Adele Laurie Blue Adkins MBE (born 5 May 1988) is an English singer-songwriter. After graduating from the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in 2006, Adele was given a recording contract by XL Recordings after a friend posted her demo on Myspace the same year. In 2007, she received the Brit Awards “Critics’ Choice” award and won the BBC Sound of 2008 poll. Her debut album, 19, was released in 2008 to commercial and critical success. It is certified seven times platinum in the UK, and three times platinum in the US. An appearance she made on Saturday Night Live in late 2008 boosted her career in the US. At the 51st Grammy Awards in 2009, Adele received the awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Margaret Adele (Striker) Sparrow, 95, widow of Glen Thomas Sparrow, passed away peacefully at her home on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. She was born February 13, 1922, in Seattle, Washington, daughter of the late William Chelcie Striker and Margie Hazel (Brooks) Striker.
Margaret attended grade school in Missoula, Montana, and is a graduate of Ballard High School and the University of Washington. She was a devoted wife for 70 years, mother, and friend. She enjoyed playing bridge, sewing, wood refinishing, stained glass work, jewelry making and interior design and decorating. She loved to travel and enjoyed trips to Europe as well as cruising the San Juan Islands with her husband. They also toured the western United States with their Holiday Rambler trailer and later Bluebird motorhome. Early in their marriage she accompanied Glen on active duty with the U.S. Navy to Tucson, AZ, Ithaca, NY and New Orleans, LA, before he left for duty at Pearl Harbor, HI and Guam until the end of WWII. They moved into the house they built on Mercer Island in 1949. She was an avid reader and enjoyed continuing education classes and cultural events. She supported the Seattle Art Museum and was a fifty-year member of the Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club.
Margaret is survived by her devoted daughter and son-in-law, Lynn (Sparrow) and Edward Saxey, II; four grandchildren and six great grandchildren, Charlene Saxey Andrews and Greg Andrews, their two children Garrett and Adele Andrews of Agoura Hills, CA, Cheryl Saxey Johnston and Daniel Johnston and their two children Andrew and Emma Johnston of Camarillo, CA, Ned Saxey of Camarillo, CA, and Thomas Saxey and Cindy Saxey and their daughters Avery and Addelyn Saxey currently serving with the U.S. Air Force JAG and stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida, and also her youngest brother and sister-in-law Paul Chelcie Striker and Helen Striker, their seven children, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and her sister-in-law Vera Adamson. Margaret was preceded in death by her son Duane Thomas Sparrow, brother William Brooks Striker and sister Janet Ellen (Striker) Urig.
Services will be held on Sunday, October first, 2017 at Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Funeral Home, 1215 145th Place SE, Bellevue, Washington 98007. One pm Chapel Service followed by procession to gravesite service. Three pm to 5pm Celebration of Life at Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club 9927 Meydenbauer Way SE, Bellevue, Washington.
The family suggested any Memorial contributions may be directed to Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club Youth Sail Program (Bellevue, Washington) or Camarillo Health Care District Adult Day Program (Camarillo, California) or charity of choice.
‘I think Adele is quite wonderful and I think she might have mentioned me once in conversation’
Legendary crooner Johnny Mathis is admiring the view from the penthouse apartment in Beverly Hills where he has lived since his home of 56 years burnt down in November 2015. “It’s sunny, it’s California so it’s always nice,” he laughs.
“I overlook the skyline of all these apartment buildings and there’s a big office complex of sky-high people cutting their money.” It’s 9am in Los Angeles when we speak and although Mathis will be 82 next week he has already been to the gym for his daily workout.
When the fire started at his home in the Hollywood Hills he was on a flight back to Los Angeles from Cleveland, where he’d been performing. He arrived to find more than 40 fi refi ghters outside the charred remains of his beloved house.
“Unfortunately the housekeeper hadn’t been there for three days and there was a smouldering electrical wire that burned the house down,” he recalls. “It was kind of a shock but I was only concerned about whether anybody was in the house and fortunately no one was. I’m a very lucky man, I could’ve been there, I could’ve been in bed. I was a little sad of course but very lucky.
“Some wonderful people from my insurance company came through like dam-busters and put me up in this penthouse while my house is rebuilt.” Mathis exudes warmth and is genuinely modest. He laughs a lot during our conversation, raucously so when he asks me how he should celebrate his birthday and I suggest he takes a lead from my threeyear-old son who has requested a “champagne pool party” for his own big day, also this month.
Next week’s a big one for the singer because it also sees the release of his new album Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Song Book. Featuring 11 “inimitable interpretations” of contemporary classics, including Happy, originally a hit for Pharrell Williams, Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars and Adele’s Hello, it’s an unexpected departure from his usual ballads.
