Category Archives: female vocalist



Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter known for her deep expressive contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul[1][2][3] (sometimes labelled as blue-eyed soul and neo soul),[4][5] rhythm and blues,[6][7][8] and jazz.[9][10] Winehouse’s debut album, Frank (2003), was a critical success in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her follow-up album, Back to Black (2006), led to five 2008 Grammy Awards, tying the then record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made her the first British female to win five Grammys,[11][12] including three of the general field “Big Four” awards: Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Winehouse won three Ivor Novello Awards: in 2004, Best Contemporary Song for “Stronger Than Me”; in 2007, Best Contemporary Song again, this time for “Rehab”; and in 2008, Best Song Musically and Lyrically for “Love Is a Losing Game.” She also won the 2007 Brit Award for Best British Female Artist, having been nominated for Best British Album, with Back to Black.

Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on 23 July 2011, aged 27. Her album Back to Black posthumously became, for a time, the UK’s best-selling album of the 21st century.[13] In 2012, Winehouse was ranked 26th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women In Music.[14] The BBC has called her “the pre-eminent vocal talent of her generation.”[15]

Early life
Amy Winehouse was born in Chase Farm Hospital in north London, to Jewish parents.[16] Her father, Mitchell “Mitch” Winehouse, was a window panel installer[17] then a taxi driver; her mother, Janis Winehouse (née Seaton),[18] a pharmacist.[19] The Winehouse ancestors were Russian and Polish immigrants to London. Amy had an older brother, Alex (born 1979),[20] and the family lived in London’s Southgate area,[16] where she attended Osidge Primary School.[21]

Many of Winehouse’s maternal uncles were professional jazz musicians.[22] Amy’s paternal grandmother, Cynthia, was a singer and dated the English jazz saxophonist Ronnie Scott.[23] She and Amy’s parents influenced Amy’s interest in jazz.[23] Her father Mitch often sang Frank Sinatra songs to her, and whenever she got chastised at school she would sing “Fly Me to the Moon” before going up to the headmistress to be told off.[24] Winehouse’s parents separated when she was nine,[25] and she lived with her mother and stayed with her father and his girlfriend in Hatfield Heath, Essex on weekends.[26]

In 1992 her grandmother Cynthia suggested she attend the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School, where she went on Saturdays to further her vocal education and to learn to tap dance.[27][28] She attended the school for four years and founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour with Juliette Ashby, her childhood friend[29] before seeking full-time training at Sylvia Young Theatre School. Winehouse was allegedly expelled at 14 for “not applying herself” and also for piercing her nose.[20][30] Sylvia Young has denied this—”She changed schools at 15—I’ve heard it said she was expelled; she wasn’t. I’d never have expelled Amy”[31]—as has Mitch Winehouse.[17] She also appeared in an episode of The Fast Show, 1997, with other children from the Sylvia Young School[32] and later attended the Mount School, Mill Hill; the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon; Osidge JMI School and then Ashmole School.[33][34][35]

Musical career/Early career
After toying around with her brother Alex’s guitar, Winehouse bought her own when she was 14 and began writing music a year later. Soon after, she began working for a living, including, at one time, as an entertainment journalist for the World Entertainment News Network, in addition to singing with local group the Bolsha Band.[20][36] In July 2000, she became the featured female vocalist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra; her influences were to include Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington,[37] the latter whom she was already listening to at home.[23] Amy’s best friend, soul singer Tyler James, sent her demo tape to an A&R person.[23] Winehouse signed to Simon Fuller’s 19 Management in 2002 and was paid £250 a week against future earnings.[38] While being developed by the management company, she was kept as a recording industry secret[39] although she was a regular jazz standards singer at the Cobden Club.[38] Her future A&R representative at Island (Universal), Darcus Beese, heard of her by accident when the manager of The Lewinson Brothers showed him some productions of his clients, which featured Winehouse as key vocalist. When he asked who the singer was, the manager told him he was not allowed to say. Having decided that he wanted to sign her, it took several months of asking around for Beese to eventually discover who the singer was. However, Winehouse had already recorded a number of songs and signed a publishing deal with EMI by this time. Incidentally, she formed a working relationship with producer Salaam Remi through these record publishers.[39]

