Artist Spotlight: Al Greene

Al Greene, or better known as Reverend Al Greene is a songwriter, record producer, and an American singer who is best known for recording many hit singles in the early 1970s. His hits include “Love and Happiness,” “Im still in Love with You,” and his most popular, “Let’s Stay Together.” In 1955, Al was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was seen as being one of the most gifted soul music artists. He is often referred to as one of “The Last Great Soul Singers.”

Born in Arkansas, he was the sixth of ten children, he was born on April 13,1946 as Albert Leornes Greene. Al started performing at the tender age of 10 with his brothers as part of a band called, The Greene Brothers. His family relocated to Michigan during his teen years and Al was then kicked out of his family when his father caught him listening to Jackie Wilson, having come from a religious background, his father prohibited him from listening to Jackie.

Greene would go on to listen to many gospel singers such as Mahalia Jackson as well as the music that was important to him, such as Wilson Pickett and Elvis Presley. Al would perform in high school as part of a group called Al Greene and the Creations. Two of the groups members would create an independent label called Hot Line Music Journal. They would go on to record the song Back up Train and release it through the label. The song would later be a hit on the R&B charts.

Greenes place in soul music would be solidified when he would drop his most successful album, Let’s Stay Together. The track was the biggest to date and reached number one on both the billboard hot 100 and R&B charts. The album would become certified gold and his following albums would rock the top ten. His following album, Im Still in Love With You would reach platinum along with the help of such singles as “Look What You Done for Me” and the title track. His following album released in 1973, Livin’ for You was his final album to be certified gold.

Reverend Al Greene would release his first Gospel album in 1980 titled, The Lord Will Make a Way. The title song would later win him his first Grammy Award as the bet Gospel Soul Performance. Green would return to secular music in 1988 and would make a hit in 1989 with “The Message is Love” with producer Arthur Baker. Recently, Al Greene has been recording and in 2010 performed his most famous song “Lets Stay Together”.

Al Greene would become one of Andrés idols, his mother loved him as well. She would always mention that he had a silky-smooth voice. “I would listen to him over and over again. I would even get in the mirror and sing “Let’s Stay Together.” He had a unique sound, a soulful sound that I had not heard before. I remember seeing him on TV, he was the ultimate entertainer, I often thought he was looking at me. What I know, is that there is only one Al Greene, my hopes are that one day we will be on stage together. That would be a dream come true.”

Artist Spotlight: Mose Allison

Mose John Allison, Jr., was born on November 11th, 1927 in Tippo, Mississippi. Mose is a singer and songwriter, along with being a jazz blues pianist. Beginning piano lessons at only five years of age, Mose had not only picked it up very well, but began playing other instruments in high school, such as the trumpet. The current 88 year old wrote his first song at the tender age of thirteen. From high school he then went on to college, where he then graduate from Louisiana State University in 1952 with a degree in English Studies.

Allison’s career began in 1956 when he moved to New York. His career began by performing with Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. Prestige Records issued his debut album in 1957 titled, Back County Suite. His record label then went ahead and released his next album in 1963, which was composed of only vocals which was titled, Mose Allison Sings. Allison was later then marketed as a pop star, but later records such as Columbia and Atlantic saw him more as a blues artist due to his previous albums. Mose sang tribute to many influential artists such as Mojo Triangle and Jimmy Rogers.

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame then inducted Mose Allison in 2006. His albums had stopped for quite some time, but in 2010 Mose released his newest album, The Way of the World, after not releasing an album for nearly 12 years. Mose’s music has influenced many artists such as: Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, The Who, and The Yardbirds, along with such artists, he has greatly influenced André Stevens Thomas as well. André has never heard anyone sing with such a melody like Mose does. His impeccable and exciting melody only accentuates his lyrics.

Artist Spotlight: Philippé Soul Wynne

Phillip Walker (April 3, 1941 – July 14, 1984) or better known as Philippé Soul Wynne, was an American singer. Philippé was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 3rd, 1941, he was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and that is where he sought his passion to start singing, he began as a gospel singer and later moved into R&B. Walker is better yet known for his lead singing role in “The Spinners.”

He gained much success by singing with the Pacemakers back in 1968, which would be the year that his musical career would begin. His fascinating vocals would be attained by James Brown’s J.B.’s a short time after he would move forward from the Pacemakers. Some time after, Wynne would spend time in Germany as the lead vocalist for the Afro Kings before he would replace his cousin, who was at the time the lead singer for The Spinners. This is where Philippé would sing with the group until 1977 and during his time with The Spinners, they would achieve great success through albums and singles.

In 1977, Wynne would go solo and release his first album. He would continue and enlighten the lives of many and perform numerous hit songs while being a featured vocalist on Funkadelic’s single “Knee Deep,” a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B chart. Philippé would make a guest appearance on Gene Dunlaps, “Something Inside My Head,” along with Treacherous Three’s , “Whip It” before he would release his final self-titled album.

Philippé would encourage the lives of many, one being André Stevens-Thomas. With much inspiration from André, he till this day has shown much admiration and fascination for what Philippé was able to accomplish. André sees him as being such an influence to the R&B community that even in todays times, Philippé continues to lift the moods of many all the while his captivating vocals continue to influence many vocalists, just like André himself.

Artist Spotlight: Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965) was an American Jazz singer known for his deep but mellow baritone voice. Nat was born and raised in Montgomery Alabama where he grew up playing the organ in church, until he joined a touring Broadway show that landed him in Long Beach, California. From there he started his own band, and quickly gained the attention of the Los Angeles television and music scene for his signature swing sound. After years of producing national hits, Nat’s success led him to host his own variety show on NBC, The Nat King Cole Show, making him the first African American host of a show of that kind.

Nat King Cole was openly inspired by the performances of Earl Hines. He began his career in the mid-1930s while he was still just a teenager. He adopted the name Nat Cole, and acquired his nickname, “King”, while performing at a jazz club. His nickname was presumably reinforced by the nursery rhyme about “Old King Cole.”

Legend has it that Nat King Cole’s singing career didn’t actually start until a drunken barroom patron demanded that he sing the song, “Sweet Lorraine”. Cole has since gone on record saying that the fabricated story “sounded good, so I just let it ride”. He frequently sang in between instrumental numbers, and people started to request more vocal numbers. He obliged. There was once a customer that requested a certain song, but it was a song that Cole did not know. Instead he sang “Sweet Lorraine”. The trio was tipped 15 cents ($0.85 today) for the performance, or a nickel apiece.

Cole went on to produce many hits, like “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66″ (1946), “Nature Boy” (1948), “Mona Lisa” (1950), “Too Young” (the #1 song in 1951), and his signature tune “Unforgettable”. One of his last major hits, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer”, was produced in 1963, two years before his death. It reached #6 on the Pop chart.

Andre at the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

What a beautiful time in La Jolla over the weekend! The streets of La Jolla were taken over for the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival 2015, featuring live San Diego jazz musicians like Andre Stevens-Thomas as well as a silent auction and beer & wine garden. Playing on both Saturday and Sunday, Andre’s performance quickly attracted a crowd as the silky-smooth singer delighted with his newest single, “Me & My Band” as well as other fan favorites. In attendance was Congressman Scott Peters (pictured below) who really seemed to enjoy the performance!