Sunday, July 26

Videos from Purgatory #16: Dionne Farris - Passion

Today's Electric Purgatory group, is really a solo artist - singer Dionne Farris - whose career tribulations show almost exactly how FRACKED UP the music industry is. In the early 90's she was a vocalist with the group Arrested Development who scored a pair of hits including "Tennessee" (where you can hear Dionne singing "Can you Help Me - Can you Help me Understand Your Plan?")

After a coupe. tours and an MTV Unplugged performance and album, Dionne went solo and released the album "Wild Seed, Wild Flower" in 1995. Most of it, like Lauren Hill who followed Dionne out of her own Hip-Hop group the Fuguees is R&B laced with 90's Neo-Soul.

But not all of it, there are also songs like this one - Passion.

Funny thing about the Guitar Work on this song, I actually happen to know this Guitarist. He's L.A. Black Rock Coalition member Tory Ruffin, who actually had his own Jazz/Metal/Hip-Hop group at the time called Civil Rite who were nearly signed to Death Row Records by Dr. Dre. I didn't even know Tory was on this song, or in this video until I heard it and recognized his playing. You've all probably seen Tory but didn't realize it - he was the Guitarists of "Sexual Chocolate" in Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America" and his Day Job has been as the touring guitar player with Morris Day and The Time so if you saw the end of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" - you saw Tory.

Anyway, beside this song "Wild Seed" had another rock song - "I Know", which actually became a Number #1 Hit!

If you watch the Official Video for this song (which doesn't allow embedding) you'll notice someone else familiar - the guitarist shown here is David Ryan Harris of Atlanta's Follow For Now who I profiled last week.

Ok, so now we've got a Number #1 Hit, a track on a popular Soundtrack "Breathless" and naturally the Record Label has to start some Beef. Columbia refused to allow Dionne to release and record ANY MORE ROCK SONGS - they just wanted her to stick to Soul and R&B, period. Just like Tory and David had gone from fronting some fairly hard rocking bands (Civil Rite, Follow For Now) to being backup sidemen in pretty much straight R&B and Pop (With The Time and with John Mayer respectively) the Stepin Fetchit-izing of black musicians goes on and on. Dionne's label insisted she stay within the "Black Music Box" that made it easy and comfortable for them to market her (although she'd already hit #1 by LEAVING that box?)

Even for those people who think the only color that matters in music is "Green' - Does that make ANY Damn sense?

The dispute caused her to leave the label - and Music - for the next ten years.

She has just now resurfaced with her own label and music released as part of a series of short films in a project called "Remember My Name. Vol 1" - the Latest Release of which on her Youtube Channel is titled "Baggage"

For latest updates on Dionne you can check her Myspace Page She obviously took one (a decade) for the team.


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