5    Jun 20142 comments

We Are Family: Sibling bands

Today we spotlight some families that got along well with each other, and also shared the same musical talents and worked together on a daily basis. These family bands toured and performed together over the years.

Here are some of our favorite sibling bands:

Jackson 5
The Jackson siblings are possibly the best-known sibling act in history. Founded in 1964, the five brothers  -Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael - began singing in talent shows before they entered the professional scene. The Jackson 5 showcased the then tiny Michael Jackson's talents as a solo artist. Continue reading "We Are Family: Sibling bands" »

17    Dec 20120 comments

Sleigh Bells Ring: Holiday music

What is it about holiday music? Those catchy tunes we can’t get out of our head? The musical notes that bring us back to earlier times?

It really doesn’t matter if the listener celebrates Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza; that winter music - religious or secular - just gets deep inside our bones. Important family events take place at the holidays, and a particular song may bring back all kinds of warm, fuzzy memories.

A favorite of mine is "Sleigh Ride," in the instrumental version by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Written by Leroy Anderson in 1948, Mitchell Paris added the lyrics in 1950. Here's the story behind the song. It is considered one of the top 10 most popular Christmas songs ever, even though the holiday is never mentioned in the lyrics.

Continue reading "Sleigh Bells Ring: Holiday music" »

23    Oct 20121 comment

Family: Music in your genes?

Are you one of those rare people who can sing a certain note without hearing any reference tones? We call this perfect pitch.

When I began music classes in school at a very young age, a few of our classmates had perfect pitch. One class focused on sight-reading melodies. The teacher went around the room and called on each of us to sing a specific section.

I definitely did not have perfect pitch and I used every creative excuse to get out of these exercises. I could hear the melody in my head but simply couldn't reproduce it in sound. I knew absolutely and instinctively when someone else got a note wrong but I could never sing it myself. Our perfect pitch friends looked at the melody and sang it perfectly.

Thankfully, the teacher realized I would never be able to do that and eventually stopped calling on me (the rest of the class also appreciated that!). I could play the melody on violin and piano, but could never sing it.

Continue reading "Family: Music in your genes?" »

2    Aug 20120 comments

Poll: Is your family musical?

Does music talent run in your family? Today's poll investigates musicality - with a twist.

Do you think that musical parents encourage their children's interest and talent, from a young age, because of their own passion?

Or is it a genetic influence?  Is it nature or nurture?

Some researchers also draw the connection between math skills and music, as many talented musicians are also good at math (and science). Some say that as both skills are linear learning - one learns by going from one step to the next - so there is a connection.

What have you noticed in your own family? Does musicality - whether singing, playing an instrument or numerous instruments - run in your family? Have you noticed a connection in your family between music and math skills?

Participate in the poll and share your answers in the comments below.


18    Jun 20120 comments

Timeless music: Enjoyed by generations

The Beatles, c1964. Clockwise from top right: Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon

If I asked my grandmother who Lady Gaga is, she'd have no idea, but if I asked about 'The Beatles, she'd likely sing any number of tunes, as would my parents, as would I, and as would my kids.

Some musicians are timeless. From classical masters to the more contemporary, some music simply spans the generations.

Today is Sir Paul McCartney's 70th birthday. Born in Liverpool on June 18, 1942, his parents, Mary and Jim, couldn't know that their son would become one of the most influential musicians in the world, and part of a band that would enjoy global success.

What musicians or bands are enjoyed by the generations in your family? Do you share a favorite singer - or a timeless tune - with your grandparents or grandchildren? Share your answers in the comments section below, on FacebookTwitter or Google+.

Happy birthday, Sir Paul!

12    Feb 20123 comments

Whitney Houston: An inherited gift

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the sad news that Whitney Houston - with her amazing, touching voice - had died.

She was one of my favorite singers.

As a tribute, I wanted to explore her family history. It was exciting to learn that she had inherited a family gift in her voice. Her ancestry included African, Dutch and Native American roots.

Houston's mother was Grammy Award–winning American soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston. Her successful career included backup for Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Wishbone Ash and Aretha Franklin - she is now a solo artist. One of Cissy's great-great-grandfathers was Dutch.

Cissy's father Nitcholas Drinkard was born to Susan Bell Drinkard (maiden name Fuller; born 1876), who was part Dutch and part African-American. Nitcholas's father was Native American John Drinkard, Jr. (b. 1870).His ancestors included a family of African-American landowners in Blakely, Georgia, where three of Cissy's siblings were born.

Continue reading "Whitney Houston: An inherited gift" »

6    Jan 20123 comments

Steven Tyler: A fascinating family tree past and present

On January 2, Steven Tyler - legendary front man of rock-and-roll band Aerosmith - announced his engagement to girlfriend, Erin Brady.

Tyler’s professional success is known to many. Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, while American Idol, on which he is a judge, is the top-rated American television show.

Not as well known are the details of his amazingly diverse heritage, the rich history of musicians among his ancestors or the complex structure of his current family including his partners (ex and current) and his children.

To kick things off, we’ve pulled together Tyler’s family tree.

Click on the image below (or HERE) to be taken to the actual family tree on MyHeritage.

Click to see the tree

As part of our research on Tyler’s family, we found some other fascinating information.

Continue reading "Steven Tyler: A fascinating family tree past and present" »

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