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Music

"Amy"

The soundtrack for a documentary on the late British singer Amy Winehouse was released last week and our music columnist Errol Nazareth says it gave him the opportunity to reflect on her greatness. Four years back, one of Britain's most mesmerizing singers, was found dead in her London apartment. She was only 27. Given Winehouse's public battle with drugs, alcohol and bulimia, speculation was rife about how she died but an inquest later confirmed she died from alcohol poisoning. A two hour documentary titled "Amy" was released last summer and it rightfully received rave reviews for its portrayal of the troubled singer. Critics all over the world called it extraordinary, stunningly moving and gripping. And they were all right. The soundtrack which is now on CD, is also titled "Amy", and features previously unreleased live versions of songs and demos, as well as compositions by Antonio Pinto who created the score for the doc.

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Fado Star

The reigning diva of Portugal's fado music performs at Massey Hall tonight and as much as I'd love to see Mariza I don't want to wreck the memory of seeing her in a small club 13 years back while her star was just beginning to rise. The striking platinum blonde singer regularly packs big concert halls, filling them with her rich, exquisite voice, but after experiencing her in an intimate space so many years back, I just can't bring myself to see her in a huge hall. Fado is a melancholic music filled with despair and longing, and the singer is traditionally backed by a trio, and I feel it's best experienced in a small bar. But don't let that discourage you from seeing this phenomenon. Mariza's latest CD is titled "Mundo" and you can expect to hear her singing songs from it at tonight's show. The roots of fado can be traced back to the early 19th century when it flourished in Lisbon's working class neighbourhoods, and many believe it began when Portuguese sailors sang about their yearning for home using African melodies. Over the past decade, several women like Mariza, Ana Moura, and Misia have helped re-invigorate the music and spearhead a new interest in the genre.

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Songs From Prison

The music you heard on the show this morning is from an historical recording session that happened at a correctional facility in the U.S. more than 30 years back. "Eyes Of Love" was recorded in an infamous facility in Richmond, Virginia, by 9 inmates who called themselves "Edge of Daybreak". If you like smooth soul music with loads of lovely harmonies and bit of disco thrown in for good measure, you'll absolutely love this record. In the late 70s, prisoners at the facility were granted access to musical equipment, so a group of them formed a band and performed tunes by groups like the Isley Brothers and Earth Wind and Fire. The band contacted a local record store owner about recording an album but it presented a security nightmare for prison officials so a mobile studio was brought in. The engineers and the band were given 5 hours to set up and record and this meant the band had to sing and play everything live. All of which is to say that "Eyes Of Love" consists entirely of first takes. A note printed on the original LP jacket sheds some light on the band's name. "Our bodies are in prison but we want our hearts and minds to be with the free world. The Edge of Daybreak symbolizes the morning when each of the band members will be free".

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