Beese introduced Winehouse to his boss, Nick Gatfield, and the Island head shared his enthusiasm in signing the young artist. Winehouse was signed to Island, as rival interest in Winehouse had started to build to include representatives of EMI and Virgin starting to make moves. Beese told HitQuarters that he felt the reason behind the excitement, over an artist who was an atypical pop star for the time, was due to a backlash against reality TV music shows, which included audiences starved for fresh, genuine young talent.[39]



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“Teena Marie – Miracles Need Wings To Fly”

“Teena Marie – Miracles Need Wings To Fly”

Gordy era (1979–1982)

In 1976, Brockert (as the lead singer member of a band she assembled which included long-time friend Mickey Boyce) gained an introduction to Motown Records staff producer Hal Davis (best known for his work with Brenda Holloway and the Jackson 5). It led to an audition for a film about orphans being developed by Motown. The project was shelved, but label boss Berry Gordy decided to sign her as a solo act, impressed with her singing but having no need for a musical group. She recorded unreleased material with a number of different producers over the next few years, before being spotted by labelmate Rick James who was immediately impressed with her sound. Some of the earlier, unreleased material has since been made available on the compilation album First Class Love: Rare Tee. At the time, James, already established as a successful recording artist, was on tap to produce for Diana Ross but changed his mind and decided to work with Brockert. The result was debut album release, Wild and Peaceful. The album was, at one point, due to be credited to “Teena Tryson”, but ultimately was put out under “Teena Marie”, the name by which she would be known throughout her career. It scored Teena Marie her first top-ten R&B hit, “I’m a Sucker for Your Love” (#8 Black Singles Chart),[10] a duet with James. Neither the album nor its packaging had her picture on it, and many radio programmers assumed she was African-American during the earliest months of her career.[10] This myth was disproved when she performed her debut hit with James on Soul Train in 1979, becoming the show’s first white female guest (she would appear on the show eight more times, more than any other white act).

In 1980, her second album, Lady T, would have her portrait on the cover upon its release. It’s also noted for having production from Richard Rudolph (the widower of R&B singer Minnie Riperton). Teena Marie had asked Berry Gordy to contact Rudolph and secure his input as Rick James was unavailable and she felt unprepared to be sole producer of her own material. Rudolph intended for the song he penned, “Now That I Have You”, to be sung by his wife, but it was later given to Teena Marie.[11] Rudolph also co-composed the single “Behind The Groove”, which reached number 21 on the black singles chart and No. 6 on the U.K. singles chart in 1980.[10] The song would also be included on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the Fever 105 soundtrack.[12] Another notable track, “Too Many Colors”, featured Rudolph’s and Riperton’s then 7-year-old daughter, Maya Rudolph, who became Teena Marie’s god-daughter.

Also in 1980, Teena Marie released her third LP, Irons in the Fire, for which she handled all writing and production herself, including the horn and rhythm arrangements of her band and all backing vocals, all considered rare at the time for a female artist.[10] The single “I Need Your Lovin'” (#37 Pop, No. 9 Black Singles) brought Teena Marie her first top 40 hit. This single also peaked at No. 28 in the UK chart. That same year, Teena Marie appeared on James’s hugely successful album, Street Songs, with the duet “Fire and Desire”. In an interview, Teena Marie said she had a fever at the time yet managed to record her vocals in one take. After the session, she was driven to a hospital. The two would perform the single at the 2004 BET Awards, which would be their last TV appearance with one another as Rick James died later that year.[13]

