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by (@unclegrambo)

CONCERT REVIEW: Roger Waters Brings His Surreal Spectacle The Wall Live To Yankee Stadium

I was 5-years-old when The Wall came out in 1979. Of course, I was far too young to grasp any of the deeply adult themes of loneliness, alienation and distrust of institutional power that dominate Pink Floyd‘s masterwork, but that didn’t stop my fellow first graders and I from chanting “We don’t need no education!” and “Hey, teacher, leave us kids alone!” while we walked to elementary school in the mornings. Some musical statements are just universal in that regard, I suppose. Yet, for whatever reason, I was never much of a Floyd fan growing up. Sure, I was familiar with a great deal of their catalog —if you grew up in the 70s or 80s had access to a car and FM radio, how could you not be?— but for whatever reason, my musical attention during my formative years was drawn primarily towards hip-hop and more accessible, distinctly American classic rock staples (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Eddie Money).

I bring up this confession (of sorts) because I went into Saturday night’s Roger Waters presents The Wall: Live concert at Yankee Stadium without a deep level of knowledge about either the album or the production. I purchased The Wall on iTunes just last week, and only had time to give it one end-to-end listen (which just so happened to be my first time doing so) before hopping on the 4 Train from my home in Brooklyn and making the trek up to 161st Street in the heart of the Bronx. Aside from cursory glances at a few reviews of recent dates on the stadium leg of this particular tour, I went into the evening with an open mind, fully prepared to be blown away. Well, suffice to say, that mission was accomplished. Quite literally, in fact.

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by (@unclegrambo)

CONCERT REVIEW: Leah LaBelle Turns Up The Heat For Pharrell, Jermaine Dupri And LA Reid At Sweltering Showcase

LA Reid, Jermaine Dupri, Leah LaBelle and Pharrell Williams

Whatever you do, don’t call Leah LaBelle an overnight success. While it’s true that she walked into an audition for LA Reid last year and was given a deal with Epic Records on the spot, she’s been putting in work to become an artist for the better part of the last 10 years. A former Berklee College of Music student, LaBelle was a contestant on the third season of American Idol back in 2004, but even with the support of Paula Abdul, wasn’t able to advance past the semifinal round. She kept grinding, though, posting covers of artists like Beyoncé (“Sweet Dreams”) and Frank Ocean (“Thinking About You”) on her MissLabelle1 YouTube Channel, eventually catching the eye of superproducers Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri.

The trio of music industry heavyweights — LA, JD and Pharrell — have been working on material for Leah LaBelle’s debut album (release date still TBD) for close to a year now, and the stunning LaBelle decided to give the new songs a live trial-run during a 6-song showcase in front of 200 or so sweaty onlookers at New York City’s Tribeca Grand Hotel last night. Before she took the stage, each one of these gents took some time to explain what they see in LaBelle, where LA explained that “She has soul. She has real soul, like real, real bonafide singer soul, like you don’t hear. And you especially don’t hear this from girls that are so cute.”

You would expect that kind of praise from a born promoter like LA, but once LaBelle hit the stage, she more than delivered on that promise, both in the voice and looks department. There’s no use tiptoeing around the fact that LaBelle is gorgeous —the moment she hit the stage, we witnessed a hundred or so jaws simultaneously dropping to the floor— but to LA’s point, her vocal chops are legit, and she’s got that charismatic “it” factor as a performer. Truth be told, she kind of reminds us a bit of a female Robin Thicke, in that her sound is perfectly suited for the urban market in a way that feels both wholly authentic and completely organic.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Music Seen: VH1 Spends A Day With Up And Coming Artist Elle King (PHOTOS)

Elle King VH1 Music Seen

We’re not gonna lie, everyone here at VH1 is pretty smitten with Elle King. So much so that from the moment our Creative Music Integration (CMI) team heard this 23 year-old’s raw, soulful-beyond-her-years voice on “Playing For Keeps,” they knew that it would make the perfect theme song for Mob Wives: Chicago. Elle came by our offices last week to celebrate the release of her brand new, eponymous EP, and our own Lauren Weissler spent the day trailing Elle and taking these gorgeous photographs —some of which come with commentary from Elle herself!— for the latest entry in our ongoing Music Seen series.

