Najee once again very poignantly delivers a collection of songs that we can all connect with on his latest album, “The Morning After.” It encompasses stories of love and journeys well traveled, and it debuted #1 Contemporary Jazz album on the Billboard charts. With a career that spans over several years, Najee continues to captivate audiences without fail. Over the years, he has collaborated with everyone from George Duke to Jeff Lorber to Phil Perry. Najee has the ability to create songs that everyone loves and that reach across multiple genres. As is displayed with the release of the single titled “In The Mood To Take It Slow,” featuring his long time friend Meli’sa Morgan, he does this by making music that is accessible and relevant. She was the perfect person for this sensual slow groove. Smooth Jazz radio stations as well as R & B stations have been giving the single a lot of airplay, and fans are starting to request it more. Najee will be on tour throughout the upcoming year, promoting “The Morning After” and continuing to share his new music.
Marqueal Jordan is a double threat in the world of music. The extraordinary musician is a gifted saxophone player and an amazing vocalist. He’s thankful for his vocal talent and has mastered how to use it. However, it’s the saxophone that compels him to push beyond the boundaries. Marqueal has been on the music scene for a long time. Early on, he showcased his talents with the funk unit “Fat Time.” Along the way, he had several opportunities to weave his way through genres such as R & B, Blues, and Jazz. Fortunately for him, in the long run, those experiences would have served him immensely. When he was asked by Brian Culbertson to join his band and go on tour with him, he did not hesitate. This was the moment for which he’d been preparing for many years. Since that time, Marqueal has collaborated with some of the very best artists in multiple genres of music. His skills and talents make him the perfect asset. Although he has spent much of his career as a sideman, Marqueal recently decided to step into the spotlight and embark upon a solo career. That decision has proven to be the right move for Jordan. His debut album is titled “Catalyst” and is full of songs that Marqueal says are “the best representation of himself.” His quest was to create a project that was a cross between Grover Washington and Maxwell. Ultimately, his work with friends and fellow musicians Brian Culbertson, DJ INC, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, and Frank McComb has led to this body of music that is nothing short of incredible. All of his hard work paved the way for such a time as this.
Marqueal and I had a great time talking about “Catalyst.”
It’s not such a far fetched notion that the artist known as Deqn (pronounced Deacon) Sue was destined to make music a major part of her life. In fact, music is the platform she skillfully uses to create songs that provoke and awaken our social conscious. Deqn’s first album was titled “Idiosyncratic.” Since we all have our own idiosyncrasies, she chose to write about a few of them. She’s an artist that is very true to herself and her artistic style. She’s always known who she is, and most assuredly doesn’t apologize for it. As a strong, confident, comfortable, and unwavering singer, Deqn Sue will always exhibit honesty in her music. She joined forces with producer Kelvin Wooten, and together, they created “Zeitgeist.” It’s her second album and is set to be released in February 2014. Again, in the essence of who she really is, Deqn captures the spirit of the time we’re living in. She describes her music as “eccentric alternative pop.”
It was so much fun talking to Deqn Sue. She definitely has a fan in me.
Darryl E. Jones is everything but typical; he has a background that some may find puzzling. However puzzling it may be, it’s also just the foundation Darryl needed in order to evolve into the musician he is today. As a young boy, he loved playing the flute. In latter years of his youth, he laid it down and picked up sports. By the time he was in High School, he began to learn about Aviation Studies, followed by playing semi-pro football and becoming a body builder. Although his life took turns that led away from music, it was never a question for him in terms of what he really longed to do. Darryl’s passion and yearning to pursue music propelled him back to the flute. He’s exposed himself to multiple genres of music, and you can hear those styles infused throughout his CD “Relentless.” It’s the perfect title for his latest project, representing his unwavering determination to finish what he started.
Marvin A. Ross a 29 year radio veteran was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was educated in the Charlotte Mecklenburg school system. After graduating from West Charlotte Senior High School, he attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He received his BS degree in Safety and Driver Education. During his tenure at the university, he also had extensive training in radio broadcasting through elective courses. He has worked for the campus radio station, WNAA 90.1 fm, under the direction of several icons in the radio business, including Tony Welborne, Stephen Lipsomb, Yvonne Anderson, Ty Miller and others that have guided him in the booming radio business. As a student he appreciated the genre of jazz, R @ B and old school artist back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s 90’s and today. He has also has worked for WTHP 98.3 in Tomasville, N.C under the direction of Jay Jackson, who is now a pinnacle of the business through radio and records. Upon graduating in 1987, he worked for the United States Government for 24 years full time at this time, he also received his second commercial job at WCKZ, KISS 102 in Gastonia, North Carolina. He later moved to WPEG, Power 98 in Concord, North Carolina under the direction of great programmers such as Michael Saunders, Andre Carson, and great personalities such as Skip Murphy, Frankie Darcell, Kevin Foxx, Chirl Girl, Keith Garrett, Chaz, Nate Quick, George “Appollo” Featherbay, Terri Avery, Todd Haygood, and Barbara Taylor and many others. Marvin now works at WBAV, V101.9 Charlotte where he is now the host of the Sunday Smooth and Contemporary jazz brunch on Sundays from Noon to 3:00 pm. All of these influences have guided him in where he is now and this is why he is going back to where he started in college…..JAZZ!
