Category Archives: Music news

Our 14th window and out pops an unusual Bob Dylan song

If you’ve ever wondered what Christmas Eve at Bob Dylan’s house might be like, the video for his rollicking Christmas polka song “Must Be Santa” offers a window into what happens when Dylan and his guests have a little too much eggnog.

“Eminem? Jay-Z? They’re a combined 92 years old! Does their music even matter?” Yes, it does. Rap’s never been this great and this old before.

2017’s two most commercially successful and critically judged rap albums are assuredly going to come from Jay-Z, via June-released 4:44, and Eminem, with his December 15-releasing, ninth studio album, Revival. As hip-hop culture prepares to enter its 45th year, it’s possibly shocking to note that artists who are as old as Kool Herc’s DJ set at Bronx, NY address 1520 Sedgwick Avenue on August 11, 1973 (Jay-Z is 47 and Eminem is 45) could be at the vanguard of the genre. However, it’s astoundingly 19-year old pop rapper Lil Yachty who has the best perspective on how and why this turn of events has come to pass. As he told Hypebeast in August 2017, “[Now], you can do anything at any age, and we have it all at our finger tips. It’s amazing, it’s like the best thing ever.” In reflecting on what Yachty said, the idea that, maybe being a commercially and culturally viable personality in rap music is no longer intrinsically tethered to being between the ages of 18–40, is an evolution worth discussing.

Reasons why one should believe that hip-hop cultural excellence is a gift that’s only reserved for the young are many. Firstly, Biggie and 2Pac died at 24 and 25 years old, respectively. Also significant are facts like Will Smith released his last album at 37, and his children Jaden and Willow are currently a combined total 36 years of age. Last, but certainly not least, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Uzi Vert are under 25.

Prior to a year where Jay-Z could win Grammy’s Album of the Year and Eminem could release a series of flyover state and #RESIST anthems, hip-hop’s most significant cultural icons were never allowed to age while maintaining pop relevance within the culture. Kanye is currently living through his Pablo-esque surrealist mid-life crisis at the age of 40. Apple employed, legendary, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted 52-year old billionaire Dr. Dre will still occasionally get grilled by the general public as to the release date for Detox.

Whether by invocation of some “27 Club”-esque rule or because, as Moby once told me, “22-year olds are always going to make great records and the most interesting culture,” there’s ample reason to believe that the idea that two rappers with a combined 92 years of age between them releasing rap’s albums of the year is a thing that should not be.

How then, is this happening?

The most significant thing to note about being well past 40 and making dope rap records is that the context into which your creativity is considered could heighten. The expectation for success if this occurs involves recordings having to successfully shift in tone to discover creative comfort when being judged by an advanced critical paradigm. If this occurs, the payoff comes in almost immediately achieving a more iconic level of success.

Songs made by young/younger artists just trend in teeny bopper and early adult bottle popper nightclubs, and the top of Billboard charts. Comparatively, the hubbub surrounding both Shawn Carter and Marshall Mathers’ more old age-aware 2017 output is a mind-blower when contemplating the breath and depth of the artists’ impressively dynamic socio-cultural reach.

  • Jay-Z matured from “big pimpin’ and spendin’ cheese” with then Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash to discussing how his marital infidelities and subsequent psychological therapy sessions with 61-year old New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.
  • As far as Eminem, he’s matured from being “interesting,” and “the best thing since wrestling” to being quite possibly the most ardent Midwestern and “red state”-representing voice in opposition to the chicanery surrounding the United States Presidential administration of 71-year old Donald Trump. As The Daily Beast notes, “Em has thrown himself into the center of the national dialogue on race, Donald Trump and white supremacy.”

Jay-Z has advanced to the status of being a wizened sage. Thus, he is not rapping as he once did. Rather, he has become a preacher of the gospel that we should all — as a unified, and nearly five decade old hip-hop adoring body politic — generally be able to be intelligent enough to be “smart enough to know better.” On 4:44 this idea is prevalent enough in the album’s narrative for CNBC to report that on 4:44’s brilliant “The Story of O.J.” that, “the rapper bemoans rising real estate values in his home city, calling out one of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods and saying, ‘I could have bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo for like $2 million. That same building today is worth $25 million. And guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo.’” As well, they note that Jay “touches on return on investment — he earned on artwork he purchased years ago for $1 million that is now worth $8 million — and underlines the importance of a buy-and-hold strategy.”

Also, in a manner meant to invoke the — and I’ll coin this phrase here — Lauryn Hill doctrine of “adding a motherfucker so the ignant niggas hear me,” Jay also states in “The Story of O.J.” that “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” The Atlantic was right to note that “it’s beneath Carter, a writer and artist of astonishing ability and sophistication,” to recall “the anti-Semitic canard that Jews maintain financial control of everything you see.” But, as related to the “Lauryn Hill doctrine” outlined in the previously linked Fugees’ track “Zealots,” in Decoded, Jay-Z notes regarding prior claims regarding his possible anti-Semitism that, “when I use lines like this, I count on people knowing who I am and my intentions, knowing that I’m not anti-Semitic or racist, even when I use stereotypes in my rhymes.”

Regarding Eminem, he’s recently premiered “Walk On Water,” a duet with intriguingly enough, Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce, as his lead-in single to Revival’s release. As Billboard notes, the track’s lyrical content offers something more refined and world-aware from the 45 year old and twice-divorced father of three, (including an adult Haile Jade Scott Mathers, who is now 21). “[r]ather than knife his way through the track with his brash, animalistic delivery, Em enters a reflective state and addresses his insecurities regarding fame and his current standing in hip-hop.” This includes Em saying that he’s “not a God,”and “a beautiful mess.” Moreover, he alludes to having gotten rid of the bleached blonde hair associated with his caustic career as a younger emcee, and also notes that he might one day “fall” from the “heights” of his career.

