TRANSITIONS: Carrie Fisher, ‘Star Wars’ actress

carrie-fisher-actress-in-star-wars-rfxp-prodCarrie Fisher, American actress known famously for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars films and who was an author, screenwriter, producer and public speaker, transitioned on Tuesday, December 27, 2016. She was the daughter of famed Hollywood actress/entertainer Debbie Reynolds and American entertainer Eddie Fisher.

Fisher was born Carrie Frances Fisher on October 21, 1956. She died in Los Angeles, California following a massive heart attack. Carrie Fisher was 60 years old.

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: George Michael

George Michael – English singer, songwriter and record producer transitioned on Sunday, December 25, 2016.george-michael-faces-robfathers-edit

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963 in East Finchley, north London, UK.

george-michael-andrew-ridgeley-of-whamKnown professionally as ‘George Michael’, Michael rose to fame with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the 1980s after forming in 1981 one half of the pop music duo Wham! (The duo/group was briefly known as Wham! UK in the United States due to a naming conflict with an American band.) Wham! would enjoy success until their breakup in 1986.

Michael was best known in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop and had been characterized as a blue-eyed soul singer before going solo. Much of his material however drew more from middle-of-the-road pop than it did from R&B/soul music.

george-michael_faith-1987The release of George Michael’s multi-million selling solo albums, Faith (1987), the follow-up Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) and Older (1996) were – and remain  three of my often-played personal favorites from his solo efforts. As a solo artist, Michael sang music duets with such great R&B/soul music recording artists like Aretha Franklin (“I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)”), [the late] Whitney Houston (“If I Told You That) and sang with fellow English singer-songwriter, musician and composer Sir Elton John in a 1991 live concert performance covering John’s popular 1974 hit Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me. Additionally, Michael contributed background vocals to David Cassidy’s 1985 hit The Last Kiss”, as well as to Elton John’s 1985 successes Nikita and Wrap Her Up.

Michael sang on the original anti-famine charity super-group Band Aids 1984 recording of Do They Know It’s Christmas? – which became a UK Christmas number one single. He donated the profits from Wham! songs Last Christmas and Everything She Wantsto charity.

george-michael_listen-without-prejudice-vol_1-1990George Michael sold more than 100 million record albums worldwide throughout a career spanning almost four decades. He would win numerous music awards throughout his 35-year career, including three Brit Awards – winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations. He garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard Magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All Time Artists list.

As of this writing, many qualified news sources have reported – and Michael’s publicist has stated, that singer George Michael died peacefully at his home property in Goring, Oxfordshire, England, Sunday afternoon on December 25, 2016. He was 53.

Thank you, George Michael for sharing your wonderful talents and for your great contributions to the music industry. Rest in peace, my good man. We’ll greatly miss you but your music and contributions to society shall live on.

(Note: Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: Kashif

Kashif (Kashif Saleem aka Michael Jones) – American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, artist, composer, author, director and educator – transitioned on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

kashif-album-collage_created-by-robfather-x-2016-kashif-center
Kashif was born Michael Jones on December 26, 1959 in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Brooklyn foster care system. Under his given birth name Michael Jones, Kashif was a member of the music groups The Bus Boys and Artists United Against Apartheid, though he was/is best known for being with the 1970s American disco/funk band B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Transit Express). It was B.T. Express who recruited him at age 15 to be their keyboardist and vocalist. As Michael Jones, Kashif is credited with performing on B.T. Express song hits such as Express and Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), among others.

Michael Jones/Kashif initially launched his career as a multi-instrumentalist. Among other instruments, he played the piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. Kashif left B.T. Express in 1978 to begin pursuing a solo career in music. It was either during or shortly before this time when he studied Islam and would change his name from Michael Jones to Kashif Saleem. [‘Kashif’ is an Arabic name meaning “discoverer” and “inventor” and ‘Saleem’ means “one who comes in peace”.] While solo, Kashif used his talents to play keyboards for R&B music artist Stephanie Mills before segueing into studio work on projects with other R&B artists like Nona Hendryx, Gloria Gaynor, Melba Moore, Tavares and The Four Tops, among many others.

Kashif, who had already crafted his own distinctive sound (a sound I would know anywhere), would sign with Arista Records in 1983 where he enjoyed success as a solo artist. His signature use of synthesizer technology paired with lyrics of love and devotion helped defined urban sounds following the exit of disco music. This helped him earned several awards, including two Grammy nominations for his second album, ‘Send Me Your Love’ (1984) – which has long been and remains a personally loved, often-played favorite of mine and another nomination for his 1985 album ‘Condition of the Heart’. Together with fellow musical genius and famed recording artist Stevie Wonder, Kashif is considered a R&B pioneer and synthesizer master in urban music thanks to his precise synthesizer technology approach and the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in his production work.

Kashif wrote and/or performed a number of successful songs for and/or with artists like Whitney Houston (‘Thinking About You’, ‘You Give Good Love’), Evelyn “Champagne” King (‘I’m In Love’, ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Betcha She Don’t Love You’, ‘Back to Love’), Howard Johnson (‘So Fine’), Meli’sa Morgan (‘Love Changes’), Stacy Lattisaw, Melba Moore, Average White Band, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Barry White, Johnny Kemp, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick (‘Reservations for Two’), Al Jarreau, guitarist George Benson (‘Inside Love (So Personal)’), Will Downing, The Stylistics and others. Kashif is credited with launching the career of best-selling jazz saxophonist legend, Kenny G with whom he has written, played instruments and/or sang several songs. In addition to his work in music, Kashif is also a successful director and best-selling author of the book Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry.

