Death Cab For Cutie – biography

death cab for cutie

When asked to describe Death Cab For Cutie’s sixth studio album, Narrow Stairs, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Walla characterizes it as “having teeth,” and we can’t think of a more apt summarization of the disc. While many bands in Death Cab For Cutie’s situation would try to recreate the success of hit songs like “Soul Meets Body” or “I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” instead the band have crafted the most ambitious and varied album of their career by simply doing what they’ve been doing since they formed in Bellingham, Washington a decade ago – made a brilliant record that refuses to pander, while stretching the artistic boundaries of what a Death Cab For Cutie record should sound like.

After spending much of 2006 in the midst of a turbulent tour cycle surrounding their RIAA platinum, Grammy-nominated album Plans, the band took a well-deserved break during the first part of 2007. Frontman Ben Gibbard embarked on his first-ever solo tour; guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Walla released a solo album and produced records for acts like Tegan And Sara; drummer Jason McGerr constructed his own recording studio, Two Sticks; and bassist Nick Harmer, as always seems to be the case, worked on various projects. If Plans was a collection of firsts – Death Cab’s first album for a major label; the first disc to feature songwriting contributions from someone other than Gibbard; the first Death Cab disc recorded with the same drummer as the one before – Narrow Stairs feels more like home.

The decision to record the new album at McGerr’s Two Sticks, Walla’s studio Alberta Court, and long-time friend John Vanderslice’s studio Tiny Telephone allowed the band to abandon self-conscious tendencies in order to craft the most creative album of their career. “I wanted more than anything to create a professional studio that was also somewhere that was comfortable to hang out in,” says McGerr about the conception and construction of Two Sticks (which was designed largely with the Narrow Stairs sessions in mind). “To do that, I had to take into account what we all love and hate about the studios we’ve been to, and make it comfortable enough to spend five or six weeks there at a time without feeling homesick.” That environment, combined with the heightened amount of collaboration on the new songs, makes Narrow Stairs the climactic culmination of Death Cab’s first ten years.

While much of this is due to the musical and emotional relationship the current quartet have developed over the last few years of playing, singing, and touring together, it can also be attributed to the environment Narrow Stairs was tracked in. According to Harmer, the album was recorded “with all of us sitting in a room looking at each other,” making the sessions seem more like a typical band practice than a high-budget recording. And listening back to these eleven songs, there’s a level of intimacy that couldn’t have been attained any other way. “There was a lot of talk about what we wanted to accomplish as a rhythm section,” Harmer continues, adding that he took acoustic bass lessons in order to stretch out on the record. “I just wanted to think of my instrument in a different way.”

Recorded entirely on two-inch tape (thus limiting the amount of overdubs), the result is an album that captures Death Cab For Cutie’s live sound – a process that was scary for the band at times. “There’s stuff on this album that makes each of us uncomfortable performance-wise,” explains Walla, adding that the happy accidents – such as tripping over a cable and unplugging Harmer’s bass on “I Will Possess Your Heart” – turned out to be some of his favorite moments on the disc. “We spend an overwhelming amount of time as a band playing live together, so it doesn’t really make sense not to approach our recording the same way,” Gibbard adds. The live feel of the recording not only affected the way the songs were put to tape but also the way they were arranged, making for the band’s most aggressive record to date.

The opening track, “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” is an excellent overreaching metaphor for the sonic scope of Narrow Stairs: The song begins somewhat characteristically, with Gibbard’s singing about “descending a dusty gravel ridge” over an ebbing bed of subdued synthesizers and chiming guitars… but halfway through the track, the song unexpectedly veers into a syncopated drum-and-guitar breakdown aided by Harmer’s low-frequency melody line. These types of aural experiments take the approach of such Plans songs as “What Sarah Said” to dazzling new heights, whether it’s the eight-and-a-half-minute-long first single, “I Will Possess Your Heart,” or the carefree orchestral waltz, “You Can Do Better Than Me.”

“Narrow Stairs was the title Nick came up with, and I think it lends itself to a lot of the lyrical content,” explains Gibbard when asked about some of the themes of the record. “It doesn’t connate descension or ascension – and I think that by giving it some physical limitations in describing it as narrow, it leaves a lot more open to interpretation.” While subtle details like “softly snowing televisions” help the listener paint a vivid mental picture, ultimately the characters are the souls of these songs – whether the protagonist is giving away his Queen-sized bed out of desperation or searching under an abandoned bridge for a non-existent revelation.

Then there’s the aforementioned “You Can Do Better Than Me,” a lingering paean to relationship insecurities that shows how Gibbard has grown as a lyricist. “I think Ben’s lyrics will fall deep into the minds of many who think alike, but can’t find the courage to speak honestly and openly,” explains McGerr. “In other words, if the thought that you’ll never be worthy of a better mate hasn’t passed through your mind at some point in your life, no matter how fleetingly, you’re either lying or unable to articulate it.” While the content of the album is dark at times, Gibbard manages to express his melancholy musings with a sparkling – and sometimes subtle – dose of hopefulness.

“If you can’t stand in place, you can’t tell who’s walking away,” Gibbard croons on Narrow Stairs’ penultimate track, “Pity And Fear” – and while that’s true, Death Cab For Cutie have taken a giant step forward both creatively and conceptually with this album. While it hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point, Death Cab For Cutie insist that more than anything, this next chapter in the band’s evolution is due to the fact that they’re relating both as individuals and band mates. “To think that tension is adding to the music isn’t true for us,” Gibbard explains, citing notoriously at-odds acts like Fleetwood Mac and Metallica. “It’s easier for us to make good music when we’re all relating to each other and getting along.”

