Encore Status Entertainment!! Check it Out!

Come celebrate the launch of our website for Encore Status Entertainment!

“New Stream is Main Stream” – that’s the slogan for Encore Status Entertainment (ESE). Encore Status Entertainment is an online magazine created to expose the under exposed. We recognize those recording artists, fashion designers, artists, and filmmakers that normally go unseen and give them mainstream attention. On the ESE website, you’ll find audio interviews, music reviews, clothing showcases, and much, much more.

Check out the ESE blog and then go over to the ESE website to check out interviews with Loj of NEG (Network Edutainment Group), singing hummingbird Brig Feltus, and female MC/producer Pri the Honeydark, and Greg of Emperial Nation Clothing.

And to celebrate the launch of our website, readers will receive a promotional discount for Emperial Nation clothing! But you’ve got to check out the website for details.

And remember – “New Stream is Main Stream!”

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!!

The P/H Factor – Phyllis Hyman: Tribute to a Sophisticated Lady

Gonna make changes
Gonna make minds aware
Moving together
Willing to share
There’s power in the masses
Collectively we can win

~ Phyllis Hyman, “Gonna Make Changes”, Somewhere In My Lifetime, 1978
I couldn’t let this week end without paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite vocalists, the late, great Phyllis Hyman (July 6, 1949 – June 30, 1995). The music industry hasn’t been the same since her untimely passing. If you are unfamiliar with her music – do yourself a favor and please check it out. It’s a rarity even to this day that someone comes along as gifted and talented as Hyman was. The singer, songwriter, model, actress and businesswoman would’ve turned 59 this year.

The P/H Factor

The angel with the resonant, rich, beautiful voice;
The Goddess of Love,
Commanding the stage like a queen;
Regal, striking, almost intimidating,
Queen of the blues, pop, soul, jazz, and gospel.
A true Sophisticated Lady,
In a class of her own,
In fact, ahead of her time;
Critically acclaimed yet under-recognized,
A mind-blowing woman with many talents
Who never achieved the stardom she truly deserved.
Yet, she is a legend.

Although you’re no longer with us in the physical sense,
Your spirit lives on in your music.
Each time one of your songs plays, you are born again.
We relive the joy and wonder in our memories of you.
You touched us deeply
With your songs of love—
About its many facets, the ups and downs, the joys and the pain.
You took us there;
We were with you each step of the way.
With each note on the musical scale
You left us enraptured,
Capturing us in your mesmerizing essence.
You spoke to us and we could definitely relate.
That’s why we will never forget you
And the many gifts you gave to the world.

Phyllis Hyman—the woman, the actress, the fashion model, the singer, the songwriter, and the performer:
You will always remain special,
You will always have a place in our hearts,
And a significant place in history.
One of the world’s most beautiful women, with one of the greatest vocal instruments,
You are truly appreciated.
You will forever go on.

Phyllis, you were and still are loved.

Phyllis Hyman’s music at Amazon

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

© 2012 BuddahDesmond


Now playing: Phyllis Hyman – Complete Me via FoxyTunes

Buddah’s Thoughts

I had some things on my mind that I wanted to share. Some of which are related to the events–political, personal and otherwise–of the last few weeks.

1) I’m sure several millions of people are happy that the Democrats are in control of both chambers of Congress. Considering the events of the last four years, it was a sweet victory that many were predicting and anticipating weeks/months before the elections. The people finally spoke. They were sick of all the lying, cut-and-run shenanigans, and hypocritical philandering. The people finally woke up. And I guess you could say the Democrats finally woke up too. After all, it only took four years for the Democrats to get some balls and stand up for what they believe in. And now that the Democrats have control of Congress, the crème de la crème here is whether they will actually use their power to make a difference. Several reports have been written (see USA Today for 11/10/06) about how both parties are committed to working together to make a difference. Call me a cynic or pessimist, but I find it hard to swallow this premature joining of forces. How can both parties collectively join forces when they can barely do it independently? Maybe I’m being too hard on our representatives. But as citizens it is our job to be hard on our elected officials. Especially when they are slipplin’ and trippin’. Let there be any scandals in the Democratic Party and we’ll probably be in the same place all over again. I’m not going to jump on this bandwagon anytime soon. I’ll believe the rhetoric when I see some results. All I can say is the next two years should be quite interesting.