As of this writing, reports say that Kashif apparently died of natural causes in his home in Venice, Los Angeles in California. However, the official cause of death has yet to be determined. Kashif Saleem was 56 years old.

Many of us remember Kashif and his music and are very grateful for the sharing of his talents and influence as well as the many musical and humanitarian contributions he has given to society.

REFERENCE NOTE: Excerpts of this transition biography were adapted or retrieved from various sources, including Soulwalking.co.uk (which, in my opinion, is usually a good “go-to” source of accurate information on R&B artists of color), Billboard.com, Vibe.com, IMDb.com and AllMusic.com, among others.

– RobFather X

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Orlando Massacre Victims at 49, not 50

I’m still seeing postings from social media users who are saying that fifty (50) men and women were killed in last Sunday’s massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Perhaps it’s insignificant but I think details and facts – no matter how minute, are important in situations like this.

Unless any one of the other 53+ people who were wounded or injured in that incident happen to die from their wounds – and I certainly hope each of them survive and has a healthy recovery – although reports say there are a few in that number who remain on the hospital critical condition watch list, the official death count of human victims in that massacre is still at forty-nine (49), not 50!
Orlando massacre victims (49) (14JUN 2016)
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies do not consider the perpetrator or antagonist killed in any crime a victim in their death count. This is why they [the FBI] do not – and neither should we – consider Orlando assassin and domestic terrorist Omar Mateen, a victim in that incident. I say this so that in our social media postings and social discussions we can correctly state the true number of people killed in that massacre.

Now, click here  or click the photo above to link to an interactive website slide of the still photo from the New York Daily News. The slide shows the name, photo and profile of each of the persons who were murdered Sunday June 12, 2016. Lest there being any misunderstanding, the photo and slide show photos of people; human beings of flesh and blood who, regardless of their sexual orientation, had been living members of our society. They were people who had simply been having a good time; enjoying the American freedom of having a good time with friends, acquaintances and strangers… until their lives were suddenly snatch away needlessly and tragically by… a bullet.

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: Billy Paul

Billy Paul transitioned today, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) RobFather's edit

American Grammy Award-winning soul, R&B, pop and jazz singer Billy Paul was born Paul Williams in [North] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1934. He had been an active singer in the Philadelphia area where he was raised since the 1950s. Paul was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by the producer/song-writing team Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. Under Gamble and Huff, founders of Philadelphia International Records (PIR) Paul’s career prospered.

Billy Paul began his singing career when he was eleven, appearing first on a local radio station then known as WPEN (now WKDN) in Philadelphia. He attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music for his formal vocal training. As he got older and continued singing, Paul’s popularity grew and led to appearances in jazz clubs and at college campuses nationally. He changed his birth name to ‘Billy Paul’ to avoid confusion with other music artists such as songwriter Paul Williams and saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. These early experiences led to further signing opportunities including appearing in concert with such music greats as Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr., Roberta Flack and a brief stint singing with the group Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.

Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, being stationed in Germany with rock and roll music legend Elvis Presley and actor/singer Gary Crosby (son of crooner Bing Crosby). Paul and [Gary] Crosby started a band called the Jazz Blues Symphony Band (whom he and Crosby tried to get Elvis to join) and sang with the 7th Army Band. These opportunities allowed Paul to continue his music passion until his dischargeBillie Holiday from military service when he resumed his professional singing career.

Paul was usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy. He once stated that his style of singing was particularly influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Nina Simone, Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson and most especially by Billie Holiday, whom he said was his “biggest influence” in developing his vocal singing style.

Billy-Paul_Me and Mrs Jones_45 recordBilly Paul is best known for his U.S. top-charted 1972 hit, Me and Mrs. Jones. A classic confessional tale of infidelity, Paul’s unorthodox style enhanced the ballad’s sense of guilt.
Me and Mrs. Jones
would receive newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Bublé released a cover version in 2007. Other popular releases from Billy Paul include Thanks For Saving My Life (1974) and Let’s Make A Baby (1976) – a controversial song (of a few sung by Paul) at the time of its release whose lyrics drew the protest of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH who help lead the protest to ban or alter the track lyrics of the song due to its supposed or perceived “obscene and negative” message. Another hit was Paul’s 1977 cover of Let ’Em In (1977) – which was a soulful, funky adaptation cover of the original 1976 hit from [former Beatles member] Paul McCartney and his then-band ‘Wings’. Paul’s cover of Let ’Em In mentioned notable African-American figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Louis Armstrong in lieu of some of the people named in McCartney’s original.

Paul had continued to make excellent records long but his last chart entry to date came in 1980 with You’re My Sweetness. He recorded for Total Experience and Ichiban Records in the 1980s and would continue to perform throughout the world in addition to running his own production company. He announced his retirement in 1989 on stage while in London. However, like many artists before him, he could not resist the temptation to continue to play live shows and record.

Billy Paul-1Paul released fifteen albums (not counting a 1973 reissue of Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club) between 1968 and 1988. While he never again matched the mainstream success of Me and Mrs. Jones, he is recognized by many as a pioneer and important figure in soul music, known for his socially conscious lyrics. In 2008, Billy Paul was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame.

Billy Paul was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been hospitalized the week before his death at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital. He was 81 when he transitioned on Sunday afternoon April 24, 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.

We thank artist Billy Paul for his many years contribution to the music industry.

– RobFather X

(Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)
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