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17 FEB 2019

American Music

Stevie Nicks in Life and Music

By Jeff Mitchell   July 2018

Rock heroine Stephanie 'Stevie' Lynn Nicks played a pivotal role in the enduring international success of British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. However, her solo career in music has made waves as well and her lifelong devotion to music first began in infancy.

Young Stevie

As a baby, Stephanie could hardly pronounce her own name and would end up coining her own nickname 'Stevie' as she learned to speak.

Stevie enjoyed a loving, music-filled childhood. Her grandfather was especially supportive of her musical development - teaching the growing girl to sing duets with him by the time she was 4 years old.

Over the course of her childhood, Nicks would experience life and growth in multiple cities as her father's job prompted her family to relocate frequently. She'd pass much of her free time at home with her guitar (a gift at 16 years of age) and her favorite records. Once she reached Arcadia High School in California, she'd become part of a band for the first time (a folk rock band named "the Changing Times").

Stephanie's senior year came in a different High School. It was at Menlo-Atherton High School that she first met the young man she'd partner with as musicians and more. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie ended up playing a song together in a religious club they both attended. A few years later, he'd call Nicks up with an opportunity she couldn't refuse.

Suddenly, Stevie found herself as lead singer in Buckingham's psych-rock band "Fritz."

Stevie From Band to Band

From 1967 to 1972, Stevie's career in music blossomed as lead singer for "Fritz."

The band saw significant success - going so far as to open for both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, but Nicks remained undecided on it all. She didn't quite settle on music as a career choice until she dropped out of college shortly before graduating with a major in speech communication. She'd intended to pursue a career in teaching, but ultimately turned to music instead.

When "Fritz" found its end in '72, both Buckingham and Stevie kept on producing music together. Their nightly recording sessions on Buckingham's own tape machine would ultimately prove handy to Polydor Records when they were given a record deal. Polydor used their recordings for their "Buckingham Nicks" release in '73.

Trouble and Odd Jobs

"Buckingham Nicks" went over poorly in sales and Polydor quickly dropped the two artists following the release's failure. This left them in a tough situation and, to make matters worse, Lindsey began suffering from mononucleosis. Stevie set about working a number of odd jobs to support them both at the time. They lived in whatever places they could, including the homes of producers Keith Olsen and Richard Dashut.

This period was a low point in more ways than the above. Unfortunately, the two young musicians were introduced to cocaine during this stressful time.

While living with Dashut in 1972, Lindsey landed a new opportunity with the Everly Brothers and set off on tour with them. Stevie spent the time writing songs, but her inner state was shaky. Her songs reflected regrets concerning her lost career in teaching and her relationship with Lindsey. Her parents were supportive and offered an out by paying for her to return to college if she wanted to. Luckily, fate was waiting on the line with a phone call.

Stevie Meets Fleetwood

Upon receiving a call from Mick Fleetwood in 1974 about replacing the band's guitarist, Lindsey insisted the band take in both himself and Stevie. A dinner discussion at a later date sealed the deal and the British band became British-American. Their album "Fleetwood Mac" became a massive success and Stevie's own song "Rhiannon" would go on to become one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" according to Rolling Stone.

Stevie quickly gained recognition for her passionate performances and signature fashion (developed by designer Margi Kent). Behind the scenes, however, her relationship with Lindsey grew strained. The two called it quits as a couple before the release of Fleetwood Mac's next album. They kept up their work as members of the band though, and even joined forces as backup singers for other acts. Their relationship formed foundation for future songs, though. Notably "Go Your Own Way" (Lindsey's song about Stevie) and "Silver Springs" (Stevie's song about Lindsey).

When "Rumours," the band's next album, came out in '77, a song written by Nicks would become the band's only ever Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping track. That track was "Dreams" and never in her wildest ones did Stevie anticipate what would transpire later that same year.

Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks ended up romantically involved. Their relationship was not welcome, especially given Fleetwood's married status and they quickly ended it. Mick's marriage still ended in divorce the following year.

An album, a label and More for Nicks

Next up on the band's release radar would be "Tusk," the band's 12th studio album. However, a single album wouldn't do for Stevie as she launched her own solo career soon after.

Tusk came out in 1979 and featured songs and sounds considered some of Fleetwood Mac's most experimental. Though the album was influential to numerous artists and genres, it was considered a commercial failure in comparison to their previous release.

While the band had been recording tracks for "Tusk," Stevie recorded her own demos for what would eventually become "Bella Donna." Along with Danny Goldberg and Paul Fishkin, she founded Modern Records under which she released her own music.

"Bella Donna" was a total success and topped the Billboard 200 chart with ease. With such a successful release, it should have come as no surprise that Rolling Stone would name her "Queen of Rock and Roll." Things were looking up, but not for long...

Stevie in the 80's

Just as Bella Donna began seeing such success in 1981, Nicks was made aware of an impending tragedy that would shake her to her core. The looming threat of death for her best friend Robin who'd been diagnosed with leukemia soured her success with sorrow.

Compounding the bad news was Robin's pregnancy. She birthed a son and made Stevie his godmother. In 1982, Robin then succumbed to her illness - plummeting Nicks into grief. Bereft and mourning her friend, Stevie decided to marry her widowed husband in an attempt to better care for her child. The two divorced mere months later.

Freshly devastated by this development, Stevie returned to record "Mirage," Fleetwood Mac's next album. The very next year, she released her own second album "The Wild Heart" which went double platinum. Two tours and a slew of successful performances followed suit. In 1985, her 3rd studio album "Rock a Little" would come out to great success as well. The following year saw her touring with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan overseas, as well as a major life change.

Stevie's use of cocaine had gradually gone from recreational to an addiction. As it turned out, a part of her longed to follow in the footsteps of her idols Janis and Jimi, even to an early passing. Thankfully, she was made aware of her problem during a visit with a plastic surgeon and chose to check into the Betty Ford Center for help. In 30 days, she went from carrying a gram of cocaine with her at all times to sobriety, though she’d taken up a prescription for Klonopin to help stave off a relapse.

With a new lease on life and an album on the way ("Tango in the Night"), Stevie was back on track in her life. "Tango in the Night" would ultimately become the band's second-highest-grossing album of all time. Unfortunately, not everything went so smoothly as its release.

Lindsey Buckingham made a decision to quit the band before their tour - resulting in an ugly spat between himself and Nicks. Buckingham was replaced and the tour was made, though Stevie succumbed to the familiar struggle of addiction; this time, to her Klonopin prescription. An ironic twist given the prescription's intended purpose...

In the face of Stevie's illness, the tour had to be suspended and started back up in '88. That same year, she'd begin work on her next solo album "The Other Side of the Mirror" with a producer she'd later fall in love with (Rupert Hine). The album was a commercial success upon release in 1989 and the accompanying tour that same year went over well, despite Nicks noting her Klonopin dependency has since left her void of all memories from the period. More music with Fleetwood Mac would follow, but also more trouble.

Nicks in the 90's

In 1990, Fleetwood Mac's new album "Behind the Mask" released successfully, but Mick and Nicks had a falling out. Stevie quit the band but would reunite with the original lineup 2 years later to play "Don't Stop" at Bill Clinton's inauguration. The president had chosen the song for his campaign.

Nicks was notably ill at ease as her prescription predicament approached a tipping point. After an injury at her home due to side-effects of the drug, she underwent an arduous hospital detox process that lasted over 40 days.

In 1994, Stevie put out another solo album entitled "Street Angel." The album went over poorly and her tour was an equal disappointment. Fans were fed up with her for having gained weight, mostly due to the effects of Klonoprin and she took a stronger interest in her health in response to the negative attention - avoiding live performances until she was healthy again.

Come '96, Nicks would set differences aside to collaborate with Lindsey on "Twisted" for the movie "Twister." More movie music came next, but also a full reuniting with Fleetwood Mac for a new tour. The tour was named "The Dance" and it's accompanying live CD was hugely successful. Stevie's health had largely improved before the tour.

2 Years after "The Dance," the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and presented with an "Outstanding Contribution" award at the BRIT Awards. Before the year ended, Stevie also released a box set of her solo music with Warner Music entitled "Enchanted" to widespread acclaim.

Stevie at the Turn of the Millennium

Stevie's solo album release of 2001 opened up new opportunities for her as the 00's began. "Trouble in Shangri-La" revitalized Nicks's standing as a solo artist - garnering praise, awards and even a Grammy nomination. The album featured collaborations with Natalie Maines, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan and Macy Gray.

The accompanying tour for "Trouble in Shangri-La" was also a success despite difficulties with bronchitis and the events of 9-11.

The very next year, Stevie would return to Fleetwood Mac to help record yet another album by the name of "Say You Will." The album and 2 year world tour went relatively well, but Stevie found little enjoyment in it all. Fellow band-mate Christine McVie hadn't joined in and Stevie had struggled to work with Buckingham during production. She took a couple months to recover from the stresses of the tour before embarking on a number of solo performances across the country.

Some time late in 2004, Nicks set about donating hundreds of autographed iPod Nanos loaded with hand-selected music to wounded military personnel. She ultimately founded a charity to support wounded soldiers called "Stevie Nicks' Band of Soldiers."

