The powerhouse vocalist Frenchie Davis recently was a semi-finalist on The Voice, where she was coached by Christina Aguilera. The "Beautiful" singer made the mistake of saying that Madonna's "Like a Prayer" has never been done in a fashion similar to how Davis reworked the hit. Cue up Loleatta Holloway's version from Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna Volume 1. My votes were hopelessly devoted to Davis during her run on the competition.
When I met Davis at Pridefest last year, I asked her if she felt a connection with the audience and she lit up that magnificent smile. The crowd enjoyed her so much, that she belted out her take on "When Love Takes Over" again as an encore. Davis was on tour with the other contestants from The Voice earlier this summer and is on board to delight attendees at Northalsted Market Days on Sunday, Aug. 14. Davis will be singing at the wedding for Bev McClellan, a lesbian contestant on The Voice.
Just before Exposé performed in Chicago in 2008, I ran into a friend, who asked me if Exposé would be the original singers. I laughed and pointed out that this was a trick question. In 1985 when "Point of No Return" topped the club charts, the three vocalists were not the same singers, who comprised Exposé on its 1987 full-length debut, Exposure. Prior to the release of the 1992 self-titled outing, Gioia Bruno temporarily bowed out of the group when she lost her voice. Kelly Moneymaker filled Bruno's vacated spot. Ultimately, the three singers from Exposé's first two albums entertained the masses at the street festival and will be back this year. New mixes of the signature "Point of No Return" are available at www.exposeonline.net .
Also scheduled to appear is fellow freestyle hitmaker Lisa Lisa. The beautiful singer came out as a breast cancer survivor and was romantically linked to Robbie Rob Clivilles of C&C Music Factory, who remixed her dance hit "Let the Beat Hit 'Em." Lisa Lisa's "I Wonder If I Take You Home" has been sampled by many including Kylie Minogue and Black Eyed Peas.
Darren Criss, who plays the gay teen Blaine on Glee, is due to perform at Northalsted Market Days as well. Criss will be featured in the limited run Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, which opens Friday, Aug. 12.
Shiny Toy Guns will be at the street festival too. This goth-pop-electronic band burst onto the scene with We Are Pilots, but turned heads with a cover of "Major Tom (Coming Home)" for Lincoln MKZ commercials.
Other talent lined up for Northalsted Market Days include "Funk Boutique" freestyle vocal trio Cover Girls, out singer-songwriter Eric Himan and disco icon Ms. Gloria Gaynor. For a complete schedule, please visit http:// www.chicagoevents.com .
Dave DeRosa is the mastermind behind the new electro-pop act Genius Lovers. Joined by vocalist Katara, the New York-based band's debut Strange Game shows how Auto-Tune should be done on "Three-Thirty." "Hi-Tech" is fun and funky, worthy of Klymaxx. "Press Play" is a modernization of freestyle straight from the latter half of the '80s. But all of the electronic enhancers are stripped away on the superb showstopper "You Know Why You're Here." Strange Game is out now via Thrill Horizon Records.
Last year the blogosphere went aflutter over Graffiti6. The British band's brilliant lead single "Annie You Save Me" transports me back to the late '80s, where soul, pop and modern rock united on hits like When in Rome's "The Promise" and Love & Rockets' "So Alive." Resistance is futile with the well delivered bridge "stars, please shine for me tonight." It doesn't hurt that lead singer Jamie Scott has handsome looks, blending Jason Priestly and Nick Lachey. Don't be fooled, Graffiti6 does not rely on studio magic. You Tube clips feature the group jamming on a stairwell. The EP Annie You Save Me is out now.
Wynter Gordon burst onto the scene with "Dirty Talk," where she tempts her listener by cooing, "I'm no angel." She followed with "Believer," a club ready collaboration with Freemasons. As an accomplished songwriter, she has penned material for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Lopez. Gordon's feel good track "Til Death" is a clever play on words as she sings "til death do we party." Her latest EP, With the Music I Die, also features "Buy My Love," which is the most humorous capitalist cut since The Tamperer's "If You Buy This Record (Your Life Will Be Better)." "Still Getting Younger" is airy and melodic, yet it still has a beat. My foot taps impatiently awaiting Gordon's full-length album.
Like Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendryx and Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse is another musician gone at the age of 27. The British soul singer will be remembered for her hit "Rehab," which is her rebellious rant about the disease that cut her life short. In a day when garish outfits and outlandish behavior overshadow the actual music, the five time Grammy winner is better known for her very public battle with addiction that lead to unflattering appearances in tabloids, instead of her well executed tales of heartache like "Back to Black." Attempts to record a proper follow up were unfruitful, but Winehouse guests with Tony Bennett on "Body and Soul" on his upcoming album Duets II.
Looking for other contemporary artists with Winehouse's Billie Holiday-influenced vocal style? Then check out Glovebox and Angela McCluskey.