Men of Soul starring Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson
JEFFREY OSBORNE’s long-awaited new CD, Music Is Life, not only has the distinction of being the christening release of Jay Oz Records, his own recording label through a unique agreement with the Number One independent record company in America, KOCH Entertainment; the collection, co-produced and co-written by Osborne, marks the artist’s 30th year since the release of his very first album as the drummer for the R&B group L.T.D. in 1973.
From his humble beginnings as a drummer in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, to his rise to the pinnacle of R&B stardom, Jeffrey Osborne has unequivocally made his mark on contemporary music.
It is fitting therefore that Music Is Life is perhaps Osborne’s most compelling album to date. It is a collection of music that artfully explores a modern urban vitality without neglecting the classic R&B sensibilities that for three decades have made Osborne a premiere voice in popular music. The work is a celebration of both quintessential Jeffrey Osborne and the artist as he’s never been heard before.
Music is Life is Osborne at his apex: tracks such as the mid-tempo “Ain’t No More,” about a love gone bad; the catchy “When You Love Me” and “I Don’t Know,” a so-right groove about a day that went so wrong, is the Osborne longtime fans know and love, while the hip-hop flavored “Kisses,” the dark, urgent “Caller I.D.” and the lush, expansive “Pretty Thing” find Osborne forging terrain new to his trademark voice.
“The Rest of Our Lives,” a big, sweeping ballad Osborne wrote specifically as a wedding song, will undoubtedly be adopted as such; just as the certified head bobber “One Love” – chronicle of the onset of the almighty weekend – is destined to become a club and party anthem.
“Say You've Had Enough” and “Love The Pain Away” are both achingly sexy ballads, while the track “Stranger” is anything but, it being a remake of the 1974 L.T.D. favorite. Osborne has breathed new life into the song, transforming a classic into a modern standard. Indeed, it feels just like “Paradise,” a breezy melodic wonder with a feel-good hook.
The title track, “Music Is Life,” says it all. A funky, dynamic, impassioned ode to mother music, it sways with love and reverence to the thing that makes the world go ‘round.
Music Is Life is not a veteran artist trying to be something he is not; on the contrary, this is very much where Osborne has always been, with one foot in the tried and true, the other in what is fresh.
“This record will surprise people,” smiles Osborne. “It is the record I've wanted to make for awhile now, and finally said, ‘It’s now or never.’ I wanted to do something that was more youthful musically while maintaining my lyrical integrity, and I wanted to do it on my own label for a change – take a chance on myself.”
To assist him in his musical mission, Osborne shunned the usual suspects to collaborate with members of his musical family – primarily road band members Suamana “Swoop” Brown on keyboards and drum programming and keyboardist Ming Freeman, both of who co-wrote with Osborne.
Keyboardist Frankie Crawford and guitarist Kevin Chokan round out the recording fold, with Osborne buddy Tony Maiden of the legendary band Rufus adding tasty guitar to several tracks.
Engineer Khaliq Glover, another Osborne stalwart, recorded and mixed the project, recorded in its in entirety at Osborne's recording studio.
Says Osborne, “The feel is different from my last recording [2002’s That’s For Sure, including the sultry single and title track issued on the Private Music/Windham Hill label]. It’s me, but it’s something else, too. I have to say that I haven't been this excited about hearing reaction to a recording of mine in a long time.”
Indeed, the man music industry publication Radio and Records declared “the number one hit maker of the 1980s” has been making music a long time. Beginning with Jeffrey Osborne, his 1982 debut A&M solo album featuring the hit singles, “I Really Don't Need No Light” and the instant standard ballad, “On The Wings Of Love,” Osborne has charted a sure and passionate musical course. A&M and Arista albums such as Stay With Me Tonight, Don’t Stop, One Love, One Dream and Only Human and singles like “Stay With Me Tonight,” “We’re Going All The Way,” “The Last Time I Made Love” and “Only Human” easily transcended being hits to become R&B/pop classics.
But then Osborne – who as a teen augmented local bands as a self-taught drummer before concentrating on development as a vocalist – has been a prominent figure on the pop music scene since 1976, when L. T. D. (Love, Togetherness and Devotion), the band he fronted, broke through with the Billboard R&B #1/pop #20 hit, “Love Ballad.”
