On Sunday, March 29, 2009, patrons gathered on the grounds at the Dolphin Stadium for the Fourth Annual Jazz In The Gardens and in the process, they were treated to the musical stylings of Angelique Kidjo. The Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo who performed following the red hot Jonathan Butler, is herself a sizzling hot singer-songwriter who was born in Contonou, Benin. She brought her show to the people of South Florida with her high energy stage presence, mezmerizing voice and a barrage of fancy footworks. Kidjo danced her way through her set and invited the crowd to participate likewise. She belted hits after hits in her native language and had about 40,000 screaming fans singing the hooks from songs like Senamou and Gimme Shelter. Angelique, who says she grew up listening to singers like James Brown , Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Wonder and Carlos Santana, did not disappoint the fans as she showcased her versatality and soulful swagger. She paid tribute to the Rolling Stones displaying her ability to hang with the bad boys of rock and roll. Concert goers were treated to her diverse musical renditions, which ranged from rock and roll, reggae and even salsa. By the end of her performance, she was already a household name in South Florida. This diva came to play and held nothing back.
Kidjo’s musical career tells a story of one determined individual who fought for her name and fame. By the time she was six, Kidjo was performing with her mother’s theatre troupe, giving her an early appreciation for traditional music and dance. She started singing in her school band Les Sphinx and found success as a teenager with her adaptation of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z” which played on national radio. She recorded the album Pretty with the Cameroonian producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar. It featured the songs Ninive, Gbe Agossi and a tribute to the singer Bella Bellow, one of her role models. The success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. Continuing political conflicts in Benin prevented her from being an independent artist in her own country and led her to relocate to Paris in 1983.
While working various day jobs to pay for her tuition, Angelique studied music at the CIM, a reputable Jazz school in Paris where she met and married musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has composed most of her music. She started out as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she became the frontsinger of the known Euro-African jazz/rock band Jasper van’t Hof’s Pili Pili. Three Pili Pili studio albums followed: Jakko (1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by Marlon Klein) and Hotel Babo (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had become one of the most popular live performers in Paris and recorded a solo album called Parakou for the Open Jazz Label.
She was then discovered in Paris by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell who signed her in 1991. She recorded four albums for Island until Chris Blackwell’s departure from the label. In 2000 she was signed in New York by Columbia Records for which she recorded two albums. Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and Latin styles; as well as her childhood idols Bella Bellow, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana. She has made her own renditions of George Gershwin’s Summertime, Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, and The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter, and has collaborated with the likes of Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Price, Branford Marsalis, Robbie Nevil, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and Cassandra Wilson. Kidjo’s hits include the songs “Agolo”, “We We”, “Adouma” “Wombo Lombo” “Afirika”,”Batonga” and her version of “Malaika”. Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yoruba, and English and sings in all four languages; she also has her own personal language which includes words that serve as songtitles such as Batonga. Malaika is a song sung in Swahili language. She often utilizes Benin’s traditional Zilin vocal technique and jazz vocalese.
Jazz In The Gardens took Angelique on a journey to Miami Gardens, which was rather fitting, as she recorded her first album entitled “Logozo” for Island Records between Miami and Paris, working with Miami Sound Machine drummer Joe Galdo. That album featured Branford Marsalis and Manu DiBango on saxophones. it was released worldwide in 1991 and reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. Music videos for the singles We We and Batonga were released and Angelique made her first world tour, appearing at many festivals and headlining the Olympia Hall in Paris on October 31, 1992.
In 2002 Angelique traveled to Salvador de Bahia to start recording the Axe percussion grooves for this album inspired by the Afro-Brazilian culture. She worked with famous songwriters Carlinhos Brown and Vinicius Cantuaria. On the Brazilian version of the album, Gilberto Gil joined her on Refavela and Daniella Mercury on Tumba. Dave Matthews appears on the song Iwoya.
Angelique Kidjo released an album titled Djin Djin on May 1, 2007. Many guests appear on the album including Josh Groban, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel, Amadou and Mariam, Ziggy Marley, and Branford Marsalis. The title, Djin Djin, refers to the sound of a bell in Africa that greets each new day. The album is produced by Tony Visconti, who is known for his work with David Bowie, Morrissey, and T. Rex, among others. Djin Djin won a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music album and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding World Music album.
The Hip Hop Renaissance Man as he is affectionately called says “its all about pushing boundaries and winning”, and it was obvious as he took the crowd through a nostalgic medley of songs over his musical career. His career which has lasted over some 16 years has obviously prepared him for this magnificent transformation as an artist. Common who is famous for his high energy stage performance, did not fail to deliver for the Jazz In The Gardens patrons in attendance. He paid tribute to his home town of Chicago and gave a shout out to his colleague Kanye West and even teamed up with his former girlfriend Erykah Badu to do the song “The Light”.
Following his performance, Common held at a press conference, when he was asked about his decision to appear at the Jazz in the Gardens festival, he said that he was drawn to the warmth and love of the people of Miami Gardens and gave kudos to Mayor Shirley Gibson for her hard work and great hospitality. Common vows to return to the Miami Gardens community to give back to the people, who have supported him over the years. He further commented on the status of hip hop music, saying that hip hop is an art form, its graffiti, its fashion, it’s an expression and that’s why it will live on.
Common who has plans to launch a film company this year, is also working on fourth children’s book and the Common Ground Foundation in Chicago.
Tiger Woods career has been earmarked with come from behind victories or the huge leads which his counterparts fail to cut into. As a golfer, you need to be familiar enough with your surroundings and confident enough to make a run when there is an opening and to Sean O’Hair’s credit, he protected the four strokes lead as best he could.
