Sunday, February 17, 2019

Music Notes

  • Friday, Feb. 15, 2019
Killer Tracks, Wax Ltd. launch production music label Audio Wax
Wally Gagel (l) and Xandy Barry
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- 

Killer Tracks, a Universal Publishing Production Music company, has partnered with independent record label Wax Ltd. to launch production music label Audio Wax. The Audio Wax label will be led by multi-platinum-selling producers/songwriters and Wax Ltd. founders Wally Gagel and Xandy Barry.

Launching with four albums, Audio Wax’s catalog will span anthemic rock, indie/alternative, motivational and uplifting/atmospheric. For the recordings, Gagel and Barry enlisted musicians and producers associated with Wax Ltd., including from the bands Blondfire, Redlight King, Passion Pit, Best Coast and Family of the Year. Recorded with live musicians, Audio Wax’s albums are available now through the Killer Tracks website.  Additional releases are planned throughout 2019.

Since founding Wax Ltd. In 2011, Gagel and Barry have a track record for developing new talent across a range of genres. Successes include indie-produced singer/songwriter Zella Day’s breakout hit "Kicker," as well as Family of the Year’s critically acclaimed 2012 debut "Loma Vista."  Recently, Gagel and Barry co-wrote and produced Swedish singer Elliphant’s single "Til the End," featured in the film Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse. Wax Ltd.’s current roster includes up-and-coming artists Blondfire, WORLDS, Nona and Emerson Star.

The creation of Audio Wax builds on an existing, successful relationship between Gagel, Barry and Killer Tracks, and expands for the first time signature production music. Gagel and Barry have previously written and produced numerous songs for Killer Tracks’ library. Past works have been very successful and widely licensed, including promos for HBO and the Golden Globe awards, and commercials for Nokia and other brands.

“Wally and Xandy are rock star composers, fluent in contemporary trends and connected to an array of emerging artists through their label,” said Killer Tracks EP Ryan Perez-Daple. “We are incredibly excited about the launch of Audio Wax, which represents Wally and Xandy’s distinctive sensibilities and their dedication to quality and authenticity.”

“Our aim was to create a separate label for the production music world, focused on our studio and our network of artists and session musicians,” said Gagel. “We want it to be something special, organic and real.”

“Our concept is to deliver work that is a cut above standard production music,” added Barry. “We maximize quality by applying all of our resources, employing the same musicians and recording techniques we would for a massive commercial release with huge budget.”

Wax Ltd.’s studios are located on the site of legendary TTG Studios, which hosted classic sessions by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, the Velvet Underground, and others. The studios offer state-of-the-art recording technology and vintage gear, including a unique collection of guitars, synthesizers and amps.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019
Ring The Alarm expands audio resources via partnership with Therapy Studios
Eddie Kim
CULVER CITY, Calif. -- 

Ring The Alarm (RTA) has bolstered its services as part of a growing partnership with postproduction facility Therapy Studios. RTA recently moved its base from Boyle Heights to Therapy’s new state-of-the art studio in Culver City, providing another way for Therapy and RTA to cross-pollinate their talent pool to provide clients with the best possible services.
 
Now under the same roof with Therapy, RTA adds the sound design and mixing talents of Eddie Kim and his audio team to its offerings. Clients of Therapy and RTA both have direct access to Kim’s skillset. He becomes RTA’s go-to/in-house sound designer and mixer. Therapy’s client-base can continue to call upon Kim’s mixing and sound design services directly, a la carte, or as part of Therapy’s end-to-end post offering.  
 
Kim’s sonic stylings can be heard in assorted ad campaigns, in addition to numerous features, short films, documentaries, music videos, VR projects, and video games. His work on the Foo Fighters’ HBO docu-series Sonic Highways (produced by Therapy Studios’ sister company Therapy Content) earned him two Emmys for Outstanding Sound Editing for Non-Fiction programing, and Outstanding Sound Mixing for Non-Fiction programing, and a Golden Reel for mixing. Throughout his career, he’s consistently received honors from London International, Cannes Grand Prix, AICP, D&AD, and the Clio Awards. He has served on the juries for the Clios and AICP for sound technique in film.
 
