Ed Sheeran is blessed - he seems to know exactly where he is going, and exactly how to get there. Where countless others fail to make an impression amid today's information overload, Ed's music and talent cut straight through.
He has a poise that is as welcome as it is unusual in someone so young. He's both utterly self-assured but still charmingly open. He has a confidence that's built not on being able to sing someone else's song quite nicely on a teatime TV show, but on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of gigs where it's just him, his guitar, a loop pedal and a crowd.
Above all Ed's got this voice with buckets of soul and these incredibly affecting songs that despite being played on acoustic guitar are far removed from the standard singer-songwriter fare. In fact, Ed's songs are as informed by Jay-Z as much as they are by Damien Rice. They talk about the city he loves and the people in it and of it. They talk about the people made by it, and those damaged by it. They are about love and loss, but are also joyful when you need them to be. He is a unique talent whose combination of skills is frankly quite startling.
Ed grew up inSuffolk where he learnt to play an old guitar given to him by an uncle. Spurred on by a chance meeting with the aforementioned Rice when he was 11, Ed started writing songs. Aged 16, he moved to London -- into a flat above the T-Bird pub in Finsbury Park -- with only one thing on his mind: playing gigs, as many as he could and as often as he could.
"I was playing every night," he says, "sometimes three times a night. I played every open mic night going. At first the crowds weren't interested, but I learnt how to make them interested!" A thousand audiences from acoustic shows to hip-hop nights, or, indeed, any other genre, will agree with that.
One night Ed played a tiny bar inNorth Londonwhose website listed every young promoter in town. That night Ed Myspaced them all and a few days later he had nearly a hundred new gigs lined up. A pattern began to emerge -- all day in the studio, all night playing gigs. From the early days Ed would sell CDs of his songs out of his backpack, putting cash in his pocket to get to the next gig, but also planting a flag in people's minds that here was music that was worth paying for. Not satisfied by CDs alone, fans have flocked to his website to pick up everything from hoodies to jewellery.
When Ed was told by his then management that he would need to conform to succeed -- including dying his hair, and giving up his unique delivery -- Ed responded by writing the cult song, 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You'. Over the next year he released five EPs, each one totally different, each one totally him. There was a singer-songwriter one, a live from TheBedfordone, one written with singer Amy Wadge. Each sold better than the last.
In February last year, after two years of constant gigging and sofa surfing, Ed recorded a live version of 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You' for leading urban YouTube channel, SBTV. The clip got 100K hits in two days and is now approaching 1.5M views. A few days later, he wrote what would become his first major label release, 'The A Team': a story about a girl he met whilst working at a homeless shelter. The video for that has just surpassed 1M views.
By the time Ed released the final EP -- 'No. 5 Collaborations' in January, which featured the who's who ofUKhip hop and grime: Devlin, Wretch 32, Dot Rotten, P Money, JME and Wiley, the support was so strong it propelled Ed to Number 2 in the iTunes album chart after just 24 hours. The only artist selling more copies was Rihanna. When Elton John called his mobile to congratulate him, Ed realised quite how big things had got. Amid interest from numerous labels Ed shortly signed with Asylum -- part of Atlantic Records.
"Collaborations was the peak of my independent career," Ed says. "Now I am beginning my signed career. You have to pass the barriers, go to the next level. Some independent people do it well, but some never progress far enough. Signing to a label is the smart thing to do if you have the right deal. And I have the right deal."
So now there is the album, entitled '+'. "I'd like to say it's all about positivity," Ed laughs, "but really it's just a cool sign that I love. It is also one step on from all the independent releases I have done."
Ed's album is out in September and features a host of very special songs. Small Bump is a true story, with the most heart-wrenching twist, about a friend and her baby. Lego House is a love song that imagines a world where you can, ("pick up the pieces and build a lego house, and if things go wrong we can knock it down!"). Wake Me Up was written while sat, really drunk, under a tree by Jamie Foxx's pool (that's another story). Grade 8 ("your body is my ball-point pen/ and your mind is my new best friend...") sees Ed as a worrier/warrior with bloodshot eyes, his heartstrings being twanged by a virtuoso guitarist. The truth is, there's not a bad song on it, precisely because Ed wouldn't dream of allowing there to be a bad song on it, he's that type of guy. As you will soon see.
"I have slept on a different sofa every night for two and a half years so I can do this," Ed says. "But the sofa thing can get lonely. I'm ready for my own place now; I'm ready for the next level."
I don't doubt it -- or Ed -- for a minute.
