Bon Jovi — This House is Not for Sale
The first Bon Jovi album without longtime guitarist Richie Sambora
Alicia Keys — Here
The fifteen-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and producer will release her highly anticipated sixth studio album. From the human condition to global politics, Here offers a keen glimpse of everything that matters most to Keys.
Miranda Lambert — The Weight of these Wings
Miranda Lambert’s highly anticipated sixth studio album was inspired by both heartbreak and newfound love. Among the tracks is the new single Vice.
Bruno Mars — 24K Magic
After four years, and two Super Bowl halftime appearances, Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars is back with his highly anticipated third album, which includes the hit title track.
Metallica — Hardwired…To Self Destruct
Metallica releases their eleventh studio album. The two disc set is their first studio album since 2008’s Death Magnetic.
Now That’s What I Call Music 60
The 60th installment of the popular music series that features the hit song from Calvin Harris and Rihanna, This Is What You Came For.
Doug Stanhope — No Place Like Home
Doug Standhope tackles an abundance of hard-hitting issues, from caring for the mentally-ill, to Vietnam vets, being locked up abroad, and why everyone should kick like they kick. He also take on ISIS, global poverty, TMZ, and LGBT related issues. No one is off the table in this one-of-a-kind stand-up special including Gabrielle Giffords, the Duggars daughters, Caitlyn Jenner, and Robin Williams.
Before I watched 20 Feet From Stardom I never realized how heavily my favorite music relied on the talents of the unsung heroes (pun intended): background singers. As a child, I would sometimes joke that I wanted to be a background singer. I’d dress up and stand in the living room, swaying and ooohing. I thought it was funny because… who wants to be in the background when you could be in the limelight? Turns out, plenty of people.
Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Tata Vega…these are just a few of the names belonging to people so talented they could easily carry the stage on their own. But for varied reasons, each as unique as the individuals themselves, they remain mostly anonymous background singers. To be sure, some of them would love a successful solo career, and have tried to reach that goal… to no avail. Others have been content to leave the spotlight and all the complications that go with it to the names we recognize so well: The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, David Bowie…the list goes on.
20 Feet From Stardom takes us behind the scenes where the singers share, in their own words, what a career as a professional background singer has been like for them. It is as emotional as it is funky and upbeat. As soon as I finished watching, I promptly looked up their names in the library catalog and put holds on as many albums featuring their vocal talents as possible.
I think any of us would be hard pressed to come up with a Top Ten list of our favorite songs of all-time that did not include a contribution from of one of these fabulous singers. That’s what makes it so unbelievable that they are not household names. I challenge you to watch 20 Feet From Stardom and not come away with a song in your head!
Michael Buble — Nobody But Me
The 9th studio album and first in three years from the multi-Grammy, multi-platinum award winning singer. It follows the critically acclaimed To Be Loved album which was his fourth album to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Charts.
Colbie Caillat — The Malibu Sessions
Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat returns with the follow up to her 2014 album Gypsy Heart. Her sixth studio album also includes the single Goldmine.
Kenny Chesney — Some Town Somewhere
Country superstar Kenny Chesney releases the follow-up to his hit album The Big Revival. His latest includes the single Noise, which is quickly rising up the country charts.
Green Day — Revolution Radio
After four years, Green Day return with a brand new album, their first release since being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their latest includes the new single Bang Bang.
Norah Jones — Day Breaks
One of music’s most beautiful and critically acclaimed voices returns with an album that finds her returning to her jazz roots.
Kings of Leon — Walls
Kings Of Leon release the follow-up to their Mechanical Bull album. Includes the songs Waste A Moment; Find Me; Over; and more.
Pitbull — Climate Change
International icon Pitbull releases his 10th full-length album that features an array of superstar and burgeoning musical guests including Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Prince Royce, Jason Derulo, Stephen Marley and more.
Rascal Flatts — The Greatest Gift of All
Country superstars Rascal Flatts release their first ever holiday album, which features both new and classic tracks like Strange Way to Save the World; The First Noel, and Someday at Christmas.
Jason Aldean — They Don’t Know
A decade into his career, Jason Aldean has scaled the highest level of country superstardom, including being named the 2016 ACM Entertainer of the Year. Now he releases his sixth studio album, which includes Lights Come On.
Bon Iver — 22, A Million
Bon Iver releases their first new album in five years. Justin Vernon embraces the use of electronics by using a sampler-base synthesizer for this new project.
Casting Crowns — The Very Next Thing
The Grammy winning band releases a collection of intimate songs as well as upbeat, fresh sounding tracks with impactful lyrics centered around identifying and acting on what’s right next to you. Includes Oh My Soul, a song Mark Hall wrote in response to his journey through a cancer diagnosis
Idina Menzel — Idina
Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, the voice behind Frozen’s massive hit song Let It Go, releases her fifth studio album. Her latest includes the single I See You.
Of Mice and Men — Cold World
After a lot of hype, anticipation, and a two and a half year wait, Of Mice & Men return with a brand new album. They deliver thirteen aggressive rock anthems that will satisfy their ever growing fan base.
Regina Spektor — Remember Us to Life
Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor is back with her first new album since 2012’s What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. The first single, Bleeding Heart, has already been featured in NPR’s All Songs Considered.
Known for their record-breaking tracks and undeniable energy, Florida Georgia Line releases their highly anticipated third studio album. It uncovers pieces of their lineage along with an evolved creativity. Includes the hit single H.O.L.Y.
From the bombastic opening riff of Feel Invincible to the memorable album finale The Resistance, it is clear that Skillet has created an album that lets their music speak loudest, while delivering some of their most personal songs.
