CLIFF YOUNG, GOSPEL SINGER FOR ROOTS AND BRANCHES
Cliff Young, an incredible gospel singer, died a few weeks ago in Dallas. Over the years he sang in virtually every black church in Denver, as a soloist, and with various groups, particularly Roots and Branches. He moved to Dallas some five years ago, and was the pastor at his own church there. He was fondly remembered at a memorial service at King Baptist Church in Denver, on Saturday, October 11th. Several of the members of Roots and Branches sang in Cliff’s memory, and exchanged memories of him with ministers, relatives, and others who had known him over the years.[Thanks to Dick Weissman who let us know of Pastor Young’s passing and memorial service.]
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SCARY KIDS SCARING KIDS’ TYSON STEVENS FOUND DEAD
Scary Kids Scaring Kids (abbreviated SKSK) was an American post-hardcore band formed in Gilbert, Arizona, in 2002. The band’s name was taken from the Cap’n Jazz song of the same name. The group disbanded following a farewell tour in 2010.
The band – which originally was composed of Tyson Stevens on bass guitar and lead vocals (later to be strictly the vocalist/song writer), guitarists Chad Crawford, DJ Wilson (later to switch to bass) and Steve Kirby, Pouyan Afkary on keyboards, and drummer Peter Costa – recorded their self-financed debut EP, After Dark, while they were still in high school. After Dark was eventually re-released by Immortal Records in 2005. After nearly disbanding, they decided to pursue the band full-time, hosting nude carwashes and taking out loans to finance their tours.
The band was then signed to Immortal Records, where they released their first full-length album. Entitled The City Sleeps in Flames, the album was recorded during February and March 2005 with producer Brian McTernan, and released on June 28, 2005.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids, released on August 28, 2007 and produced by Don Gilmore (who previously worked on Dashboard Confessional, Linkin Park, and Good Charlotte records) in North Hollywood, California, was the result of much consideration and effort by the band, even though they had spent most of the year living on the road. The band specifically wanted the record to be a composed album, rather than a collection of songs thrown together. This is evidenced by transitions between songs, a prelude and an interlude, as well as references throughout the album to previous tracks on the record.
Lyrically, the record was a quest for the truth in its most organic form. “It’s all about reaching deep within and pulling out who you truly are” All of the songs lyrically were composed and written by Tyson Stevens The record encompasses several disparate yet linked themes, from retaining and appreciating individuality to standing up for what one believes in, and not backing down. “I think we really had time to make this album sound exactly the way we wanted to and focus on every track individually”, explains Pouyan. “In the past, we’ve been so limited with time, but with this disc we could really focus on the small details that made a big difference to us.” Pouyan spoke of the album saying, “We were so proud of this album that we had no other name for it. This is what Scary Kids is all about to this day.”
In January 2008, the band was awarded a Libby Award by PETA for Best Newcomers. Scary Kids Scaring Kids received the award for their work in speaking up against Chicken Express for the PETA’s ‘I Am Not A Nugget’ campaign.
Scary Kids left Immortal Records before it collapsed and signed their major label deal with RCA Records. During their fall tour with Anberlin, Straylight Run, and There for Tomorrow, the band announced they would be working on their third studio album at the end of the tour, but decided to part ways before tracking new material.
Lead singer Tyson took some personal time off in the last 4 days of the 2009 Warped Tour and the band had replacement singers . . . filling in on vocals for the rest of the tour.
On November 30, 2009 Pouyan posted an official statement declaring that by mutual agreement the group had disbanded.
Derek Smith served as the band’s drummer for their 2010 tour and opened shows with his new hip hop act, Mod Sun. The album that the band was recording in 2009 was never finished (as the band did not record vocals for it) or released.
Vocalist Tyson Stevens was found dead on the morning of October 21, 2014. He was 29 years old.
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JOHN HOLT OF THE PARAGONS DIES (THE TIDE IS HIGH)
John Kenneth Holt (11 July 1947 – 20 October 2014) was a reggae singer and songwriter who first found fame as a member of the Paragons, before establishing himself as a solo artist.
Holt was born in Kingston in 1947. By the age of twelve, he was a regular entrant in talent contests run at Jamaican theatres by Vere Johns. He recorded his first single in 1963 with “I Cried a Tear” for record producer Leslie Kong, and also recorded duets with Alton Ellis. He achieved prominence in his home country as lead singer of the Paragons and they cut a succession of singles for Duke Reid at his Treasure Isle Studio and enjoyed a string of hits, including “Ali Baba”, “Tonight”, “I See Your Face”, and Holt penned “The Tide Is High” (later made famous by Blondie and also covered by Atomic Kitten). “Wear You to the Ball” was another of his hits with the Paragons, and hit the charts again when U-Roy added a Deejay verse to it. During his time with the Paragons, he also recorded solo material for Studio One (including “Fancy Make-up”, “A Love I Can Feel”, “Let’s Build Our Dreams” and “OK Fred”) and Prince Buster (“Oh Girl”, and “My Heart Is Gone”).
