Mekole Wells. Patti Griffin.
Fantasia deserves a big thank you for her video Hood Boy, which is directed by Clark Jackson. It is not just because of her fake eyelashes, sassy strut or her antics in the barber shop. A group of hotter models has not been assembled since Toni Braxton's 1996 clip for You're Making Me High. With a cameo by Big Boi, Hood Boy has Fantasia's unique voice over an irresistible sample from the Supremes' classic The Happening. The self-titled follow-up to her platinum debut, Free Yourself, is out now on J Records. Some of the other contributors to the leggy singer's sophomore set include Missy Elliott; Diane Warren; and the team of Andre Harris and Vidal Davis. The American Idol winner's story, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, is a best-selling autobiography, which is also a Lifetime original movie starring the young chanteuse that is directed by Debbie Allen. If you haven't heard it, check out Fantasia singing alongside Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams on the fun remake of Stevie Wonder's I Wish; it's on the Happy Feet soundtrack.
Star Gaze, 5419 N. Clark, has hit the right note by offering the new theme night Cabaret Thursdays. One of my favorite local singers, Mekole Wells, will be taking to the stage there every other week starting Jan. 18. This Outmusic Awards nominee will be accompanied by Jeff Roscoe on piano. Last year, I saw Wells perform at Davenport's the day she and her girlfriend broke up. With Roscoe by her side, Wells kept herself composed and the audience entertained with her humorous storytelling and sage advice. Expect to hear Wells' original compositions from her albums Full Circle and Stories in Life, plus her moving, jazzy renditions pulled from James Taylor's and Phyllis Hyman's catalogs.
Out saxophonist Dave Koz returns with the concept album At the Movies. Here, Koz redoes favorites from film, including The Pink Panther and Over the Rainbow. Koz keeps the pace moving with a strong choice of material and an elite guest list. Barry Manilow ( Moon River ) , Anita Baker ( Somewhere ) , Vanessa Williams ( The Way We Were ) , India.Arie ( It Might Be You ) and Donna Summer ( A Whole New World ) make cameos. Produced by Phil Ramone, At the Movies is due out Jan. 30 via Capitol.
Patty Griffin is sprinting through a small tour of the U.S. to promote her latest album, Children Running Through. Luckily, she has two dates scheduled in Chicago; she'll perform at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport, on Jan. 27-28. Sadly, both are sold out, but there is speculation that this folk-rock singer-songwriter will embark on a larger tour later this year. Several musicians cite Griffin as a major influence and have covered her work, including The Dixie Chicks, Bette Midler, Jessica Simpson and Melissa Ferrick. This Lilith Fair veteran's take of Moon River is featured in the soundtrack Elizabethtown Volume 2; Long Ride Home is included in the first volume.
Tired of going to '80s-themed parties and hearing the same songs over and over? Nothing against Sweet Dreams, Karma Chameleon or Tainted Love, but the groups behind these jams have other noteworthy classics. The first installment of the MightyREAL collection Showstoppers: 1980-1988 dusts off some overlooked club favorites that I have not heard in years and others that I missed completely the first time around. Nothing soars higher than John Paul Young's feel-good anthem Love Is In The Air, which has been remade several times since its initial release. But try not wanting to dance to Rainey's I Can Fly or the rest of this non-continuous 12-inch mix collection. Showstoppers will bring back feel good memories for disco dolls and '80s fans alike. Some memories more blurry than others. Roller skates are not included.
When adult film stars announce a career change—in particular into the music industry—they usually hear grunts and moans, but not the ones they normally hear on the set. Dig up Jeff Stryker's or Frederick Ford's records for proof. Let's hear it for Johnny Hazzard, who is taking his stab at being the exception. The Rascal Video exclusive just put out the dance number Deeper Into You on iTunes. DJ and director extraordinaire Chi Chi LaRue filmed the accompanying video for Hazzard.
M. Ward will be giving a rare acoustic performance on Jan. 29 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. NPR voted Ward's album, Post-War, as one of the top 10 albums of 2006; among the highlights is a duet version of Daniel Johnston's To Go Home with Neko Case. Post-War is out now on Merge Records and the EP To Go Home is set to drop in February.
Masterworks Broadway is releasing the series Legends of Broadway. The talent saluted here boasts stage heavyweights Barbara Cook, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Chita Rivera, who have nine Tony Awards between them. Highlights from this collection include selections from their career-defining roles in Annie Get Your Gun, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Gypsy, Into the Woods, The King and I, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Mame, Show Boat, Sweeney Todd and West Side Story, to name a few.