BILLY PAUL, ‘ME AND MRS. JONES’ SINGER
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 at 7:59pm
NEW YORK — Billy Paul, a jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and “Philadelphia Soul” classic “Me and Mrs. Jones,” died Sunday.
Paul, whose career spanned for more than 60 years, died at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, his co-manager, Beverly Gay, told The Associated Press. Paul, 80, had been diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, Gay said.
Known by his beard and large glasses, Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International Records also released music by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Lou Rawls.
“Me and Mrs. Jones” was an extramarital confession and a characteristic Gamble and Huff production, setting Paul’s thick tenor against a lush and sensuous arrangement. Many fans best remember the moment when Paul’s otherwise subtle vocals jump as they reach the title words, stretching out “Me” and “And” into multiple syllables and repeating “Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.” (Paul himself was married to the same woman for decades).
Paul’s voice made him “one of the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide,” Gamble and Huff said in a statement late Sunday.
“Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded,” they said.
The song was one of the top singles of 1972 and brought Paul a Grammy the following year for best male rhythm ‘n blues performance, with runners-up including Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. Paul remained identified with the song for the rest of his life.
Paul continued to perform live until he fell ill and his manager said he had been lining up numerous appearances at the time of his death. Among his favorites in concert was a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” (Prince died last Thursday).
He was born Paul Williams but later agreed to his manager’s suggestion that he change his name to Billy Paul to avoid confusion with songwriter Paul Williams and other musicians with the same name. A Philadelphia native, he sang much his life, performing with such jazz stars as Charlie Parker and Dinah Washington and being featured on a handful of singles while still in his teens.
Paul was drafted into the military in his early 20s, and found himself on the same base in Germany with a couple of famous show business names, Elvis Presley and Gary Crosby, Bing Crosby’s son.
“We said we’re going to start a band, so we didn’t have to do any hard work in the service,” he told bluesandsoul.com in 2015. “We tried to get Elvis to join but he wanted to be a jeep driver. So me and Gary Crosby, we started it and called ourselves the Jazz Blues Symphony Band.”
By the mid-1960s, the Beatles had inspired him to incorporate more rhythm ‘n blues into his singing and he had found a new home for his recordings after meeting Gamble at a Philadelphia music shop. His early albums with Gamble and Huff, including “Ebony Woman” and “Going East,” sold modestly, before “Me and Mrs. Jones” briefly made him a superstar.
Paul faced numerous obstacles following his biggest hit. Radio stations resisted his more socially conscious follow-up song, “Am I Black Enough for You” and the Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those who objected to the explicit “Let’s Make a Baby.”
Years later, Paul sued Gamble and Huff and other industry officials over unpaid royalties and was awarded $500,000 by a Los Angeles jury in 2003.
Paul is survived by his wife, Blanche Williams, with whom he had two children. Although he endured many difficult moments with Gamble and Huff, he would look back on those years as a lost golden age.
“It was like a family full of music,” he told bluesandsoul.com. “It was like music round the clock, you know. And I reminisce and I still wish those days were here.”
DANIEL BERRIGAN, JESUIT PRIEST ACTIVIST
Berrigan died at Murray-Weigel Hall, a Jesuit health care community in New York City after a “long illness,” according to Michael Benigno, a spokesman for the Jesuits USA Northeast Province.
“He died peacefully,” Benigno said.
Berrigan and his younger brother, the Rev. Philip Berrigan, emerged as leaders of the radical anti-war movement in the 1960s.
The Berrigan brothers entered a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, on May 17, 1968, with eight other activists and removed records of young men about to be shipped off to Vietnam. The group took the files outside and burned them in garbage cans.
The Catonsville Nine, as they came to be known, were convicted on federal charges accusing them of destroying U.S. property and interfering with the Selective Service Act of 1967. All were sentenced on Nov. 9, 1968 to prison terms ranging from two to 3½ years.
When asked in 2009 by “America,” a national Catholic magazine, whether he had any regrets, Berrigan replied: “I could have done sooner the things I did, like Catonsville.”