With several successful collaborations for Beats Music under their belts, the dual representation opens Kim up to a host of new clients and partnerships. He explained, “Pursuing more projects together as an all-in-one audio offering is a natural step forward based on the stellar work we’ve created together. Becoming a part of RTA’s roster is an awesome portal for me to continue to do the work I love to do.”
 
Along with RTA’s move to the westside comes growth internally. Dylan Marder, who has been part of the RTA team as a producer since 2014, has been promoted to executive producer. Marder has a decade of experience in the commercial music industry, having got his start managing the Duke Ellington Orchestra in New York, touring with the big band and putting his jazz degree to good use. Since that time he’s evolved his career, working as a composer, engineer, music library specialist, sales rep, and producer--culminating in his new post as EP, where he oversees all RTA projects across music production, sound design, and mix. 

  • Monday, Feb. 11, 2019
Rap artists and women take center stage at Grammys
Kacey Musgraves, winner of the awards for best country album for "Golden Hour", best country song for "Space Cowboy", best country solo performance for "Butterflies" and album of the year for "Golden Hour" poses in the press room at the 61st annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Rap artists and women have felt shunned by the Grammy Awards in recent years. But this year, they both took center stage.

Childish Gambino's disturbing look at race relations, "This is America," won record and song of the year on Sunday's telecast. It was the first time a rap-based song won both of those awards, considered — with album of the year — the recording industry's most prestigious.

Kacey Musgraves won top album and matched Childish Gambino with four Grammys total. A year after many women felt left out of the Grammy telecast, they delivered the night's most memorable performances. The best new artist winner, British singer Dua Lipa, also cast major shade on the outgoing recording academy president.

Lady Gaga and Brandi Carlile won three Grammys apiece, and former first lady Michelle Obama was a surprise guest at the top of the show on CBS.

Childish Gambino, the stage name of actor Donald Glover, and another prominent rap nominee, Kendrick Lamar, both declined invitations to perform or attend Sunday's show. Some rap artists feel the Grammys have been slow to recognize how the genre now dominates popular music.

Ludwig Goransson, a songwriter and producer on "This is America," said backstage that he was surprised the victories were so historic. Just listening to the radio, watching the culture and seeing how many rap songs are downloaded is evidence of rap's impact.

"It's about time something like this happened with the Grammys as well," Goransson said.

Cardi B became the first solo woman to win best rap album , although Lauryn Hill was the lead singer of the Fugees, which won the same award at the 1997 Grammys. Cardi B was so nervous accepting the award that she joked, "Maybe I need to start smoking weed."

She looked anything but rattled earlier, when her rendition of "Money" was among the night's performance highlights. Janelle Monae delivered a smoking version of her hit "Make Me Feel"; St. Vincent and Dua Lipa's duet on "Masseduction" was steamy; H.E.R. turned heads with "Hard Place"; and Carlile sang an inspired version of her hit "The Joke."

Being part of a big night for women was huge to her, Carlile said backstage after the show.

"I'm a kid from the '90s and Lilith Fair, you know, and those women were just dominating those platforms," she said. "They were dominating those arena and amphitheater stages. They were getting record deals. They were becoming record executives themselves. They completely controlled the airwaves. They were on the radio. And to watch that backslide for the last 20 years has been heartbreaking. Tonight, it gives me hope as a mother of two young daughters."

When she accepted her best new artist award, Dua Lipa pointedly said, "I guess this year we really stepped up."

That was a reference to outgoing Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow, who said women needed to "step up" when he was asked about the lack of women in top categories in 2018. He later acknowledged it was a poor choice of words and delivered another mea culpa on Sunday's show.

