Human Nature’s Phil Burton Lists Michael Jackson’s History Tour As His Top Three Concerts

Sources: All Things Michael | Courier Mail


Australian’s multi-platinum-selling vocal group Human Nature once worked with Michael Jackson as one of his opening acts for his HIStory tour in Australia in December 1996.  Michael also continued to have them open in Europe through the summer of 1997.

When Smokey Robinson brought the group to Las Vegas in May 2009 to produce a long engagement at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino, Michael gave Smokey permission to quote him on promotional materials for the show: “Human Nature Is Amazing – Michael Jackson”


Shortly after Michael’s passing, band member Andrew Tierney was been quoted as saying, “Touring as opening act for Michael Jackson on his last world tour was an incredible break for us. We learned so much from seeing him perform that many times and experienced things that have shaped us into the entertainers we are today. He was the ultimate artist and so inspiring,”


Human Nature:  (L-R) Toby Allen, Michael Tierney , Andrew Tierney, Phil Burton 

Group member Phil Burton was recently asked about the top three concert’s he’s been to and here’s what he said:

“Prince at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2003. No tricks, no gimmicks, just awesome musicianship and incredible showmanship. Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in 2014. I’ve loved Billy’s music since I was a little boy, and to see him at his spiritual home of ‘The Garden’ was a real tick off my bucket list and quite an emotional experience. Lastly would have to be Michael Jackson in Europe in 1997. We were lucky enough to be his support act and our AAA passes meant we could watch his show from pretty much wherever we wanted. To be able to stand in the wings while he danced and sang about six feet away was very surreal. I think I watched around 35 of his 45 shows and never once felt bored. Amazing.”

See the group’s tribute to Michael and their cover of Bruno Mars “Treasure” below.


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Andraé Crouch Hospitalized; Tribute Tour Postponed

Sources: – By Sarah Hearn | All Things Michael


A tour celebrating one of the most admired gospel artists of our time has been postponed. The announcement was made today, December 4, via the press release below:

Legendary Gospel artist Andraé Crouch was admitted to the hospital on Monday, December 1st. As a result of Andraé’s sudden and unexpected hospitalization, Riverphlo Entertainment has decided to postpone this month’s “Let the Church Say Amen” Celebration Tour. Ticket holders can contact the venues for information on rescheduled dates.

“Andraé is talking and alert and resting comfortably,” reports his sister, Sandra Crouch. “On behalf of Andraé and the Crouch Family, we appreciate your prayers for a quick and speedy recovery.”

The all-star concert tour was scheduled to kick off in Philadelphia on December 6th, paying tribute to Andraé’s legendary career and featuring performances by some of today’s top Gospel artists including CeCe Winans, Marvin Sapp, Marvin Winans, Israel Houghton, Rance Allen, Gerald Albright, Marcus Cole, Keith Staten, Vonnie Lopez and Leon Timbo.

Tour dates are currently being rescheduled for March/April 2015. A revised tour schedule will be announced before the Christmas holiday.

Andraé Crouch’s accolades include 7 Grammy Awards, 6 GMA Dove Awards, an Academy Award nomination for “The Color Purple,” induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His songs have been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Paul Simon, and he has worked as a producer and arranger with many of music’s top artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Elton John and many others. Andraé Crouch can also be heard on Michael Jackson’s hit singles “Man in the Mirror,” “Keep the Faith,” “Will You Be There” and “Earth Song.”

For more information, visit


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Rodney Jerkins Rocks the Tower With Barefoot Sound

Sources: Barefoot Sound – By Mr. Bonzai | All Things Michael


Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is a highly prolific record producer, songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most commercially successful producers in the history of music, he has collaborated with a very broad range of popular artists, including Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Rihanna, Luther Vandross, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton, Destiny’s Child, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

Jerkins is responsible for over 160 million record sales worldwide and the winner of four Grammy Awards.  Among his most notable productions are “You Rock My World” for Michael Jackson, “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” for Whitney Houston, “Say My Name” for Destiny’s Child, “If You Had My Love” for Jennifer Lopez, “Déjà Vu” for Beyoncé, “He Wasn’t Man Enough” for Toni Braxton and “Telephone” for Lady Gaga.

Barefoot: First, tell us about what you’ve been working on lately. Of course, you’ve had recent success all over the world with Michael Jackson.

