Selasa, 10 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Petula Clark, 81, back in the limelight


English singer Petula Clark is back Downtown.

AFTER nearly seven decades in the business, several Grammys and countless hit records in the 1960s such as Downtown and I Know A Place, Petula Clark believes she's "beginning to get the hang" of singing.

"I tell you what, I get more enjoyment out of it now," said Clark, who turned 81 last month. "I am singing better now. This is just a bit of luck. I don't do anything for it. I don't warm up. I just go out and sing."

The British singer recently returned from a tour of her homeland performing her classics, as well as tunes from her new CD, Lost In You. And she's heading for Australia next year.

Her new disc features some of Clark's own compositions, as well as a cover of Downtown, which, she said, is "a very different take on it".

Clark also covers John Lennon's Imagine, because, she said, she had a great rapport with the late Beatle. Clark met Lennon when he and Yoko Ono were staging a bed-in for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada in 1969.

Clark was in Montreal at the time performing in concert. Because she had recorded songs in French before she hit the top of the charts in the 1960s in England and the United States, she decided to do a bilingual concert. But the audience wasn't happy.

"When I was singing in English, the French weren't pleased. When I sang in French, the English weren't pleased."

Though she didn't know Lennon, Clark thought he might have some advice on how to deal with the Montreal audiences.

"I went over to his hotel, and the concierge recognised me," she said.

"I just went in, and they were sitting in bed. John was so sweet and funny and totally got the problem. He put it in perspective."

He also invited her to go into the living room and have a glass of wine.

"There were one or two people I knew and a few I didn't," she said. "There was this music going on. I didn't realise at the time they were recording. We all started singing along with the music – it was Give Peace A Chance. So I just happen to be on the record. I think Timothy Leary was on it and one of the Smothers Brothers."

Clark began singing and acting professionally as a child in the 1940s, appearing in several films, including 1952's The Promoter with Alec Guinness.

With her recording success, Hollywood beckoned. She starred in two musical movies – 1968's Finian's Rainbow with Fred Astaire and 1969's Goodbye, Mr. Chips opposite Peter O'Toole. (A very young Francis Ford Coppola directed Finian's Rainbow, and George Lucas was his assistant.)

Astaire, she added, was a perfectionist. So much so that he stayed at Warner Bros on the weekends with his choreographer Hermes Pan to work on dance numbers.

"It was near the end of his career as a dancer," said Clark. "He wanted it to be as good as he could be. He was funny. He loved pop music. We would sing together. Making that movie was one of the most joyful moments in my life."

Clark also had a great time with comedy legend Charlie Chaplin. She had scored a huge hit with his tune This Is My Song, from his final film, 1967's A Countess From Hong Kong.

Chaplin was so delighted with her interpretation of the romantic ballad that he asked to meet her.

"He lived not very far from us in Switzerland," recalled Clark.

"I was thrilled to meet Charlie. He was sweet, lovely, funny and very English."

The two had a "wonderful" afternoon together.

"We had some really good tea, I must say. He was so thrilled with the success of the song. It sort of turned into a party. His children came in. I played the piano, and they were dancing around the living room." – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Nile Rodgers gets lucky


The man responsible for one of the catchiest songs of the year promises to deliver more.

NILE Rodgers was one of the most sought-after producers of the 1980s and 90s, having received love calls from iconic artistes such as Madonna, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Duran Duran and Michael Jackson.

But this has been a good year for Rodgers, especially after he worked with French electro act Daft Punk on their highly successful Random Access Memories album.

Rodgers co-wrote and laid some of his trademark guitar riffs on three of the album's singles – Get Lucky, Lose Yourself To Dance and Give Life Back To Music. He has also collaborated with some of the top deejays in the world, including Avicii and David Guetta.

His determination to put out more records came after Rodgers was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago.

"They were telling me to get my affairs in order.

"And it was funny because when the doctor said to get my affairs in order, I thought he meant making more records!" said the 61-year-old, who announced on Twitter in July that he was clear of cancer.

"I didn't want to go out like my biological father, who's a great musician. I have no musical memories of him, there was nothing recorded, nothing written down, no manuscripts. So it's gone, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to overload you with music'."

With all his success, it is only fitting that the legendary Rodgers, who was in town for the Chic Featuring Nile Rodgers concert in Kuala Lumpur last week, was invited for a special one hour Red Bull Music Academy Session, where he shared his journey as a musician and record producer and, of course, demonstrated some skills on his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, known as The Hitmaker.

Speaking about his experience working with Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, Rodgers admitted it was no different from working with "the most esoteric jazz or classical musicians".

"That was how I composed with Avicii. It's exactly the same way. If you took a picture and looked at Avicii and I in a room together, it would look the same as me and John McLaughlin in a room together," he revealed.

"But when I'm talking with Tim, I'm giving him musical chunks and then he dissects it, but then after that it becomes part of his knowledge base. That's why we ride like crazy."

It may seem odd that Rodgers, who grew up in a jazz music environment, would try dance and electronic music, but the risk sure paid off when Random Access Memories hit it big, reaching the top spot in a total of 24 charts around the world. But none of it would have happened if it weren't for the wise words of his jazz teacher.

"He said to me, 'Nile, you seem in the dumps today' and I said, 'yeah, I don't feel so great because this weekend, I got to do these two Boogaloo gigs," he said.

According to Rodgers, "Boogaloo, it's a derogatory term for R&B", which wasn't something that he wanted to play.

"I said, 'I'll be playing bull****'. And as soon as I said that, he looked at me and went, 'you're playing bull****? You mean to tell me, people are paying you money to hear bull****?'

"And I was like 'yeah, I got to play the Top 40'.

"'You mean like those 40 records that have probably sold a million copies? So you're saying that those million people are stupid but you, Nile Rodgers, are smart. Wow, I've never heard anything so egotistical in my life'.

"He said, 'Nile, let me explain something to you. Any record that sells over a million copies is a great song. That doesn't mean you have to like it. But it's a great song because it has the power to connect to more than a million people when that artiste is not standing in the room.

"'This person has recorded something and that message is so powerful that when (the artiste is) not there, (people are) consuming their information, their art form. You should be proud playing their music'."

Rodgers also went on to credit his childhood, where he was "never afraid".

"I'll never listen to a song and think I can't fix it. Never.

"You got to believe in yourself, believe in partners and don't be afraid. If I make mistakes, that's just all part of the learning process. All of my teachers taught me that you couldn't get good unless you screw up. You got to make mistakes. That's my philosophy."


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