2) And in lieu of the Democrats recent victory, I’m convinced Donald Rumsfeld was fired. They can say whatever they wish when they address the public during press conferences, but we all know the real deal. Again, that idiot did not resign he was FIRED!!!

3) There really is no need to start worrying about who’s going to run for President in 2008. We need to focus on the here and now. Besides, whoever inherits the mess that the Bush administration has left behind will have their work cut out for them. I’ll be praying for them.

4) I was so happy to see the recent pictures of Whitney Houston at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball. She looks amazing. I really hope (as I’m sure many others do) that she pulls through this time. Getting away from Bobby may be just what she needs to do it. And good news for all Whitney Houston fans is she’s already in the studio working on new music. And if all goes well, it will be another great triumph in her legendary career and yet another of the music industry’s greatest comebacks.

5) I don’t know if it’s just me or not but didn’t you find many of the high profile, highly anticipated releases of the year been downright mediocre (at best)? Save for a few, I have not been impressed by much of the much released this year. What happened to R&B/Soul music this year? Where is Maxwell? Where is Musiq? Where is Erykah Badu? Where is Lauryn Hill? Has anyone seen D’Angelo? A few years ago, it seemed like everytime you turned around a new release by a major or up-and-coming artist was being released. Or maybe the industry is saving all the good stuff for the holiday shopping season.

6) Justin Timberlake should be very thankful and grateful to Timbaland for lending his creative genius to his latest release LoveSexy/FutureSounds. Cause he may not have had two number one hit songs (“SexyBack” and “My Love” feat. T.I.) out the box otherwise. And while we’re on the topic of JT…. It has to be said – Justin Timberlake did not bring sexy back. It never left!!!

7) And where are all of the male soul singers? Not these mediocre, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson wannabes that get played every five minutes—but the real soul singers. There’s Will Downing, Rahsaan Patterson, Urban Mystic, Jaheim, Kenny Lattimore, Gerald LeVert (RIP), and where do you go from there…. Many of the aforementioned artists don’t get airplay on top 40 or major urban stations. I guess there’s no interest in people with real talent and who make real music in the mainstream anymore.

8) Why do long distance relationships have to be so hard? I’ve been in a relationship for almost a year now (it’ll be a year in December). Of the time that we’ve been dating, we’ve been together physically in the same state for only four months. We are 5 time zones and several thousand miles apart. It’s really starting to get on my nerves. I can’t stand it! If I was thinking with my other head I could’ve said fuck it a while back and played the fields. But I don’t get down like that. And besides, I’m not trying to mess up a good thing. If anything, our time apart has helped the situation. It’s made things stronger. And our time of being apart is coming to close next month, right around our anniversary, and this time it will be for good. Thankfully, cause I don’t either of us would be able to stand being away from each other that much longer.

9) After getting my first big job after graduation and moving into my own place I’ve learned that being on your own is not easy. I’m beginning to see why so many people stay with their parents, live with or depend upon others for so long. And I now know what my mother meant when she would say she was broke and I would ask for something and she’d say we didn’t have any money for that…. She would tell me that what I was asking for was a want and not a need. If it didn’t have anything to do with keeping a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, and clothes on our backs, it wasn’t a priority. I don’t know that I understood it completely when I was little but I definitely understand it now. Budget, budget, budget!!!

10) After I finish traveling for work, I’ve convinced myself that I need to join a local gym and get back on my workout regimen. I’ve been off of it a few months and it is starting to show. And I’m not liking it one bit. I may go all out this time and get a trainer. I have some goals and I know what it is that I have to do but I do need some motivation. Eventually I’d like to have a home gym. I’ve got some space so it could work.

