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This Week on

Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.

Diamond on Female Rappers: ‘It’s Important For Us to Have Variety’

Diamond is one of the few female rappers with a major label deal and she’s currently riding high from her recent cameo on Ludacris’ My Chick Bad. Now preparing to reintroduce the world to her grown-up self, Diamond chats with VIBE about her solo career and why women need to check their emotions when it comes to business. Continue reading on…

Ochocinco and Bernard Berrian’s 5 Mrs. Right Must Haves

At the present moment there are no bachelors on television more in-demand than NFL Cincinnati Bengal Ochocinco (formerly known as Chad Williams) and Minnesota Viking Bernard Berrian. The star and co-star of VH1’s Ultimate Catch have successfully combined dating and sport competition to the tune of 1.5 million viewers weekly. We’re guessing most of these eyes come with longer lashes and would love an opportunity to bag a chocolate receiver (no pun). So VIBE has decided to help  the ladies out by asking Mr. ˜Cinco and Sir Berrian for 5 Must-Have’s  for their Ms Right. Pay attention and you too could be ballin’. Continue reading on…

Malcolm Jamal Warner on ‘Life After’ The Cosby Show

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 20 years since The Cosby Show finished its groundbreaking, eight-year successful run on television. And Malcolm Jamal Warner has definitely been one of the more visible former Cosby Show kids as an actor and director. Most recently he turned in guest star appearances on such critically acclaimed shows as, Dexter, The Cleaner and HawthoRNe. Plus, Warner also starred in the Post-Cosby sitcoms Malcolm and Eddie and the short-lived Sherri and Listen Up. And in addition to his work behind the scenes on The Cosby Show, he also served as a director on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Keenan and Kel.  While he and his TV siblings qualify as perfect poster adults for former child stars, the 40-year old New Jersey native admits there are still challenges to navigating a successful career after starring on one of the most iconic shows in television history. Malcolm Jamal Warner comes clean on TV One’s biography series Life After, which airs throughout the month of August (check your local listings.) But he also spoke to about his music career, why sometimes you don’t see him on TV and of course, The Cosby Show. Continue reading on…

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Kanye provides pithy content for New Yorker cartoons

We’ve entered the New Yorker cartoon caption contest just under a bazillion times, and have never won. Then Kanye West joins Twitter, says something trite, and all of a sudden his inane observations are New Yorker captions. Rage! OK, in all of our defenses, it’s not real. Comedy writers Paul Sabourin and Josh Cagen have taken West’s tweets and turned them into ersatz New Yorker cartoons. It’s funny stuff. Follow @KanyeWest for fresh tweets, check out BuzzFeed to see them put to art, and chat about them with the hashtag #kanyenewyorkertweets.

Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz get married

This is good news for everyone, except maybe Swizz Beatz’s ex wife Mashonda? Dunno, seems like it might bum her out a little, seeing as how the couple had a two-year affair on the sly while he was still married to her. OK, now we’re starting to sound judgmental. We’re happy for them, really, but mostly because of the whole “Keys and Beatz” thing. Make beautiful music together, guys! We’ll stop now.

The Bad not thrilled about Michael Jackson’s new album

When Michael Jackson’s posthumous album of unreleased material drops by the end of 2010, there will be one person who doesn’t immediately go stand in line at Best Buy or start downloading”Black Eyed Peas frontman The producer/MC collaborated with Jackson on the 2008 rerelease of Thriller, and discovered that the King of Pop was very particular about his music. I don’t think that should ever come out. That’s bad,” he said, “He was a perfectionist and he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. How you gonna release Michael Jackson when Michael Jackson ain’t here to bless it?” The Black Eyed Pea went on to call the album project disrespectful and Jackson’s avid fans parasites. He seems displeased.

The Ugly

Aretha Franklin breaks two ribs

The iconic soul singer was scheduled to perform two concerts in Brooklyn, but had to cancel after falling at her home and breaking two ribs. This is the part where we don’t make a joke about that.

Get better soon, A-Frank!


