2011 a Breakthrough Year for Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton reached Number One with his 2001 debut single “Austin,” but it’s taken him a decade to reach superstar status.  But, 2011 will be remembered as his breakthrough year. Shelton’s eighth album, “Red River Blue,” recently became his first Number One debut on the Billboard 200 chart.  Its title track features Blake’s wife, Country

Jazz Goes Country on Schuur’s ‘The Gathering’

Grammy-winning jazz singer Diane Schuur takes a country turn on her latest album, The Gathering. Schuur has always had an ear for country music.  In fact, her earliest recording was a country single titled “Dear Mommy and Daddy.”  Schuur is once again in a Nashville state of mind, reviving the so-called “Countrypolitan” sound of the

Braun Makes Move from Trumpeter to Singer on ‘Sings With Strings’

Who knew acclaimed jazz trumpeter Rick Braun could sing?  His latest album showcases superb vocal skills as well as his grasp of the Great American Songbook. Braun has turned his life-long passion for singing into his first-ever vocal album, Sings With Strings. In fact, he describes the collection as a “musical homecoming.”  “I grew up

Bocelli Treats New Yorkers to Free Concert; Lil Wayne Could Outsell Lady Gaga

Bocelli Treats New Yorkers to Free Concert On September 15, Andrea Bocelli will perform a free concert with the New York Philharmonic at New York’s Central Park.  His special guests include Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, trumpeter Chris Botti and pianist David Foster.  The concert will be broadcast on PBS later this year and also released

Asian-Americans Buck Stereotypes, Find Fame on YouTube

The next Legaci or Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas is probably out there—uploading videos of themselves on YouTube. YouTube stars like Ryan Higa, David Choi, Kevin Wu (KevJumba), or Clara Chung (Clara C) may not be household names yet, but their popularity is serving as an inspiration for other young Asian-Americans. Caught between parents

Vinyl Records Making Comeback

Vinyl records were the main format for commercial music distribution in the 20th century.  But the big black disks, called LPs, nearly disappeared after audio cassettes and then digital media, like CDs and MP3s, took their place.  Music industry reports say vinyl’s popularity has been soaring over the last few years. To some people, vinyl

US Students Spread Musical Message in Kenya

A group of university students and alumni has returned to the United States after three weeks in Kenya, where they were part of a cultural exchange program which aims to transform lives through music. The group, from Berklee College of Music in Boston, taught music, performed, donated instruments to a local community center and learned

New Jazz Releases Include Jessy J, Hiromi

Jazz is in the air!  Three of today’s leading ladies of contemporary jazz have new releases. Saxophonist Jessy J has been a bright light on the smooth jazz scene since releasing her debut album three years ago.  Her latest effort, Hot Sauce, taps into her Latin influences on such tracks as “Meant To Be.”  It

More Funds Needed to Fight E. Africa Famine

Music super stars such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Justin Bieber are encouraging their fans to donate money for the famine victims in the Horn of Africa region.  They’re among a list of more than 150 celebrities supporting a new initiative by the humanitarian group “Save the Children.” This comes as some aid agencies say

Ancient Instrument’s Twang Draws Global Fans

The Jew’s harp, a plucked-mouth instrument found all over the world, has absolutely nothing to do with Jews. But it does have a distinctive sound and a lot of fans. Many of them have gathered at the North American Jew’s Harp Festival in the western state of Oregon to celebrate the tiny instrument. If you