Popular Music

John R. Smith and his wife, Valerie Day, formed the 1980s pop band Nu Shooz, which charted several hits and helped established the synth sound of that decade.  As a kid, John played guitar and dreamed of being a rock star.  He soon discovered that he had a talent as an arranger and songwriter,...
Ray Stevens loves to tell the stories about how some of his hit records came about such as "Everything Is Beautiful" and "The Streak."  Equally interesting are the stories of how he came up playing in school bands and how his passion for music grew and developed over the years.  Ray recorded many...
Dodie Stevens loves to sing and has for as long as she can remember. Her parents told her she was singing before she talked. Dodie grew up performing on radio and early TV dance programs. In 1959 she had her first big hit, “Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces,” which was followed up by “No” and “Yes, I am...
Akil Thompson has been an active music maker since he was a kid playing guitar.  Over his career he has toured with LeAnn Rimes and Kelly Clarkson, as well as built his own recording studio.  Akil decided that when he was not on the road, he wanted to record and engineer.  His studio is located in...
Johnny Tillotson had a music television program as a teenager in Florida before landing a string of hit recordings including his smash hit “Poetry In Motion” in 1961. A year later Johnny wrote the song “It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin’” which was not only a top ten hit for him but later recorded by...
Ed Tree enjoyed his touring days with the Spencer Davis Group, which led to a series of bands and special gigs throughout his career.  Ed played lead guitar for Rita Coolidge, Juice Newton, Al Stewart and his band, The Bum Steers, among others.  Along the way Ed began endorsing the Big Joe Stompbox...
Phil Upchurch was a teenager when he joined the solid studio musicians for Chess Records in Chicago.  The old veterans took Phil under their wings and showed him the ropes and welcomed his own style to the studio’s noted sound.  Phil later played on hundreds of recordings for the likes of Quincy...
Art Van Damme became one of the biggest stars of the 1950s with a 15-minute radio and TV program, a noted role in the NBC orchestra, and many miscellaneous recordings, all-centering on his talents as an accordionist. The accordion seemed an unlikely instrument for producing a star, however during...
Freddie Washington is proud of the connections he has made in the music world as a bass player and that his passion for music has led to so many opportunities to make music with other passionate musicians!  His first professional gig was with Herbie Hancock when Freddie was 19 years old.  He later...
Roger Williams was known throughout the world for his countless albums and top ten hits as a solo pianist. He had a remarkable career in bridging rock and roll and in incorporating jazz and American popular music along with classical into his performances and recordings. Roger may have also been...

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