Carrie Underwood – biography

carrie underwood

“God put us here on this carnival ride
We close our eyes never knowing
Where it will take us next”
–Wheel of the World

There is the whirlwind, and then there is the young woman at its center. The key to Carrie Underwood may lie in knowing that, three years down the road, the two remain separate. For all the awards, the record sales, the chart-topping hits, the non-stop schedule and the incessant media attention, Carrie remains firmly in touch with the shy Oklahoma college student she was before becoming a star. Through all of it, she retains a genuine likeability that, coupled with her enormous talent, goes a long way toward explaining the phenomenal nature of her success.

And it is indeed phenomenal, even when measured by the achievements of others who have found success as she did, via American Idol. The show’s co-creator and acerbic judge Simon Cowell had predicted during the competition that she would win and that she would outsell all of Idol’s previous winners. He was right on both counts. Carrie’s debut album, Some Hearts, is the biggest-selling American Idol album to date, selling more than 6 million records in the U.S. alone. Her debut CD, Some Hearts, released in 2005, has been the best-selling female country album of 2005, 2006 and 2007. Carrie hit #1 with every single she has released to date, and has won two Grammys as well as a host of trophies from the AMA, ACM, CMA, People’s Choice and Billboard, among many others.

Her own favorite metaphor for the journey, taken from the Hillary Lindsey/Chris Lindsey/Aimee Mayo song “Wheel Of The World,” which closes her eagerly awaited second album, has become the project’s title.

“This part of my life has been absolutely crazy,” she says, “and to think it all started from one little decision I made to get on that ride. That’s why Carnival Ride works as my album title, because it describes the wonderful craziness I’ve been through over the past couple of years.”

Carrie’s new album, Carnival Ride, vaulted to #1 atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums and all-genre Billboard 200 charts with mammoth first-week sales of 527,101 and also earned the highest first-week sales for any female artist in any genre at the time of release for 2007. Setting multiple chart records, Carnival Ride not only earned the best-selling first week of any country sophomore album since the inception of SoundScan, but also notched the largest country debut in digital album chart history, with digital sales of 44,928.
Some Hearts was a snapshot that captured a moment, dealing with coming of age and with establishing a foothold in a wider world. Its success speaks volumes about the attractiveness of its message and of the woman who delivered it. Carnival Ride, on the other hand, is a big-screen movie, wide-ranging in theme, cinematic in scope. It reflects Carrie’s increasing strength as a vocalist, her continuing emergence as a songwriter, and her growing maturity as an artist and a person.

“Last time,” she says, “I didn’t set out to talk about a specific thing. I just picked songs that reminded me of home and made me think, ‘Wow! I can relate to that,’ and by the end, there was a theme.” Taking a broader view this time, she drew on her instincts as a fan in selecting songs that range from the enchantingly light-hearted to the deeply inspiring.

“It’s a collection of songs I would want to hear on the radio,” she says, “and songs I want to sing. I really hope my fans will get a little bit more of me out of these songs.”

The presence of four songs co-written by Carrie will help them do just that. “All-American Girl” turns the story of a baby girl born to a man praying for a boy into a celebration of femininity. If there is a bit of autobiography in the song–Carrie is the youngest of three daughters–there is even more in “Crazy Dreams,” an ode to “long shots” and a celebration of the fact that “even crazy dreams come true,” something she knows better than almost anyone. “Last Name” is a bit of pure fun celebrating reckless abandon, and is one of two songs Carrie wrote with Hillary Lindsey. The other is the album’s first single, “So Small,” a song that announces the new project as a major step forward. With “So Small” Carrie focuses on what’s important in life and not worrying about the small things. It also focuses on the strength of her voice and personality, instilling it with freshness and relevance.

Lindsey, who co-wrote “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” and Carrie have become fast friends since meeting when a group of songwriters gathered at a songwriter retreat in Nashville after her Idol win to help Carrie write and select songs for Some Hearts. In addition to “Wheel Of The World” and the pair of songs she wrote with Carrie, Lindsey co-wrote “Get Out Of This Town,” a bit of upbeat restlessness, “Twisted,” about a relationship on the edge, and “Just A Dream,” a powerful song dealing with the effects of war on a young bride-to-be.

Carrie’s emergence as a songwriter on Carnival Ride is another of the album’s revelations. She brought together another group of top Nashville tunesmiths, including Brett James, Luke Laird, Kelley Lovelace, Aimee Mayo, Steve McEwan and others for a second writers’ retreat. This one held at the Ryman Auditorium, the most famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry, throwing herself into the creative process and expanding greatly her confidence as a songwriter and her depth as a creative force in modern country music.

The process of writing with and looking through the catalogs of the cream of Nashville songwriting helped make Carnival Ride the strong artistic statement it is.

“We had so many great songs to choose from it was really hard to narrow it down,” she says. “We set the bar really high. Songs that would be hits hands-down might not have made it onto the album because one was a teeny notch better.”

The strength of those songs helped propel the subsequent recording sessions.

“We really took the first part of the year to make sure we had the best material we could possibly find,” she says, “and then we went in every day to the studio, which is something I really love to do. It is a very controlled environment. Mark [Bright, her producer] is so easy to work with. He’ll encourage me to play around with vocal approaches because, at the end of the day, it’s my voice, and the song is something I’ll be doing on stage every night. He trusts the instincts I have and I trust him. That makes us a good team.”