Nicki Minaj announces debut album
M.I.A.’s “XXXO” video preview = WTF
Katy Perry gets uncovered for the cover of Rolling Stone
Nominees announced for VMAs
J-Lo and Steven Tyler to host American Idol?
Weird Al Yankovic to co-headline Fun Fun Fun Fest with Dirty Projectors and Devo
Kings of Leon announce fifth album, Come Sundown
Cursive’s Tim Kasher releases The Game of Monogamy

Q&A: Darrelle London at Lilith Festival

Back in May, OurStage partnered with the Lilith to give artists across the country the opportunity to perform at the famed festival on tour stops in their hometown. We caught up with singer-songwriter Darrelle London, who won the opportunity to perform in Toronto on July 24th,  to talk about the performance experience along with her plans for the future.

OS: You are currently signed to Perez Hilton’s label, how did you get on his radar?

DL: I knew from his Web site that he loves music and promotes his favorite artists, so I just emailed him one day, hoping that he might like my music. He got back to me right away, and we’ve been working together for over a year now.

OS: Can you tell us about your experience performing at the Toronto stop of the Lilith Festival? How has the buzz been since you performed?

DL: I was so excited to be there, but the experience even surpassed all my expectations. Chantal Kreviazuk joined me onstage for a song that we wrote together. She also brought me up onstage during her set to sing backup, along with Sarah McLachlan, Melissa McClelland and Butterfly Bouchon. It was an amazing and surreal experience. All the women were so talented and down-to-earth. Even though it was raining, the fans were still in great spirits and so was I! Buzz since the show has been great. I met some new fans that day, and I did interviews with CBC, CTV, eTalk and MuchMusic.

OS: It seems like 2010 has been a big year for you so far, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

DL: I’m on tour now in eastern Canada. I’m hoping to tour the northeastern US in the late fall. I’m about to release my new single, “Selfish”. I’m going into the studio soon, to finish recording two new songs I wrote with Chantal Kreviazuk.

OS: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and supporters on OurStage?

DL: Thank you so much for getting involved and judging! You made my dream come true and I’m so grateful!

OurStage Artists Win Opening Slot For Kid Rock & Bon Jovi

Back in April, OurStage teamed up with Bon Jovi to host the Bon Jovi’s Wanted: A Super Band Tonight competition and give OurStage artists the chance to open for the ’80s rock icons. Throughout the summer, winning artists embraced the opportunity to open for both the legendary rock group and special guest Kid Rock in sold out stadiums across the country. Wonder what the experience was like? We caught up with Charm City Devils, The Malibu Knights, The Kids of Survival, The Worsties and DIVE post-performance to get the scoop.

Charm City Devils

For some of the winners, performing at a stadium venue was a first, for others it was familiar territory. However, it’s clear from both sides that each band took away something unique from their performances. John Allen of Charm City Devils commented on some of the unexpected outcomes of opening for major touring acts. From my experience, sometimes in a support situation you can play to an empty venue but on this show I think we played to over 10 thousand people!!! New  Jersey rockers DIVE had the experience of playing one of the first shows held at the newly constructed Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Besides the bands and crew being the nicest and most helpful people we have worked with, the stadium blew us away. Being on the first show ever at the new Meadowlands Stadium was a dream come true!

The Malibu Knights in Edmonton

Opening for Bon Jovi has many perks, but the most important benefit for these acts was the chance to reach out to new fans and boost buzz through their performances. We had 5000 samplers we gave out after we played and got to talk to people who said they loved us, commented Dylan Lipari of Kids of Survival. Once we found out about this event we sat down and made of lists of things we can do to snowball this into something huge and use this as leverage.  And thanks to OurStage and Mr. Bon Jovi we now have some really cool things in the works. Dan Harden of The Malibu Knights commented The buzz has been huge for our touring band before and after the show. The audience was standing and clapping along with our tunes. They were terrific!

The Worsties before their set in Chicago

Tennessee natives The Worsties won the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi in Chicago on July 31st. They drove all the way from home to perform in front of a huge audience at Soldier Field.  “I have not met many people in my life that can honestly say they had a dream of theirs come true, and it did for me. The experience is one I can relive for the rest of my life,” recalls bass player Jairo. Lead singer Anna “Madame Worsty” Worstell stated, “Being in Chicago for the first time and being able to play Soldier Field was a surreal feeling…It honestly felt like a dream except completely natural. This could not have been made possible if it weren’t for the OurStage team and Bon Jovi for hosting this contest, and The Worsties could not be more appreciative for the opportunity…I have a funny feeling this is just the beginning…” You can check out a video of the Worsties performing their song “Let’s Go” live from their set at Soldier Field below.

