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On December 2nd, in 1970, emcee, actor, Flavor Unit representative, good friend of the late great Tupac Shakur, co-founding member of Naughty By Nature and former husband of Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa: Treach (Anthony Criss) was born in East Orange, New Jersey. Treach got his start in 1986 when he formed the New Style with Vincent E. Brown (Vinnie AKA Vin Rock) and Keir Lamont Gist (Dee Jay Kay Gee). They released their first LP in 1989-Independent Leaders on Bon Ami Records (MCA Records Affiliate). Fellow Jersey native Queen Latifah got wind of their project and added them on to her Flavor Unit Posse. They changed their name to Naughty By Nature and put out their second LP in 1991, which went platinum in less than six months (released Sept 3rd, 1991-certified platinum Feb 6th, 1992).
O.P.P. made this LP platinum, but there were other songs on it that showcased the true lyrical and production skills of the crew. Treach used his popularity from O.P.P. to secure cameos in videos and movie roles, starting with Michael Jackson’s Jam video in 1991, followed by a film appearance in Juice in 1992 (he was in the rival gang to Tupac’s crew). A year later in 1993, he appeared in Run DMC’s video Down With the King, Released another Naughty by Nature LP-19 Naughty III, and appeared in the film Meteor Man (directed by & starring Robert Townsend). Treach also played a convincing role in Jason’s Lyric, as the main villain. He’s made over 75 guest appearances spitting verses on other people’s songs, appeared in several music videos and has acted in over 50 films, mini-series, documentaries and TV shows since 1991 (Soul Food, Sopranos, OZ). He still performs, acts and makes music. He’s 48 today.
On December 2nd, in 1978, singer, actress, songwriter, philanthropist and artist Nelly (Kim) Furtado was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She’s a first generation Canadian. Her Portuguese parents migrated there in the 60s. She got her start singing around age 4, then moved to instruments around 9 (ukulele, guitar, keys, trombone). By age 12, she was writing her own songs, and performing in a Portguese marching band by her teens. She relocated to T-Dot after she graduated high school (1996). She met Tallis Newkirk there who was member of the Hip Hop group-Plains of Fascination. She sang on Waitin’ 4 the Streets. She & Newkirk started a Trip Hop duo called NelStar that didn’t last very long.
She secured a deal as a solo act in the late 90s and released her first single in 1999-Party’s Just Begun (Again) off the Brokedown Palace movie soundtrack. Gerald Eaton & Brian West of the Philosopher Kings co-wrote & produced most of her stuff. Her debut LP: Whoa, Nelly! came out in 2000, and was received very well by the international world. She even got four Grammy nominations in 2002, winning one of them (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). Shortly after that, she started doing features for Hip Hop groups like Jurassic 5, Swollen Members and Timbaland. She’s one of the few modern female vocalists that can permeate a lot of genres and still make good music. Nelly’s 40 today.
On December 2nd, in 2001, we lost a Deep House Queen, vocalist and original member of the Jones Girls-Valorie Jones (inset-l). X-Scape’s cover of their soulful ballad Who Can I Run Too is probably the song most people identify with the group. People into Deep House know them for their classic dance numbers-Nights Over Egypt & You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else. However, they provided backing vocals for numerous artists during the 70s: McFadden & Whitehead, Linda Clifford (Nas sample-Never Gonna Stop), Prince Phillip Mitchell (Large Professor), Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Dexter Wansel, Teddy Pendergrass and The Undisputed Truth to name a few.
Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, using their seminal Philly International sound, produced most of their work. Valorie (above-2nd r standing, inset-l) was the youngest of three sisters, born in the Motor City (Detroit, Michigan) on April 17th, in 1956. Her eldest sister Shirley (D.O.B. Sept. 22nd, 1953, above-l, inset-c) sang lead on most of the songs. She went solo in the mid-80s. Her other sister Brenda (D.O.B. Dec 7, 1954, above-seated, inset-r), acted as backup mostly. They released an LP every year from 1979 to 1984 (5 in all). During this time, the Jones Girls were killing dance floors and bedrooms everywhere. Most of their music is associated with ‘disco’, but it’s much ‘Deeper’ than that. Valorie was 45 when she passed.