Unlike Jay-Z, whose success has afforded him an opulent, white collar and high class semi-retired rap life that very few men in the universe could ever achieve, Eminem is in a different situation. Jay is largely above any critical commentary. However, Eminem, by virtue of his blue collar and impoverished upbringing is old, yet still hustling for approval. Thus, he is likely, because he’s “too old to be doing this,” more critically approachable. Though the lyrics to “Walk On Water” may note that he may not believe it, Eminem’s indeed a Jesus-like “Rap God” who can walk among the “scribes and Pharisees” and be subject to their derision.

This critical concern makes itself even more apparent in an Uproxx report that notes, “Em is going back to the drawing board to reassess the release of his what will be his ninth solo album. The first step in that process appears to be be distancing himself from ‘Walk On Water,’ the album’s supposed lead single with Beyonce, as Eminem has stopped promoting the song as his lead single. The track debuted at #14 this week on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, a high debut for sure, but a disappointing one on the heels of Beyonce’s first musical appearance since Lemonade, an SNL performance, and a massive rollout.”

By virtue of being a white person, Eminem can’t “add a (metaphorical) motherfucker so the ignant niggas — and yes, this extends to ignorant people of all racial extractions who love hip-hop culture — hear him.” So, his “smart enough to know better” campaign has had a tougher road to navigate insofar as hip-hop fanatics who are entrenched within the culture. However, when it comes to those who are — and yes, after 50 years there are those who are — newly accepting of hip-hop having a place in their existences, it’s a different story. Eminem, because his age allows him to have established pop (meaning, beyond initially hip-hop specific) cultural resonance, stands to gain much in the way of support of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, Democratic and Facebook adoring anti-Trump #resistance. To that end, somewhere between his instantaneously iconic and Trump-lambasting BET Awards freestyle and Revival’s “new” lead single “Untouchable” which literally starts “black boy black boy, we ain’t gonna lie to you / black boy black boy, we don’t like the sight of you,” the change in tone aligns well with a demographic in line with his age and the nation’s anger best collide for commercial success.

Speaking directly to the aforementioned point, The FADER noted that Eminem’s BET freestyle was “red meat for #TheResistance,” but also noted that, “the rap itself…is bad.” Via their own advertising site, The FADER lists its core demographic as being an 18–34 year old male college attender (note, not necessarily a graduate) earning $40,000 year. In the same FADER piece, it was written that Keith Olbermann, host of GQ’s “The Resistance,” tweeted, “After 27 years of doubts about rap I am now a fan. Best political writing of the year, period. 👏👏👏👏👏 #Eminem2020.” Keith Olbermann is a 58-year old male college graduate, who in 2011 was rumored to be earning $10 million a year on Al Gore’s Current TV. Clearly, numbers and words never lie.

On January 28, 2018, it’s more than entirely possible that 47-year old rapper Jay-Z will make a clean sweep of the Grammy Awards for Song (“4:44”), Record (“The Story of O.J.”), and Album (4:44) of the Year. As well, if there’s any justice, we’ll probably get a performance by Eminem of “Untouchable,” too. In the crowd, marveling at how the depth and scope of expectations for excellence have shifted in hip-hop will be rappers who are half these artists age who will be suddenly confronted with the fact that they now have twice as much to learn about how to succeed and sustain within the genre. Lil Yachty’s right. Because of their age-driven maturity, Jay and Em have everyone from the New York Times to President Trump within a fingertip’s reach, and have likely created 2017’s best and most important rap albums, respectively.

Maybe it’s true that youth is wasted on the young?

Ed Roland of Collective Soul: The Resonance of “Heavy” Behind the hit song: with Collective Soul frontman, Ed Roland

Go to the profile of Jeff Gorra

Song: “Heavy”
Record: Dosage & Collective Soul Live
Released: January 1999, December 2017
By: Collective Soul

“Heavy” by Collective Soul, was the first single off the band’s fourth record, Dosage. It’s also the opening track on their brand new (and first) live record, Collective Soul Live“Heavy” as a single, served the band’s seventh number one song on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, making it their most successful song to date.

With a running time of two minutes and fifty-five seconds, “Heavy” is a simple song with a mesmerizing guitar intro, but what makes it most attractive is how honest the lyrics are. “And all your weight, it falls on me, it brings me down,” — a powerful line and feeling that everyone can relate to. It’s a song that understands, and one that contains the inexplicable magic of music, where you feel better thanks its companionship.

I recently spoke Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland, about “Heavy”. Here, Roland takes us inside the song — everything from when it was written, to why, to what it means to him now.

What do you remember about writing “Heavy”? Where was it written?

“Heavy” was written in Miami. We started the Dosage record in Miami at what was once called Criteria Studios, it’s called The Hit Factory Sound now after The Hit Factory in New York. I came up with the riff, played it for the boys, and they loved it. I wanted to write a song that didn’t have the title in the lyrics. I had to incorporate that with what I was going through at the time, which was very overwhelming. Everyone was throwing their problems on me, and I just felt like I was getting beat up a lot. So, I started writing. When I came up with “All of your weight falls on me,” I thought that was perfect, I can now call the song “Heavy”. It was an interesting combination of challenging myself lyrically and the emotions of what I was going through. I had a desire to write about what I was feeling. It felt like every emotion of a friend or particular relative was coming down on me. So, the lyrics are exactly what I felt at that time.