Yet Dua Lipa was rewarded by having her acceptance speech cut off mid-sentence. She wasn't alone, however, as a handful of other artists were also hustled off the stage, and the show seemed disjointed at the end, rushing through its final awards. Under the circumstances, having a lengthy tribute to Portnow before he gave his own speech seemed tone-deaf.

Lipa said later she would have thanked her fans, her inspirations and team if she had more time.

When she was onstage, Lipa was one of a handful of winners who paid special tribute to fellow artists. Another was Drake, whose appearance to accept the Grammy when "God's Plan" won best rap song was a surprise because he's not big on award shows.

He reminded fans and fellow artists that awards are based on the subjective views of others, and aren't contests in which there are clear winners and losers.

"You've already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you're a hero in your hometown. Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this right here. I promise you. You already won," he said at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Musgrave picked up album of the year for "Golden Hour," which is labeled country but had wider appeal.

"I never dreamed that this record would be met with such love, such warmth, such positivity," said Musgraves, who performed a stately version of her song "Rainbow."

Dolly Parton starred in the best of the night's two tributes to veteran artists, performing a medley of her songs with Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Maren Morris. The highlight of Diana Ross' night was the cute introduction by a grandson with a mountain of hair.

The Grammys took some online blowback by having Jennifer Lopez deliver a tribute to Motown , once the nation's preeminent label for black artists. Despite her hustle, Lopez was outshone by show host Alicia Keys and Smokey Robinson delivering one verse of "Tracks of My Tears" a capella.

Obama appeared on the show's opening with Keys, Gaga, Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith to describe the role music had played in their lives — seemingly a pointed reference to last year's controversy over women artists.

"Music has always helped me tell my story," Obama said. "Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another."

Another ex-White House resident was awarded a Grammy on Sunday. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 94, won an award for best spoken word recording.

It's his second Grammy.

Associated Press writers Mesfin Fekadu, Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Jonathan Landrum and Beth Harris contributed to this report.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019
Sound designer/mix engineer Julienne Guffain joins Sonic Union
Julienne Guffain
NEW YORK -- 

Creative audio studio Sonic Union has added sound designer/mix engineer Julienne Guffain. Working across Sonic Union’s Bryant Park and Union Square locations in NYC, Guffain brings over a decade of experience in audio postproduction to the team, having worked on television, film and branded projects for clients such as Google, Mountain Dew, American Express and Cadillac.

A Virginia native, Guffain followed her film aspirations to NYC to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Finding herself drawn to sound in film, it was at NYU where she cut her teeth as a foley-phile and mixer on student films and independent projects. She landed her first industry gig at Hobo Audio, earning mix credits for clients such as The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and mixing the powerful Emmy-winning television documentary series Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero. Making her way to Crew Cuts, she began lending her talents to a wide range of spot and brand projects, including the documentary feature Public Figure, which examines the psychological effects of constant social media use. It is slated for a festival run later this year.

  • Friday, Feb. 1, 2019
Grammys launch initiative aiding women producers, engineers
In this June 3, 2018 file photo, Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. performs at The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island Park in New York. The Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion is a launching a new initiative announced Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, to create and expand more opportunities to female music producers and engineers. More than 200 musicians, labels and others have already pledged, including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Pearl Jam, Pharrell and Ariana Grande. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Recording Academy's Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion is launching a new initiative to create and expand more opportunities to female music producers and engineers.

The academy on Friday announced the Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative, which asks that musicians, record labels and others consider at least two female producers or engineers when working on a project, whether it's a song or an album.

More than 200 have already pledged and are committed to the ask, including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Pearl Jam, Quincy Jones, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Common, Pink, Nicki Minaj and Shawn Mendes.

"It's a really important step to make sure you're considering a diverse slate when you're going to pick a producer or engineer," said Tina Tchen, chair of the academy's Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, in an interview with The Associated Press. "Pick whoever you want, because we want people to make their own artistic decisions, but we do know the more that women are included in the mix and get a look at and are seen, then doors are going to open up.