On December 2nd, in 2008, we lost an important female vocalist that helped shape the Folk Music Revival in America-Odetta (Holmes). The Birmingham, Alabama native did much for the music world during her lifetime. She worked with and influenced artists like: Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Mavis Staples, Joan Baez, Louisiana Red, Led Belly, Bonnie Raitt, Woody Guthrie and Harry Belafonte. She wanted to be an opera singer, but felt due to her size and ethnicity, she’d be better off performing as a singer in musical theater (mid-40s). By the early 50s she was touring the country (starred in Finian’s Rainbow). She made her first recording with Larry Mohr in 1954 on the Fantasy Records imprint (Odetta & Larry).
She recorded many songs from the mid-50s through the 70s. Odetta was very talented, being skilled on guitar & stage, possessing the ability to pen insightful songs and containing a powerful voice. She also was very conscious, working directly with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., calling her: The Voice of The Civil Rights Movement. She also stood alone and fought for Civil Rights outside of the scope of Dr. King. Odetta was a great actress that strayed away from the stereotypical roles that were portrayed at the time. She’s been honored at the White House, won Grammys and was given a Living Legend Award by the Library of Congress. She was 77 when she passed.
On December 2nd, in 2013, we lost a prolific Reggae vocalist-Junior Murvin (Murvin Junior Smith). He was born in Saint James, Jamaica in 1946. He started singing as a child and was heavily influenced by Curtis Mayfield. He would sing on the streets of Montega Bay during his teens. During the mid-60s, he had two unsuccessful auditions with Coxsone Dodd (Studio One) and Lee Scratch Perry (Black Ark). He later scored a deal with Sonia Pottinger who owned the Gayfeet imprint, recording under the name Junior Soul. He then moved to Derrick Harriott’s Crystal Records in the early 70s and had a charting song in 1972 (Solomon). He recorded a few sides for the label leading up to the mid-70s. In 1976, he went back to Perry and auditioned a song called Police & Thieves.
Perry liked it and recorded him. They had an international hit that charted in the UK, US & Jamaica. The song was also used in the film Rockers. They decided to make more songs and released an LP on Island: Police & Thieves (1977). Some claim it be the best of example of Perry’s production ever. Murvin continued to work with Perry from the mid-70s to the mid 80s. They did a number of Curtis Mayfield covers in a Reggae Style. He also worked with Joe Gibbs, Mikey Dread, Alvin Ranglin & Errol Thompson. Murvin created substance based music throughout his musical career. He kept recording and performing up to his death (he even owned his own label). He was 67 when he died.
HONORABLE MENTION: On December 2nd, in 1960, bassist, songwriter and original founding member of the Hard Rock outfit-Def Leppard: Rick Savage was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. He learned guitar as a child with his older brother. He was influenced by Rod Stewart, Don McLean and Deep Purple. During his teens, he formed a band with future Def Leppard members called-Atomic Mass. This is when Savage moved to the bass. They added Steve Clark on guitar and changed their name to Def Leppard. From 1977 to the current date, Savage has remained a member of the band. He’s 58 today.
On December 2nd, in 1969, a strange thing happened to one of the Supremes. Cindy Birdsong was kidnapped at knife point by a psychotic fan working as a maintenance man in her building. When they got in the car and started driving on the San Diego Freeway, Birdsong jumped out, escaping unharmed. The maintenance man was found a few days later in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the police moved in and arrested him. I can’t believe she got kidnapped…Cindy’s fine and all, but damn...
On December 2nd, in 1971, Blues singer, songwriter, and film scorer-Taj Mahal gave back to the Brothers on Lockdown. He played a live show at the Wilmington State Penitentiary in Wilmington, North Carolina. All of the inmates he performed for were on Death Row. At the time, a lot of Jazz & Blues musicians were performing live at state, county and federal prisons. Johnny Cash was one of the first to spearhead this movement of humanizing inmates, and singing songs that speak to them.
On December 2nd, in 2014, we lost one of the best and most worked Rock session saxophonist-Bobby Keys. He got his start in his early teens, touring with Buddy Holly & Bobby Vee. Most people know him from working with the Rolling Stones (their main sax man). However, he also did session work for Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Harry Nilsson, George Harrison & Delaney-Bonnie and Friends. It’s rumored he was a heavy drinker and once consumed a bathtub full of champagne. He was 70 when he passed away at home in Franklin, Tennessee.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on the Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!