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Archive for March, 2008

03 24th, 2008

Grace

In the summer of 1993, Jeff Buckley began working on his first album with record producer Andy Wallace, who had mixed Nirvana’s multi-platinum album Nevermind. Jeff Buckley assembled a band, composed of bassist Mick Grondahl and drummer Matt Johnson, and spent several weeks rehearsing. In September, the trio headed to Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York to spend 6 weeks recording basic tracks for what would become Grace album. Jeff Buckley invited ex-bandmate Lucas to play guitar on the songs “Grace” and “Mojo Pin“, and Woodstock-based jazz musician Karl Berger wrote and conducted string arrangements with Jeff Buckley assisting at times. Jeff Buckley returned home for overdubbing at studios in Manhattan and New Jersey where he performed take after take to capture the perfect vocals and experimented with ideas for additional instruments and added textures to the songs.

In January 1994, Music Artist Jeff Buckley left to go on his first solo North American tour to support Live at Sin-é. It was followed by a 10-day European tour in March. Jeff Buckley played clubs and coffeehouses and made in-store appearances. After returning, Jeff Buckley invited guitarist Michael Tighe to join the band. Jeff Buckley co-wrote “So Real” with Tighe, recorded as a late addition to the album. In June, Jeff Buckley began his first full band tour called the “Peyote Radio Theatre Tour” that lasted into August. Pretender Chrissie Hynde, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, and The Edge from U2 were among the attendees of these early shows.

Grace was released on August 23, 1994. In addition to seven original songs, the album included three covers: “Lilac Wine”, based on the version by Nina Simone, “Corpus Christi Carol”, from Benjamin Britten’s A Boy Was Born, Op.3, a composition based on a 15th century hymn that Jeff Buckley was introduced to in high school, and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, based on John Cale’s recording from the Cohen tribute album, I’m Your Fan. Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Jeff Backley Hallelujah” has been called “Jeff Buckley’s best” and “one of the great songs” by Time magazine, and is included on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

While sales were slow and the album garnered little radio airplay, it quickly received critical acclaim. The UK’s Melody Maker called it, “a massive, gorgeous record,” while The Sydney Morning Herald proclaimed it, “almost impossibly beautiful.” The album did go gold in France and Australia over the next two years, eventually achieving gold status in the U.S. in 2002. Grace has now sold over 2 million albums worldwide and has gone platinum in Australia over six times.

Grace won appreciation from a host of revered musicians, including members of Jeff Buckley’s biggest influence, Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page considered Grace close to being his “favorite album of the decade.” Robert Plant was also complimentary. Other of Jeff Buckley’s influences lauded him: Bob Dylan named Jeff Buckley “one of the great songwriters of this decade,” David Bowie called Grace “one of the 10 albums he’d bring with him to a desert island.” Lou Reed expressed interest in working with him after seeing him perform. Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke, Matthew Bellamy, Chris Cornell, Neil Peart, The Mars Volta, U2 and Elton John were among others who have held Jeff Buckley’s work in high esteem. Ali Gay, a renowned contempary dance artist, used Jeff Buckley’s music to create such masterpieces as “Blue Still and Magnum” which feature regularly in music film clips of the modern era.



03 12th, 2008

Jordin Sparks finished second overall in 2004 at the Music in the Rockies national competition for aspiring Contemporary Christian Music artists, and won the talent portion of the event.  In 2004, Jordin Sparks appeared in America’s Most Talented Kids twice, winning in her first appearance. She was one of seven to appear in a special championship edition of the show. This appearance followed two noted auditions in 2003, one with American Juniors and the other, Star Search. Jordin Sparks has performed the national anthem at various sporting events, notably for the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. She has also sung in such events as Country Thunder, a country music venue. She has appeared with Alice Cooper (in his 2004 Christmas show) and has twice toured with Grammy-winning Christian contemporary singer Michael W. Smith. Smith has shown support of Jordin Sparks by encouraging Idol viewers to vote for her on his website.  In 2003, at the age of thirteen, Jordin Sparks recorded a five-song album which is titled For Now album, working with Matthew Ward, a legendary Christian music artist, and Gary Leach, an engineer who has worked on several of Leann Rimes’ albums. She appeared in a compilation album titled Live at Mr. Lucky’s in 2004. As an actress, Sparks has appeared in several plays, recently starring in a dual role as characters Deborah and Bea in Magdalene at the Plumbline Theater in Franklin, Tennessee. She’s also performed several times with Vaudeville Youth Theatre Company and Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. Her first appearance was in March 2002 as an Emerald City dancer and as a poppy in The Wiz. She also appeared in Viet’s production of Cinderella in June 2002 and another production of The Wiz in August 2002.

Jordin Sparks appeared on the January 17, 2007 broadcast of American Idol, earning a “gold ticket” and the right to appear in the Hollywood Round. American Idol judge Randy Jackson made the offhand prediction that “Curly hair will win this year,”  which he admitted was Jordin Sparks. Before going on to American Idol, she had won Arizona Idol. In 2006, Jordin Sparks was one of two winners who won the Phoenix Torrid search for the “Next Plus Size Model.” She was flown to California where she was used in a number of Torrid ads and promotional pieces. A full-page ad for Torrid featuring Jordin Sparks ran in the December 2006 issue of Seventeen magazine.