We kick of the first Artpod of 2012 with an appearance by none other than the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
I interviewed Franklin last month about her search for the next great opera star. That's right, opera star. Franklin wants to get in on the singing contest circuit, and she's turning her searchlight on the world of classical music.
For all your late holiday shoppers out there, today's Artpod is filled with ideas for giving local.
I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to hear your thoughts on Michigan-made gifts you'd like to give (or receive) this year. I also reached out to the owner of an independent bookstore in Grand Rapids, and the owner of an independent music store in Ann Arbor to get their suggestions, too.
So without further ado, here's what you had to say about giving local:
"Please Mister Postman" by The Marvelettes hit number one on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 the week of December 11th, 1961. The group was formed by five high school students in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, originally going by the name The Casinyets (short for “Can’t Sing Yet").
"Please Mister Postman” featured lead vocals by Gladys Horton, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 66. It was the biggest hit The Marvelettes would have. The group also scored with classics like "Beechwood 4-5-7-8-9", "Too Many Fish In The Sea", and "Don't Mess With Bill".
The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.
Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”
Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”
“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”
This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.
The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.
Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.
This program will lead students to creative approaches to popular musical composition by developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing, while seeking to nurture a distinct individual writing and performance style.
The northern Michigan institution has taught many young musicians who've gone on to become successful singer/songwriters, including
When something big happens in your life, sometimes you just have to get it out.
Talk to a friend. Share it with your family, or just shout it out loud.
You know, express yourself a little.
Expression through song writing and production are skills that the organizers of Studio on the Gohope to teach kids in Michigan.
Kyle Norris reports the program "travels to schools and community centers in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo":
Kids use computers and keyboards to make music and beats and then they write lyrics about their lives, and finally record the songs. Kids are given a topic to write about, like "education," “making it” and "family"... The results are songs about their personal struggles along with heartfelt tributes. Some kids sing about what it’s like to have someone they love die or to have a family member in jail. Instructors say the kids learn a combination of technical skills along with life skills.
Michigan Radio's Multimedia Producer Mercedes Mejia and Reporter Kyle Norris put this video together about the program:
If Studio on the Go came to your town, what would your "making it" or "family" song be about?
Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes got their start in Michigan, but they left the state to make it big in the music industry. Today, some musicians want to stop that migration and keep talent close to home.
Kevin Prichard is with Bigger Brush Media in Lansing. He thinks music collectives can help keep people in Michigan.
""It must be something in the water." - Paul Tinkerhess.
Last Sunday, I walked around a neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side and witnessed a new music phenomenon - the Water Hill Music Festival - where neighbors played music from their front porches, backyards, and garages.
The idea for the festival came from Paul Tinkerhess, a local business owner and musician.
"The concept is simple," Tinkerhess said. "On the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st, everyone in the neighborhood who either is a musician or wants to pretend to be a musician is encouraged to step out onto their front porch and play music. That's it. Or half of it. The other half is that we are inviting all the other neighbors, and the rest of the world, to wander through the neighborhood that afternoon and enjoy something like a music festival with a lot of stages."
The neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side, dubbed "Water Hill" by Tinkerhess, if filled with musical talent.
I caught a small fraction of the festival, and made this video:
The Associated Press reports the U.S Supreme Court won't get involved in a fight between Eminem's former production company and Universal Music Group over downloads of the rapper's songs and ringtones.
The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Universal Music Group. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said F.B.T. Productions LLC's contract entitled Eminem and his producers to a 50-50 split with Universal for recordings licensed to digital distributors such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
The record label had paid F.B.T. and Eminem 12 percent of sales, the agreed-upon rate for physical albums. F.B.T. discovered Eminem in 1995 before he signed in 1998 with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Universal's Interscope Records distributes Aftermath recordings. The case is Aftermath Records v. F.B.T. Productions, LLC, 10-768.
Business owners who want to serve as a venue for ArtPrize this fall can now begin registering. The winner of the art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids. The top prize is $250,000.
“ArtPrize has already been open to all these things. The difference is with St. Cecilia coming on we’re being a little more intentional about trying to create a very specific space for it and draw more attention to it.”
St. Cecilia Music Hall opened its doors in 1894. The classically styled gold trimmed music hall will welcome all sorts of performances during ArtPrize this year. The music hall will have listening stations to hear the contestants – in addition to the live performances.
“There have been dances and performance art pieces that have been a part of ArtPrize the first two years. And we see that continuing. We just wanted to continue to press the envelope.”
Artists can begin registering in four weeks. ArtPrize runs from late September through early October.