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?": Never underestimate a person's talent by his job. Bill Withers was a navy veteran who made toilet seats at the Boeing aircraft company. But while doing labor intensive work, that didn't stop him from recording demos, and boy did he reap the benefits. Bill Withers has a great balance to his work. While "Lean on Me" can be seen as either somber or inspirational, "Use Me" should be melancholy but the glowing sarcasm in being used makes the song amusing. Bill Withers sings "if it feels this good getting used, Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up" and talks about how rude a woman is in front of her elite friends. However, she has "that thing" that keeps him coming back around. He jokingly says at the end of the song, "I sure am using you to do the things you do." Then of course there's "Lovely Day," the BBQ anthem that every soul lover plays at the family outings. His songs always have a nice balance. On June 1, 2010, Raven record label will release his third studio album "Justments (Exp)."
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: While watching the scene in "Roll Bounce" when Bow Wow was delivering newspapers and the little boys plotted on throwing water balloons at him, I started singing along to "Lovely Day." I knew the song but not the artist so when I found out who it was, I looked him up to see what other songs he sang. It turns out I knew a lot of the words to Bill Withers' songs, and they were all favorite oldies of mine. He's one of those artists that some may know more for his songs rather than his name, and these are extremely popular songs like "Lean on Me," "Use Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine." I remember that cutie Christian Keyes singing "Ain't No Sunshine" in the play version of "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail." That added even more spice to a normally sullen single.
Accomplishments from the Artist: "Something That Turns You On" spent 12 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard charts. "Watching You Watching Me" spent 25 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Album Billboard charts. The single "Oh Yeah!" spent 14 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard charts. "Ain't No Sunshine" went gold and made it to number 6 in R&B charts and number 3 in Pop charts during the summer of 1971. That song also won a Grammy as Best R&B Song. "Lean on Me" made it to the popular film — with the same name — starring Morgan Freeman.
* 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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