Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Birthday: Josephine Baker, Curtis Mayfield, Denise Williams, Alanis Morissette

Josephine Baker

(June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975)

Baker, an expatriate entertainer and actress was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri. Most noted as a singer, Baker was also a celebrated dancer, most famous for her Danse Banane (banana dance) and an actress. She became a French citizen in 1937 after marrying Frenchman Jean Lion.

Baker was given the nicknames the "Bronze Venus" or the "Black Pearl", as well as the "Créole Goddess". In France she was known as "La Baker". She became an instant success with her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage. Baker's success coincided with the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, which gave us the term "Art Deco".

Curtis Mayfield

(June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999)

Born Curtis Lee Mayfield in Chicago, Illinois, was a Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and Funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly. From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. MAyfield was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

Mayfield had several distinctions to his style of playing and singing, adding to the uniqueness of his music. When he taught himself how to play guitar, he tuned the guitar to the black keys of the piano, giving him an open F-sharp tuning — F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# — that he used throughout his career. Also, he sang most of his lines in falsetto adding another flavor to his music.

Denise Williams

Deniece "Niecy" Williams, born June 3, 1951 in Gary Indiana is a multi Grammy award winning singer, songwriter and record producer who achieved success in the 1970s and 1980s. Williams, whose music has been influenced by Soul and Funk, is known for her hits such as "Free", "Let's Hear It for the Boy", "It's Gonna Take a Miracle", and for her many vocal duets with Johnny Mathis.

Alanis Morissette

Alanis Nadine Morissette born June 1, 1974 in Ottowa, Ontatio, Canada is a singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. She has won 12 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. Morissette began her career in Canada, and as a teenager recorded two dance-pop albums, Alanis and Now Is the Time, under MCA Records. Her worldwide debut album was the rock-influenced Jagged Little Pill, which remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest selling debut album worldwide, selling 30 million units globally.

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