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Wednesday, January 25, 2006
What sophomore jinx? The second albums for both Gretchen Wilson, “All Jacked Up,” and Big & Rich, “Comin’ To Your City,” have both been certified platinum. That's music industry jargon meaning that they have sold more than 1,000,000 copies. So can a million Redneck Women and members of the Freak Parade be wrong?
What is also not wrong is the long overdue revival of soul music. Another sign of this is the relaunching of the television channel VH1 Soul. Originally started in 1997, it is being relaunched February 1 at the start of Black History Month.
A press release says VH1Soul will be available in nearly 20 million homes. The focus will be "the hottest, soul, neo-soul and R&B hits from the 90s and today featuring core artists such as Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Outkast, Mary J. Blige and Usher." There will also be a show on Valentine's Day, Tuesday, February 14, hosted by present-day soul singer Anthony Hamilton, called "Soulphrodisiac," billed as a "romantic music video show."
More info can be found on their web site as well as here. You can also check their web site both for a complete lineup of shows as well as to check if VH1 Soul is available on your system.
So far, with only about 20 million homes having it available, it is not even being offered on Time Warner Cable in Manhattan. Thus many communities including Harlem and many others where there are so many aficionados of soul music will not be able to see VH1 Soul unless and until it is added by the cable monopoly.
But the revival of VH1 Soul does indicate that there is a rising interest in soul music, and this trend may result in the network getting wider carriage.
Not only does New York not yet have VH1 Soul available, but the Big Apple does not have any radio station in the city proper picking up the weekly syndicated radio show "American Country Countdown." Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn is the new host of "American Country Countdown," whose new season debuts this weekend. It is syndicated by ABC Radio. You can check the ABC Radio site to see if a station in your area is running "American Country Countdown."
But this show is only available in the New York City suburbs on WLIR 107.1FM from Garden City, NY, WNNJ 1360AM from Franklin, NJ, and WXPK 107.1FM from Beacon, NY. It also is not clear if the web sites of these stations will stream the syndicated "American Country Countdown." And at the same time, Disney, which owns ABC Radio, is reportedly close to a deal to sell it off.
New York as well still has no country music radio station. The closest thing is an HD radio station called New York Country, WKTU 103.5-HD2. This is a commercial-free digital radio station run as part of the new multicast by WKTU-FM. You either need a very pricey HD radio to hear this, or else you can listen online for free on their site at http://www.ktu.com/cc-common/hdradio/ .
Now I know someone is going to notice or ask that I have lumped together commentary on country and soul music along with their media and what is available in New York. So you want to know whether I'm on the side of the rednecks or the homeboys, do you?
Here's the answer: both these forms of music have the same roots.
In fact, it has been observed that "gospel, country, blues, rhythm & blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll are really all just one thing. Those are the American music and that is the American culture.”
And that quote comes from someone who knows: Etta James.
While the American form of apartheid known as Jim Crow segregation may have unmixed these musical forms, the breakdown of the myths of that era is starting to have more people realize that all this good, American music can be appreciated by all the artificially separated groups in the society. And that's the no-holds-barred truth!