Holding the entire package together is the passion and believability fans came to know and love on American Idol and which haven’t dimmed a bit. The combination grew out of a lifelong love of country music nurtured in her hometown of Checotah, Oklahoma.

“I had a very happy childhood full of the wonderful simple things that children love to do,” she says. “Growing up in the country, I enjoyed things like playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures and, of course, singing.” She sang in church, then in grade school musicals and area talent shows, winning a savings bond here, a trophy there.

“After high school,” she says, “I pretty much gave up on the dream of singing. I had reached a point in my life where I had to be practical and prepare for my future in the ‘real world.'”

She attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK, where her sorority sisters at Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority worked to bring her out of her shell.

“They always tried to make me sing at everything,” she says, “but I was too embarrassed. During the summers I mustered up enough courage to sing at the Downtown Country show–a Branson-style show that included singing, dancing and comedy. It was mainly there that I learned what it was like to be in front of a crowd.”

She majored in broadcast journalism, her sights set on a career in television news. Then, in her senior year, she saw news reports of tryouts for American Idol’s 2005 season.

“People always told me that I should try out for the show, but I never thought I would be able to handle it.” When her mother offered to drive her to St. Louis for tryouts, though, she decided to go. That, of course, set in motion the whirlwind.

“I remember certain things–Saturday Night Live was really cool,” she says. “It was great to be added to the list of such great iconic artists who have performed on the show before. And of course, being on stage at the Grammys–that was an amazing moment. Who’d have thought? But each one runs together. I’d love to revel in the moment a little more sometimes.”

Still, it is a mark of Carrie’s level-headedness and determination that amid the demands of a star, she made it a goal to complete her college degree. Even among the madness of winning American Idol in May 2005, recording and launching her debut album in November 2005, she finished her credit hours and earned her B.A., graduating magna cum laude in May 2006. And while she has grown a little more accustomed to the elite circles in which she sometimes travels, now and then she can tap into the fan she has always been, as when she met Randy Travis not long ago.

“I’ve loved him ever since I was little,” she says. “So, it was kind of like, ‘Wow! This is the person I hoped would take home the awards when I watched as a little girl.’ It was kind of a crazy day and I guess my emotions were running a little high when I got to meet him. I met him and he was so nice, and I started crying. I never know what to do with people when they cry when meeting me, so I was thinking, ‘Gosh! I’m one of those people now! I’m being completely silly,’ but it was just the way it happened.” Her version of Travis’s hit “I Told You So” appears on Carnival Ride.

She appears on Brad Paisley’s album 5th Gear, joining him on “Oh Love” as her reach continues to expand. She recorded an original song called “Ever Ever After” for the Disney movie Enchanted and filmed a music video for the project. Her versatility is such that she has covered the work of artists including the Eagles and Bob Wills on the Grammys, Fleetwood Mac on Fashion Rocks, and she made the Pretenders’ classic “I’ll Stand By You” her own in a version that raised money for the “Idol Gives Back” charity effort. As part of her involvement, Carrie traveled to South Africa to visit and perform for schools, orphanages, hospices and health care centers in and around Johannesburg.

In 2006, Carrie performed over 150 shows on tour with Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley as well as headlining her own dates. She ended the year headlining a USO Tour during the Christmas holiday season and performing for U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq. Carrie, known for her love of animals, is also a major supporter of the Humane Society of the United States.

Such charitable efforts are yet another indication that, in a world where celebrity is often about mere self-indulgence, Carrie brings as much grace, style and substance to her life as she does to her stage performances. She has quickly become one of country music’s most effective and best-loved ambassadors, using her success as a springboard for good. Now, with the release of Carnival Ride, we are reminded once again of the rich talent that underlies that humanitarian spirit, and of the bottom line when it comes to the popularity of this remarkable young woman.

Sara Evans – biography

sara evans

Strength, versatility and a spunky sense of adventure are qualities more often associated with literary heroines than successful country singers, but then there’s nothing typical about Sara Evans. Whether dominating country radio airwaves with one of her many hit singles or attracting a new legion of fans with her spirited turn on “Dancing with the Stars,” Evans’ drive, talent and determination have placed her in an elite class of artists who transcend musical genres to become a household name.

Her musical accomplishments are celebrated with the release of “Sara Evans—Greatest Hits.” The 14-song collection features 10 of Evans’ signature songs as well as four inspired new songs, worthy of taking their place alongside such modern classics as “No Place That Far,” “A Real Fine Place to Start,” and “Born to Fly.”

The greatest hits package marks the first time Evans has worked with acclaimed producer John Shanks (Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, The Wreckers). That collaboration produced four new tunes, including “As If,” the lead single from Evans’ hits collection. “He’s just amazing to work with and he was exactly what I needed for this project. I know I’ll work with him again–IF he’ll have me,” Evans says with a smile. “He doesn’t do anything like everybody normally does. He has no formula.”

For Evans, releasing a greatest hits package is like looking back through a photo album; each song is a snapshot that brings a flood of memories. “My first No. 1 record came when I was pregnant with Avery,” she recalls of “No Place That Far” which hit the top of the charts as she was expecting her son, now eight-years-old. “I remember that time because it was the most amazing time in my life. I thought things could absolutely not get any better. I was expecting my first child and having my first No. 1 record.”