A couple years later, in 2007, Stevie's best-of album "Crystal Visions" would unveil to relative success, followed in 2009 by "The Soundstage Sessions" (her tenth solo album and first live album). That same year, she went on tour with Fleetwood Mac yet again - playing the band's greatest hits.

Stevie in Modernity

As 2011 rolled in, so did the release of Stevie's solo album "In Your Dreams." She had produced this album with the assistance of Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics fame.

For the first time, Nicks took mostly to television for the sake of promoting her new music. She starred as a guest on more than 5 shows when her album released, including "The Tonight Show," "The X Factor," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Dancing with the Stars." "In Your Dreams" was quite well-received all-around and even debuted high up on the Billboard 200 (number 6). She'd continue making appearances on T.V. with some regularity from then on.

2013 saw the experienced star touring once more with Fleetwood Mac and even releasing fresh material with the band on a four-track EP simply called "Extended Play."

More T.V. time was given to Stevie for her appearance in the eerie "American Horror Story" series' third season. Nicks played a "white witch" and performed a bit of her own music on the show in 2014. That same year, she released yet another album called "24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault" and took off on tour to promote it. As of yet, her most recent studio release has been as a collaborator on singer Lana Del Rey's song "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems."

It is clear that Stevie Nicks's dedication to her craft has taken her on a roller coaster ride through life and love. Through ups and downs, trials and successes, she has stayed true to her purpose in music and inspired millions in the process.

By no means is her long-standing career yet over, though. More music must be on the way.

American Music

Madonna - A Life and Career in Music

By Jeff Mitchell   Mar 2018

Among pop musicians and entertainers, Madonna ranks near the top for overall success and notoriety.

The singer's career in music has spanned decades, yet her appeal endures to this day. With numerous chart-topping singles and successful tours under her belt, it might seem as though she's always been a star, but her massive achievement in the industry didn't quite happen overnight.

In fact, the "Queen of Pop" started off her career as a college-dropout...

Madonna's Childhood

Born Madonna Louise Ciccone in 1958 to Italian immigrant parents in Michigan, Madonna would face a tragic loss at an early age; that of her mother. In 1963, her mother passed away due to breast cancer and her father Tony remarried. The relationship between Madonna and her father would be severely strained as she grew up resenting him.

Madonna had a fairly positive time in school. Her grades were relatively high and she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She had an interest in ballet, but ended up dropping out of college in 1978 to pursue a career in music somewhere in New York.

Madonna in the Big Apple

Upon moving to New York, Madonna had very little to work with. She took whatever jobs she could find as a dancer in a variety of dance troupes and also worked at Dunkin' Donuts for a while.

Madonna met a musician by the name of Dan Gilroy while on tour as a backup singer and dancer for Patrick Hernandez. The two fell in love and formed a band together called "the Breakfast Club." The Breakfast Club played rock music and featured Madonna on drums and guitar as well as singing.

Unfortunately, its time was short-lived and she chose to leave the band by 1981. She quickly started another band with another boyfriend - this time naming the band "Emmy." Her and Stephen Bray, her boyfriend, wrote songs together for "Emmy," but Madonna began breaking away as a solo performer.

Madonna's Big Break

Madonna landed a singles deal with Sire Records and set about working on her first track.

1982 marks the year in which her debut single, "Everybody," released. The single was a massive success in the US - ranking near the top on Billboard's dance chart. Her second single, "Burning Up," followed suit in 1983.

Suddenly, the young performer was on track for releasing a full album. She worked on her eponymous album "Madonna" initially with the help of Warner Bros. producer Reggie Lucas. However, she decided to take her ideas to her boyfriend John Benitez, who helped to finish production on the album and produced "Holiday."

"Holiday," her third single, became Madonna's first international hit. Her album release in July of 1983 went over quite well too, with a peak rank of 8th on Billboard's top 200. A pair of singles from the album ranked high on Billboard's 100 chart as well; "Lucky Star" and "Borderline."

Like a Virgin, Marriage and Madonna's First Tour

Madonna's fame grew and grew in the years that followed. Her singular style - created by stylist Maripol - helped cement her as one of the most iconic performers of the 80's. When her second album, "Like a Virgin," released in 1984, it went number 1 in 7 countries and broke the record for female albums - selling enough copies to eventually be certified diamond.

For six weeks, the title track of the album topped the charts. Also on the album, "Material Girl" reached 2nd on the charts at the time.

Madonna met and married actor Sean Penn in 1985. That same year marked the beginning of the singer's film career. Her most successful appearance was in "Desperately Seeking Susan," a comedy that also featured her soon-to-be hit song "Get Into the Groove."

In April that same year, she began her first major tour "the Virgin Tour" with the Beastie Boys opening for her. It was a massive success.

Controversy and Continued Success

Like a Virgin had caused a minor uproar among moralists concerned with the song's sexual undertones. However, of a far more controversial nature were a series of photos of the singer nude published in Playboy and Penthouse in July of the same year.

The photos themselves were of a much younger Madonna, from 1978, when she'd needed money desperately. The singer shrugged off the issue and pushed through to greater success in the entertainment industry. Come 1986, Madonna would release a new album to best her others - "True Blue."

"True Blue" unveiled to fanfare and unprecedented success. It topped the charts in no less than 28 countries and was picked by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 as the best-selling female album of all time.

"True Blue" featured such memorable tracks as "La Isla Bonita," "Papa Don't Preach" and "Live to Tell" - all Billboard Top 5's.

1986 and 1987 saw the star performing in films such as "Shanghai Surprise" and "Who's That Girl" - the former of which helped her win a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Actress. Come 1989, she'd reacquaint herself with controversy.

Madonna in the Early 90's

1989 marks the year in which Madonna would divorce Sean Penn. Her success continued to grow, as did her controversial nature at the time. With the release of her hit song and video "Like a Prayer," she'd invoke harsh public scrutiny on the basis of religion - garnering religious condemnation from the Vatican and a dropped endorsement deal with Pepsi.

In spite of the controversy surrounding it, song's accompanying album was successful and featured a number of top 5 charting hits like "Express Yourself" and "Cherish."

In 1990, Madonna would return triumphantly to film as Breathless Mahoney in "Dick Tracey." Her soundtrack album for the film produced a chart-topper as well; "Vogue." When April came around, the singer set off on her "Blond Ambition World Tour." A recording of which would go on to win her a Grammy.

The tour's sexually suggestive choreography generated more negative religious feedback towards the artist, but not quite as much as subsequent Madonna creations would.

In November that same year, Madonna released a record-breaking compilation album of her greatest hits with bonus singles "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me." The video for the former featured particularly explicit sexual imagery and nudity considered so graphic that MTV banned it. Then, in 1992, her relationship with rapper Vanilla Ice fell apart in the face of her explicit coffee table book "Sex's" release. The public's general reaction to the book was negative at the time, though it was commercially successful. It's success, however, did not transfer over to the album "Erotica" that she released at the same time. It became the worst performing album she'd released up until that time.

Things weren't all controversial for the artist in 1992, though. Her appearance in "A League of Their Own," a film about an all-women baseball team, was quite successful. The movie itself was number 1 at the box office and the attendant single Madonna released for it, "This Used to Be My Playground," topped the charts. Before year's end, she'd found her own company in the entertainment industry, "Maverick."

Madonna Embraces Controversy... Again

Madonna made a point of indulging in controversy in 1993.

She starred nude in 2 fairly provocative films entitled "Dangerous Game" and "Body of Evidence," then set out on her "The Girlie Show World Tour," dressed as a dominatrix amidst topless dancers.

On television, her language was strong enough to require expletive censoring and stunts such as asking David Letterman to sniff a pair of her panties caused many of her fans to doubt her career's potential longevity.

Shortly thereafter, there was a noticeable shift in the performer's behavior and artistic direction. A far less aggressive album followed by a collection of ballads would follow - signaling a new era for Madonna altogether.

Madonna Reborn

Shortly after the release of her ballads and a brief relationship with rapper Tupac Shakur, Madonna began a relationship with her fitness trainer Carlos Leon. The relationship resulted in her becoming pregnant with her daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. During her pregnancy, Madonna made waves as Eva Peron in the musical "Evita" - netting a Golden Globe in the process.

After giving birth to her daughter, Madonna found faith in Kabbalah, which she then poured into her 7th studio album "Ray of Light." The album single "Frozen" ranked 1st and 2nd in the UK and the US respectively. The album itself also garnered a total of 4 Grammy's.

Madonna met her would-be second husband Guy Ritchie and, come 1999, she'd release the hit single "Beautiful Stranger" for "Austin Powers" and win yet another Grammy.

Millennium of Madonna

In 2000, Madonna's shift would mature to modern electronic dance music. "Music," her album release at the turn of the millennium, was hugely successful in over 20 countries - ranking 1st and selling millions. That same year, the singer married Guy Ritchie and gave birth to her son Rocco John Ritchie. The very next year, she was touring again. Her " Drowned World Tour" was a massive success with 47 sold-out shows.

2002 went relatively poorly for Madonna as her reputation as an actress soured due to several poor performances in film and on stage. That same year, her single for the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" would receive a nomination for 'Worst Song' in the Golden Raspberry awards.

Her luck would not improve from 2003 to 2004... Her album "American Life" was a failure and her provocative performance at the 2003 "MTV Video Music Awards" proved regrettably controversial due to her kissing Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears on stage.

