Friday, October 30, 2009

Fontella Bass "Rescue Me" - 1965

Fontella Bass (born July 3, 1940, St. Louis, Missouri) is an American soul singer, who is best known for the 1965 R&B hit "Rescue Me", which she also co-wrote.

The daughter of gospel singer Martha Bass (a member of the Clara Ward Singers), Bass showed great musical talent at an early age -- at just 5 years old she was providing the piano accompaniment for her grandmother's singing at funeral services, she was singing in her church's choir at six years old and by the time she was 9 she was accompanying her mother on tours throughout the American South and Southwest.

Fontella continued touring with her mother until the age of 16. As a teenager, Bass was attracted by more secular music. Throughout high school she began singing R&B songs at local contests and fairs. At 17, she started her professional career working at the Showboat Club near Chain of Rocks, Missouri. In 1961, she auditioned on a dare for the Leon Claxton carnival show and was hired to play piano and sing in the chorus for two weeks, making $175 per week for the two weeks it was in town. She wanted to go on tour with Claxton but her mother refused and according to Bass "... she literally dragged me off the train". It was during this brief stint with Claxton that she was heard by vocalist Little Milton and his bandleader Oliver Sain who hired her to back Little Milton on piano for concerts and recording.

Bass originally only played piano with the band, but one night Milton didn't show up on time so Sain asked her to sing and she was soon given her own featured vocal spot in the show. Milton and Sain eventually split up and Bass went with Sain; he also recruited male singer Bobby McClure and the group became known as "The Oliver Sain Soul Revue featuring Fontella and Bobby McClure".

Watch "Rescue Me" by clicking here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Malaco is proud to announce the launch of, an online radio station. This station contains a fully interactive player that allows the listener to view album artwork, song title, artist name and contains purchase links for the full length album, single and ringtone.

The Malaco Music Group houses the largest and the oldest catalog in the world. Over 150 years of great Gospel music between its wholly owned subsidiaries, Malaco Records, Savoy Records, Muscle Shoals Sound Gospel, Atlanta International Records (Air Gospel), and its newly founded 4 Winds Records along with its distributed labels. At you will have the opportunity to experience all 150 years of the best Gospel Music ever recorded. features Choirs, Quartets, Groups & Soloists. Hear artists such as The King Of Gospel Rev. James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson, Dorothy Love Coates, The Caravans, The Soul Stirrers, The Jackson Southernaires, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Georgia Mass Choir, The Godfather Of Gospel Rev. Timothy Wright, Rev. Charles Hayes & The Cosmopolitan Choir, Charles Fold & The Charles Fold Singers, Willie Neal Johnson & The Gospel Keynotes, Robert Blair & The Violinaires, The Williams Brothers, The Canton Spirituals, The Lumzy Sisters, The Truthettes, Slim & The Supreme Angels, Spencer Taylor & The Highway QC’s, Willie Banks & The Messengers, The Swan Silvertones, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Swanee Quintet, The Sensational Nightingales, The Pilgrim Jubilees, Margaret “Babe” Allison & The Angelics, Rev. Julius Cheeks, James Moore, Keith Pringle, O’landa Draper, Ricky Dillard, Donnie McClurkin, Dorothy Norwood, Shirley Caesar, LaShun Pace, The Pace Sisters, Troy Sneed, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Luther Barnes, Rev. F.C. Barnes, Kirk Franklin, Byron Cage, Dottie Peoples, The Princess Of Praise & Worship Maurette Brown Clark, Carolyn Traylor, Men Of Standard, BeBe & CeCe Winans and many, many more.

To listen to, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009


“Grace” Jumps to #1 on iTunes

The Dynamic Gospel Duo Also Nominated for 2009 Soul Train Music Award

(dateline – New York, NY – October 26, 2009; source: B&C Records)

On Friday, October 23, 2009, BeBe & CeCe Winans performed live on The Oprah Winfrey Show and sang Oprah’s new favorite song, “Grace,” from their chart-topping reunion album, STILL. After the studio and television audience heard the remarkable story of an alleged armed robber who ended up kneeling in prayer with his victim, the powerful lyrics and impact of “Grace” has ignited a whirlwind with the single jumping almost instantaneously to the #1 position on iTunes.

It’s not often that a lead news story can personify the lyrical content of a song, but the story of Angela Montez and Greg Smith has done just that. On October 19, 2009, what seemed like a normal day at an Indianapolis cash advance store became the true test of faith and a modern day example of grace. Montez was working when Smith entered the store, climbed over the counter and stuck a gun in her face. When she began to cry, the tide turned. Montez told Smith not to throw away his life and then began to pray. Soon after Smith also dropped to his knees and prayed with her for ten minutes. After hugging Montez, Smith then fled the store. While appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Smith stated that when he talked to Montez, he felt as though he was talking directly to “the Man upstairs.”

“As I sat in the green room listening to this real life story, it was almost unbelievable to hear about a woman who exemplifies what the song ‘Grace’ is all about,” says songwriter BeBe Winans. “Its easy to give grace to someone you know, but what Angela did was allow God’s grace to be demonstrated through her life and as the song says, ‘still love me when I’ve done wrong.’ I hope this song will resonate in people’s hearts and inspire all of us to realize the importance of grace in our everyday lives.”

