Stephanie Mills – Tickets – Rams Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD – November 24th, 2012

Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills

Sat, November 24, 2012

8:00 pm

Rams Head On Stage

Annapolis, MD

This event is 21 and over

Stephanie Mills
Stephanie Mills
Before The Color Purple: The Musical broke attendance records; before Jennifer Holiday starred in the Broadway production of Dream Girls, paving the way for Jennifer Hudson's Academy Award winning performance in the film version a generation later; before Phyllis Hyman, Gregory Hines and Judith Jamison all graced the stage in the Tony Award winning musical Sophisticated Ladies, there was a little musical, that starred a little girl with a real big voice.
This musical theatre icon, and Grammy Award winning song stylist, took a bow to embrace motherhood and found a way to reconnect back to again share her incredible vocal talent. With full artistic control, and not having to concern herself with keeping up with trends, Mills recorded her new album, BREATHLESS on her own record label, CJ Entertainment. She was able to schedule the much anticipated release date, predicated on caring for her 9-year-old son, Farad. She adds that "I'm doing my own thing."
"Being a mother is the most important role I've ever had. My son takes priority over everything in my life. I'm glad I made the choice to take time out to be available to him during his formative years," Mills happily expresses. "For so long I didn't think like an entertainer, I thought like a mom. Now I'm back to my other joy – singing for my fans!"
"I'm so excited about the new album" is how Stephanie Mills describes BREATHLESS." I wrote eight of the ten songs that are on my album." BREATHLESS is Mills' first new recording since 2004's Born for This! With more than a dozen albums on her resume, including a holiday recording and a gospel disc, Mills has little to prove at this point, but with the new album, she wanted "to continue to grow with my audience."
BREATHLESS is a reflection of Mills signature sound, full of soulful R&B songs that describes both the beauty and sadness in relationships. The title track, is about a woman who sees a man she just has to have because he's hot. The up-tempo "I Love That" portrays the sweet aroma of a man (his walk, his talk, his kiss…) and how these characteristics can make a woman weak. "Stop Playing With My Heart" depicts a woman who is madly in love with a man that whispers all the things she wants to hear, but he doesn't show it; she is faced with the choice of remaining in the relationship or simply walking away.
On BREATHLESS, Mills worked with producer Josiah Martin (Dave Hollister, PJ Morton). Mills says of Martin, "he's extremely talented and he's a great producer. Where many contemporary producers got their start as beat makers, not enough are adept with getting the best out of vocalists. Josiah could give me the 2010 sound and combine my signature sound…he knew how to bridge the gap of both and make it work."
On BREATHLESS, the song that Mills holds dear to her heart is the version of the Lennon and McCartney standard "Yesterday," which she recorded in memory of her old friend Michael Jackson, and for others like Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and Robert Brookins. Mills and Jackson shared a bond earlier in their careers because they could relate to each other as child stars; the duo in fact dated for awhile in the mid-1970s. She admits that she was "madly in love" with Jackson and signed with Motown records at the time, in part, because she felt like she was "getting closer and closer to being Mrs. Jackson, because every little black girl in America wanted to marry one of the Jackson Five."
Her decision to record the Beatles classic recalls a similar decision to record the song "Home" in the late 1980s. The song was the closing number of the seven-time Tony Award winning musical "The Wiz" (1975). The play was an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and featured an all black cast. The Brooklyn-born actress and singer was only seventeen-years-old when she was cast in the lead role as Dorothy. With her version of "Home" Mills had come full circle, paying tribute to several members of the cast that performed with her in the musical, but who had since passed away. Specifically, to playwright Charlie Smalls who wrote the majority of the "The Wiz" and its music. Smalls died in 1987. The loss of so many of her dear friends prompted her to record the song on her album ('my friends are looking down on me, saying, Stephanie please sing that song…'). According to Mills, "it was so important to me that people remember the show, remember how talented Charlie was, and just the beauty of what "The Wiz" was all about." Years later Mills recalls the period being such a wonderful springboard for her stellar career as a performer.
Though Mills had been performing on stage since the age of nine and made her first Broadway appearance in the 1968 musical Mary Flynn, it was her big voice that was her claim to fame. She was cast in her first Broadway play after winning the legendary Amateur Night contest at the world famous Apollo Theater six times. In its heyday, the Apollo's Amateur Night had all the star-making power of American Idol.
Mills made her first album of show tunes, Movin' in the Right Direction in 1974 and then signed with Motown. Her breakthrough occurred though in 1979 on the 20th Century label with the production duo of James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. The lead single and title track of "What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" became Mills' first certified hit and remains a club classic today. "Isn't it a perfect piece of black pop?" asks the songstress, "and it's so interesting that it did not cross over and I felt it should have." The crossover success would have to wait a year until Mills' second project with the duo "Sweet Sensation" which produced the top-ten pop ballad "Never Knew Love Like This" which earned the singer a Grammy Award.
"What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin'" and "Sweet Sensation" were very much coming-of-age productions for the twenty-something Mills, who was trying to break from her image as a child star. It was during this period that Mills made one of her most sensuous recordings, doing a version of Peabo Bryson's "Feel the Fire." Most people though, remember her stirring duet of the song with Teddy Pendergrass on the late singer's TP album. The performance was so powerful, that it fueled speculation about the relationship between the two. Mills is quick to dispel the rumors (she was married to Shalimar's Jeffrey Daniels at the time). "Teddy was like my big brother. I really loved him and he really loved me and was very, very protective of me on the road with him. And I was just like his little sister, I was bratty." Years later the duo appeared in a stage production Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.
Mills moved to Casablanca Records in 1983, in a period that she recalls as a mixed bag. With disco on the wane and new pressures for black artists to crossover like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, Mills says "I don't think they understood me. It wasn't until I signed with MCA Records that I got back into my thing and my realm of who I was." Mills' subsequent move to MCA in 1985 began what was her most successful period in the music industry, beginning with her recording of "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love" which remains a fan favorite.
Mills topped the R&B charts with tracks like "I Feel Good All Over" and "(You're Puttin) A Rush On Me" (both from 1987's If I Were Your Women) and "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)" which appeared on Home (1988). Like many of her peers at the time—the Anita Bakers, Deniece Williams' and Regina Belles of the world—Mills was a victim of the youth movement in the industry and on black radio. Mills moved on to other things. "I wanted to start to do other things, that's why I recorded a Christmas album and I recorded the Gospel album. I just wanted to branch out and really kind of spread my wings," Mills asserts.
To say Stephanie Mills is back is an understatement. When you have a voice that powerful, passionate and strong and then you add great songs and a contemporary producer, you have a recipe for success. This album will do exactly what the title says...it will leave you BREATHLESS.
Venue Information:
Rams Head On Stage
33 West St.
Annapolis, MD, 21401
http://www.ramsheadonstage.com/

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