Soul Searching: Corneille

Although thus far we have focused our Soul Searching on OurStage artists, we’ve come across an artist worth branching outside of our circle for! Corneille (born in Germany to Rwandan parents) has a diverse background that shows in his bilingual music. His most recent work is his album The Birth of Cornelius, released on UniversalMOTOWN. Corneille’s music is influenced and shaped by some of the world’s best soul artists including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and Prince. We got the chance to ask Corneille a few questions about his music both past and future. Check out the short interview below.

Not many artists are able to come even close to Marvin Gaye’s level of soul, and you do a fantastic job in your video on YouTube. How do you channel that level of soul into your music? Is there anything you can attribute to your ability to do this?

Thank you! I believe that channeling any emotion genuinely through music or any performance-art form requires a type of inspiration that can’t be broken down intellectually. Sure I grew up listening to a lot of soulmusic, and the Marvin Gayes of this world have certainly influenced my art, and from listening to these gifted artists I’ve acquired some technique, but the ability to make your soul palpable to an audience through the medium of art and move something in someone else’s spirit is beyond anything I could possibly explain.

Do you have any new projects up and coming? What are you working on currently?

I am currently in pre-production for my next French album and am also starting to put some ideas together for my next English album.

If you could collaborate with any one artist or producer, who would it be?

I would love to work with Larry Klein.

Let us know what you think of Corneille’s music, and as always send your recommendations for artists to feature in the upcoming weeks!

Festivus: Lollapalooza

Ask anyone, the music community is a buzz this week in anticipation for Lollapalooza. Many a fan’s favorite festival, the 3 day event kicks off tomorrow (August 6th) and goes til Sunday, offering over 130 bands up on a silver platter in Chicago’s historical Grant Park. Like most festivals, Lollapalooza has seen its share of heartache. It started in 1991 born to Jane’s Addiction in the hopes of creating an truly awesome farewell tour for the band. That initial lineup in 1991 was comprised of artists spanning across various rock genres, from the post-punk Siouxsie and the Banshees to industrial Nine InchNails and even dabbling in a little Ice-T. The rock culture expanded past just music to include tents housing alternative freak shows, Shaolin monks, art displays, virtual reality games and of course, booths promoting political and environmental awareness.

An explosion of grunge rock in that early ’90s propelled Lollapalooza to the big time and became the birth place of “Alternative Nation” as coined by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell.  Stages were added in the coming years and fans became more engaged, mosh pits and crowd surfing exploded, boothes popped up for open mic readings, television-smashing pits evolved, and tattoo and piercing parlors prevailed. But attendees began to complain about high ticket costs as well as escalating food and water prices. Soon fans began rioting and in 1992 chunks of sod and grass were ripped up and hurled at each other and other bands resulting in crazy costs for the venue.

Courtney Love at Lollapalooza in 1995 ©Heather Faulkner

In 1994, Nirvana pulled out of their scheduled Lollapalooza headlining spot. The day after the announcement was made, Kurt Cobain was found dead in Seattle. Courtney Love would go on to make surprise guest appearances at several shows. Since she wasn’t on the bill, The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan would graciously lend her set time to speak to the crowds about the loss and perform a couple songs. Two years later in 1996, Farrell (consumed with a new festival project, ENIT) decided not to be involved in the production of Lollapalooza. Metallica was booked and fans cried sell out. The powers that be worked at keeping the festival relevant, expanding genres to country and electronica but it was too late. When a headliner was no where to be found in 1998, Lollapalooza, along with alternative rock, was declared DOA.

In 2003, Farrell revived Jane’s Addiction and attempted to bring Lollapalooza with them, bringing the festival to 30 cities. However high prices still plagued sales and the 2004 tour was cancelled at the beginning of the summer because no one was buying. Farrell smartened up in 2005 and partnered with Capital Sports & Entertainment (now C3 Presents, co-owners and producers of Austin City Limits) and transformed the train-wreck into a destination festival in Chicago’s Grant Park. Seventy acts performed on 5 stages that year, and Lollapalooza inked itself a deal in 2008 making Chicago its home through 2018.

Now gearing up for its 19th year, Lollapalooza is a testament to the versatility of festivals and rock and roll itself. Lighter fare such as Weezer, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco and Ben Folds have made their way to Chicago in the last 5 years, and the evolution of rock from grunge to indie has solidified (as much as something as transitory as rock and roll can be solidified).