Along with the 2015 radio hit Passenger, the latest album from Trapt features their most ambitious single to date with Human (Like the Rest of Us).
One of the most popular music series is back with a brand new installment that includes hits from Justin Timberlake, Meghan Trainor, Nick Jonas and many more.
Featuring a collection of tracks as diverse as each member of the villainous crew, the soundtrack to Suicide Squad features new and classic tracks from Panic! At The Disco, Skrillex, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Lil Wayne.
Blink-192 — California
Nearly five years after their last album, Blink-182 releases their seventh studio album. It marks a change for the band as Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba joins the group.
Jake Owen — American Love
Country star Jake Owen releases his fifth studio album, which includes the single American Country Love Song.
Hillary Scott & The Scott Family — Love Remains
A collection of thirteen faith-based songs featuring Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, her mom Linda Davis, father Lang Scott, and little sister Rylee Scott, all produced by Ricky Skaggs.
Steven Tyler — We’re All Somebody from Somewhere
A highly anticipated first solo country album from Steven Tyler, the voice of rock band Aerosmith. His first single, Love Is Your Name, hit number one on the Billboard Country Streaming Songs chart.
Switchfoot — Where the Light Shines Through
For the first time in ten years, Switchfoot went back to the studio with producer John Fields to work on their tenth studio album. While moving forward, the band does look back, and there is a lot of nostalgia flowing through the album.
Various Artists — Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording
With its unique mix of history and hip-hop, Hamilton has become one of the most talked-about productions on Broadway.
Fitz & The Tantrums — Fitz and the Tantrums
The third album from Fitz & The Tantrums is brimming with imagination, energy, and genre-smashing scope. Includes the tracks Handclap; Complicated; Do What You Want; and more.
Nick Jonas — Last Year Was Complicated
Radiohead continues to do things their way with the release of their first new album since 2011. Their unique rock style comes through on tracks like Burn the Witch.
Radiohead — A Moon Shaped Pool
Fresh off of the success of his 2014 self-titled album, Nick Jonas returns with a release that has already generated a hit with the track Close featuring Tove Lo.
Red Hot Chili Peppers — The Getaway
Along with the single Dark Necessities, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first new album in five years also includes new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and production from Danger Mouse.
Tegan & Sara — Love You to Death
The follow-up to Tegan and Sara’s 2013 pop breakthrough album, Heartthrob, is their eighth studio album and features the single Boyfriend.
Train — Does Led Zeppelin II
Train, the band behind such hits as Hey Soul Sister, pays homage to one of their biggest musical inspirations with the release of the first cover album of their career.
Eric Clapton — I Still Do
Music legend Eric Clapton has reunited with famed producer Glyn Johns for his forthcoming 23 studio album, set for release on May 20, 2016 on his Bushbranch /Surfdog Records. The twelve-track record includes some original songs written by Clapton.
Goo Goo Dolls — Boxes
The eleventh album from the Goo Goo Dolls is a vibrant, sonically forward-looking album with indelible melodies, intimate, heartfelt lyrics, and an anthemic, uplifting vibe. Features the single Over and Over.
Ariana Grande — Dangerous Woman
Grammy Award nominee and pop superstar Ariana Grande returns with her third album, which includes the tracks Dangerous Woman and Be Alright.
Cole Swindell — You Should Be Here
Cole Swindell releases the follow up his successful debut album, which earned him the ACM Award for New Artist of the Year. Along with the title track, which is also the first single, there is a collaboration with Dierks Bentley.
Meghan Trainor — Thank You
Meghan Trainor releases her highly anticipated sophomore album three months after winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The first single, NO, made its debut on On Air With Ryan Seacrest.
Keith Urban — Ripcord
Four-time Grammy winner and judge on the farewell season of American Idol is releasing his eighth studio album. Features the hit singles John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 and Break on Me.
Everyone has a story to tell. I enjoy reading biographies in general, but I find the life stories of musicians especially captivating. The wild and crazy lifestyles of some musicians (especially rock n’ rollers) can make very interesting stories. You’ve probably heard the expression about truth sometimes being stranger than fiction. Nowhere can this idiom be more true than between the pages of a book about a musician.
Reading autobiographies (books written by the subject) and biographies (books about people written by someone else) can be illuminating. I encourage you to read both kinds and see if you have a preference. You might even take a walk on the wild side and read about musicians whose genre of music you don’t typically enjoy. Who knows? It might motivate you to expand your repertoire and start listening to a new genre of music once in a while. I find that the better I understand the motivations and perspectives of the people behind the music, the more I tend to enjoy the music.
One such autobiography I especially enjoyed is Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. You may not have known that this lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers started his career as an actor before he was a musician. He landed his first major role in the 1978 film F.I.S.T. as Sylvester Stallone’s son. He went on to enjoy roles ranging from television (ABC Afterschool Specials, The Simpsons) to movies (Jokes My Folks Never Told Me, Point Break, The Chase). He has also been a writer and producer. His literary and musical influences include Charles Bukowski, Neil Young, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Prince.
Kiedis grew up in Grand Rapids, MI where he lived with his mother, stepfather and two stepsisters. He spent two weeks every summer visiting his father in Hollywood. At twelve years old he moved in with his father and began a struggle with addiction to drugs. While attending Fairfax High School in L.A. he met Michael Peter Balzary (better known today under the stage name Flea). Despite a rocky start these two became close friends who enjoyed making mischief at every opportunity, including jumping off rooftops. Once, Kiedis attempted jumping into a pool from five stories up. He missed. Fortunately, he lived to tell his story. Read more about it in Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis.
“What doesn’t kill you only makes your book longer.” -Anthony Kiedis
Here are some more books about musicians that you can check out through the Davenport Public Library.