11) And sadly…. Rest in peace to two beloved people that we lost this week – Ed Bradley, a pioneer for Blacks in journalism and Gerald LeVert, one of the greatest soul singers/performers of his generation. They will truly be missed.

Stevie Wonder’s ‘A Time 2 Love’ Finally Sees The Light Of Day!!!

Good news, good news. There is a confirmed released date for Stevie Wonder’s highly-anticipated (and that’s an understatment) new record A Time 2 Love. Yes, you read that correctly….There is finally a release date for Stevie Wonder’s new record. A Time 2 Love will be commercially available on October 18th. But there’s other good news. The new record was released digitally on September 27th. So for all those who have the capabilities (and don’t want to wait for the October 18th release date), you can get the album now!

So why was the record’s release date postponed so many times? In an interview with Billboard Magazine, Wonder says that he had to make sure the time was right for the release of his record. ‘”As an artist, you get anxious and excited — you want to show what you can do….A lot of what I do when I do an album is based on whether the timing is right.”‘ Okay, all is forgiven. I wish a lot of other artists in the game followed the same sense of thinking. Maybe Wonder can share this wisdom with some of his peers.

The 15-track set about love features many high-profile guests. Prince and EnVogue are featured on “So What the Fuss.” Bonnie Raitt plays slide guitar on “Tell Your Heart I Love You.” Kim Burrell and Doug E. Fresh are featured on “If Your Love Cannot Be Moved.” India. Arie and Paul McCartney are featured on the title track. And Wonder’s daughter Aisha Morris is featured on “How Will I Know” and “Positivity.” Also featured is a song Wonder wrote in honor of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The proceeds from this song (to be released digitally on October 11th) will go towards relief efforts.

Tracklist for A Time 2 Love:

  1. If Your Love Cannot Be Moved
  2. Sweetest Somebody I Know
  3. Moon Blue
  4. From the Bottom of My Heart
  5. Please Don’t Hurt My Baby
  6. How Will I Know
  7. My Love Is on Fire
  8. Passionate Raindrops
  9. Tell Your Heart I Love You
  10. True Love
  11. Shelter in the Rain
  12. So What the Fuss
  13. Can’t Imagine Love Without You
  14. Positivity
  15. A Time To Love

For more info:



How Could I Forget About Syleena Johnson?

The ladies of R&B/Soul sure have been doing it up this year. Patti, Mariah, Jill, Fantasia, Alicia, Destiny’s Child, Faith, Vivian, Leela, Lina, Jaguar, Amerie, Keyshia…..Add one more name to that list–Syleena.

I had absolutely no idea that her record was coming out so soon. Yes, Syleena Johnson’s new record Chapter 3: The Flesh was released on Tuesday, September 13th. But I have one question, where was the promotion? Yes, there’s been a video in rotation since about June/July for “Hypnotic.” And “Another Relationship” has been receiving considerable airplay on urban adult contemporary stations. But other than that, who would’ve known that Syleena had blessed us with another masterpiece?

So how is the new record? Excellent. Superb. Chapter 3: The Flesh is her best album to date. It’s soul for every occasion. The Flesh finds Syleena in her sexiest and most adventurous mood yet–musically, vocally, and lyrically. But she keeps it tasteful on tracks like “Phone Sex” and “Slowly.” There’s no raunchfest here.

Fans will also be happy to know that her voice (a gritty, sexy, soulful, and emotional instrument) remains at the center of attention. Standouts include the funky, celebratory “He Makes Me Say,” an infectious duet with R.Kelly entitled “Special Occasion,” and a rousing duet with Anthony Hamilton entitled, “More.” Their voices, completely drenched in old school soul music (and gospel), meld beautifully together. Other notable tracks include “Time,” “Apartment For Rent,” and “Only A Woman.”

