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Brooks & Dunn, Ray Stevens to Join Country Hall of Fame

Country hit-making duo Brooks & Dunn are riding a resurgence of interest in ’90s-era country music with a new album celebrating their top-selling singles, a longstanding Las Vegas residency and now an invitation to join the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 

The duo, along with comedic singer Ray Stevens and record label head Jerry Bradley, were announced Monday as this year’s inductees and will be formally inducted during a ceremony later this year.

 

“There’s a lot going on at this stage that generally doesn’t happen,” Ronnie Dunn told The Associated Press after the press conference inside the Hall of Fame’s rotunda featuring plaques honoring the icons of the industry. Their new album, “Reboot,” out April 5, features the duo on new versions of their hits with today’s country stars such as Kacey Musgraves, Luke Combs and Kane Brown.

 

With more than 20 No. 1 country hits, the Grammy-winning pair is the most awarded duo by the Country Music Association, earning 14 vocal duo awards over their careers. They started as solo singers but were encouraged to join up as a duo and had immediate success with a string of hits, starting with “Brand New Man,” “My Next Broken Heart,” “Neon Moon” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”

 

With multi-platinum sales, they became one of country’s biggest touring acts for decades, combining Brooks’ big personality and guitar work and Ronnie’s singing.

 

“Back in the day, in the ’90s, everything was sensationalized and country had hit arenas and stadiums,” Dunn said. “We jumped right in on all fours.”

 

“We were just weird enough that I think fans got that. These two guys don’t really belong together, but they are up there doing it,” Brooks said.

 

The duo split up in 2010 and they both started working on solo projects, but reunited in 2015 for what’s turned into a four-year residency in Las Vegas with Reba McEntire.

 

Stevens, 80, is known for singing zany hits like “The Streak,” but also sentimental ones like the Grammy-winning “Everything Is Beautiful.” Stevens is a multi-faceted artist who started as a session musician in Nashville and has been a TV personality, producer, publisher, songwriter and entertainer for six decades. He recorded comedy albums and videos and opened a theater in Branson, Missouri. He currently has a dinner theater show in Nashville called “CabaRay.”

 

“I love what I do. My dad used to say, ‘When are you going to get a real job?'” Stevens told The Associated Press on Monday. “And I never wanted to get a real job.”

 

Bradley was the former head of RCA Records’ Nashville office and worked with Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Ronnie Milsap, Charley Pride and Alabama. Under his helm, the label produced the first platinum-selling country record, “Wanted! The Outlaws,” a compilation album among Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser.

 

Bradley came from a dynasty of Music Row leaders, including his father, Owen Bradley, an influential producer, and uncle Harold Bradley, an acclaimed musician, who died in January. Jerry Bradley started to tear up as he talked about being inducted alongside his father and uncle, calling it the greatest honor that anyone can receive in country music.

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California Tile House: Couple’s 25-Year Labor of Love

Their house looks more like artwork in progress than an average California home. Every square inch in Cheri Pann’s and Gonzalo Duran’s house is covered with mosaic tiles. Angelina Bagdasaryan visited the couple. Anna Rice narrates her story.

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Dick Dale, King of Surf Guitar, ‘Miserlou’ Composer, Dies

Dick Dale, whose pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin’” earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar, has died at age 81.

His former bassist Sam Bolle says Dick Dale passed away Saturday night. No other details were available.

Dale liked to say it was he and not the Beach Boys who invented surf music — and some critics have said he was right.

An avid surfer, Dale started building a devoted Los Angeles fan base in the late 1950s with repeated appearances at Newport Beach’s old Rendezvous Ballroom. He played “Miserlou,” ″The Wedge,” ″Night Rider” and other compositions at wall-rattling volume on a custom-made Fender Stratocaster guitar.

“Miserlou,” which would become his signature song, had been adapted from a Middle Eastern folk tune Dale heard as a child and later transformed into a thundering surf-rock instrumental.

His fingering style was so frenetic that he shredded guitar picks during songs, a technique that forced him to stash spares on his guitar’s body. “Better shred than dead,” he liked to joke, an expression that eventually became the title of a 1997 anthology released by Rhino Records.

Dale said he developed his musical style when he sought to merge the sounds of the crashing ocean waves he heard while surfing with melodies inspired by the rockabilly music he loved.