He admits that until recently he wasn’t a big fan of modern music. “I hadn’t really fallen in love with any music in the past 10 years because it’s been quite different to what I sang when I first started,” he explains.
“But a friend of mine, Clive Davis, who used to be the president of Columbia Records, suggested a few more current songs for me. “I kind of thought they were, oh, what’s the word? I don’t know, I didn’t like them at first.
Anyway, I sang them and then I got to appreciate them and it all turned out to be a lot of fun for me.” I F IT feels as though Mathis has been around for ever, it’s because he has.
His first album was released in 1956, since when he has made another 78 plus six original Christmas albums. To date he’s the third biggestselling artist of the 20th century and has shifted more than 180 million albums worldwide. In 1958 his album Johnny’s Greatest Hits was the first of its kind and spent an unprecedented 490 continuous weeks (almost 10 years) on the Billboard top albums chart in America.
With dozens of gold records to his name including for hits such as Chances Are and Misty, he outsold Elvis in the early 1960s and his total sales rival those of Frank Sinatra. Barbra Streisand once said: “When the other kids used to listen to Elvis I listened to Johnny Mathis, modelling my style after his.” Yet it could all have been very different.
The fourth of seven children, Mathis was born in Texas on September 30, 1935, to Clem and Mildred Mathis. His love of music comes from his father who taught him his first song, My Blue Heaven, and enrolled him with a voice coach aged 13. Yet at school he was known as much for his abilities as a high jumper and hurdler as he was for his singing and had aspirations to be a PE teacher.
His high jump record at San Francisco State College was only two inches below the Olympic record at the time. He was due to compete in trials for the Olympic Games in 1955 but just days earlier was offered a fi veyear recording contract with Columbia Records and chose music over sport. “If I’d pursued athletics I’d have been retired a long, long time ago,” reflects Mathis.
Adele: A life in pictures
Sat, July 1, 2017
How did Adele become the superstar she is today? From ’19’ to ’25’, here’s her incredible career in photos.
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“I’m just grateful to my dad. He was my best pal and the reason that I sing today is because I loved him so much. He was quite a wonderful singer. I followed in his footsteps and he guided me brilliantly.” During his 61-year career Mathis has racked up 43 singles on the Billboard charts in America and, remarkably he still retains the dark wavy hair and boyish good looks of his youth.
Men half his age would kill for his lithe physique. He credits this youthful appearance to healthy eating – he’s a gourmet cook but plays down his skills, saying that his cooking “has gone downhill lately” – playing golf and those daily workouts in the gym.
“It’s the catalyst as far as me being physically able to do what I do but I tell my personal trainer that I want to look good on stage too,” he laughs. “I’ve kept up my exercise routine for over 40 years. It’s a lot of trouble and I often don’t feel like doing it but I get up and I go to the gym. “We exercise from top to bottom, with a lot of sit-ups and a lot of time on the bike.
Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Song Book is released by Sony Music on September 29
As far as my voice is concerned I’ve got to give credit to the wonderful voice teacher I worked with for six years when I was 13 years old. “She said, ‘Whether you can or not you’re going to want to sing all your life so you’ve got to look after your voice’.
“I automatically make sure I don’t talk too much. It’s something you get used to if you’re constantly aware that next week you have to sing. But at least I’m not as bad as the opera singers. It’s kind of funny the lengths they go to not to talk.” Mathis, who came out as gay in the 1990s, has always shied away from giving interviews and once explained: “Fame requires you to give up a lot but I don’t want to give up my privacy. I want to sing and have people enjoy that and then be left alone.
I don’t want to be in the gossip columns.” Incredibly he still does a couple of live performances a month and, despite having sung with many greats including Deniece Williams, Billy Joel and Dionne Warwick, he reveals that there’s now another famous singer on his radar since recording one of her hits on his new album.
“I think Adele is quite wonderful and I think she might have mentioned me once in conversation,” he says. “I’ve seen her perform but I haven’t met her. But you know, if she called up and said she needed a singing partner, I’m available.” As for his impending birthday next week, with typical modesty he says that, actually, he has only two wishes. “I want to get back to my house in the next six months but most of all I just want another year that’s as good as the last one has been for me.”
Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Song Book is released by Sony Music on September 29.
Dan Wilson noticed something curious about Adele. On live recordings of the smash they wrote together, “Someone Like You,” the British pop superstar frequently avoids the impossible high notes she nailed so beautifully in the 2011 original. Wilson, the prolific songwriter and former Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare frontman who revisits the song on his own new album, “Re-Covered,” has a theory about this: For Adele, and Adele alone, the climactic notes in her signature ballad make her voice seem … sloppy.