It’s such an honest subject matter and something everybody goes through in some way. With what “Heavy” meant to you personally, what was your initial reaction after recording it and hearing it back for the first time?

I loved it. It was recorded exactly the way I wanted to hear it. At the time, rock music started moving away from riffs. It was in this transitional place. I really wanted a less than three-minute song where I get in and get out. I had this true sense of, not so much anger, but confusion.

The guitar intro is sonically so unique and captivating. How did you come up with that?

We were doing some sampling one day. We were really just playing around. I was doing edits, listening to the bridge of the song actually, and making sure the timing was right. I paused at a particular sound, and said, “Wait a second, what was that? Let’s loop that. We’ll add some space to it and make it like an intro.” That’s what we ended up doing, aiming for this call to arms feel.

How did “Heavy” fit into Dosage thematically? Was it in tune with how you were feeling collectively or was it more of a unique spot within the record?

It was a unique spot. I never really thought of that. There was a song in there that I wrote about missing my wife, it was all about needs, there was a love song too. It’s a great question in context of the record, something I never thought about, but “Heavy” for me, was certainly unlike anything else in terms of meaning.

You then put the song out for the world to hear and the reaction is incredible. How did that make you feel? Were you surprised, or did you known people would gravitate towards it?

I had a good feeling once we finished. The whole band did. The intro and the riff grabs your attention, and with the transition going on within rock music, there really wasn’t much that had a heavy riff intro. We were just dudes playing guitars. I was adamant about that being the first release, which it was. We wanted to do a video, but the label did not want to. They preferred to see how it would do on radio first. It went to number one and I said, “Can we do a video now?” And they said no, they wanted to see how well it would continue to do on radio and stay at one. After the seventh week, I asked again to do a video. They said no. After the fifteenth week I called and said, “I guess we are not doing a video.”

Well, that’s a testament to the song. It speaks to how strong the music is.

I looked at it that way too. At first, the natural emotion was to get pissed off. Then it became, well, it stood on its own.

Aside from the intro and of course, the catchy chorus, the song starts with the lyric, “Complicate this world you wrapped for me.” That is one hell of a line.

That’s exactly how I felt in all aspects of my life. With the band, we were trying to find ourselves. Not so much as a band, but individually — what we were as men. For so long we had been worried about what Collective Soul was, and you have to remember the other guys are ten years younger than me. They were twenty-years-old. They were being recognized as Collective Soul, not individuals. That line has a lot to do with everyone finding their own vibe and figuring out who they were.

Structurally, you have these short and powerful versus and then you jump right into the chorus. What I find fascinating is that the feel of the chorus, emotionally, is a quite heavy.

But it never says the word heavy. I was completely challenging myself as a songwriter to do that. I was listening to so much Zeppelin at the time. One of my favorite songs is “Trampled Under Foot”. For my entire youth I thought the song was called “Talking About Love”. The words — trampled under foot, are nowhere in there. Many Zeppelin songs are in that style. It inspired me to want to write like that.

“Heavy” is often a set opener for Collective Soul. It’s also the opening track on your new live album. What is it about the song that makes it a great opener?

I love opening with it. It’s also a good song for me to start with as a singer because it doesn’t stretch my register. It’s almost like a vocal warm-up. The intro riff is recognizable so, it gets the fans going. They know exactly what they are getting into.

Given what the song means to you personally, what is it like for you to play it live? Do you have these out-of-body moments where you get lost in the song, and it’s almost as if the crowd isn’t even there?

Yes, definitely. Some nights more than others. Sometimes the response of the crowd is so exciting that it gets me excited, and that creates such an adrenaline-filled moment. There are other nights where I will still get lost in the moments of the song, I’ll go through all of the different emotions within those few minutes — I’ll get pissed off and fired up. It’s a great release for me. It’s therapeutic just to get it out, and then it’s over and I’m good for the rest of the show.

Are there any performances of “Heavy” that are most memorable or unique to you?

With the band, we stick to how it sounds on the record when we perform it live. But earlier this year, our guitarist, Jesse Triplett and I, had a private show — just him and I acoustically. We weren’t going to play to “Heavy”. For some reason I just started making stuff up, Jesse could tell where I was going with it, and I broke into “Heavy”. It was so fun to play it live like that. It translated acoustically better than I would have thought. It’s hard to play on an acoustic guitar, it doesn’t sound as heavy, but it still carries the same emotion. It made me feel good as a songwriter. To me, songs sound just as good on an acoustic as they do on an electric sometimes. I’ve been thinking of that performance with Jesse a lot lately, it stands out for sure.

Looking back on it now, how do you feel you overcame what you were writing about with “Heavy”?

I think I overcame it just fine. 18 years later we are still a band. I still have relationships now that I did then. It goes back to this concept that it’s OK to be pissed off sometimes. It’s OK to have this feeling of, “Hey, quit making me a martyr.” Whether it’s a band, a love relationship, parents, cousins, whatever, you have to get to the point where you think, OK, we can work it out. But, you have to let it out in order to do that, and realize what you are doing is perfectly OK.

In that sense, was “Heavy” a companion to you in working it out?

Oh yeah, without a doubt. Writing is that for me. It’s therapeutic. Sometimes I love writing and other times I’m so happy and want to go play golf. When I do have something that I need to let out, writing by myself is a therapy session.

I completely relate. Writing allows me to go someplace where nobody can find me.

Yes, that’s exactly it.

Collective Soul is firing on all cylinders and you have new live album. All things considered, what does “Heavy” mean to you now?