Jerkins: Yes, the Michael Jackson album — I produced the title track called “Xscape”. It was really fun. I worked with Michael back in the 90s and started on that song in 1999, believe it or not. It’s one of those treasures that sat in the vault and I felt like it was time. Fifteen years passed by, and the world needed to hear it. His fans needed to hear it. On the album, you get both versions. You get the original, and you get the newest version that I re-produced and remixed to bring it up-to-date.

It was a lot of fun and I did that track using my big MiniMain12 Barefoot monitors.

“I only use Barefoots now when making music.”

It’s funny, because during my career it’s always been known that when you walked into the studio my previous speakers would be playing real loud. Since I got my Barefoots I have stopped utilizing any other speakers.

I was looking for the perfect monitor. A number of monitor manufacturers came to my studio and did showcases of their new speakers. Then Barefoot came and did a showcase and I was immediately sold. I’m on my second pair of Barefoots now. I’ve got them in my home studio and I’ve got them here in my office in the Capitol Records tower. I’ve got the big ones, the MM12s, and I plan on getting a third pair for another studio I’m building right now.

“I find that the Barefoots are the truest for me. When I do my music, I want to hear it back the same everywhere I go.”

You see, I’m very picky about the way I hear my music. Now that I’m working with my Barefoots, I just feel others speakers might be too bright, or the midrange isn’t right, or they don’t have the bottom end that I need. With Barefoot, it’s smooth top-in, perfectly clean.

And everybody that comes to my home studio, or to my office here, everybody reacts in a very positive way. I had Mary J. Blige here last night. She told her husband, “We need these speakers.”

When newcomers hear the music playing through the Barefoots they ask me, “What are those? I need those.” I love the response that comes out of the music that’s being played. You hear the detail and the true definition of every sound. That’s so important to me, especially when I’m creating. It’s one thing, when you listen to the mix of a record and you want it to be perfect. Even when you’re creating it, you want to hear it a certain kind of way.

Barefoot: I was going to ask about that. As you’re starting off with a new project, with a new track, you’re doing it with the Barefoot monitors?

Jerkins: Yes, I do it all my work now on Barefoots. It’s funny because I feel like it’s hard for me to even listen to my music in other speakers now. In my studio, I have many different speakers built into the walls. I’ve got big old speakers, I’ve got small Auratones, but now I just stay with my Barefoots.

My wife is one of my biggest critics. I call her my A&R, because she carefully listens to every track I make. She doesn’t want to hear my music any other way but through the Barefoots.

Barefoot: Really, that distinct?

Jerkins: Yeah, that distinct — it really is. It’s really been amazing, especially now, because I have my own label now: Evolve Music, distributed through Capitol Records. Now I’m responsible not just for the records I’m producing for other artists, but for many other projects I’m overseeing. For example, I’m the executive producer of Mary J. Blige’s new album.

Barefoot: Who’s producing that?

Jerkins: Different producers. It’s called the London Sessions, because It’s being done in London. There’s Naughty Boy, and Disclosure, Emili Sande, Sam Smith, all the top London writers and producers are working on this project, a phenomenal project. Executive producing is another hat I’m wearing these days. For me, again it all goes back to hearing the sound correctly, and knowing that the mix is perfect, and that the songs feel or sound right. If it doesn’t translate on my Barefoots it’s probably not going to translate anywhere else.

Barefoot: Do the Barefoots help you when you’re trying to get the best performance out of an artist you’re working with?

Jerkins: Absolutely. You know me, I’m so picky about the way that a song is sung. I want to hear every vowel. I want to hear the individual syllables. When I’m listening to a record, I’m listening to detail. I’m listening to everything. I want to know that the vibrato is just right on the word ‘you’.

It’s all about how you hear it, but also in a protective way because I like to listen to music loud. These Barefoots don’t hurt. That was the biggest problem when other companies were bringing their speakers for me to test, it was like it was too bright, or just not right. I’m like, “Oh this is going to kill me. In two or three years, I’ll have to wear earplugs.”

But with Barefoots, it’s loud but it’s not overpowering you. It’s not overpowering the room. You can still speak. Everything is tuned so perfectly that I don’t feel like I’ll need earplugs, or that I’m going to go deaf listening to some of the music in here. Like I said, my wife listens to my work through the Barefoots.

