Brian and brenda squared for mocm

Russell, Brian and Brenda

Origin: Calcutta, India - Vancouver, British Columbia - Toronto, Ontario, 🇨🇦 (Brian Russell); New York, NY, 🇺🇸 - Hamilton - Toronto, Ontario, 🇨🇦 - Los Angeles, CA, 🇺🇸 (Brenda Russell)

Brian Russell was born in Calcutta, India, he lived for a time in England, moved with his family to the Okanagan Valley of central British Columbia, Canada, during the 1960s, and eventually on to Vancouver.

Brian was an early member of the The Classics.

In 1966, he formed Three To One with singer and guitarist John Renton, bassist Derek Norris and drummer Claudette Skrypnyk, formerly of The Shadracks, all of whom he met working as a studio musician around Vancouver:

The Three (the boys) To One (Claudette) moved to Toronto, Ontario, playing their first gig there in the suburb of Scarborough with Roy Kenner & The Associates, anđ The Mission featuring Eddie Spencer, eventually recording one 45 for Arc Records the same year.

About a year later, Three To One changed their name to the more current The Raja, keeping the same lineup:

In spite of playing many local gigs and a big show in Montreal with Mandala, as well as cutting a fine single on Arc affiliate Goodgroove, The Raja did not meet with much success.

By 1969, Brian had become a house musician and arranger for Arc Sound Ltd., doing a lot of the heavy lifting - including designing the cover - for The Subtle Art Of Self Destruction by Heads Of Our Time, a studio aggregation which included many musicians from The Majestics.

He went on to do a lot of studio work around Toronto in the seventies, including playing on sessions for Anne Murray and Roger Whittaker and on the Tommy Hunter Show on CBC television.

A few years later, after Brian had moved back to the West Coast, Whittaker was looking for a guitarist for his touring band, and Brian's name came up as a suggestion.

He ended up spending over a decade backing Whittaker and can be seen in several live videos of the show on youtube, including a solo instrumental showcase titled "Russelling Along."

Brian is a phenomenally talented, yet grossly underrated guitar player.

In recent years, he has been playing around Penticton, sometimes with his sister Gillian.

Brenda's father, Gus Gordon was a member of the Ink Spots. Brenda Gordon spent her early years in Canada after moving to Hamilton, Ontario at the age of 12. As a teenager she began performing in local bands and was recruited to sing in a Toronto-based girl group called the Tiaras, along with Jackie Richardson, Colina Phillips and Arlene Trotman. The group recorded two singles including the monster "Foolish Girl b/w Surprise!", which is amongst the most valuable Canadian recording in existence.

Brenda and Brian performed together in the Toronto musical production of "Hair". They also hosted the TV show "Music Machine" in Toronto, before moving to Los Angeles in 1973 to become session musicians. Working with Neil Sedaka led to them being noticed by Elton John, who signed them to his label, Rocket Record Company. The couple released their debut album, "World Called Love", in 1976, which featured a pile of famous session musicians including Elton John, and the follow up, "Supersonic Lover" in 1977. The couple separated in 1978, and the following year Brenda signed solo to A&M where she began a long successful career, with hits like "In The Thick Of It" and "Piano In The Dark". She also wrote "Get Here", later a hit for Oletta Adams, as well as songs for the likes of Jermaine Jackson, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flak & Earth, Wind & Fire.

Brenda's 1979 eponymous debut solo album went to number 26 on Billboard's R&B Albums Chart. She followed with 'Love Life' (1981), 'Two Eyes' (1983) and 'Get Here' (1988), which was nominated for a Grammy Award and peaked at number 20 on the R&B Albums Chart. Other releases include 'Kiss Me With the Wind' (1990), 'Soul Talkin'' (1993), 'Paris Rain' (2000) and 'Between the Sun and the Moon' (2004). Singles include 'So Good, So Right' (1979) featuring Joe Esposito, which went to number 15 on Billboard's Hot R&B Songs Chart and number 30 on the Hot 100. 'Piano in the Dark' (1988) was nominated for two Grammy Awards. It reached number six on the Hot 100 and number eight on the Hot R&B Songs Chart.

She performed on the television series 'Diff'rent Strokes' in the 1980s and appears in the 1999 feature film 'Liberty Heights'. In 2005, she wrote the music for the Broadway production of the musical 'The Color Purple' with Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. The show was nominated for a Tony Award and the album was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her 2020 schedule included an appearance at the Barbican Centre in London, England.

