Oct 21, 2017 – 7:30 PM

  • Tyrese
  • Faith Evans
  • Jon B.
  • Donell Jones

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Tyrese: Born on December 30, 1978 in Watts Quarter, Los Angeles, California as the youngest of four children in his family, he, along with his siblings, was raised solely by his mother, Priscilla Murray Gibson, after his father left them in 1983. This multi-talented guy first gained national attention when he showed up in the 1995 Coca-Cola TV commercial as its new face of the year upon winning a talent search held by its company, subsequently led him to other appearances for Guess? also Tommy Hilfiger.

Afterwards developed a successful modeling career, Tyrese apparently could not push aside his wish to develop a career in music industry, a goal he had aimed to achieve since he started singing at the age of 14. Already made his foray into screen production through one-time performance in several TV series, such as Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1992-1997) and Martin (1992-1997), he then released his self-titled debut album on September 29, 1998 under RCA Records. It amazingly became a smash hit over the country in quite a short time, soaring to the top position of Billboard Heatseekers also the top 20 of Billboard 200 and ultimately was certified Platinum.

This initial attainment undeniably led Tyrese to gain wider public notice all over the country, moreover after he gloriously nabbed the title of Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist at the 2000 American Music Awards. Also became a Grammy nominee for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance through his single, Sweet Lady, in the same year, he continued to solidify his status in music industry, releasing two other albums, 2000 Watts (2001) and I Wanna Go There (2002), which both satisfyingly received Gold status. During this period, the tall singer also encountered fair success in his acting career as his first film feature, Baby Boy (2001), resulted quite well both critically and commercially.

Following the achievement of this gritty romantic drama picture, its director, John Singleton, decided to once again collaborate with Tyrese, thus cast him alongside Paul Walker, Eva Mendes, and Ludacris in his 2003 effort 2 Fast 2 Furious. Scored a fantastic income of more than 236 million U.S dollar worldwide, the flick consequently catapulted the 25-years-old hunk to .international attention, giving him larger opportunity to secure more high-profile film roles, like those in Flight of the Phoenix (2004) and Four Brothers (2005). Next billed to star in the 2006 projects of Annapolis plus Waist Deep, he took time to return to his original interest, working on a double-CD project entitled Alter Ego which was planned to feature R&B tunes on one disc and hip-hop on another.

Faith Evans: This is Faith Evan’s time. You can see it in her toned physique, sense it in her confident manner and hear it on her fourth cd (and debut on Capitol Records) The First Lady. Featuring songs written and arranged by Faith, and production from the Neptunes, Chucky Thompson, Mario Winans, Brian Cox, Jermaine Dupri and Carvin and Ivan, The First Lady is the platinum selling, Grammy winning Faith Evans, as you’ve never experienced her. Direct. Dramatic. Playful. Passionate. Rich with wisdom, sexy, and brimming with an undeniable passion. 10 years into a career that’s had its share of tribulations and triumph, The First Lady is the record Faith was born to create.

The title’s significance? “When you think of a “first lady”, you might not hear her speaking but she always seems to handle everything with a certain dignity. I feel that way about myself. In the past I haven’t made it a habit to deliver sound bites or verbalize everything I’m going through, because it’s about seeing things for what they are and sorta tucking a feather in your cap. Watching. Observing and growing,” Faith smiles,” and I’m still standing.”

That she is. Ask her what makes The First Lady special and Faith enthuses. “Liberation! Being in a different place mentally and physically, because I have gone through a lot of changes. Being on a new label is really a new start; one many artists don’t get. It’s refreshing to be able to start again and have the creative freedom I’m now enjoying.” (MORE) That freedom is evident on the first single “Again”, produced by Carvin and Ivan (Jill Scott, Musiq). Set to a retro, mid tempo groove “Again” is Faith’s “testimony;” an intimate look at the drama of the past few years. ”I know when you come back out people want to talk about what you’ve been through and being in the news (e.g. a 2004 arrest on drug charges), I’ve seen how things can get blown out of proportion. “ No stranger to media scrutiny, Faith was nonetheless stunned by the intensity of the coverage following the incident -to avoid a trial Evans and her husband entered a spiritual based diversion program. Faith was inspired to work her issues out through her music. “Again” is how I want that situation to be understood but it’s not what the whole album is about. I’m just getting the information out and then we’re gonna jump into another song and have some fun.”

That song is the high energy “Going Out” produced by the Neptunes and featuring Pharell and Pusha. “It’s different, unexpected; The Neptunes always do something left field. I love this song because it’s young, open and fun. I’m about to live life and no matter what happens I know God’s got me covered. I’m not going to stay sad, I’m at a great place in my life and “Going Out” is my way of summing that up.”