The Flesh also features several collaborations. Many of which are in sequential order. Besides those already mentioned, there’s “Bulls-Eye (Suddenly)” with Common, “Classic Love Song” with Jermaine Dupri, and “Phone Sex” with Twista.

Syleena has successfully brought old school soul sensibilities into a contemporary soul environment. Plus being the daughter of legendary Soul/Blues artist Syl Johnson she just can’t help herself. I’m sure with this latest effort she’s done her father and her predecessors proud. Now let’s see if we can get her a platinum record.

If you haven’t already, please check out her previous records Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness and Chapter 2: The Voice.

Awaiting These Music Releases

The ‘Ultimate’ Eurythmics
Good news for all Eurythmics fans. They have recently recorded two new songs as part of their retrospective Ultimate Collection to be released November 8th. The new songs are entitled “I’ve Got a Life” (1st single) and “Was It Just Another Love Affair.” This will mark the first time in almost six years that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart have teamed up since the 1999 release Peace. This 19-track set has all of the favorites like “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” “Here Comes The Rain Again,” “Would I Lie To You?,” “Demolition Man,” “I Need A Man,” “Who’s That Girl?” and “17 Again” to name a few. This is good enough to tie me down until the release of the next Eurythmics studio album or the next Annie Lennox studio album. Her last album, Bare, was breathtakingly beautiful. It’s been in my CD player for well over a year-and-a-half.

Alicia May Be ‘Unbreakable’ with Unplugged
Speaking of new releases, I’m really looking forward to the release of Alicia Keys Unplugged (10/11). It’s about time MTV brought the music back to the station. Less faux reality tv shows and more music please! Anyway, Alicia’s performance of her new single “Unbreakable” on the Fashion Rocks Awards got me hyped up. I’m really diggin’ it. Let’s see if radio takes to it the way they did her previous hits.

Toni Stop Teasing Us With ‘Libra’
I’m really getting tired of waiting for Toni Braxton’s upcoming release Libra. I’ve heard about four (maybe five) songs from it, those being “Take This Ring,” “Trippin,” “Supposed To Be” and “Please.” I love all of them. This album’s going to be hot! Quite possibly as good as or better than The Heat. Wouldn’t that be something? But I mean Toni, cut it with the teasing. I guess I’ll just have to wait until September 27th for the official release. And hope and pray that the record label doesn’t push it back (again).

Where The Hell Is Stevie Wonder’s ‘A Time 2 Love’? & What’s ‘India.Arie’s Song’ About?
And speaking of being pushed back, when is the Stevie Wonder album A Time 2 Love coming out? It’s been pushed back I don’t know how many times. It’s a shame. I really enjoyed “From The Bottom Of My Heart” and “So What The Fuss” (Stevie, Prince and EnVogue on one track–what more could you ask for? Be on the lookout for a new EnVogue record featuring the original members-Dawn, Max, Terry and Cindy). This album was supposed to have been out June 2004, then May 2005, June 2005, July 2005, now it’s just TBA. Last I’d heard, he’d gone back in to the studio to record additional tracks. The title track “A Time 2 Love” was co-written with India.Arie. For those wondering what India.Arie’s been working on lately–a two volume record. This two volume record is tentatively titled India.Arie’s Song. The first volume will feature songs about life and relationships while the second volume will feature songs about love and politics. Seems like this might be her most accomplished and most ambitious effort to date. And rightfully so after the release of Voyage To India some would say.

Be on the lookout for new singles by the Fugees “Take It Easy” and Deborah Cox “A House Is Not A Home” (available on iTunes).

And word on the street is Janet Jackson (my girl!) is in the studio working on something new. Hopefully this next release will be within the range of greatness as janet. and The Velvet Rope or possibly something even better. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see….

