Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poem: Wide Open Spaces


Open me up

See Inside this hollow shell.

Ebb and Flows.

Steps beginning to awake me.
Inward and out.

Fear and cold.

On the surface
I track a voice.
A red moon rises,
A black sun sets…

All that I needed.

Shift away,
Broken into pieces

Deaf to the surrounding crash

In this light.

Now, locked forever in this maze.

(On the path to greatness)

A horizon shattered,
Two nights scattered.

It burns with love,
The world gone gray.



A satellite set
To transmit life’s ambience.

(c)2012 Torrence King. All rights reserved.

Profile Playlist: Phil Collins

Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins, LVO (born January 30, 1951) is an English singer-songwriter, drummer, pianist and actor best known as a drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock group Genesis, Brand X, a solo artist, producer (Eric Clapton, John Martyn, Adam Ant, Howard Jones, Frida, Robert Plant etc.), author and session musician.

Collins sang the lead vocals on several chart hits in the United Kingdom and the United States between 1975 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. His singles, sometimes dealing with lost love, ranged from the drum-heavy "In the Air Tonight", dance pop of "Sussudio", piano-driven "Against All Odds", to the political statements of "Another Day in Paradise".

Collins's professional music career began as a drummer, first with Flaming Youth and then more famously with Genesis. In Genesis, Collins originally supplied backing vocals for front man Peter Gabriel, singing lead on only two songs: "For Absent Friends" from 1971's Nursery Cryme album and "More Fool Me" from Selling England by the Pound, which was released in 1973. Following Gabriel's departure in 1975, Collins became the group's lead singer.

His solo career, heavily influenced by his personal life, brought both him and Genesis commercial success. According to Atlantic Records, Collins's total worldwide sales as a solo artist, as of 2000, were 150 million. Collins has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including seven Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards—winning Best British Male three times, an Academy Award, and two Golden Globes for his solo work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

Collins is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. When his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, Collins had more top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s than any other artist. In 2008, Collins was ranked the 22nd most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists".


Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight (Official Video)


Phil Collins - I Dont Care Anymore (Official Music Video)


Phil Collins - Take Me Home (Vinyl)


Phil Collins w/ Genesis - Just A Job To Do


Phil Collins w/ Genesis - That's All


Phil Collins w/ Genesis - Tonight, Tonight, Tonight


Artist Profile: Alex Ross

Nelson Alexander "Alex" Ross (born January 22, 1970) is an American comic book writer/artist known primarily for his painted interiors, covers and design work. He first rose to fame with the 1994 miniseries Marvels, on which he collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek for Marvel Comics. He has since done a variety of projects for both Marvel and DC Comics, such as the 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come, which Ross also co-wrote. Since then he has also done covers and character designs for Kurt Busiek's series, Astro City, and various projects for Dynamite Entertainment. His feature film work includes concept and narrative art for Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and DVD packaging art for the M. Night Shyamalan film, Unbreakable. He has also done covers for TV Guide, promotional artwork for the Academy Awards, packaging design for comic book tie-in video games, and his renditions of superheroes have been merchandised as action figures.

Ross' style has been said to exhibit "a Norman-Rockwell-meets-George-Pérez vibe", and has been praised for its realistic, human depictions of classic comic book characters. His rendering style, his attention to detail, and the perceived tendency of his characters to be depicted staring off into the distance in cover images has been satirized in Mad magazine. Because of the time is takes Ross to produce his art, he primarily serves as a plotter and/or cover artist. Comics Buyer's Guide Senior Editor Maggie Thompson, commenting on that publication's retirement of the Favorite Painter award from their CBG Fan Awards due to Ross' domination of that category, stated in 2010, "Ross may simply be the field's Favorite Painter, period. That's despite the fact that many outstanding painters are at work in today's comic books."

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Ross


Artist Profile: Jackson Pollock

Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement.

During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy.

Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related car accident. In December 1956, the year of his death, he was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, and a larger more comprehensive exhibition there in 1967. More recently, in 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.

In 2000, Pollock was the subject of an Academy Award–winning film Pollock directed by and starring Ed Harris.