“It’s become my favorite monitor for listening to my music. And I have the big boys, the MM12s. I love them, but I treat them well. I treat them with respect. They’re my best friends.”

I’ve been in this music business for 19 years now. If you want to have longevity, you have to protect your ears. How you hear music, and how you make music and listen to music is the most important part of this whole experience. For me, there is no other way now. It’s only up to Barefoot to top themselves for me.

Barefoot: How would you explain the sound of Barefoot to a stranger who was new to the game?

Jerkins: I would ask a stranger, if you want to watch your favorite movie, how would you want to watch that movie? Would you want to watch it at home with the TV set, or would you want to go to the best movie theatre in town and listen to that big movie sound at its best? Do you really want to hear the bottom end, what the rumble is supposed to be like, what the explosions are really supposed to sound like? How would you want to hear it? I think 99 percent of people would say I want to go to the best theatre in town. That’s what having a pair of Barefoots is for me. It’s like having the best theatre sound right here. I’m hearing everything the way it should be heard.

I watch movies with my Barefoots. I watch games with my Barefoots — I watched the NBA finals in my office through the Barefoots. I just love the sound that comes out of them. It’s real. It’s intense. It’s amazing to be able to have an experience like this.

“Listening to music should be an experience. The music being made is part of the experience that you get, the emotional feeling when you hear certain songs. You should also have an experience with the sound and the definition of sound, and know that each part of a song has an element that’s being expressed correctly. The right speaker is what gives you that. That’s what Barefoot is.”


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Gospel Artist / Singer/ Songwriter Andrae Couch To Honored With Nationwide Tour

Sources: Progess Index | Edited By – All Things Michael

andrae crouch

RICHMOND — Gospel music legend Andraé Crouch will be honored with the “Let the Church Say Amen” celebration tour in cities nationwide this holiday season. The tour stops in Richmond at the Altria Theater on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. It will feature guest performances by some of Gospel’s top artists, including CeCe Winans, Marvin Winans, Israel Houghton, Marvin Sapp, Rance Allen and jazz artist Gerald Albright.

Tickets range from $34 – $64 (plus applicable fees) at the Altria Theater Box Office located at 6 N. Laurel St., online at, or by phone at 800-514-3849 (ETIX). ADA seating tickets are available. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The “Let the Church Say Amen” celebration tour will hit multiple cities, with stops in Charlotte, Birmingham, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Richmond, Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and more to be announced.

Produced by Riverphlo Entertainment (Mano Hanes), the “Let The Church Say Amen” celebration tour will pay homage to the living legend’s career spanning over five decades. With seven Grammy Awards, six GMA Dove Awards and an Academy Award nomination for The Color Purple, Andraé is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As it relates to the tour, Pastor Andraé Crouch says, “Luther “Mano” Hanes is a musical genius! I am so proud of him! He is a monster producer and a superb musician. I am blessed to call him my son and whole heartily endorse this exciting tour.”

“With a visionary like Mano at the helm nothing but pure amazement will follow! He walks in a psalmist anointing that can’t be denied. This is not just a concert this is an experience! You won’t leave the way you came.” – Pastor Sandra Crouch

Andraé’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Paul Simon, and he has worked as a producer and arranger with many of music’s top artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Elton John and many others.

Andraé can also be heard on Michael Jackson’s hit singles “Man in the Mirror,” “Keep the Faith,” “Will You Be There” and “Earth Song.”

For more information, visit

Andrae Crouch’s Biography

“Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson (Live)

Michael Jackson Keep The Faith

Michael Jackson- Will You Be There

Michael Jackson – Earth Song

MJ’s Memorial – Andrae Crouch Singers – “Soon And Very Soon”


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KING OF SOUND: The Man Who Recorded Michael Jackson (Bruce Swedien)

Sources: IndieGoGo | All Things Michael


Bruce Swedien is the sound engineer best known for recording Michael Jackson. This is his story…

Who is The King of Sound?

