Posts Tagged ‘Enchantment’

Slow Jammin’ Like Kevin

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Slow Jammin’ Like Kevin is a mixtape honoring the style of Kevin “Slow Jammin” James, a pioneer of slow jam radio shows.  If you don’t know James’ style, you’ve been missing out on a DJ who loves the classics yet has a gift for recognizing a classic in the making.  Delivered between his amazing collection of rare slow jams is one of the warmest yet coolest voices in radio; his mellow tone whispers it’s time to turndown the lights and vibe.

This legendary radio personality influenced my musical taste and also was the DJ I most imitated when doing my radio show in college.  Even this website has a bit of James in it.  The information I share about the artists and the music posted here is a direct reflection of James’ approach to teaching a little something about the music and artists he features.  After a set of his music, I always look forward to hearing what he has to say.  He has a deep respect for R&B and because he’s been such a dedicated student of the format, he is a wonderful teacher.

Kevin James, a Pennsylvania native, came to WKYS FM in Washington, DC in the mid 70’s and stayed for nearly 15 years hosting the nightly Slow Jam Show.  I had the privilege of growing up with Kevin on my radio.  Just before I graduated from high school, James headed west to L.A.’s 92.3 the Beat.  Between James leaving and the death of Quiet Storm creator, Melvin Lindsey a kind of silence fell over Washington’s airwaves as stations scrambled to find their footing.

Kevin James went on to be a major influence in California too.  Snoop Dogg featured Kevin’s voice on two of his albums and thanked him for his music in the liner notes.  I understand the feeling; Kevin not only plays great music but also connects with his listeners.  He says he’s not a DJ, but is a friend who enjoys sharing music.  Unlike many R&B DJ’s who want to stay in a groove, Kevin has no problem switching it up; he even takes listener requests, which is very rare for an urban Slow Jam Show.  Anyone who’s called into Kevin’s shows knows he loves to talk with his listeners as much as he loves playing them music.

Kevin returned to DC’s airwaves when he hosted the Weekend Edition of The Quiet Storm on WHUR, the original home of the Quiet Storm Show.  He actually did the broadcasts from his house in California, I learned that after calling in one night and talking with him about some music I was searching for.  I told him how much his style and work meant to me during that conversation.  I also told him about how happy I was to hear him back on our airwaves.  For Washingtonians, hearing Kevin on the weekends was a treat, like a walk down memory lane.  He’s a part of that rare club of radio personalities who play what they feel, not what they are programmed to play; as listeners and lovers of music, we hear the difference.

Kevin’s style is for the true R&B connoisseur; please enjoy Slow Jammin’ Like Kevin.

 

Download the 192 kbps version (108.7 MB) here!

Melvin’s Quiet Storm of Melodies



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It took quite a while for me to compile this Mix honoring one of the most influential DJ’s in radio’s history.  Melvin’s Quiet Storm of Melodies is a dedication to Melvin Lindsey, the slow jam radio format pioneer. Lindsey, who was born and raised in Washington, DC, was the creator of the Quiet Storm show; a nightly presentation of R&B love songs.  The format is now copied around the world.  Ballads after sunset have become the staple of many FM radio stations across formats from rock to pop; so it’s hard to remember that there was a time when there was nothing special or consistent to listen to after dark.  Then, in 1976, a young intern named  Melvin Lindsey got the chance to host a show for WHUR FM, Howard University’s radio station in Washington, DC.   Lindsey slowed things down for the night and listeners have been responding to that format ever since.

Melvin Lindsey’s love of slow tempo music featured the best and in many cases some of the most unknown artists in R&B.  The term slow jam was coined describing the sound.

Lindsey broadcasted in Washington for nearly 15 years, first with the Quiet Storm on WHUR, then with Melvin’s Melodies on WKYS.  He was the star of the night on KYS; while radio and T.V. personality Donnie Simpson hosted the morning show.  What a time for radio!

There is still a beautiful residue of Lindsey’s style lingering in Washington, but like so much of what made radio great, it too is fading.   To compile songs that reflect Lindsey’s taste was a challenge that I tried to overcome by focusing on his favorite groups like Heatwave, Con Funk Shun and Enchantment; as well his favorite singers like Patti LaBelle.

None of these songs were huge hits on Billboard; for instance, the group Heatwave is most known for Boogie Nights, not Star of the StoryDeniece Williams got her Grammy nominations for Let’s Hear it for the Boy, not for You’re All that Matters.  These artists existed before the MTV or BET countdowns and probably wouldn’t have been included if they had.   Their music was played because of the emotion it conveyed, the classic sound it delivered and because a DJ took the time to listen to the whole album.  A lot of this music has been forgotten except for the occasional sample used by a Kanye West or 9th Wonder, it’s a shame really. These love songs expressed a vulnerability and compassion lost in current slow jams.  Today’s artists would benefit from a session of the Quiet Storm in the early 80’s or Lindsey’s later show, Melivin’s Melodies.  Maybe then they would understand that being hopelessly in love is OK, and so wonderful that those emotions deserve to be captured in a nice slow song.  Melvin got that, and spent most of his life conveying feelings of love over DC’s airwaves.

I would like to think many of these songs were recorded because of Melvin, because artists found they had a consistent place to share this kind of music.  Just imagine what could happen in today’s musical landscape if artists could find stations dedicated to playing love songs as easily as they do stations hungry for divisive and misogynistic lyrics; imagine how that could change the complexion of our society.

This dedication compilation begins and ends with the theme songs from Lindsey’s two slow jam radio shows, just like the title of this Mix. Please enjoy Melvin’s Quiet Storm of Melodies.

Download the 192 kbps version (105 MB) here!