Posts By Mark Graham

by (@unclegrambo)

Erykah Badu, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius And Questlove Bring VH1 DIVAS Back To Life

Last night on VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, Erykah Badu, Marsha Ambrosius and Estelle, along with Questlove, performed an upbeat rendition of “Back To Life.” The performance, sponsored by Samsung, saw the lovely ladies clad in gold — Estelle was all out in a gold jumpsuit, Erykah with a gold shawl and Marsha with some sparkling bling. With some refined synchronized dance moves (backed up by nimble male dancers), and their killer voices, the three women had the crowd out of their seats and dancing for the entirety of the joyful performance.

After you watch this Soul II Soul classic, be sure to check out the full Samsung performance playlist.

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[Photos: Getty Images]

by (@unclegrambo)

Napster’s Shawn Fanning And Sean Parker To Be Interviewed By Downloaded Director Alex Winter At The 2012 SXSW Festival

On Wednesday, March 14 at the Austin Convention Center, as part of the 2012 SXSW Festival, Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker are going to be interviewed by Alex Winter, the director of a brand new VH1 Rock Doc called Downloaded. The Downloaded documentary explores the rise of the digital music era, and specifically the role that Napster played in dragging the music industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

As the legend goes, Shawn Fanning launched Napster from his dorm room when he was enrolled at Northeastern University, and shortly thereafter, met up with the controversial Silicon Valley figure Sean Parker, who helped turn Napster from a project and into a real company. (You might recognize the name Sean Parker from the award-winning film The Social Network, where he was portrayed by Justin Timberlake.) Downloaded will look at the way in which Napster, as one of the first file sharing devices for music to gain a foothold in the culture, essentially paved the way for digital music consumption today, making it possible for online file sharing to be realized without all the legal controversy that Napster faced (and which ultimately led to its demise).

Downloaded is scheduled to premiere on VH1 in mid to late 2012. That said, we’ll be down in Austin in March covering the 2012 SXSW Festival, so we’ll be sure to keep you abreast of how this panel conversation goes! You can check out more information about this exciting event on the official SXSW website.

by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Web Exclusive: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, “He Said I Can”

Tonight’s television premiere of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul closed with Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige‘s stanktastic performance of “Ain’t Nobody.” However, those of us who were lucky enough to be in the building last night know that the last performance of the night was NOT Chaka and Mary J, but rather current VH1 You Oughta Know artist Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings performing “He Said I Can.” You’d be hard-pressed to make an argument that there’s another group out there that’s making soul music these days that’s as vibrant as the music that SJDK is turning out. If you like this track — and, honestly, we don’t see any scenario in which you wouldn’t — do yourself a favor and check out Soul Time!, the group’s latest LP.

This web exclusive clip is brought to you by Wendy’s.

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by (@unclegrambo)

“Ain’t Nobody” We’d Rather See Close Out VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Than Mary J. And Chaka Khan

PHEW! We’re just now catching our breath after the enthralling conclusion to tonight’s premiere of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, which saw the funky disco pop legend Chaka Khan and the Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige fuse their powers together, Voltron style, for an unbelievable rendition of Chaka’s 1983 smash “Ain’t Nobody.” The song hit #1 on the R&B charts back when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House, but it’s most memorably known for being the soundtrack to one of the finest montages of early eighties cinema in Breakin. Or, should we say, “formerly most memorable,” because Mary J and Chaka’s duet tonight instantly became THE defining version of the song the second the song wrapped.

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by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul: Erykah Badu, Estelle And Mavis Staples Take Us There (And Then Some)

TYRONE! There have been many highlightable moments during tonight’s broadcast of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, but we can’t help but feel like Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan‘s triple threat take on The Staples Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There.” It was clear from the outset that these three were vibing off each other and connecting on a deep level, and by the time Mavis started laying down some serious STANK and shouting out “I’m Every Woman” and “Call Tyrone,” we knew this was gonna be a moment we wouldn’t soon forget.

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by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul: Florence Welch’s Haunting, Otherworldly Take On Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black”

Florence Welch, lead chanteuse of Florence + The Machine, is certainly one of the MVPs of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul. She performed three songs tonight: “Shake It Out” (the new single off the band’s Ceremonials), “Back To Black” (as part of the evening’s Amy Winehouse tribute), and “Walking On Broken Glass” (which you can watch below).

Here, we put a spotlight on Florence’s haunting cover of the title track of album that turned Amy Winehouse into an international superstar back in 2007. She cut quite a figure with her floor length black dress, which was incredibly appropriate considering the circumstances. The music world lost an immense talent this year with Amy’s tragic passing, but thanks to powerful performances like Florence Welch’s tonight, Winehouse’s musical legacy is cemented in stone.