Bruce Swedien is a legend in the music recording business. He has over 50 years experience recording many of the world’s greatest artists but he is best known for recording Michael Jackson’s hit albums including ‘Off the Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’.  This film is his story – a story of music and love…


The Story

“Early in my career I met a young dude at Universal Studios in Chicago by the name of Bruce Swedien, who seemed to share my excitement in creating recorded music that originated in our own imagination. We have been kindred spirits ever since” (Quincy Jones)

This documentary film is the story of the man who has been responsible for the sound of some of the greatest pop artists of the last 50 years – Bruce Swedien.

From Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole to Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, George Benson, Chaka Khan and more recently Jennifer Lopez – Bruce Swedien has been the man behind the legends. As America’s premier sound engineer, winner of 5 Grammys and nominated for 13, with a 30 year partnership with the illustrious music producer Quincy Jones, Bruce is the man that major recording artists turn to in pursuit of the distinctive sound that results in top-selling albums.


It was Bruce, along with Quincy, who mixed and produced the biggest selling album of all time – Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

“I was really impressed at how prepared Michael was. I have never recorded Michael Jackson where he needed the lyric in front of him, it was always from memory. And another little funny thing about Michael – we always recorded in the dark…” (Bruce)


Bruce was a mentor figure for Michael from the outset and mixed his first adult solo album – Off The Wall. Together they created the unique sound that became Michael’s trademark and ensured his place in pop history.

“Michael was the greatest, I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone like him.” (Bruce)


Their relationship was not only professional, Bruce and his wife Bea were close to Michael throughout his career and became almost parental figures to him.

“When we met he was 17… he was so timid, he was afraid of his own shadow… he was just such an incredible guy, dear and sweet and the public should know that he was very special.” (Bea)


“Michael used to call and talk to me about the music, then he would say ‘Is Bea home?’ – and he’d talk to her for two hours!” (Bruce)

Bruce, now 80 and still working with major artists, has been married to Bea for over 60 years and credits her as a fundamental factor in his success. Bea was always part of Bruce’s studio life becoming good friends with many of the musicians and singers. She’s encouraged and supported him since the early days when he first worked with Count Basie at Universal Studios in Chicago. Theirs is a timeless love story.

“She’s made my life what it is and made it possible for me to do what I’ve done.” (Bruce)

“We’ve just had such a lovely time together and it ain’t over yet!” (Bea)


Bruce grew up an unassuming white, middle-class boy from Minnesota with strong Swedish roots. He began working in a recording studio at the age of 19 and fell in love with making music. His parents were both musicians and instilled in him a love of the art form from an early age. As a result of Bruce’s grounding in classical music, his career went from strength to strength. He soon went on to work with some of the coolest, most cutting-edge musicians and artists from the 1950s through to the present day.

In this film Bruce recounts a wealth of fascinating anecdotes about the seminal musicians he has worked with over the last 50 years. He presents us with a unique insider’s account of how some of the world’s most celebrated music tracks were created. There will be something for everyone to enjoy in Bruce’s unashamed musical trip down memory lane. From jazz and swing to disco, pop and R&B, Bruce’s stories will be illustrated with archive footage, photos and the songs that are the soundtrack to our lives.

We have exclusive access to film Bruce at work in his Florida recording studio. He’s still in hot demand to deliver that special Swedien sound!


As well as our secured access to Bruce and his wife Bea, we are pursuing access to some the major artists and music professionals that Bruce has worked with.

This film will be a tribute to a remarkable man, his skill and his passion for music.

It’s also the story of how some of the most amazing tracks of all time were created.

It’s a film for fans of Michael Jackson, for fans of jazz, swing, disco, pop and R&B,

it’s a film for fans of music – everywhere.

“Music is the only true magic in life… I love making records… I have had a blessed life, definitely” (Bruce Swedien)

About Gareth Maynard

I am a film editor with numerous broadcast credits in the UK over my 25 year career. Most of my work is with the BBC and independent broadcasters and production companies. I have directed music promos and short documentaries; I have worked in feature film post production as a post production producer with credits on major theatrical releases. Alongside my film and TV work, I record music which is how I became interested in Bruce Swedien. Although I am based in the UK and the subject matter is very much American, the film will be of interest to anyone who loves pop music.

To move forward…

I have already invested a good deal of my own time and money into this project that I’m so passionate about. The funding I need to take this film further will help towards covering filming costs on the west coast of America, post-production costs and importantly licensing of music and archive material.

We have a range of interesting rewards from advance copies of the finished film through to producer status and being directly involved in shaping the final film.