Personally, I am in a different place now, so it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing to me as it did when I wrote it. That being said, there are those days where we are about to go on stage and something is bothering me, or I feel underappreciated, and the song “Heavy” will get me through that night. It’s one of the reasons I like playing it first. Even if I am in a good mood, it’s fun to play. If I am in a bad mood, it’s like — be gone evil spirts, I have to focus on what I need to do.

I am incredibly proud of “Heavy”. I mean that sincerely. There’s so much wrapped into that song in under three minutes. The fact that it continues to resonate and have an impact on people is one of my proudest accomplishments as a songwriter.

Collective Soul Live is out now! For more information visit

Listen to Collective Soul Live HERE:

Collective Soul Live Tracklist:
1. Heavy
2. Where the River Flows
3. Better Now
4. Precious Declaration
6. Shine
7. Why, Pt. 2
8. December
9. Gel
10. The World I Know
11. Listen
12. Confession
13. Counting the Days
14. She Said
15. Needs
16. Contagious
17. Run
18. Right As Rain

Our 13th Advent window and Handel’s Messiah ‘Rejoice Greatly’

Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique joins Chineke! to perform ‘Rejoice greatly’ from Messiah by Handel. This was Chineke’s first appearance at the BBC Proms and a fantastic Proms debut for Jeanine.

“What a voice! I got goose bumps right through the rendition because I could not control the emotions that I felt. That emotion is monumentally imbued in her clinical virtuosity”

The Best Music To Listen To While You Write (According To 9 Bestselling Authors)

Go to the profile of Writing Routines

Writers will try almost anything to help them write. Gertrude Stein had assistants herd cows into her line of view for inspiration. Hunter Thompson alternated between cocaine and Chivas from all day trying to find his zone. Victor Hugo instructed his valet to hide his clothes so he was forced to write in the nude, removing his temptation to leave the house.

Of the more widely practiced (and legal) writing aids, listening to music is one almost every writer has experimented with in their career. For some, music is the destroyer of any good writing session. Others see music as the fast lane to a creative promiseland. A way to shut out everything else around them and produce their best work. And in contrast to the methods mentioned in the introduction, studies have shown that listening to music can help facilitate divergent thinking stimulate focus.

If you’re a writer in the pro-music camp, one question remains: What is the best music to listen to? Well, procrastination ends here. Below are the tunes that nine bestselling, award winning authors use to jumpstart their sessions. (Bonus: here are all the songs in a Spotify playlist if you’re ready to give them all a try.)

1) Philip Glass

Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose novel The Sympathizer was a New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, and the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, is a recent convert to music-while-writing. Early on, he was careful not to listen to much of anything when he wrote. Viet explained his change of heart:

“I preferred silence before I wrote The Sympathizer, but on The Sympathizer I thought: Okay, let’s try this with some music, but not anything too distracting. I’m usually not listening to anything with lyrics for the most part. I actually listen repetitively to Philip Glass. With The Sympathizer, especially The Hours. I wanted to have some of the feel of his music in the rhythm of the prose.”

Two songs to get you started:

2) 22, A Million by Bon Iver

Bestselling author Ryan Holiday calls music his “instant flow tool.” For him, it’s a way to not only drown out external noise, but also a way to quiet parts of his conscious mind that could otherwise be a distraction. His method is to pick one song and listen to it on repeat — sometimes hundreds of times in a row — to get into a rhythm. Holiday goes on:

“There’s very few albums I’ve ever been able to do this to. Bon Iver’s 22, A Million is maybe the only one (and that’s because it’s better as an album than singles — if there was one standout song, I’d just do that). Basically I treat the music as sort of disposable, instant flow tool. I use it until it stops working, and then I move on to the next song. I use the same song that I am writing to when I run later, or if I go for a walk. It’s just creating a continuity to the creative process.”

Two songs to get you started:

3) Sigur Rós

Jeff Goins, bestselling author of five books including Real Artists Don’t Starveand The Art of Work, employs a similar method for repeating music while he writes. Jeff likes Sigur Rós — an Icelandic rock band — as one of three things he listens to when he’s writing. The other two? The Texas-based rock band Explosions in the Sky and the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans. “There’s something about the monotony of listening to the same thing over and over that allows me to focus on the task at hand.”

Two songs to get you started:

4) Explosions in the Sky

As Jeff Goins mentioned above, Explosions in the Sky provides the perfect writing combination of an upbeat tempo and lack of distracting words. He’s not the only pro writer to say so, either. Paul Shirley, former NBA player and accomplished author, most recently of Stories I Tell on Dates, explains why he likes to listen to Explosions in the Sky during his writing sessions: “It is possibly a sign that I am not all that intelligent that I cannot listen to music with lyrics while I write. So, I listen to a lot of post-rock/ambient music: Explosions in the Sky, Tycho, Mono, Eluvium, Sigur Ros, Russian Circles, and my favorite, Cloudkicker.”

Two songs to get you started:

5) Lady’s Bridge by Richard Hawley

Viet Thanh Nguyen went on to explain that while he does mostly listen to music with no lyrics, he made an exception for this album by Richard Hawley, who is a British Rock musician:

“That album sort of obsessed me and I listened to a lot of that as I was writing The Sympathizer. Many of those songs felt like they were contributing to the mood of the novel. So now I try to curate a playing list that might affect the mood of the novel or somehow part of the scenery of the novel.”

Two songs to get you started:

6) George Frideric Handel

Classical music is one of the mainstay genres for any writer who prefers to listen to music while they write. The obvious allure of classical music is that there are no words to distract the listener. Biographer and congressional speechwriter Rob Goodman especially prefers the music of composer George Handel:

“If I need to drown out background noise, I’ll listen to some classical music. I’m particularly a fan of Handel, but the important thing is that the music can’t have words, or else I won’t be able to concentrate at all.”