Teena Marie continued her success with Motown in 1981, with the release of It Must Be Magic (#2 Black Albums Chart), her first gold record, which included her then biggest hit on R&B, “Square Biz” (#3 Black Singles). Other notable tracks include “Portuguese Love” (featuring a brief, uncredited cameo by James, No. 54 Black Singles), the title track “It Must be Magic” (#30 Black Singles), and album only track “Yes Indeed”, which she cited as a personal favorite.[citation needed]

In 1982, Teena Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown Records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material.[14] The lawsuit resulted in “The Brockert Initiative”, which made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material for that artist. In such instances, artists are able to sign and release with another label instead of being held back by an unsupportive one. Teena Marie commented on the law in an LA Times article, saying, “It wasn’t something I set out to do. I just wanted to get away from Motown and have a good life. But it helped a lot of people, like Luther Vandross and the Mary Jane Girls, and a lot of different artists, to be able to get out of their contracts.”[15] She left Motown as the label’s most successful white solo act.



“Stitches – Shawn Mendes (Whitney Woerz Cover) LIVE”

Whitney Woerz, born October 22, 2000, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She has made numerous appearances on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. In January 2015 she began recording her debut EP, set to release in November. In August 2015, Whitney also recorded an album of covers at the legendary FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. There, she found connections to her musical roots that doubled as inspiration and added a sense of rawness to her music. Glenn Rosenstein (Madonna, U2), mixed and produced Whitney’s recordings for a series titled, “The Fame Sessions:  LIVE from Muscle Shoals.” The videos, available on YouTube and other social media outlets, earned over 1.2 million views in less than four weeks.
Through continued collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer, Glenn Rosenstein, Whitney will release her first EP, Behind the Smile, in November 2015. Behind the Smile highlights Whitney’s search for direction as she faces the challenges of being both an artist and a teenager. The album also incorporates subtle imagery of a vintage Polaroid. Like her music, the camera reflects happy faces that carry stories hidden behind a veneer.  Such themes exemplify Whitney’s strength as a songwriter while simultaneously reflecting an awareness of relevant teen issues.

Whitney has also helped raise awareness by participating in anti-bullying programs. Her advocacy against bullying coupled with her experience helping friends with depression has helped create a foundation for her musical wisdom. Together with the music label Black Vine, Whitney has officially committed to sharing a portion of her music profits with the organization LETS Bring Change 2 Mind, chaired by Glenn Close. is “a non-profit organization working together to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.”

Whitney continues to develop a sincere and affirmative message. The journey to FAME studios led her to find her own musical roots and embrace self expression while her life experiences provide insight to advocate awareness of serious social issues. This unique combination has helped Whitney gain recognition with fans. Her impressive artistry spread quickly across social media, resonating with a wide and varied audience. The November 2015 release of Behind the Smile stands to illuminate Whitney’s talent and personality as she connects with fans, affecting them with a message of hope and inspiration.


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“Renegades – X Ambassadors (Whitney Woerz Cover) LIVE”


Whitney Woerz (born October 22, 2000) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. With numerous appearances on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, this 14-year-old has the soul of performer that belies her young age. Her debut EP, ‘Behind The Smile’, is set to release in November of 2015. Whitney has committed a share of her profits to help teens fight depression and mental illness through LETS Bring Change 2 Mind, a charitable organization chaired by Glenn Close. Whitney’s work in this space as a advocate for teen voices against bullying has been helping teens deal with friends facing depression and intimidation. This passion has molded Whitney into the songwriter she is today.

She is currently working with Grammy Award winning producer Glenn Rosenstein (Madonna, U2). The cover art for Behind The Smile features a picture Release of Whitney, sitting on a white roof considering all that she has faced as an artist and a teen. Her vintage Polaroid is never far behind and holds images of faces and stories of the people behind the veneer of everyday life.

