Archive for August, 2008

WNCU 90.7 FM Presents Jazz in the Bowl-Kevin Van Sant Live!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

ksant.jpgRAIN DATE: SEPTEMBER 4, 2008

On September 4, 2008, around 10 a.m., anyone within range of NCCU’s bowl area will hear the sounds of cool mainstream jazz wafting through the air as WNCU 90.7 FM presents “Jazz in the Bowl.” WNCU’s morning announcer, B.H. Hudson, will bring the music and her laid back style to the yard to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus for the beginning of another academic year.

“We have fun with the music here at WNCU and we want everyone in the NCCU community to hear what we do and be excited by it,” said Hudson. “We want them to know Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and other jazz greats past and present. And most of all we want them to know that they don’t have to go far to listen to the greats. WNCU is located in the Farrison Newton Communications building on campus”.

Jazz guitarist Kevin Van Sant will perform live at this event. He is a jazz guitarist based in Durham, NC. Van Sant regularly performs across North Carolina and elsewhere on the East Coast. He has also performed in Russia and throughout Europe. Performances in Europe include five times at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

WNCU general manager, Edith Thorpe, hopes “Jazz in the Bowl” will entice faculty, staff, and new student listeners to WNCU.

“One of our primary commitments at WNCU is to make sure that our students are aware of mainstream jazz in its many forms,” said Thorpe. “With this event, we hope to further demonstrate our pledge to make sure that jazz is alive and well in this community. What better way to do this than to expose our young people to this extraordinary music. Jazz doesn’t have a hip hop beat, it swings. We want to be a conduit to help NCCU students explore this music.”

WNCU 90.7 FM is a National Public Radio affiliate station and functions as a training facility for student interns. WNCU is one of only a few jazz stations in the country to play mainstream jazz as a primary format.

“Jazz in the Bowl” is free and open to the public. This event will air live on WNCU 90.7 FM from 10 a.m. until 11:45 p.m. Thursday, August 28, 2008. For additional information call 919-530-7445.

NCCU Alumni Today is on the Air!

Friday, August 15th, 2008

toneal_lg2.jpgDURHAM, N.C. – WNCU 90.7 FM and North Carolina Central University’s Alumni Affairs office have developed a new partnership to connect with NCCU graduates. Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. WNCU airs NCCU Alumni Today on 90.7FM in the Triangle and on the web. The show offers graduates information about what’s happening on campus and in the lives of their fellow Eagles. Truitt O’neal hosts the show. He is a 2001 graduate of NCCU with his bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration in electronic media. He is the former general manager of AudioNet, NCCU’s student radio station. He also worked as a student staff member for WNCU. Currently, O’neal is the news and public affairs director for WNNL The Light 103.9 FM and the Raleigh affiliate producer of the Yolanda Adams Morning Show.

“I am enthusiastic about returning to WNCU to produce NCCU Alumni Today,” said O’neal. “Over the upcoming weeks I look forward to talking with NCCU alumni from all walks of life across the country and around the world.”

Norma Petway, a 1977 graduate of NCCU and director of Alumni Relations, says the mission of NCCU Alumni Today as an extension of the mission of her office. According to Petway, the show “will update graduates on activities at NCCU and give information on how they can participate in university activities and contribute financially. The goal is to encourage every graduate to become an active Eagle.”

Since its debut in August 1995, WNCU, 90.7 FM, licensed to North Carolina Central University, has consistently fulfilled its mission to provide quality, culturally-appropriate programming to public radio listeners in the Triangle area. The format of this listener supported public radio station entertains the jazz aficionado, educates the novice jazz listener and disseminates news and information relative to the community-at-large. WNCU 90.7 FM is a 50,000 watt public radio station and an affiliate of NPR, PRI and Pacifica Radio.

Isaac Hayes, Memphis Soul Legend, Dead at 66

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

By Hank Dudding

Legendary soul music performer Isaac Hayes died this afternoon after he was found unconscious in his Shelby County home.

A family member found the entertainer next to a running treadmill at about 1 p.m. Sunday, said Steve Shular, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Hayes was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:10 p.m.