Berrigan, a writer and poet, wrote about the courtroom experience in 1970 in a one-act play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” which was later made into a movie.
Berrigan grew up in Syracuse, New York, with his parents and five brothers. He joined the Jesuit order after high school and taught preparatory school in New Jersey before being ordained a priest in 1952.
As a seminarian, Berrigan wrote poetry. His work captured the attention of an editor at Macmillan who referred the material to poet Marianne Moore. Her endorsement led to the publication of Berrigan’s first book of poetry, “Time Without Number,” which won the Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957.
Berrigan credited Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker newspaper, with introducing him to the pacifist movement and influencing his thinking about war.
Much later, while visiting Paris in 1963 on a teaching sabbatical from LeMoyne College, Berrigan met French Jesuits who spoke of the dire situation in Indochina. Soon after that, he and his brother founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship, which helped organize protests against U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Berrigan traveled to North Vietnam in 1968 and returned with three American prisoners of war who were being released as a goodwill gesture. He said that while there, he witnessed some of the destruction and suffering caused by the war.
Berrigan was teaching at Cornell University when his brother asked him to join a group of activists for the Catonsville demonstration. Philip Berrigan was at the time awaiting sentencing for a 1967 protest in Baltimore during which demonstrators poured blood on draft records.
“I was blown away by the courage and effrontery, really, of my brother,” Berrigan recalled in a 2006 interview on the Democracy Now radio program.
After the Catonsville case had been unsuccessfully appealed, the Berrigan brothers and three of their co-defendants went underground. Philip Berrigan turned himself in to authorities in April 1969 at a Manhattan church. The FBI arrested Daniel Berrigan four months later at the Rhode Island home of theologian William Stringfellow.
Berrigan said in an interview that he became a fugitive to draw more attention to the anti-war movement.
The Berrigan brothers were sent to the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Daniel Berrigan was released in 1972 after serving about two years. His brother served about 2½ years.
The Berrigan brothers continued to be active in the peace movement long after Catonsville. Together, they began the Plowshares Movement, an anti-nuclear weapons campaign in 1980. Both were arrested that year after entering a General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and damaging nuclear warhead nose cones.
Philip Berrigan died of cancer on Dec. 6, 2002 at the age of 79.
Daniel Berrigan moved into a Jesuit residence in Manhattan in 1975.
In an interview with The Nation magazine on the 40th anniversary of the Catonsville demonstration, Berrigan lamented that the activism of the 1960s and early 1970s evaporated with the passage of time.
“The short fuse of the American left is typical of the highs and lows of American emotional life,” he said. “It is very rare to sustain a movement in recognizable form without a spiritual base.”
Berrigan’s writings include “Prison Poems,” published in 1973; “We Die Before We Live: Talking with the Very Ill,” a 1980 book based on his experiences working in a cancer ward; and his autobiography, “To Dwell in Peace,” published in 1987.
PAPA WEMBA, AFRICA’S ‘KING OF RHUMBA ROCK’
(CNN)Papa Wemba, one of Africa’s most flamboyant and popular musicians, has died, according to a statement from a music festival in Ivory Coast.
REV. SAMUEL BILLY KYLES, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER AND FRIEND OF MARTIN LUTHER KING
Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, close friend of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died yesterday, USA Today confirmed.
Kyles was 81.
A civil rights leader himself, Kyles was with King when King was killed on a Memphis motel balcony 48 years go, the newspaper said.
After his health began to decline, he resigned from the Monumental Baptist Church in 2014, after 55 years. The church held a service this month in his honor, but Kyles was not in good enough health to attend.
As Kyles, now the pastor at Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, told of the assassination in vivid detail, hardly a breath seemed to be taken inside the Aerospace Training Center at Calhoun Community College at a celebration of King’s life.
The Mississippi native traveled to Memphis in 1959 to become the pastor of his former church, and shortly after he became a civil rights activist in the community.
Kyles was instrumental in bringing King to Memphis for a workers’ strike. On the night King was murdered, Kyles was hosting the Kings for dinner.
