now for this week’s song….

I’ll Be Home For Christmas was written by lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent with Buck Ram listed as co-writer of the original poem and song.

In October of 1943, Bing Crosby recorded the song for Decca records and within weeks it was in the charts and stayed in the top 20 through the next year. Originally intended for the soldiers serving overseas to boost morale it went on to become a Christmas favourite.. Whilst the American troops enjoyed the song and made it one of their own, the BBC banned it in case it lowered the morale of the British forces as it was felt being home for Christmas was not an option at this stage of the war.

However, despite their efforts the song was heard all over the world and it has been recorded over the decades by over 150 of the top musicians across several styles. These include Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Anne Murray, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, The Carpenters, Celtic Woman, Diana Krall and Whitney Houston.

Here is a favourite version of the song by Michael Bublé

 

About William Price King

williampriceking

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of William’s posts on Jazz, Classical and Contemporary artists in this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

 

An Evening with William Price King – Christmas Music – Sleigh Ride


My thanks to William Price King for  putting together this festive series for the run up to Christmas.. If you are lucky enough to live in the South of France; William is performing at a number of venues in the next couple of weeks. Contact William via his links for details.

Sleigh Ride was composed by Leroy Anderson as a light orchestral piece and was inspired by a particularly hot heat wave in July of 1946. By the time Leroy had finished the work it was in fact winter of 1948. The lyrics for the song were written in 1950 by Mitchell Parish.

Leroy Anderson recorded his own version in 1950 for Decca and it continued to be popular through the early part of the 50s.There were a number of versions that benefited from the addition of sound effects such as the clopping of horses hooves and even the sound of a horse whinnying.

There have been some notable versions of the song released over the years of this Christmas song including Johnny Mathis in 1958 and The Ronettes in 1963.

According to ASCAP, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Sleigh Ride consistently ranks in the top 10 list of most performed songs during the Christmas season worldwide.

Here is a wonderful version by the incomparable Miss Ella Fitzgerald.

About William Price King

 williampriceking

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of William’s posts on Jazz, Classical and Contemporary artists in this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

Smorgasbord Summer Jazz 2017 – William Price King meets Tony Bennett – Happy 90th Birthday


Welcome to the finale at least of this part of Tony Bennett’s life. There seems to be no reason to believe that we will not be celebrating the next ten years of this extraordinary artist’s life. His lifetime of dedication to his technique ensures that his voice remains as true as ever and to look at the last 15 years of Tony’s performances, chart successes and collaborations I will now hand you over to William Price King. You will find all the other parts to this series in this directory https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/

41432JF0BKL

Tony Bennett believes in giving back to his local community as well as those around the world which are in need. As well as performing at charity benefits and supporting international aid efforts he is committed to promoting the creative arts for the young. In 1999 he and his wife Susan Benedetto founded Exploring the Arts (ETA) to promote the role of the arts in public school education. ETA connects private donors, individual artists and cultural institutions to Partner Schools with the aim of reducing the impact of budgetary cuts, and sustaining a culture of opportunity for students through various programmes. The first of these was the establishment of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. ETA currently partners with 17 public high schools, 14 in the boroughs of New York City and 3 in Los Angeles

Tony Bennett’s music since 2000 has been a combination of solo performances and collaborations with some of the top contemporary artist such as Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga. The first album in 2000, The Ultimate Tony Bennett reached #2 in the Jazz chart at home and set the scene for the next ten years.

His second album of the new millennium was in the company of some incredible musicians and singers. Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues entertains with well-loved tracks such as Let The Good Times Roll with B.B. King, New York State of Mind with Billy Joel and the 1933 song by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, Stormy Weather with Natalie Cole. The album achieved gold status and reached #2 in the US Jazz chart. Uploaded by Diogo Brito e Faro

This was followed up later in the year with a live album Christmas in Vienna VII with Charlotte Church, Placido Domingo and Vanessa Williams. This powerhouse combination took the album into the charts in Europe.

The next album that took the charts by storm was the collaboration with k.d. Lang in 2002. A Wonderful World hit Gold and Platinum status and was #41 in the US Chart, #2 in the Jazz chart and in the top 50 in several international charts. Tracks included La Vie en Rose by Mack David, David Louiguy and Edith Piaf; Dream A Little Dream Of Me by Fabian Andre, Gus Khan and Wilbur Schwandt and What A Wonderful World by Robert Thiele and George David Weiss. Uploaded by IvanRQ8

A reminder of just some of the accolades that Tony Bennett had received during his long career to this point.

