Thursday, July 31, 2008

RSMS Symphonic Band Selected to Perform at Distinguished Event

The 2008-09 school year is just beginning for Fayette County students but one group of students at Rising Starr Middle is already hard at work.

The Rising Starr Middle Symphonic Band found out last spring that they have been invited to perform at the 62nd annual Midwest International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago, IL in December 2008. The Rising Starr Symphonic Band, under the direction of Steven Tyndall, is one of only three middle school bands chosen from the United States and 33 other countries. The band’s 2008 performance will mark the second time Rising Starr has participated in this prestigious gathering.

The Midwest Conference began in 1946 as an opportunity for bands to come together to preview newly published music. It has evolved into one of the most important and highly regarded gatherings of musical educators in the field. Both students and directors are offered opportunities to attend educational clinics and performances of a wide variety of musical ensembles.

The Rising Starr Symphonic Band will be joined by guest conductors Scott King, band director at Starr’s Mill High, David Walters, director emeritus at Jacksonville State University and Dr. Andrew Poor, associate director of bands at Starr’s Mill High. Dr. Poor will conduct an original arrangement entitled “Acceptance,” commissioned by the Rising Starr Band for the Midwest performance. Emily Tyndall of Columbus State University will be the featured guest soloist.

The symphonic band members have already begun rehearsals and fundraising for their upcoming trip. The public is invited to come show their support for these talented young musicians at their first major fundraiser on August 16. The band will host a yard sale in the parking lot of PTC OB/GYN at 120 Clover Reach from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Many band families have contributed to the yard sale and there will be treasures and bargains galore.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Songwriting Contest for GIs Yields 18 Winners

A Marine in Fallujah pens a song about standing watch. A sailor stationed in Hawaii scribbles a lullaby for his son while in the Iraqi desert. A soldier raps into a tape recorder to entertain his unit. Songwriters like these servicemembers were among the many who submitted their original songs to this year's "Songs From the Soul of Service" songwriting contest.

Now in its third year, the amateur songwriting contest is a collaborative effort between the Dallas Songwriter Association and the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which highlights corporate and grassroots support for U.S. servicemembers and their families.

Judges select winners and runners-up in each of 18 categories, which include Afghanistan and Iraq, country, hip-hop, inspirational, instrumental and pop/rock. They then select three of the category winners for grand prizes.

The top three songs for 2008 are:

-- First Place: "Ask Me To" by Air Force Capt. Steven Wilson, which took top pop/rock honors;

-- Second Place: "If Tomorrow Were a Dream" by Army National Guard Spc. Greg Pritchard, which was the contest's top country song; and

-- Third Place: "I Can't Wait to Love You" by Jill Charles, wife of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Charles, the top song in the inspirational category.

"Every military conflict from the American Revolution to the Civil War to the first Gulf War has spawned music that reflected the moods, emotions and sentiments of the nation's fighting men and women," said William Brown, Dallas Songwriter Association board member and committee chairman for Songs From the Soul of Service.

"Songs From the Soul of Service serves to capture some of this history," he continued, "while providing recognition to talented songwriters and diversion and entertainment to participants and nonparticipants alike."

Wilson, who earned the top grand prize, said his own life provides his songwriting inspiration.

"Over the years, writing music has been so autobiographical," he said. "It's so honest and personal. I think this contest truly personalizes the image of the military. It shows civilians that as 'the troops' we represent so much more than uniforms and duty. This contest gives us the chance to showcase what might otherwise remain silent or be forgotten."

The contest is open exclusively to amateur songwriters currently serving in the U.S. military and those currently inactive due to injury or disability suffered after the start of the war in Afghanistan. Eligible participants may submit songs on behalf of an immediate family member, a fallen comrade or a fallen comrade's immediate family member.

Brown said he thinks the contest is an excellent outlet for servicemembers.

"These songs provided respite, unit bonding and an expressive outlet during trying times," he explained. "In some cases, these songs will transcend their times and become permanent fixtures in the nation's patriotic songbook."

Wilson, along with the other winners of each category, will be included on a compilation CD provided to radio and music industry professionals, as well as to the contest participants. The first-place grand prize includes a weekend stay at the Gaylord Texan Hotel.

Public events to showcase the winning songs and songwriters are in the planning stages. The events will culminate with a concert at the end of the year, headlined by well-known recording artists.

A complete list of the winners and runners-up is available at

By Sharon Foster
Special to American Forces Press Service

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grand Finale Ends Summer Jazz Series With A Bang

Phenomenal live music fills the gardens once more as Villa Christina’s 5th annual Summer Jazz Series comes to a successful close. Step past the lush foliage and wandering stream into the beautiful garden where the city’s best jazz musicians wowed crowds at four free summer concerts this season. When the heat wave hits, let the hot, smooth jazz transport you to a different world. Villa Christina’s sultry al fresco evenings of simmering jazz are presented by Smooth Jazz 107.5 WJZZ and TD Entertainment.

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a relaxing getaway to Villa Christina’s secluded gardens and enjoy the final live jazz performance of the 5th Annual Summer Jazz Series at Villa Christina. Adam Ghali, General Manager of Villa Christina, was delighted by the huge success of this summer’s jazz series. “We love hosting the outdoor jazz concerts here. The series is a relaxing and festive way to spend time with family and friends, enjoying live jazz and delicious food and refreshing beverages outdoors. Our last show of the summer is certain to be a crowd pleaser!”

Ending the summer on a high note, a splashy double billing featuring Alex Lattimore and William Green graces Villa’s greenspace on September 21st. Alex, who has recently returned from touring in Japan and South Africa, has been notably compared to the vocal styling of such artists as Luther Vandross and Will Downing. His incredible silky smooth vocals and rich sound are critically acclaimed on his newly released CD, Promise. Khari Simmons, the former bass player for India Arie, led a performing group called Jiva, in which Lattimore served as the male vocalist. Alex has graced stages with the best of the best. Artists like Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Michael McDonald, India Arie, Earl Klugh, The Rippingtons, Groove Collective, Roy Ayers and more.

This Future of Jazz Finalist will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions that speak life into your heart and leave a mark on your soul. Recording artist, keyboardist and producer William Green has paid his musical dues, spending 10 years on the road with Peabo Bryson, and has worked with such artist as Cameo, Dennis Edwards, Jean Carnes, and Jennifer Holiday. While performing with Susan Tedeschi, William had the privilege to appear as the opening act for the Rolling Stones. Williams Green's energy and talent ignite any stage he graces.

Doors open at 4:00 p.m. and music begins at 5:30 p.m. Concertgoers should bring blankets or lawn chairs for comfortable seating. Children of all ages are welcome and will be delighted by free activities including inflatables and face painting. There will be a variety of exhibitors whose products and services will be available for purchase including exquisite hand made jewelry, original artwork and more.

A variety of food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) will be offered by Villa Christina and Caffe Christina for purchase on the premises. Nibble on light delicacies such as pasta and salmon salads, or feast on gourmet burgers stuffed with special seasonings, plump hot dogs with French fries, or real Italian-style pizza straight from the wood-burning-oven. Be sure to save room for an indulgent dessert such as tiramisu or cheesecake, because the food here is unsurpassed. No coolers are allowed on the grounds.

The Summer Jazz Series is sponsored-in-part by Villa Christina, Smooth Jazz 107.5 WJZZ, Atlantan Magazine, Atlanta Party Starters, RBM of Atlanta -- Your Mercedes Benz Connection, C3 Marketing Group, Hines, Noble Parking and Piedmont Review. For more information on the Summer Jazz Series or Villa Christina, call 404-303-0133 or visit For Corporate sponsorship or exhibitor information, contact Terri Harof at or call 404-786-7410.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daniel Pyle to Open 2008/2009 Spivey Hall Season

Dr. Daniel Pyle, adjunct instructor of Music Appreciation and Harpsichord for the Clayton State University Department of Music, and music director/organist for The Church of Our Savior in Atlanta, will open the 2008/2009 Spivey Hall season on Saturday, Sept. 13, with an organ recital presented by the Department of Music

The free concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will feature music of Northern Germany and Scandinavia by Baroque master Dieterich Buxtehude and Commotio by 20th-century Danish composer Carl Nielsen.

As an organist, Pyle has performed in the Netherlands, at the Universities of Kansas and Alabama and LSU, and elsewhere in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Kansas. As a harpsichordist, he has played with baroque ensembles in Paris, Amsterdam, the Utrecht Early Music Festival, London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Boston Early Music Festival; and throughout the American Southeast.

The regular harpsichordist and a member of the board of directors for the newly-founded Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, Pyle’s recording of Elizabethan music on a lautenwerk, The Maidens Song, is available on the Gasparo label (GSCD 334).

Pyle holds bachelors and masters degrees in organ performance and music history from the University of Alabama, where he was a student of Warren Hutton. His doctorate is from the Eastman School of Music.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coca-Cola Keeps It Cool with Teen Concert Tour Featuring Grammy Award-Winning Star Lupe Fiasco

BUSINESS WIRE --Coca-Cola keeps the summer cool and makes it hot for teens across the country as it kicks off the six-city, invitation only Coca-Cola Refresh Your Flow Tour featuring hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco today in Los Angeles.

Starting tonight in Hollywood, Grammy award-winning hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco will bring his hits, Kick, Push and Superstar to lucky teens, ages 13-17, across the country for an exclusive, invitation only concert tour created by Coca-Cola North America. The Coca-Cola Refresh Your Flow Tour opens today at the Avalon in Hollywood and will travel to some of the hottest venues in five other cities including: The Electric Factory (Philadelphia, August 3); The Tabernacle (Atlanta, August 8); Park West (Chicago, August 17); LOVE (Washington D.C., August 21); and, The Filmore at Irving Plaza (New York City, August 29). Up-and-coming artist Karina Pasian will open the show.

The Coca-Cola Refresh Your Flow Tour continues Coca-Colas tradition of connecting African American teens with something they love Coca-Cola and music, said Yolanda White, assistant vice president, African American Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. Not only will each concert offer the teens an unforgettable musical experience, it will give each of them a taste of the Coke Side of Life a moment in time that is refreshingly optimistic and uplifting. And, by engaging an artist like Lupe Fiasco, they will be encouraged to live on the positive side of life.

Tickets to the show are free and can only be obtained from partnering radio stations, participating retailers and Coca-Cola street teams traveling to teen hot spots throughout the cities. In addition, select Boys & Girls Clubs in each market will distribute tickets to deserving Club teens.

I am looking forward to the Coca-Cola Refresh Your Flow Tour. Its a unique opportunity for me to bring a message of positivity and what it really means to be cool, said Lupe Fiasco. I hope it will be an unforgettable experience for every teen who attends.

The Grammy award-winning Lupe Fiasco came on the music scene in 2006 with the chart-topping debut single, Kick, Push. He has been lauded by critics and fans alike for his clean, underground, storytelling rap style that is contrast to popular mainstream lyrics glamorizing materialism, sexuality and violence. His music is inspired by his love for Japanese animation, comic books, video games, art, literature and philosophy. MTV recently ranked him No. 7 on the list of hottest MCs in the Game 2008. His highly anticipated sophomore album, The Cool was released in December 2007 and has garnered current hits Superstar, Paris Tokyo and Hip Hop Saved My Life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rock Band Sevendust Performs for Bagram Troops

Photo: Soldiers at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, pose with members of the band Sevendust after a July 12, 2008, performance by the band. The performance completed Sevendust's first USO tour. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Scott Davis, Combined Joint Task Force 101

Modern-rock band Sevendust put on a performance like no other for servicemembers here July 12 at the final stop on their first United Service Organizations tour.

Although the band is not known for playing acoustic sets, they still managed to put out a diverse sound that left rock fans wanting more.

"I never thought anybody could 'jam out' acoustically like they did," said Army Sgt. Mark Decker, of Company B, 101st Airborne Division Special Troops Battalion.

After the performance, Sevendust let a soldier from the crowd come up on stage and smash a guitar. They also gave him one of their guitars and gave other servicemembers a set of bongos and another guitar, practically giving away their entire set of instruments.

"I think they were awesome," said Air Force Capt. Vanessa Mahan, 455th Aerial Expeditionary Wing. "It's been a while since we've had a hardcore band here, so it's kind of refreshing. "

The band gave thanks and saluted the servicemembers for serving in the military.

"If it wasn't for you guys over here, [the Taliban] would be over there, [in the United States]," Lajon "LJ" Witherspoon, Sevendust's lead singer, said during the performance.

The band stuck around to ensure everyone who wanted an autograph, a free copy of their new CD or a picture with the band got one.

The members of Sevendust said they plan on doing another USO tour in the future.

"This, to us, has been the best thing that's ever happened in our lives," Witherspoon said. "As soon as you guys will have us back, we'll be back."

Author Army Pfc. Scott Davis serves in the Combined Joint Task Force 101 Public Affairs Office.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jazz Night at The High Museum July 18th

In partnership with the National Black Arts Festival, this all night jam session will feature jazz pianist Tyrone Jackson and his quartet in the Robinson Atrium from 5 to 10 p.m. Jackson performs an eclectic blend of classic and contemporary jazz, drawing on his skills in traditional, Latin and fusion jazz.

Latin jazz band Rio Negro will then perform from 10 p.m. until 12 midnight, infusing a touch of salsa, merengue, and reggaetón into their unique jazz sound.

Voices Announces Season

This week, Voices announced its plans through the end of 2009. Their season has been restructured and will be presenting four events in a two-year cycle. “Since our first concert in 2006, we have consistently been told that we should have more events through out the year. So we have gone ahead and planned our season to include more events in a season that will be spread through the end of 2009,” explained Ms. Ugarte.

Voices will be presenting a series of intimate events in September 2008, December 2008 and March 2009, preceding its full scale production in September of 2009, “Mist of Night and Moon.” “There is definitely something to be said about an intimate setting,” explained Ms. Ugarte. “It has a different feel to it. It is like getting submerged into what is going on on stage and somehow being a part it and the music.” Voices will continue to present an eclectic selection of music, covering varied genres and styles that will be incorporated in the different productions. As the title suggests, there is a flavor of mystery and haunt to the theme and Voices Artistic Director promises you are certain to hear “wonderfully haunting melodies.”

Zaphyra will be returning and The Southern Nights Chorale will be joining as well. “We are thrilled to have the Southern Nights Chorale as part of the upcoming productions. They will certainly add a wonderful dimension to the concerts.” Zaphyra has some surprises coming up that will soon be announced as well as other talent to be showcased. Carlos Salon will be designing the hair styles for Zaphyra and David’s Bridal has joined as Sponsoring Partner with the dresses. “We are very excited about all these partnerships. This is what we are about; creating artistic synergy in the Southern Arc. We will be profiling our partners in the upcoming months, so keep an eye out to get to know them better!” Voices will also be returning to support PBA in their fall drive.

Performances are to take place in Fayette and Coweta counties. Details and specific dates are soon to be released. Please visit for continued updates.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alex Lattimore Releases Promise - Legendary Café 290 Hosts CD Release Party

Velvety vocalist Alex Lattimore has been around the world and has returned home sweet home for a local tour of venues. The multi-talented musician was honored with international success in both South Africa and Japan while touring with The Ananda Project, and is ready to celebrate the independent release of his debut solo CD, Promise. A series of local concerts will expose Atlanta audiences to this International phenomenon. The famous Café 290 will host a CD Release Party for Lattimore on July 26th.

Originally from Chicago, Lattimore’s musical journey began for him as a child, when he prepared for his illustrious career by performing with groups such as the Chicago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Roosevelt University Jazz Band, and the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra. Relocation to Atlanta led Lattimore to lend his talents as horn player and vocalist with many local, national and international acts. Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Michael McDonald, India Arie, and many others have benefited from Lattimore’s immense musical abilities with vocals, flugel horn, synthesizer, Rhodes piano and Moog organ.

Khari Simmons, the former bass player for India Arie, led a performing group called Jiva, in which Lattimore served as the male vocalist. Notable Atlanta moments for Alex Lattimore include placing as a finalist in The Future of Jazz Competition, performing at The Atlanta Jazz Festival, Super Summer Celebration at The Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre, and at Villa Christina’s 4th Annual Summer Jazz Series.

“Lattimore’s lead vocals sum up what love is all about: simple, beautiful, and honest,” says Atlanta-based DJ Emmerald. Recorded and arranged with exquisite care, Promise combines R&B, jazz and blues. On Promise, Lattimore has truly crafted an album for lovers. So turn down the lights, light the candles, pour the wine, and enjoy the mood created by Lattimore’s artful musicianship.

Lattimore will celebrate the release of Promise at a venue that feels like home for the local musician, Atlanta’s own legendary Café 290, voted “best place for jazz in Atlanta”. Admission is $10 and the music starts at 9:00. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Face of Defense: Soldier's Music Carries Positive Messages

He has the fast-flowing lips of a rap artist whose lyrics don't stumble. His songs tell stories instead of just describing hanging emotions. He rhymes with passion and recites his own words as if he were creating them on the spot.

"You know, I like to tell stories with my music, that's the thing," Army Master Sgt. Isaac Alexis, a Houston native, said. "Stories will capture people. ... Songs work best when there's something that falls in a role that people can see in, something that people can relate to, ... because then they know somebody went through what they went through."

On stage, Alexis goes by Abcd, pronounced "Absidy." The letters stand for Ambitious Behavior, Confident and Disciplined -- characteristics Alexis said he values and shows when performing his music.

Around Camp Victory and Camp Liberty, Alexis attends and even hosts open-mic events and contests at Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers. His main goal through music, he said, is to tell stories that make people want to rethink and improve their lives. He said he understands that rap music often evokes values that aren't constructive, but that he wants his lyrics to evoke more than fame, sex or violence.

"If you really want to get something across to people, music is the way to make it happen," he said. "A lot of my songs are positive, ... trying to make change in someone's life."

His music promotes ideas such as taking care of one's spouse, maintaining a commitment to service, discouraging youth from joining gangs and becoming involved in the church, among others.

His first album is titled, "Soldier for Life." He said he's served in the Army for 18 years and feels as if his whole life revolves around being a soldier. He served as a drill sergeant in Fort Knox, Ky., as an instructor at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, as a gunner and as a team leader. He has been stationed in Hawaii and South Korea, and at Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Drum, N.Y.

Now is on his third deployment, Alexis leads troops as the noncommissioned officer in charge of Team Hunter under Task Force Vigilant, a unit that conducts presence patrols around Camp Victory. His team also secures and manages an entry control point with Ugandan soldiers.

"Here, you see soldiers who work hard all the time," Alexis said. "It's the reason why we're here."

Alexis has been writing music since he was a private in the early 1990s, he said, but it was during his second deployment, from 2004 to 2005, that he realized his music touched people. After his performances at MWR events, Alexis had audience members come to him and tell him how much his lyrics touched them. He's even seen people cry during his performance of "We Gotta Go," a song about soldiers leaving their homes to serve in Iraq.

"That's an emotional song for people," he said. "When I performed that song, [other musicians] moved closer to the stage, and when I got done, there was a whole line of performers up there who hugged me on the way out."

Those types of reactions, Alexis said, make him realize his music has more than volume; it has impact.

Following his second deployment, Alexis taught at the New Mexico Military Institute and would visit local middle schools to give inspirational speeches and perform songs to kids in danger of being swallowed up by gangs. With a song titled "Think on Your Own," he encouraged the youth to rethink their commitment to violence. There, he saw former gang members attend the church where Alexis worshiped with his wife, Darla, who sings gospel music.

"Definitely powerful," he said about the experience. "I'm not going to give myself credit for that. You know, it was the Lord, since he pretty much guided me to do everything I did. To see them actually get out of the gang and get a job and try to live right, ... that's great. And that's what I wanted to see."

Since then, Alexis wrote songs and performed for special events such as boxing matches and redeployment ceremonies. He organized concerts, performed for cadets at the military institute, sang at a city council meeting, helped his church reach out to his community, opened for rap artist Lil' Flip, and organized other music events. He said he's even sold more than 3,000 CDs on his own, out of the back of his truck.

During this deployment, he said, he hopes to revise about 30 of his songs and compile at least one more CD. He also has shifted some of his music toward gospel singing because of rap music's image. Most importantly, he's made a commitment to writing clean lyrics to keep his messages pure.

"It's definitely for people's entertainment, but at the same time, [audiences] are getting messages that can have an influence on their life."

By Army Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret
Special to American Forces Press Service

Army Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Josh Turner with Lady Antebellum at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Real life – including heartaches, happiness, fishing holes, and everything in between – has had a way of finding itself in the middle of Josh Turner songs since he first burst onto the national country music scene. Now, Turner is bringing those real life stories along with his unmistakable baritone voice to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Turner blasted onto the country charts in 2003 with his self-penned “Long Black Train.” Since then, he has claimed six more Top 20 hits – including his current duet with Trisha Yearwood, “Another Try” – a Platinum record, and a CMA Male Vocalist of The Year nomination.

Joining Turner for the show is Capitol recording group Lady Antebellum. Fresh off their debut number one single, “Love Don’t Live Here,” Lady Antebellum is enjoyed a rapid assent up the charts with their second release “Lookin’ For A Good Time.”

Date: Saturday, October 18, 2008
Time: 8:00PM
Location: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
On Sale: Friday, July 18, 2008 at 10am

Ticket Prices: $36.75 (plus applicable fees)
Sales Locations: Bank of North Georgia Box Office at the Cobb Energy Centre, all Ticketmaster locations, or charge by phone – (404) 249-6400