Whether we achieve under or over our goal I intend to have this production completed by summer 2015. The more funds we can raise, the better the final production will look and the more of Bruce’s amazing colleagues and friends can be included.

Risks & Challenges

Bruce and Bea Swedien have welcomed me into their lives and became involved in this project idea with great enthusiasm. I have already filmed extensive interviews and B-roll footage with Bruce and Bea along with other famous friends such as Rod Temperton and Siedah Garrett.

There are a number of willing contributors to the film including some of Bruce’s closest colleagues, but pinning down busy people like Quincy Jones may not be simple. I will gather a small team allowing us to be flexible and mobile. We expect to resume filming in Spring 2015.

Licensing of materials including music, archive videos and photographs will take time and cost money. We are looking to making contact with Sony Music as they own the Michael Jackson catalogue. We will also approach the Jackson estate for their assistance. Bruce Swedien played a big part in Michael Jackson’s career so I am expecting his associates to be sympathetic to our requests.



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Ricky Rebel: “Michael Had A Kind And Generous Spirit”

Sources: Gay Vegas | All Things Michael


Ricky Rebel was discovered by Michael Jackson, toured with Britney Spears, signed to Michael Jackson’s custom-label at Sony, then to Madonna’s Maverick label.  The former lead vocalist of No Authority, Ricky G., now known as Ricky Rebel, is back with an edgy solo release, “The Blue Album”, featuring his single “Star”.  Ricky produced the album, Claudio Cueni (JLo) mixed the tracks and the album is available through iTunes ( and In a recent interview Ricky was asked about his experience working with Michael.

How many times did you encounter Michael Jackson, and how engaged was he in NA’s styling and other career decisions? Was he kind to you in person?

I first met Michael Jackson when we did our record release party at his Neverland Ranch. After that, I used to visit Neverland just to hang out, play, dance, swim, watch movies, and do what kids love to do. Michael Jackson was the executive producer of the very first album called Keep On that we did on his label. He picked Rodney Jerkins to produce the whole album. Rodney later went on to produce for Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Jennnifer Lopez.

Michael had a kind and generous spirit. He had a very contagious laugh, too. We used to dance in his studio. He told me that I had a lot of nerve because I wasn’t afraid to dance in front of him.


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Ricky Rebel Talks ‘Life After Loss,’ Michael Jackson And His Bold Style

Sources: Monsters and Critics – By April Neale


Ricky Rebel is a mix of Prince, Depeche Mode, Madonna and David Bowie. He has this pop, rock, edgy and electronic mix all in his music. The melodies are catchy. There was even one song that had me thinking about other artists that he resembles, but what I came to realize is that there is really only ONE Ricky Rebel…His performance style is edgy but you can’t seem to keep your eyes off of him and everything going on behind him. Each song had my full attention and was completely mesmerized by his performance. I think it is always so rewarding to find a hidden talent that can appeal to a mass market and to all Miss Golightly – Yahoo Shine

In 1997, recording artist Ricky G. burst on the scene as the lead vocalist of the boy-band No Authority who later toured with 98 Degrees, Destiny’s Child, Aaron Carter, Ashlee and Jessica Simpson among others.

What’s it like to have been Ricky G., lead singer of the boy-band No Authority (“Can I Get Your Number”) who was discovered by Michael Jackson, signed to Michael’s label at Sony and then Madonna’s label before losing it all?

What was the secret that could have ruined his career? And what happens after the boy-band bubbles bursts and you’re left with nothing? Surviving in style, Ricky G. became Ricky Rebel and now he embarked on a solo career after My Chemical Romance invited him to co-star in their “NA NA NA” and “Sing” videos.

In 2012, he won the Artist of the Year at the RAWards and released the “Manipulator” album featuring the hits “Geisha Dance”, “Get It On”, “You Need a Woman” and the title track. MTV’s “Good Vibes” also featured music from the album. In 2013, “Geisha Dance” spent ten weeks on the Mediabase Chart, the chart that powers “On Air with Ryan Seacrest”. Now, in 2014, Ricky is taking the stage again with his new self-produced release, “The Blue Album”, mixed by Claudio Cueni (JLo).