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Follow along for Florence’s jubilant take on Annie Lennox‘s “Walking On Broken Glass.”

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by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul: Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson And Kelly Clarkson Kick Off The Show In Style

We told you so! Earlier today, we gave you a sneak peak at the cold open of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul and told you it was the hottness. Well, now that you’ve all seen the whole clip —the show is on RIGHT NOW, people!— you seem to agree. We just checked Twitter a few seconds ago and we saw that Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Kelly Clarkson‘s performance of “You Keep Me Hanging On,” “Spotlight,” “Real Love,” and “Since U Been Gone” was dominating five of the Top 10 trending topics.

By popular demand, here’s the video of this historic moment that you can watch over and over and over again. Remember, if you’re gonna tweet about the show tonight, be sure to use the hashtag #VH1DIVAS.

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by (@unclegrambo)

EXCLUSIVE: The Unflappable Ledisi On Performing “Sweet Love” On VH1 DIVAS: “What You Saw Was My Rehearsal And Performance All Together”

One of the most memorable moments from last night’s taping of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul ended up being one that had never even been rehearsed before the cameras started rolling. When you watch Ledisi and Marsha Ambrosius duet on “Sweet Love” tonight at 9 p.m. ET on VH1, you’re gonna think that the two singers had been practicing together for weeks. However, the truth of the matter is that the whole number came together just over an hour before showtime. Say what?

“I was headed to go to the red carpet and the producers and the music director and my manager all came rushing to my room,” Ledisi explained to us on a phone call earlier this afternoon. “I was asked ‘Can you sing ‘Sweet Love’?” and I was like, ‘Stop playin! [laughs] Anita Baker’s singing that’. But then they told me ‘No, this is serious.’ And I was like “Oh my God, yeah sure, sure, if you need me, I’ll do it.’ I didn’t ask what happened because I didn’t want to be in the middle of that — you know, I’m just new, I just want to sing my little two songs and get off stage. But then all of a sudden here’s a third song, so I just wanted to pay proper respect to Miss Anita Baker and not do too much and you know, share in the moment, so it was a lot of fun. I really was honored to be asked, they could have asked someone else but they asked me and Marsha sand the first verse and I was so appreciative of the whole experience, it was like a dream. Like, is this real? Like I left there — ‘Did that just really happen’?”

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by (@unclegrambo)

Jill Scott, Questlove And Adam Blackstone Explain Why Philly Is The City With The Most Soul (Hint: It’s The “Dirty Water”)

We spent most of this weekend hanging around New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, checking out the rehearsals for VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul (which, if you haven’t heard yet, is airing TONIGHT on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET). We were lucky enough to grab some time with some of this year’s featured performers as they prepared for the show, and one of the questions we were most curious about was what gave the cities that they hail from so much soul.

First up, we asked Philly natives Jill Scott, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Adam Blackstone their thoughts on why the City of Brotherly Love (the latter two of whom served as the Musical Directors of the show) was the most soulful city in the world. Jill Scott reckoned it has something to do with “dirty water” of the Schuylkill River, while Questlove and Adam explained that the city’s proximity to New York City forced the musical community to diversify their sound to establish their own unique identity.

You can see Jill’s response above, while we’ve got video of @questlove and @bassicblack below.

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by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul To Pay Special Tribute To Amy Winehouse

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is set to air on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and as we inch ever close to the show’s air date, we’re starting to learn more and more about the contents of the show itself. We already know that it will feature performances from superstars like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J, and more, we already know that they’ll be honoring the great cities of soul (Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis, Philly), but now we’re starting to learn what people will actually be performing.

This morning, VH1 announced that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Florence Welch (of +The Machine fame) and Wanda Jackson will be paying special tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, who tragically passed away in July at the age of only 27 years-old. Full details about the performance are included in the following press release…

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Includes Special Tribute to Amy Winehouse with Performances by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Florence Welch and Wanda Jackson

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Pays Tribute to the Great Cities of Soul Music Including Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis and Philadelphia

Special will air Monday, December 19 at 9 PM/8c on VH1

NEW YORK – December 15, 2011 – VH1’s beloved, popular franchise, VH1 DIVAS, has announced a special tribute to Amy Winehouse at this year’s VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul with performances by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine) and Wanda Jackson. VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul premieres Monday, December 19 at 9 PM/8c on VH1.

The tribute will reflect Winehouse’s contribution to modern, London soul music. Some highlights of the tribute will include Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings performing “You Know I’m No Good,” and Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine) and Wanda Jackson will perform her song “Back to Black.” The Dap-Kings contributed a number of tracks for Winehouse’s Grammy Award-winning album “Back to Black.” In addition, Nas, who collaborated with Winehouse on the first single of her current posthumous album, will introduce the tribute medley.

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