“Those high notes were a point of contention between her and me. I loved them. It’s her breaking out of the chains of being a mortal person, and she turns into a goddess of singing at that point,” he says by phone from his Los Angeles home. “But there’s also something very vulnerable, (like) the world is about to blow up. I don’t want to guess too much, but she doesn’t sing in a messy way, ever. She doesn’t lose her (stuff), you know?”
Wilson, 56, is one of those songwriters, from Jimmy Webb to Max Martin to Sia, who has the perfect touch and timing to build other singers’ pop hits. Although he started out in bands — Semisonic’s biggest hit was 1998’s unavoidable “Closing Time” — he worked with singers such as Rachael Yamagata and Jason Mraz before landing his first superstar collaboration in 2006 with the Dixie Chicks. He helped them write several songs, including “Not Ready to Make Nice,” a slow-building rocker that addressed the country trio’s famous on-stage critique of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.
“I wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose track of how they felt about their misadventure, about the isolation of having such a certain kind of integrity, about being threatened and hated for their opinions,” Wilson says. “I really didn’t want it to be a political song, in particular, because I felt like we’d miss a more interesting or powerful story. And all of us would agree, we didn’t want to write something preachy.”
Wilson has since co-written hits for Taylor Swift (“Treacherous”), John Legend (“You And I”), Josh Groban (“If I Walk Away”) and Chris Stapleton (“When the Stars Come Out”). All, including “Treacherous” and “Someone Like You,” are on “Re-Covered,” in Wilson’s own, appealing high pitch, produced with the feel of “MTV Unplugged” or even Johnny Cash’s stripped-down, early-’90s albums with producer Rick Rubin.
“I wanted to make a little travelogue of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 or 15 years — I’ve been doing my own solo records at the same time, but just wanting to show people that journey I’ve been on, to bring it together in one place,” he says. “And I’ve always had this idea that great songs were portable. They could go from one setting to another and still be great. I grew up in Minnesota, where up at the lake or in the woods, someone would have a guitar, and you’d pass it around, and someone would sing pop songs.”
Noticeably, Wilson elevates to a falsetto to achieve the “Someone Like You” notes that were so effortless for Adele. His version has less power and drama but is more plainspoken and relatable. “I was very aware of trying to avoid doing an Adele impression, trying to get my own take,” he says. “So where she rises up to that apocalyptic, earth-shattering moment, I have to do something different. With the help of (collaborators) Kronos Quartet, instead of going up, we went in, and it still works.”
Born in Minneapolis, Wilson developed his musical abilities along with his brother, Matt, with whom he performed in Trip Shakespeare, a rock band that had catchy, underrated songs like “Bachelorette” and “Lulu.” The band didn’t sell many records, so it lost its deal with a major record label, prompting Dan Wilson to split to form Semisonic. “Closing Time” was a smash, released in the final years of rock’s radio dominance, just before Napster kicked in to kill off CD sales, but the group languished after that.
Over the past nine years, Wilson has put out strong albums, like 2007’s “Free Life,” reunited with his brother for a 2009 concert and sporadically played reunion shows with Semisonic, most recently at their former home base Minneapolis in June. But Wilson is far better known, and makes far more money, as a behind-the-scenes songwriter. During the half-hour phone interview, he is told a story, gleaned from the radio, about how the great Webb gave Glen Campbell his classic “Wichita Lineman” minus a final verse.
Webb ran into Campbell a few weeks later. Campbell said he and his band had already cut the song. “But it isn’t finished!” Webb said. Responded Campbell: “It is now.”
In response, Wilson, who agonizes over songs well after they’re finished, laughs heartily for 15 seconds. Then he calms down and says: “You’ve got to be lucky in so many ways in music, and you even have to be lucky in the good song taste of your collaborators. Because you’re counting on them to stop you from making that one last mistake.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph St.
Tickets: $25-32; 312-733-9463 or www.citywinery.com
Steve Knopper is a freelance writer.
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Dan Wilson’s career in collaborative songwriting started when he was still a tween.
“I started taking piano lessons when I was in the second grade,” said the Minneapolis native during a phone interview from his Los Angeles home. “My parents told me if I learned how to play the piano, I would be a hit at parties. I could sit down at the piano and play the pop hits of the day as friends gathered around to sing along. They thought it would make me a more popular boy.
“That has almost never happened. But it got me going on music early. One year my parents gave me and my brother Matt a guitar to share as a joint birthday gift. I think I was 12 and he was 10. We both suddenly had the idea of writing songs on the guitar.”
Years later, Wilson — who headlines Friday at the Fitzgerald Theater — joined his brother’s band, Trip Shakespeare, and later went on to form Semisonic with bassist John Munson and drummer Jacob Slichter. After Semisonic stopped touring in 2001, Wilson started working on his own music. He also began writing with others.