Based out of Minneapolis, Lizzo has the most fun attitude to come to rap since Missy Elliot. Her songs are infectious as hell, as is her personality. Lizzo raps and sings, and she’s got a vital message of both joy and empowerment in her music and style. A step back from the hyper sexualized women you’re used to seeing in music but still deathly sexy, we think Lizzo is the dark horse rap force you never saw coming… So keep your eyes peeled for her, and in the meantime, check out LIZZOBANGERS, her 2013 album.
--VH1.com, Kat George
More recently, Plant has recorded with Afro Celt Sound System and, along with Skin and Justin Adams, traveled to South Sahara, North of Timbuktu in Mali to participate in the 2nd Festival of the Desert, a gathering of African Saharan and assorted soul musicians which included Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen, and Tidawt. This project ultimately became a CD compilation on the Harmonia Mundi label.
The following year saw Robert and the band embark on a new adventure with a string of dates across Europe and beyond. A stopover in Sweden in late May saw Robert, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin, receive the prestigious Polar Music Prize. His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the award to Led Zeppelin in the presence of other dignitaries with the following words:
2006 closed with the worldwide release of Nine Lives (Rhino), a beautifully designed boxed set containing all of Plant's solo work since '81-accompanied by outtakes, live cuts, and a DVD with contributions from Tori Amos, Phil Collins, Roger Daltrey, Bobby Gillespie, and Lenny Kravitz, among others.
2007 finds Robert working on album number three with Strange Sensation, leaning again towards the music of the muse - exotic, explosive, and detailed. Along the way he performed with Tinariwen, the Malian Tuareg cooperative who received huge critical acclaim for the Justin Adams produced CD Aman Iman, singing and playing spooked tenor ukelele at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in April. A summer tour of the eastern Mediterranean with Strange Sensation will run from June through August.
Raising Sand, a new project and partnership with 20-time Grammy Award winning artist Alison Krauss will be released in October 2007 on Rounder Records. Their first recorded collaboration, Raising Sand proves a wonder on two counts: first that it happened at all, and, more importantly, that it is as successful and illuminating as it is.
Under the stewardship of producer T-Bone Burnett, Raising Sand spans the intersections of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the unrealized potential of the folk-rock revolution. It is an album that uncovers popular music's elemental roots while sounding effortlessly timeless. It's nearly impossible to tell which songs are a hundred years old or which are contemporary. Krauss and Plant share a maverick spirit that makes Raising Sand sound like one continuous thought -- a conversation between two major music talents that goes on for an entire album.
Alison Krauss effortlessly bridges the gap between roots music and genres such as pop, rock, country and classical. She has released 14 albums and has sold more than 12 million records to date. With 27 wins, she is the most awarded female artist in GRAMMY history. Krauss recently released the critically acclaimed record Windy City, a collection of 10 classic country songs carefully selected with producer Buddy Cannon. Windy City debuted at #1 on the Country and Bluegrass Billboard charts. She has received a multitude of other honors throughout her career, including nine Country Music Association awards and 14 International Bluegrass Music Association awards. Alison has also contributed songs to numerous films, including O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain. Her 2007 platinum album Raising Sand with Robert Plant won six GRAMMY Awards including Album of the year, and was followed by 2011’s chart-topping, Paper Airplane with her longtime collaborators Union Station.
Three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, New York Times best selling poet, and critically acclaimed actress are only a few titles held by Jill Scott. Before having the #1 album in the country with "The Light Of The Sun", performing at The White House, being named People Magazine's Top TV Breakout Star of 2010 and appearing on VH1 Divas alongside Aretha Franklin, the triple threat began her career collaborating with musical icons, The Roots, Will Smith, and Common in the late 90s. In 2000, she released her much anticipated debut record, Who is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. 1, a double platinum album that earned Scott several Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. Two more critically acclaimed albums followed, Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds, Vol. 2 and The Real Thing: Words & Sounds, Vol. 3 which garnered two more Grammy Awards and spawned multiple worldwide tours.
Never limited to music, Jill Scott is a true multimedia brand across books, clothing, TV and film. Most recently, Jill starred in Get On Up: A James Brown Biopic, as DeeDee, the wife of James Brown. She also starred alongside Tyler Perry & Janet Jackson in the #1 national movie series Why Did I Get Married? (Pt. 1 and 2), Baggage Claim, Steel Magnolias and Sins of the Mother which aired on Lifetime and became the second-most watched premiere in the network's history. Jill was casted as the lead character in the HBO/BBC mini series filmed on location in Botswana, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, a Peabody Award-winning show directed by the late Oscar Award-winning director Anthony Minghella.
