|Tue, December 28, 2010 at 3:47 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
PHILADELPHIA – Bernie Wilson, a baritone member of the rhythm and blues group that produced the 1972 hit "If You Don't Know Me by Now," has died.
Wilson, 64, died early Sunday at Kresson View Center in Voorhees, N.J., following a stroke and a heart attack, his cousin, Faith Peace-Mazzccua, said Monday.
Philadelphia International Records, the former record company for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, said Wilson's death leaves Lloyd Parks as the sole surviving member of the group's lineup at the time. The lineup also featured Teddy Pendergrass and Lawrence Brown.
The group produced a string of R&B hits in the '70s and helped define the Sound of Philadelphia.
"If You Don't Know Me by Now" topped the R&B charts and made the top five on the pop charts. The hits that followed included "I Miss You," "Bad Luck," "Wake up Everybody," and the dance track "The Love I Lost," which has been credited as one of the first disco records, according to an All Music Guide biography on the Billboard website.
"He left home at 16 as a pauper and came back home a millionaire," Peace-Mazzccua told The Associated Press.
She said her cousin kept performing until a few years ago and hoped to return and sing gospel music.
"Bernard was a very funny person. He should have been a comedian," she said. "He didn't take no stuff and he loved people."
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday.
|Thurs, November 11, 2010 at 11:37 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
JERUSALEM - The rapper Shyne is singing a new tune: After serving eight years in prison for a nightclub shooting, the former protege of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has converted to Orthodox Judaism, come to Jerusalem, and is devoting his days to the study of Torah while plotting a musical comeback.
His arrival in the Holy Land caps an unorthodox journey that began in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he grew up and was shot at the age of 15, passed through the high-flying hip-hop universe, and landed him in a maximum security state prison before he was eventually deported to Belize — where his father happens to be prime minister.
"Being in Israel is just the exclamation point," he said Thursday. "This is the ultimate place to be who you are."
During a two-hour conversation on a hotel balcony overlooking the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Shyne said his connection to Judaism goes back to his childhood — when he was still known as Jamaal Michael Barrow.
His mother claims Ethiopian Jewish ancestry, but the man who now calls himself Moshe Levi Ben-David says his roots go even deeper and that even as a boy in the streets, he was oddly drawn to Judaism and identified with its biblical heroes.
"I grew up in a war, constantly battling and the only person I could relate to was King David. Of course I love Michael Jordan, I love Mike Tyson, I love the typical people that people love, Muhammad Ali, but I had more of a connection with King David," he said.
Shyne, 32, has swapped his hip-hop attire of oversized basketball jerseys and diamond studded teeth with the traditional black suit and white knee-high stockings favored by the Belz Hassidic sect. He wears a black skullcap over his shaven head, but in a reminder of his former life, he still wears stylish black Ray Ban sunglasses.
Where he once rapped about loose women, fancy cars and hollowpoint bullets, he now fires off staccato sentences about Jewish law, peppered with Yiddish, in the same raspy voice once compared to that of the Notorious B.I.G.
"Wherever I go it is going to be the same shtick. This is who I am, you dig," he said.
In his teens, he was discovered by Combs — then known as Puff Daddy — who signed him to his Bad Boy record label. Shyne embraced the lifestyle of women, booze and partying but said he was already turning it around when "the incident" happened.
In late 1999, Shyne was out one night at a Manhattan club along with Combs and his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, when he was involved in a high profile shooting that left three people injured.
Combs was cleared of gun possession charges but Shyne was sentenced to 10 years for assault, gun possession and reckless endangerment. Shyne says he acted in self-defense after someone else pulled a gun.
It was in prison where he said he became "Baal Tshuva," the Hebrew term for a newly observant Jew. He changed his name, prayed regularly, kept kosher and observed the Sabbath. His faith helped him come to peace with his troubled past and his lengthy incarceration, saying it was God's will and part of his 'Tikkun' — a spiritual voyage to make amends.
"He (God) gives kindness and He gives judgment. I've done some terrible things in my life, I
|Thurs, January 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Rhythm-And-Blues singer Teddy Pendergrass has died at the age of 59.
Teddy Pendergrass II, Pendergrass's son, told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that his father died on Wednesday at a Philadelphia-area hospital. He had undergone colon cancer surgery eight months ago and his son said he had a difficult recovery.
Pendergrass began his career as a drummer but first rose to fame in the 1970s when he became lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, which had hits such as "If You Don't Know Me by Now" and "I Miss You."
After leaving the Blue Notes, he had a string of hit love ballads such as "I Don't Love You Anymore," "Close the Door," "Turn off the Lights" and "Love TKO."
Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce in Philadelphia in 1982 and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He resumed his recording career the next year with the album "Love Language" and returned to the stage by performing from his wheelchair at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
He started the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance in 1998 to benefit victims of spinal cord injuries.
In 2006, Pendergrass announced his retirement from the music business and in 2007, he briefly returned to performing to participate in Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities, a 25th anniversary awards ceremony that marked Pendergrass' accident date, but also raised money for his charity, The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, and honored those who helped Pendergrass since his accident.