Exploring several major keys to Rickey Minor’s musical success
He’s on top, but still rising
Music direction is the story of Rickey Minor’s life, and he somehow keeps taking new steps to higher achievement.
But if you’ve been the musical director of the Grammys, “American Idol” and now the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” what other heights are left to climb?
If you’ve been musical director for the nation’s most incandescent artists, such as Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Ray Charles, Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and many more, who else is there to work with?
On Sunday, Minor will be teamed again with Stevie Wonder and Friends in Global Soul at the Hollywood Bowl, a project that was Minor’s idea.
He told Rolling Stone recently that after watching a meeting between Gwen Stefani and the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), he had an idea for a soul music celebration that would benefit music education. “[So] I called Stevie Wonder after seeing the kids and said, ‘Listen, I’m thinking about getting a music festival, would you do it with me?’ He said yes and from then on everything else just kind of fell into place.”
What, or who, fell in place for the festival at the Hollywood Bowl were Sharon Jones, Janelle Monae, Grace Potter, Rocky Dawuni, Ceci Bastida, Bombino and the Soul Seekers. Newly added to the lineup are the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and Charles Bradley, “the screaming eagle of soul.” The show is part of the KCRW World Festival series.
“What happened with this show is there are far too many artists who want to be on this show that didn’t get a chance to be on it,” Minor said in the Rolling Stone interview. “So we have a lot of artists who are interested, a few that may come up anyway who just want to do something.”
When he was leaving American Idol last year, Minor told Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch: “I look at it as a graduation of sorts. Like graduating college. You can’t be a lifetime college student. So I have my master’s from Idol, and now I’m going on to get my Ph.D. at The Tonight Show. If you don’t go, you won’t grow.”
Minor has grown a great deal since arriving in Los Angeles from Monroe, La., at age 9 with his mother, two brothers and two sisters. His grandmother had come out about a year earlier and sent for the rest of the family.
By the time he was 14, Minor had found the electric bass. The instrument and his personal drive launched a career that might not have yet achieved its arc. After graduating from Jefferson High School, Minor entered UCLA as a computer science major, but a gig with Gladys Knight and the Pips interrupted his college education. Following that, he became music director for Whitney Houston, whom he met when he was 22 and she was 18.
Even today, Minor says one of his most memorable achievements was producing the national anthem for Houston for Super Bowl 25.
Candice Glover could barely remember her own name after she was crowned the new “American Idol” on Thursday.
“I’m still trying to process the whole thing, I don’t even know what’s happening,” she told the press backstage. “It feels amazing though that I finally got to this point; I’ve been working for so long.”
Every few years or so an artist emerges in the tradition of musicians who have revolutionized the sound and style of the world. Each generation has laid claim to its own iconic artist, from Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick to James Brown and Diana Ross.
The 1980s and early 1990s provided us with five artists who reshaped the music world and introduced a level of superstardom that has yet to be matched.
Someone asked me last week if I thought American R&B was dead. Record sales have been declining for American artists who categorize themselves as the music genre’s front-runners. In fact, few major mainstream R&B artists, with the exception of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Usher, are seeing an increase in album sales as their careers expand. For most of the American Soul family, there is a fight to stay relevant, charting and modern enough for our generation.
After Beyoncé finished her exhilarating halftime Super Bowl set, she received a hug of support from one of her biggest fans: her husband Jay-Z.
A photo posted to Instagram, reportedly by Beyoncé’s makeup artist, shows the singer embracing her partner with a huge smile plastered on her face.
Jay-Z, who wed Beyoncé in 2008, joined in the jokes on Twitter that his wife’s performance was so electric it knocked out the power in the stadium.
Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera and John Mayer will be among the presenters and performers at the 28th annual Rock and Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum announced.
Hudson and Aguilera have been tapped to perform in honor of new inductee Donna Summer, who died last year.
In December, the Hall of Fame announced the queen of disco was part of the 2013 class of inductees, which also includes Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Rush and Albert King.