Indeed, Evans was on her way to becoming one of the most successful female artists of her generation–a compelling, heart-in-the-throat heir to Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. She’s won numerous accolades, among them the Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year and the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year for “Born to Fly”. She was named 2006 Female Vocalist of the Year in the R&R Reader’s Poll and has been celebrated as one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”

Evans has earned numerous #1 hits, two of which she co-wrote, including “Born to Fly,” “No Place That Far,” “Suds In The Bucket” and “A Real Fine Place to Start,” which spent two weeks at the top of the country charts. Of the five albums Evans has released, her sophomore set, “No Place That Far,” has been certified gold; 2001’s “Born to Fly” is double-platinum and 2003’s “Restless” and 2005’s “Real Fine Place” are both platinum.

Such accomplishments have been a dream come true for the Booneville, Missouri native. One of seven children, Evans began singing country music with her family’s band when she was five-years-old. By the time she was 16, she landed a gig singing regularly at a club in Columbia, Missouri. Of course, Nashville is Mecca for all aspiring country artists and Evans made her way to Music City determined to realize her dreams. She got her first break when legendary songwriter Harlan Howard heard her amazing voice and tapped her to sing his demos. A deal with RCA Records followed soon after.

Produced by Pete Anderson, her debut disc, “Three Chords and the Truth,” earned praise from critics, but it was her second disc, “No Place That Far,” that brought Evans the commercial success to match the critical acclaim. Her next album, “Born to Fly” spawned four hit singles, which are included on “Greatest Hits”—“I Could Not Ask for More,” “Saints and Angels,” “I Keep Looking,” and the title track.

“It was the first time I ever wrote with Marcus Hummon,” Evans recalls of penning “Born To Fly.” “It was basically a biography of my life on the farm–talking to a scarecrow and dreaming. I had such huge dreams of doing something that nobody where I came from did.”

Evans says “I Keep Looking” is another song that captures who she is and what she’s really about. “That song was more about me just wanting to express my true nature, how I am as a person,” she relates. “I’m totally that way. I keep looking forward and asking how to make things better. What can I do next?”

Always looking to stretch herself artistically, Evans has continued to develop her gift as a songwriter. Her fourth album, “Restless,” spawned the hit “Perfect,” which Evans penned with Tom Shapiro and Tony Martin. The album also featured one of Evans’ signature hits, the high-spirited “Suds in the Bucket.” She followed “Restless” with “Real Fine Place,” which served up four hits singles–“Cheatin’,” “You’ll Always Be My Baby,” “Coalmine,” and the title track, which spent two weeks at No. 1.

Writing and recording four new songs for the greatest hits package—songs strong enough to fit comfortably alongside her already impressive body of work—was a challenging task, but Evans is pleased with the outcome. “I could only choose four songs,” Evans says of rounding out the collection with new tunes, “but they are exactly the songs that this project needed.”

“As If” is a buoyant exploration of budding romance, written by Evans, Shanks and Hillary Lindsey. “We wrote ‘As If’ on the very first day,” Evans says of working with Shanks, whom she met at the 2006 ACM Awards, following her female vocalist win. Her collaboration with the award-winning producer proved very fruitful. She and Shanks co-wrote with Aimee Mayo on two new tunes that made it onto Greatest Hits—“Love You With All My Heart” and “Pray for You.” Evans, Shanks, Lindsey, and Evans’ brother Matt penned “Some Things Never Change.”

“Love You With All My Heart” is a sexy number that finds Evans tapping into her sultry side. “This song is just about being in a new relationship. This song is all about attraction, really nothing else,” says Evans. “We wrote the song when Aimee was huge pregnant and it’s funny because when I was huge pregnant, she and I wrote another passionate song called ‘Secrets That We Keep’.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s “Pray for You,” a poignant ballad about the comforts of family and faith. “That song was very inspired,” Evans says. “John and Aimee and I were just sitting there and it just sort of flowed out. It was such a blessing to have that song come out. It says I’ve got babies of my own and I’m the one that they are counting on to be here through every little tear and I’ll do the best I can. It talks about calling your mom. I think that’s what all girls do, I sure do. So that song is very, very special to me.”

Evans says “Some Things Never Change” was her brother Matt’s idea, and they brought it to a writing session with Shanks and Lindsey to flesh it out. The result is an engaging number that celebrates the enduring joys of family and love. “The main feel of that song is love,” says Evans. The lyrics paint the picture of a family and the daily routines that define every day life.

It’s that ability to write songs that connect with the heart of her audience that has made Evans such a successful artist, and it’s her willingness to take risks and embrace a challenge that has widened her following. “Some things just feel right,” she says, citing her participation in ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” “It totally, totally changed my career. It was one of the best times of my life. I loved it.”

Releasing a Greatest Hits package generally signals the close of one chapter in an artist’s career and the beginning of a new one. It is often a time for introspection and taking a hard look at the factors that contributed to those hits. Evans humbly credits her success to “luck, the kindness of country radio, and a good record label.”

Obviously, there’s been so much more involved. Sara Evans is a vibrant, talented woman with a distinctive voice and an innate ability to relate to her audience. She’s a songwriter, a mother of three, and a master at multi-tasking, but above all, she’s real. It’s that honesty and integrity that resonate throughout her music.

“I’m just really grateful for what I have. I want my life to mean something and I want to make music that matters.”