VIDEO: Pollock painting (1950)

It will work better using a SMALL SCREEN FORMAT. A fragment (going on a loop) of the film of Jackson Pollock painting - shot by Hans Namuth (1950) and released as "Jackson Pollock 51" (1951). Sound is not synchronous. Available (with another short clip and a text transcript of Pollock's comments) at http://www.nga.gov/feature/pollock/process3qt.shtm


Pollock (2000) Trailer – Biographical Film starring: Ed Harris (Jackson Pollock) and Marcia Gay Harden (Lee Krasner) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0xiovbDML0


Artist Profile: Yves Tanguy

Yves Tanguy was born in Paris, France, the son of a retired navy captain. His parents were both of Breton origin. After his father's death in 1908, his mother moved back to her native Locronan, Finistère, and he ended up spending much of his youth living with various relatives.

In 1918, Yves Tanguy briefly joined the merchant navy before being drafted into the Army, where he befriended Jacques Prévert. At the end of his military service in 1922, he returned to Paris, where he worked various odd jobs. By chance, he stumbled upon a painting by Giorgio de Chirico and was so deeply impressed he resolved to become a painter himself in spite of his complete lack of formal training.

Tanguy had a habit of being completely absorbed by the current painting he was working on. This way of creating artwork may have been due to his very small studio which only had enough room for one wet piece.

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Tanguy



Profile: J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE ( /ˈtɒlkiːn/, US /ˈtoʊlkiːn/; January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy. In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning dead celebrity in 2009.

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Profile Playlist: Sarah McLachlan

Sarah Ann McLachlan, OC, OBC (born January 28, 1968) is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter. Known for her emotional ballads and mezzo-soprano vocal range, as of 2009, she has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. McLachlan's best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards (out of four nominations) and four Juno Awards. In addition to her personal artistic efforts, she founded the Lilith Fair tour, which showcased female musicians. The Lilith Fair concert tours took place from 1997 to 1999, and resumed in the summer of 2010. Since 2006 she has also been known as a highly visible supporter of the ASPCA, as well as various other charities.

Her 1991 album, Solace, was her mainstream breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles "The Path of Thorns (Terms)" and "Into the Fire". Solace also marked the beginning of her partnership with Pierre Marchand. Marchand and McLachlan have been collaborators ever since, with Marchand producing all of McLachlan's albums and occasionally co-writing songs.




Good Enough


When She Loved Me (Toy Story 2 Soundtrack) (Live)


Sweet Surrender


Fear - Live (from Mirrorball)


Movie Poster: Inception


Movie Poster: Enter The Dragon - A Bruce Lee Joint


Movie Poster: Fight Club - The Rules of Fight Club


Movie Poster: A Clockwork Orange II


Friday, January 27, 2012

Profile Playlist: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeus ˈmoːtsaʁt], English see fn.), baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of Mozart's death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."


Piano Concerto No. 21 – Andante


Symphony No. 25 in G minor
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Performed by Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields - Conducted by Neville Marriner


The Marriage of Figaro


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Profile Playlist: Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook on January 25, 1981, in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan, in New York City, New York. She is the only child of Teresa Augello, a paralegal and part-time actress, and Craig Cook, a flight attendant. Keys' mother is of Italian, Scottish, and Irish descent, and her father is African American; Keys has expressed that she was comfortable with her biracial heritage because she felt she was able to "relate to different cultures". Her parents separated when she was two and she was subsequently raised by her mother during her formative years in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan. In 1985, Keys made an appearance on The Cosby Show at the age of four, where she and a group of girls played the parts of Rudy Huxtable's sleepover guests in the episode "Slumber Party". Throughout her childhood, Keys was sent to music and dance classes by her mother. She began playing the piano when she was seven and learned classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. Keys enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School at the age of 12, where she majored in choir and began writing songs at the age of 14. She graduated in three years as valedictorian at the age of 16.

In 1994 Keys met long-term manager Jeff Robinson after she enrolled in his brother's after-school program. The following year Robinson introduced Keys to her future A&R at Arista Records, Peter Edge, who later described his first impressions to HitQuarters: "I had never met a young R&B artist with that level of musicianship. So many people were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she had the ability, not only to be part of hip-hop, but also to go way beyond that." Edge helped Robinson create a showcase for Keys and also got involved in developing her demo material. He was keen to sign Keys himself but was unable to do so at that time due to being on the verge of leaving his present record company. Keys signed to Columbia Records soon after. At the same time as signing a recording contract with Columbia Records, Keys was accepted into Columbia University. At first, Keys attempted to manage both but after four weeks dropped out of college to pursue her musical career fulltime.

Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and So So Def Recordings, where she appeared on the label's Christmas album performing "The Little Drummer Girl". She also co-wrote and recorded a song entitled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)", which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The song was Keys' first professional recording; however, it was never released as a single and her record contract with Columbia ended after a dispute with the label. Keys was unhappy with the label because her career had stalled during her two years under contract at Columbia due to executive indecision over her direction and major changes within the company. Keys called Clive Davis, who sensed a "special, unique" artist from her performance and signed her to Arista Records, which later disbanded. Keys almost chose Wilde as her stage name until her manager suggested the name Keys after a dream he had. Keys felt that name represented her both as a performer and person. Following Davis to his newly formed J Records label, she recorded the songs "Rock wit U" and "Rear View Mirror", which were featured on the soundtracks to the films Shaft (2000) and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), respectively.

Keys released her first studio album, Songs in A Minor, in June 2001. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 236,000 copies in its first week. The album sold over 6.2 million copies in the United States, where it was certified six times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It went on to sell over 12 million copies worldwide, establishing Keys' popularity both inside and outside the United States, where she became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album's lead single, "Fallin'", spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album's second single, "A Woman's Worth", was released in February 2002 and peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as her second Top 10 single in both charts. The album's third single, "How Come You Don't Call Me", was released in June 2002 and peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The album's fourth single, "Girlfriend", was released in November 2002 in UK and peaked at number 82 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The following year, the album was reissued as Remixed & Unplugged in A Minor, which included eight remixes and seven unplugged versions of the songs from the original.


Alicia Keys – You Don’t Know My Name


Alicia Keys - Doesn't Mean Anything


Alicia Keys - Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TV Series: Unsung - Music Documentary Series

Unsung, is an hour-long music documentary program that airs on TV One. Premiering in the fall of 2008, the series uncovers the stories behind once well-known R&B and soul music artists, bands or groups who exploded onto the Billboard music charts with a string of hits, only to have their career derailed by a major crisis that cause them to be essentially unappreciated by later generations of general Contemporary R&B listeners. Subjects profiled also include acts who were major and influential in the prime of their career, but a change in the interest of the music industry towards the act caused a steep decline in success.

Episodes are packed with testimonies from music industry insiders, friends & family, as well as artists who were contemporaries but whose careers continued to flourish through later decades.


Unsung (Documentary) - Tammi Terrell


Unsung (Documentary) - Teddy Pendergrass


Comic Book: Fantastic Four 282 - 1985 - Marvel Comics

 Fantastic Four Vol. 1 - #282 - (1985) - Marvel Comics
Plot Summary: Franklin Richards is having a dream where he is in the ruins of New York City, and his parents are nowhere to be found. As he heads toward the river side he witnesses as an alien ship is shot out of the sky and crash lands to the ground. From the wreckage emerges one of the Snarks which tries to kill him. The frightened boy is saved by some mysterious super-powered beings who carry him to safety to a forest. There he comes across an injured humanoid with the head of a horse. He helps the alien up and helps it along to the side of a cliff where he sees his saviors: The Power Pack. Their leader Alex tells Franklin that they are friend and that they can help him. As they are being strafed by alien ships Alex reaches out telling Franklin that he has to come and find them. As alien ray blasts strike where they are standing Franklin wakes up as he falls out of bed and realizes it was all a dream.

Getting dressed, Franklin rushes to the lab within Avengers Mansion to tell his parents about the dream he has had. There Reed Richards is putting together the finishing touches on a new Reducto-Craft while in the presence of the Human Torch and She-Hulk. Reed explains that the being responsible for sending the Hate-Monger against Sue was likely their old foe Psycho-Man, however he wonders if they should be focusing their time on trying to learn what the Beyonder is up to. Sue walks in on them, having overheard everything and demands that they go after the Psycho-Man. Read More: http://marvel.wikia.com/Fantastic_Four_Vol_1_282


Comic Book: Daredevil - 208 - (1984) Marvel Comics

 Daredevil - Vol. 1  #208 - (1984) Marvel Comics
Plot Summary: Title: "The Deadliest Night of My Life"
Daredevil has just finished busting up a robbery when he spies a little girl wandering lost in the snow. He decides to follow her and the little girl leads him into a dark alley. Daredevil walks into a trap and a heavy door slams down behind him. He begins chasing the little girl down a long, winding steel corridor. The girl turns out to be an artificial bomb and explodes.

