Give it up for Jazze Pha, who was nominated for Producer of the Year at the 2003 Source Awards and who is best known for his recent work with Outkast ("Bowtie"), Nappy Roots ("Aw Naw"), and Bow Wow ("Let's Get Down").
"It's an honor to be considered," Pha says, calling from the Atlanta airport, where he's headed to St. Louis for a video shoot. It seems that Pha -- aka Phalon Alexander -- is always on the move. How does this man -- a songwriter, vocalist, disc jockey (on Atlanta's Hot 107.9 FM), producer, and current Cash Money Millionaires honcho -- find the time to fit everything in?
"I just do stuff every day," Pha says of his extraordinary work ethic. Citing the late Tupac Shakur as an example, Pha says, "He did three or four songs every day. That's why his music still feeds his family. That should be a lesson to everybody on the creative tip. We should be as prolific as possible."
Where does he find his inspiration? "Memphis affects me a lot," Pha, the son of Bar-Kays bassist James Alexander and disco diva Denece Williams, admits. He credits Southern music -- "the old-school stuff" -- with playing a big part. "Al Green, Beale Street, going to church, all those things have influenced me." His all-time favorite album? Green's I'm Still in Love with You.
But, for now at least, Jazze Pha lives in Atlanta. "Whatever you're trying to do, you have to take it to the 10th power to be successful. That's why I came to ATL. It's the Hollywood of the South. I wanted to pursue my dream. I would've gone anywhere to do it," he says. "Sometimes it's not bad to get out. But it's always cool to return home," he continues. "In a few years, I'm gonna buy a new house in Memphis."
Look for more of Jazze Pha this fall, as collaborations with Bonecrusher, David Banner, and 17-year-old Arista signee Ciara hit the street.
Local soul-blues greats The Fieldstones are playing the Funeral for a Friend benefit, with proceeds going toward burial expenses for the late Lois Brown, the group's former bassist, who died on September 5th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shangri-La Projects' Sherman Willmott organized the event, scheduled for Murphy's at 10 p.m. this Friday, November 7th.
University of Memphis music professor Dr. David Evans -- whose Last Chance Jug Band will also perform -- recalls seeing the Fieldstones play at Willie's Lounge in South Memphis as early as 1979. "I hadn't seen too many women musicians, so I was struck by the fact that Lois was in the group," Evans says. "She made me feel welcome. She had me sit at the musicians' table, and it turned out that she was also the band's business manager."
"I felt they had to be recorded," Evans explains. That sentiment led to the album Memphis Blues Today!, which was cut at the U of M's studio in the early '80s. Evans took Brown and the Fieldstones to Europe and South America, while, locally, the group migrated to the J&J Lounge and then, finally, to legendary nightspot Green's Lounge, which was located on Person Avenue until it burned several years ago.
Both Willmott and Evans expect most of the band's revolving roster -- including guitarists Wilroy Sanders, Wordie Perkins, James Bonner, and "Chicken" George Walker, vocalist Little Applewhite, organist Bobby Carnes, and bassists Joe Gaston and Harold Bonner -- to make an appearance, alongside former Green's Lounge regular Mr. Clean, who never misses a show.
The entire city should turn out for Rev. A.D. "Gatemouth" Moore's 90th birthday celebration, held at the Center for Southern Folklore this Friday, November 7th, from 6 to 9 p.m. Though he was born in Topeka, Kansas, Moore figures large in the annals of Memphis music history. He dominated the Beale Street scene during the '30s, toured with the F.S. Wolcott Rabbit Foot Minstrels, and deejayed on WDIA. One of the first to cross from secular to sacred music, Moore has also pastored at more than a dozen churches in town and presided at hundreds of weddings and funerals, including those of Rufus Thomas and Johnny Ace.
Moore's birthday party will be a three-day affair: In addition to Friday's event, he's the recipient of a tribute at the Hard Rock CafÇ on Saturday, November 8th, from 6 to 10 p.m., and guest pastor at New Sardis Baptist Church on Sunday, November 9th, at 11 a.m. "I'm the greatest religious entertainer in the world," Moore claims. "The only difference between religious songs and the blues is the lyrics. When I sang the blues, I sang about my baby. And now I sing about Christ."