A consummate writer at heart, she penned The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours, a compilation of poems that instantly became a New York Times bestseller. Scott also developed an intimates line for Ashley Stewart and founded Blues Babe, a registered 501(c)3 foundation that has raised over hundreds of thousands dollars to support minority students pursuing college degrees.
Jill released her highly anticipated 5th studio album WOMAN on July 24, 2015 which opened on the music charts at #1 giving Jill her 2nd consecutive number one album. Her “Woman” tour was a successful nationwide sold out tour in the Summer 2015 and she toured both internationally and domestic in the Summer of 2016.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is a 12-piece powerhouse ensemble led by the husband/wife duo of guitarist Derek Trucks and singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, “two of the best roots rock musicians of their generation” (NPR). With their own potent original songwriting alongside an extensive canon of influences, the dynamic all-star band owns a reputation for world-class musical expression bolstered by each album and every performance.
Since forming in 2010, TTB’s caravan has traveled countless miles to bring their music to audiences around the world. From sold-out multi-night residencies across America to barnstorming tours through Europe and Japan to the flagship Wheels of Soul annual summer amphitheater tour, the band's shows are an eagerly anticipated highlight of the live music calendar and “nothing short of exhilarating” (Salon). Whether on stage or in the studio, when these supremely talented artists get together, it’s a musical experience of profound quality.
The band's most recent release - Layla Revisited (Live At LOCKN') featuring Trey Anastasio - is a 2CD/3LP live recording of their “epic” and “now-legendary” (Relix) performance of the classic Derek and the Dominos album and joins an impressive and growing discography that includes Signs (2019), High & Mighty EP (2019), Let Me Get By (2016), Made Up Mind (2013), and the Grammy-winning debut, Revelator (2011) in addition to their earlier live releases, the Grammy-nominated film/audio, Live From The Fox Oakland (2017), and 2012’s Everybody’s Talkin’.
In 2021, TTB convened in the studio to write and record a wealth of new songs for their next studio album. The result is an expansive, conceptual series of recordings that promise to be one of the most exciting projects in band history and is on track for release in 2022.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is also the subject of a newly-released documentary, Learning To Live Together: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which Variety hails as “a serious blast of rock 'n' roll love…and a testament to how one gorgeously raucous rock ‘n’ roll moment can reverberate through the decades.” The film chronicles the historic Mad Dogs reunion concert spearheaded by Tedeschi and Trucks that took place at 2015's LOCKN' festival.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is Susan Tedeschi (guitar, vocals), Derek Trucks (guitar), Gabe Dixon (keyboards, vocals), Brandon Boone (bass), Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell (drums), Isaac Eady (drums), Mike Mattison (vocals), Mark Rivers (vocals), Alecia Chakour (vocals), Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Ephraim Owens (trumpet) and Elizabeth Lea (trombone).
On the title track of “This Land,” Gary Clark Jr. is staking his claim to a literal place on the map, settling in and declaring: “I told you there goes the neighborhood… This is mine now, legit.” It’s a song with real-life roots in how Clark and his family have traded up in turf in his native Texas and been met with some suspicious glances upon move-in. And if it sounds like he’s had some practice in defiantly ignoring expectations about where he ought to live, well, that’s something he’s been doing musically his whole life. He’s a rock-and-soul omnivore who can survey the entire landscape of American music — not just the blues with which he’s so often associated, but reggae, punk, R&B and hip-hop, too — and say: This land was made for you and me.
He owns it all on This Land, his third studio album for Warner Bros. Records, which is sure to be seen as a breakthrough in establishing just how much stylistic variation Clark has at his command. There are plenty of the guitar-hero sounds that have already established him as a headliner, with tunes that reiterate that Cream influences always rise to the top, from a guy who’s long since come to be considered by Clapton as a friend and contemporary, not just acolyte. But if a lot of fans would consider Clark the closest thing we have to a modern Hendrix, what comes through implicitly in This Land is the sense of just how much Jimi loved and borrowed from Curtis Mayfield. You can think of Clark as one of the last of the real rock gods, along with fellow master singer/guitarists like Jack White, John Mayer, or the late, great Prince and the new album certainly won’t do anything to diminish that perception. But This Land is also a great soul record — one in which it’s easy to hear the lineage that connects Muddy Waters and Childish Gambino, with distinct nods to Marvin Gaye somewhere in the middle.