Searching further into the maze, Daredevil learns that the corridors lead to the underbelly of a gigantic mansion. The entire two-acre estate has been turned into an elaborate death-trap. Daredevil avoids being killed by various pitfalls including trap doors, sliding ramps, spikes from the floor, snakes, quicksand etc. Read More: http://marvel.wikia.com/Daredevil_Vol_1_208


Comic Book: Power Pack 1 - 1984 (Marvel Comics)

Power Pack - Vol 1. - #1 (1984) - Marvel Comics
Artist: June Brigman - Writer: Louise Jones Simonson
Plot Summary: High above the Earth's atmosphere, a white alien ship dodged blasts from a group of golden spaceships. Friday, the Whitey the Kymellian had sent information of Dr Power's discovery back home, but the signal had been intercepted & jammed by the Snarks, who then set out to attack Whitey & his Smartship Friday. Meanwhile, inside a beach-side family home, the Power family remained oblivious of how their destiny was about to change. Eldest son Alex tinkered with his new telescope. Middle children Jack & Julie did the dishes (their father was impressed that Julie could read books while doing the dishes, while Jack threatened to throw the newly cleaned glasses at his brother). The radio announced UFO sightings, so youngest daughter Katie peered through the windows hoping to see aliens. As the alien fight raged, they entered Earth's atmosphere. So when Friday was hit, Katie saw the light-show & screamed for everyone to see. Julie's book fell in the water, and Jack insulted Katie for making it all up. To keep their kids quiet, James & Margaret Power decided to let them sleep on the porch. Read More: http://www.comicvine.com/power-pack-power-play/37-24611/

Profile Playlist: Neil Diamond

Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades from the 1960s until the present.

As of 2001, Diamond had sold over 115 million records worldwide including 48 million in the United States alone. He is considered to be the third most successful adult contemporary artist ever on the Billboard chart behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John. His songs have been covered internationally by many performers from various musical genres.

Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and in 2011 was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors. He has eight number one hit singles with "Cracklin Rosie", "Song Sung Blue", "Desiree", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", "Love On The Rocks", "America", "Yesterday's Songs", and "Heartlight".

Diamond continues to record and release new material and maintains an extensive touring schedule as well.


I Am I Said


Play Me (Live)


Love On The Rocks From the film, "The Jazz Singer" with Neil Diamond


Hello Again


Heartlight - written by Neil Diamond, Carole Bayer Sager and her then-husband Burt Bacharach and recorded by Diamond in 1982


Neil Diamond – Classic Playlist:

1. Solitary Man
2. Shilo
3. Cracklin’ Rosie
4. Soolaimon
5. Play Me
6. I Am, I Said
7. Be
8. I’ve Been This Way Before
9. Longfellow Serenade
10. If You Know What I Mean
11. September Morn
12. Forever In Blue Jeans
13. Love on The Rocks
14. Scotch on The Rocks
15. Hello Again
16. Yesterday Songs
17. Heartlight
18. Brooklyn Roads (Live)
19. I Am I Said (Live)
20. All I Really Need Is You (Live)


Monday, January 23, 2012

Profile: Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962)

Ernie Kovacs (January 23, 1919 – January 13, 1962) was an American comedian and actor.

Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident. Such iconic and diverse shows as Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, The Uncle Floyd Show, Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and TV hosts such as David Letterman and Craig Ferguson have been influenced by Kovacs. Chevy Chase thanked him during his acceptance speech for his Emmy award for SNL. Chase appeared in the 1982 documentary called Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius, speaking again of the impact Kovacs had on his work.

On or off screen, Kovacs could be counted on for the unexpected, from having marmosets as pets to wrestling a jaguar on his live Philadelphia television show. When working at WABC (AM) as a morning-drive radio personality and doing a mid-morning television show for NBC, Kovacs disliked eating breakfast alone while his wife was sleeping in after her Broadway performances. His solution was to hire a taxi driver to come into their apartment with his own key and whose job was to make breakfast for them both, then take him to the WABC studios.

