President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": Heather Headley was on Broadway before she decided to make "This Is Who I Am" and went on to create "In My Mind" and her first gospel album "Audience of One." Regardless of what her gospel CD's title is, she's definitely had a large supporting audience. The pipes on this woman are phenomenal and listening to her talk about her childhood in Trinidad is even more interesting. Her bedroom was on the other side of a sanctuary, and she grew up in a church. Her giving nature led her to be involved with the New March of Dimes Educational campaign "I Want My 9 Months" to educate people -- specifically African-American women -- about premature birth. Plus, she sang on HBO's "We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial."
People magazine included Heather Headley in its "50 Most Beautiful People" and Essence magazine had her in its "30 Women To Watch." She was featured on "The Lion King Original Broadway Cast" album with her song "Shadowland" and sang 21 songs on Disney's "Aida Original Broadway Cast" album.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I have interviewed many artists over the years, but I have yet to meet anyone more pleasant than Heather Headley although there are a handful of artists who came close. While interviewing her for a Chicago newspaper, she was polite, emphasized pronouncing my name correctly and she seemed to be in such a positive place in her life. Like my interview with Ne-Yo, she made me even happier that I was not only able to get the interview but happier to be a fan of her music. The first time her music clicked to me was when a high school associate sent me a MySpace friend request a few years ago. She had the single "In My Mind" as her background music, and I would go to her page just to hear Heather Headley's song. Then I heard the entire "In My Mind" album on a co-worker's iTunes list and bought it the same day. From then on, I've been a Heather Headley fan.
Accomplishments from the Artist: Heather Headley has not only sang songs with gospel icons like Smokie Norful and CeCe Winans. She's also won Tony and Soul Train awards (R&B/Soul Album of the Year and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist) and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. "In My Mind" was on the Billboard charts for 45 weeks and rose all the way to number one. "Audience of One" also peaked at number one and spent 26 weeks on the Billboard charts. On her 2003 album "This Is Who I Am," "I Wish I Wasn't" spent 20 weeks on the charts and "He Is" stayed put for 13 weeks. The single "In My Mind" from the album of the same name spent 11 weeks on the charts.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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