Osborne’s mighty voice was the center of a series of subsequent gold and platinum L.T.D. albums, including Love To The World, Something To Love, Togetherness and Devotion and the funky 1977 barn burning single, “Back In Love Again.” Indeed, it was during Osborne’s stellar vocal performances on such tracks as “(Won't Cha) Stay With Me,” from Something to Love and “We Both Deserve Each Other’s Love” and Concentrate on You,” both from the 1978’s Togetherness, that the Osborne legacy – his distinctively soulful way with melody and lyric – was established. In 1982 he left the band to pursue a solo career and hasn’t looked back since.
Meanwhile, Osborne enjoys a distinction that no other pop singer has achieved: A place in the annals of professional sports as the official singer of the National Anthem for NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers and most in-demand singer of the Anthem in the history of professional sports.
What began on the Lakers’ home court in 1979, when Magic Johnson was the team’s star rookie, has 20 years later, earned Osborne four Laker championship rings and a reputation for game time magic that other teams want to harness. He’s sung the anthem for the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers for over twenty years, and at most heavyweight championship fights. “It’s the funniest thing,” says Osborne, bashful about the notion that his pipes might bring a bit of luck to a team or athlete. “I don’t know if there is anything to it, but when I sing at home court, the Lakers usually win.”
Osborne is hoping to score the same winning magic with his Jay Oz label. “At the moment I have just one other act I want to develop,” he says. “A real singer. No gimmicks. I want Jay Oz to be synonymous with the real deal.” In that sense, the label has already achieved its goal: It has Jeffrey Osborne.
PEABO BRYSON is one of the premier male vocalists in contemporary music and with twenty- five years of music-making to his credit, Peabo Bryson is expanding his creative horizons as a producer and songwriter. As witnessed by his outstanding debut for Windham Hill Records, this two-time Grammy-Award winning legend is reaching new heights with a set of exceptional material, much of which he wrote and produced with musical partner Regina Troupe. To a collection of tailor-made original songs which showcase Bryson’s rich, soulful vocal style, this internationally-renowned performer adds an emotive reading of Leon Russell’s classic “A SONG FOR YOU” and an infectious cover of the 1979 Rufus and Chaka Khan hit “AINT NOBODY.”
From the sensuous, tropical flavor of “ON AND ON” to “DID YOU EVER KNOW,” the kind of standout powerhouse ballad that has made him a fixture on the music scene, Peabo Bryson has delivered an album sure to satisfy the loyal global audience he’s created for himself over the past two decades. Teaming with longtime friend and duet partner Roberta Flack, there’s “THE GIFT”, a poignant tune that is a reminder of the pairs vocal chemistry; “MY HEART BELONGS TO YOU”, (also featured on Windham Hill labelmate Jim Brickman’s “VISIONS OF LOVE” album) is another Bryson highlight co-written with Regina Troupe; while the easy-going, finger- snapper “SOMEBODY IN YOUR LIFE” demonstrates that Peabo’s ability to handle groove tunes along with the quiet storm and adult contemporary ballads have made him a longtime favorite among pop and R&B listeners everywhere.
With almost twenty albums to his credit, Peabo Bryson’s career has gone from strength to strength particularly during the past decade. Enjoying an unprecedented, across-the-board level of international success, Peabo has the distinction of being the first artist in music history to have separate records topping four different charts: “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)”, a duet with Regina Bell that won an Oscar as “Best Song” in 1992 and earned Peabo a Grammy Award for “Best Pop Vocal by a Duo or
Group” topped both the Pop and Adult Contemporary charts; a new recording of the classic musical “THE KING AND I” featuring Peabo and Tony winner Lea Salonga on the song “WE KISS IN A SHADOW” became No. 1 on the Classical Crossover charts; while saxophonist Kenny G’s multi-platinum “BREATHLESS” which included Peabo on “BY THE TIME THIS NIGHT IS OVER” topped the Contemporary Jazz charts and also enjoyed a three-month run as a hit single on the Hot 100 in 1993.
But acclaim and recognition are nothing new for this multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer, born in Greenville, South Carolina. Exposed to music at an early age, Peabo began singing with local bands during his teen years, performing on the famed ‘chitlin’ circuit and gaining the kind of experience that would help prepare him for a solid career as a recording artist and entertainer.
