A YEAR IN R&B

The winners

Steve Harvey a music executive? Well, in addition to hosting mornings on WBLS (and about 70 other stations), he’s got two TV shows, clothing lines and a model-mentoring program among other ventures. So why not add the ability to hear a “hit” among his many talents.

Steve was the first to play Anthony Hamilton’s “Pray for Me” (and often read the lyrics to his listeners before and after playing it as well). The song became one of the years most spun R&B records receiving over 50,000 radio plays across the Nation in 2012. And John Legend’s R&B smash “Tonight” was featured on the Soundtrack of Harvey’s movie “Act Like a Woman, Think Like A Man”. These were two of the biggest R&B songs in 2012.

R Kelly enjoyed one of his most successful years in quite awhile. “Share My Love”, and “Feelin’ Single” followed last year’s hit “Love Letter” and set R Kelly up for a sold-out Nation-Wide Tour.

Other artists finding success in 2012 included Eric Benet, Tamia, Robin Thicke, Usher, Estelle and Rihanna.

The “come-back” of the year goes hands down to Anita Baker. Her single “Lately”, previously recorded by Tyrese, gave us a taste of what hopefully will be a LONG awaited album due sometime before Spring. What was the #1 R&B song in 2012? Hats off to Beyonce. “Love On Top” became one of her most successful songs to date.

Saying Goodbye

Where do I begin? There’s no other place to start than Whitney Houston. The most “Googled” name of 2012 left us almost as suddenly as she hit stardom back in 1985. She’ll be always remembered as simply one of the most influential stars in music. Her celebrity/private funeral, aired in its entirety in a one-angle direction on CNN, left many of her fans without closure. And, unlike other artist’s deaths in recent memory, there were no breaking news updates from a hospital, “old age” or long illness to soften the blow.

Donna Summer’s death brought back memories of fun times. Those were great days before AIDS and 9/11 when everyone was dressing their best to come back into the City in attempt to attempt to gain admission to the Copa Cabana, Studio 54 and other top clubs to dance and gaze at the stars who could be seen nightly. Unfortunately Donna Summer was held captive by her “Disco” stereotype and never received the acclaim she deserved. After a post-disco resurgence in 1983 with her #1 hit “She Works Hard for The Money”, Summer spent the rest of her career touring mostly abroad.

Our own Hal Jackson kicked open the doors for African Americans in broadcasting and broadcast ownership. At 97, he was a pioneer having hit the airwaves in the mid 1940’s at a time when African Americans couldn’t cast a vote in many parts of our Country. The co-founder of Inner-City Broadcasting and WBLS/WLIB was a Blessing to everyone who met him.

Etta James, who’s unforgettable voice found resurrection in a 1990’s Jaguar Auto commercial was a true example of what happen when blues, jazz and rock n’ roll came together. Beyonce played her in the fiction/non-fiction movie “Cadillac Records” in 2008.

Don Cornelius created an empire from almost nothing. After taking courses at a Chicago broadcasting school and doing a little on-air work, Cornelius aspired to start a TV program to locally showcase Black music and culture. “Soul Train” is remembered today as one of the most successfully syndicated music programs in the history of television. The careers of singers, bands and even comedians were made through appearing on his show. Given the joy he brought to millions every Saturday morning (or afternoon depending on where you lived), it’s still hard to believe he would wind up taking his own life in 2012.

Dick Clark, a former radio DJ, grew his American Bandstand pop music show into the powerful “Dick Clark Productions” which included various syndication projects, a New Year’s Eve special and the American Music Awards. Clark’s company lives on, purchased in September by an investor group including Guggenheim Partners and Mandalay Entertainment.

Other notable artists and industry luminaries gone in 2012 include Fontella Bass, Brian Carter (WBLS/Philly on-air vet) Herb Reed (Platters), Chris Lightly, Major Harris, Natina Reed (Blaque), Chuck Brown, David Peaston and Jimmy Castor.