Elle King VH1 Music Seen
Elle King VH1 Music Seen

“Usually at 7 am my make up is the same from the night before. I was also really excited that for the first time I got to look and dress how I wanted and really be myself.”

Elle King VH1 Music Seen
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Music Seen: Spending A Day With Emeli Sande Is Pure “Heaven”

Emeli Sande Music Seen

When our June You Oughta Know artist Emeli Sandé isn’t making people cry from the beauty of her voice and lyrics, her cool, mellow demeanor makes you feel at ease. On the day she stopped by VH1 Headquarters she was spunky and full of energy. Her smile was radiant, her laughter infectious. There was no inner diva with this British soul singer whose debut album topped the UK charts at #1. Our photographer Michele Crowe captured a range of Emeli, from the songstress cackling with laughter before a pose for her live set to prepping for a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this month. Speaking of live sets, the strength of her vocals are exemplified in her performance of “Heaven.” The clarity and sound of her voice, yes, heavenly indeed.

Emeli Sande - VH1 You Oughta Know Music Seen
Emeli Sande - VH1 You Oughta Know Music Seen
Emeli Sande - VH1 You Oughta Know Music Seen
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Music Seen: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals Rock The Socks Off Storytellers

While Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have been melting the faces off audiences all over the country for a decade, they didn’t hit the mainstream until last year’s sexy single “Paris Ooh La La.” From their start on the jam band circuit to being a VH1 You Oughta Know artist in 2010 to collaborating with The Black KeysDan Auerbach on their latest album The Lion The Beast The Beat, the tight-knit, fun-loving, ridiculously talented band has plenty of stories to tell.

As a GPN superfan, it was a test in my professionalism to contain my excitement as I trailed them all day, camera in tow, from the Lucerne Hotel on NYC’s Upper West Side to Metropolis Studios in Harlem for rehearsals and what turned out to be one hell of a rock show. Insidery highlights of the day included Grace singing Nicki Minaj‘s “Starships” en route to the taping, her gushing about a recent splurge on a hot plate for her gourmet tour bus cooking, drummer Matt Burr revealing his colorful sock fetish, and the enthusiasm when Grace revealed new album art to bandmates Benny Yurco, Scott Tournet, and new bassist Michael Libramento. Below you can take a sneak peek at Grace prepping for the show, the gorgeous Storytellers set, some goofy backstage antics, and of course, plenty of rockin’ out goodness.

Be sure to tune into VH1 Storytellers: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on June 15th at 11 p.m. ET/PT, but for now, please enjoy the latest entry in our ongoing photographic series, Music Seen!



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by (@unclegrambo)

Music Seen: Jason Mraz Delivers At VH1 Storytellers

Jason Mraz VH1 Storytellers Music Seen

The 16th season of VH1 Storytellers got off to a rousing start a few weeks back when Jill Scott blew the roof off New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. After taking a break for the Memorial Day weekend, we’ve got three incredible performances lined up for you to enjoy over the course of the next three Friday nights: Jason Mraz (6/1), Norah Jones (6/8), and Grace Potter (6/15).

We can’t wait for you to see Jason Mraz’s emotional VH1 Storytellers set, which will premiere this Friday night at 11 p.m. ET/PT. He played a rich assortment of songs from his truly outstanding body of work, including a few stunners from his brand new album, Love Is A Four Letter Word. We’ll be bringing you a few sneak peeks at his set as the week progresses, but for now, we just couldn’t wait to share these photos of Jason getting prepped for his set a few weeks back. Our ace photographer Jen Marigliano took all of these photos, which is the latest entry in our ongoing Music Seen series. Enjoy!