Tye Tribbett – Biography

tye tribbett

Anoint (v): to choose by or as if by divine election

When one listens to his lyrics and feels the spirit which encompasses gospel performer Tye Tribbett, it’s easy to see that Tye is indeed anointed. A native of Camden, New Jersey, Tye — whose father was a preacher and mother was a choir director — heard his calling early on. “I always wanted to do something for the Lord,” he acknowledges.

On his third full-length album Stand Out (also available as a DVD), Tye Tribbett and his aptly named choir, Greater Anointing (G.A.), deliver a series of passionate gospel performances celebrating and sharing the glory of God’s Kingdom. Recorded live at Rock Church International in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in August 2007, Stand Out premieres a collection of spirit-filled musical testimonies to the power of the Living Word. With his new songs, Tye Tribbett is ready to stand up and Stand Out for the Rock of Ages. “It’s time,” he says, “for a new normal to be presented.”

Tye, who learned how to play keyboards before he could recite the alphabet, has been making bold declarations with his music for years prior to launching his gospel career.

In 1996, Tye founded a gospel choir, Greater Anointing (G.A.), consisting of a group of family and friends whose hearts were set simply on praising the Creator through the gift of great music. Tye knew from the beginning they’d tapped into something real and glorious. “That first rehearsal blew my mind,” he says. “The musicianship, the quality of the voices and the spirit of the choir, the character of everybody…I knew that this was it. I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing.”

Today, Tye Tribbett and the members of Greater Anointing are a family united in ministry with everyone from Tye’s beloved wife of ten years to his brothers, sisters and cousins operating in varying capacities throughout G.A.

Tye Tribbett & Greater Anointing broke into the popular mainstream in 1998 with a group of performances on the The Prince of Egypt (Inspirational) album, one of three high profile soundtrack collections released for the Academy Award winning animated film from DreamWorks.

Following that success, Tye Tribbett & G.A. went on to tour and perform with some of the biggest names in the secular pop music world including Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Luther Vandross, Elton John, Don Henley and Jill Scott, among many others. A showcase with Philadelphia neo-soul performer Vivian Green propelled Tye to the forefront when his keyboard skills and buoyant showmanship were recognized by some key players in the music industry. Tye was signed soon thereafter to Columbia Records.

For Tye, the worlds of sacred and secular music were difficult to reconcile and the potential conflict tugged at his heart. During the years between his first two albums, Life (2004) and Victory Live! (2006), Tye suffered two dramatic losses in his life. Tye says that, among these periods of intense grief and deep reflection, he heard the still quiet voice of God state clearly, “Cleanse yourself of anything that could remotely not represent me.” Aware of a higher calling, Tye realized his path had been chosen for him. “A lot of times we don’t know what God wants us to do,” Tye says, “but we know what He doesn’t want us to do.”

Listening to the voice of faith within, Tye stepped out and challenged G.A. to consecrate themselves, forsaking any revenue from secular music for one year, relying solely on the Lord to provide. Everyone in G.A. accepted the challenge and the result was Victory Live! Released in May 2006, Victory Live! entered the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart at #1, generated the #1 Gospel Radio single, “Victory,” and earned Tribbett two Stellar Award wins and three Grammy nominations — Best Gospel Performance (“Victory”); Best Gospel Song (“Victory”); and Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. Not even a doubting Thomas could dispute the results. Tye Tribbett & G.A. were doing the music the Lord wanted them to do.

“I want to offer the truth,” says Tye. “I want to offer what is superior. I want to present a standard. There is nothing more solid than Jesus Christ and His Word.” Stand Out is a project that delivers not only truth, but the standard that Tye hopes to bring to his audience. “An experience is over once the moment is gone,” he continues. “Once something is established, it will start when you hear it at that moment, but it will never stop. The standard of choosing right over wrong and light over darkness is, to me, the standard. God loves us so much but He is disappointed. I want to present Christ as the standard.”

Produced entirely by SoundCheck, the production entity consisting of Tye and his two brothers, Stand Out firmly establishes the unit as strong songwriters and state-of-the-art producers.

The album’s title song, a reflection of the album’s overall philosophy, is an intentional up-tempo track that delivers a powerful message. “It’s the militant approach to doing things,” says Tye, referring to the punchy drums and brazen horns in the track’s arrangement. “We gonna get in a lot of trouble, but I’m ready,” Tye admits. “This song is about issues that are going on. I’m not lying. My point is I’m going to make it a little uncomfortable, that’s what Jesus did. This word is uncomfortable. Everybody is not going to love it. Somebody got to do it and I’m just bringing up topics.”

Tye isn’t alone on his journey. Throughout the album, you can hear the crowd’s welling enthusiasm as Tye is joined on-stage by some very special guests. Gospel great Kim Burrell lends her jazzy vocal talents to “He Has Made Me Glad,” an updated reimagining of a old church song with Tye creating a unique new arrangement, as if to prove that he can do a “churchy song,” he states laughing.

“Look Up” features gospel singer Kiki Sheard and presents, for the first time, a full-length version of a song that was originally a snippet on Tye & G.A.’s Gospel chart topping album, Victory Live! The public called for extended version and according to Tye, “I felt the pressure to write it as a full song.” Giving all praises to the One who supplies all of our needs, the song emphatically urges us to look above for direction.

One of Tye’s personal favorites is a song originally created during a session for another gospel singer. “The keyboardist played and I started crying,” Tye explains. “I just couldn’t give it away.” “I Need You” is a euphoric worship song with light rock guitar influences that simply acknowledges the Father’s place in Tye & G.A.’s ministry and life.