Hayes’ wife, their 2-year-old son and another family member had gone to the grocery store around noon, Shular said. When they returned, they found Hayes unresponsive.

Rescue workers responded to a 911 call, and they performed CPR at Hayes’ home at 9280 Riveredge in the eastern part of Shelby County, near Forest Hill and Walnut Grove.

The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a routine investigation, said Shular, but “nothing leads us to believe this is foul play.”

Isaac Hayes’ History With Scientology

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

By Roger Friedman

My friend, Isaac Hayes, died on Sunday, and his passing leaves many unanswered questions.

The great R&B star, actor, DJ, performer and family man, the composer of “Soul Man,” “Hold On I’m Coming” and other hits by Sam Moore and Dave Prater like “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby,” also was a member of the Church of Scientology.

Isaac was found dead by his treadmill, but conveniently missing from the wire stories was a significant fact: in January 2006, Isaac had a significant stroke. At the time, the word went out only that he had been hospitalized for exhaustion.

But the truth was, Isaac, whom I’d seen just a couple of months earlier when he headlined the Blues Ball in Memphis, was in trouble. Having lost the rights to his songs two decades earlier, he was finally making some money voicing the character of Chef on “South Park.” But “South Park” lampooned Scientology, so the leaders wanted Isaac out.
Push came to shove on Nov. 16, 2005, when “South Park” aired its hilarious “Trapped in the Closet” episode spoofing Tom Cruise and John Travolta. “South Park” creator Matt Stone told me later that Isaac had come to him in tears.

“He said he was under great pressure from Scientology, and if we didn’t stop poking at them, he’d have to leave,” Stone said.

The conversation ended there. Isaac performed Chef’s signature song at the Blues Ball a week later with great delight. Although he was devoted to Scientology, he also loved being part of “South Park.” He was proud of it. And, importantly, it gave him income he badly needed.

But then came the stroke, which was severe. His staff — consisting of Scientology monitors who rarely left him alone — tried to portray it as a minor health issue. It wasn’t. Sources in Memphis told me at the time that Isaac had significant motor control and speech issues. His talking was impaired.

In March 2006, news came that Hayes was resigning from “South Park.” On March 20, 2006, I wrote a column called “Chef’s Quitting Controversy,” explaining that Hayes was in no position to have quit anything due to his stroke. But Scientology issued the statement to the press saying Hayes had resigned, and the press just ate it up. No one spoke to Isaac directly, because he couldn’t literally speak. “Chef” was written out of the show.

Click here to read the March 20, 2006 FOX411.

Isaac’s income stream was severely impaired as a result. Suddenly there were announcements of his touring, and performing. It didn’t seem possible, but word went out that he’d be at BB King’s in New York in January 2007. I went to see him and reported on it here.

The show was an abomination. Isaac was plunked down at a keyboard, where he pretended to front his band. He spoke-sang, and his words were halting. He was not the Isaac Hayes of the past.

What was worse was that he barely knew me. He had appeared in my documentary, “Only the Strong Survive,” released in 2003. We knew each other very well. I was actually surprised that his Scientology minder, Christina Kumi Kimball, with whom I had difficult encounters in the past, let me see him backstage at BB King’s. Our meeting was brief, and Isaac said quietly that he did know me. But the light was out in his eyes, and the situation was worrisome.

But the general consensus was that he needed the money. Without “Chef,” Isaac’s finances were severely curtailed. He had mouths to feed to home.
Plus, Scientology requires huge amounts of money, as former member, actor Jason Beghe, has explained in this space. For Isaac to continue in the sect, he had to come up with funds. Performing was the only way.

In recent months, I’ve had conflicting reports. One mutual friend says that Isaac had looked and sounded much better lately at business meetings. But actor Samuel L. Jackson, who recently filmed scenes with Isaac and the late Bernie Mac for a new movie called “Soul Men,” told me on Saturday that Isaac really wasn’t up to the physical demands of shooting the movie. (Neither, it seems, was Bernie Mac.)

Sam Moore, who recorded those Isaac Hayes songs in the ’60s and loved the writer-performer like a brother, told me Sunday when he heard about the death: “I’m happy.” Happy, I asked? “Yes, happy he’s out of pain.”