She landed a lucrative children's book deal, but its success was overshadowed by her company's lawsuit against Warner Music Group.

Finally, in mid-2004 the performer's luck changed. Her "Re-Invention World Tour" was a massive success and the UK Music Hall of Fame inducted her into its ranks as one of the founding members. Her next album release, in 2005, would return her to the spotlight in style. "Confessions on a Dance Floor" won her a Grammy and its lead single "Hung Up" reached number 1 in 41 countries. The accompanying tour for the album went over well too, albeit with some religious controversy. This was all overlooked when Madonna founded a charity in Malawi during that same tour and adopted a boy by the name of David Banda.

2007 to Present

Madonna's career ploughed on in 2007 with her producing a documentary, directing a film and, the next year, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her 2008 album "Hard Candy" landed another top-ten charting single and continued success in the industry. Her "Sticky & Sweet Tour" became the second highest-grossing tour of all time.

Unfortunately, her marriage with Guy Ritchie came to an end in 2008, but 2009 saw her adopting another son in Malawi and taking the top spot as best-selling single artist of the decade.

Madonna designed a clothing line with her daughter, opened her own "Hard Candy" fitness centers around the world and, in 2012, gave a record-breaking half-time show at the super bowl.

The singer's album release and tour of 2012 entitled "MDNA" was largely successful and catapulted her to the number one position among celebrity earners of the year.

In 2015, Madonna released her most recent album, "Rebel Heart," another commercial success featuring a number of prominent producers and artists. The attendant tour was just as positive and grossed upwards of 160 million dollars overall. The next year, she proved outspoken as regards the U.S. presidential election and disappointed in its outcome. The very next year, she moved to Portugal with her two newly adopted daughters Esther and Stella.

Madonna's career has endured many changes in trends and demographics, but her enduring success has earned her a place in history as the "Queen of Pop."

Her music and performances continue to attract listeners and viewers to this day and her incredible career is still far from over.

American Music

The Life and Career of Katy Perry

By Jeff Mitchell   Mar 2018

Katy Perry's career in music has taken her from one major accomplishment to the next - seeing her accomplish feats few other performers have come close to.

Her major hits in pop music serve as excellent examples of the genre overall both in style and feel as well as general popularity.

Although her success overtook her in a flash, she'd been a musician for quite some time with little fame to speak of. Her story actually found its start in gospel music when she was a child.

Katy's Musical Upbringing

Born in California as Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, Katy's childhood was one of rather staunch religious adherence under the watchful eyes of her parents, two born-again Christian pastors. Her parents reputedly allowed only gospel music in their household for the most part - forcing young Katy to delve into the genre. Up until she turned 11, her family also moved quite a bit as her parents established a number of churches in other areas. Eventually, they would return to the Santa Barbara area she was born in.

During her formative years, Katy took a marked interest in singing and was put in vocal classes at the age of 9. It was from this age until she turned 17 that she sang in church. Her song writing habits began at 13, though, when she was gifted a guitar. Set on a career in music, Katy completed her "General Educational Development" requirements at age 15 and made her way to the "Music Academy of the West" in Santa Barbara to study Italian Opera.

The Start of Katy's Career

Her stay at the Music Academy would be brief. Two Nashville natives took notice of her and whisked her away to their hometown to help her with her songwriting. One of these musicians was Jennifer Knapp, the folk-rock musician.

This period saw Katy recording demos and learning guitar before landing her first record deal with "Red Hill Records." In 2001, she released her first album entitled "Katy Hudson." The album was gospel and was pretty well received by critics at the time but sold very few copies. She toured with Christian Kiwi Rocker, Phil Joel and embarked on her own small tours as well.

At 17, after "Red Hill" had shut down, Katy moved to Los Angeles.

Katy's Big Break

While performing in L.A., Katy adopted her stage name "Katy Perry" as a means of separating herself from actress Kate Hudson and avoiding confusion thereof. She spent some time writing music with a producer by the name of Glen Ballard who then signed her under his own label, Java, in 2004. Java was dropped from its "The Island Def Jam Music Group" association shortly thereafter, though, and the creation of Perry's debut album was put on hold.

Ballard helped introduce Katy to an executive in A&R at Columbia Records and she was quickly signed to the label as a solo artist. Her debut album back on track, she worked with a number of producers and songwriters on it. Unfortunately, Columbia dropped her in 2006 and she ended up working at "Taxi Music," an A&R company in the area, for a while.

Thanks to Angelica Cob-Baehler of Columbia Records, who took Katy's demos to an executive at Virgin Records, she was soon signed again, this time to Capitol Records. With the help of Dr. Luke, a producer she'd worked with before, her two first major hits were written: "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot n Cold." Her album, "One of the Boys" would come out to controversy, craze and massive success.

Katy on Tour and Achieving More

2008 was a flood of performing success for Perry as she ended up on the lineup of the "Warped Tour" and hosted the "MTV Europe Music Awards," where she won an award for Best New Act. Her success carried on into 2009. The year saw the rising star opening for "No Doubt" during their Summer tour and hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards yet again; a first in the history of the European event's hosts.

In 2010, Katy began breaking records in the music industry, with Guiness World Records bestowing her the "Best Start on the U.S. Digital Chart by a Female Artist" position for selling over two million copies. This proved to be just the beginning; she would go on to break the record for female recording artists with five number-one Billboard Hot 100 songs on a single album. In fact, the only artist ever to have topped this achievement was the King of pop himself, Michael Jackson. She was given an honorary American Music award for this. A few of the songs that helped her achieve such a chart-topping triumph were "California Gurls," "Last Friday Night" and "Firework."

Her "California Dreams" tour of 2010 went on to massive success as well.

From 2010 through 2012, Katy Perry grew in fame to the level of being almost a household name. She made film appearances on "the Simpsons," "Saturday Night Live" and "the Smurfs," released an autobiographical documentary to wild success and even endorsed her own fragrances, "Purr" and "Meow!". In 2010, she also married Russell Brand, but their union proved to be brief - lasting only 14 months in total.

2013 saw the release of her ninth hit single, "Dark Horse" on another successful album entitled "Prism." Awards soon followed and she was dubbed the "Top Package" by the Billboard Touring Awards that year. Soon, yet another record would be broken by the star, this time in sports history.

Perry Plays the Super Bowl

Katy Perry was announced as halftime performer for the 2015 Super Bowl and performed with both Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott. Their performance was a phenomenal success - marking the first time in Super Bowl history that an act garnered 118.5 million viewers in the U.S. alone. The act even topped the overall viewership of the game itself!

Perry at Present

Following her Super Bowl smash hit performance, Katy appeared in a number of documentaries, shows and advertising campaigns. She also released new fragrances and, in 2017, launched her own shoe line called "Katy Perry Collections."

She released her fifth album, "Witness," in 2017 and is set to star as a judge on the revival of American Idol this year (2018).

With such an incredible career under her belt, odds are good that Katy Perry will continue to kill it in the music industry in coming years. At only 33, she has plenty of time to break more industry records in the future.

American Music

The Life of Jimi Hendrix

By Jeff Mitchell   Mar 2018

Jimi Hendrix, as he exists today, is a cultural icon among few greats.

His deft musicianship, experimental music and riveting performances drove fans wild during his brief career. Had his life not been cut short, much more astounding music would likely have been made by the far-out performer.

Although he is cherished in memory by many today, his life and career took a number of interesting and devastating turns before he reached age 30 - leaving the world with a legendarily tragic life story and the music he made throughout it.

Jimi's Troubled Childhood

Jimi Hendrix was born to another name; Johnny Allen Hendrix. Four years after his birth, in 1946, his parents elected to change his name to James Marshall Hendrix - like his father and late brother.

Hendrix's childhood was, unfortunately, that of a child to impoverished parents. His father struggled to support his family after an honorable discharge from the military. The two went on to have 3 additional children, but they were all given up to foster care.

Jimi's childhood experiences would later be disclosed in private to one of his girlfriends, whom he told of the sexual abuse he suffered from a man in uniform. This difficult period of his life likely shaped his later outlook and interests dramatically.

Jimi's Introduction to Music

In the 50's, a young Hendrix caught the attention of a social worker while attending elementary school in Seattle. He had a habit of carrying a broom with him and using it to emulate a guitar. Despite the social worker's efforts to sway them, the school directors were not convinced to buy the child a guitar, and so Jimi went without for some time.

In 1957, Jimi obtained his first instrument. He'd had a stroke of luck while assisting his father with an odd job and came across an old ukulele which he was allowed to keep. The thing had only one string left to play, but Jimi's fascination with it was limitless.

He followed along to his favorite songs by Elvis and others - picking up the tunes by ear and plucking at his one-stringed uke with zeal.

Just a year later, he'd obtain his first guitar and begin developing his playing. Unfortunately, that same year, he'd lose his mother to cirrhosis.

Growing Guitar God

Jimi set about developing his guitar skills in the midst of the tremendous loss of his mother. He played his $5 acoustic guitar in his first band, "the Velvetones" until it became apparent that he'd need a louder instrument to be heard over the group. Around this time, in 1959, he also met Billy Davis, whom he was friends with from then on.

Halfway through 1959, his father bought him his first electric guitar, and Jimi was off and running in the local music scene.