“Chasing After You,” with its airy guitar strums, is, as Tye explains, for the members of the church. Co-written with one of his fellow SoundCheck band members, the song eloquently expresses, “I’ll forever be chasin’ after You because I’m going to go from faith to faith and glory to glory. I’m not going to get settled or complacent. I don’t want to grow stale. I want more of Him.” The song “All Hail The King” has a high energy intensity that jumps out of the speakers in true Tye Tribbett & G.A. fashion. “God said, ‘Point the song to Me,'” Tye explains. “He’s strong and mighty in battle and there’s nothing He can’t handle. I am braggin’ on Him the whole song. I love that song.”

“Good In The Hood,” a groovy, inspirational track with an R&B/hip-hop feel is, according to Tye, “not a song for the church at all.” The track couples a self-explanatory title with an emphatic synthesizer and horn arrangement underscoring a song Tye was inspired to write after spending 21 days in a New Jersey jail, orange jumpsuit and all, for a stack of unpaid parking tickets. “I chose to shine my light on the good in the inner city and urban communities and for the people who have made the bad choices, but there is still some good in them,” Tye offers. “At the end of the song, I say that maybe you’ve made some bad decisions, but you’ve got another chance, and if I see y’all, God sees y’all. Keep it up, your works will not go unnoticed, you will be rewarded. There is a better way.”

Among the many stand outs on Stand Out is the spiritually uplifting medley of “Hallelujah / Let Us Worship / So Amazing.” After attending the Battle Cry youth movement and witnessing 35,000 young people of different nationalities respond to the Word of God and worship songs, Tye’s bold fervor increased. “Part of me said I wanted songs that related to them and that experience,” he says, “and the other part is I needed to bring this experience into the urban community.”

Sonically, Stand Out commands your attention. Visually, the DVD version of the concert rivets viewer with high energy, dramatic performances and choreography and a selection of additional Tye Tribbett & G.A. classics. “I love what I’m doing. I know this is my job and my heavenly assignment. I love the music and everything about it,” Tye emphatically states and it is clear that he is doing God’s will.

Tye Tribbett — husband, father of two, Gospel singer, songwriter, producer, preacher and business man — has touched many with his message. Recognizing that it is all the “anointing of God,” Tye stands out not only on what believes, but what he wants people to understand about his calling. “I love the Lord and above all I just want everybody to realize how much better it is to do things God’s way,” Tye testifies. “You have to actually have to try it for yourself. You can see how God has blessed me, but I would love for you to experience how much better it is to do things God’s way. That’s what Stand Out is about. Try God’s Way, y’all!”

Prima-J – biography

Prima-J

The name of their debut single may be “Rock Star,” but the two cousins that make up Prima J are everything but. In fact, Jessica and Janelle Martinez are so down-to-earth, it seems just as odd that their song is the lead track from the Bratz™ Motion Picture Soundtrack (released by Geffen Records July 31st, with the movie following August 3). Far from precocious and everything but bratty, the pair are actually a real-life version of the comradery and competitive edge captured in the movie.

Their recent discovery and success aside, Jessica and Janelle still can’t believe that they’ve not only signed a record deal and are currently finishing their debut album for release later this year, but are also appearing in what is expected to be one of the summer’s cinema hits and have recorded an infectious single destined to help make the soundtrack a smash. “None of this has hit either of us yet,” says Janelle, 18. “I feel like I’m dreaming and someone needs to wake me up. It’s one thing to record a song and a video, but it’s another thing to hear it on the radio or see it on TV. That’s where it’ll really hit me…”

Forgive the girls for not having teen-idol egos, but they’re just too happy and excited to be doing the same thing they’ve been doing for most of their lives—singing and dancing. “We just did the video for ‘Rock Star,’ and it was the greatest experience ever,” says Jessica, 19, with an excited laugh. “We love dancing, and we were dancing all day. It’s so great to get this opportunity to do it in front of a camera, and show people that we do belong here!”

Jessica and Janelle Martinez got their start as a duo when they were barely old enough to talk, performing choreographed cheerleading and dance routines for their family each week during halftime of Dallas Cowboys football games. With five uncles, two aunts, and at least three cousins with each, those family gatherings were large, which explains why the girls, then four, have no problem strutting their stuff in front of audiences now. Says Jessica, “We were always more into music than the rest of our family, and as we got older took every chance we’d get to perform, whether it was cheerleading, dancing, school plays, choir…”

“She did all of the clubs, student government, and had straight-A’s,” says Janelle with a grin. “I was more the class clown, tom-boy type. I like to get my nails and hair done, but at the same time, like to kick it with my guy friends and do sports… She’s the girly one that likes to be chill. I’m the bungee jumper and sky diver that likes roller coasters!” Together, they’re a high-energy pair of real-life girls next door that blend the energy of Janet Jackson and the spunk of Gwen Stefani with the urban pop of TLC and the hip-hip bop of trailblazing duo Salt-N-Pepa.

Living in Rosemead, CA, a predominantly Latin American suburb of Los Angeles, the girls were active in choreography and dancing when they were introduced to Stefanie Ridel, a former bandmate of Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson in the pop act Wild Orchid. Ridel took the pair under her creative wing, and quickly realized that while trios are a lot more common in pop music than duos, this was one pair that would survive just fine on their own.

“We’ve always stuck together, and we’ve always had that fire and known that we really wanted to do this,” says Jessica. “If one of us was good at something, the other was just as good, because we always did everything together.” “And, if one of us ever thought we couldn’t do something, we’ve always been there to support each other,” says Janelle. “We’re so close, we’re like sisters, we’re best friends and we’re never apart. This is just a dream come true.”