STILL entered the Billboard charts as the #1 Gospel and Christian album when it was released on October 6, 2009. The success of the new album was also paralleled on the digital side as it claimed the #1 position on iTunes and Amazon’s Christian/Gospel charts. Proclaimed as “inspiring and uplifting” by the nation’s number one newspaper, USA Today, the platinum selling, Grammy-Award winning duo also received a 2009 Soul Train nomination in the Best Gospel Male, Female or Group category and will perform “Grace” live when the newly revamped award show tapes in Atlanta, GA on November 3rd. The 2009 Soul Train Awards will premiere on the new Centric Network on Sunday, November 29th.

BeBe and CeCe Video from Oprah

In case you missed the Oprah show on Friday, check out BeBe and CeCe's performance here:

Click here for Oprah performance


Friday, October 23, 2009




Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tina Diamond, JT Watkins Bring Back A Classic 'Tramp'

There was a time when the term "southern soul" spoke volumes about the music you might be about to hear. There was a time when those words evoked the names of empires such as those found at Stax, Atlantic, King and eventually Malaco. Southern soul was the epitome of dynamite musicians going beyond technical proficiency and reaching deep into that unnamable internal region that gave performances a grit and grease that made you want to slip and slide, dance and glide. Southern soul was the epitome of fullblown, slick, but tight rhythm and horn arrangements. And, it was the epitome of singers singing their natural born you-knowwhats off! Think Johnny Taylor, Sam & Dave, Dorothy Moore, Denise Lasalle, Jimmy Hughes? It was that ether region where blues, rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues because something else- something that I once heard a guy describe as a feel that would make your toe curl up in your boot!

But, alas, for reasons too lengthy to get into right here, those days seemed to pass and the machines took over and drove the musicians out and along with them, those killer singers who need to feel the pulse of humanity to work their best magic. I'm not going to get into a rant about all that and depress you, especially given that help seems on the way. No, it's not John Connor set to do battle with the terminators. It's phenomenal blues singer Tina Diamond and renowned R&B bandleader JT Watkins breathing new life into a classic and at the same time the current near moribund southern soul scene. This modern day dynamic duo has resurrected Lowell Fulson's seminal "Tramp" that not only was covered by a ton of folks, but provided a signature bass line that became the foundation of many a soul hit back in the day. Ironically, it was a cover by an earlier king and queen duo that actually made the song a big hit. Back in 1967-a year after Fulson put his original out there-the legendary Otis Redding and his Stax label mate Carla Thomas, daughter of the inimitable father of southern funk, Rufus Thomas, put out a smoldering version of their own giving the tune a whole different twist with the back and forth banter between the sexes. Now Diamond and Watkins have put out an updated take on the tune that stays true to what many consider the definitive Redding- Thomas version, but with their own energetic thing into it.

First of all, where Carla almost seems playfully teasing Otis about being a no good tramp in the early version, Diamond sounds like she means business-like she's telling Watkins she's already found out he can't deliver the financial goods he promised and it's time to get to steppin'! Likewise, Watkins is strong in his defense of his position, giving this version- ooooooo, and this might sound blasphemous in some quarters- even more edge than Otis and Carla. Plus, Diamond and Watkins do an equally great job in the singing sections, although their version leans a bit more toward the blues side of the R&B flavor than previous versions. (You've got to give it to Redding and Thomas for the soul version and, well, you'd be hard pressed to find a version with more lowdown, raw funk than Fulson's original!) My friend and mentor, a real soul legend, Frank-O Johnson, told me I was going to love this one and I do. This is some killer stuff!

A word about the music: Respect where respect is due. Normally, I'm death on modern R&B and southern soul productions for a number of reasons I'll let you guess about. But, I've got to say this set really moves me, thanks to the expert production of the great Harrison Calloway who has reconstructed his own lovely version of the classic Stax arrangement. (Makes sense. Calloway was one of the originals from down there-a trumpeter in the FAME Gang at Muscle Shoals!) Frankly, this has to be among the absolute best modern southern soul productions I've ever heard. And, I challenge the average listener to tell me: "Is it really or synthesized?"

Okay, now I'm waiting for Diamond and Watkins to head back into the studio with a dynamite rhythm section, horns, guitars and the like and put out that soul album folks have been waiting for over the years. Hey, Tina, JT, can you hear me now? ~ Frost Illustrated

Harrison Calloway Nominated For Mississippi Jazz Foundation Award

Malaco arranger, Harrison Calloway, will be inducted in the Mississippi Jazz Foundation on December 11, 2009, at the Alamo Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi. This induction is awarded to Mr. Calloway for his outstanding work in the field of music education.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Malaco Gospel Radio Now Online!

Malaco Records is proud to bring to you the hot new station Visit the website now and listen!

The Malaco Music Group houses the largest and the oldest catalog in the world. Over 150 years of great Gospel music between its wholly owned subsidiaries, Malaco Records, Savoy Records, Muscle Shoals Sound Gospel and its newest acquisition, Atlanta International Records (Air Gospel), newly founded 4 Winds Records along with its distributed labels and is where you will get to experience all 150 years of the best Gospel Music ever recorded. features Choirs, Quartets, Groups & Soloists. Hear artists such as The King Of Gospel James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson, Dorothy Love Coates, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Georgia Mass Choir, Willie Neal Johnson & The Gospel Keynotes, Robert Blair & The Violinaires, Willie Banks & The Messengers, The Sensational Nightingales, Margaret “Babe” Allison & The Angelics ,James Moore, Keith Pringle, O’landa Draper, Ricky Dillard, Donnie McClurkin, Dorothy Norwood, Shirley Caesar, LaShun Pace, , Luther Barnes, Rev. F.C. Barnes, Dottie Peoples, Maurette Brown Clark, Carolyn Traylor, Men Of Standard, Bebe & CeCe Winans and many, many more.