For Jonathan Butler, Christmas is a very special time of the year. The holiday represents precious time spent with family and the birth of Jesus Christ, both priorities to Jonathan. Thus, the release of his first Christmas album: “Merry Christmas To You.” The title track, penned by Butler, is a beautiful ballad expressing affection for those we love. His instrumental rendition of “Sleigh Ride” encompasses his native South African vibe. Jonathan is joined on this project by fellow friends and musicians Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Dan Lutz, Paul “Shilts” Weimer, and his daughter, Jodie Butler. “Merry Christmas To You” and “Sleigh Ride” will be released this season in time for the holidays. His faith and the gift of music are what continually sustain him. As a youth, it was music that enabled him to break through barriers and achieve tremendous success. His desire to spare youth from the snares of drugs and poverty compelled him to launch the Jonathan Butler Foundation in South Africa. The foundation aims to impart music into the lives of children, consequently giving them the tools to change the outcomes of their future.
Jonathan tells me just what “Merry Christmas To You” means to him.
When thinking of a violinist, most probably wouldn’t envision Daniel D. However, this contemporary violinist is determined to show the world that he’s not to be put in a box. He is a gifted young musician who fell in love with the violin at an early age. Although this was not his plan originally, he’s grateful for the opportunity to share his love for music and the violin. Daniel has already garnished a long list of accolades and has performed for some pretty incredible people, including Michael Jackson. His cross genre ability makes him even more appealing to his fans. It doesn’t matter if he’s in front of a large crowd or a small one; his energetic performances leave his audiences spellbound. Adding to his performances on stage is his incredibly talented band, “Urban Instrumentalist.” They too are eclectic and extremely talented. It wasn’t that long ago when Daniel released his debut album “Play For Me” in 2009. Three albums later, his latest project, “SonRise,” is inspirational and captivating audiences all around.
Butler’s holiday spirit of giving gives year-round
Singer-songwriter launches a foundation to reclaim children from drugs and poverty through music education in his native South Africa in conjunction with the release of “Merry Christmas To You.”
Sherman Oaks, Calif. (4 November 2013): It may only be the beginning of November, but two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jonathan Butler is in full holiday spirit with the release of his first Christmas album, “Merry Christmas To You,” and the launch of the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his South African homeland to fund music education programs that give children the purpose to overcome a life of drugs and poverty. Butler, who completed a media tour in several South African cities and performed two concerts there in September to raise funds for the foundation, will soon form a U. S. affiliate to support the foundation’s music and arts programs in South Africa for children ages 4-17.
Butler grew up in South Africa under Apartheid the youngest of 17 children and it was music that rescued him from drugs and extreme poverty thus the inspiration for the foundation comes from personal experience and a desire that has gestated for more than 20 years. The guitar-playing troubadour was 13 when he released his debut album and became the first black artist played on white radio stations in South Africa. Approached by the directors of a Pretorian music school for which Butler served as a benefactor, the foundation with the mission statement “Purpose kills addiction” finally came into being thanks to the formation of key strategic partnerships along with funding and support from the local governments and lottery in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
“The Jonathan Butler Foundation is about building new legacies and I’ve wanted to help the children in my native land fulfill their dreams. Teaming with the local governments to reclaim our children from the drug lords, we teach the kids to sing and play instruments. These are free-born children and it is about their legacies and saving them from drugs and poverty. I plan to visit the different townships and precincts a few times a year to give talks to the kids about how music helped me overcome drugs and poverty. There is immense talent over there (South Africa) and down the road we hope to release compilation albums in the U.S. to help sustain the foundation and its diversion programs,” said Butler.
Butler wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on “Merry Christmas To You,” an intimate 10-song set released October 1st by Artistry Music that showcases the singer with his acoustic guitar. The sparse production maintains focus on the spiritually-impassioned Butler belting out seven Christmas standards, one little known gem (“Sweet Little Jesus Boy”) and a pair of soulful originals authored by the artist, including the title cut and “Happy Holidays.” Radio stations will soon receive a double dose of yuletide glee in the form of a South African-flavored instrumental take on “Sleigh Ride” driven by Butler’s fervent fretwork and the malt shop ballad “Merry Christmas To You,” which Butler charismatically croons and decorates with elegant jazz guitar riffs. Adding horn section parts to a couple of tunes are contemporary jazz aces Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Paul “Shilts” Weimer.
After leading a group of fans out on his third South African Safari last month and playing a handful of U.S. gigs with his band in November, Butler will co-star on the coast to coast Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour with the popular sax personality, Oleta Adams and Keiko Matsui starting the day after Thanksgiving (November 29) in Sarasota, Florida and concluding three weeks later with a December 22nd concert in San Francisco, Calif.