Wilson’s early collaborators included Jason Mraz, Rachael Yamagata and Soul Coughing’s Mike Doughty. But things really took off after he worked with the Dixie Chicks on their 2006 album “Taking the Long Way,” which went on to win five Grammys, including song and record of the year for his co-written “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
In the years since, Wilson has worked with a wide variety of artists, from country acts (Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton) to pop stars (Pink, Taylor Swift, Halsey) to alt-rock bands (Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Phantogram). Oh, and he also co-wrote several songs with Adele, including one of her biggest hits, “Someone Like You.”
Now, Wilson has looked back at his vast catalog and revisited 13 tracks — including “Not Ready to Make Nice,” “Someone Like You” and Semisonic’s “Closing Time” — on his latest album, “Re-Covered.” His show Friday night at the Fitz will include those songs, and the stories that go along with them.
Here’s what else Wilson had to say.
On writing with artists from numerous genres:
“I like to think a great song is really portable. It can have a life in various styles and interpretations. When you write a song with someone at the most basic, bare-bones level, you can often take the resulting song and create an arrangement around it to suit the artist. That’s the ideal, that a great song can be passed from hand to hand. Mostly, I just want to work with people who I think are brilliant and are more likely to ignore the questions of style, genre and marketing.”
RELATED: Dan Wilson vs. Dixie Chicks, Adele, Chris Stapleton — whose version is better?On the decision to make “Re-Covered”:
“The idea came from my friend Karen. Her pitch was, ‘Dan, you should make an album of songs you’ve written for and with other artists. But you can’t do an acoustic guitar, ‘MTV Unplugged’ version. You have to think of a sound and have the whole thing have that specific sonic idea.’ After talking to (producer) Mike Viola, he thought the best way to do that is to have the same people cut the songs together in a short period of time, interpreting these very different songs all in the same moods.”
On recording the album with Elvis Costello’s longtime drummer Pete Thomas:
“Pete Thomas is one of my musical heroes. I had done some sessions with him over the years and played with him a couple times, but I was still a little starstruck working with him. He’s a very interesting collaborator, very conceptual and very creative. When we made plans for the session, he asked me to send him guitar and vocal versions. He told me ‘I don’t want to learn the songs based on the pre-exisiting versions, I want to hear them like they’re all brand new.’ I cut 30 very simple demos and sent those. He came to the sessions with all these ideas based on listening to the songs in their sparest form. The collaborative energy he brought was really powerful. Plus, he’s really funny. I spent a lot of time pumping him for stories about touring with Elvis Costello.”
On how he approaches songwriting sessions:
“I am somewhat picky about the setting. I like to have a real piano, a window with some natural light and not too low of a ceiling. Usually there’s no computer, no beats, no track. Half the time it’s someone I know, half the time it isn’t, but in both cases there are a lot of reasons to sit and shoot the breeze for a while. It’s a pretty lackadaisical tempo, but then again, we usually finish a song in a day or two. It’s more about what is actually going on around us and in us and tapping into that to make music. I’ve been in a bunch of sessions where you spend the first day just hanging out and talking, and then you wake up the next day and have such a clear idea for the song.”
On whether or not he has a wish list of collaborators:
“I sometimes do. It’s a bunch of people who don’t generally write with people. They’re sort of lone wolves: Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Smokey Robinson, Bill Withers. The thing is, my wish list is shorter than it might be, because if I keep it in my mind, it often just ends up happening.”
On talking about the songs when he performs live:
“I used to tell stories with Semisonic. I’d be having a great time and then Jake would start tapping on his snare drum and John would start thudding on the bass. That would be my hint. It was time to be done talking, we need to rock now. These days, I do tell a couple of long stories; it depends on what comes to mind. But it’s not just me rambling. I know how to make sure I don’t get bogged down. I can usually figure out when I’ve gone too far.”
DAN WILSON AT THE FITZGERALD
What: “Words and Music by Dan Wilson”
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul
More information: 651-290-1221 or fitzgeraldtheater.publicradio.org
The Grammy-winning songwriter and lead vocalist for Semisonic has just ordered a triple espresso at Spyhouse on Nicollet and claimed a booth in the back. He reminisces about frequenting the coffeeshop when smoking was allowed indoors; now, all he can do is appreciate the aroma of cigarettes wafting in through the open windows.
Not that Wilson spends as much time around here as he used to. He lives in Los Angeles, where he writes songs with superstars like John Legend and Taylor Swift. Adele’s huge hit “Somebody Like You” is partly his work. Wilson’s new solo album, Re-Covered, is a collection of those collaborations, recorded with his voice and fresh instrumental arrangements, and he’s back in Minnesota to share the revamped tunes at the Fitzgerald Theater on Friday.
