One of America's great songwriters, Dan Penn, has written dozens of soul classics, often with keyboardist Spooner Oldham. For a while, the two were on the staff of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Ace Records has just released an entire CD of Penn's demos.
On his first album since 2006, The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake explores his range, from soul-man groove to falsetto croon, taking inspiration from neo-soul and the expansiveness of '60s and '70s rock song formats.
Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studies -- Sun, Stax and Hi -- are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet remains obscure.
Ocean has written songs for Beyonce, Justin Beiber and John Legend; last year, his mixtape Nostalgia Ultra attracted mainstream attention. Now, Ocean has released his first major-label album, Channel Orange. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of Ocean's album and career thus far.
Etta James, the legendary vocalist who is perhaps known for her version of the song "At Last," has died. She was 73. Fresh Air remembers the singer with excerpts from a 1994 interview about her lengthy career.
Bandleader and producer Johnny Otis, who launched and then nurtured the careers of many of R&B's greatest singers, died Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90. Fresh Air remembers Otis with excerpts from a 1989 interview.
Anthony Hamilton's Back to Love was released late last year. Rock critic Ken Tucker says Hamilton's vocals "evoke predecessors ranging from Bill Withers to Teddy Pendergrass to Peabo Bryson," while also maintaining a contemporary sound.