It's Black Music Month. Enjoy the 2014 series. Support the artists. Buy their licensed music. And turn up as you dance along.
Brief history: In 2010, I wrote a music series honoring Black Music Month on Associated Content's site (republished on Examiner). The focus was to honor new R&B singers, veteran R&B singers, solo rappers, and evenly split the musical salute between female and male rappers. The only artists I was not willing to split up were Salt n' Pepa because they worked as a unit. In 2014, it's about time to salute more artists, but in the spirit of Salt n' Pepa's legacy, R&B groups and rap groups will be included. The pattern in 2014 will be newer R&B singers (from 2000 to present), R&B and/or hip-hop groups, veteran R&B singers, and then solo rappers, still evenly split between women and men.
Black Music Month Turn Up Factor "Turn down for what?": If you like dance (house) music, you may like Crystal Waters. If you like jazz, you may like Crystal Waters. And if you like jazz and house music mixed together, there's no way in the world you should be missing out on Crystal Waters' top hits. Now '80s babies may only remember her most popular songs, such as "100% Pure Love" and "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)," but "Storyteller" album was an incredible mix of jazz, funk, soul, R&B and dance music all rolled into one of the biggest perks of 1993. And she made a killing with dance club songs on the charts and in the clubs from the '90s to now. She also recognized "The Wire" star Michael K. Williams before he was Omar. Check out his dance moves in the "100% Pure Love" video.
My Connection/First Memory to Artist: I started off knowing her as the "la da di la doo dow" lady from the "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" song. My elementary school peers sang that song all of the time. But I was really curious what else she was singing so I purchased her cassette tapes in my late elementary school years and early high school years. I was deep into Ace of Base, too, so when I stopped dancing to one cassette tape, I'd immediately turn on the other. I was so impressed by "Storyteller" that it made me continue to support her career. She even managed to make breakups worth jumping on the dance floor ("Momma Told Me"). I enjoyed her dance songs (ex "Relax" and "What I Need"), but my favorite songs from her were soulful ones (ex. "Ghetto Day," "Storyteller" and "Lover Lay Low"). Almost two decades later, I happened to be playing "Storyteller" in my car CD player (yes, I upgraded from cassette tapes) and my mother was baffled about why I kept this gem to myself. She went straight to a music store before the week was out and bought two of her albums. I guess it's never too late to support artists.
Numbers Don't Lie: Crystal Waters dominated the dance pop charts. On Billboard's Dance/Club Songs charts, she skyrocketed to the top 10 with "Come On Down" (14 weeks, peaked at number one), "Say...If You Feel Alright" (14 weeks, peaked at number six), "Relax" (11 weeks, peaked at number one), "What I Need" (13 weeks, peaked at number one), "100% Pure Love" (15 weeks, peaked at number one), "Makin Happy" (10 weeks, peaked at number one) and "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless") (14 weeks, peaked at number one).
For the first series of Black Music Month artists republished on Examiner (originally on Associated Content), click here to see all 30.
Jazz enthusiasts who are in the Chicago area, feel free to check out this Hyde Park Jazz Fest Pinterest board.
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