“Now that we’ve gotten this far, we’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if you’re the average, girl-next-door type,” says Jessica. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from, you should never think that you can’t accomplish something.”

As Mexican-Americans, they hope to be role models to both American and Latin girls, as they consider themselves the face of the new Hispanic in America, part of an emerging generation that “speaks English and lives Latin.” They even go so far as to affectionately refer to each other as “chilosa,” a made-up word that they feel defines Prima-J: two sassy, classy, spicy and feisty girls. They may be the girls next door, but they’re also fun and fearless, with an independent spirit and deep sense of inner confidence.

“We want to have a good time, but we also want to send a message to younger people and be idols for American and the Latin community,” sums Janelle. “Too many people don’t know that if they set their mind to it, they can accomplish anything, just like we have.”

That’s chilosa!

KeAnthony – Biography

keanthony

Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, KeAnthony was exposed to a rich variety of music. At age five, he joined his family’s nine-member gospel ensemble, The Gospel True Notes, solidifying a dream for a future in music.
In fifth grade, KeAnthony made a friend that would influence his life in a way he never imagined. The two were inseparable. Childhood innocence would soon melt away, and as teens, they found themselves engaging in a life on the streets. When faced with the possibility of an aggravated robbery charge, his best friend turned KeAnthony in to the police, leading him to live the next eight years of his life behind bars.

Now with a lifetime of experiences behind him, KeAnthony is ready to share his story, A Hustla’z Story. This album is a self-written lyrical lullaby tenderly narrated with the strength of KeAnthony’s character. “It’s all reality to me,” he states. “I can’t sit down and write ‘I love you’ and not mean it. I write songs that deal with love and life.” He addresses one’s need to escape the day to day in “Everytime I’m High,” a soulful plea for solitude, peace, and freedom. With passionate sincerity, he reminds listeners, particularly single mothers, to put the past in the past, “don’t let things get in the way of your happy days,” with “It’s Okay.”

The power of attraction, support and love is explored in the slow jam, “My Song.” Here he tells listeners of a powerful union, the kind he simply cannot live without. On the flip side, KeAnthony stays true to life and illustrates the flames of jealousy in “Medlin,” a song about someone content on destroying his reputation with the woman he loved, which unfortunately led to the break up of the relationship.

The highlight of the album is the lyrical portrayal of the story that led KeAnthony to his stint in prison. The track “Forever My Homie” cries out to his long lost friend, enlightening listeners on the creation and demise of their friendship. “A ni**a done snitched on me/ and I thought he’s supposed to be/ forever my homie,” KeAnthony croons. He goes on, “never saw it coming/ now I’m sitting in this jail cell wondering why/ I’m the only one doing time.” Definitely one to take the high road, KeAnthony served his time and never sabotaged or sought revenge on his friend.

With beats and production provided by The Underdogs, Tank, and Scott Storch, a narrative true to life and a mastery of soul stylistics, A Hustla’z Story is sure to catch the attention of listeners worldwide. “I don’t give a damn where you from,” KeAnthony states proudly. “You will feel this album.”

Edwin McCain – biography

edwin mccain

Blending equal parts folk, soul and rock, platinum-selling singer/songwriter Edwin McCain has signed with Vanguard Records and will release a new studio album next spring. Currently in the new OMG Studios, which he co-owns, in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, McCain is working with producer Noel Golden (Messenger, Scream and Whisper) and band members Craig Shields (keys, sax); Larry Chaney (lead guitar); Pete Riley (guitar, vocals); Dave Harrison (drums); and Lee Hendricks (bass).

Since his 1993 debut, McCain has garnered the attention of millions with the top 10 smash “I’ll Be,” and the Diane Warren-penned top 40 hit “I Could Not Ask For More,” and as a tireless troubadour whose rapturous live performances regularly sell-out. In May 2005, McCain performed “I’ll Be” on The Dr. Phil Show, which was voted the “Best Wedding Song” by over one million viewers.

The seeds for McCain’s blend of southern soul and acoustic storytelling were planted in Greenville, South Carolina, where he was born and raised, and still resides. In 1993, he formed the Edwin McCain Band and released Solitude. A quartet of albums on Lava/Atlantic Records followed, starting with Honor Among Thieves (1995), the breakthrough album Misguided Roses (1997), which featured “I’ll Be,” and Messenger (1999), which included “I Could Not Ask for More,” also featured in the film Message in a Bottle, that drove Messenger to RIAA Gold Certification. In 2001, Edwin’s last recording for Lava/Atlantic, Far From Over, was released. In 2003, McCain teamed with ATC Records to release Austin Sessions, and in the summer of 2004, DRT Entertainment released Scream and Whisper.

Founded in 1950 by Maynard and Seymour Solomon, Vanguard Records became one of the world’s most prestigious folk and blues labels of the ’60s, releasing records by such legendary artists as Doc Watson, Joan Baez, The Weavers, Buddy Guy, and Mississippi John Hurt. Purchased by Welk Music Group in 1986, Vanguard continues today to pursue its vision of releasing classic recordings of the past while also signing an eclectic and impressive array of distinctive singer/songwriters. Its current artist roster includes Deana Carter, Hootie & the Blowfish, Blues Traveler, Mindy Smith, Garrison Starr, Carbon Leaf, Patty Larkin, Victor Wooten, BeauSoleil, Ian Tyson, Peter Case, among others.

