Music News Digest, Aug. 24, 2018

The VMAs are a ratings bust, BreakOut West achieves gender parity, and stars will sing at Aretha's funeral. Also in the news are Steven Goldmann, the CCMAs, Whitehorse, YouTube Music, Eric Ethridge, Richmond World Festival, Chloe Watkinson, Music BC, VIFF, Michelle Wright, Grossman’s Music Scholarship, and farewells to Craig Zadan, Lazy Lester, and Ed King. Videos added for your enjoyment.

Music News Digest, Aug. 24, 2018

By Kerry Doole

 For the second consecutive year, the MTV Video Music Awards drew its smallest audience ever. Monday's ceremony drew 2.25 million viewers and a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. The Hollywood Reporternotes that “across eight Viacom-owned channels, it drew 4.87 million viewers and a 2.2 in the demo; both sets of numbers fall short of the 2017 VMAs, which set the previous low." The VMAs also suffered steep declines among MTV's core viewership of teens and young adults. 

– The BreakOut West festival and conference committed to 50/50 gender parity by 2022 as partners in the Keychange Initiative. Yesterday it announced it reached this goal for the 2018 edition, running Oct. 10-14 in Kelowna BC. It will see 57% female industry speakers and mentors, and BOW performers across the weekend festival will have a 50/50 balance. Robyn Stewart, Executive Director, Western Canadian Music Alliance states: We believe strongly in the importance of the role model, and always seek to find diversity in the industry leaders and artists we engage." Visit  for the full list of showcasing artists and information on speakers.


– A star-studded lineup slated to perform at Aretha Franklin's funeral includes Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Shirley Caesar, Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Holliday and Franklin’s son, Edward. The service will be held at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Aug. 31. Source: Billboard

–  The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) has named Steven Goldmann as recipient of the 2018 Leonard T. Rambeau International Award, an honour recognizing an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary effort in assisting the aims and initiatives of the Canadian country music industry internationally. Directing more than 200 music videos over the course of his career, Goldmann was one of the most prolific and successful Canadian directors. He won consecutive CMT Director of the Year Awards (1996/1997), directed Faith Hill's award-winning "This Kiss" video, and won CCMA Video Director of the Year Awards (2003/2004). He died in 2015, at age 53.


– Just-announced additions to the performers list for the 2018 CCMA Awards are Serena Ryder, Jessica Mitchell, and James Barker Band. They'll take to the stage of FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton on Sept. 9.

–  Musically eclectic duo Whitehorse returns to the blues with upcoming album The Northern South Vol. 2 set for release on Six Shooter on Jan. 18, 2019. The first volume earned a 2017 Juno nomination for Blues Album of the Year, and the new one features Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland serving up fresh takes on classics by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, and Slim Harpo.

YouTube Music has entered a two-year deal to be the first presenting sponsor of the American Music Awards. Variety reports that "under the deal between Google and Dick Clark Prods., YouTube Music will be promoted as a go-to music platform for streaming music, videos, live performances and other content."  ABC broadcasts the 2018 Awards Oct. 9.

–  Sarnia country singer/songwriter Eric Ethridge has won a $40K (US) grand prize in the 2018 Unsigned Only Music Competition. The prize, announced Tuesday, includes $20K  and $20K in merchandise and services, as well as one-on-one mentoring from a group of top music industry executives. Judges included Aimee Mann, O.A.R., and Frank Foster. Ethridge recently released a debut, self-titled EP. In 2016, Ethridge won the Canadian County Music Association’s Discovery Award and has charted with songs including "Makin’ Me Crazy" and Liquor’s Calling the Shots." Source: Sarnia Observer


–  The fourth annual Richmond World Festival presents music, arts, food, and culture from around the globe in Richmond’s Minoru Park, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The festival features over 90 artists performing on nine stages, with headliners including Lights, Magic!, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine; and Desi Sub Culture. 


–  Toronto singer Chloe Watkinson has been added to the bill of the 32nd Annual Women's Blue Revue at Roy Thomson Hall. on Nov. 16. She joins Dione Taylor, Suzie Vinnick, Samantha Martin, Nicky Lawrence, and host Shakura S'Aida.  