"And that's what this is about — making sure all of those doors of opportunities are open to everyone and that women who for so long really haven't had their shot can get a fair shot."

The initiative comes after last year's USC Annenberg study, which said only 2 percent of music producers and 3 percent of engineers are women. Others who have signed on to the new call-to-action include Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5, Carrie Underwood, the Killers, Kacey Musgraves, Meek Mill, Usher and Selena Gomez. Multiple music producers, record labels, management companies and agencies are also on board.

"It's not just about the artists that we know, but it's the behind-the-scenes folks who are involved: other producers and engineers, the labels, the studios, the agents, the publishers recognizing that they all have a role to play and they can all play a positive role in the change that needs to be made," said Tchen, who was the chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama and is a partner at Buckley LLP.

The academy announced the new task force last year after Grammys CEO Neil Portnow said women need to "step up" when asked about the lack of female winners backstage at the 2018 Grammys. Only two female performers won awards during the live telecast and the Grammys were criticized for not letting singer Lorde, the only women nominated for album of the year, perform at the show.

Portnow called his comments a "poor choice of words" and later announced he would leave his post this year.

This year's Grammys, however, include more female nominees in the top categories. Linda Perry, who said she will participate in the new initiative, also made history as the first woman nominated for non-classical producer of the year in 15 years.

To help artists and others find success with the Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative, the academy will list working female producers and engineers on their website. The academy is also working with the organizations Women's Audio Mission and She is The Music to connect artists with female creators.

Tchen said to another way they're trying to move the needle is through mentorship: "We're also asking producers and engineers, both men and women, to also mentor young women."

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
Maroon 5 cancels Super Bowl halftime news conference
In this Sunday, March 11, 2018 file photo, Adam Levine, left, and James Valentine of Maroon 5 perform during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
ATLANTA (AP) -- 

Maroon 5 has canceled its news conference to discuss the band's Super Bowl halftime performance, choosing to not meet with reporters as most acts have done.

The NFL announced Tuesday that "the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday."

Maroon 5, with frontman Adam Levine, will be joined by Outkast member Big Boi and Houston rapper Travis Scott at halftime of the game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. The NFL says instead of a news conference with the performers, it will use media platforms to show behind-the-scenes footage and content.

While Maroon 5 did not give a reason for its decision, it comes as some entertainers have said social injustice needs to be addressed during the Super Bowl.

That has led to some criticism of performers who are holding events in Atlanta. Jermaine Dupri said he was called a "sellout" for hosting a Super Bowl-related event during a meeting with people who had lost family members as result of police brutality. After the meeting, Dupri and the victims' family members came to a compromise  and the music mogul plans to give mothers a platform to speak onstage during his Super Bowl Live event in Atlanta

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped start a wave of protests by kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness to police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues.

  

  • Friday, Jan. 25, 2019
Konsonant Music scores 4 projects debuting at Sundance
A scene from "The Dress Up Gang"
LOS ANGELES & BROOKLYN, NY -- 

Konsonant Music--founded by composers/creative directors Andrew Gross and Gil Talmi--has worked on four original, new projects which will debut during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. 

The four new Sundance projects are:

  • The Great Hack: This documentary from Netflix takes a look at how data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset, and how that data is being weaponized to wage cultural and political wars. Academy Award-nominated directors Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim return to the Sundance Film Festival with this deeply layered, ethically complex, disturbing, and riveting new film. For this project, Talmi provided the original music. He said, “Scoring The Great Hack has been a tremendous opportunity, allowing me to blend many of my musical influences into a brand new sonic palette for this important film. The Great Hack deals extensively with larger questions, such as the contrast between light and darkness, technology vs. humanity, and the interplay between those elements. I approached the human aspect of the story using more orchestral instruments, with a heavy emphasis on intimate piano for the internal worlds. I used the magical world of modular synthesizers to convey the various data streams and technological manipulation that are at play throughout the film. These sonic explorations were a culmination of an in-depth collaboration with the filmmakers, with great attention to detail. Every byte counts!”
  • The Dress Up Gang: This new episodic sitcom presents the “insanely funny and surrealistic” comedy trio The Dress Up Gang, as they expand upon their cult-hit web series. The sitcom, which will air on TBS, was produced by Abso Lutely Productions (Nathan For You, Tim And Eric Awesome Show). For this project, Konsonant’s Gross served as the show’s composer (including the theme) and executive music supervisor. The theme was recorded with a live orchestra at Nashville’s historic Ocean Way Studios, and features the exquisite vocal performance of Ty Taylor (Vintage Trouble). Of the collaboration, Gross said, The Dress up Gang creative team had a very strong vision of how they wanted music to function in their show’s world. It’s a modern comedy that uses performances, dialog and music from the 1940s and ‘50s. So we would license music from that bygone era, and I would also write music that sounded like it came from that period. To get the most material out of our live session in Nashville, I recorded the orchestra in sections, and even wrote alternate arrangements for each section. This allowed me and the editors to have many stems to play with, since we also used the theme to underscore various scenes (in different ways) throughout the season.”
  • The Edge of Democracy: With remarkably intimate access, this documentary from Netflix follows Brazil’s embattled leaders as they grapple with a scandal born out of their country’s fascist past and inflamed by a furious and ideologically divided nation. Director Petra Costa’s film carries a potent warning: Brazil’s crisis is one that is shared--and fomented--by Western superpowers run by equally treacherous political forces. The Edge of Democracy won the 2016 Tribeca Film Institute/Konsonant Music/TFI Network Film Scoring Package. As part of the package, Talmi consulted with the filmmakers over the past two years--the film features Talmi’s music licensed from the Konsonant Music catalog.
  • It’s Not About Jimmy Keene: Set in Los Angeles in 2015, the audience is introduced to the storyline through Bukka La Rocke, a neighbor, poet and sage, who calls forth to the chorus of assorted gatherers, imparting the sage of Jimmy Keene. In so doing, La Rocke focuses on a young, bi-racial teen named Ivan Roistacher--a youngster in search of his own voice--who appears to be lost. For It’s Not About Jimmy Keene, Gross served as music supervisor. He said, “This project occupies a special place in my heart, since I’ve known Caleb Jaffe (director/writer/actor) since he was five years old. When it came to postproduction on Jimmy Keene, I helped with music supervision and also supervising the scoring process with Caleb and Sofia Frohna, his composer. They were so committed to the story and tone, I just wanted to do whatever they needed to help bring their vision to life--this even included conducting at the scoring session, so Caleb and Sofia could be in the booth and focus on their creative collaboration.”
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, SZA score Oscar music nods
This image released by Warner Bros. shows Lady Gaga in a scene from the latest reboot of the film, "A Star is Born." (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Lady Gaga is a double nominee at the Academy Awards, where rapper Kendrick Lamar is nominated for the first time while songwriter Diane Warren is also vying for her first win with her 10th nomination.

Gaga scored best actress and best original song nominations Tuesday for her work in "A Star Is Born" — repeating the success Mary J. Blige achieved last year when she became the first person to compete for both acting and songwriting awards in the same year.

Gaga's "Shallow" was co-written with Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Mark Ronson, the producer behind hits for Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars and more.

"I mean it's so incredible," Ronson said quietly Tuesday as he was boarding a flight. "It's insane and it's so wonderful."

Lamar's nomination for "All the Stars" from "Black Panther" puts him in a group of elite rappers to be nominated for an Oscar; Eminem, Common and Three 6 Mafia are all winners of best original song. The prestigious nomination comes a year after his "Damn" album won the Pulitzer Prize for music, making him the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prize.