  • Star on the Hollywood of Fame
  • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Society of Composers, Author and Publishers in 2002.
  • In 2005, Tony was recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor.
  • Inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame.

In August 2006 it was Tony Bennett’s 80th birthday and celebrations took place throughout the year with performances and accolades pouring in from around the world. Apart from Tony’s birthday there was another cause for celebration as his album Duets: An American Classic reached the highest ever in the album charts and received two Grammy Awards. It went gold and platinum as it hit the International charts at #1 in the US and in the top 20 across the main music charts in the world. The songs that Tony chose for this birthday album represented the best of the American Song Book and included Lullaby Of Broadway with Dixie Chicks, Put On A Happy Face with James Taylor, Smile with Barbra Streisand, The Good Life with Billy Joel, Just in Time with Michael Buble, If I Ruled The World with Celine Dion and most appropriately, The Best Is Yet To Come by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh performed with Diana Krall. tonybennettVEVO

During that year of celebration Rob Marshall directed a television special Tony Bennett: An American Classic that aired at Thanksgiving and received multiple Emmy Awards and the Billboard Century Award. Tony also appeared on the sixth season of American Idol as a guest mentor, passing on his great experience and knowledge to the lucky contestants.

He received further recognition from the International community and received the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Humanitarian Award for his charity work. In 2006 he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award which is the highest honor that the United States bestows on jazz musicians.

In 2008 Tony teamed up with the Count Basie Big Band for a Christmas special and appeared with Billy Joel at the final concerts of New York State of Mind at Shea Stadium.

Despite heading towards his 85th birthday Tony Bennett was not slowing down and in a follow up to his first highly successful collaboration album, he released Duets II. The seventeen tracks with artists from across the broad spectrum of music techniques included Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Queen Latifah, Josh Groban, Carrie Underwood and Lady Gaga. Again this album did extremely well in the charts both in America and around the world nearly all in the top ten.

His duet with Amy Winehouse, one of the last recordings made before her untimely death, charted in the Billboard Hot 100 making Tony Bennett the oldest living artist to appear there as well as the performer with the greatest span of appearances in the chart. The album also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, the first time Tony had reached that spot and making him the oldest living artist to do so.

Later that year Columbia released Tony Bennett – The Complete Collection which is a 73 CD plus 3-DVD set and whilst not quite representative of all his work brought many of his original vinyl onto CD with some previously unreleased material.

Buy the set: Complete Collection Amazon

On the performance side, Tony Bennett appeared at the Royal Variety Performance in the presence of HRH Princess Anne in December 2011 and in October 2012 he performed his signature song I Left My Heart in San Francisco in front of more than 100,000 fans at a City Hall ceremony commemorating the 2012 World Series victory by the San Francisco Giants. He also published another memoir, Life is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett alongside a documentary produced by his son Danny of the same title.

51E1FEj2kBL._AA240_QL65_

An area that we have not touched on is Tony Bennett’s other creative success as an artist. He paints under the name of Anthony Benedetto or just Benedetto. He followed on from his childhood interest with professional training and had spent a lifetime exploring the best art museums of the world. He sketches or paints every day, often the views out of hotel windows when on tour. He has exhibited in galleries around the world and was commissioned by the United Nations to do two paintings, including one for its 50th Anniversary. You can find out more about his artwork https://tonybennett.com/benedetto_arts.php

2014 brought a stunning new collaboration that would delight Tony’s fans. The album Cheek to Cheek with Lady Gaga debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and swept through the top ten in the major international charts. At the end of 2014 these two unique and iconic artists kicked off their Cheek to Cheek tour.

On September 25, 2015, he released an album composed by Jerome Kern, featuring Bill Charlap on piano, called The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Tracks include Pick Yourself Up, They Didn’t Believe Me and Look For The Silver Lining.

As we all celebrate the continued success and artistry that is Tony Bennett as he celebrates his 90th birthday here is a quote that illustrates his artistic stance from an interview in 2010.

I’m not staying contemporary for the big record companies, I don’t follow the latest fashions. I never sing a song that’s badly written. In the 1920s and ’30s, there was a renaissance in music that was the equivalent of the artistic Renaissance. Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and others just created the best songs that had ever been written. These are classics, and finally they’re not being treated as light entertainment. This is classical music.”