Delivering a classic soul vibe is “Mesmerized,” co-written with husband Todd Russaw and produced by Chucky Thompson (Faith’s 1995 debut), AJ and Russaw. “I love that song! I had the track for 2 years and started messing around in my studio and came up with the hook, just me in the basement with Todd. Then when Chucky and I got back together he was like, My God! The chemistry is still there; nobody could have done that track but you. It’s just raw. I’m really channeling my inner Lyn Collins.”

Laced with lushness is “Ever Wonder” a duet with another old friend, Mario Winans. "That song is just a radio hit and it’s honest and simple. It reminds me of (2002’s Grammy nominated) “Can’t Believe” which Mario produced. “Ever Wonder” is also collaboration with her husband. Working with Todd is something Faith describes as “beautiful” adding; “he inspires me in every way. He’s very encouraging and wants me to be the best I can be in every possible way. “

Born in Florida Faith grew up in Newark, New Jersey, raised by her grandparents and her mother, who was a singer. At 2, Faith was already performing in church and as a high school honor student sang in school before winning a full scholarship to Fordham University. After a year, Faith left college to see if her jazz and classical voice training could pay off. She got her answer, and by the early 90’s Faith was a session singer and songwriter for, among others Christopher Williams, Usher, Pebbles and Mary J Blige. Faith’s contributions brought her to the attention of Sean “P.Diddy” Combs who signed Evans to Bad Boy. In 1995 Faith dropped her debut Faith, which on the strength of “You Used To Love Me” and “Soon As I Get Home” went platinum. That same year Faith met label mate The Notorious B.I.G and after a whirlwind courtship married him, capping off the relationship with a guest spot on a hit remix of Biggie’s “One More Chance.”

IIn 1996 she and Biggie had a son yet the marriage was strained and the couple separated. In March 1997 Faith was thrust unwillingly into the news when Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles. Her grief was expressed via a moving vocal performance on the #1 single “I’ll Be Missing You”, produced by Combs.

That same year saw Faith’s sophomore cd Keep The Faith. Like its predecessor, the cd went platinum, and featured “Love Like This”, and the Babyface produced #1 “Never Gonna Let You Go”. Faith juggled solo work with high profile cameos ala Whitney Houston’s 1999 single “Heartbreak Hotel” and Eve’s “Love Is Blind” (2000). Her third platinum cd Faithfully (2001) showcased a more up-tempo sound via hits like “You Gets No Love.” In 2003 Faith made her feature film debut, along side Beyonce and Cuba Gooding, JR in The Fighting Temptations and in 2004 signed with Capitol.

When asked what people will hear on The First Lady Faith is reflective. “Growth. I know I have fans that believe in me and who have been with me since that first album. Having that support is wonderful. This time, perhaps more ever before, I’m trying to show a real range of emotions. I’ve been through so much. I lost a husband, a label, I’ve gained weight, lost weight, been arrested, won awards, there’s so much. These are all things that are a part of my life and my music, but I'm able to take all of it and grow. After three albums I know that nobody can do what Faith Evans does like Faith Evans. ”

Jon B.: Some people become artists because they seek fortune and fame. They believe that somehow, performing, writing and producing will bring them the accolades and acclaim they feel theyve been missing.

And then there are the people who have no choice in the matter - artistry has chosen them. They are compelled to write, perform and record the way the rest of us are compelled to breathe. Whether they sell five million records or just five, some folks will always create.

Jon B. is one of these rare individuals.

Jon B. was born on November 11th, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Jon grew up in Pasadena but spends holidays in the South Bay. His father's family has roots in Campbell and his mother's in Los Altos. He grew up surrounded by music. His father, David , is a conductor for the Los Angeles Symphonic Camerata; he was recently guest conductor for the Shanghai Opera. His mother a piano teacher and performer. His brother, Kevin, plays cello and bass in Jon's band. His sister, plays violin in the critically acclaimed Quartet. Jon's grandfather owned Town & Country Music Center, the Palo Alto record store near Stanford University where Jon B. spent many afternoons. David jokes that Jon B. is the only family member to go into music without training. `He took three lessons, learned how to bow and then quit,'' Buck says. Jon, himself, was only nine years old when he learned to play the keyboards and started writing his own original songs. He was also soon proficient on the bass as well as the drums.

Jon attended Eliot Middle School in Altadena, CA, as well as John Muir, and L.A. County High School for the Arts. By his teenage years Jon had recorded dozens of demo tracks. While still in high school, Jon had been urged by to contact Tracey E. Edmonds, the President & CEO of Yab Yum Records at the time. "I came to Yab Yum with my tape and played it for her and everything and she loved it" Jon says. Jon was then contracted as a solo singer and songwriter and signed to Yab Yum Records.