The nomination is also a major milestone for R&B singer SZA, who was the most nominated woman at last year's Grammys but walked away empty-handed. The Top 10 hit "All the Stars," which also earned co-writers Mark Spears and Anthony Tiffith nominations, is up for four Grammys at the Feb. 10 show and could finally win the singer an award.

Other original song nominees include "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from "Mary Poppins," written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman; "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" from "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch; and "I'll Fight" from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary "RBG," written by Warren.

Warren joked about being up for her tenth Oscar without ever winning.

"I'm now in the double digits," Warren said, laughing.

"I'm not jaded at all," she continued. "I need some coffee though because I'm sleep deprived. I was anxious so I was up and my friends came over and we basically had an all-night party waiting for the nominations."

"I'll Fight" from "RBG" — which also earned a nomination for best documentary feature — is performed by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson.

"I wanted to write a powerful song that captures what ... Ruth Bader Ginsburg does and what she's always done, which is fight. And she's still fighting and I'm sending good wishes out to her right now for a speedy recovery," Warren said of the U.S. Supreme Court justice, who recently underwent surgery to remove cancer nodules from a lung.

"Shallow" is the frontrunner and has won a number of original song honors so far, from the Golden Globes to Critics Choice Awards.

The song has become a radio hit, peaking at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and scoring four Grammy nominations. The soundtrack, featuring songs co-written by Bradley Cooper as well as Gaga, is platinum and debuted at No. 1 on the charts.

"(Gaga) painstakingly paid that much attention to making sure the songs were good and so did Bradley," Ronson said. "Bradley is such a giant music fan. I've seen him walking around Glastonbury Festival in England at 4 in the morning on a Sunday, like catching the last band. I think it was so important for him to get the music right on this."

Ronson and Gaga collaborated on her 2016 album "Joanne," a rock-pop-country adventure that was a departure from the dance-flavored electronic sound that made her a multiplatinum juggernaut. Ronson said their closeness helped make "Shallow" great.

"We had this personally rapport and we got close (and) that is probably why we were able to go somewhere a little bit — pardon the pun — deeper on 'Shallow.' I think if we just had met that day and it was like a songwriting session like, 'OK we got to write a song for this movie today' — it would probably be a bit of a different deal," he said. "But we'd gone through a pretty personal place, a really personal place on 'Joanne,' maybe her most personal record, so I feel like there was this ease when we started and did 'Shallow.'"

Nominees for best original score include Childish Gambino's longtime producer Ludwig Goransson, who scored "Black Panther"; Alexandre Desplat for "Isle of Dogs"; Shaiman for "Mary Poppins Returns"; Nicholas Britell for "If Beale Street Could Talk; and Terence Blanchard for "BlacKkKlansman."

Justin Hurwitz, a two-time Oscar winner, was surprisingly shut out. His score for "First Man" won his best original score at the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice Awards and the Satellite Awards.

 

  • Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Film airing on PBS highlights Native American links to rock
In this Aug. 1, 1971 file photo, Jesse Ed Davis, center right, a guitarist of Kiowa and Comanche ancestry, performs with George Harrison, left, formerly of the Beatles, at the Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Klaus Voorman is on bass, second from left, and Eric Clapton is at right. "RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World," a new PBS Independent Lens documentary set to air Monday, Jan 21, 2019, shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz. (AP Photo/Jim Wells, File)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- 

As a child, Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray Jr. hid under a bed when the Ku Klux Klan came to his parents' home in rural North Carolina. Racist groups often targeted the poor family of Shawnee Native American ancestry as the Wrays endured segregation in the American South just like African-Americans.

Wray eventually took all that rage of his early years and crafted a 1958 instrumental hit "Rumble" using a distinct, distorted electric guitar sound that would influence rock 'n' roll musicians from Iggy Pop and Neil Young to Pete Townshend of The Who and Slash of Guns N' Roses. Though the song had no lyrics, it was banned in the 1950s for allegedly encouraging teen violence.