Known for her diverse musical style, her recordings have encompassed several genres, including pop, soul, dance, and jazz. Her hits included "Piano in the Dark" and "Get Here", the latter of which became an even bigger hit for Oleta Adams.2005 saw a Broadway musical version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Produced by Oprah Winfrey, the show's score was written by Russell and lyricists-composers Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. Russell and her co-writers were nominated for a Tony Award (for Best Score) and a Grammy Award (in the Best Musical Show Album category).[9]Born to musical parents (her father Gus Gordon was a one-time member of the Ink Spots), Brenda Gordon spent her early years in Canada after moving to Hamilton, Ontario at age 12. As a teenager she began performing in local bands and was recruited to sing in a Toronto-based girl group called the Tiaras along with Jackie Richardson. The group's one single, "Where Does All The Time Go", was released on Barry Records in 1968 but was unsuccessful.

In her late teens, she joined the Toronto production of Hair, during which time she had begun to play the piano. In the early 1970s she married musician Brian Russell and (as Brian & Brenda) they released two albums on Elton John's Rocket label, Word Called Love (1976) and Supersonic Lover (1977). The Russells, along with Donny Gerrard, featured as backing vocalists for John's concert at Wembley Stadium on 21 June 1975. The Russells also performed on two tracks from Robert Palmer's breakout soul-pop album Double Fun. Their daughter, Lindsay, was born in 1977, but the couple had divorced by the late 1970s, and Russell, now living in Los Angeles, had set out on a solo career.

After Russell signed to Tommy LiPuma's Horizon Records (a subsidiary of A&M Records), her debut single, "So Good, So Right", became a Top 30 hit in 1979. After it disestablished the Horizon imprint in 1979, A&M released Russell's self-titled debut album. The album included the hit "So Good, So Right" as well as the tracks "In The Thick Of It" and "If Only For One Night" (which was later a hit in 1985 for Luther Vandross).

Her second album, Love Life, followed in 1981, though commercial success eluded her. Moving to Warner Bros. Records, she released her third album, Two Eyes, in 1983, but this was also unsuccessful. After this, Russell relocated to Sweden and began writing songs for her next album.

Returning to A&M Records, Russell's fourth album, Get Here, was released in 1988. It became her greatest commercial success, spawning her biggest hit "Piano in the Dark" (a US Top 10 hit which featured Joe Esposito) and garnered three Grammy Award nominations. The title track went on to become a worldwide hit in 1991 when it was covered by Oleta Adams. After releasing her next album, Kiss Me with the Wind (1990), Russell's contract with A&M concluded with the release of her Greatest Hits album in 1992.

Russell then signed with EMI and released the album Soul Talkin' in 1993. After this, Russell took some time off from recording her own music and during this period she composed songs for other artists and contributed to the score for the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, written by Michel Colombier. She also appeared in the 1999 film Liberty Heights, in which she performed two songs written especially for the movie.

Russell resumed her solo career in 2000 with the album Paris Rain, released on Hidden Beach Records. The album (which includes collaborations with Carole King, Dave Koz and Sheila E.) saw Russell move away from the pop market toward a more adult-oriented sound. In 2003, she signed to the new UK label Dome Records and released the compilation album So Good, So Right: The Best of Brenda Russell. Her eighth studio album, Between the Sun and the Moon, was released by Dome in 2004.

In November 2009, three tracks from Russell's ninth studio album, This Is Real Life, were made available via her official website, although a release date for the album is yet to be announced.

Brenda's Bio from her website:
With a unique musical perspective, intimate voice and prolific treasure-trove of lyrics, singer-songwriter Brenda Russell proves that a truly glowing talent only deepens with time. Composer of the classics “Get Here,” “If Only For One Night,” and the Grammy-nominated “Piano In The Dark,” Brenda’s songwriting prowess and chameleon-like ability to shift between musical genres and combine styles trumpeted ovations in 2005 with the opening of the Tony Award-winning hit Broadway musical The Color Purple–a show for which she, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray co-wrote the music and lyrics. Brenda and her co-authors were also nominated for a 2007 Grammy in the Best Musical Show Album category for the original cast album.

From its opening night in December 2005, The Color Purple became a seminal presence on The Great White Way as one of the 2006’s top grossing shows. In 2007 the musical built on its big first year by adding American Idol winner Fantasia to take over the lead role of Celie from Tony Winner LaChanze and by opening its much-anticipated touring company in Chicago in April of 2007 with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child in the role of Shug. While Fantasia earned rave reviews from New York critics for her performance, the equity touring company spread the Purple gospel in cities nationwide through February 2010 ending its run at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles with Fantasia reprising her critically acclaimed role. Now, the non-equity company is carrying the torch in the US while shows are being developed in other territories. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and presented by Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple’s story spans a 30-year period in the life of its female African American protagonist Celie through music that blends jazz, blues and gospel of the early and mid 1900s with the writers’ pop sensibilities creating a show and soundtrack brimming with emotion, authenticity and memorable songs. Most recently, The Color Purple had its second run on Broadway in 2015 as a revival. In 2017, the show received two Tony awards: "Best Revival of a Musical" and "Best Actress" for Cynthia Erivo’s role as Celie Harris.