The 15-foot putt on 18th to take his sixth Arnold Palmer Invitational trophy was nothing less than breathtaking. Sean O’Hare in his post game press conference gave credit to Tiger saying that he did not manage to play his best game on Sunday, in comparison to Tiger who came to play. Woods closed with a 67 for a 5-under total 275 and a one-shot victory over Sean O’Hair, who led Woods by five shots going into the final round, and matched his largest comeback ever on the PGA Tour. Meanwhile Tiger Woods in his post game press conference said that it felt good to be back in contention, feeling the rush. Woods said It’s had been a while and it felt great to be back.
Tiger Woods as a player has been documented for all his animated victory celebrations and so even after coming back from his knee surgery, he still had the energy for the fist pumps and other antics. After sinking the 25-foot birdie on the final hole at Bay Hill for a one-shot victory last year he slammed his cap to the ground, but this time Woods could be seen diving in the arms of his caddie Steve Williams who just lifted him off his feet.
After seeing Tiger play this week, there is no questions that there will be ciaos over at “Amen Corner” at Augusta in a few days. I do believe that his big break during the Bay Hill Tourney came at the 14th hole when he was one shot behind and caught yet another plugged lie under the lip of a bunker. Woods did well to blast out to just over 12 feet, while O’Hair had 15 feet for birdie. O’Hair narrowly missed, and Woods holed his putt for par. On the next hole, Woods made a 25-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead. Tiger credited his caddie saying that it felt they never left for a year. With this win Tiger has moves from 110th place in Fedex Cup Points to the 12th spot. Tiger will also celebrate hsi 66th Tour win. Kudos TW and welcome back.
The Fourth Annual Miami Gardens Jazz In The Gardens opened on Saturday and lived up to the expectations of music fans of all ages. The crowd of approximately 45,000 fans were on their feet for almost the entire six or more hours, as they were treated to funk, jazz, neosoul and hip hop. Roy Ayers, Will Downing, Erykah Badu, Common and Anthony Hamilton all proved too hot for the South Florida weather. Stay tune for my in depth scribe on all their performances. Scheduled to perform on Sunday’s show will be Jonathan Butler, Angelique Kidjo, Kenny G, Babyface and Frankie Beverly and Maze.
Will Downing who is definitely a crowd “teaser and pleaser” is working to promote his latest album – “After Tonight”. The number thirteen is never a lucky one, but Will Downing has proved it to be his lucky charm. Even though he has enjoyed significant success with his other albums, album number thirteen was the one, where he had to put more than just creativity and his raspy voice to work.
Downing suffered a setback, after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease known as “Polymyositis”. Polymyositis is an inflammatory muscular disease, which causes severe muscle weakness and fatigue. But instead of succumbing to this illness, he managed to put together one of his best album to date, by exhibiting the courage and determination that we all hope we had in our darkest hour. This album entitled “After Tonight” is jammed packed with his repertoire of classic ballads coupled with his silky smooth voice. After Tonight is not just your regular Will Downing album, but a compilation of songs that will definitely stir your imagination and help you to fall in love over and over again. The ten-song compilation has musical arrangement, melodies, and vocals made for each other. There is a song for what ever mood you are in on this album.
Downing reunited with his long time co-producer, Rex Rideout, collaborated on a musical journey which has led to the success of this monster undertaking. The work he put in on this album was extremely challenging, but it is evident from nothing musically vocally was left behind. The Skip Scarborough penned classic “No One Can Love You More” made famous by the late Phyllis Hyman, is one of two cover tunes which Downing performed on the compilation. This rendition featured sax man Gerald Albright, a long time friend. The other cover tune is the Bill Withers classic “You Can’t Smile it Away” which features Kirk Whalum. Downing’s wife, Audrey Wheeler-Downing and Noel Goring teamed up with Will to compose the track “God Is So Amazing.” Knowing all that Will Downing endured while making this album, this track sums it all up. Will Downing performance in Miami Gardens this Saturday is a must see.
The PGA of America in keeping with its tradition over the past few years has announced the latest Play Golf America Days’ schedule, featuring 42 events nationwide to be conducted in 26 PGA Sections. The new schedule includes PGA Sections that will host multiple events to help grow the game of golf, with projections that all 41 Sections will conduct events by the end of the year.
Play Golf America Days enable golfers of all ages and skill levels across the country to receive complimentary group and individual instruction from PGA Professional instructors.
A complete schedule may be found by visiting PlayGolfAmerica.com. The schedule is updated regularly throughout the season.
Play Golf America Days also offer contests, entertainment and hands-on equipment demonstrations from leading manufacturers. Created to showcase the game of golf in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, Play Golf America Days are presented by The PGA of America, with presenting sponsor American Express.
“We are thrilled with the continued support from PGA Sections of this program,” said Ron Stepanek, Director of Player Development for The PGA of America. “This is a perfect example of how serious PGA Sections are about using Play Golf America to help increase participation in the game of golf.”
Play Golf America Days are also used to promote other Play Golf America programs such as Get Golf Ready, the newly launched program designed to bring people into the game.
Begun in 2004, Play Golf America is an industry-wide national marketing campaign developed and led by The PGA of America to increase participation among new and existing golfers and to grow the number of people who play the game. For more information about Play Golf America, visit PlayGolfAmerica.com.
Speaking with first hand knowledge of the work the PGA of America has done for me and my kids through this program. This is a must for you entire family if you are looking to start playing the game. Since 1916, The PGA of America’s mission has been twofold: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.
By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, the Association enables PGA Professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the $76 billion golf industry.
In an economy where every family is looking to save on entertainment, this is a sure fire way to get some bang for no bucks. Enjoy the game of golf and make new friends.