We chatted with Ricky who is busy prepping for the Main Stage for the Palm Springs Pride Festival on November 9:

article pictures1

Monsters and Critics: Please elaborate- in this day and age, why were you terrified to lose your career if fans found out you were gay?

Ricky Rebel: When I first started in the industry, I had countless industry professionals tell me how important it was to not be “out” to the public. They said, “You can be gay, or bisexual, just don’t let anyone know about it.” It was a different time. Nowadays, things have changed. I find that coming out and being yourself is such a freeing authentic experience. I feel bad for the actors and musicians out there who feel like they have to hide who they are and who they choose to love. It’s sad, but I plan on changing all that.

My goal is to lead through example and prove that it is possible to be openly gay and extremely successful.

M&C: What advice from Michael Jackson helped you to become the artist you are today?

RR: Michael Jackson told me to stay away from girls because they break up bands. I basically took that to mean that in order to succeed in the industry, you have to keep your eye on the prize. Sometimes girls (or boys) can distract you.

M&C: How did you meet and befriend Adam Lambert?

RR: I met Adam Lambert at a club in West Hollywood and we hit it off. He was very friendly and attractive. He and I used to dress up and attend some of the coolest clubs in Downtown LA together in outfits that we hand-crafted ourselves. I remember playing my first demos that I had ever produced in the car and he said he really loved my music. I also remember that time that I had nothing to wear for a performance at the ROXY, so I asked if I could barrow some of his clothes. He was so generous and let me raid his closet, as long as I re-feathered one of his jackets.

M&C: Describe your style … and tell me what style icons influenced you?

RR: My style is BOLD. I like to wear things that most people wouldn’t dare to. I feel like life is too short, so if I want to wear something, I just wear it and make it work. I am also an obsessive style type. When I like something I REALLY like it and commit to that look for weeks or months at a time. I use clothes to tell my story and express who I am. Most of the time, I am not an overly outgoing person (unless I am on stage) so I use my clothes, my hair, my body language to do all the talking. It usually gets the job done.

Madonna, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Prince and Elvis Presley have all inspired my look and my musical tastes. I love the way these icons have fused their artistry with image and fashion. Their personas are larger than life. I love people who make statements with their style. Through my clothes, I am telling people to not be afraid to be different. I am also very interested in setting trends not following them, like my heroes.

M&C: Why blue? Why not purple or red for the hair color? And the importance?

RR: Blue is the name of my new record “The Blue Album.” I chose blue for my hair because it is the most popular color in the world. It’s relatable to men and woman. Blue has many meanings to it as well. It can symbolize the ocean, the sky, the heavens and healing elements. Feeling blue can also represent sadness and depression. On my new album, I explore the kaleidoscope of “blue” emotions.

The first part of my record is more upbeat and light blue. I love two songs in particular off of the light side “Star” and “Boys And Sometimes Girls”. The latter track seems to be everyone’s favorite. It’s probably one of the most honest and fun songs that I have ever written.

On the dark blue side, I sing a track called “Rebel The Darkness” which is basically my message to my fans. I talk about the past homophobia that I have had to overcome and the strength that I have acquired because of it. I also sing a melodic waltz ballad called “Desire”. This track definitely shows vocal range and drama. The album ends with a haunting stripped down version of “Desire” with just a vocal and violin. Grammy-Award winning violinist Alyson Montez plays beautifully on this track. I hope that someone out there uses this song as a way to heal from loss. That’s ultimately what “The Blue Album” is saying. There is life after loss.

On November 9, the band and I are also performing on the Main Stage for the Palm Springs Pride Festival. You can get all up-to-date Rebel news by visiting my official website:


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Sources: Riff Journal – By Brad Wendkos | Edited By – All Things Michael


We all have our own personal favorite guitar players. We love to listen to them, talk about them, see them perform, and cop as many of their licks and moves as we can. I keep a handwritten list of my own personal favorite guitar players, which I organize by style and technique. It’s also my wish list of artists that I’d love to work with here at TrueFire.

Every time I discover a new favorite, I add them to one of the lists. I’ve edited those lists so many times you’d need a cryptologist to determine my current favorites what with the cross-outs, exclamation points, underlines, annotations and replacements. There are two names on my rock guitarist list that have more exclamation points and underlines than any of the others. One of those names is Jennifer Batten.

Her story reads like a Hollywood movie.

