Reflections: An unusual listening experience

103961-Nina_Simone_617_409No one could be more deserving of a tribute album than the magnificent and unique Nina Simone, and her devoted fans should have “Nina Revisited…A Tribute to Nina Simone.”

But they should know that many of the songs are rearranged to the point of being unrecognizable, such as “My Baby Just Cares for Me” as (unexpectedly) sung by Usher.

One exception is “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” delivered beautifully by the iconic star’s daughter, Lisa Simone.

Without a doubt, the strangest interpretation is “I Put a Spell on You” by Alice Smith. It’s intriguing, almost eerie thanks largely to the sci-fi-ish music.

Lauryn Hill is effective on “Wild is the Wind,” “Feeling Good” and “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and others. Six of the 16 tracks are hers.

The others are mostly okay — Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, etc.

The low point is Common’s rap on “We are Young, Gifted & Black” which brings the whole album down, and it is a completely different song than Nina Simone’s great “To be Young, Gifted and Black.”

The album concludes with the real Nina Simone singing “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free.”

IN ITS introductory season, “Empire” proved to be a ratings and social phenomenon, the three biggest attractions being Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon and Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon.

The show returns Sept. 23.

Lee Daniels, co-creator and executive producer, says “without a doubt” there will be a spinoff show because “there’s so much ripe story that we’ve talked about already, about Cookie’s family, what makes her, her.”

“Empire” is also famous for the stars who have made or will be making guest appearances, but Daniels says it is important to not go too far with that because “it takes away from the Lyon family, the most important thing.”

DONNIE SIMPSON — Detroit’s own — returning to radio following a five-year absence came as a surprise to a lot of people. By the time you read this, he will be back on the air in Washington, DC on WMMJ-FM, owned by Radio One.

Simpson was coaxed out of retirement by his wife, Pam, and his many fans.

Another great Detroit talent, videographer Montez Miller, caught up with Simpson at a big event in Washington, DC, the BET “Back Together Again” reunion. Simpson hosted “Video Soul” on BET from 1983 to 1997.

It is unfortunate that Jennifer Hudson’s excellent and diverse album, “The Song is You,” has not received more attention. Of the many outstanding tracks, my favorite is her rendition of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better.”

THE NEW EDITION biopic, coming to the public next year via BET, should be interesting. The three-night miniseries is being co-produced by Brooke Payne, who has managed the group for many years, alongside Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivins and Johnny Gill.

Bobby Brown is not involved in the project, probably due to the passing of his daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

The untitled miniseries has not yet been cast.

Tina Knowles Lawson made it clear in Ebony magazine how she feels about the haters of her daughter, Beyoncé. She said, “The people who hate her for no reason, I just don’t get it. What has she done? A hater is a thinly disguised fan. Why else would you go from website to website slamming someone you say you don’t like? There are people who study every move this girl makes.”

The fact is, Beyoncé’s megastar status, beauty, talent and money make some females insanely jealous.

There are now wax figures of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in the Madame Tussauds museum in London. (Those things are scary.)

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ nickname was given to him by Bootsy Collins.

MEMORIES: “No More Tears” (Anita Baker), “No Pain, No Gain” (Betty Wright), “Work on Me” (the O’Jays), “You Should be Dancing” (the Bee Gees), “The Sweeter He Is” (the Soul Children), “Disco Inferno” (the Trammps), “Forever Came Today” (Diana Ross & the Supremes), “You are so Beautiful” (Billy Preston), “Two Lovers” (Mary Wells), “The Jam” (Graham Central Station).

BLESSINGS to Donna D. Sadler, Mary Wilson, Greg Dunmore, Keith John, Dina Peace, Robin Terry, Ray Henderson, Deena Dunham, Linda Burgess and Robert Terrell.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Jesse Jackson: “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism.”

Let the music play!

Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.

About Post Author

From the Web

Skip to content