His first big gig was at Seattle's Jewish Temple De Hirsch Sinai, where he managed to get himself fired in between sets for excessive showboating. His next success came when he joined the "Rocking Kings" and began playing regularly with them in local venues. Unfortunately, hardship would soon find him once more - leading him shockingly far away from his burgeoning career in music and into unsettling terrain.

Jimi Joins the Army

A less-than-19-year-old Hendrix, presented with an ultimatum by authorities after being caught in stolen cars on multiple occasions, would choose a stint in the U.S. military over prison time.

Thus it went, Jimi enlisted in the army May 31, 1961. Eight weeks of basic training later, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He wasn't enthusiastic about his stay in the military though - writing home disparaging remarks about the experience to his father.

It proved a difficult time for him overall. He managed to have his guitar shipped out to his base, which helped him cope somewhat. Still, he couldn't quite cut it in the army - according to his superiors who soon found a way to discharge him. An injury sustained on a jump gave Hendrix an out, but his discharge was on the grounds of unsuitability.

Back on the Music Scene

Jimi was doubtless delighted to have left the military, but the time he'd spent there hadn't been entirely a loss. During his stay, he'd met and jammed with fellow recruit Billy Cox, who'd played bass. When Cox left the military in 1963, they both moved to Tennessee to start a band called the "King Kasuals."

It was during this time that Jimi first learned to play guitar with his teeth, so as not to be upstaged by the other guitarist in their band who also knew the trick. The band rose in relative notoriety - playing as a resident band at Club del Morocco, a popular venue in the area at the time, among others.

Hendrix also found time to play as backing musician for a number of prominent acts at the time. These included the likes of Ike & Tina Turner as well as Sam Cooke.

Jimi Makes the Move

Hendrix eventually chose to leave Tennessee in search of a more fulfilling solo career. He settled in Harlem, New York and played local venues - winning the Apollo Theater's amateur contest at one point. However, it was a chance audition with none other than the Isley Brothers that got him his biggest break yet. He applied and landed the position as guitarist of their backing band.

He left the band in 1964, tired of the monotony, but not before recording their two-part single, "Testify."

He joined Little Richard's backing band and recorded "I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me)" with him in 1965. While in Hollywood, Jimi ended up recording two tracks with singer Rosa Lee Brooks; "My Diary" and "Utee." That same year, he made his first televised appearance playing on Nashville's "Channel 5 Night Train." In the same month, he was booted from Little Richard's band for butting heads over showboating, among other things.

Hendrix returned to the Isley Brothers' band for a short while and recorded with them once more before moving on to an R&B band by the name of "Curtis Knight and the Squires." He recorded with this band as well as King Curtis at the time.

Come 1966, Jimi was ready for more changes and decided to form a band of his own.

Rise to Stardom

Hendrix created his own band, "Jimmy James and the Blue Flames," in Greenwich Village, NY.

The band landed a few residencies at local clubs and saw minor success. However, it was a chance introduction to former "Animals" member Chas Chandler who'd taken an interest in managing artists, that catapulted Jimi to true stardom. Chas took Jimi to London and helped him build his soon-to-be-famous band, "the Jimi Hendrix Experience."

Partnered with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, Jimi would soon see a level of success that had, up to that point, eluded him.

The band's first show was played as Johnny Hallyday's supporting act in France at the Novelty in Evreux. Later that year, the band would be signed to Track Records. "Hey Joe" and "Stone Free" were recorded that same year, the former of which peaked at 6 on the UK charts. 1967 saw songs like "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary" recorded to great success.

That same year, Hendrix would give one of his most memorable performances, in which he set his guitar on fire, at the London Astoria. He'd do the same once more at the Monterey Pop Festival.

'67 also saw the release of Jimi's band's first full-length album, "Are You Experienced?" which featured an eclectic mix of influences and peaked at number 2 on the charts. Another album followed shortly thereafter; "Axis: Bold as Love" to little fanfare. Then another, "Electric Ladyland", in 1968, which went on to be considered Hendrix's greatest album. The album included his only US top 40 song, a cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."

The End of the Experience

1969 marked the end of the original Experience lineup as Hendrix's and Redding's mounting frustration formed a rift between them. With his old friend Cox on bass, Jimi played the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that year as the main event. The crowd had reached an incredible size of roughly 400,000 people to catch his performance. He played his iconic rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" during this performance, which featured on a later documentary of the fair.

In 1970, Hendrix released his LP "Band of Gypsys" to appease his former manager Ed Chalpin, with whom he'd run into legal trouble over their old contract. The LP featured live material by his new band and was released by Capitol Records.

Jimi's Final Tour

The "Cry of Love" tour in 1970 was the guitarist's final tour, the American leg of which ended in Honolulu. During this tour, he played for the largest crowd of his career at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, on July 4. Some 500,000 people were in attendance.

Unfortunately, during the European leg of the tour, Hendrix played his final show - an impromptu jam session with "War" - before passing away 48 hours later.

The details surrounding Hendrix's death are hazy and inconclusive. The official cause was cited as asphyxiation while intoxicated. His untimely death lent an air of martyrdom to his status as a rock and roll icon that has since transformed him into an immortal musical icon.

Jimi Hendrix, the rock legend and troubled musician will forever be remembered for his contributions to music history.

Few artists have achieved as much in as little time as he did in his short career. Wherever rock and roll may go, his influence will likely follow.

Quotes from Jimi Hendrix:

“I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”
― Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix - Axis: Bold as Love

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”
― Jimi Hendrix

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye...until we meet again”
― Jimi Hendrix

American Music

The Life of Elton John

By Jeff Mitchell   Mar 2018

Elton John's career has taken him from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of musical success.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight to a father less than delighted with his son's choice of direction in life, Elton changed not only in name, but stature as well - netting numerous awards and accolades usually reserved only for a fortunate few.

One of a small group of artists to be Knighted by the Queen of England and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, John is a true star at an international level. His life and career were not devoid of hardships, but his music and compositions have held up against time as classics.

Elton's Early Career

Near the start of Elton John's early career, he labored as a studio composer and vocalist, but his entry into the world of music began as early as his school years.

Though Elton flunked out at the age of 17, his musical abilities had actually given him an opportunity to excel academically. He was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London at a young age and attended classes there on weekends.

Once he'd left school for good, he devoted much of his time to performing with a band called "Bluesology." He greatly enjoyed the time he spent amongst them and decided to change his name to reflect what the band had meant to him - choosing two of his bandmates' names as his new stage moniker.

It was around this time that he got into studio work and became a resident artist at a local label. For a period of time, Liberty Records employed him alongside another musician by the name of Bernie Taupin as a songwriter. The two spent a year writing lyrics for Liberty artists before switching to the DJM label. It was the year 1969 that bore witness to Elton's first singing release on his album "Empty Sky." However, it wasn't until the following year that he got his big break as a solo recording artist.

Elton's Rise to Notoriety

1970 would come to be a pivotal year in Elton John's development as an artist. It marks the release of his self-entitled album, on which appeared the charting hits, "Your Song" and "Border Song."

This first album had been released in both the U.S. as well as the U.K. - landing John on the radar of an international audience right from the start of his career. From here on out, he was off and running with a series of top albums and stellar hits.

Soon, with the help of his own band, Elton was performing his hit songs in the US and abroad.

During this stretch of time, between 1970 and 1980, Elton John went on to release an astonishing 17 albums and many of his biggest hit singles. Songs like "Rocket Man," "Daniel," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" came into existence throughout this decade, among many other notable examples. For this reason, the music he produced throughout the 70's is considered the most exemplary of his unique style, sound and genius.

Elton in the 80's

By the time the 80's rolled around, Elton was no longer working with his original band lineup. It is alleged that he was tired and indeed, his output had waned some, with only 1 Elton John album per year being released. He'd seen immense highs, broken records with his chart-topping albums and even had his own star added to the Hollywood walk of fame, but would not stop there. By 1982, he'd dreamt up a fresh new hit song in loving memory of his friend John Lennon entitled "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" that rose high on the charts and brought him back into the limelight. "That's What Friends Are For" and "Nikita" would follow later in the decade.

It was during the 80's that John brought to the forefront another young star and friend of his, George Michaels of "Wham!." This wasn't the only star he performed with though, the 80's saw Elton recording and playing with acts as diverse as Saxon, the heavy metal band, and Dionne Warwick. His collaboration song with Stevie Wonder, "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," went on to be a major hit as did "I'm Still Standing."

Elton wasn't without hardships in the 80's though. He unexpectedly lost his voice while on tour in '86 - warranting a critical throat surgery that permanently altered his vocal chords. On top of this, the following year, he was accused by publication "The Sun" of having rented young boys for sexual purposes. He later won a libel case against the Sun over these allegations. Despite such troubles, John pushed through into the 90's with more hits up his sleeve and triumphs to enjoy.

Elton's Evolution

After 2 entire decades' worth of hits, performances and accolades, Elton had little need to continue producing great music, but he did so anyway.

Cue the creation of songs such as "Sacrifice" and "Runaway Train," his duet with Eric Clapton. He didn't stop at producing mere singles and albums though, John then branched out to film and musicals - producing the phenomenally successful score for the animated Disney classic "the Lion King." His Lion King single "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award and a Grammy.