Two songs to get you started:

7) The National

John Avlon, an author and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, finds his inspiration in music and has an interesting theory that explains why he swears by listening while he writes:

“I’ve got a theory that most writers are either frustrated musicians or painters — and which of them you are depends on whether you write for the ear or the eye. As a former musician and former speechwriter, I definitely write for the ear. I listen to music all the time for inspiration and energy. I tend to make playlists as the soundtrack for writing different books. They serve as snapshots in time. So, I’ve got one for Wingnuts — lots of The NationalDrive-By-TruckersRadioheadand Randy Newman — and one for Washington’s Farewell that’s more classical, jazz, the Americana series by Chris ThileYo-Yo MaEdgar Meyer and the soundtrack to Hamilton.”

Two songs to get you started:

8) West Side Story Soundtrack

Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, created a specific playlist she listened to over and over again while writing the book. On that playlist she included songs from the soundtrack to West Side Story. It’s not uncommon for writers to prefer listening to specific soundtracks while the write: Other soundtracks that writers have recommended included Last of the Mohicans, Inception, and Hamilton.

Two songs to get you started:

9) Metallica

At first glance, Metallica may seem a bit…much…for a writing backing track. You’d be hard pressed to find a co-working space that played heavy metal on repeat. Yet, if Stephen King is any indication, music of a heavier variety might be just what it takes. King told the The Atlantic he listens to, “Metallica, Anthrax…There’s a band called the Living Things that I like a lot. Very loud group.” Bestselling author Mark Manson shares King’s habit, as he told us in an interview, “I need to write with music. Loud and intense music. Electronic or heavy metal.”

Two songs to get you started:

10 Gifts That Guitar Players Do NOT Want

In this video I’ll quickly show you 10 gifts guitar players DON’T want this holiday season!!

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly video featured at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this list funny but also helpful!!

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The latest release from China Marie – What is you doin’?

China-Marie is preparing for a strong 2018 with the release of her new EP “Made In China” coming in February.
Until then you can expect to hear a few more singles from her featuring some dope artist.
For the “What Is You Doin?” remix China-Marie linked up with Columbia Records artist Symba.
Be sure to support China-Marie by adding this record to your playlist on Spotify and share on your social media networks.
We need your support!!!
A video message from China-Marie 

China Marie
Click to hear China Marie on Soundcloud
China Marie
Check out China Marie on Spotify



Advent day 12 and the incredible Kenyan Boys Choir

The Choir

The Kenyan Boys Choir also known as the Boys Choir of Kenya is a choral ensemble of talented boys drawn from high schools and colleges around Kenya. The choir is dedicated to moulding a world-class choral outfit that offers a platform for Kenyan boys to nurture their natural talents in music, dance and drama, while imparting life principles of discipline, hard work, perseverance, persistence and determination. In order to shape a youth citizenry that is responsible and of impeccable integrity for effective leadership in the society, the choir advocates for attainment of quality education for its members. Education is elementary in the augmentation of any individual towards being a responsible and an empowered member of the society; a fact that the Kenyan Boys Choir believes in and strives to inculcate.

The Beginning


The choir has its roots in Aquinas High School Nairobi where it was the school’s main choir. In 2004, The Boys Choir of Kenya was choir founded under the auspices of the then St. Louis African Chorus (currently African Music Arts) under the mentorship of Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, a renowned Musicologist and Cross-Cultural educator. It was during the same year that the choir made their maiden tour out of their home country Kenya to the United States of America. Audiences and press alike followed the boys through the Northeast, up to Quebec, down to Atlanta, through major cities in the Midwest. The St. Louis African Chorus, managed to tour the choir in more than 12 different states conducting workshops and concerts with their U.S. counterparts. It was also during their performance in St. Louis that they had a week dedicated in their honor as ‘‘the Boys Choir of Kenya week’’ by the Mayor of the city of St. Louis due to their magnificent performance.


Picture 009

Upon their return to Nairobi after a successful tour in 2005, The Boys Choir of Kenya expanded its membership to include students from other High Schools and colleges from within Nairobi and its environs. Students from other schools who were eagerly interested in joining the choir but were locked out due to its exclusivity to the Aquinas high School fraternity got a chance of being part of one of Kenya’s most celebrated youth group. The choir hence had a national outlook due to its representation by students from all over the country.



Now with a national outlook, The Choir was becoming everybody’s favorite, with corporate firms and individuals inviting them to perform during various occasions. During the 2006 4th of July celebrations at the U.S Embassy Nairobi, the choir delighted their host, His Excellency Ambassador Michael Ranneberger who couldn’t stop looking at his guests with a smile on his face as they enjoyed the performance by the Choir. Ever since this day the Choir has been the main entertainment group during these celebrations. It was also during the same year that the choir charmed sports lovers from all over East Africa during the auspicious Sportsman of the Year Awards (SOYA Awards), an annual award ceremony in celebration of the best athletes from within Kenya and the larger East Africa.


Performing for young students in Canada

In 2007 the Choir was back in the U.S. courtesy of The Micato Tours and Safaris Company which was hosting more than 3000 tours and travel agents from all over the world during the month of August in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada.