While Kovacs and his wife Edie Adams received Emmy nominations for best performances in a comedy series in 1957, his talent was not formally recognized until after his death. The 1962 Emmy for outstanding electronic camera work and the Directors' Guild award came a short time after his fatal accident. A quarter century later, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Kovacs also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television. In 1986, the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) presented an exhibit of Kovacs' work, called The Vision of Ernie Kovacs. The Pulitzer Prize winning television critic, William Henry III wrote for the museum's booklet:

Kovacs was more than another wide-eyed, self-ingratiating clown. He was television's first significant video artist. He was its first surrealist... its most daring and imaginative writer. He was... television's first and possibly only auteur. And he was a genius. In commercial terms, a genius is any entertainer... who finds a new way to make money. Kovacs never fit that description. Kovacs' genius lay in the realm of art. There, a genius is someone who causes an audience to look at the world in a new way.


VIDEO: Ernie Kovacs – Tribute presented by Carl Reiner


Ernie Kovacs - Between the Laughter – TV Movie starring Jeff Goldblum as Ernie Kovacs


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Playlist 012112: Be The One

It's you, it's you, it's all for you / Everything I do / Tell you all the time / Heaven is a place on earth with you / Tell me all the things you wanna do / I heard that you like the bad girls / Honey, is that true? / It's better than I ever even knew / They say that the world was built for two / Only worth living / If somebody is loving you / Baby now you do - "Video Games", Lana Del Rey

You give me the sweetest taboo /  That's why I'm in love with you /  You give me, you're giving me the sweetest taboo /  Too good for me /  You've got the biggest heart / Sometimes I think you're just too good for me /  Every day is Christmas, and every night is New Year's Eve /  Will you keep on loving me /  Will you keep on, will you keep on /  Bringing out the best in me - "The Sweetest Taboo", Sade


Lana Del Rey – Video Games


Sade - The Sweetest Taboo


Aaliyah - At Your Best (You Are Love)


Etta James – At Last


Moby - Be The One


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Profile: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."

Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies. He was also partners with William Goddard and Joseph Galloway the three of whom published the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British monarchy in the American colonies. He became wealthy publishing Poor Richard's Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin gained international renown as a scientist for his famous experiments in electricity and for his many inventions, especially the lightning rod. He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. Franklin became a national hero in America when he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. For many years he was the British postmaster for the colonies, which enabled him to set up the first national communications network. He was active in community affairs, colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his life, he freed his slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money; warships; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.


VIDEO: Walter Isaacson: "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life"

In this University of Pennsylvania program, Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, discusses the life of one of Americas most influential figures: Benjamin Franklin. In his recent book, "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life," Isaacson reveals the personal life of Benjamin Franklin and all the intricate details of this revolutionary leaders life that have made him unique among a group of leaders. The presentation was given at the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Profile Playlist: Sade

Helen Folasade Adu OBE (born January 16 1959; better known as Sade), is a British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer. She first achieved success in the 1980s as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the Brit and Grammy Award winning English group Sade.

Sade was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Her middle name, Folasade, means honour confers your crown. Her parents, Adebisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer in economics of Yoruba background, and Anne Hayes, an English district nurse, met in London, married in 1955 and moved to Nigeria. Later, when the marriage ran into difficulties, Anne Hayes returned to England, taking four-year-old Sade and her older brother Banji to live with her parents. When Sade was 11, she moved to Holland-on-Sea to live with her mother, and after completing school at 18 she moved to London and studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

While at college, she joined a soul band, Pride, in which she sang backing vocals. Her solo performances of the song "Smooth Operator" attracted the attention of record companies and in 1983, she signed a solo deal with Epic Records taking three members of the band, Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman, with her. Sade and her band produced the first of a string of hit albums. Their debut album Diamond Life was in 1984. She is the most successful solo female artist in British history, having sold over 110 million albums worldwide.

In 2002, she appeared on the Red Hot Organization's Red Hot and Riot, a compilation CD in tribute to the music of fellow Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. She recorded a remix of her hit single, "By Your Side", for the album and was billed as a co-producer.


Your Love Is King


Hang On To Your Love


The Sweetest Taboo - Sade Lovers Live


Kiss Of Life


Stronger Than Pride (Mad Professor's Lovers-Rock Mix)