He pounded rather than plucked the strings of his guitar in a style he said he borrowed from an early musical hero, the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

“Dale pioneered a musical genre that Beach Boy Brian Wilson and others would later bring to fruition,” Rolling Stone magazine said in its “Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll” adding “Let’s Go Trippin’” was released in 1961, two months ahead of the Beach Boys’ first hit, “Surfin.’”

The magazine called Dale’s song “the harbinger of the ’60s surf music craze.”

Although popular around Southern California, Dale might have remained just a cult figure if surfing had not exploded in worldwide popularity during his peak creative years.

When the first of a series of “Beach Party” movies made to cash in on the phenomenon was released in 1963, it included Dick Dale and the Del-Tones performing “Secret Surfing Spot” as teen heartthrob Annette Funicello danced on the beach.

Dale had released his first album, “Surfer’s Choice,” a year earlier. He followed it with four more over the next two years while appearing in several “Beach Party” sequels and other surfer movies.

Other popular Dale songs included “Jungle Fever,” ″Shake-N-Stomp” and “Swingin’ and Surfin’.”

His star dimmed after the Beatles led music’s British invasion onto the pop charts in 1964 and his record label dropped him. His career also was sidelined by a battle with cancer in the 1960s and a serious foot infection in the 1970s that was the result of a surfing injury.

His musical influence was profound and included guitar virtuosos Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and movie director Quentin Tarantino, who selected Dale’s “Miserlou,” as the theme song of his 1994 film “Pulp Fiction.” That helped pull the guitarist back into the pop-culture spotlight.

Dale himself had begun to launch a comeback with the 1987 film “Back to the Beach,” which reunited Funicello and her co-star Frankie Avalon as a middle-aged couple returning to their old surfing haunts. He teamed up with Vaughan to record the classic surf instrumental “Pipeline” for that film, earning the pair a Grammy nomination.

In 1993 he released “Tribal Thunder,” his first album of all new material in nearly 30 years. He followed it with “Unknown Territory” the following year.

Dale continued to tour into his 80s, in part he said to pay the medical bills that advancing age was saddling him with. Having beaten cancer in the 1960s, he suffered a serious recurrence in 2015.

Born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston on May 4, 1937, Dale moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1954, where he immediately fell in love with surfing and the electric guitar.

As a child, he listened to Lebanese and Polish folk tunes played by his parents. Eventually he graduated to big band, swing, country and rockabilly.

Self-taught on guitar, the left-handed Dale couldn’t afford a custom-made model, so early on he played a standard right-hand guitar upside down and backward. That ended after a meeting with legendary guitar builder Leo Fender, who offered to make Dale his own left-handed model if he’d test a line of guitars and amplifiers Fender was developing.

“I became Leo’s personal guinea pig,” Dale told The Associated Press in 1997. “Anything that came out of the Fender company, I played.”

He played so loudly that he blew up one amplifier after another until a frustrated Fender built him a “Dick Dale Dual Showman” doubled-sized amp. It was a model that would become popular with aspiring Los Angeles guitarists.

As he began to become well known, he began calling himself Dick Dale, explaining years later that a radio disc jockey had suggested it was a better name for a rock star than Richard Monsour.

His surfer buddies had already nicknamed him King of the Surf Guitar, a title he said he initially resisted, fearing it would limit his audience. When the spirit of surfing caught on everywhere, however, he came to embrace the crown.

Dale is survived by his wife, Lana, and a son, James, a drummer who sometimes toured with his father.

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Pirro’s Show Not on Fox Lineup, Week After Omar Comments

Fox News weekend host Jeanine Pirro’s show didn’t air a week after her comments questioning U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar over her wearing a Muslim head covering. No explanation was given.

Pirro’s show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” was replaced Saturday night by other programming. The Fox News schedule for the upcoming weekend doesn’t include the show.

An email seeking comment was sent Sunday to Fox representatives.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning about Pirro’s absence, saying she should be brought back.

“Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them,” one of his tweets said.

Fox News had “strongly condemned” Pirro’s commentary on Omar, the first-term representative from Minnesota. Pirro had questioned whether Omar’s wearing of a hijab was “indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is in itself antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?”