In 1975, Peabo signed with Atlanta-based Bang Records and enjoyed some initial success on the R&B charts with tunes like “I CAN MAKE IT BETTER” and “UNDEGROUND MUSIC.” However, it was after switching to Capitol Records in 1977 that Peabo gained national attention thanks to Top 10 R&B hits like “I’m So Into You” and “REACHING FOR THE SKY,” the title track for his Capitol debut gold album which also included the classic “FEEL THE FIRE.”
Further success followed with the gold album “CROSSWINDS” and Peabo rapidly became one of the most popular headliners, touring nationally throughout the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. His six-year tenure with Capitol also included major hit duets with Natalie Cole (“GIMME SOME TIME” and “WHAT YOU WON’T DO FOR LOVE”) and Roberta Flack with whom he scored his first pop breakthrough via “TONIGHT I CELEBRATE MY LOVE,” taken from the 1983 gold album, “BORN TO LOVE.”
In 1984, Peabo signed with Elektra Records and achieved instant success with the Top 10 pop and R&B smash “IF EVER YOU’RE IN MY ARMS AGAIN” which also topped the Adult Contemporary charts. Further hits followed including “WITHOUT YOU”, a 1987 duet with Regina Bell. In 1989, Peabo returned to Capitol, claiming his
first R&B chart-topper with “SHOW AND TELL” from the Top 10 R&B charted album “ALL MY LOVE.”
In 1990, he moved to Columbia Records and recorded the album “CAN YOU STOP THE RAIN.” The title track also became a No. 1 R&B hit while the single “LOST IN THE NIGHT” was nominated for a 1992 Grammy award. In 1991, Peabo teamed up with international superstar Celine Dion to record the theme tune for Disney’s hit film, “Beauty and The Beast”; the result, a No 1. pop hit, a Grammy for “Best Vocal by a duo or Group,” and an Oscar for “Best Song.”
In 1992, Peabo repeated that success with Regina Bell on another Disney derived tune when “A WHOLE NEW WORLD (Aladdin’s Theme)” hit the top of the charts and won Peabo a slew of further awards. His 1994 Columbia album “THROUGH THE FIRE” contained both movie themes and since that time, Peabo has toured the world, including performing at the Miss America Pageant in 1995.
Demonstrating his skills as an actor, he appeared in the lead role for the touring production of the Tony Award-winning “Raisin” (based on “Raisin In The Sun”) and in the role of The Wizard in a touring company of “The Wiz.” In 1998, he appeared in the Michigan Opera Theater’s 100th anniversary production of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and also recorded two songs for the soundtrack for the “Barney” movie, one of which the Bryson produced “DREAMS”- became the lead song for the album.
Peabo spent a good portion of 1998 also working on his much-anticipated Private Music debut, and for his many avid fans the world over, the wait has been worthwhile. Whether he’s expressing heartfelt sentiments, as in “UNCONDITIONAL LOVE” or grooving on “EYE ON YOU,” Peabo Bryson is at his intimate best, a legendary vocalist offering a timeless mix of pop and soul as only he can.
FREDDIE JACKSON's well-known hits are "Rock Me Tonight (For Old Time's Sake)," "Jam Tonight," "Do Me Again," and "You are My Lady." stormed the R&B charts in 1985, spending six weeks at number one, and made Jackson an instant sensation on urban contemporary radio. "You Are My Lady" gave him a second straight R&B chart-topper, and also proved to be his highest-charting single on the pop side, peaking at number 13. With "He'll Never Love You (Like I Do)" and "Love Is Just a Touch Away" also hitting the R&B Top Ten, Rock Me Tonight topped the R&B album charts and went platinum. Jackson wasted no time issuing a follow-up set; Just Like the First Time appeared in 1986 on the heels of a number one R&B duet with Melba Moore, "A Little Bit More" (from her album A Lot of Love). Another platinum seller, Just Like the First Time continued Jackson's incredible dominance of the R&B singles charts; "Tasty Love," "Have You Ever Loved Somebody," and "Jam Tonight" all hit number one, while "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love" went to number two.
Mr. Freddie Jackson recently released his new CD, “For You” on eOne Music. The new single “I Don’t Wanna Go” was charted as one of most added singles during its first week of airplay and is featured on television music shows VH1 Soul and “Centric” networks.
Mr. Jackson currently on the “Men of Soul Tour” continues as a solo artist to play to sold-out houses in the United States and around the world. In addition to performing, he is the author of a cookbook entitled “Tasty Love” and continues to lend his voice to support numerous charitable organizations.