Amerika Jambo

Early 2008, in the month of February the Choir toured three different states in the U.S. again which was now becoming their home away from home with a very huge fan base across the entire country. This time round the Choir flew for 12 straight hours to Los Angeles California where they entertained clients and friends of the Micato Safari Family. From Los Angeles, the Choir went to Las Vegas again for a bigger audience of more than 7000 who were attending the 70th Anniversary ceremony of The Carlson’s sharing the platform with renowned artistes like Tony Benet and Paul Potts amongst others. Regis Philbin, who was the master of ceremony, couldn’t stop praising the boys’ performance which had impressed all who had attended including the Swedish Queen. Before heading back home, the Choir held a couple of workshops in St. Louis with their counterparts The St. Louis Children’s Choir. It was also during their stay in St. Louis that they managed to record their second Album Dubbed ‘’Amerika Jambo’’ which was released on the month of January 2009.

2008 was a very busy year for the Choir who had to go back to the U.S. on the month of July after being invited by The Okobos shoe Company in Las Vegas. The Choir caught the attention of all who attended the World Shoe Association forum at the Las Vegas convention centre. The company which was only 5 hours old had already made it into the headlines on some of the magazines at the convention, after the sterling performance by the Choir. The Choir also recorded a jingle for the Okobos Company within the same period of time.

Three months later the Choir was again back in the U.S. to perform at a Rock Concert as the Curtain raisers with Artistes; Death Cab for Cutie, Jewel among others, giving impressive performances.


KBC - Henry front

2010 saw the choir tour the greater U.K. on a series of performances from Britain, Wales, Ireland to Scotland with massive audiences enthralled by the cultural display staged by the choir.

In January 2011, the choir was invited by WE Charity Organisation to perform for Grammy award winner Nelly Furtado who was in Kenya on a charity mission. She was thrilled by their performance of an articulate Africanized rendition of her hit song “Powerless” and was left in awe.

In June 2011 the choir performed with sensational UK Artist Ely Goulding at a performance organized by Free the Children In Maasai Mara and the audience were mesmerized by the choir’s performance of her hit song “Lights”.

In September 2011, WE Charity Organisation invited the choir to participate in WE DAY celebrations in Toronto, Canada where the choir performed before thousands of enthusiasts in Air Canada Centre Arena. The choir also got an opportunity to share the stage with

  • Grammy Award winner, Nelly Furtado
  • Popular Canadian rapper and producer  Kardinal Offishall
  • Renowned Canadian artists and performers: City and Colour, Nikki Yanofsky and Neverest Band
  • Platinum selling, JUNO Award winning Canadian pop icon and producer, Shawn Desman

Dignitaries that the choir interacted with during the tour include

  • Mary Robinson; first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Patch Adams; social activist, citizen diplomat and author
  • Rick Hansen, Canadian Paralympian
  • DEGRASSI actors Munro Chambers and Aislinn Paul
  • Award winning actor, film director and political activist, Danny Glover

It was also during this performance that they collaborated with Nelly Furtado in singing her hit song ‘Powerless’. The choir also got the exceptional opportunity to feature on Nelly Furtado’s album ‘The Spirit Indestructible’ and recorded with her a track entitled ‘Thoughts’.

In June 2012, their Fourth album Liberty was recorded in Nanyuki Kenya and it featured compositions, folk tunes and arrangements of applauded pop tunes. The album was launched in Canada in 2013.

In June 2012, through the invitation of WE Charity Organisation, the choir serenaded assorted personalities ,artists and audiences from all over the world at Maasai Mara including

  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and Juno award-winner and Free The Children ambassador


In April 2013, the choir went down in the books of history by being among the cream of Kenyan artists that performed during the inauguration of the fourth president of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.

Many international artists visited the country in 2013 courtesy of WE Charity Organisation and the choir continued with their unmatched reputation of adding value and staging unforgettable presentations of their hit songs. The artists comprised

  • Jonas Jonas–Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Demi Lovato – Award-winning singer-songwriter and Free The Children ambassador
  • Victoria Duffield – Canadian singer, actor and dancer
  • Tyler Shaw – Certified gold selling artist and Free The Children Ambassador
  • Kay – Canadian singer-songwriter
  • Kardinal Offishall– Award-winning Canadian rapper and record producer.
  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and Juno award-winner and Free The Children ambassador

These artists could not resist but get on stage to perform with the choir. It was also during this year that the choir was highly commended by luminaries from various walks of life who were in the country in support of Free the Children. They held that not only was the choir’s performance breath taking, but it made them long for their next visit to the country.

In September 2013, the choir embarked on their first ever three month tour to North America courtesy of Free the Children where they performed more than 300 shows spreading love and joy to hundreds of thousands in Canada and United States while championing for F.T.C’S Campaign; Be the Change. The choir shared the stage with world renowned artists including

  • Imagine Dragons – Award-winning, multi-platinum rock band
  • Austin Mahone  – Award-Winning American pop singer and YouTube sensation
  • Serena Ryder – JUNO Award-winning artist
  • Jonas Brothers – GRAMMY®-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Hedley – Multi-platinum, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artists
  • Down With Webster – Five time JUNO Award nominated, platinum selling genre-defying band with new album, Party for your Life, coming out October 22nd

  • Jonas Brothers –Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum singer-songwriter
  • Fifth Harmony – America’s first teen girl group
  • Bridgit Mendler– Platinum selling artist and star of Disney’s Good Luck Charlie
  • Jesse Giddings– E! News correspondent and Free The Children ambassador
  • Bare-naked Ladies – JUNO Award-winning rock band
  • Cast members from the Emmy-nominated TV series DEGRASSI
  • Lights – JUNO Award winner and Canadian electro-rock singer, songwriter
  • Victoria Duffield – Canadian singer, actor and dancer
  • Tyler Shaw – Certified gold selling artist and Free The Children ambassador
  • Neverest – Chart-topping, MMVA nominated Canadian pop-rock band
  • Kay – Canadian singer-songwriter
  • Donisha Prendergast – Filmmaker, actress, dancer, poet and Bob and Rita Marley’s granddaughter