Other releases to look out for:
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley Welcome to Jamrock (9/13)
Tracie Chapman Where You Live (9/13)
Bonnie Raitt Souls Alike (9/13)
B.B. King 80 (9/13)
Christión Project Plato (9/13)
So Amazing: All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross (9/20)
Earth, Wind & Fire Illumination (9/20)
Miri Ben-Ari Hip-Hop Violinist (9/20)
Jamiroquai Dynamite (9/20)
Shaggy Clothes Drop (9/20)
Latoya London Love and Life (9/20)
Kindred The Family Soul In This Life Together (9/20)
Cissy Houston The Cissy Houston Collection (9/20)
Kim Waters All For Love (9/20)
Sean Paul The Trinity (9/27)
Lil’ Kim The Naked Truth (9/27)
Sheryl Crow Wildflower (9/27)
Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine (10/04)
Dwele Some Kinda (10/04)
Trina The Glamourest Life (10/04)
Gerald Albright Voices (10/04)
Will Downing Soul Symphony (10/04)
Les Nubians Les Nubians Present Echos (10/04)
Kirk Whalum Performs the Babyface Songbook (10/04)
Kirk Franklin Hero (10/04)
Urban Knights The Best of Urban Knights (10/04)
Twista The Day After (10/04)
Jane Monheit The Monheit Collection (10/04)
Toshi Reagon Have You Heard (10/04)
Rose Royce Greatest Hits (10/04)
Anita Baker Christmas Fantasy (10/04)
Peabo Bryson Christmas With You (10/04)
Keith Sweat Welcome To The Sweat Hotel (10/18)
Destiny’s Child #1’s (10/25)
Santana All That I Am (11/01)
Mary J. Blige Reminisce (11/22)
Fugees TBA (12/27)
Outkast (TBA)

And Then The Music Slumped

Amidst the moaning and groaning about the movie slump, reports have been surfacing about another slump. This time the slump deals with the music industry. You’re probably saying, “Oh no! Not them again!” Yes, it’s them again. Billboard.com’s weekly reports show that sales are down 8% from this time last year. This news comes after 2004 being a monumental year for the music industry. Sales were up tremendously after a three year decline. But at this point, should we really be concerned?

The music industry should really be happy that consumers are still buying music–period. If you ask me, a lot of crappy music has been released (the rise and fall of teen pop maybe?). Many releases not even worthy of browsing let alone purchasing. Thank god for a few stellar releases here and there. The current state of music could be a lot worse.

While talk about the music industry slump continues, label conglomerate Universal Music Group (UMG) is sitting pretty. With 36% of the music sales in the U.S., UMG is the leader amongst the four major labels. Three of this year’s best selling albums are by artists on the UMG roster (50 Cent, Mariah Carey and The Game). Like the movie industry, the music industry is looking towards fall releases by Outkast, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Santana, and Paul McCartney to name a few, to put a hike in sales. All I can say is these albums better be pretty damn good.

This discussion cannot go on without bringing up downloading. Industry leaders still point to piracy as one of the reasons for the slump. But this may not be as great of an issue as it was a few years ago. This due in large part to the industry cracking down on piracy with prosecution (and fines). All the while legal downloading has tripled this year. The International Federation of Phonograph Industries (IFPI) reports 180 million single tracks were downloaded in the first half of the year. Industry leaders also point to digital media (video games and DVDs in particular) as having adverse effects on music sales.

Regardless of this, the music industry might be in a better place if they had embraced mp3s much earlier on. The industry fell behind the technology and now they have to deal with the consequences. Consumers had been forced to buy CDs when they only desired a few singles. This came about as soon as the industry started cutting back on the release of radio singles to retail. If you liked the song or songs, you had to buy the entire CD. At least now with downloading you download and pay for only the songs you want. After all, there’s nothing worse than spending $15 – $20 on a CD where only 4 out of 12 or 15 songs are decent.

This also brings up the decline in the quality of music. It’s apparent that with many of the recent mergers, layoffs, and music being released, that the labels are only interested in making hits. They’re doesn’t seem to be an interest in helping artists maintain long-term recording careers. You’re only as good as you’re last hit. And if you haven’t had a hit in a while, you will probably be dropped quicker than a black show on primetime TV (yet another pertinent issue for another post).