Just to be safe though, let’s throw some punk into the mix (See this year’s headliner Greenday) and add a helping of grunge (See the thousands of kids wearing flannel in the audience. See also: Soundgarden.) Chris Cornell and Co. will be reuniting Sunday night on the South Stage for the first time since 1997 (the last year of the traveling Lollapalooza, mind you. It all comes together….).

Other acts to be seen at this weekend’s Lollapalooza include Arcade Fire, The Strokes, The Black Keys, The National, The New Pornographers, Gogol Bordello, MUTEMATH, Metric, Against Me!, the xx…basically every band and artist that we’ve discussed on the festival circuit this summer. And one that we haven’t. The queen of the pop-culture universe, Lady Gaga. The festival is rumored to be preparing for the Fame Monster with a $250K stage set up. A far cry from the afternoon side stage performance she did as a brunette back in 2007.

Tickets are still available for this weekend ($90 for a day pass or $215 for all 3 days). Check out all the info and acts over at Lollapalooza’s site.

Tune Up: The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects

Beyond artists, producers and bands, there is a group of music/sound creators that operate in completely  different facets. Sure, it’s easy to license popular music to use in movies, commercials, etc., but there is also a viable branch of the industry known as sound design. While there are teams of people in Hollywood trained to do their part in films and commercials, for smaller projects the more aspiring composers and designers have to wear many hats. Scoring a video or animation can be quite the daunting process since you not only need to come up with themes, but also score videos with fully arranged music and even find (or record), process and sync sound effects.

Every sound designer and editor has their own set of tricks, rules and techniques. However, everyone will agree on one thing: you need the proper collection of sounds. In fact, I’ll spend days at a time walking around with field recorders or setting up mic’s around the apartment just to collect cool sounds I hear for future projects. Even though there is nothing more fun for a sound designer then setting up 5 mic’s in a room and throwing around objects to create Foley effects (the reproduction of everyday sound used in film), your scores and sound effects will probably need that professional edge.

Enter: The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects Libraries.

While we’ve talked about loop libraries, we have several other libraries of sound. Aside from collections that can be personally created using field recorders, the Hollywood Edge effects are some of the best that we’ve ever used while scoring. We’re sure you’ve even heard them in action as they’ve graced numerous major motion pictures with their epic swells and powerful impacts. Even esteemed director Oliver Stone (The Doors, Any Given Sunday) swears by them.

So, if you’ve been asking yourself how you can get your soundtracks to have that real Hollywood sound, then it seems only natural to turn to the collection that Hollywood is actually using. The collections come in different themes, sizes and price ranges. However, the most famous is their complete sound effect collection. This multi-CD library comes with everything, from high-impact sounds for car crashes to heavily-processed gunshot sounds for space-age weapon emulation to low rumbles that are so common in horror movies and thrillers. They all come in extremely high quality, stereo wave files for use within any standard audio or video editing program. Whether you need ambient beds like their fluctuating, wind-sounding effects or a quick, shocking explosion, they’ve got you covered. After all, there are only so many realistic Foley effects you can make yourself. You can’t exactly record your own explosion.

The sounds speak for themselves. Check out a recent trailer for one of The Edge‘s collections to hear for yourself:

While the video gives you some great examples and is certainly a well-done montage, we’ve spent literally hours exploring the sounds on the collection we purchased. Sure, they have some electronic indexing and lists that come with the collections upon purchase. However, one minor con to the collection is these lists are a little hard to navigate, and because the collections are so extensive, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of effects. We can’t stress enough the value of being a true student of using your ears. No matter what the sound file is called, if we like it and think it can fit somewhere, we’ll use it.

Even though we’ve paid for the license to use these effects, it’s rare that we’ll stick one directly into a project. We typically use these effects (and those of any library, for that matter), as a simple starting point. The sounds have great character, epic punch and a rich spectrum, but more can always be done. Otherwise, we’d be using something everyone has access to. Therefore, in order to make it your own, we recommend any number of processing techniques to tweak the wave files. You’ll obviously need some pitch/time shifting in order to make it logistically fit into the video. However, you can use these in addition to reverb, EQ, reverse functions, etc. to give these sounds your own character. There’s really no limit.