Memories of spectacular collaborations of the choir with trending artists remain edged in minds of fans who were thrilled during WE Day 2013. These artists included

  • Demi Lovato– Award-winning singer-songwriter and Free The Children ambassador
  • Darren Criss – Cast member from the Emmy Award-winning series Glee (host for We Day Toronto)
  • Chris Tse – Me to We inspirational speaker, national spoken-word champion and humanitarian
  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and JUNO award-winner and Free The Children ambassador
  • Shawn Desman– Platinum-selling, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artist and host of We Day Alberta
  • Kardinal Offishall– Award-winning Canadian rapper and record producer
  • Karl Wolf– International recording artist, Socan& MTV Europe Music Award winner
  • The Tenors– Juno Award-winning Multi-platinum singers
  • Hedley – Multi-platinum, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artists

The Choir also got to interact with luminaries who were motivational speakers during this tour and imparted the noble initiative of being the Change they want around the world.

  • Craig and Marc Kielburger– International activists and co-founders of Free The Children
  • Kofi Annan – Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, who has recently launched the ‘Kofi Annan Dialogues’, a series of online conversations inspiring young people to lead
  • The Honourable Kathleen Wynne – Premier of Ontario
  • Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – President of Liberia and first elected female Head of State in Africa
  • Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
  • Martin Luther King III – Human Rights advocate and eldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Barbara Pierce Bush – Humanitarian, Co-founder and President, Global Health Corps, and daughter of Former US President George W. Bush
  • Col. Chris Hadfield – Retired Canadian astronaut and first Canadian to walk in space\
  • Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons – CFL Hall of Famer, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts
  • Youth speakers – Hannah Alper, Vishal Vijay, and Sydney Brouillard-Coyle
  • Spencer West – Me to We inspirational speaker, Free The Children ambassador, author and double amputee who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair in June, 2012
  • Molly Burke – Visually impaired Me to We motivational speaker who speaks out against bullying and the power of hope
  • Robin Wiszowaty – Me to We motivational speaker, author and Free The Children Program Director in Ghana and Kenya
  • The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire – Lieutenant-General and author
  • MTV hosts Aliya-Jasmine Sovani and Scott Willats (hosts for We Day Vancouver).
  • Mark Dayton – Governor of Minnesota
  • Brenda Cassellius– Commissioner of Education, Minnesota
  • Chris Coleman– Mayor of St. Paul
  • Debby Ryan– Disney Channel actress and musician
  • Mia Farrow– Award-winning actress, activist and United Nations ambassador
  • Jack Jablonski– Local Benilde – St. Margaret’s teen who suffered a spinal cord injury during a hockey game
  • Marissa Mohammed – Youth speaker from the Banyan Community Center
  • Native Pride Arts – Indigenous youth performers whose mission is to educate, inspire, motivate and empower diverse communities
  • Magic Johnson– NBA legend, two-time hall of famer and philanthropist
  • Amanda Lindhout– New York Times best-selling author of A House in the Sky, Founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation
  • Mikhail Gorbachev – Former President of the Soviet Union and Nobel Peace Laureate
  • Liz Murray – Author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Breaking Night: My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
  • Hannah Taylor – 16 year old social activist and founder of The Ladybug Foundation and The Ladybug Foundation Education Program
  • Honourable Justice Sinclair – Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Manitoba’s first Aboriginal Judge
  • Jillian Martin – Miss Teen Canada-World 2013
  • Martin Sheen – Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actor and activist
  • Wilson and Jackson – Maasai warriors, authors of The Last Maasai Warriors; and Free The Children ambassadors
  • Mia Farrow– Award-winning actress, activist and United Nations ambassador

Grow Your YouTube Music Channel: Peter Hollens Interview

Go to the profile of Bob Baker

The 30-Day Build Your Fan Base Challenge

There are many factors that contribute to an artist’s success.

Whether you’re a musician, writer, visual artist, actor, crafter, designer, or some other kind of maker or creative entrepreneur, you know what those success factors are:

Talent, originality, vision, mindset, determination, people skills, optimism, marketing and sales skills, etc.

But there’s one factor that stands above the rest. And sadly, it’s often overlooked.

I’m talking about Consistent Habits!

Planning and goal setting are great, but they are meaningless without a series of specific actions to back them up. That’s why developing consistent habits makes all the difference.

Habits can be applied to many aspects of your art: honing your craft, educating yourself, staying positive, etc.

But when it comes to expanding your impact and monetary success, the primary element that will propel your career is a sizable and growing fan base.

You won’t make much of an impact with your creativity without a group of people who know, appreciate, and support you.

And, the more fervently they embrace you, the more they’ll spend their time, attention, and money on you.

Okay. You get it. Growing and nurturing a fan base is crucial. So …

What’s the best way to apply Consistent Habits to building your fan base?

That’s simple. All you have to do is develop a regular routine of publicly sharing your work.

I know. Easier said then done. But successful artists do it all the time. That’s exactly what I’ve done for decades to spread my message and maintain my self-employed status.

It works. The last time I had a day job was 2004.

Are you sharing your music, words, or art on a regular basis? If not, you’re probably not attracting fans and building your career at a pace you’re happy with.

Posting something online (or getting exposure offline) once or twice a week is good. But, when you’re really ready to rev up the fan-building machine, commit to sharing something every day.

Bob (bottom center) with a group of his improv comedy students.

Yes. Every day!

If you can maintain that pace year round, all the power to you. But if that seems too intimidating, could you commit to doing it for 30 days?