Starting in August 2015, she completed a video collection of many of her favorite songs in a series called ‘LIVE From Muscle Shoals: The Fame Sessions’. The series was produced and mixed by Glenn Rosenstein and shot in Muscles Shoals, AL at the legendary FAME Recording Studios and captures the rawness of her search for the music that brought her to this career. In the first 4 weeks since launch, the videos have generated over 1.2 million views and millions of social media driven impressions – while impressive for any artist, Whitney’s message resonates with a wide and varied audience – a message of hope, spirit and inspiration.


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“Carole King – It’s Too Late”


Carole King (born February 9, 1942) is a Grammy Award-winning American singer and songwriter.

Her career began in the 1960s when King, along with her then husband Gerry Goffin, wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists, many of which have become standards, and she has continued writing for other artists since then. King’s success as a performer in her own right did not come until the 1970s, when she sang her own songs, accompanying herself on the piano, in a series of albums and concerts. After experiencing commercial disappointment with her debut album Writer, King scored her breakthrough with the album Tapestry which topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971 and remained on the charts for more than six years.
Carole King – It’s Too Late:





The highest-charting version of the song to date was recorded in 1988 by singer and actress

Bette Midler

for the soundtrack to the film Beaches. This version was released as a single in early 1989, spent one week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in June 1989, and won Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year in February 1990. On October 24, 1991, Midler’s single was also certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of one million copies in the United States. In 2004 Midler’s version finished at No. 44 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

“Wind Beneath My Wings”

has also been recorded by Kerry Ellis, Lee Greenwood, B.J. Thomas, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Sheena Easton, Patti LaBelle, Captain and Tennille, Joe Longthorne, Eddie and Gerald Levert, John Tesh, Judy Collins, Shirley Bassey, RyanDan, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, Sonata Arctica, Chyi Yu, Perry Como, Sergio Franchi, Steven Houghton and Celine Dion, Nancy LaMott, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and R. Kelly. Paloma San Basilio (Spanish version “Gracias a ti”) Lou Rawls sang the song at the nationally-televised 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala on January 19, 1985, the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

In a 2002 UK poll, “Wind Beneath My Wings” was found to be the most-played song at British funerals.[3]





Smooth Operator” is a song by the English group Sade, released as the fourth and final single from their debut album Diamond Life (1984). It was released (in both the US and the UK) as a 7-inch single with “Spirit” as its B-side, and as a 12-inch maxi single with “Smooth Operator” and “Red Eye” on side A and “Spirit” on side B. In the US it was the follow-up to “Hang On to Your Love”.

This was Sade’s first Top Ten hit in the US, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks in May 1985. The song spent 13 weeks in the Top 40, and also topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for two weeks. Although “Your Love Is King” remains Sade’s biggest hit in the UK to date, “Smooth Operator” is the band’s breakthrough hit on the US charts, and their most successful single internationally.

Ray St. John, who co-wrote “Smooth Operator” with Sade, was previously a member of Adu’s former band Pride, although he was not a member of the band Sade. The pair co-wrote the song in 1982 while still members of Pride, yet did not get around to recording it because St. John left Pride shortly after Sade joined. St. John later went on to play guitar with the band Halo James, which scored a UK Top Ten hit with “Could Have Told You So” in February 1990.

“Smooth Operator” is about a fashionable man who lives a jet-set lifestyle. He is popular with women and breaks many hearts. The lyrics “Coast to Coast/LA to Chicago/Western Male/Across the North and South to Key Largo/Love for sale” imply that he is used by women to obtain his income. It is also clear that he does not hold affection for these women, as Adu sings near the end, “his heart is cold.”

This song is noted for Sade’s spoken recitation in the song’s introduction. Some radio edits have omitted the spoken introduction, and proceeded with the opening sung line of the title of the album, “Diamond Life”. Some radio edits have shortened the instrumental saxophone solo, as well as the first repeat of the lines that come after the Chorus portions.



Posted by on July 28, 2017 in female vocalist, smooth jazz


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