To end this finale of the Tony Bennett story to this point in his career, here is a track from the album Cheek to Cheek with Lady Gaga.

Happy Birthday Tony.. Here is to the next ten years!

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King

Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

You can find the other artists in the previous series here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

We hope you have enjoyed the series and please let us know as well as share the post with your networks.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Summer Jazz 2017 – William Price King meets Tony Bennett – The 1990s


We left Tony Bennett at the end of the 1980s having re-established himself in the charts and on television. With his son as his manager and reunited with his musical director Ralph Sharon, Tony was heading into the 1990s back on track.

And certainly his first album Astoria: Portrait of the Artist in 1990 was a great way to start the new decade. Released by Columbia Records the album included some classic tracks as well as some less well known. Astoria was Tony Bennett’s birthplace and several of the songs had references to ‘home and old friends’ in the lyrics such as A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet, The Folks Who Live On The Hill, I’ve Come Home Again.

I think one of the tracks that sums up the previous two decades for Tony is I Was Lost, I Was Drifting!

To get us in the mood today here is Tony with one of the songs that he has performed in the years since this album… The Girl I Love composed and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. tonybennettVEVO

Following this album, Tony turned his attention to paying homage to some of the great artists of the industry and in 1992 he released Perfectly Frank as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. It reached Number #1 in the US jazz chart and also reached gold status and featured 24 tracks including Time After Time, Nancy, Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp and another Gershwin number, A Foggy Day.

The following album in 1993 also did very well. A tribute to Fred Astaire, Steppin’ Out it was also Number #1 in the jazz chart and reached gold status and both these two albums won Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. This was clear evidence that the new direction that Tony was taking with his career was paying off. One of the tracks on Steppin’ Out is They Can’t Take That Away From Me by George and Ira Gershwin. Uploaded by Johnboy Jones

Here is a quote from Tony Bennett which illustrates the tenacity and commitment to his career despite the setbacks.

“Number one, don’t quit. Number two, listen to number one!”

Tony was also appearing on MTV and television alongside the younger generation of music stars and here is what The New York Times had to say about Tony Bennett in the 1990s

“Tony Bennett has not just bridged the generation gap, he has demolished it. He has solidly connected with a younger crowd weaned on rock. And there have been no compromises.”

To capitalise on his MTV exposure, Tony released his next live album in 1994 – MTV Unplugged which did extremely well in the charts reaching #48 in the US charts, #1 in the jazz chart and #11 in the Australian charts. The album also went Platinum and won the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for the third year in a row with the top Grammy for Album of the Year. Not only had Tony captured the hearts of the home audience but had re-established himself as an International star.

Tony also began collaborating with the younger generation of artists and in 1994 released the single Moonglow with K.D. Lang. tonybennettVEVO

Back in the studio the next album in 1995 was Here’s To The Ladies which featured the hits of singers such as Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Lena Horne and Billie Holiday. As with Tony’s previous albums of this decade, it did well in the charts. This was followed in 1997 with Tony Bennett On Holiday and in 1998 Tony Bennett – The Playground.

The last album of the 90s was Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool to celebrate the centenary of Duke Ellington’s birth. It reached #1 in the jazz charts and brought the decade to a wonderful finish.

As well as consistently releasing #1 albums, Tony Bennett did not neglect his legions of fans and he toured continuously with on average a staggering 100 shows a year. He also continued with regular television shows and appearances including a PBS special Tony Bennett’s Wonderful World: Live From San Francisco. He also created the concept of a series for A&E Network Live By Request series and he won an Emmy Award for his own first episode.

It was time for an autobiography and in 1998 Tony published The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett.

Tony’s comeback ensured that he was now financially secure and despite now being 74 years old he had no intention of retiring. He said in reference to artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jack Benny and Fred Astaire: 

“right up to the day they died, they were performing. If you are creative, you get busier as you get older.”

To end the story of the 90s here is It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington. Uploaded by Jack Miller

Buy Tony Bennett’s music: Amazon

Next week in the finale we will bring Tony up to date as we celebrate his 90th year in style.

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King

Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

You can find the other artists in the previous series here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

We would love to have your feedback and also your help in spreading the post around social media for us…we hope you will join us next week for the finale of Tony Bennett’s story.

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Summer Jazz 2017 – William Price King meets Tony Bennett – The 70s and 80s Rollercoaster Years


We pick up Tony Bennett’s story as we head into the 1970s and to be honest this was a very mixed decade for Tony as an artist and in his personal life. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1971 and he married again later that year and welcomed two daughters Joanna and Antonia. The family moved to Los Angeles and musically Tony decided on a new direction with his music as well.

For any artist who had been in the business for nearly 30 years and had established themselves within the Jazz and Pop music lanes, it was going to be a tough decade. Rock was now firmly established in the charts and a new generation of fans were buying records. Tony Bennett was now in his late 40s and whilst he still had a loyal fan base, it was going to be a challenging time professionally.

Columbia Records had launched Tony’s career but he began to feel that his own artistic input was too restricted. The label would have loved to have him back in the fold but he turned them down in favour of a two record deal with MGM records. The two albums, The Good Things in Life and Listen Easy did not make a great impact in the charts and by 1972 Tony decided it was time to strike out on his own and he started his own record company, Improv.

He released four albums over the next five years under his own label and one with Fantasy Records. Life is Beautiful, Tony Bennett Sings 10 Rodgers and Hart Songs, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album (With Fantasy) Tony Bennett Sings More Rodgers and Hart and Together Again with Bill Evans.

Life is Beautiful was named after the song by Fred Astaire and the rest of the album reflected Tony Bennett’s two decades of exploring the American Songbook. Tracks included Reflections by Duke Ellington and Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill. Whilst there were some supportive reviews from the critics the album did not enter the charts. However Reflections was singled out as being exceptional. Uploaded by Dario Butler

The two albums with jazz pianist Bill Evans were also well received and their first, with Fantasy, reached 31 in the Jazz charts. Tony was working with some of the best musicians in the business on the Improv releases including Charlie Byrd and Marian McPartland but without a distribution arrangement in place with a major label the albums were not getting the airtime or marketing they needed; although artistically sound, the label went out of business in 1977.

The Warwick label released a compilation album in 1977 The Very Best of Tony Bennett: 20 Greatest Hits and Columbia also released Tony Bennett with the McPartlands and Friends Make Magnificent Music. They were to be the last albums until the mid-80s.

Tony did however release some singles in the early 70s that did better in the charts and included Something, Living Together, Growing Together, Life is Beautiful, As Time Goes By and the theme song from Love Story, Where Do I Begin.

Where Do I Begin was composed by Francis Lai and after the music had become popular on the release of the film, the lyrics were added, written by Carl Sigman. Uploaded trooper7h

The last part of the 1970s were difficult years and unfortunately his second marriage also broke down. Without a recording contract and manager, Tony was performing intermittently in Las Vegas and the IRS was also attempting to seize some of his assets.

Eventually in 1979 following a near fatal overdose Tony finally reached out to his two sons and his son Danny signed on has his manager.

The next ten years were to be much more positive and with his new manager’s guidance and innovative marketing strategy, Tony Bennett staged a comeback.

With his expenses under control and the IRS satisfied with a repayment plan, Danny took Tony away from the Las Vegas environment and booked him into smaller venues around the country to entertain a younger audience. Pianist Ralph Sharon came back onto the team as Musical Director and would stay with Tony until 2002.

Unlike many performers who were attempting to appeal to a new generation, Tony Bennett made few changes to his classic style or appearance and stayed firmly in his musical lane. Danny however booked Tony onto the popular chat and entertainment shows on television including Late Night With Letterman, The Simpsons, Muppets Tonight and  on MTV. This brought his exceptional performance skills and the music of the last five decades to a brand new audience who loved it.

The strategy began to work and in 1986 Tony re-joined Columbia Records, this time with creative control and released The Art of Excellence which was the first to reach the charts since 1972.

Tony Bennett was on his way back and he performed his way into the 90s.

To end this rollercoaster ride that was the 70s and 80s here is the appropriate song How Do You Keep The Music Playing by A.Bergman, M.Bergman and Michel Legrand from the album The Art of Excellence. Uploaded by Jason Borba

Buy Tony Bennett’s music:  Amazon

Next week – The 90s and Tony is back…….

About William Price King.

Price et Eric au Studio Marilyn

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King

Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

You can find the other artists in the previous series here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

We would love to have your feedback and also your help in spreading the post around social media for us…we hope you will join us next week for part five of Tony Bennett’s story.