I’m a lover of music. Good music at that. And much of what is being released isn’t all that great. So why waste my money? Contemporary music has been mediocre at best. If the focus was less on image and more so on the music and the talent, maybe the landscape wouldn’t be so barren. And let’s face facts–the CD has a limited shelf life. Music in a digital format is where it’s at. But in the meantime, take heed and pay attention industry leaders (and consumers). Just maybe, things will look up.

The Year the Movies Slumped

A recent poll conducted by AOL/Associated Press said 73% of people prefer to view movies in the comfort of their own home. Could this be one of the main reasons for what the industry leaders and experts are calling a movie slump? Possibly.

The movie industry has been crying for attention after announcing a 19-week ticket sales slump earlier in the summer. Ticket sales have been sub-par in comparison with those of the same time period last year. But is there really a need to worry? People are still going to the movies in droves, right? Yes, but nowhere near as much as they used to.

I remember hearing stories from my mother and grandmother about their trips to the movie theaters. They would go just about every weekend. Several hours were spent in the theaters. Siblings and neighborhood pals would tag along with homemade snack bags in hand. I even recall pretty regular trips to the theaters with family and friends. This has since stopped. As far as my family and inner circle of friends are concerned, it seems that we are more inclined to wait for movies to come out on VHS or DVD than to go to the theaters. Judging from recent reports, we aren’t alone. For the most part, the movie viewing experience is better at home. You can watch movies at your own leisure, with little or no interruptions, and without spending too much extra money (if any). For a group of 3 going to the movie theaters today, you’re looking at about $50 dollars for tickets and food (and this maybe too cheap an estimate).

While the movie industry seems to use this trend as an excuse for why movies aren’t doing as well, they seem to be forgetting something. And that is the role they play in the success or failure of movies. I can give another reason directly linked to the movie industry for this slump–the abundance of bad movies. Quality has been severly lacking.

Usually when I’m eating my breakfast in the morning, I tend to look at old movies until it’s time to go to work. As of late, I’ve seen Jezebel, The Little Foxes, Carmen Jones, Casablanca, All About Eve, and a A Streetcar Named Desire to name a few. Many of these movies I’ve watched on more than one occasion. I fall in love with these movies even more after each viewing. I’d find myself not being able to take my eyes off of the screen. I was captivated by Old Hollywood’s screen legends. Their talent, their beauty, their timeless appeal – totally amazing. These were movies with plots (yes, plots). No unnecessary violence and special effects. And little to no sex. Sex was often alluded to but it was never as forward or raunchy as it is in many movies today.

They just don’t make movies like they used to. Today it seems like you can have all the star power, the special effects, the cinematography, and all the bells and whistles you could dream of….But if the movie is bad, it’s bad. None of these features will save it. No amount of marketing or promotion can make up for it either. In the old days, the studios didn’t need to spend as much to promote movies. People just went to the movies (and on more of a regular basis). Not to say that there weren’t any bad movies then. Even then, bad movies were made. But just not as many as there are now in my opinion. For me, you can go back to the summer of 1997 when Batman & Robin and Speed 2: Cruise Control were released (two of the worst films ever made). From that point on, the quality of summer blockbusters and movies in general has declined. Ever since then, I could count on my hands how many times I’d go to the movies in year.

Another issue is the kinds of movies the studios are making. We’ve been witnessing the era of rehashes and remakes. Movies packaged as new films when they’re nothing but updated versions of older and in some cases more recent movies. There’s also movies inspired by TV shows (and often times mediocre TV shows at best). We also have a lot of movies that can be lumped into the same category with the same actors stuck in the same roles (typically these buppie, yuppie romantic comedies). And last but not least, we cannot forget about the sequels and prequels. Sometimes you’ve just got to say enough is enough. I’m probably not alone when I say I haven’t been impresesed lately.