Also, would you be more likely to stick with it if you weren’t doing this alone?

Would it help to feed off the energy of a group of other creative people embarking on the same journey?

That’s why I’m about to launch the 30-Day Build Your Fan Base Challenge.

It’s a four-week experience designed to give you a creative community and a support system to help you develop the habit of sharing your work.

The challenge starts Wednesday, January 3, and ends Thursday, February 1.

What will you get out of the 30-Day Challenge?

You will …

  • Develop your creative muscle
  • Hone your craft
  • Create a body of work
  • Engage with your fans and get immediate feedback
  • Break through fear, apathy, and distractions
  • Be seen as a committed artist instead of a dreaming wanna-be
  • Increase the odds that you’ll sell something
  • Create momentum
  • Interact with other kindred spirits on the same journey
  • Develop a new habit you can continue well beyond the 30 days

Here’s what you’ll get when you register …

A Private 30-Day Challenge Facebook Group.

I want you to benefit from the energy of a creative community. Everyone who signs up for the program will get exclusive access to this private Facebook group. That’s where most of the interaction will take place.

Go there every day and post what you’re sharing. Get feedback, share your successes and struggles, ask for advice, and maybe even find other creative people to partner with on future projects.

Weekly Conference Calls.

I will host five one-hour group conference calls on Wednesdays, starting January 3, at 12 Noon Eastern (11:00 AM Central, 9:00 AM Pacific). During these weekly calls I’ll answer questions, invite people to share their progress, help you overcome challenges, and teach some additional strategies for being consistent and sticking to your creative habits.

These calls will be recorded so you can listen to them later.

Video Lessons and Worksheets.

Throughout the program I’ll post short video messages or broadcast live within the private Facebook group. In these sessions I’ll poke and prod you to keep taking action.

I’ll give you my best advice on what to post and how to position yourself so you attract your ideal fans. I’ll also answer your questions and cater to the specific needs of the group.

In addition, you’ll get links to printable worksheets and checklists you can use to clarify your fan-attraction plan and record your progress.

You’ll also have the option to get these additional benefits …

A 30-Day Challenge Success Partner.

Hands down, this will be the most valuable aspect of the 30-day program, if you take advantage of it.

You will have the option of being paired with another creative person also enrolled in the challenge. Think of them as an accountability partner and personal cheerleader. This Success Partner is someone you will connect with briefly three to five times a week during the program.

Knowing you will talk to someone adds a new level of commitment to being consistent. It’s also a great way to get advice and support from another artistic soul who understands you and is going through the same journey.

A One-on-One Personal Strategy Session with Me.

If you take this option, you and I will have a private strategy session by phone or Skype for up to 60 minutes. Use this time to address whatever aspect of your creativity I can help you with most: marketing, productivity, branding, book publishing, juggling a lot of interests, etc.

You can schedule this session at any time during the 30-day program or wait up to six months to use it. It’s up to you.

Here’s a sweet video from singer Michelle Gold:

 So, what will you share to attract fans during the 30-day challenge?

Good question. It’s ultimately up to you, and I will give you worksheets and some guidance to help determine what’s ideal for you.

However, one of the most powerful things you can do these days is video. Especially Facebook Live. I know, it might seem scary. But if you commit to a daily posting schedule, you will see results. So that’s what I encourage you to do, and I’ll give you my best advice for making simple video content work.

You could also commit to published a daily blog post, performing a song a day, posting images of your latest art, etc. If you have a way to share your talents in the real world, such as street performing or live painting, that’s an option too.

The bottom line: It has to be something that showcases the gifts you have to offer the world, and it has to be the type of content that will attract your ideal fan!

Let’s do this — starting January 3, 2018. And let’s do it together!

How much will this cost?

I’m still deciding on the final pricing, but I’ll probably offer three levels, with the lowest being only $47 USD for the private Facebook group, weekly conference calls, and the training videos, checklists, and worksheets.

That would make it the most affordable 30-day program I’ve ever offered. And, if it brings in more participants that way, I’m happy to do it!

Registration is not open yet, but it will be soon.

Get on the Creative Entrepreneur VIP List and be the first to know by email!

What About Bob?

Bob Baker is on a lifelong mission to help musicians, authors and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world.

Bob with bestselling author Joe Vitale.

He is a full-time author who has developed a successful niche writing and speaking about music marketing and self-promotion for songwriters, musicians, and bands.

Bob supplements his income with music (as a singer, songwriter, guitarist), visual art(as an acrylic painter), and improv comedy (as a teacher and performer).

A prolific writer with dozens of books, ebooks, audio programs and online courses, he served six terms as president of the St. Louis Publishers Association and is an advocate for the self-publishing movement.

Bob is the author of the highly acclaimed Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook (which appeared in the movie The School of Rock, starring Jack Black) and the “Music Marketing 101” course at Berkleemusic, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music.

CD Baby called him “The Godfather of Independent Music Marketing.” Bob is also an adjunct professor in the music department at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Bob Baker is one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, Baker is regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.”

He has appeared in the media on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Marketplace” and in such publications as Electronic Musician, Music Connection, The Guardian in the U.K., Canadian Musician, Publishers Weekly, VIBE magazine, E! Online, and even The Onion!

Bob’s other titles include The Empowered ArtistThe Passion PrinciplesUnleash the Artist WithinThe Guerrilla Guide to Book MarketingBranding Yourself OnlineThe DIY Career Manifesto, and The Improv Comedy Musician(co-written with Laura Hall from Whose Line Is It Anyway?).

Steve’s video is about a live event Bob hosted in 2015: