Larry London's Interviews

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Franklin is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 Grammys to date, which include the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. She has scored a total of 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, one of which also became her first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100: "Respect"(1967). "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1987), a duet with George Michael, became her second #1 on the latter chart. Since 1961, Franklin has scored a total of 45 "Top 40" hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin was the only featured singer at the 2009 Presidential inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama. She recently released her first ever holiday CD called “This Christmas”. Larry London spoke with Aretha Franklin at VOA about her life and career.

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist Jerry Cantrell and vocalist Layne Staley. Although widely associated with grunge music, the band's sound incorporates heavy metal and acoustic elements. Since its formation, Alice in Chains has released four studio albums, three EPs, two live albums, four compilations, and two DVDs. The band is known for its distinct vocal style which often included the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell. Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The band was one of the most successful music acts of the 1990s, selling over 17 million albums worldwide,[1] including 11.5 million in the United States alone.[2] The band achieved two number-one Billboard 200 albums (Jar of Flies and Alice in Chains), 11 top ten songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and six Grammy Award nominations. Although never officially disbanding, Alice in Chains was plagued by extended inactivity due to Layne Staley's problems with substance abuse, culminating in his death in 2002. Alice in Chains reunited in 2005 with new lead vocalist William DuVall and released Black Gives Way to Blue, their first studio album in 14 years, on September 29, 2009. Alice In Chains were just nominated for a Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy for their latest hit “Check My Brain” off their new CD “Black Gives Way To Blue”. VOA’s Larry London had the chance to talk about the new CD and tour with two of the bands founding members.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Delight Jones, Jr., is an American music conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer and trumpeter. During five decades in the entertainment industry, Jones has earned a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He is best known as the producer of the album Thriller, by pop icon Michael Jackson, which has sold over 110 million copies worldwide, and as the producer and conductor of the charity song “We Are the World”. In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Original Song" category. That same year, he became the first African-American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for "Best Original Score" for his work on the music of the 1967 film In Cold Blood. In 1971 Jones would receive the honor of becoming the first African American to be named musical director/conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony. Jones was also the first (and so far, the only) African-American to be nominated as a producer in the category of Best Picture (in 1986, for The Color Purple). He was also the first African-American to win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African American, each of them having seven nominations. At the 2008 BET Awards, Quincy Jones was presented with the Humanitarian Award. He was played by Larenz Tate in the 2004 biopic about Ray Charles, Ray. Quincy Jones visited with VOA’s Larry London to talk about his career and his new book “My Journey & Passions”.

Connie Talbot

Connie Talbot

Connie Talbot is a nine year old British child singer from Streetly, Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, West Midlands. She rose to fame in 2007 when she reached the final of the television talent show Britain's Got Talent, where she lost to Paul Potts. Talbot was supposed to sign with Sony BMG but the label pulled out of the deal due to her age. Talbot signed with Rainbow Recording Company and released her debut album Over the Rainbow in the UK on 26 November 2007. The album was re-released 18 June 2008 with a new track listing, and the first single from the album, a cover of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds", was released on 10 June 2008 and her third album, Holiday Magic, is due to be released in October 2009. Songs from Over the Rainbow are to feature in an upcoming video game about Talbot. Over the Rainbow has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide and reached number one in three countries. Since the initial album release, Talbot has performed publicly and on television in Europe, the U.S. and across Asia, where her music had gained recognition through YouTube. Her second album, Connie Talbot's Christmas Album, was released on November 24, 2008; her third, Holiday Magic, was released in October. On top of her musical career, Talbot continues to attend primary school and lives in Streetly with her family. Connie visited one of her favorite American radio hosts VOA’s Larry London to talk about her new holiday CD and a new line of jewelry she designed for charity.

MIMS

MIMS

Born into a Jamaican American family in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, Shawn Mims grew up influenced by the rappers just south of him, in Harlem. Despite the fact that he lost both parents by the time he was 13, Mims focused on music (his mother had given him his first set of DJ equipment shortly before she died) and school to keep himself out of trouble. Though he briefly attended community college, Mims decided if he truly wanted to make it as a rapper he needed to drop out, a move that paid off career-wise: he was soon featured on the song "Love Em All," by Canadian group Baby Blue Soundcrew, which was nominated for Best Video in the 2001 Much Music Awards. "I Did You Wrong" came out in 2003 thanks to help from the Miami based production team the Blackout Movement, and in 2006 the rapper, who was now going by MIMS, independently released the single This Is Why I'm Hot. The song did well enough on local radio stations to garner attention from major labels, including EMI/Capitol, which released MIMS' full length debut, Music Is My Savior, in 2007. MIMS stopped by the VOA studios to join Larry London on air for a performance and to promote his new CD, “Guilt”.

Creed

Creed

After a six-year hiatus, multi-platinum selling Orlando-based rock band Creed have returned with a new record titled “Full Circle”. "We never felt like we weren't together," says lead singer Scott Stapp. "We're not looking at this as a reunion. It's more of a rebirth." Though they stayed in touch through holiday cards and the occasional phone call, the group refrained from recording together in order to, "explore other creative outlets and build the main priority in all of our lives, which is our family," says Stapp. Indeed, the band has grown up quite a bit, as has Stapp's son Jagger, the inspiration behind their hit "With Arms Wide Open." "He's not a baby anymore," says the proud papa of the 10-year-old. Stapp now also has a 2-year-old daughter named Milán. Could another hit about his offspring be on the horizon? Quite possibly. He wrote a tune about his daughter as well, simply titled "Milan Song." "She's my twin soul, my light," he says of his little lady. "I do whatever she wants." Stapp, who made the initial push for Creed to get back together, says it was awesome to see all the guys in one room again. "I said, 'I love you and if I've ever caused you any pain in your life forgive me.' And they said the same things right back." With any bad blood dissolved, the guys got back to jamming and planning a summer tour. "We're not trying to stay in a certain place or conform to where we left off," says Stapp. "The music is fresh, edgy, raw, passionate, honest and it rocks." "It's just the right time and we're all excited!"