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Getting “Soul-chestra” with Violin ‘Soul-o-ist’ Karen Briggs and the 20 Pearls Foundation of Las Vegas

30 Mar

Karen BriggsBack in January the 20 Pearls Foundation, the charitable arm of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Theta Theta Omega Las Vegas Chapter, of which I and my mother are proud members, presented “An Evening with Violin ‘Soul-o-ist’ Karen Briggs with special guest Freddie B,” for a concert in support of the HerShe Group Foundation, Inc., an organization preparing girls in foster care for successful transition into adulthood.

Me and my mother Patti

Me and my mother

I remember asking, “Who is Karen Briggs?” when it was requested I write and distribute the press release on behalf of our chapter’s 20 Pearls Foundation. Seriously, I had no idea who she was, and I fancy myself “in the know” when it comes to popular jazz artists (See my Jazz Groupies post), so not having name recognition had me less than excited, as well as being told “she toured with Yanni” had me thinking the 90s, world music, a mustache and a mullet. Any enthusiasm to write the news release was all but removed.

Karen Briggs on stage with bandCome to find out after a little digging, I could not have been more wrong. Karen Briggs is a highly sought after featured soloist who has perfected the melismatic style (I had to look that term up, and for those of you that don’t know what the word means either, it is defined as “A passage of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in Gregorian chant” ~The Free Dictionary by Farlex.) Her musicianship is reflective of her exposure to countless music genres including jazz, gospel, Latin, classical, African and Middle Eastern.

 

Karen Briggs with band 2She is world renown and has played Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, the Apollo Theater, and the Kennedy Center.  Her nickname, “The Lady in Red” was given to her by her fans (I am now one of them) after extensively touring with Yanni.  She was a part of his critically acclaimed and live multi-platinum recorded album Yanni Live at the Acropolis (1993) which became “one of the best-selling PBS specials of all time and was broadcast in 65 countries.”

She began her professional career with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra after graduating from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. Several years later she released her self-titled debut album Karen (1992), her sophomore album Amazing Grace (1996), followed by Soulchestral Groove (2009). And has collaborated with many influential musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Swinging into the 21st (2012) and Selections from Swingin’ into the 21st (2011); Ledisi, Lost & Found (2007); Kenny Loggins, More Songs from Pooh Corner (2000); Vertu’, Stanley Clark, Lenny White and Richie Kotzen (1999); Diana Ross, Every Day Is a New Day (1999); and Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams, The Hopeville Tour/DVD (2009), to name a few and there are many to name.

 

Karen Briggs talking to a fan.

Karen Briggs talking to a fan.

That was a great night and she is one funny lady who really loves and appreciates her fans. At one point we were all grooving when I noticed she had us all clapping along to a square dance song. It felt like Hee Haw for a minute. I was waiting for a Minnie Pearl look-alike to appear on stage.

I highly recommend you catch a show when you can. She has her schedule on Facebook at Karen Briggs, Violinist Page II. She will be in Austin, Texas on Friday, April 5 at the Women in Jazz Association, Inc.’s JAZZ IN P!NK CONCERT.

“The Week that Disco Died”

21 May

My friend Ralph Agretto said it best on Facebook today that this is “the week that disco died.” Robin Gibb was another childhood favorite as a member of The Bee Gees. I hate to say it, but I have always referred to him as the ‘buck toothed one’ and for obvious reasons. He was an amazing song writer with and without his brothers, and with that, below are a few favorites.

22 December 1949 – 20 May 2012

“If I Can’t Have You” performed by Yvonne Elliman live on Top of the Pops circa- 1978. I used to sing this song in the mirror with a hair brush and think of Marc Roseberry who was my first backward slow skate kiss at Crystal Palace on Boulder Highway.

 

“Emotion” by Samantha Sang. For years I thought it was the Bee Gees singing because the background tracks are just as prominent and they sounded like women. Anyway, this song had me falling in love every time I heard it on the radio.

 

 Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb because he was simply sexy. Even in this video with his skin tight jeans, feathered hair, and deep golden tan with dance moves more like a disco queen than a teen idol. 

 

And from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack: “More Than A Woman,” “Jive Talkin’,” “You Should Be Dancing,”How Deep Is Your Love,” and “More Than A Woman” performed by Tavares. My list could go on for a while. I even have a Bee Gees station on Pandora to keep his memory “Stayin’ Alive.” (sorry, it was too easy.)

 

Thank you for the music and thank you for reading.

Adrienne xo

Thank You for the Dance Donna Summer

17 May

 

Donna Summer

December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012

I love disco. I grew up in the 70s when it was a staple at the roller rink (I was too young for the dance clubs. I was only in elementary school), but I made sure as I got older (fifth grade) I would represent the fashion by wearing my friend Lisa Garrison’s rainbow heeled platform tennis shoes (my mother was never going to buy me a pair no matter how much I begged), my skin-tight electric blue satin pants with matching jacket (think Olivia Newton John as ‘Sandy’ at the end of the movie “Grease”) and a lot of Vaseline on my lips to make them shiny (I was not allowed to wear lip gloss until sixth grade.)

I also  had my boom box set to KLAV AM, then Disco 1-2-3 KLAV, so I could boogie as I got ready for school or my big night out at Crystal Palace Skating Rink. All great memories from childhood with a soundtrack to flashback to innocent fun.  Here are my four favorite songs by Donna Summer.

Rest, peace, and comfort everlasting.

Dim All the Lights

Last Dance

On the Radio

Mac Arthur Park

 

Thank You for Reading.

Adrienne xo

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