You’ll hear strains of Gaye not just in Clark using his falsetto more than he ever has before. It’s in the mixture of social consciousness and sensuality that was a matter of course for records like “What’s Goin’ On”… not to mention “Sign O’ the Times.” Obviously you hear the awareness of what’s goin’ on in the song This Land itself, in which Clark finds himself “paranoid and pissed off” among well-heeled neighbors who “think I’m up to something” just because his family doesn’t fit the local demographics. The attention to the greater good also informs “What About Us,” which has Clark announces that “the young bloods are taking over” — something he says to a fictional figure who recurs in several songs, “Mr. Williams,” a guy who could be a past-his-prime neighborhood boss… or, who knows, a stand-in for some bigger political figure who also has to go. “Feed the Babies” brings in the brass to augment a call for understanding that’s a pleading, purposeful antidote to the raw nerves of the title song.
Yet Clark also uses the album to get more personal than he ever has on record before, often assessing the tough balance between career and family. “Pearl Cadillac” is a payback to a mother’s devotion. He’s the parent in “When I’m Gone,” preparing a child for yet another trip away on the road, a topic he also takes up with a significant other in “Guitar Man,” where he’s weighing the “stamps in my blue book” and the fellowship of the road against the fear of a toll taken by time apart at home.
But if it’s the ballsy tropes of rock, blues and R&B that you’d like a fresh spin on, This Land hardly foregoes the twin towers of swagger and regret. “Friday night and I just got paid/I’m out looking for some trouble,” he sings in “Feel Like a Million,” a number that starts out as Peter Tosh and ends up somewhere closer to an arena-rock anthem. He’s found that trouble and then some in “Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow,” a balladic plea to the woman at home to forgive dalliances, with the knowledge that she may exact some what’s-good-for-the-goose revenge. “Low Down Rolling Stone” is an affair-ending lament from a wayward soul who’s discovered “darkness is my comfort zone.” But there’s no sorrow — yet – in a pair of kick-ass “got to” songs. “Got to Get Up” brings on the trumpet as Clark repeats “Kill ‘em all!” like the rock mantra it is, and “Gotta Get Into Something” finds him reaching to pure Chuck Berry territory… or maybe not so pure, since there’s something positively Ramones-y in his take on furious proto-punk rock and roll.
It may sound diffuse as an album, but it all holds together as part of a singular vision from Clark and his co-producer, Jacob Sciba, a longtime Austin friend and chief engineer at Arlyn Studios where most of This Land was laid down. Clark has had interest from some of the top producers in music but has found most of them are interested in bringing out just one aspect of his multi-faceted musical persona. Sciba is the pal and sonic wizard who comprehends the scope of what Clark does, and welcomes it… and is faced with the challenge of making something sonically coherent out of all these styles.
How to position Clark has been a cheerful problem from the start, since he was a blues aficionado who loved hanging with the hip-hop kids just as much as he relished going to local Pinetop Perkins shows. He grew up watching music television, but not so much MTV. “I kind of got introduced to everything by watching ‘Austin City Limits,’ which had Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray,” he’s said. “It all kind of hit me at once, and I just loved anything that sounded bluesy or rock & roll that felt dangerous and had loud guitar solos up front. Ultimately I figured out where it all came from, and I think the thing that really resonated with me was guys like Albert King and Freddie King — the three Kings,” along with B.B. Soon, as a barely-teen prodigy, he was making his way out in to the real world, being mentored by Austin club owner Clifford Antone as he hooked up with every available local legend.
Local legend Doyle Bramhall brought him to meet Eric Clapton at a Crossroads Festival in 2010, where they jammed with Sheryl Crow. A year later, his Warner Bros. debut release Bright Lights EP became the first EP ever to get the lead review in Rolling Stone, which wrote, “A genuine 21st-century bluesman, raised on the form in all its roughneck roadhouse glory but marked by the present day? That’s been as hard to find as a 21st century clockmaker.”
But Rolling Stone may have really been on to something when the magazine got past his prodigious licks and added, “Suddenly you can envision him dueting with Adele, swapping tunes with Jack Johnson or singing hooks for Nas.” Not all those collaborations came to be, but soon enough he was asked by Alicia Keys to co-write and play guitar on “Fire We Make,” a song from her Girl on Fire album, not long before he released his Warner Bros. Records debut album, Blak And Blu, in 2012. Not long after, "Ain't Messin Round", from Blak And Blu was also nominated for Grammy in 2013 and in 2014, Clark had won his first Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track "Please Come Home", from that album. Before long he was benefitting from the advocacy of the Rolling Stones, who’ve repeatedly enlisted him as an opening act and on-stage guest. He played for the Obamas at the White House alongside not just Mick Jagger but B.B. King, Jeff Beck, and Buddy Guy. On a prime-time tribute to the Beatles, he performed alongside Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. On a similar TV tribute to Stevie Wonder, he teamed up with Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran. On record, he co-wrote and played guitar on Childish Gambino’s “The Night Me and Your Mama Met.” In 2017 he was widely praised as a standout among standouts at the MusiCares benefit honoring Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, making two appearances that night, one by himself and once in collaboration with the Foo Fighters, huge fans who had recorded with and taken Clark out as their opening act before he graduated to major headliner status.