Holt left the Paragons in 1970 and concentrated on his solo career. By the early 1970s, he was one of the biggest stars of reggae, and his “Stick By Me” was the biggest selling Jamaican record of 1972, one of a number of records recorded with producer Bunny Lee. His 1973 album, Time Is The Master, was successful, with orchestral arrangements recorded in London. The success of the string-laden reggae led to Trojan Records issuing a series of similarly arranged albums produced by Bunny Lee starting with the 1,000 Volts of Holt in 1973, a compilation of Holt’s reggae cover versions of popular hits (and later followed by similarly named releases up to 3,000 Volts of Holt). 1,000 Volts spawned the UK Top 10 hit “Help Me Make It Through the Night” (written by Kris Kristofferson), which peaked at number 6, and included covers of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” and “Touch Me in the Morning” by Diana Ross.
Holt’s style, notably slower and more romantic than most of his contemporaries, is a recognizable forerunner of the lovers rock sub-genre.
His song, “Man Next Door”, has been covered by numerous other reggae artists, including Dennis Brown, UB40 and Horace Andy. The latter sang in a more electronic vein for the Massive Attack album Mezzanine.
Having been taken ill at the One Love Festival on August 16th, Holt died on October 20, 2014 in a London hospital.
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STEPHEN PAULUS, AMERICAN COMPOSER OF WELL-KNOWN OPERAS, DIES
Stephen Paulus (August 24, 1949 – October 19, 2014) was an American composer, best known for his operas and choral music. His best-known piece is his 1982 opera The Postman Always Rings Twice, one of several operas he composed for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which prompted The New York Times to call him “a young man on the road to big things”. His style is essentially tonal, and melodic and romantic by nature. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation and won the prestigious Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize. He was commissioned by such notable organizations as the Minnesota Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, the American Composers Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, the Harvard Glee Club and the New York Choral Society. Paulus was a passionate advocate for the works and careers of his colleagues. He co-founded the American Composers Forum in 1973, the largest composer service organization in the U.S., and served as the Symphony and Concert Representative on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1990 until his death (from complications following a stroke in July of 2013) in 2014.
Paulus was born in Summit, New Jersey, but the family moved to Minnesota when he was two. He attended the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Paul Fetler and eventually earned the Ph.D. in composition in 1978. By 1983, he was named the Composer-in-Residence at the Minnesota Orchestra, and in 1988 he was also named to the same post at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, whose then-conductor Robert Shaw commissioned numerous choral works from Paulus for Shaw’s eponymous vocal ensemble. After the premiere of his second opera, The Postman Always Rings Twice, he began a fruitful collaboration with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis that would result in four more operas.
In a career which encompassed more than forty years of composition his output came to include over 450 works for chorus, orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, solo voice, piano, guitar, organ, and band. Paulus lived in the Twin Cities area.
Paulus’s output was eclectic and varied, incorporating works for chorus, orchestra, solo singer, and various combinations thereof. His choral music represented his most diverse body of work, ranging from elaborate multi-part works like Visions from Hildegard to brief anthems and a cappella motets.
With nearly 60 orchestral works to his credit, Paulus was distinguished by his tenures as a Composer in Residence with the orchestras of Atlanta, Minnesota, Tucson and Annapolis. Conductors who have premiered his works include Osmo Vanska, C. William Harwood, Christoph van Dohnanyi, Kurt Masur, Sir Neville Marriner, Rollo Dilworth, and Leonard Slatkin. He has been commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and many others. In 2011 he also co-wrote a Concerto “Timepiece” with his son, Greg Paulus, for the Minnesota Orchestra.
Paulus has written over 150 works for chorus ranging from his Holocaust oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn, recorded by the Minnesota Orchestra on the BIS label, to the poignant anthem, “Pilgrims’ Hymn,” sung at the funerals of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford and a brilliant setting of the Stabat Mater for the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. His works have received thousands of performances and recordings from such groups as the New York Choral Society, L.A. Master Chorale, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, VocalEssence, the Chicago Master Singers and Dale Warland Singers. Notable works for vocalist and orchestra include commissions for Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voigt, Samuel Ramey, Elizabeth Futral, Håkan Hagegård and Evelyn Lear. Instrumental soloists range from Doc Severinsen and Leo Kottke to Robert McDuffie, William Preucil, Lynn Harrell and Cynthia Phelps.
Paulus was well known for his operas, which are often described as “dramatic and lyrical” and are notable for “lush” orchestra writing.
On July 4, 2013, Paulus suffered a stroke. He died from medical complications on October 19, 2014. He was 65.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
21: Tyson Stevens, 29, American singer-songwriter (Scary Kids Scaring Kids).
20: John Holt, 67, Jamaican singer (The Paragons) and songwriter (“The Tide Is High”); Pavle Merkù, 87, Slovene composer.
19: Stephen Paulus, 65, American composer, complications from a stroke; Raphael Ravenscroft, 60, British saxophonist (“Baker Street”) and author, suspected heart attack.
18: Joanne Borgella, 32, American singer (American Idol) and model (Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance), endometrial cancer; Mick Burt, British drummer (Chas & Dave), Parkinson’s disease and dementia; Paul Craft, 76, American musician and songwriter (“Brother Jukebox”); R. C. Mehta, 96, Indian musician and musicologist.
16: Clive Beer-Jones, 65, British musician (Black Widow), cancer; Allen Forte, 87, American music theorist and musicologist; Tim Hauser, 72, American musician (The Manhattan Transfer), cardiac arrest.