Tribute to James Brown

JamesBrownOften referred to as the Godfather of Soul, the late great American singer, songwriter, arranger, and dancer, James Brown sadly passed away on December 25th 2006. Born May 3rd, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina. He was a prolific singer, songwriter and bandleader and became one of the most iconic mportant and influential figures in funk and soul music from 1956-2006. This remarkable achievements earned him the sobriquet “the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business” and helped him become one of the most popular entertainers in 20th-century popular music. Among his most popular songs are  “It’s A Man’s World” “Try Me” “Night Train”  “Please, Please, Please” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”  “I Got You (I Feel Good)”  “Cold Sweat ” “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” “Get on Up” and “Super Bad.At age 15 Brown was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison after being arrested for breaking into cars but was released after 3 years for good behaviour. While at the Alto Reform School, he formed a gospel group named the Flames (later the Famous Flames), which soon attracted the attention of the legendary Little Richard , whose manager helped promote the group, and they went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to record their first song “Please, Please, Please” which went on to sell three million copies and launched Brown’s extraordinary career.

Along with placing nearly 100 singles and almost 50 albums on the best-seller charts, Brown broke new ground with two of the first successful “live and in concert” albums— Live at the Apollo (1963), and the follow-up, Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal.During the 1960s Brown was known as “Soul Brother Number One.” His hit recordings of that decade have often been associated with the emergence of the Black Arts and black nationalist movements, especially the songs “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Don’t Be a Drop-Out”, and “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothin’ (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”. Politicians recruited him to help calm cities struck by civil insurrection and avidly courted his endorsement. In the 1970s Brown became “the Godfather of Soul,” and his hit songs stimulated several dance crazes and were featured on the sound tracks of a number of “blaxploitation” films. When hip-hop emerged as a viable commercial music in the 1980s, Brown’s songs again assumed centre stage as hip-hop disc jockeys frequently incorporated samples from his records.

He also appeared in several motion pictures, including The Blues Brothers and Rocky IV, and attained global status as a celebrity, especially in Africa,where his tours attracted enormous crowds and generated a broad range of new musical fusions.Brown’s uncanny ability to sing soulful slow ballads as well as electrifying up-tempo tunes, often blending blues, gospel, jazz, and country vocal styles together, made him one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. His extraordinary dance routines featuring acrobatic leaps, full-impact knee landings, complex rhythmic patterns, dazzling footwork, dramatic entrances, and melodramatic exits redefined public performance within popular music and inspired generations of imitators. The musicians associated with him (Jimmy Nolan, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker) have also played an important role in funk music. in 1986 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the world of Funk and Soul Music .

James Brown & BB King in Concert http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_imA3r_S1YU

Tribute to Gerry Anderson

ThunderbirdsFamous for his work on Television, Gerry Anderson, sadly passed away on December 26 2012 aged 83. Born April 14 1929 at Feltham, Middlesex. His  father scratched a living filling cigarette machines. Neurotic and shy, Gerry was brought up in Neasden, north London, where the family shared a single room, but at the outbreak of war he was evacuated to Northamptonshire. He left Willesden county secondary school with ambitions of being a plasterer until he realised he was allergic to plaster. He started work as a trainee with Colonial Films and after National Service as a radio operator with the RAF worked as an assistant at Gainsborough Studios before co-founding Pentagon Films to make commercials in 1955.The following year, he moved into film production and formed AP Films (Named after partner Arthur Povis) in the hope of making a classic epic — but the opportunities were not forthcoming. Instead he reluctantly turned to making puppet series for television and produced 52 episodes of The Adventures of Twizzle, a project that led to Torchy The Battery Boy and Four Feather Falls, a Western series in which the puppets (unable to draw their guns) had to swivel their holsters to fire.

These early efforts convinced Anderson of the potential of puppet series as an entertainment form, and his 1960 series Supercar was the first successful science-fiction format to reflect the growing interest among children in futuristic technology. He followed it with the more sophisticated Fireball XL5, 26 episodes featuring the hero Steve Zodiac, and timing it to coincide with increased interest in the “space race”.In 1965 Anderson created Stingray, featuring the underwater exploits of Troy Tempest and his submarine, and the first of his series to be shot in colour. The series was also the first of Anderson’s to be sold to America.