Though Wilson’s feathery, strawberry blond hair and sideburns are beginning to gray, he’s energetic for a 56-year-old. His skin is California tan, his frame gangly. A thin beaded necklace rests above his collarbones. He peers through black-rimmed glasses with an intense, unwavering gaze. He pauses thoughtfully before answering each question with media-savvy confidence.
Re-Covered could be a risky prospect given that on his own, Wilson hasn’t exactly made chart-soaring singles—though he is quick to point out that Semisonic’s “Closing Time” became a “ubiquitous touchstone” and “Secret Smile” was an “inescapable” song in Europe and parts of Asia. Still, if his name is known outside of Minnesota, it’s more likely due to other artists’ hits than his own, a fact that doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I like that I’m helping someone else have a giant song,” he says. “I know people that write songs and they’re sad that they gave them away and let somebody else sing them, and I could never understand it.”
Wilson came up in bands where songs were just as likely to be written during rehearsal or soundcheck as they were to be written alone, and he’s never felt any preciousness about the process. “If you’re a songwriter, you’re not going to go for too long before a song happens to you almost as though it just fell from the sky-—and quite often, those are going to be your best songs,” he says. “You might even have a career where the best things you ever do are things that just seem to fall from the sky. Then you might get a different attitude about who gets the credit for what you’ve done.”
That doesn’t mean the process always feels magical. “It’s a lot of laying bricks,” he admits. “I’m a really picky person and I’m not always easy to work with and I demand a lot from people and I can be blunt sometimes with people, but it’s not intentionally mean.”
Wilson says he demands honesty from his collaborators. “Things can be truthful and resentful or truthful and angry or truthful and vengeful. I find those all to be fine. But if it sounds like resentful and vengeful and it’s also made-up, I just can’t like that,” he says. “I feel like part of my role in a writing session is to say, ‘This isn’t striking me as that true or real—is there a way we can ground this in reality more or can we base this on somebody that we know so that this doesn’t feel so pointlessly negative?’”
Here’s how Wilson describes the songwriting process: Two musicians with guitars go into a room where gold records adorn the walls. A fax machine and a printer hum. Screen savers undulate on computer monitors. Small talk and minor ego-stroking ensue. Then one of the songwriters says, “What should we write a song about? What’s going on?” and the other will say, “Well, I just filed for divorce and found out that I have terminal cancer.”
“They go all the way to whatever it might be that’s paramount in their life,” Wilson says. “It would be a very uncomfortable business or artistic practice to be a songwriter if you had any normal set of boundaries about your life. You need to be transparent as a person and willing to spill your guts in a way that most people would find uncomfortable and awkward and painful but we don’t.”
Wilson calls this “The Nashville Way,” which he learned in 2000 while studying songwriting in that city, an experience he compares to wizard school: “You get the lore and you get the methods and you hang with people who are better than you.” It was there that he learned a form of songwriting consisting of an instrument, a voice, and a song, with no expectation of how it will be recorded or released. It’s a philosophy that came into play during the recording of Re-Covered.
“As a writer, he really trusts the first idea,” says Mike Viola, the album’s producer. “It’s miraculous how he does that.” When Wilson asked him to work on the album, Viola insisted on the following conditions: a trusted group of talented musicians, a week-long stint at United Studios in Los Angeles, and recording live to tape so the final product couldn’t be messed with. This lent continuity to a disparate batch of songs written in different times, places, and for diverse voices.
“We didn’t want to make something that was a big commercial vehicle for him,” Viola says. “This is a quieter record.”
The beauty of Re-Covered is that even if you’re not a Josh Groban or a Leann Rimes fan, you might dig Wilson’s versions of their songs. While Wilson claims his voice “isn’t good at righteous indignation and it’s not necessarily the voice I would go to for super-seductive sexiness,” there are songs that fit both those categories on the album: the Dixie Chicks hit “Not Ready to Make Nice” and the Taylor Swift collaboration “Treacherous.” When called on this, Wilson smiles and says, “I had to stretch a little bit.”
The last of the 13 tracks on Re-Covered is “Closing Time.” After almost 20 years, isn’t Wilson sick of it? “I do know people who feel haunted and kind of burdened by their hits, but that sounds ridiculous to me,” he says.
If you’re looking for dirty secrets or petty complaints, you won’t find them in conversation with Wilson, a longtime married father of two. “I have a very skewed version of what life is because I’ve been so lucky,” he says. “I have a healthy ego but I don’t have a sense of credit for my good fortune.”
