The Mic Check

The purveyor of truth

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

Remembering Amy Winehouse

As I scrolled through my Twitter timeline I was shocked to see the name Amy Winehouse.  After all, she hasn’t been in the limelight for a while.  I had heard that she was working on a new album and I was like a child on Christmas day awaiting the arrival of something they had been patiently waiting for.  It seemed like an eternity since Amy graced us with her debut album “Frank” and followed with her incomparable sophomore album “Back to Black.”  As I continued scrolling I saw the infamous “#RIP” hash tag in front of her name and I rolled my eyes.   Twitter will put a celebrity in the grave or mausoleum in a heartbeat.  Then, my heart literally dropped.  All the retweets from reputable news sources started to flood my timeline.  I could not believe it.  Amy Winehouse was really dead.

I began to think about when I first heard Amy Winehouse’s music.  I wondered “who is this girl with a beehive on her head.”  I instantly became a fan after listening to “Rehab.”  It wasn’t apparent to me at first but later on I realized that the song was autobiographical.  Amy was lamenting about her narcotic filled lifestyle and how she refused to go to rehab.  It was no secret that she struggled with a drug addiction.  The more I heard of her the more her name became synonymous with drugs.  It then got to the point where folks started to disregard her musical talent and only focused on her struggle.

As a fan of her music I had hoped that she would get better.  She was more than just a Soul singer, she was a true artist.   “Back to Black” has to be one of the greatest albums released this decade.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to “Me and Mr. Jones”, “Tears dry on their own”, and “Love is a losing game.”

While some chose to remember Amy for her music and accomplishments, others chose to use her death as a platform for venomous jokes.  Death is serious and nothing that should be the butt of anyone’s jokes.  She was a daughter, friend, and more importantly a person.  Celebrity or not, no one should be ridiculed when passing.

Like Amy, everyone struggles with some sort of addiction.  Whether it’s drugs, money, sex, food, or shopping, EVERYONE struggles with something.  However, it seems that when someone has a drug problem the crack head jokes are sure to follow.  Sadly, she wasn’t alone.

Millions of people struggle with the same demons as Amy.  Some of them are our family members and closest friends.  It’s sad to watch someone you love hurt so bad that they feel the need to self destruct with narcotic substances.  While there are some who are able to conquer their addiction, there are many more that aren’t so lucky.  Drug addiction is very serious, yet we’ve become so numb and desensitized to it that we often ignore that it’s a serious illness and if not combated, it can and sadly will end a person’s life.  While the cause of Amy Winehouse’s death is unknown, some speculate that it was a drug overdose.

I choose to honor Amy Winehouse by not mocking her for struggling with an addiction or making a mockery out of it, but appreciating her music which was the soundtrack to so many people’s lives.  Remember, we all know an Amy Winehouse or sadly are just like her.


Just a thought. Real music and singers still exist

Is the term singer thrown around too loosely?  There was a time when being a singer meant that one possessed more than a pretty face or photo shopped body.  When they opened their mouths it was as if they were speaking directly to you.  Their words penetrated your soul.  However, nowadays it seems as if to be constituted as a singer you just have to have a great beat and be well versed with Pro Tools.

How many people are out today and are actually categorized as a singer, yet, you listen to them and wonder how they were even able to get a record deal?  There seems to be this “aggrandization” of singers who lack the vocal capabilities of a true singer.  If you want to see who’s a real singer, listen to them sing live.   There are just some things that a track cannot hide.

For example, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Luther Vandross each possessed a certain quality that could not be replicated.  They didn’t need the pomp and circumstance to sell music. Their talent spoke for them.  The quality of music is what set them apart from everyone else.  This is why they are considered legends.

I am often baffled by the lack of credit the real singers of today receive.  All the while people are lamenting there aren’t any true singers left.  The truth is, there are so many artists out who can actually sing, yet, they are over shadowed by gimmicky acts.  There is also a sense of laziness when it comes to looking for new music and singers.  Have we become so musically sedentary that we do not want to take the time to search for new artists?  With the internet changing every day you have the ability to search for new music.  It’s funny that people complain about what’s being played on the radio yet they do not demand quality music to be played on the radio.

The music business is all about supply and demand.  Think about it, why would they continue to put money into an artist when the demand for another artist is higher, which then translates into more money for them?  Purchasing music and even calling radio stations DO serve a purpose.  If you want better music, do something about it.  Yes, there has been a paradigm shift in music, but pontificating about how today’s music sucks isn’t going to make a difference.

What are your thoughts?

Q takes “Love on top” to church. (Beyonce cover)

Recently Beyonce released her fourth studio album entitled, “4.”  The album is pretty good but personally I think the best song on the album is, “Love on top.”  Today I received a text from someone telling watch this video of this guy who put a church spin on the song.  I must say that he REALLY did a great job.  There aren’t a lot of men who can sing like this.  I would say right off the top of my head BSlade, formerly known as Tonex, is probably the only guy who can sing soprano better than most females.

I would actually love to see someone do this at church! I’ve already sent it to my Praise and Worship leader (Tia check your text messages) LOL!  I hope you enjoy this video as much as I have.  You can follow him on Twitter @QNexBigThing

Joelle James covers “Unthinkable” by Alicia Keys

When I listened to Joelle James sing I was very impressed.  She has a soulful quality about her voice that draws you in.  Void of everything superfluous, each run was clean and crisp.  Reminiscent of Christina Aguilera circa the “Come on Over” era, Joelle really has the potential to go far. There were a few off notes, but nothing that cannot be improved with the help of a vocal coach.

S. R. Soul covers “1+1” by Beyonce

Covering the song of an artist is one way for an up and coming artist to get heard, especially if you put it on Youtube.  With just one click of the mouse or swipe of your touch screen cell phone you can experience some of the best undiscovered voices.  This is how I felt today when someone told me to listen to S. R. Soul’s cover of “1+1” by Beyonce.  As soon as he sang, “if I aint got nothing…..” I was already in love.

S. R. Soul had great tone, perfect execution of runs, and not to mention amazing background vocals which he did himself.  He isn’t one of these new aged singers who rely on auto tune and are strictly “ooh and aah” singers.  He reminds me of a pre-2000 male R&B singer.  I hope he goes far in this industry.  We are starved for singers with raw talent and S. R. Soul definitely has IT.

Please check out his cover.  I hope that you love it as much as I do.  You can also download his version of the song by clicking here.


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