–  Music BC teamed up with Groundwerk to present three area DJs on the Groundwerk Stage at Monstercat Compound on Saturday. Those selected are Kasey Riot, Solreia, and Kardano.

– BC artists have the opportunity to perform at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) for a special BC Music Showcase. Application deadline is Sept. 5.

– Canadian Country Music Hall of Famer Michelle Wright will release two new tracks, "Lovin' This Day" and "Attitude Is Everything," on Aug. 31. These are her first recordings since 2013 album Strong, and come out via Navigator Records.

–  Submissions for The Amy Louie/Grossman’s Music Scholarship (ALGMS) remain open until Sept. 14. The ALGMS is an artist development bursary (worth $2K) created in honour of the late Amy Louie, whose family has been a mainstay in the Toronto music community and owned Grossman’s Tavern since 1975. The annual fundraising concert on Sept. 25 boasts an impressive performers list, including The Happy Pals, Frankie Foo, The Swinging Blackjacks, Terry Wilkins, Gary Kendall, Donnie Walsh, Paul Reddick, Steve Marriner, Danny Marks, Alec Fraser, Eric Schenkman, and Leonardo Valvassori, plus previous ALGMS winners Dan McKinnon (2017), Chloe Watkinson (2015), and Jerome Godboo (2014).


Craig Zadan, the prolific producer known for his touch with stage, TV and film musicals including NBC’s recent return to live event productions and three Academy Awards telecasts, died on Aug. 20, age 69, after complications from recent surgery.


His extensive credits as a producer include high-end movies, TV miniseries, and musical productions, ranging from Bette Midler in Gypsy for CBS in 1993 and Whitney Houston in Cinderella (ABC, 1997) to NBC’s string of successful live musicals starting with 2013’s The Sound of Music Live. Zadan and his partner Neil Meron also produced the 2002 Oscar best picture winner Chicago. Source: Variety

Lazy Lester (born Leslie Carswell Johnson),  an American blues singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, died on Aug. 22, at age 85.

His eclectic style mixed blues, swamp pop and classic country, and he termed it "swamp blues." His career began in the '50s, playing harmonica on a session with Lightnin' Slim, and he debuted as an artist in 1957 on the Excello label. Early hits included “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter,” and “Sugar Coated Love,” and he also played on sessions for the likes of Slim Harpo, Katie Webster, Lonesome Sundown, Whispering Smith, Tabby Thomas, and more.

Lester left Excello in 1966, and retired from music in 1975. He returned in the late '80s, recording Lazy Lester Rides Again for the Blue Horizon label in England, and it won a W.C. Handy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. He later recorded for the Alligator and Antone's labels, working with artists including Raful Neal, Kenny Neal, Snooky Pryor, Jimmie Vaughan, Sue Foley, and Louisiana Red.


Lazy Lester was inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2012, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. Sources: Wikipedia, American Blues Scene

Edward Calhoun (Ed) King,  Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist, died on Aug. 22 in Nashville, at age 68. He had been battling lung cancer.

A California native, King was a founding member of '60s band Strawberry Alarm Clock, (“Incense and Peppermints.”). He joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972, helping give the band its signature three-guitar sound.

King played on the band’s first three albums: 1973’s (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd), 1974’s Second Helping and 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy, then exited in 1975. He co-wrote band favourite "Sweet Home Alabama." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 as a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Source: Rolling Stone



Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services
Rb Hip Hop

Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services

There's a more explicit Biggie verse in the vault, according to the NBA legend.

Shaq’s classic with Biggie is finally available on streaming services. The news was broken by FakeShoreDrive on X earlier this week, and the Hall of Fame big man confirmed the news Thursday afternoon (June 13).

The year is 1996 and Shaquille O’Neal and the Notorious B.I.G. are two of the biggest figures in their respective fields. Shaq was entering the last year of his deal with the Orlando Magic before he headed west to the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the 1995-1996 season. Biggie was getting ready to release his sophomore album, Life After Death, while in the throws of a beef with 2Pac. Big name-dropped the NBA player on the song “Gimme the Loot” off his debut album, Ready to Die, and the two had a mutual respect for each other ever since.

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