The Hollywood Edge offers a wide array of collections for many different visual applications. Not just movies, but games and animations as well. We recommend heading over to their web site and seeing what works for your applications in your price range.

Judges Needed For Intel Superstars Competition

Calling all judges! Intel has partnered with Cakewalk and OurStage to bring you the Intel Superstars Competition, and now we need your help to find future superstars! The artist entries have been flooding in since July 1st and now the tracks are ready to be judged by YOU the fans. The Top 5 artists in the Aspiring Rock, Pop and Country Channels will win prize packages containing computers powered by Intel Core Processor technology and equipped with Cakewalk music software. In addition, the Top 20 finalists in each of the three channels will be entered to win a $10,000 cash prize, awarded by a panel of music industry experts.  The competition is being held on Facebook, so be sure to head over to Intel’s Facebook page and rank your favorite artist!  Judging ends on August 26th, so hurry over now to ensure your favorite artist finds a spot at the top.

Behind the Mic: Voice Care 101

From insufficient monitoring to lack of sleep to dehydration, there are many things that can hurt a singer’s voice.

A lot of vocalists practice with a PA system but, more often than not, they are straining to sing louder in order to hear themselves better. The same can be said about playing shows at venues with weak on-stage monitors. If you can’t hear yourself, you are more likely not only to sing off-key, but also to hurt your voice by forcing volume. The best fix to this problem is to invest in an in-ear monitor system, which will allow you to hear your voice through earbuds. Not only will you significantly lessen the damage to your voice, you’ll also be shocked by how much better you sing once you can really hear yourself.

A good night's sleep is necessary. for a good night's show!

Make sure you get plenty of rest on the nights before practices and shows. You know what your voice sounds like when you first wake up, and if you don’t get enough sleep, that croaky sound will stay throughout the day. Plus, it will be much harder to put on an an engaging performance if you’re running low on energy.

Keeping hydrated at all times is key to having a healthy voice, and downing a plastic bottle of water during your set is not enough!  Keeping your vocal cords wet will help them to vibrate, which they have to do quickly in order to speak or sing. Before a show, make sure to drink only room-temperature water because cold beverages will cause your vocal chords to contract.

If you happen to lose your voice, many people will tell you to drink hot tea with honey or lemon. But vocal coach Kevin Richards of Rock the Stage NYC claims that there is no truth behind this advice. According to Richards, the only cure for a sore voice is 24 hours of complete vocal rest ” no singing OR talking.

Treat your voice like an instrument; it's the only one you have.

Richards’ checklist for proper vocal care also includes: watching out for overly cold drafts or dry, heated hair; taking zinc to help heal a dry or scratchy throat; and drinking lukewarm caffeine-free hot tea in the winter in order to stay hydrated.

Vocal coaches like Richards are invaluable resources, especially if you are looking to pursue singing professionally. Your coach will be able to help you with breathing and warm-up exercises, as well as advise you on how to get a clean and powerful sound without doing damage to your voice. Seeing a vocal coach will allow you to learn proper singing techniques in order to maximize your vocal strength and quality.

It’s important to remember that a voice must be cared for as if it were an expensive piece of equipment. Practicing good vocal care habits will ensure that you keep a clean, dependable and strong voice for years to come.

Manic Impressive

The Black Rabbits

Jetson Black (badass name and 100% real) may sound pretty aloof when he sings, but make no mistake, there’s serious fire beneath the surface. As guitarist and lead vocalist for the Asheville, NC, band The Black Rabbits, Black delivers tightly wound vintage rock fueled by unrequited emotion. His brother, Skyler Black, keeps it rock steady behind the kit, while bassist Natalie Smallish and organist Kim Drake add feathery vocals to smooth out the rough edges. Hurry Hurry is a dark little rocker brimming with swag. Guitars strut and drums stomp as the urgency mounts. For Way Too Long Now feels more morose, with female backup acting as treacle to Black’s pent-up anxiety. For a break in the tension, skip to Emotion,  a kinetic, retro rock juggernaut complete with purring guitars, twinkling keys, handclaps and tambourines. One part Julian Casablancas, one part Jack White, Black hovers between unflappable cool and manic frenzy. Like a train that chugs along and suddenly threatens to go off the tracks, The Black Rabbits brooding, theatrical garage rock makes for an exciting ride.