As for his professional aspirations, he does still have a few big names he’d love to collaborate with: Patti Griffin, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello.
“I’m in an unusual position with my bucket list of songwriters,” he says. “Because I keep crossing them off.”
Words & Music by Dan Wilson With: Her Crooked Heart Where: Fitzgerald Theater When: 8 p.m. Fri. Sept. 22 Tickets: $45.50-$50.50; more info here
Grammy-award winning songwriter/producer Greg Kurstin has launched a publishing joint venture with Sony/ATV to sign songwriters, producers and musicians.
Additionally, Kurstin, 48, has extended his worldwide deal with the publishing company.
The long-term deals follow Kurstin’s big wins at this year’s Grammy Awards, where he captured four Grammys, including album, song, and record of the year for his work with Adele on 25. Among the other artists he has worked with are Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Sia, and Ellie Goulding.
Kurstin’s first signings to No Expectations Publishing are songwriter/producer Wendy Wang, who plays in Kurstin’s band, The Bird and the Bee, and songwriter Jesse Shatkin, Kurstin’s former engineer. Kurstin had previously brought Shatkin to Sony/ATV and he now shifts to Kurstin’s joint venture. Shatkin co-wrote and produced Clarkson’s new single, “Love So Soft,” and Fall Out Boy’s “Champion,” while Wang co-wrote and produced “Everything” for Superfruit.
“With both Wendy and Jesse, it became clear it was the natural thing to do, to sign their publishing and to help push their careers to new levels,” Kurstin tells Billboard. “I really like listening to their tracks and giving them feedback. With Jesse, Wendy and future signees, I see us working together as a team. I’m continually inspired by them.
“It made sense to do this JV with Sony/ATV and Marty [Bandier, Sony/ATV chairman/CEO]. They’ve been my publisher for years and our partnership is strong,” Kurstin continues. “[Sony/ATV senior vp/Co-Head of West Coast A&R] Amanda Berman-Hill has been key at helping build Jesse’s and Wendy’s profiles.” Kurstin also credits his manager, Rachel Kurstin, who is his partner in the joint venture. “I would never leave the studio if it wasn’t for her. Together we have this vision to sign writers and help guide their careers.”
As far as future signees, Kurstin says, “I’m looking for talent, drive and, to be quite honest, to work with people I really like.”
“Greg is simply the best at what he does,” Bandier said in a statement. “He is an incredible songwriter, a producer extraordinaire and has an amazing ability to discover and nurture new talent.”
Berman-Hill added, “It has been such a great honor to have worked with Greg all these years because there is not a more humble, gracious and talented songwriter and producer in the industry. We now have the opportunity to develop songwriters and producers with him with the launch of our new joint venture, which is already off to a great start with Jesse and Wendy.”
The joint venture comes at a busy time for the prolific Kurstin: He produced Foo Fighters’ new album, Concrete and Gold, which is headed for No. 1 on Billboard 200 albums chart this week, as well as Beck’s new album, Colors, out Oct. 13. He also worked on Liam Gallagher’s solo debut, out Oct. 6; a Sia Christmas set and Paul McCartney’s forthcoming album, of which he was typically coy. Asked for details, he says only, “It’s for Paul to reveal when the time is right.”
The biggest question is how Kurstin will juggle all his expanding roles. “No Expectations Publishing is very important to me, “ he says. “I will always have time for it because I’m so passionate about it.” And he’s clearly not done yet. When asked why he is forming a publishing joint venture instead of a record label, he answered, “Who said instead of?”
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Barry Jenkins and Adele Romanski know what IFP Week is like. They know what it’s like to pitch a passion project. They even know what it’s like when time — in Jenkin’s case, several years — elapses between features. When the writer/director and producer, respectively, of Moonlight swung by this year’s Filmmaker Talks day at IFP Week, it was a kind of victory lap. After all, their last film together took home three Oscars, including Best Picture, on top of a towering pile of other accolades. But they used their talk with moderator Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker’s Editor-in-Chief, to remember when life was still a struggle.
“We did not have financing for Moonlight when we came to IFP Week,” Jenkins said. “I didn’t learn how to get financing coming out of IFP Week. But I learned a lot about what I was saying that was making the film unfinanceable. I wasn’t describing the film in a way that would be much more useful: ‘This is how I’m going to make it, this is what it’s going to look like, this is what it’s going to sound like.’ I just wasn’t doing those things. We left here and really refined what it was that we were going to do to make the project.” Summarizing his advice to Film Week filmmakers entering this week’s Project Forum, he said, ““If you’re selling a pitch, that’s usually a bad sign, whereas if you’re presenting, projecting, translating what’s awesome about you and how that connects with the piece you’re pitching, that’s the way to go.”