Jon started writing and producing music for various artists. Some of his first work included two remixes he produced of Michael Jackson's single "You Are Not Alone" as well as music for artists such as Az Yet, Color Me Badd, and Toni Braxton. He also wrote and produced four songs for the After 7 album "Reflections". Jon's first single was a duet with Babyface entitled "Someone To Love". The song was featured on the Bad Boys soundtrack and later on Jon's debut album "Bonafide". The single was a number 5 hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts, and later earned a grammy nomination. In May of 1995, he released his now platinum-certified album "Bonafide." Jon B. wrote, produced, and arranged all except two of the songs on the album. Jon played instruments on every single track from the album. He also solely handled the drum programing on all except two tracks on the album.

In 1997, it was time for Jon to release his sophomore album, entitled "Cool Relax". "My first album helped me find my own style and my own voice. Now I've found my niche and the new music reflects it. This record feels natural. When I was writing, the music just flowed out" Jon explains about recording the album. "Cool Relax" later went Double Platinum and became Jon's most succesful work to date. Indeed, Cool Relax shot to the Top 5 of R&B charts upon its release in 1998, fueled by the success of They Dont Know, a platinum-certified single and a number 1 R&B hit. A highly melodic offering with an ultra-romantic vibe, They Dont Know cemented Jons reputation as a balladeer with real heart. Are You Still Down, the B-side to They Dont Know, peaked at 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks. The follow up "I Do (Whatcha Say Boo)" reached No. 19 becoming another hit, as well as oter singles released from the album - "Don't Say" and "Cool Relax."

He continued his mission with Pleasures U Like, which rose to number 3 on the R&B charts in 2001. The first single, the hit love-at-first-club-sighting anthem Dont Talk single-handedly pushed the album past 400,000 units sold. After the release of this album, Jon started experiencing many new challenges in his life. "My last album [Pleasures U Like] kinda fizzled out, We did a gold album, which is really cool, off of one single, but I just felt like [the label] should've released more than one single. I worked really hard on that album... I think that it was just a matter of promotion", Jon says about the album. Jon eventually left Epic Records and Sony all together and signed to DreamWorks Records. Unfortunately things fell apart at DreamWorks Records as well as Interscope Records bought the label out and it became a subsidary company of Interscope.

These weren't the only challenging situations which took place around this time. "I lost my entire recording studio in a fire, which was devastating. Then I went through a divorce, which was horribly painful", Jon describes. "The fire was too tremendous for me to be sane. I completely broke away from the world. I went through a four-month period where I lived in Venice Beach by myself in a furnished apartment that the fire insurance paid for. And I was able to get my whole life together down there, with a completely new outlook on life."

These situations inspired the music for Jon B.'s fourth album "Stronger Everyday". The album was originally scheduled to be released on November 25, 2003 on DreamWorks Records with the title "Everyday Struggles", but it didn't hit stores until October 5, 2004, on Sanctuary Urban Records with the title "Stronger Everyday".

"Stronger Everyday" is the most personal work fans have heard from Jon B. "Yes, I'm a grown man, but that doesn't mean I don't have any feelings. Men can express what's going on in their hearts; we don't have to keep everything inside all the time. In the years since my last album was released, I've been going through some extremely rough times" Jon says. "Everything on this album is based on real experiences. These are literal statements - I'm putting my life and soul into this music. An artist can have hot tracks, but if youve been through some rough times and we all have then I want to feel it in your music. I believe you must go deep and really tap into your emotions before you can speak the truth about anything.

The album deals with the personal setbacks he faced when his high school sweetheart divorced him and his studio burned down. `I ran into the cyclones in my life,'' Jon B. says. "A huge wall of destruction came into my world." Though the dissolution of his marriage and the fire are at the top, his list of misfortunes also includes the label mergers in the record industry, losing his recording deal and living alone for the first time.

"I'm somewhat of a romantic,'' Jon B says. `It's not like I'm looking at taking women out all the time, going to clubs and all that, but I'm the walk-around-barefoot type romantic. When I have a beat going, the beat itself makes me think of something romantic to say.'' Jon B. aims to be `that voice for men,'' articulating their emotional side. He cites Mario Winans' single, `I Don't Wanna Know,'' about a man who prefers to remain ignorant about whether his girl is sleeping around, as an honest take on the male point of view."

And though some might argue that Jon has vintage soul singers like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway on his mind whenever he steps into the studio, he has long been a fixture on the hip-hop scene, having worked with Tupac (R U Still Down) Nas, (Finer Things) Cuban Link, (All I Want Is You) AZ, (Layaway) Eve, (Hot 2 Nite) Jay-Z (Keep It Real) Guru, (Cool Relax - remix) Kurupt, (Summertime) among many others. Everytime, was produced by one of hip-hops hottest names, Just Blaze (Jay-Z, DMX, Fabolous). Hip-hop has always been an important part of my life, Jon affirms. I came up at a time when kids were banging on tables to make beats and break dancing in the street, so it just feels completely natural to incorporate hip-hop into what I do. I dont view it as a departure; its an extension.

Donell Jones: Donell Jones is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He is most notable for the hits "U Know What's Up", "Where I Wanna Be", and his cover of Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet"

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