1994 marks the year in which Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by none other than Axl Rose of Guns n' Roses. Unfortunately, Elton lost two good friends just 3 years later, one of whom was Princess Diana.

He performed a revised version of his song "Candle in the Wind" at her funeral service in Westminster Abbey which he vowed to never perform again. The iconic song rose to legendary status - setting the record for sales of a single and being the only track to ever be certified Diamond in the United States.

John continued accruing accolades all around with his work on the musical "Aida" and its accompanying album as well as being Knighted by the Queen of England in 1998 for his charitable work. It was also during this decade that Elton and David Furnish began their relationship. They would later go on to marry in 2014 when gay marriage was made legal.

Elton John's Ongoing Success

The singer took to musicals yet again with compositions for "Billy Elliot the Musical" in 2005 which went on to massive success as the 11th longest-running West End musical of all time. John tried his hand at theater alongside his fellow writer Taupin, but their rendition of Anne Rice's vampire novels went over poorly with critics.

Elton shocked many with his contribution to Tupac Shakur's posthumous release, "Ghetto Gospel" in 2005 and continued to sell out huge venues like Madison Square Garden with his public performances. A few years later, in 2009, he shocked many yet again by contributing to an Alice in Chains song entitled "Black Gives Way to Blue." His alt rock contributions far from over, he's sung and played with Queens of the Stone Age as recently as 2013 on their track "Fairweather Friends."

Still performing and even appearing in film (Kingsman, the Golden Circle), the 70 year old musician is admirably active with plans for the future.

His enduring success as a performer and musician has been no accident, but the direct result of his boundless dedication to the arts. Coupled with his commitment to funding AIDS research and generous charity to struggling communities, his impact on the world is not likely to be forgotten for quite some time.

American Music

Whitney Houston

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

Few American singers have accrued quite the widespread appeal that Whitney Houston was able to amass during her lifetime.

Whitney's miraculous vocal abilities and charming appearance earned her a spot in everyone's hearts halfway through the 80's. A series of achievements and accolades ensued soon after her debut, culminating in the early nineties. Unfortunately, her life took a drastic turn for the worse after her marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Although she was able to make a small comeback in 2009, the height of her fame was never fully regained.

Whitney's Early Career

Whitney Houston was born on the 9th of August in the year 1963.

New Jersey was her birthplace and where she initially got her start in music. Her gifted singing ability seems to have run in her family; her cousin, mother and godmother were incredibly influential figures in music. Her cousin was actually Dionne Warwick and her godmother the one and only Aretha Franklin. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was minister of the church choir in which a young Whitney first began to wow and woo audiences. Congregations reputedly found her incredible to watch and listen to. Soon the entire world would follow suit.

It was around the time she turned 15 that Whitney began modeling successfully. Her natural beauty landed her on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She was one of the first black women to do so. Houston continued on with music though - seeking out an opportunity at a record deal and big success in the industry. At 19, she got her big break as a newly-signed artist under Arista Records, thanks to Clive Davis who had signed her immediately after seeing her perform. After debuting on the Merv Griffin Show with a cover of "Home" from Oz-based musical remake, "The Wiz," Whitney and Davis worked closely together on her first album. In 1985, her debut album was released and Whitney's life changed forever.

Houston's Liftoff to Fame

Whitney was quickly catapulted to immense success and notoriety upon the release of her self-titled first album.

Over 14 non-consecutive weeks, Whitney's sensational first album topped the charts and dominated the airwaves. Iconic songs such as "How Will I Know" and "Saving All My Love for You" earned her critical acclaim, unparalleled fame and prestigious awards. "Saving All My Love for You" actually won Whitney a Grammy in 1986! With a huge mass of fans to please, Whitney released her second album in 1987. This album, titled "Whitney," did just as phenomenally as her first - earning her another Grammy for the smash hit, "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." This time around, she completed a tour of the world to great success.

At this time, Houston historically appeared and performed at Nelson Mandela's birthday!

Whitney's Move to Movies

After two incredibly successful albums, Whitney found her way onto the big screen - first appearing in "The Bodyguard" with Co-star Kevin Costner in 1992. The movie did tremendously well, but the accompanying soundtrack stole the show, due in no small part to her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The song rose to the top of the charts and stuck there for 14 solid weeks, while the soundtrack earned her 3 Grammys. She went on to release hit albums for and star in two more movies (Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher's Wife), but began to experience serious difficulties in her personal life shortly thereafter.

Whitney's Downfall

Whitney's marriage to singer, Bobby Brown back in 1992 had gone from good to terrible in short time - devolving into a torrid fit of drug abuse and alleged domestic violence.

She and Bobby had entered into very rocky terrain in their relationship and, unfortunately, things did not progress in a positive direction. A series of public incidents began to erode her stature in the public eye and give rise to serious concerns over her health. It was a 2005 reality show with Bobby Brown as the focus that greatly defiled Houston's reputation - showing all of the worst moments the couple went through in 2004.

Their ailing relationship did not benefit from the massive publicity of the reality show and their many personal problems earned Whitney very little sympathy from viewers. Her 1998 album, "My Love is Your Love" and collaboration with Mariah Carey in "The Prince of Egypt" garnered awards but her 2002-release, "Just Whitney..." did pretty poorly. Once the reality show hit, her public image was tarnished almost irreparably. Soon, she was being recognized as coiner of the phrase "Hell to the No" rather than the incredible singer she had previously won the world over as. It was hard to imagine her coming out such a serious funk in her career, but more importantly in her own personal life and health.

Her Comeback and Passing

Houston's life had been severely derailed, but she somehow found the strength to pull herself together after a messy split with Bobby Brown and a slew of familial issues. She'd succeeded in obtaining custody of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown, and managed to put together a successful new album entitled "I Look to You." However, her live performances were no longer what they used to be and her voice was reputedly less impressive after years of substance abuse.

Despite the difficulties with her voice, Whitney appeared to be coming back strong. She was set to star as a judge on "The X Factor" and sing alongside Jordin Sparks in upcoming movie musical, "Sparkle," but unfortunately passed away tragically before these plans could fully mature.

It was at a Beverly Hilton hotel in LA that Whitney allegedly drowned accidentally.

Clive Davis had been holding a Grammy party there and Houston had spent her last days at the pre-Grammy parties in the area. Official autopsies revealed traces of cocaine in her system as well as the telltale signs of a debilitating heart condition. Houston's substance use had finally taken its toll it would seem, but many are unsure of the true details of her death.

Although her life was cut short, her incredible singing legacy lives on to this day - inspiring millions worldwide to value, appreciate and even take up music themselves.

American Music

Elvis Presley

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

Elvis Aron Presley was a performing artist of monumental import to the development of rock and roll.

The crowned king of his genre, he managed to build a lasting legacy as a musician and entertainer within his 47 years of life. The worldwide phenom from the small town of Tupelo, Mississippi endured a rapid rise to fame and stardom after starting his musical career in Memphis, Tennessee. At just 19, he recorded his first song at Sun Records, but a mere two years later (in 1956), he was hot on the charts at number one with "Heartbreak Hotel."

Elvis's music spanned genres and ethnic backgrounds - pulling significant influence from the black-dominated genre “rhythm and blues,” of which his eponymous debut album featured three songs covered in his own unique style. He sang Little Richard's, Ray Charles's and the Drifters' songs in a manner that white listeners hadn't heard from a country-born performer. His take on this music would prove, ultimately, to serve as a major driving force for his meteoric ascent in notoriety. Coupled with his lively, overtly sexual stage presence, it's little wonder his fans caused such a stir at his concerts. At the height of his fame, most all of his concerts were riotous affairs.

Elvis's stardom crossed musical-visual boundaries as well when he first stepped into film in 1956. His film debut saw him playing to his sexual appeal in "Love Me Tender." A slew of films would follow this first one, most created during his 7-year recording hiatus in the 60's and all of them moving along similar love-based narratives. Before his extensive body of films would be produced, though, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

1958 marked the year in which Elvis joined the Army. He served first as a private in Arkansas - having been convinced to serve as a regular soldier instead of joining Special Services. He took advantage of his brief, 2-week leave to record songs which were carefully released during his stay in the military to help maintain interest in his music. This proved a successful plan - sustaining his notoriety in the public eye with a number of well-received hits during his absence.

Elvis scored a total of 10 top 40 hits while he was still in the military - including songs like "Hard Headed Woman" and "A Big Hunk o' Love." On top of that, his compilation album, "Elvis' Golden Records," reached 3rd on the LP chart in 1958.

Coming into the 60's, Elvis' courtship with the young Priscilla Ann Wagner had already begun. The two had met on September 13, 1959 - when she was just 14 years old. Elvis himself was 24 and still serving in the Army at that time. It was in Germany that they first met. A long and somewhat scandalous courtship would follow over the course of 7 years, fraught with myriad allegations of affairs on Elvis' behalf with the leading ladies of the movies he would film throughout the early 60's. Despite the difficulties, they would eventually marry in Vegas on the 1st of May, 1967. The ceremony itself would last but 8 minutes - lending large notoriety to the iconic Vegas-styled, impulsive wedding concept. Nine months later, their only daughter, Lisa Marie, was born.

Their marriage officially ended in 1973, when Elvis filed for divorce.

Although Elvis' life had taken many interesting turns throughout the 60's his appeal had dwindled.

