R&B Hall of Fame announces class of 2014

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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In this Nov. 22, 2009 photo, singer Whitney Houston receives the International Artist Award onstage at the 37th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is over and the busts of the most recent class are on their way to the museum.

With that done, it’s time for music lovers to turn their attention to another Northeast Ohio-based hall of fame dedicated to a genre of music.

The R&B Hall of Fame, tentatively planned to be built in Cleveland, has announced its class of 2014. Several artists from a variety of eras will join the hall. This year’s inductees are the Whispers, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, the Delfonics, Chubby Checker, the Sweet Impression, the Dells, the Funk Brothers, radio personality Norm N. Nite, the Spinners, the Impressions, and Russell Thompkins of the Stylistics. The Living Legend award will be given to Joe Jackson, father (and alleged tormentor) of the Jacksons.

The second annual R&B Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Canton Palace Theatre. There will also be a concert featuring the Kinsman Dazz Band, Enchantment, the Dynamic Superiors, the Delfonics and the Dramatics starring Willie Ford, the Hesitations and the Sweet Inspirations, and an after party. Last year’s event sold out quickly; go to www.rbhalloffame.com for more information and tickets.

Nominees are chosen on the following criteria: they must have rhythm and blues as the primary format or music style, have at least a 20-year history of R&B participation, made a historical contribution and had an impact and overall influence on R&B around the world.

This year’s class will join the inaugural class of 21 artists that included legends such as the Temptations and Sam Cooke alongside more contemporary artists such as Gerald Levert and lesser-known groups including the Dynamic Superiors and Sly, Slick and Wicked.

The man behind the museum, Lamont Robinson, is a lifelong R&B fan and collector with hundreds of artifacts. He grew up watching many of the enshrined artists perform at the fabled Leo’s Casino, the Cleveland R&B live music venue that played host to many R&B and jazz legends during its run from 1963 to 1972. Leo’s has been designated a rock and roll landmark, but Robinson, who currently has a mobile version of the museum and is still looking for a permanent home, plans to use Leo’s interior design as a model for the museum.

3 years of jazz and wine

The monthly Jazz and Wine Total Experience concert/wine tasting event will celebrate its third anniversary tonight at its regular homebase at the Holiday Inn Akron West in Bath Township.

Helping creator Carla Brown celebrate her continued success will be smooth jazz singer/guitarist Nick Colionne who has a new album called Influences. The album is the Chicago-based Colionne’s eighth in his 20-year career that began when he was a teenager backing up artists including The Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield and Natalie Cole.

Colionne’s single, the up-tempo Got to Keep It Moving, topped the Smooth Jazz Now Charts and he was nominated for guitarist and entertainer of the year by the Smooth Jazz Awards in 2010 among other awards and accolades.

The evening’s opener will be saxophonist Riley Richard and DJ EZ Money will keep folks on the dance floor between sets. Go to www.livemusicsets.com to purchase tickets.

Third album released

On Tuesday, singer/songwriter and Kent native Jessica Lea Mayfield will release her third album, Make My Head Sing ..., building on the critical success of her Dan Auerbach-produced sophomore effort Tell Me. The video for the album’s lead single, I Wanna Love You, is currently streaming on popular video portal Vevo.

The album was recorded with just Mayfield, her bassist/husband/co-producer Jesse Newport and drummer Matt Martin, but it’s her heaviest, noisiest and most up-tempo album so far.

Mayfield, who grew up in a family band playing bluegrass, has apparently discovered a fuzz pedal that she likes to use. It appears throughout the album given her ghostly, reverb-drenched, quiet, detached vocals a musical anchor and she whips out a few distorted guitar solos to boot.

Tunes such as Do I Have the Time recall dark ’80s alt-rock, the sparse, guitar and vocal ballad Party Drugs makes the subject matter sound not fun at all (“I won’t die in this hotel room,” she sings) and Mayfield goes all guitar-hero with a distorted solo on the stoner metal-flavored Anything You Want.

Make My Head Sing … has already received critical hosannas with hip web spots such as Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan praising the album.

Mayfield will hit the road to promote the album later this month and the tour will stop at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland on May 10.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.

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