Fancy Cat’s Corner: Norah Jones

How many times have you turned on the radio, simply desiring to listen to some quality music, only to be aurally assaulted by techno or dubstep or bubble-gum pop music (which seems to be all to popular in today’s world)?  Such music seems to find every nook and cranny in your brain, creating sound-tornadoes of suffering and anger – the precise reasons I prefer not to listen to said kinds of music.  And so we arrive at Fancy Cat’s message of this Fancy Cat’s Corner session – you should not offend your ears with the discordant noise of Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, and other robotic, mass-produced musicians.  Instead, I urge you to take a listen to artists such as the New York Voices (whom I discussed in detail in my previous Fancy Cat’s Corner), or also other jazz artists such as Norah Jones.

Norah Jones is one of those artists that just has that je ne sais quoi.  In other words, it’s extremely difficult to precise describe why Norah Jones’s voice is so attractive to the ear.  Perhaps it is her sultry, creamy voice.  Maybe it’s her stunning visual beauty.  Possibly it’s her warm, down-to-earth personality.  Of course, it could be none of these qualities that set Norah Jones apart from her competitors in the music field (although, let’s keep honesty in check here: Nicki Minaj and and Justin Bieber do not even deserve consideration as competitors to Norah Jones).  Somehow, Norah Jones just has a way of connecting with her audience in a way that is intangible to words and concrete description.

But we cannot learn to truly appreciate Norah Jones until we’ve learned a bit of her backstory, no?  First of all, she was born Geetali Norah Jones Shanker on March 30th, 1979 (iMDB).  Fittingly, the name “Geetali” in English means “song” or “melodious”.  I praise her father for successfully predicting her talent and path in life!  Norah Jones certainly embodied her original name and talents early on in life.  As iMDB elaborates –

“Norah Jones was raised by her mother in a Dallas suburb, and that’s where her musical talents began to reveal themselves. She performed in church choirs, learned to play the piano and guitar, and even briefly tried her hand at the alto saxophone. She attended Interlochen Arts Camp, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas, and the University of North Texas, where she majored in jazz piano, and won Best Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist (twice, in 1996 and 1997) and Best Original Composition (1996). At the age of sixteen, she officially shortened her name to Norah Jones, no longer carrying the Indian, “Geetali”. Nonetheless, the “melodious song” was very much alive, and moving full-steam ahead.” (iMDB).

And so Norah Jones continues to make beautiful music.  She recently has released a new album, Little Broken Hearts.  What awaits the listener inside the album is not anything but pure, blissful, sensual joy.  Reader, this Fancy Cat highly encourages you to take a listen.  Listen, and spread the word.  Actual music is out there!  Save your friends from the revolting horrors of mainstream music artists!

Singer Andy Williams Dead at 84

“Moon River, wider than a mile 

I’m crossing you in style someday…”

Today is a day of grief, sadness and consolation.  The legendary singer Andy Williams, most known for his sincere, moving rendition of “Moon River”, died this Tuesday in his home in Branson, Missouri.  He was eighty-four years old, and had been battling bladder cancer for a good portion of his last days.

Andy Williams was a legend, and for good reason.  He was known for his nice, “clean” look (as the People.com article puts it) – “[A] turtleneck under a brightly colored pullover sweater.”  His voice was golden, like sweet honey cascading from the gates of heaven.  Despite the fact that Andy Williams’s prime performing career occurred more than forty years  before I was even born, I still find greater appreciation for his talents than those of say, Justin Bieber, or Nicki Minaj, or even the man that does the Gangnam Style dance (although I do find that song to be somewhat amusing).

Why do I have the utmost respect for Andy Williams?  For one thing, Andy Williams did not have to sell himself as a sex object or “cute” as many music stars do today.  Andy Williams was known as very attractive and manly, but this was simply a small part of Andy Williams’ natural personality, not a marketing feature. His voice alone could effortlessly capture the millions of people who were glued to the T.V. screen, rather than the wild hair, the asinine outfits, or the polarizing personas which serve as the basis for the current music scene (I’m looking at you, Lady Gaga.) To be fair, I’m not stating necessarily that current music stars such as Lady Gaga have bad voices – my point is that Andy Williams achieved fame and stardom through his voice and his voice alone.

In fact, Andy Williams’ rendition of “Moon River” is what earned him his nationally televised television show, The Andy Williams Show (1962).  The original version of the show ran on the air until 1971, when the show became an annual Christmas special.

There is absolutely question that Andy Williams’s time here on this blessed Earth was not wasted.  His voice captivated millions; his looks charmed millions; his Christmas special gave hope to millions.  His death shall not go without immense sadness and grief.  So, to end, rest in peace, Andy Williams.  May your golden voice continue to inspire.

Fancy Cat’s Corner: The New York Voices

Why, hello, there, world.  This is Fancy Cat, your exquisitely cultured music connoisseur.  Periodically, I shall provide all of you readers with taste of music that currently piques my interest.  Today, we shall take a gander at a group rather special to my purring feline heart: The New York Voices.  Formed in 1987, the New York Voices represent an older, more antique sound that is mixed with modern jazz principles and concepts.  They consist (currently) of four  members:  Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader, and Peter Eldridge.  One reason I enjoy the New York Voices and their delectable music is their inherent ability to vary their style:  The New York voices have sang everything from “standard” American jazz to classical, pop, R&B, and even Brazilian/Afro-Cuban music.  Essentially, it doesn’t matter what mood I’m in – to the New York Voices, I can jam, I can sleep, I can cram, I can party, I can cry, I can laugh, I can smile.

On the other hand, I consider the New York Voices primarily a jazz group.  And as such, one of the most important qualities for which I listen is blend of the voices.  Just like creamer blends smoothly and effortlessly into a warm cup of coffee, the voices of the New York Voices sound less like four, distinct tones and more like one voice layered over itself.  Such blend is critical, especially for a jazz song, such as the one presented to you above, not to mention the fact that the four singers of the New York Voices are executing major sevenths and minor seconds (it’s a music theory thing, you probably wouldn’t understand)  with absolute aplomb.

A look at their facebook page provides one with some more interesting information.  For one thing, the group formed twenty-five years ago, a testament to their staying power.  They take inspiration from ‘Lambert, Hendricks and Ross‘, a jazz vocalese trio formed in the late 1950s.  And yet I admire the New York Voices for somehow managing to transcend the imposing boundary of time.  For example, the latest album of the New York Voices was released in 2007 (newyorkvoices.com).  2007 was close to the era of time when that pitiful subhuman called ‘Justin Bieber’ clawed its way into existence.

And so, my fellow readers, I now must task you with some questions.  After all, I have so blatantly provided you all with my personal opinion of the New York Voices.  Therefore, I am of the mind that each of you should grant me some of your thoughts on the subject.

Another Favorite of Mine: Glee

With today comes another post about something I actually enjoy:  The TV show Glee.  Anyone who is friends with me knows that I absolutely adore anything related to singing in anyway, and Glee is very much like a depiction of my actual life.  No, I do not randomly break out in song whenever it seems suitable, and I do not always have a band that can play anything I am desiring to sing.  However, I respect Glee very much because the show represents many concepts about which I care deeply – the joy that comes from singing and the sense of family one attains from being in a choir group in particular come to mind.

Some critics bash on the show because they feel it is too dramatic.  I’m not going to refute the fact that these critics have a great argument.  Even I feel as though sometimes Glee oversimplifies complex issues (such as suicide), and also sometimes Glee lets its thick web of story lines get in the way of the real meat of the show: the singing and dancing.   When the show first began, the focus really was on the joy that participating in a Glee club can result in.  But in the show’s later seasons (a new one premieres tonight), Glee director Ryan Murphy, seems to constantly trip and stumble through the quicksand that is of his own creation.

Nonetheless, the show still manages to appeal to my pathos with some strong messages, which are portrayed brilliantly.  For example, on the show’s season premiere tonight, there is this girl, who is a sophomore in high school, who auditions for the glee club.  She makes the cut, but she is not happy.  Why?  The other teenagers in the glee club constantly make fun of the girl’s mom – an overweight lunch lady who works at the school.  Glee makes a strong message of tolerance and acceptance with this story line, which I hope is one Ryan Murphy will not oversimplify or drag out to a hyper-extended extreme.  For now, the sophomore girl seems like a genuine, realistic character to me – a characteristic most of the other characters of the show are slowly losing.

So, for now, I shall continue viewing Glee as often as I can.  I still consider it a rather accurate depiction of the activities in which I enjoy participating.  Despite the show’s numerous faults, the concept the show gets right are critical ones – ones that keep me watching.