By the end of the 60's, Elvis found himself in a rut. Having spent the better portion of the decade building up a collection of film appearances, his musical output had seen a dip in positive reception. Most of his songs weren't causing much of a commotion and only two of his eight releases between January 1967 and May 1968 managed to chart at all. He needed a revival and, luckily, he got one.

It was the December 1968 Elvis special airing on NBC that would later come to be known as the Elvis comeback special. It positively reignited his fame and ramped up his standing in the public eye to new heights. The special proved to be the first chance Elvis had of performing live since 1961 - charming a small studio audience with his energetic playthroughs of his own classic songs. The show itself became NBC's highest rated production of the season and the launchpad Elvis needed to put his career back on track. This was also the singer's first shift in fashion towards his iconic, high-collar look; this time in black leather.

Throughout the 5 years following his 1968 special, he built up his image and success substantially with a solid body of well-received releases. His "From Elvis in Memphis" album of 1969 garnered positive reviews all-around and reached the number one slot in the UK's chart. This success was followed by a long-lasting series of successful Vegas performances. It was at this time that Elvis set about having his classic jumpsuit stage uniform designed; a look he derived from his fascination with karate.

In 1973, Elvis performed in the now legendary "Aloha from Hawaii" television special wearing his stage uniform adorned with a cape and eagle motif. The special was the world's first global satellite concert broadcast. The performance's resultant double-album went on to sell five million copies and reach number one on the charts that year.

After 1973, Elvis began to suffer the consequences of a difficult, demanding lifestyle and routine prescription drug abuse, according to popular reports. His health waned quickly in the wake of his failed marriage and increased touring requirements. On August 16, 1977, he died - suffering a heart attack in his own home on the Graceland property. The Graceland estate is now listed as a historic place (since 1991) and a full-fledged national landmark (since 2006) - serving as the second most-visited house in the country, just behind the White House.

Elvis' life and career over, his legacy lives on in the hearts of many faithful fans around the world. Though he publicly refused the title of "King of Rock and Roll" - attributing it rightly to the likes of rhythm and blues predecessors such as "Fats Domino," his legacy in the genre and in music as a whole is difficult to exaggerate.

American Music

Cyndi Lauper

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

Singer, Cyndi Lauper is widely regarded as one of the first female recording artists to embrace being different and unique while building a massive following.

Her musical success came as a result of not only her memorable songs and unique style, but her enduring dedication to honoring uniqueness in all its forms.

She has had a long and illustrious career in the music industry and is still working on new projects to this day; however, things were not always easy for her and her life actually got off to a pretty rocky start.

Childhood and Inspirations

Born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper to parents who divorced when she was only 5, Cyndi spent the bulk of her youth growing up in Ozone Park, a small neighborhood in Queens, New York City. Her birth took place in Brooklyn and her earliest years were spent there before moving to Ozone Park at 4.

Cyndi's mother took charge of her and her two siblings (Fred and Ellen) following her divorce - raising them to share in her own love of art by frequenting events and museums in Manhattan. Lauper's time in school was reputedly riddled with hardships, but her interest in music steadily grew and blossomed.

At age 12, she was already writing songs of her own.

Cyndi’s Early Career

Cyndi fled home at 17 in an effort to leave her stepfather's abuse behind and set about joining the work force.

In a flash, she found herself in Canada. Anguished, she spent two weeks soul-searching in the woods with her dog before finally venturing all the way to Vermont.

She bounced between multiple odd jobs and took art classes at Johnson State College at the time to satisfy her thirst for creative expression.

The 70's saw Lauper performing with multiple cover bands such as "Doc West" and "Flyer." Nearing the decade's end, in '77, she suffered a vocal cord injury that threatened to keep her from ever singing again, but recovered with the help of a vocal coach.

It was her stint as lead vocalist of "Blue Angel" that gave her a taste of success. She and the band were signed by Polydor Records thanks to Steve Massarsky, their manager at the time. However, when their self-titled album tanked commercially (despite being acclaimed by critics), the band fell apart - firing Massarsky, who then sued them for $80,000.

Cyndi spent the difficult period that followed bankrupt and working in various retail stores as well as waitressing. It was the time she spent working in thrift stores that allegedly sparked her fashion transition to "thrift-store chic" that would later serve to seriously set her apart from other artists at the time.

Cyndi's Rapid Rise to Fame

Cyndi went back to singing and finally caught her chance at success in a bar in New York. Her singing had caught the ear of David Wolff, who then got her signed by Portrait Records.

Cue the gestation and release of her debut album, "She's So Unusual."

"She's So Unusual" took the world by surprise. Cyndi's unique style and sound catapulted her to international icon status in a flash and her album went on to be the first female debut album with 4 top-five hits on Billboard's "Hot 100."

Songs like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time" were veritable pop sensations at release and have since become truly legendary offerings of the genre.

Awards poured in from all directions with nominations for Record of the Year and Album of the Year in the mix. It actually won a Grammy for Best Album Package!

Her fame grew even larger as she began making appearances in WWF events alongside Hulk Hogan, a move that fit perfectly with her raw and unrestrained image.

Continued Success and Achievement

In 1986, Cyndi put out her album "True Colors" which was massively successful, though to a lesser degree than her first. It tackled tough subjects tastefully - championing the struggles of the LGBT community and setting the philosophical tone for her many musical efforts to come.

The titular track charted at #1 on Billboard's "Hot 100" and ended up being licensed to Kodak for the company's commercials.

This period saw Lauper debuting in film, though her first movie appearance did very poorly. The movie itself, "Vibes," was a flop in all respects, but the song Cyndi released for it ("Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)") did quite well in Australia.

Her third album, "A Night to Remember" had only 1 hit; Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night," a number 6 single.

Marriage, Albums and More

Although Lauper's wide scale fame is still confined to her early two albums, she has yet to stop fervently producing thoughtful music.

After marrying actor David Thornton in 1991, Cyndi went on releasing albums, one after another to significantly less commercial success than her first 3. In fact, both her albums "Sisters of Avalon" and "Shine" were released exclusively in Japan.

She jumped back into acting as well - starring in "Life with Mikey" and "Mad About You," the latter of which won her an Emmy. A slew of cameos and accomplishments followed as well as the birth of her son Declyn W. Thornton.

Her albums "Bring Ya to the Brink" and "Memphis Blues" were very well received and featured charting hits. In the case of "Memphis Blues," the entire album held the #1 spot on Billboard's Blues Albums chart for 14 weeks straight!

Cyndi's Musical, Most Recent Album and Legacy

In 2012, a musical entitled "Kinky Boots" opened in Chicago. It was hugely successful, with 13 nominations and 6 wins at the Tony Awards. Best of all, Cyndi had composed the music and lyrics herself - landing a Tony Award for Best Original Score in the process.

She released her most recent album, "Detour" in 2016; a country album she'd been working on with top producers.

Lauper continues inspiring others to this day and will forever be admired as the world's first big female star to take a strange sense of style mainstream. A true icon in the world's eyes, Cyndi Lauper's impact on music, art and even fashion won't likely be forgotten any time soon.

American Music

Chuck Berry

By Jeff Mitchell   Aug 2017

Chuck Berry had a long and illustrious career as a pioneering rock and roll musician. His influence on rock and roll's future and a worldwide audience of listeners is hard to ignore and, although he has recently passed, he will be fondly remembered. A huge part of his influence on the genre came from his incredible showmanship and guitar solos. He was known to bounce around the stage as he played and even did splits during his solos. This impressed quite a lot of concert-goers at the time of his initial surge in popularity - helping bring attention to his distinctive performances and the music itself. He was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it first came into existence in 1986. His achievements were rivaled by the topsy-turvy direction of his life. The ups and downs that made him who he was likely helped shape the course of musical history as well.

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in Missouri on the 18th of October in 1926, Chuck Berry came to be known as a preeminent American guitarist, singer and songwriter of his time. His musical work helped to shape rhythm and blues into the entirely new genre of rock and roll. Berry's interest in music took shape early on in his life, while he was in high school. Unfortunately, he got into trouble and was accused of armed robbery as a teenager. He spent 3 years in the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men near Jefferson City, Missouri. During these 3 years, he formed a singing quartet that became impressive enough to be allowed to perform in public. He kept up with this until his release at the age of 21.

Just a year later, Berry found himself married to Themetta "Toddy" Suggs with a child by the name of Darlin Ingrid Berry. He'd taken a series of jobs in St. Louis as a means of supporting his family - going from automobile factory worker to janitor and then to beautician, an occupation he studied for at the Poro College of Cosmetology. By 1950, his family had a small house of their own which is now considered a historic place on the National Register.

It was in the 50's that Berry delved deeper into music, playing locally in his free time. He was told by Muddy Waters to get the attention of Chess Records in order to make it big with his music and, to do this, he figured his blues music would be the best route. However, it was his version of an old country song for fiddle that prompted Leonard Chess of Chess Records to take notice. Berry was signed to the label in the hopes he could produce music unique enough to stand apart from the oversaturated rhythm and blues market at the time.

He recorded the old country tune, originally named "Ida Red," with a small ensemble - this time titling it Maybellene. The track was a runaway success - selling over 1 million copies and topping the rhythm and blues Billboard chart in 1955. The very next year, he was touring as one of the "Top Acts of '56'" - seeing phenomenal success with his hit song "Roll Over Beethoven." The year after, he toured the U.S. in the "Biggest Show of Stars for 1957" with the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.