Before we proceed, let’s jump further back in time, to soon after 2008. Jenkins had just made Medicine for Melancholy. It was acclaimed, a festival hit, and it did modest business at the box office. And yet it took another eight years for Jenkins to follow it up with Moonlight. In the interim, he wasn’t doing nothing. He still talks about the movie he wanted to make next, a “Stevie Wonder time travel movie” set up at Focus Features. But that stalled, as did other projects.
“My real career move was to use the speed I got off Medicine to infiltrate Hollywood,” Jenkins said about his plan at the time. “My Plan B was to do these short films or commercials to pay the bills. And the Plan B ultimately became the plan,” Jenkins remembered. “I kind of stopped writing at that point. I wasn’t writing any personal films. Those things were too small [because] ‘I gotta make the Stevie Wonder time travel movie!’ I also unwisely wasn’t trying to get hired as a writer of other things, which is what Damien Chazelle did in between Guy and Madeleine [on a Park Bench, his debut] and Whiplash. I wasn’t wise. I wasn’t wise at all.”
Jenkins wound up with a year-long Cinereach fellowship, which he describes as “filmmaker therapy.” “They chose me and three other filmmakers, and we would come in once a month, and we would just sit on a couch and pour our hearts out,” he recalls. He also spent a few years running his own small commercial production company, Strike Anywhere. It was work that paid the bills but didn’t give him the time to develop the kinds of personal films that drove him into the business in the first place.
It took Romanski — whose other producing credits include The Myth of the American Sleepover, Morris from America and the TV version of The Girlfriend Experience — to wake him up. Coming off a particularly difficult production experience, she decided to push forward a film by her long-time friend. “Adele called me up and said, basically, ‘Why are you being such a dumbass?’ And that started the process,” Jenkins says. She would check in with Jenkins every week over Skype, and together they slowly narrowed down all the projects he wanted to do to the ones that could actually happen. Eventually they wound up with two: Moonlight and an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk, which they’re set to start shooting next month.
“I got up off the couch, and then Moonlight won Best Picture, which is kind of insane,” Jenkins says, still shocked.
Not that Jenkins thinks he’d do it differently given a chance to go back. “One of my favorite Arcade Fire songs is ‘The Suburbs (Continued),’ and the lyric is, ‘If I could have it back, all the time we wasted, I’d only waste it again.’ I think probably what I would do is waste it again,” Jenkins admitted.
Jenkins also humorously said that if he had lived a more spartan lifestyle he could have quit the commercial company and just spent his time writing. “I don’t think I was brave enough to think, ‘You know what? I don’t give a shit about eating. I’m going to eat ramen and I’m going to write. I’m going to work the bare minimum. I’m going to live in [a cheap part of town], and I’m going to work 30 hours a week, and I’m going to write the other 40 hours.’ I wasn’t ready to do that. I like good coffee. I like avocado toast. So it took much longer to get to this point.”
Rather than going it alone, both Jenkins and Romanski stressed the importance of working together.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having someone in your corner who you trust,” Romanski said. That goes double after you’ve had a success like Moonlight. “I’m very cynical. I don’t trust a lot of people. There are a lot of people who want to be your friend when things are good. It’s about seeing who’s still around and who wants to be your friend when, god forbid, you fall on your face and have to get back up.”
“Find your tribe,” Romanski added.
Moonlight was the first film made by Pastel, the production house Jenkins and Romanski started with Sara Murphy and Mark Ceryak. They envision it as a home for other filmmakers who want to make personal work; their second production — Gemini, by another longtime indie workhorse, Aaron Katz — is due in theaters this fall. It also means avoiding the big Hollywood tentpole behemoths, which Jenkins and Romanski aren’t being offered anyway. (Says Jenkins: “On Twitter, people will say, ‘Oh, Star Wars is open, get Barry Jenkins!’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I’m not getting those calls.”) If they did get those offers, they’d want to do it their way.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to do something for money, in a weird way,” said Romanski. “I never produced commercials, even if I was told, over and over again, that that’s the best side-hustle I could get into to support the indie film habit. I could never do it because the job is so damn hard — to get up every day and make yourself do what we do for 12 or 14 hours, to build the thing and see it through completion. If you don’t love it, good luck.”
Jenkins doesn’t miss the old days. “Pitching sucks. I don’t care who you are. You could be a white blue-blood dude from Harvard or Dartmouth — pitching sucks,” Jenkins said. Recently Jenkins pitched an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s book The Underground Railroad to Amazon. He wound up talking for three straight hours. “I go in there thinking, ‘This thing is expensive, I have to sell it.’ Thankfully, because I love what I do, after 20 minutes I went into a fugue state. It was crazy. Three hours later, the Amazon dude was like, ‘Do you want some water?’” Jenkins recalled. But he can still get stressed. “Even with an Oscar behind me, I still feel all those things you’re thinking about. They’re all in my head, because of where I’m from and who I am. They’re always going to be there. But once I slip into the love of what I’m doing, that shit disappears.”