Young girl from small town in upstate NY, inspired by the Beatles to learn guitar, takes lessons from local teachers, practices incessantly, thirsts for more knowledge, auditions for GIT in California, and fails that audition. Finds new teacher and sheds day and night for six months, nails second GIT audition (only girl amongst 60 other students), pushes through all the machismo crap, awarded most-improved-student at graduation. Gets first-ever live gig at 22 years old, phone starts ringing off hook, becomes sought-after player in six hot LA bands, beats out 100 guitarists to go on Bad World Tour with Michael Jackson. Records her first Above, Below, and Beyond album to critical acclaim, tackles another MJ tour (Dangerous World Tour), including a Super Bowl half-time gig with MJ broadcast to 500-million people in 80 nations, finally joining MJ’s band. Second solo record (Tribal Rage: Momentum) ensues, followed up by third (and final) world MJ tour, HIStory. Next Jennifer teams up with Jeff Beck to record two albums and tour with him. They get together for 3 years on the CDs Who Else and You Had It Coming, which were both supported by world tours.

If I were to pitch this story to Hollywood, I’d be stopped about halfway through and told that audiences would find it all too good to be true, even for a Hollywood movie. Rocky’s rise from meat packer to world boxing champion…believable. Small town girl to top of the game in the male-dominated world of rock guitar…ridiculous. Ridiculous maybe, but true nonetheless.

Jennifer’s pedigree speaks for itself, but the one single credit that impresses me the most is the Jeff Beck connection. You’d be hard-pressed to find a guitar player who wouldn’t want to play with the Jeff Beck, let alone record and tour with him.

There are thousands of guitar players who have the chops and experience to take on a gig of that stature, yet Jeff chose Jennifer and that speaks volumes about her professionalism, musicality and creativity.

“A lot of my ‘aha’ moments on guitar came from the hundreds of hours I spent learning all of Jeff Beck’s music: really wicked harmonics between the frets, extra big bends beyond the whole and half step, pick squeals, whammy bar moves. God, he invented so much of that stuff for electric guitar,” Jennifer remembers. “I think I learned the most from two ballads, ‘Cause We Ended As Lovers’ and ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat.’ The tempo was slow enough so I could really zone in on what he was doing and dissect it.”

We all look forward to having Jennifer in TrueFire’s studios. We’ve collaborated on several educational projects and she’s always super-prepped and pumped for her sessions.

Jennifer loves to teach, is really gifted at it, rarely needs a second take, and puts her all into every lesson performance just as if she were playing to a standing-room-only stadium audience.

You can’t ask for more than that, but she gives it to us anyway.

I asked Jennifer is she had any one single bit of advice that she’d like to pass on to students here in this RIFF article. True to form, she gave us two. The first has to do with generating fresh and creative ideas, “The joy of music doesn’t have to involve other people. You can get a lot of joy out of just jamming alone and seeing what you come up with. I do that for hours at a time and so many new ideas come directly out of that.”

The second suggestion is one that was passed on to her back in her GIT days, “There are things I learned at GIT that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. This is one of those…when you’re soloing over a chord, the chord tones (the arpeggio notes of that chord) should light up bright red as you visualize the fretboard. The scale tones should likewise be lit up, but a little less bright. And the wrong tones, blacked out completely. When you’re soloing over changes and focused on those chord tones, the listener will be able to hear the changes without having to hear the actual chords being played.”

Two great bits of advice from a small town girl who rocks the world.

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Jennifer recently recognized in Palermo, Italy at an event sponsored by Pub Lebowski for a music clinic at the Centro di Formazione Musicale (CFM) on October 19. Mayor Matthew Cannella very excitedly talked about the event and explained that: “The initiative was launched in collaboration with the CFM of Palermo to try to bring the boys to the music and the guitar. I thank Pub Lebowski because it is an honor for our town to meet a musician at this level.”


She was asked questions about her work experience work in education, collaborating with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck and what she thinks of Sicily and Godrano.

“Right now I’m working on my third DVD on the study of the guitar and then I will do these meetings around the world. The collaborations with Jeff and Michael were also great moments and unique. I will always carry them in my heart, it was a great joy. Playing with Michael Jackson made ​​me grow a lot more. I love Sicily and this land, these valleys. You made me feel like the Queen of England. ” (Source)

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