Wray is one of many Native Americans musicians whose stories are featured in a documentary set to air on the PBS series "Independent Lens " showing how Native Americans helped lay the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and shaped generations of musicians. "RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World" will be broadcast online and on most PBS stations Monday.

The film is the brainchild of Apache guitarist Stevie Salas, who has performed with the likes of Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger. It was during a tour with Stewart that the Oceanside, California-raised Salas began to wonder about other Native American rock musicians who came before him. "I was there with Rod Stewart and thinking, 'Am I the only Indian to have ever played at (New York's) Madison Garden?'" Salas told The Associated Press. "So I started to investigate."

Soon Salas, now 54, stumbled upon Wray, a musician he'd admired but had no idea he was Native American. Then he found out about the Norman, Oklahoma-born Jesse Ed Davis, a guitarist of Kiowa and Comanche ancestry who performed with John Lennon.

The hobby searching for Native American rock musicians eventually launched an exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, then a film.

"People need to know about Link Wray. People need to know about Jesse Ed Davis," Salas said.

But rock musicians aren't the only popular performers "RUMBLE" seeks to highlight. The documentary touches on blues pioneer Charley Patton, an early 20th Century Mississippi Delta guitarist of Choctaw and African-American ancestry. The film shows how some of Patton's music preserved on rough vinyl recordings is similar to traditional American Indian songs. Those traditions were fused with black music.

Legendary bluesman Howlin' Wolf would say he learned to play the guitar from an "Indian man" by the name of Charley Patton.

The film also introduces viewers to the largely forgotten jazz vocalist Mildred Bailey. A member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe in the Pacific Northwest, Bailey began singing ragtime in the 1920s and developed a swing style that blended traditional Native American vocals with jazz. She became known as the "The Queen of Swing" who performed at speakeasies and had a style so unique that young Italian-American aspiring singers Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra began copying her form.

"She was one of the great improvisers of jazz," Bennett said on the film. "I was completely influenced by Mildred Bailey. She sang perfect, for me."

The film also explores the career of Robbie Robertson, a Canadian musician of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, who performed with Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s before forming his own group called The Band.

"Be proud that you're an Indian," Robertson said he was told as a child, "but be careful who you tell."

The documentary dives into the career of Davis, lead guitarist for Taj Mahal, who died in 1988 of a heroin overdose. And it goes into the momentous career of Randy Castillo, the Albuquerque, New Mexico-born Isleta Pueblo drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe, whose life was cut short by cancer in 2002.

As the Native American musicians get closer to the 21st century, the film shows that they stopped hiding their identity and began to celebrate it.

"This is a missing chapter to this history of music," co-director Catherine Bainbridge said. "Native Americans were at the center of our popular music."

  • Friday, Jan. 18, 2019
Reports: Sony drops R. Kelly after furor over allegations
In this Jan. 16, 2019 file photo, Sonja Spoo, left, associate campaign director of Ultra Violet, leads chants during an R. Kelly protest outside Sony headquarters in New York.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Multiple outlets have reported that Sony Music has dropped embattled R&B star R. Kelly from its roster.

The announcement comes two weeks after the popular documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" drew fresh attention to the sex abuse allegations against R. Kelly, which have dogged him most of his career. The #MeToo and #MuteRKelly movements have held protests, demanding his music be dropped from streaming services and beyond.

Representatives for Sony and RCA Records, where R. Kelly was signed to, didn't immediately return emails seeking comment.

Lady Gaga and Celine Dion recently removed their duets with R. Kelly from streaming services and French rock band Phoenix apologized for collaborating with the singer in 2013.

R. Kelly has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls.

His first album on Sony, 1992's "Born into the 90's," was with the group Public Announcement. His massively successful solo debut, "12 Play," was released a year later.

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