Jason Mraz Music Seen VH1 Storytellers
Jason Mraz Music Seen VH1 Storytellers
Jason Mraz Music Seen VH1 Storytellers
Jason Mraz Music Seen VH1 Storytellers Read more…

by (@unclegrambo)

Music Seen: Jill Scott Gets Prepped For VH1 Storytellers

Jill Scott VH1 Storytellers Music Seen

The highly anticipated debut episode of VH1 Storytellers: Jill Scott premieres tonight at 11 p.m. ET/PT. You’re in for a treat with the musical act Scott has put together, including her awesomely talented band and the soulful sounds of both new and old music. VH1 captured a peek of Jill’s preparation prior the show, and when we tell you she goes all out, it’s not an exaggeration. The beautiful gold architecture inside the Hammerstein Ballroom is off set by the intimate lights and candles on stage.

Her most recent album, Light of the Sun, reached #1 on the Billboard 200 charts, but expect her to take you back to the songs that made this Philadelphia spoken word poet became such a timeless artist. Below you can check out her hair and makeup preparation, the band sharing a laugh and Jill getting into character. Once you see the show you’ll understand why Scott is one of the best artists of our time. Tune in tonight for VH1 Storytellers: Jill Scott at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

 





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Donna Summer Loses Battle With Cancer, Dead At 63

Donna Summers Dies at 63

Sad news to pass along today. We’ve just learned that Donna Summer has passed away at the age of 63. TMZ reports the Queen of Disco was battling cancer, but chose to keep her illness under wraps. She was in Florida at the time of her death.

Summer’s career began in the mid 70s when she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Summer rose to fame in the 70s with disco hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” She climbed the charts with 20 Top 40 hits and 4 No. 1s: “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls and “No More Tears.”

At the beginning of her career Summer signed to European label Groovy Records creating her first album Lady of the Night in 1974. Her first American hit, “Love to Love You Baby,” was what would lead to a successful international career. In the UK “Love to Love You Baby” charted in the Top 5, and by 1976 reached the No. 2 spot on the US Billboard 100. The album of the same name sold over one million copies.  “I Feel Love” from her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday led to the second Top 10 single for the Queen of Disco. Nearly a year later she landed her first US No. 1 hit with “McArthur Park” featured on her first live album Live and More. It was also her first album to top the charts at No. 1 on Billboard. Live and More went platinum becoming one of the stand out records of her early career. Read more…

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Jill Scott Shares The Stories That Inspired Her Incredibly Stylish VH1 Storytellers Wardrobe

Singer, songwriter, poet and actress Jill Scott is a woman of many looks. From her various hairstyles to versatile fashion styles, this dynamic soul artist always keeps it fresh. Kicking off the 16th season of VH1 Storytellers, Jill Scott shows us a few of the outfits she’ll be wearing during her highly anticipated performance (video above, complete photo gallery below!). Since Jilly from Philly is performing her music in a theatrical theme, her different characters need the appropriate look to match. For example, Banji is the eccentric, “ghetto” girl, one whose attire is “handmade” and consists of cut-up jeans and a black t-shirt with bouffant shoulders. “Most girls from the hood, we make our own stuff,” said Scott. “So we add things and change things to make it fit us.” She tops this look off with a perfect black wedge sneaker. Read more…

by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS 2012 Will Salute The Musical Legacy Of The Late Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston VH1 Divas

We have to be totally honest, we still haven’t fully come to grips with the tragic death of Whitney Houston earlier this year. There’s still a tiny part of us that refuses to believe that we’ll never hear her heavenly voice sing another new song, even though we know that to be the case. On top of that, we still have a bad taste in our mouths about the way that the Grammys failed honor Whitney’s memory in the way that she deserved. Thankfully, this year’s VH1 DIVAS program will remedy all that.

We just got wind of a few details about this year’s program, and although details are scant, we wanted to share with you what we’ve heard so far. Namely, that this year’s VH1 Divas — which will air live from Los Angeles in December — will be framed as a salute to the musical legacy of Whitney Houston. Of course, Whitney had appeared on three prior telecasts of VH1 DIVAS, back in 1999, 2002 and 2003 — you can watch her performance of “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” from the 1999 show below! Additionally, Rickey Minor —who worked with Whitney for a number of years— will be the evening’s musical director. We don’t have any other concrete details to share with you at this moment, but as soon as those deets become available, you can bet you’ll hear them here first!

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