I say the same thing to Hollywood as I say to the music industry….Maybe if you stopped worrying about the money and put out more quality products, you wouldn’t be in the predicament you’re in now. If you did this then just maybe people might start going to the theaters a little bit more. Though this slump may be a major point of concern for the movie industry, there’s no need for everyone to get their panties and jockstraps caught in a wad. Every industry has periods when sales don’t match expectations. When this happens however, it’s never a bright idea to put the blame completely on external factors. Especially when you have not looked at how you may have contributed to the situation at hand. In the meantime, get better screenplays. Start telling unconventional stories. Showcase stories with issues that touch on the multicultural and multiracial makeup of this world. Don’t get too crazy with the graphics and the violence. Try to create movies with less violence, less sex, and more substance. Try to spread the wealth. Give some of these actors we see on screen all the time a run for their money. And maybe if you create better work, we’ll see better performances all around. If you take all of these things into consideration, just maybe we’ll see a change. Just maybe you’ll be able to bring the people back into the movie theaters in droves again.

I’m not giving up hope though. The movie industry doesn’t seem to be giving up hope either. There’s a considerable amount of faith being put behind many of the fall movie releases like to Hong Kong and the fourth Harry Potter installment. There’s hope that these movies will bring the industry out of its current slump. It’s going to take more than just a few blockbusters to get out of this slump. You’ve got to start on the inside. Otherwise, that premier on cable or the sale at the home video store is going to become even more attractive.

Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi: A Review

Say what you will about singer/songwriter/producer Mariah Carey, but she is one of the most successful and influential musical artists of the last 15 years. (Looking at the last few years of American Idol hopefuls during try-outs is enough to confirm this.) Actually, with her sales and chart history, Carey is one of the most successful artists of all time. If The Emancipation of Mimi is any indication, her reign will continue.

Mimi is Carey’s best and most consistent album since Butterfly. Mimi is not a pop record; it’s very much a R&B/Soul record. Carey and her team of producers (Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes, Kanye West, and James Poyser to name a few) have crafted great songs that linger with you long after their conclusion. There’s a familiarity about this album that reminds you of old school 70s (and possibly 80s) R&B/Soul music. The ballads like “We Belong Together,” “Mine Again” and “I Wish You Knew” are heartfelt, touching and beautiful. Up-tempo tracks like “Say Somethin’,” “Shake It Off” and “Get Your Number” are hypnotic, catchy and lyrically clever.

Besides the music and production, Mimi reminds listeners what drew them to Carey initially—the voice. The passion and emotion in Carey’s voice draws you in, making each and every song convincing. Mimi is an excellent showcase of Carey’s artistic growth. Carey should be commended. Mimi is gearing up to be not only one of the best selling albums of the year, but one of the best selling albums of her career as well. It’s nice to see Carey back on the top—where she belongs.

Lizz Wright – Dreaming Wide Awake: A Review

2003 marked the music world’s introduction to Lizz Wright with the release of her first album entitled Salt. Reviewers and listeners confirmed that Wright was the next big jazz vocalist of note. But is it safe to call Wright a jazz singer? Probably not. Salt had a jazzy vibe, but also showcased Wright’s soul, gospel, folk, and blues leanings. Wright, like vocalists Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves, is likely to defy categorization. Salt was the perfect segway to Dreaming Wide Awake.

Dreaming is a great collection of songs, mostly guitar driven, with more of a folk and blues appeal. The sparse production of Craig Street puts Wright’s voice center stage. The listener cannot help but be mesmerized by her vocal storytelling. She gets inside of each and every song. Her vocalizing is sincere and honest, never showy or overdone. She breathes new life into such classics like Neil Young’s “Old Man” and Youngbloods’ “Get Together.” Wright also leaves you wanting more with her originals like “Trouble” and the title track.

Regardless of what genre of music Wright is singing, nothing can take away from the soul, richness, resonance, and versatility of her voice. Dreaming may not be jazz, but it’s great music—period.