Adele can make a full recovery from the voice problems that have recently plagued her, says the renowned surgeon who treated her for a previous vocal-cord affliction.
Steven Zeitels, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Voice Center in Boston, insists that singers with recurring vocal cord problems can recover and come back as strong as ever, or even stronger.
“There is no question in my mind these issues can be fixed,” said Zeitels, who has treated top vocalists including Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Lionel Richie and Keith Urban. “It is reasonably rare in my practice to ever do a second core surgical procedure on a singer, but it can be done and be successful.
“The best analogy is if you think about professional athletes, can they have more than one shoulder or knee operation? Absolutely,” said Zeitels, who says he’s not allowed to discuss any current medical interactions with Adele.
Adele reportedly in talks to star in ‘Oliver’ movie
Fans have been concerned about Adele’s (inset) future after the platinum-selling chanteuse canceled the final two sold-out shows of her grueling, 12-date “25” tour at London’s Wembley Stadium in July. Calling herself “heartbroken,” she told fans she had damaged her vocal cords and was “maxed out on steroids.”
It was an unwelcome flashback for the 29-year-old, who had to abandon her first U.S. tour in 2011 when her vocal cords hemorrhaged. Adele — who had been left unable to speak, let alone hit those famous high notes — ended up under the care of Zeitels, who performed laser surgery on the singer, saving her career.
“They put lasers down your throat, cut off the polyp, and kind of laser your hemorrhage back together and fix it,” she told CBS in 2012.
While her issues may be fixable, whether Adele will ever want to tour again is another question. The singer expressed doubt about it earlier this year, telling the New Zealand Herald in March: “I don’t know if I will ever tour again. The only reason I’ve toured is you. I’m not sure if touring is my bag.”
Her fans got a boost a couple weeks back when The Sun reported that she was in talks about appearing in an upcoming remake of the English musical “Oliver,” starring as Nancy, a kind-hearted prostitute. It would be her first acting role.
Of the many different singers from the many different genres currently dominating the charts, few capture emotion and heartache as adeptly and effectively as the very gifted British singer Adele. The heartbreaking lyrics and melodies of her many songs such as “Hello” and “Chasing Pavements” have captivated countless individuals going through a depressing or otherwise sad situation. At only 19 years old, she released her debut album “19” and was a commercial and critical success, premiering at number one on the Billboard UK charts, sold an estimated 7 million copies worldwide and went seven times platinum by The British Phonographic Industry.
(Indie Music Filter)
However, America may have received their own version of Adele and never knew it. Their gift came in the form of VÉRITÉ, a Brooklyn-born singer and songwriter whose music and lyrics couldn’t align closer with the mature yet honest themes that Adele sings about. Along with vivid descriptions of embarrassment from a heartbreaking incident, her songs discuss many themes, including a longing for returning home and being replaced in someone’s life.
This sense of raw and pure emotion comes out perhaps the most honestly in her song “Underdressed.” While one would think this would be a provocative song based on the title alone, it’s far from a simple song about seduction. The song portrays a story of someone reliving a romantic night over again and rather how the process of seduction made the protagonist feel. It’s not sappy nor is it poppy or catchy.
“You could convince me to/ Stay up all night with you/ While you leave me/ Underdressed and out of time”
The song uses a metaphor of being “underdressed” both physically and mentally, letting the listener know exactly how she felt about replaying the events of the night.
“Take me to a different view/ Change it/ All I ever wanna do/ Is stay here.”
Themes also discussed in the moving music of VÉRITÉ range from breaking up with someone to even the very relevant subject of depression. In another song on her album entitled “When You’re Gone”, the lyrics immediately jump right into the overall themes throughout the song of depression.
“Sitting in depression/ Always calling me irreverent”
And just like how Adele sings of being honest about her significant other leaving in her many songs, VÉRITÉ discusses similar themes in the buildup to the chorus.
“I don’t mind you leaving when the damage is done/ And I don’t mind, I feel the same when you’re gone”
The parallels between the lyricism and songwriting of VÉRITÉ and Adele shouldn’t be disregarded. They’re both incredible musicians whose songs are about rather mature themes that a large variety of people could relate to on a personal level and are portrayed very accurately in both their music, respectively.
Are you an Adele or VÉRITÉ fan and/or another artist? If so, Tweet me at @CaptainKasoff because I’d love recommendations on new music.