Jermaine Dupri

Jermaine Dupri

If experience is the best teacher, then there’s no one better to teach the world about making hit records and living the lavish life than Jermaine Dupri.

Even before making hits with his own So So Def Records, the Atlanta-based rapper-producer-songwriter-record mogul was guiding the careers of the quadruple platinum Kris Kross. Dupri’s success with Kris Kross set the stage for his groundbreaking work with Lil Bow Wow, Jagged Edge, Da Brat and Xscape on So So Def, as well as a host of work with such artists as Usher and Janet.

In 1998, Dupri branched out and released his debut album, Jermaine Dupri Presents Life In 1472. Chock full of hits such as “Money Ain’t A Thang” and “The Party Continues,” the collection went platinum and further buttressed Dupri’s substantial musical legacy.

With his second album, Instructions, Dupri has crafted another sonic masterpiece, one that seems destined to rule the charts. He intends for the collection to serve as a glimpse into his long-running career as a top-tier record maker and world-class baller.

“People always ask me how long somebody can last as long as I’ve been lasting and continue to keep doing it, so I figured that people didn’t really know how to do that,” Dupri explains. “That’s one of the most asked questions and it’s one of the hardest feats in the music industry, maintaining and continuing to keep doing at the same pace for a lengthy amount of years. I feel that if anybody’s got the instructions on how to do it, then I’m that person.”

Putting his own words into action, Dupri serves up the funky, irresistible lead single “Ballin’ Out Of Control.” Featuring guest vocals from Nate Dogg, the cut allows listeners to hear Dupri doing what he does best: boasting about his world of leisure.

“People know me, and want to know me, as a baller more than anything else,” he says. “When people see me on the streets, they talk to me more about the aspects of balling side of things than the other stuff. I gave people what I thought they wanted, since they’re always asking me about my cars and if they can have some money. People want to associate me with money.”

Never one to disappoint his fans, Dupri keeps the vibe alive on “Money, Hoes & Power.” Pimpin’ Ken kicks some street verbology at the start of the song, while UGK join Dupri on the boastfest.

After earning respect as one of the best underground groups in hip-hop, UGK adds the perfect mix of the streets to “Money, Hoes & Power.”

“They keep the song as street as it needs to be,” Dupri says of the future smash single. “It’s got a good catchy hook where it can do what it needs to do on the radio, but they keep the song street where it will keep credibility in the hood.”

Dupri’s hood will be throwing a Super Bowl-sized celebration when they hear “Welcome To Atlanta.” Rocking over a beat similar to the one on Boogie Down Productions” classic “Jack Of Spades,” Dupri and guest vocalist Ludacris let the world know about the splendor they experience in the capital of the New South. It’s a substantial tribute to Atlanta, one all the more urgent because of the pounding production.

“I always wanted to do something over that beat,” Dupri explains. “I wanted to make something that was an event-sounding record and I think that when you hear that song it sounds like something is about to happen. We’re just welcoming people to our city.”

Despite its allure, city life can be downright lonely if money and material items are the only things surrounding you. Dupri knows this and recorded the Swizz Beatz-produced “World Is Yours And Mine” about the type of woman that he hopes to eventually spend his life with.

In an era dominated by unflinching looks at relationships, Dupri realizes that his song expresses himself as a lover, showing that life isn’t about being a cold-hearted individual devoid of feelings.

“Everybody’s got to stop acting like they wear bandanas all day, every day,” Dupri says. “You’ve got to face the facts that you do sit on the phone sometimes and try to talk to a girl for hours. Everybody’s done that, even the hardest of thugs. I think it’s appropriate on my album because I’m talking about so much wealth that I needed to let people know that life ain’t shit if you can’t share it with somebody. To have a fly life like I’ve got, it’s important to have somebody to share it with.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Dupri acknowledges the jealousy and envy of others on “Hate Blood” before continuing the celebration of his rich musical history on “Rock With Me.”

Dupri invited Swizz Beatz and The Neptunes, the latter of whom produced the bouncy “Let’s Talk About It,” to join him on Instructions. He knows that he’s one of the most powerful producers in the business, but Dupri wanted to extend his hand to other beatmakers whose work he admires.

“At first I planned on having more producers on it,” he says. “I wanted to feel like an artist for once in my life. I wanted to use other producers for respect, to let them know that I listen to other people’s music and that I’m just not out here on my own page. I want them to know that I listen to them and that even though it’s competitive, they’re the ones that keep my boat moving.”

Dupri’s boat has been moving at mach speed, as his So So Def Records has earned more than 20 gold and platinum certifications since emerging in the early 1990s. With a steady string of hits, Dupri and his company have established themselves as ground zero for artists seeking chart-topping hits in the fields of rap, R&B and bass.

“I want people to realize that So So Def has been one of the most successful and consistent labels in the game in the last 10 years,” Dupri says. “We haven’t had a slew of artists, but the artists that we do come out with have always had the same momentum. I hope that I can keep it up.”

With the phenomenal Instructions ready to make its mark with critics and fans alike, there’s no denying that Dupri has improved upon his first album and further established himself as hip-hop’s premier rapper-producer.

“My last record, people were a little confused because I was trying to prove a production point,” Dupri explains. “This time, my production credit as a producer is there. If you don’t know by now, you’re never going to know. I was just having fun making songs with this album.”

It’s a fun that becomes more infectious with each listen.