It was one of the most beautiful ideas I’d ever heard expressed on the subject of death.

But there are a lot of questions still to be raised about Isaac Hayes’ death. Why, for example, was a stroke survivor on a treadmill by himself? What was his condition? What kind of treatment had he had since the stroke? Members of Scientology are required to sign a form promising they will never seek psychiatric or mental assistance. But stroke rehabilitation involves the help of neurologists and often psychiatrists, not to mention psychotropic drugs — exactly the kind Scientology proselytizes against.

What will come next, I’m afraid, is a wild dogfight among family members for Isaac’s estate. His song catalog (with David Porter) is one of the greatest in music history. Isaac lost the rights to his big hit songs in 1977. But thanks to something called the Songwriters Act, his heirs — whoever they are determined to be — automatically get the rights back as the songs come up for copyright renewal. I guarantee this will not be pretty. Isaac Lee Hayes has over 300 original compositions listed with BMI, from the Sam & Dave songbook to Carla Thomas’ “BABY (Baby)” to his monumental instrumental “Theme from SHAFT.”

None of this should ever take away from who Isaac Hayes really was: a great friend, a warm congenial man with a big heart and a big laugh. He had married again right before his stroke, and was very happy. If he hadn’t had the stroke, I am certain he would have recorded a new album.

There was talk of it after the stroke, but nothing materialized. When we made and promoted “Only the Strong Survive,” he was a masterful musician with a great mind and a wicked sense of humor. His loss at 65 is simply way too early and very tragic.

Yusuf Salim

Friday, August 1st, 2008

yusufsalim.jpgYusuf Salim (aka Joseph Blair) (1929-July 31st,2008) was born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland. He began his musical career at age 14 as a pianist with the Ken Murray Sextet in Baltimore. Yusuf grew up in west Baltimore near the popular Pennsylvania Avenue in a home near the local musician union hall. His mother, “Miss Eleanor” or “Mama Blair” whom he called “Mother Teresa in Technicolor,” was a kind, fun-loving, music lover who offered her home, good food and piano to union musicians and well-known traveling musicians, who played in his mother’s living room in jam sessions which sometimes would last until dawn. Early on, Yusuf became fascinated by the music and learned his craft from many unsung master musicians.

Salim was hired at age 17 as the house pianist with the nearby world-famous Royal Theater, where he stayed for seven years with a band headed by Tracy McClair, who had played with the Bama Collegians and Erskine Hawkins. While he worked at the Royal Theater, he performed with such greats as Sammy Davis, Jr., Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx. Later, in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, he went to New York City with The Bill Swindell Band and played at the Braddock Bar in Harlem. He participated and witnessed many a jam sessions at the world-famous Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem and Birdland in Manhattan. He met Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt and many others who would become jazz giants. He left New York City to tour with The Red Prysock Band for 7 years, where he played at The Apollo Theater, Savoy Ballroom, Chicago’s Regal Theater, and recalled hearing about Charlie Parker’s death on an intercom at Pennsylvania Train Station in New York on his way back to Baltimore after doing 90 one-nighters in 1955. Salim said he “grew on the road and the road grew on me.” After the Prysock stint, he spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he played in the Marine Band. Yusuf also participated in many jazz performances while in the service and made life-long musician friends.

After his military service, he moved back to Baltimore and played at the clubs around the city. But jazz had fallen on hard times in Baltimore, so there weren’t many places to play. In 1974. Salim moved to Durham, North Carolina. Later, he hosted a WUNC-TV (PBS) thirteen part series called “Yusuf and Friends.” He also opened a club called The Salaam Cultural Center, which offered workshops, which helped to train and further the careers of North Carolina vocalists Eve Cornelious and Nnenna Freelon, two internationally-known jazz musicians. Yusuf received the North Carolina Arts Council Jazz Fellowship in 1999. He has written over 53 compositions. Some of them have been recorded by Gary Bartz, Mongo Santamaria and Cannonball Adderley. His latest album is titled: Yusuf Sings.

Compiled by Larry Thomas

To check out the slideshow of Yusuf Salim, click here.

To view itinerary for Yusuf Salim’s services, click here.