When the (then-) president of the United States has not only included you on his famous Spotify playlists but called you “the future,” is there anywhere to go from there? This Land proves there is — and it’s a genre-free future that encompasses virtually the entirety of electric roots music and African-American forms and moves forward from there. It’s a landscape that’s his eminent domain.
Kenny Loggins has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and has won two Grammy® Awards. His songs have left his musical imprint on “the soundtrack of our lives.” Over the last four decades, his chart-topping songs have included “This Is It,” “I’m Alright,” “Footloose," “Danger Zone,” and so many more.
In addition to his string of successful recordings, both solo and as a member of the famed duo Loggins & Messina, Kenny became the first major rock star to dedicate himself to recording music for children and families. His album Return to Pooh Corner remains the best-selling children’s album of the last 20 years. In 2016, he released his latest children’s project, the book Footloose (Moondance Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, October 17, 2016), inspired by his 1985 Oscar® nominated and Grammy® Award-winning “Song of the Year.”
His song “Conviction of the Heart” was hailed as the "unofficial anthem of the environmental movement" by Al Gore, when Loggins performed it on Earth Day in 1995 at The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
In 2016, he was a recipient of the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award at the annual Chapin Awards hosted by WhyHunger. Later that year, The Guild of Music Supervisors honored the legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist with the organization’s first-ever Icon Award for his outstanding achievements in film, television, and soundtracks. His gift for crafting deeply emotional music is unparalleled, and it's been a part of his life as long as he can remember. His generous support of countless local organizations has made a lasting impact on the causes that are close to his heart.
Through his work with Toys for Tots in Santa Barbara, CA, Kenny helped launch Unity Shoppe in 1988. An expansion of the Council of Christmas Cheer which previously only existed during the holiday season, Unity Shoppe expanded the program to exist year-round so individuals could volunteer their services to help low-income families, children, the elderly, sick, and disabled in Santa Barbara County. Kenny regularly lends his musical talent and generous heart to support youth-based programs like Make a Wish, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, and Little Kids Rock.
Kenny was honored with a Humanitarian of the Year Award from Little Kids Rock for his extensive commitment to children’s causes in 2016. In 2018, he helped re-open the original Notes for Notes (N4N) Studios at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara and United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County, giving over 600 kids each year access to a world of musical expression where they can record music, learn to play an instrument, and form a band with their friends for free.
In February 2021, Kenny released “The Great Adventure”, a brand-new single that is the theme song for San Diego Zoo Kids television network. The closed-circuit television adventure channel features programs produced primarily for medical facilities that serve pediatric patients and their families. The channel debuted at Rady Children’s Hospital in 2013 and offers family-friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational, supporting Kenny’s core belief that “every child should experience the healing power of music.”
Loggins released At The Movies on June 12, 2021 – a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl that included some of his career-spanning soundtrack hits for the first time ever on one album, including "I'm Alright" (Caddyshack), "Footloose" (Footloose), "Danger Zone" (Top Gun), and many more.
His hit song “Danger Zone” was featured once again in Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, which opened in theaters worldwide on May 27, 2022. The film has become the biggest release of the year earning over $1.5B in box offices globally and saw “Danger Zone” earning over 1M streams per day across streaming services at its peak.
On June 14, 2022, Hachette Books published Still Alright, Loggins’ long-awaited memoir. In Still Alright, Loggins gives fans a candid and entertaining perspective on his life and career as one of the most noteworthy musicians of the 1970s and ’80s.
Twenty-five years ago, the Wu-Tang Clan changed hip-hop music forever. Bursting onto the music scene with the release of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the group quickly became recognized for its innovative beats and clever lyrics, as well as the diverse personalities and talents that make up its nine member hip-hop group. The Wu Tang Clan has released seven gold and platinum studio albums with worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums. With the release of their debut album in 1993 songs like “C.R.E.A.M and “Protect Ya Neck” introduced hip-hop pioneer, The RZA, as a groundbreaking hip hop craftsman. With lyrics that combine the reality of 1990s New York and the world of martial arts, the Wu-Tang Clan has created a unique mythology that captures the hearts of fans worldwide.