Reflections: Titles

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    Bob MarleyIt’s interesting how certain artists have titles bestowed on them. due to their being remarkably accomplished, and often unparalleled.

    For example, Bob Marley was and always will be the King of Reggae.

    Nina Simone was labeled the High Priestess of Soul. The title remains hers.

    Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. He still is. (The title was thought of by his close friend, screen legend Elizabeth Taylor.)

    Aretha Franklin has been the Queen of Soul since the mid-1960s and will continue to be so.

    James Brown was Soul Brother Number One, an eternal title. Also “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business.”

    Donna Summer is the Queen of Disco. No one else can ever claim that title.

    B.B. King is firmly established as the King of the Blues, today and forever.

    Diana Ross was and is entrenched as the Queen of Motown. That will remain unchanged.  (And some would say she is the Queen of Glamor as well.)

    Teena Marie was sometimes called the Ivory Queen of Soul.

    James Cleveland was the King of Gospel, a title he earned.

    Mary J. Blige was the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, but she has outgrown that title.

    Mahalia Jackson was the Queen of Gospel, eternally.

    Dinah Washington was the Queen of the Blues, a permanent fact.

    Bessie Smith was known as the Empress of the Blues.

    Martha Jean Steinberg was “the Queen” of Detroit radio, and we still miss her.

    Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock. No one could take that away.

    Elvis Presley was and is the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, almost as much for the fact that the impact of his success opened the doors for rock ’n’ roll as for his many accomplishments. Of course, had there been no rhythm ’n’ blues (and Black people!) there would be no rock ’n’ roll.

    Little Richard loves being identified as the Architect of Rock ’n’ Roll. The loquacious legend is on target.

    Otis Redding and Carla Thomas were the King and Queen of the Memphis Sound.

    Ella Fitzgerald was and is the Queen of Jazz Vocalists. (The great Nancy Wilson has referred to her as “the gold standard.”)

    If you want to step outside of the entertainment industry, Sylvia Woods, owner of the famous Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem, New York, is known as the Queen of Soul Food.

    And so it goes. 

    Admittedly, a few of these artists gave themselves the title, but they were deserving.

    ANTHONY HAMILTON, a fairly young singer steeped in southern R&B tradition, is mostly known for soulful ballads, such as the powerful “I’m A Mess” from his “Comin’ From Where I’m From” album. 

    But on his new album, “Back to Love,” which should be out by the time you read this, he introduces a lighter, more uptempo side.

    “I don’t always want to be known as the sad cat,” he said. “I’m ready to have some fun! It’s a liberating feeling.”

    Mathew Knowles, the powerhouse manager behind Destiny’s Child, is working with a new female vocal group called From Above. The father of Beyoncé is hoping for big things.

    Casting will soon begin for the VH1 made-for-TV movie on TLC,  the group consisting of Rozonda Thomas (“Chilli”), Tionne Watkins (“T-Boz”) and the late Lisa Lopes (“Left Eye”).

    Mary J. Blige just keeps selling. Her new release, “My Life II…The Journey Continues,” debuted at No. 3 on the national R&B chart and No. 5 on the Pop chart. That means many thousands of copies were sold in the first week.

    IF YOU, like so many, watched “Soul Train” during its 1970s golden years, you remember Patricia Davis. She was a great dancer, known for flowers and sparkling butterflies in her hair.

    Today, surprisingly, she lives in Austria where she is the choreographer for the dancers of a popular singer there by the name of Bilgarie.

    During a recent interview, Davis was asked to comment on today’s girls and young women, and she made her feelings very clear.

    “Women need to get back to pure beauty and class,” she said. “We need to get away from T&A.  Be beautiful, be sexy, but have class with it. A lot of women have lost respect for themselves.”

    Speaking of women, I saw Jane Fonda on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last week and couldn’t believe my eyes. She looked incredible!  In top shape too.  Fonda is 74 but looks much more like 47.

    BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Usher was only 11 years old when he was a member of an Atlanta-based vocal group called NuBeginnings.

    MEMORIES: “Just Be Good To Me” (the S.O.S Band), “Still A Thrill” (Jody Watley), “I’m In Love” (Evelyn “Champagne” King), “Make It Like It Was” (Regina Belle), “I Feel Good All Over” (Stephanie Mills), “Son of a Preacher Man” (Dusty Springfield), “Let’s Get Married” (Al Green), “There’s Nothing Better Than Love” (Luther Vandross with Gregory Hines), “Light My Fire” (José Feliciano), “Out of Sight” (James Brown),  “Save the Overtime (For Me)” (Gladys Knight & the Pips). 

    BLESSINGS to Renaye Coles, Diane Perkins, Dorothy West, Michael Goodin, Don Davis, Stephanie Ross, James Ross Jr., Bud McQueen, Derek Dirckson, Cecelia Stevenson and Betty DeRamus.

    WORDS OF THE WEEK, from rock musician Lemmy Kilmister: “Music takes you places you can’t go any other time.”

    Let the music play!

    (Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202)


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