From 1957 to 1959, he managed to net more than a dozen hit singles including iconic songs such as "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode." He even appeared in films - playing himself in "Go, Johnny, Go!" and performing 3 of his hits. The 50's had been a decade of tremendous success for the musician, but hard times soon befell him at the decade's end. "Berry's Club Bandstand," the nightclub he had opened in St. Louis, became a source of great turmoil in his life when he was arrested for having allegedly had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old waitress of Apache descent whom he'd brought in as an employee in his club. After a lengthy trial with an initial verdict that Berry successfully appealed on the grounds of racism, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, of which he ultimately served 1 and a half.

In 1963, he was released - resuming his career in music under Mercury Records. He released a total of 5 albums under this label and toured the U.K. successfully. 1964 and 1965 saw the release of a number of hit singles by the seasoned artist, thanks in part to his earlier works being reworked and covered by a number of high-profile British and American bands. The major Beach Boys hit "Surfin' U.S.A.," for example, made use of "Sweet Little Sixteen's" melody. In 1970, Berry switched back to Chess Records and released yet another album to lukewarm reception. He saw chart-topping success in '72, though, with his light-hearted single, "My Ding-A-Ling."

In the 80's he got along well - performing numerous times with a variety of unrehearsed backing bands. Unfortunately, he once more ran into legal trouble in the 90's when he was sued by various women for having installed a video camera in the bathroom of the restaurant he’d purchased, the "Southern Air. " He was ultimately forced to opt for a costly class action settlement of over 1 million dollars. In the same decade, his home was raided by police and he was convicted on child-abuse and drug possession charges. Though the child-abuse charges were dropped, he pleaded guilty on the charge of marijuana possession and served 6 months jail time as well as 2 years of probation.

The last of his legal woes occurred in 2000 when his former pianist, Johnnie Johnson claimed he'd co-written a large number of Berry's songs. The case, however, was dismissed. Chuck announced the release of what would be his final album when he reached the age of ninety, but passed away before seeing it released. The album is titled "Chuck" and was dedicated to his wife "Toddy." Chuck Berry passed away this year in March as a rock and roll legend. The influence he had not only in bringing true rock and roll music into the spotlight in its infancy, but uniting the disparate black and white cultures of the time cannot be understated.

He said it best himself when asked about the music's sudden surge in popularity: "Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another's vein of life, then the music came together."


Tesla Gigafactory

Marcelina Hardy   Aug 2017

 Image of The Tesla Gigafactory
Source: tesla.com

The Tesla Gigafactory, after its grand opening in July of 2016, is on track to meet all its incredible goals and to create an as-yet-unseen amount of lithium ion batteries for its own purposes and the world’s. It is also likely to set a new standard when it comes to lithium battery creation, and if we’re being honest, it already has.

What Is the Tesla Gigafactory?

The Tesla Gigafactory was built to produce lithium batteries for the new Tesla cars. Located in Sparks, Nevada, construction began in June 2014, and full-scale battery production is set to begin at the end of the year. The factory was created because Tesla would have required the entire supply of lithium ion batteries in order to fulfill its production rate of 500,000 cars per year.

Because Tesla’s mission is to to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” according to their website, they decided to build the Gigafactory, which is meant to supply Tesla with their needed batteries and then some.

What Does Gigafactory Mean?

The name comes from the factory’s plan to create an annual battery production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours. Giga means billions, so one gigawatt-hour is the same as generating one billion watts per hour. The factory itself means to generate 35 of these, and the name suggests the important feat of doing so.

Because the Gigafactory isn’t just meant to create the batteries necessary for Tesla. According to their website, Tesla predicts that the Gigafactory will be able to reach its full capacity in 2018, and this will mean it will produce more lithium batteries annually than there were produced all over the world in the year 2013. And the craziest fact? It’s already producing more than any other factory in the world, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Additional Facts About the Gigafactory

The news about the Gigafactory keeps getting better and better. While it will produce more lithium ion batteries than any other factory (as well as than in any other year once it is up to its full capacity), the Gigafactory will also do so more efficiently than any other factory. Tesla has worked with companies like Panasonic in order to ensure a lower cost and a higher efficiency for their battery production.

The amount of waste created will be reduced, manufacturing will be more innovative, and the necessary items for production will all exist under the sphere of the Gigafactory. This will make producing batteries much less expensive and more energy efficient. Economies of scale will also be utilized in order to ensure that production is at its height, keeping cost at a minimum. In addition, Nevada itself enjoyed a serious economic benefit during the years of production and will continue to do so over the next two decades while Tesla operates the factory.

What’s more, the Gigafactory itself is now known as Gigafactory 1, according to Musk, who plans to build more factories in the future. As announced in May 2017, 3 of 4 new sites for future Gigafactories have already been chosen.

Auto Review

Review of Tesla Model 3

Marcelina Hardy   July 2017

_Image of_Candy_Red_Tesla_Model_3_trimmed_2.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hyped as the Tesla for the People, the long-awaited Model 3 seems to be exactly what it promises: a version of the groundbreaking electric car that most people can actually afford.

The Look

The Model 3 is a four-door sedan that looks similar to the Model S from the side and back. Its general characteristics include a high roof and a smooth bob at the front and backend. It also has a blunt nose, which makes it look a little similar to the Tesla Roadster, at least in the front.

According to Car and Driver, the Model 3 is “genetically linked to all of its ancestors,” which fits well with the assertion of Tesla CEO Elon Musk that this particular model could have only been built with the help and support of those who “bought an S or an X” in the past.

The Benefits

Like Tesla’s other models, the Model 3 is an electric car, and it provides drivers with more than 200 miles of range before the need to recharge. There is room for up to five passengers, and drivers can store items in both the front and rear trunks. The car can also increase in speed very quickly and quietly, as it is said that it can jump from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds.

The model will also include the Autopilot feature found in other Tesla cars, all-wheel drive, and will be able to use the Tesla Supercharger charging network like the other cars of its kind. Generally, it seems to provide what 115,000 people who were rumored to put down deposits before it was even unveiled were looking for: a sports sedan with electric car capabilities that could be purchased for an affordable $35,000.

The Drawbacks

The Model 3 isn’t slated to begin production until late in 2017, so it is difficult to clearly say whether or not it is worth the hype. Tesla has had dependability issues in the past, and though this new model does sound like everything an energy-conscious family would be looking for, there is still some doubt as to whether or not it will be able to deliver on everything it promises. Soon, though, the world will finally be able to create a clear picture of the Model 3 with any and all idiosyncrasies and characteristics.

The Review

The Model 3 is long awaited by fans of Tesla, whether they have bought vehicles before from the company or are only just now able to afford an electric car. However, if it does not perform well, or if there is an issue causing the car to be recalled, it could potentially break the company. However, if it turns out well, it could be the car that launches the company to a completely new level.

Whatever the case, Tesla seems to have pulled out all the stops when it comes to the Model 3 and created an impressive, enviable vehicle that is actually energy efficient and affordable too.


History of Hawaii

Cynthia Kramer   July 2017

_Image of_Republic_of_Hawaii_2-_Gold_Dollar_banknote_1895 Source: Public Domain
Source: Public Domain

HISTORY OF HAWAII The Hawaiian Islands may have been settled as early as the second century; by 1000, villages near the ocean were farming, and by 1500, populations were spreading to the interiors of the islands. Around 1200, a new social structure had been introduced, separating the people into classes. It also included new laws, including the kapu, a strict code of conduct governing many aspects of Hawaiian life. Religion in Hawaii included a ritual, high priests, four major gods, many lesser deities, and guardians and spirits.

Each island was split up into several subdivisions, with communities usually set up around streams. Important crops included sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, and sugarcane. In addition to community crops, Hawaiians also maintained gardens at their homes.

Contact with Europeans started in 1778, when British Captain James Cook traded for supplies with the residents of the island of Kauai. He continued his voyage to the coast of North America and Alaska, then landed on Hawaii Island during his return trip. After Cook’s longboat went missing, he tried to kidnap the king. In defense, the king’s attendant killed him with a knife.

The Kingdom of Hawaii began in 1795 with the unification of the islands. The kingdom’s first king, Kamehameha I, was a great-grandson of Keawe’ikekahiali’iokamoku, a 17th-century king of Hawaii Island. His uncle Kalani’opu’u had encountered Captain Cook, and raised Kamehameha after his father’s death. Supporters of Kamehameha overthrew his cousins, making Kamehameha the king of Hawaii Island, and by 1795, Kamehameha had conquered most of the main islands. Kamehameha then built a palace which became the seat of government for 50 years. The king had many wives, but Ka’ahumanu became the most prominent, ruling alongside her stepson Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and as regent for her stepson Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III).

The reign of Kamehameha II saw the beginning of a system of dual-government involving a co-ruler, along with the decline of the Hawaiian religion. He and his wife died of measles while visiting England. Kamehameha III was still a minor, so Ka’ahumanu ruled in his stead, along with a new co-ruler, Boki. They both converted to Christianity shortly after Kamehameha II’s death.

Sugar had become a major export after Cook’s arrival. By the mid-1800s, there were plantations operating on the main islands. American plantation owners wanted a voice in politics, and in 1843 the U.S. did not interfere with a brief occupation by the British.

