Ben E. King: He Sang ‘Stand by Me’

R&B singer Ben E. King, who passed away April 30 at age 76 in Hackensack, N.J., had a smooth, unaffected baritone and soulful delivery that earned him a string of top 10 singles between the late 1950s and early 1960s, both as a member of the Drifters and as a solo artist. But it was one song, “Stand by Me,” that ensured musical immortality for the North Carolina native. After becoming a hit in 1961, the song enjoyed a second …

Your Gym May Be Harming Your Hearing

What’s good for your body is not necessarily good for your ears. Loud music is an integral part of many workout activities — spin classes are a prime example. A recent article in the New York Times found that the noise levels in a spin class at Crunch averaged 100 decibels over 40 minutes, and hit 105 decibels in its loudest five minutes. A staffer for the Hearing Health Foundation found that the decibel level at her gym hit 115 decibels. You can …

Clark Terry: Master Jazz Trumpeter and Educator

The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash, legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes. Terry — known for his affable nature as much as his musical brilliance — was one of the main figures in another 2014 breakout film, Alan Hicks’ touching documentary Keep On Keepin’ On. That film …

African Americans Share What Makes Them Happy

In 2012, AARP released a study titled “Beyond Happiness: Thriving,” which explored what happiness means to adults and what it takes to thrive as they age. AARP surveyed more than 4,000 Americans ages 35-80, including African Americans/blacks. Regardless of age, relationships were found to be universally important and key drivers of happiness. Among African Americans/blacks age 50 and over, family, relationships and faith top the list of experiences that contribute to personal happiness. The most significant were: Watching your children, …

Civil Rights Songs in the Key of Freedom Still Resonate

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand precious Lord, lead me on.” In the movie Selma, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. calls Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of Gospel,” at a moment when he is most discouraged. Over the phone, she sings “Precious Lord” to comfort him. For me, this was one of the …

Joe Cocker: Shakin’ Soul Shouter

As a singer, Joe Cocker was blessed with a magnificently raspy, soulful delivery that made him one of the most immediately recognizable vocalists in the history of rock music. But what really stuck in the public’s mind was his dancing: those flailing, knock-kneed, spasmodic movements that made it almost seem as if he was struggling with a demonic possession as he blew away the crowd at the Woodstock festival in 1969. As Cocker explained in a 2013 interview, even he …