Fox said Pirro’s views didn’t reflect the network and it had addressed the issue with her, but didn’t specify what that entailed.

Omar, in a tweet, thanked Fox for the statement, saying no one should question a person’s commitment to the Constitution because of a person’s faith or country of origin. Omar is a Somali immigrant.

Pirro said her intention had been to start a debate, but that being Muslim didn’t mean someone didn’t support the Constitution. She invited Omar to her show.

Pirro is the former district attorney from New York’s Westchester County.

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Paris Exhibit Traces Post-Colonial Migration Through Music

As rising nationalism and the crisis surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union intensify divisions on the continent, a new exhibit in the French capital looks instead at a powerful unifier: Music.

The music the came with the postwar colonial migrations helped turn two of Europe’s most important hubs, London and Paris, into multicultural melting pots.

Rhythm and blues, reggae, rai and rock ’n’ roll — Europe and other Western regions got world music long before the term was invented. Even the Beatles were much more than a British brand — borrowing from Asia and sometimes West Africa.

How it blended into popular culture today is a central theme of a new exhibit that examines three decades of post-war migration to Paris and London — through music.

France and Britain needed extra manpower to fuel their fast-growing economies. They got it from former colonies that had just achieved independence. For immigrants in Paris, it was a tough beginning.

“Immigrants lived in special areas, what we call foyers,” said Stephane Malfettes. “There were a lot of strikes in the foyers de travelers. They were working in factories during the day — sharing the life of everybody — but at the end of the day, they vanished in their foyers.”

 

WATCH: Post-Colonial Migration to London, Paris Traced Via Music

Malfettes is the curator of the exhibit that opened this week at the Paris Museum of Immigration History. He says the immigrants were initially sidelined from France’s mainstream musical scene, as well. Things changed in the 1970s.

“The music became a very strong protest in the public space as an instrument of revolt and protest,” he said.

Across the English Channel, migrants in London also faced racism. But Martin Evans, another exhibit curator, said they were introducing the city to ska and reggae from Jamaica, music from East Africa, and calypso from Trinidad and Tobago.

“They become profoundly London,” Evans said. “And in a sense, I think that’s a measure of how much this migration has transformed London by the end of the 1980s.”

The parents of British musician and filmmaker Don Letts immigrated to Britain from Jamaica as part of the so-called Windrush generation. He says they wanted to integrate by denying their roots. It didn’t work.

“Ironically, it was their culture, particularly their music, that would capture the imagination of the white working-class kids,” he said. “And it was our culture that would actually help us to integrate with society.”

Letts says the cultural exchange went both ways.

“I was inspired by a lot of things that I grew up with. I grew up digging the Stones, the Beatles, Bowie, Roxy Music and all the rest of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paris by the 1980s had become a hub for African music — singers like Papa Wemba, Khaled, Youssou Ndour and Salif Keita. Music producer Martin Meissonnier was among their earliest fans — and producer for some of the biggest artists.

“Out of pleasure I was discovering all these new musics, and I thought it was a gold mine. It was fascinating. It was all these incredible bands,” Meissonnier said.

The musical fusion has left a powerful imprint on today’s artists. And it has changed not only how we think about music, but about each other.

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Exhibit Traces Post-Colonial Migration to London and Paris Through Music

As rising nationalism and the crisis surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union intensify divisions on the continent, a new exhibit in Paris looks instead at a powerful unifier. Music arriving with postwar colonial migrations helped turn two of Europe’s most important hubs, London and Paris, into multicultural melting pots. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports for VOA.

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Frida Kahlo Exhibit Opens at Brooklyn Museum

A major exhibition dedicated to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo opened recently at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” is the largest U.S. exhibit in a decade devoted to the iconic painter. Pictures, drawings, even clothing and personal belongings are all showcased at the Brooklyn Museum in an exhibit that will be open until mid-May. Mikhail Gutkin has the story.

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American Muslim Feeds the Needy in his Washington Restaurant

A Pakistani immigrant who came to the U.S. as an impoverished young adult now helps feed the homeless and needy in his popular Washington restaurant. As a Muslim American, he says he’s simply heeding the will of God; to serve his fellow men with what he has. Which in his case is food, and so much more. VOA’s Julie Taboh has his story.

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