Kyles, who was on the balcony with the famous leader, was telling King to hurry up so they could leave the motel, when King was shot and killed, USA Today reported.
In 1974, Kyles formed the Memphis chapter of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH. Five years ago, Kyles received the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum. He was also the basis for the movie “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306.”
MADELEINE SHERWOOD, MOTHER SUPERIOR OF ‘THE FLYING NUN’
April 26, 2016
Madeleine Sherwood, best known for playing Mother Superior of the Convent San Tanco in the 1960s sitcom The Flying Nun, died in her home in Lac Cornu, Quebec. The Hollywood Reporter said the Canadian actress was 93.
Madeleine Sherwood was loved by fans for her portrayal of Reverend Mother Lydia Placido in The Flying Nun. She played the head of the convent where Sister Bertrille (played by Sally Field) was a novice at the convent who, because of the high winds in Puerto Rico, her habit’s large, starched cornette, and her slight build, was able to fly. The show ran from 1967 to 1970. Sherwood mentored Sally Field off-screen as well as on, and helped her with acting lessons.
Credit ABC Photo Archives, via Getty Images
Madeleine Sherwood was also respected for her roles on Broadway, reported TV Guide. She was perhaps best known for creating the role of Mae Pollitt in Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Elia Kazan. She reprised the role in the 1958 film.
Madeleine Sherwood is also justly famous for playing Miss Lucy in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, both on Broadway (directed by Elia Kazan) and in the movie version (rewritten and directed by Richard Brooks). She was in eighteen Broadway productions, including Arturo Ui, Do I Hear a Waltz?, All Over, The Chase, Invitation to a March, The Night of the Iguana, and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Madeleine Sherwood won an Obie Award for Best Actress for Best Actress in the 1963 off-Broadway production of Hey You, Light Man! She was in other off-Broadway plays, including Getting Out, Brecht on Becket, and Older People.
Madeleine Sherwood was born as Madeleine Louise Hélène Thornton in Montreal, Quebec, November 13, 1922. Her first acting experience was at the age of four, in a church play. She married Robert Sherwood in 1940; they had one child together, Chloe. The Sherwoods eventually divorced. Although Madeleine Sherwood lived and worked in the United States for decades, she always retained her Canadian citizenship and returned to Canada for her retirement. She died in Lac Cornu, Quebec, on Saturday, April 23.
Madeleine Sherwood acted in both Canadian and American soap operas. One of her best known soap opera roles was as Betty Eilers on Guiding Light. She also appeared in The Secret Storm as Carmen, the diner owner.
Madeleine Sherwood’s movie roles ranged from Otto Preminger’s Hurry Sundown to George Schaefer’s Pendulum to Arthur Hiller’s Teachers. She recreated her roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth on film. Her career on television was wide-ranging, with far more than just soap operas and The Flying Nun. Madeleine Sherwood guest-starred on You Were There, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Fugitive, Bonanza, Love American Style, Columbo, Cagney & Lacey, Dynasty, and many others.
In addition to her work as an actress, Madeleine Sherwood was an activist for equal rights. The Los Angeles Times confirmed Sherwood was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. She marched for civil rights in the 1960s and joined the Congress on Racial Equality. She was arrested for “Endangering the Customs and Mores of the People of Alabama” and sentenced to six months hard labor. She was the first white woman to be represented by an African-American attorney in a southern courthouse. It was while she was in jail that she incurred the hearing loss that plagued her the rest of her life. In the 1970s, Sherwood became an activist for women’s rights.
Madeleine Sherwood wrote, directed and acted in the short film, Good Night Sweet Prince. She, Joanne Woodward, and Cicely Tyson received grants from the American Film Institute to direct short films in the 1980s.
Madeleine Sherwood retired from acting in 1989. Her final performance was in “Madeleine’s Method,” a short documentary about her acting career made in 2010.
Madeleine Sherwood is survived by her daughter, Chloe, two grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and millions of fans.