While composing The Color Purple, Brenda also wrote, recorded and co-produced a solo album, Between the Sun and the Moon–released in 2004 on Dome Records, an R&B- focused label based in the UK. Narada Jazz licensed the CD for release in the U.S. The album aptly displays her song craft and nuanced vocals mixing up-tempo grooves with her classic balladry in a work that satisfied longtime fans while enticing new listeners. Recorded in both the UK and the U.S., the album includes production and writing collaborations with such notables as Bluey from Incognito, Lee Ritenour and Patty Austin. Her first album since 2000’s Paris Rain (Hidden Beach Recordings), Brenda promoted Between the Sun and the Moon with live performance dates in the U.S. and Japan, including a 2005 U.S. tour with Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson and Everette Harp. The first UK single from the set, “Make You Smile,” became a top-five Smooth Jazz hit in that country.Brenda’s signature style has helped propel a variety of projects. She co-wrote the song “Justice of the Heart” with Stevie Wonder for the Denzel Washington movie John Q—a song that Wonder performed. And her co-composition with Brazilian artist Ivan Lins titled “She Walks This Earth” was recorded by Sting for the all-star tribute album called Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins. Sting’s inspired performance earned him a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance. The stream of artists who call upon Brenda’s talent is formidable. In 2002, Singer Will Downing had a Top 20 Urban radio hit with one of her co-compositions, “Don’t You Talk To Me Like That.” That same year, Solomon Burke’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-winning comeback album Don’t Give Up On Me (Fat Possum) featured “None of Us Are Free,” co-written by Brenda, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The three were among an all-star lineup of songwriters on Burke’s recording including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Brian Wilson. The song was also recorded as a duet by soul legend Sam Moore and Sting for Moore’s highly praised 2006 album Overnight Sensational. Other superstar artists who have either collaborated with Brenda or recorded her songs include Babyface, Mary J. Blige, Michael McDonald, Bow Wow, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Joe Cocker, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau and Johnny Mathis.

Born to musical parents in Brooklyn, New York, Brenda grew up there and in the Canadian town of Hamilton, Ontario. She encountered her first piano while singing as a teenager in the Canadian company of the rock musical Hair in Toronto. Without formal musical education, Brenda says she worried that she would never be able to write another song after her first composition. “Then I had a revelation: ‘You’re not doing this alone. You are just a channel for this,’ Brenda recalls. “Once I realized that, I was sort of fearless about songwriting. I thought: ‘If that’s the way it is, I can write anything.’ And that’s the premise I’ve based my whole writing career on.”

In the late 1970s, now living in Los Angeles, Brenda and her manager began circulating a demo of her songs. She was signed to Tommy LiPuma’s Horizon Records, and her first single, “So Good, So Right” was released in 1979. Brenda transferred to A&M Records, where she formed a bond with label founder Herb Alpert and released Brenda Russell and Love Life. Her contract was picked up by Warner Bros. for the 1983 album Two Eyes before moving to Sweden, where she wrote tunes for her A&M return, Get Here. That 1988 album contained the Grammy-nominated “Piano In The Dark,” the gorgeous “Le Restaurant,” and the title cut, which later became an international hit for Oleta Adams and has been covered many times with the latest rendition being Paul Anka’s on his 2007 album Classic Songs My Way. After a 1992 Greatest Hits package and her 1993 set Soul Talkin’ (EMI Records), Brenda took time off to regroup and travel. Continuing to write, produce and collaborate with other artists, Brenda honed her craft and contributed tunes to other projects, including albums by Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle and the score to How Stella Got Her Groove Back—a collaboration with the late composer Michel Colombier. She also wrote and performed two songs in director Barry Levinson’s film Liberty Heights.

As one of the recording industry’s rara avis who found success scaling the musical divides of rock, pop, R&B, jazz, classical and Latin, and forging them into a distinct style, Brenda Russell’s music is bound by neither time nor trend as she continues to attract fans around the world. As evidence, her self-titled debut was re-released on CD by Universal Records in 2000, and the label, which now owns her A&M catalog, released Brenda Russell: Ultimate Collection in 2001. In 2002, music writer David Nathan’s Ambassador Soul Classics label reissued Two Eyes. And in August 2006, while performing in South Africa for the first time, Brenda was overwhelmed when greeted by several thousand racially diverse, adoring fans who cheered and sang along with her, marking the occasion in a way that she will not soon forget. “I am a citizen of the world and believe in peace and love to all people. That is what I write about and what I sing about. It’s the motivating force behind everything I do and the way I live. I want my music to bring people together.”



Brian and brenda squared for mocm

Russell, Brian and Brenda


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