Anderson’s most successful and popular series Thunderbirds was elaborately produced and followed the adventures of the futuristic Tracy family who ran an air, space and undersea rescue service from a small island in the Pacific. Anderson remembered that his elder brother, Lionel, a pilot who was killed in the war, had trained in Arizona near Thunderbird Field, and helped himself to the “very exciting” name. As well as Jeff Tracy and his sons John, Scott, Virgil, Alan and Gordon (all named after early American astronauts), Thunderbirds also introduced some of Anderson’s most popular and enduring characters, including the myopic genius Brains, the glamorous secret agent Lady Penelope ( who was based on his second wife, Sylvia) and her chauffeur, an ex-alcoholic Cockney safecracker-made-good called Parker, whose distinctive way of speaking (“Yus, m’lady”) was apparently modelled on a waiter at a pub in Cookham where Anderson used to have his lunch.Although the television series caught the imagination of millions of young viewers, two feature-length film spin-offs, Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbirds 6, both failed to achieve the same popularity. More successful was Anderson’s venture into a tie-in weekly children’s comic, TV Century 21, launched in 1965 and containing strips based on his various television series.

ln 1967 Anderson created a new series, Captain Scarlet, named after its indestructible hero, and the first to be made by Anderson’s new production company, Century 21. It was followed in 1968 by Joe 90, about a nine-year-old boy who gained expert knowledge on any subject using his uncle’s hi-tech mousetrap invention. Anderson’s next venture, The Secret Service, was his first and unsuccessful attempt to combine puppets with real actors and marked the start of a decline in the fortunes of his production company, Century 21.His first science-fiction feature film, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, starred Ian Hendry and Patrick Wymark and coincided with Anderson’s first all-live action series for television called UFO which, although well produced, was a humourless affair which failed to make an impact on its first showing – while attracting considerable interest when it was repeated in 1987.

In the 1970s Anderson persevered with live action series such as The Protectors, featuring a glamorous international crime-fighting agency starring Robert Vaughn and Nyree Dawn Porter, and Space 1999, a sub-Star Trek enterprise which was critically panned for its stereotyped characters and bland scripts. Stalled projects, misjudged investments and a property crash left Anderson in dire financial straits, and he endured a painful divorce from his second wife and former business partner, Sylvia.Anderson returned to puppets in 1982 with Terrahawks, in which Dr Tiger Ninestein and the Terrahawks tried to stop the evil Zelda conquering the universe. The success of this series encouraged Anderson to attempt a new project called Space Police, but although a pilot was produced, financial backing never materialised and the series failed to get off the ground.Most of Anderson’s work in the 1980s was with television commercials, the most memorable perhaps being that for Scotch videotape featuring the “skeleton man”. Having sold the rights to his shows to the television tycoon Lord Grade in the 1970s, in 2008 he entered into talks with ITV to buy back the rights to Thunderbirds to remake it using computer-generated imagery. A live-action remake of Thunderbirds, co-produced by the British company Working Title and the American studio Universal was also released in the 2004. In retirement he lived at Henley-on-Thames with his third wife, Mary, and took an active interest in his production enterprises and the extraordinary following his puppet series continued to attract. He was appointed MBE in 2001 and sadly passed away on December 26 2012 aged 83

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and also celebrated in the Western African Diaspora in other nations of the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba).

Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday  Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”. The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s, although most East African nations were not involved in the Atlantic slave trade that brought African people to America Kwanzaa was a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage” which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy”.

During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said that it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas. However, as Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so that practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, “Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday.”Many African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy,” consisting of what Karenga called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.” These seven principles comprise

*Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason.

*Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

*Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves

*Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

*Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

*Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

*Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

*lmani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed, corn (Muhindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikimbe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principle

Saint Stephen’ s Day

St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to theJulian calendar and mark St. Stephen’s Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar used in secular contexts. It commemorates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr.It is an official public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Balearic Islands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moselle, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Sweden. The date is also a public holiday in those countries that celebrate Boxing Day on the day instead/as well, such as Canada and England

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a secular holiday that is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day, which is also St. Stephen’s Day, a religious holiday. When 26 December falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day in many Commonwealth countries and former British dominions is moved to 27 December. In the UK, Boxing Day is a bank holiday. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is given as a substitute bank holiday. On the occasion when Christmas Day is on a Saturday – with Boxing Day on the Sunday – the following Monday (27) and Tuesday (28) of December both become bank holidays.In Scotland, Boxing Day has been specified as an additional bank holiday since 1974, by Royal Proclamation under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.In Ireland – when the island as a whole was part of the United Kingdom – the Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day ofSt. Stephen as a non-movable public holiday on 26 December. Since the creation of the Republic of Ireland following partition in 1920, only Northern Ireland officially continues to use the British name ‘Boxing Day’.In Australia, Boxing Day is a federal public holiday. In the Australian state of South Australia, 28 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday. The holiday for Proclamation Day is observed on the first weekday after Christmas Day or the Christmas Day holiday. Nowadays Boxing Day is popular in Australia as the first day of aTest cricket match held at the MCG. A Test match is also often held in South Africa starting on Boxing Day.In New Zealand Boxing Day is a statutory holiday; penalty rates and lieu time are provided to employees who work on the day.In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day was a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants andtradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosseS or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and some other Commonwealth nations.In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, Scandinaviaand the Netherlands, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day

The exact etymology of the term “boxing day” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which are definitive.The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship in order to collect donations to the poor. In ancient, pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was a Roman celebration during which slave owners would switch roles with their slaves. Gift giving was a part of Saturnalia and benevolence to slaves was a practice which may have influenced the later December tradition of boxing and presenting of gifts to people of lesser status

.Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663.[6] This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.