The Rebellion of 1887, led by the Hawaiian Patriotic League, resulted in a new constitution, known as the Bayonet Constitution, which they forced Kalakaua to sign. This constitution limited the voting rights of native Hawaiians and Asians, and limited the power of the king. It also granted Americans in the kingdom unprecedented freedoms.

Upon Kalakaua’s death, his sister, Lili’uokalani, became queen. In 1893, a group of conspirators, known as the Committee of Safety and made up of legislators and government officials who were American and European citizens, gathered about 1500 non-native men across the street from ‘Iolani Palace. They were supported by U.S. Government Minister John L. Stevens. The men placed Queen Lili’uokalani under house arrest at the palace, and the Kingdom of Hawaii became the Republic of Hawaii.

Hawaii remained a republic for about 5 years, then was annexed by the U.S. in 1898, becoming the Territory of Hawaii. A territorial government was set up in 1900, and sugarcane plantations expanded during this period.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and Hawaii was placed under martial law until 1945. In 1954, a series of non-violent protests led to the ousting of the Hawaii Republican Party, and the election of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. This also led to labor unions and the decline of the sugar plantations.

Hawaii was admitted to the U.S. as a state on August 21, 1959.


Pearl Harbor Attack

Howard Fields   July 2017

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

It lasted only about 90 minutes, but in that time the Imperial Japanese Navy managed to kill 2,403 Americans, destroy 18 ships and 188 airplanes, and draw the United States into World War II, all on a day of infamy. More than half the American deaths were caused by a single bomb that hit the USS Arizona, whose remains now lie at the bottom of Pearl Harbor as a memorial to the attack on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Shortly after 7:30 that Sunday, two Army men manning a new-fangled "radar" at Opana on Oahu's north shore saw more than a hundred blips 136 miles north of the island and notified their superiors at Pearl Harbor. The officer in charge there had confidential information that a dozen stripped-down and unarmed B-17s from the West Coast were due in at about that time on about the same route, so he told the radar men to ignore the blips.

By then, five two-man midget submarines launched from the fleet the previous day had attempted to sneak into the harbor morning. One was spotted and attacked by a pair of U.S. Navy ships cruising offshore. Three others ended up at the bottom of the sea just outside the harbor, but not before they managed to launch several torpedoes. A fifth managed to ground itself twice, and after the second time one of its crewmen swam to shore and became America's first Japanese prisoner of war.

The radar blips were the first wave of the attack, led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. His plane led 182 others off the decks of six aircraft carriers stationed about 200 miles north of Oahu. The planes included about equal portions of bombers armed with armor-piercing bombs weighing nearly a ton each, bombers carrying quarter-ton torpedoes, dive bombers and fighters known as Zeros for their rising-sun insignia.

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

The planes formed two groups, each circling the island to attack Pearl Harbor from the south and from the north to begin the attack at 7:48 a.m. Most of the U.S. Navy personnel were on shore leave that weekend, many of those still aboard ship still asleep. As the attack began, they scrambled from their bunks to battle stations unprepared for battle, costing precious minutes. Army anti-aircraft batteries onshore similarly were unprepared. A few ships managed to get underway to get out of the harbor, but only one made it. Some of the dive bombers attacked Oahu air fields, among them Bellows Field, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Wheeler Field.

Fuchida's wave was followed by another led by Lt. Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. His fleet included 171 planes armed with smaller bombs to attack other targets on the island. One group attacked airfields such as Barbers Point, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Kaneohe; the other two concentrated on the entire Pearl Harbor area. The second wave wrapped up its attack at about 9:30 and returned to its fleet, which weighed anchor and was headed back to Japan by 1 p.m.

The main targets of the twin attacks were the eight battleships—Arizona, California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia-- at anchor inside the harbor. The fleet's three aircraft carriers were safely out to sea. The attack managed to hit all of the battleships and the unarmed Utah, a former battleship used only for training. But, it was the attack on the Arizona that was most effective, killing 1, 177.

A 16-inch Japanese shell hit an ammunition magazine on the ship, causing a massive explosion. Burning oil in the water from the explosion and from one on the West Virginia drifted to other ships, including the California, which ordered its men to abandon ship, leaving it to sink. The attack also sank or damaged cruisers, destroyers, a seaplane tender, and a repair vessel that had the misfortune of being moored next to the Arizona.

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

Six of the battleships were back in service and nine of other types of ships also returned to service by the end of the war, most within a year of the attack. And, the dozen B-17s? They arrived over Oahu low on fuel early during the first wave and tried to land however and wherever they could, one on a golf course. Most remained intact.

Japan's losses included 64 fatalities and one captured, 29 planes lost, and 64 damaged by fire from antiaircraft batteries that managed to get into operation in time for the second wave. One of the planes was damaged while attacking Wheeler and managed to fly to Niihau, the designated rescue point, where the pilot was captured by the locals.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed an emergency joint session of Congress and delivered the speech that called December 7 "a day which will live in infamy." After the speech, Congress voted to declare war.


Spotify Review

Jeff Mitchell   July 2017

_Image of_Spotify Logo. Source: Public Domain

Spotify is a preeminent player in the music streaming industry - delivering loads of music to listeners worldwide from both major and minor artists alike. If music matters to you, then you'd do quite well to give Spotify a go. Don't take our word for it, though! Read on to discover just what makes Spotify such a great platform for musical enjoyment.

Versions and Prices

Use of the platform is fairly straightforward and it is even free, though the free version carries certain limitations. Spotify works through its own proprietary music-playing app, which is offered for computers and mobile devices. Depending on the version you utilize, your in-app song-switching capabilities could be limited, as well as your option to access your favorite songs offline. You will also be subjected to intermittent advertising breaks while using the free version of the Spotify app. However, you are free to create tons of awesome playlists, enjoy those made by other users and access them all at any time.

Free Version:

As was mentioned above, you are limited in how you can use Spotify when you opt for the free version of the app. Aside from advertising messages every so often (much like a standard radio station would employ) and song-skipping limits on mobile, you cannot listen to music offline or enjoy the highest audio quality on offer.

Paid Version:

No ads, no limits and more! The paid version of Spotify is yours to use as you please, without pesky interruptions or song skipping limits to stop you. In addition to being unimpeded in your quest for great music, you can count on the availability of your favorite releases even when the grid goes down, thanks to offline song saving capabilities. Feel free to go crazy with these, you won't max out until you've surpassed 2,000 tracks by far.

The paid version of the Spotify app also boasts of higher sound quality (for music aficionados with quality sound systems)

Cool Features

Spotify is a great resource for music-lovers everywhere to find great music they may never have stumbled upon otherwise. Its suggestion algorithms provide impressive recommendations that you're sure to love and the wealth of tracks hosted on the service makes for nearly limitless possibilities for new discoveries to happen. However, depending on the version of Spotify you have access to, you'll be able to go above and beyond basic music discovery.

Following are some of the most noteworthy features of the app on both mobile and desktop:

On Mobile:

Spotify's mobile features are great and allow for plenty of enjoyment in both the free and paid versions. You can expect to find all the music Spotify artists have to offer in a neat format, albeit in shuffle play mode when free. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the desktop version.

On Desktop:

The free Spotify app on mobile is fantastic, but its desktop version is an absolute wonderland for music lovers. On a desktop, Spotify does not impose a song skip limit in its free version. Instead, it sticks to scheduled advertising at certain hours of the day and after a certain number of tracks have been played. You're free to do all of the same playlist discovering and listening as you could do on mobile, but you get the added bonus of additional playlist-building functionality. It's easy enough to add songs to your own playlists, but you can take this a step further on desktop by cloning your custom playlist automatically. To do this, Spotify searches for similar songs to those your playlist has and compiles its suggestions into a brand-new playlist for you to listen to. Music discovery on autopilot!

Another great feature the desktop version of Spotify has to offer is its enhanced search bar. Unlike the mobile app, the desktop application's search bar accommodates various enhanced search operators to help you discover awesome music by year (Type "Year:1900-1990"), genre (Type "Genre:Pop"), etc. It's a great option for sleuthing out those tricky, rare releases. Play history is yet another sweet feature of significance to anyone who has experienced the frustration of hearing a great song just before forgetting its name and how it goes. With a history of the songs you’ve recently listened to, you can simply play through them and you'll come across that great lost track in no time!

But wait, there's actually more! Spotify gives you a chance to sing along in its desktop version, with an incorporated lyrics function powered by Musixmatch. So, you can finally stop making up words now.

What are you waiting for? Go crazy with Spotify and discover awesome music, new and old.


Silicon Valley of India

By Scott Douglas   Jul 2017

 Image of Yahoo%21_Building_in_Bangalore_India
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered why Venture Capitalists end up seeing such a low return on their investment in Silicon Valley? There are two reasons.

1) Many times the startups that they invest time and money into end up not panning out in the end. A large percent of startups end up closing down within a year or so. The investors lose a lot of money. Silicon Valley of India used to be seen as the "promised land" for many startups and other business entrepreneurs. Now, it seems that the "promised land" is drowning.

2) The other issue is the competition. With so many other companies that are already profitable and pulling in cash, most VC's tend to feel like it is a waste of time to put money into some of the startups, even when the company can make a profit.