Lightyear Entertainment

Extraordinary Film And Music

Lizz Wright – Your Love

Posted on: March 7th, 2024 by Sky Spooner

“Your Love” embodies the pure joy of dancing to summon and resolve the grief of loved ones lost. A propulsive drum beat by Deantoni Parks underlines Meshell Ndegeocello’s nuanced bass groove on “Your Love.” In layered vocals, Wright sings “all day, walk around singing…wake me up!” “Your Love” is a moment of ancestral recall with moving references to the faith of Wright’s upbringing.

“Vocalist Lizz Wright just needs one note to completely level her audience…Wright’s bluesy, alto voice is absolutely mesmerizing while guiding her band through a moody set of ballads, spirituals and pop songs.” – NPR


Eric Essix – My Heartbeat

Posted on: March 6th, 2024 by Sky Spooner

“My Heartbeat” is the first single and title track of the upcoming new album produced by guitarist Eric Essix and slated for release in the Fall of 2024.

Personnel includes featured vocalist Kaleah Wooten, who has performed on 5 of Eric’s prior albums. Kaleah’s dad and Eric’s 24-year collaborator, Kelvin Wooten, played piano and percussion and wrote and performed the song’s string arrangements. Brian Bromberg is on upright acoustic bass (appearing courtesy of Mack Avenue/Artistry Records), and Eric is on nylon string and electric guitars. The mix engineer is Darren Rahn, and the track was mastered by Joe Yannece. Photography is by Tomiko Essix.

Lizz Wright – Sweet Feeling

Posted on: October 6th, 2023 by Sky Spooner

Through an inimitable voice that The New York Times touts as, “a smooth, dark alto possessed of qualities you might associate with barrel-aged bourbon or butter-soft leather,” acclaimed vocalist and songwriter Lizz Wright sings with a soaring reflection of the cultural fabric of America. Wright is one of the great modern American singers with an illustrious 20-year career transcending social divides with her offer of love and deep sense of humanity.

Wright culls inspiration from her Southern upbringing in Georgia where she was the musical director of a small church of which her father was the pastor. The call and response singing with the church congregation was her first brush with music. Soon she would traverse the Great American Songbook on her path to becoming a beloved international treasure.

Lizz Wright has made her substantial reputation as a jazz and gospel singer, but it’s no trouble for her to take a slow and slinky turn to the blues on this new single, “Sweet Feeling” – the blues, after all, lie at the root of both of those styles. This track is our first look at her next record, Shadow. The album will feature guest vocals from Angelique Kidjo and Meshell Ndegeocello, as well as a mix of original songs and covers. “Sweet Feeling” is a song associated with gospel (and one-time disco) singer Candi Staton, but Wright and her band make it very much their own.” — WNYC‘s New Sounds

Buddy Rich – Trios

Posted on: October 4th, 2023 by Sky Spooner

Never before heard recordings of the great Buddy Rich and his Trio. When Buddy Rich and his Killer Force Band were at their peak, Buddy began to feature a trio segment, often twice a night. Buddy would exclusively use brushes rather than sticks, even in his drum solos. Young prodigy pianist Barry Kiener, who soon sadly died of an accidental overdose at the age of 30 (on Buddy’s tour bus), was the magnificent lead instrument. Virtuoso bassist Jon Burr completed the trio on most of the songs. These never-before released recordings are a true collector’s item.

Club Nouveau – The Collection

Posted on: May 31st, 2023 by Steve Wilkison

Since Club Nouveau’s formation in 1986, the group has sold over 10 million albums, charted 11 hit singles and toured worldwide. Collection Vol. 1 includes their greatest hits and 3 new songs that marry the Club Nouveau style – contemporary, sophisticated and funky. A lot of Club Nouveau music is hard to find (formerly on Warner Bros., their only WB CD currently in release is ’86’s Life, Love & Pain), making this a “must get” for fans. 1st single: “Keep Using Me.”


Own CLUB NOUVEAU: THE COLLECTION on Vinyl for the first time ever – Available NOW at:

Sophie B. Hawkins – Free Myself – Album

Posted on: March 9th, 2023 by Steve Wilkison

Hawkins was Grammy nominated for her platinum-selling debut album “Tongues and Tails,” and its iconic lead single “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.” Her smash hit “As I Lay Me Down” shattered records as longest-running hit single on the Billboard charts in American music history. A truly essential singer-songwriter, Sophie’s 7th album “Free Myself” is rooted in Hawkins’s raw yet poetic lyrics and her distinctive, captivating vocals. Her 2023 tour will begin in March to coincide with the new album.

“…powerful, heartfelt songs and hypnotic voice.” – Huffington Post

“Her spellbinding voice, relatable lyrics, and light jangling instrumentation shroud the soul-stirring [‘Love Yourself’] in symphonic pop whimsy.”
– American Songwriter

“[her songs] feel as vibrant as they did three decades ago.” – Forbes

“[‘Love Yourself’] is such an earworm.” – WNYC

“She’s become a kind of musical fairy godmother for a new generation.”
– Chicago Sun-Times

“…brilliant songwriter and performer” – KCLU

“Hawkins was always a maverick…” – Boston Herald

Album releasing March 24th, 2023!

For tour dates and other information check out Sophie’s website


Check out Sophie’s other albums The Crossing, Wilderness, and Live! Bad Kitty Board Mix

Sophie B. Hawkins – Love Yourself – Single

Posted on: October 11th, 2022 by Steve Wilkison

Since the start of her musical journey, Sophie B. Hawkins has shown an uncompromising devotion to her singular truth, endlessly transcending boundaries and offering up new ways of experiencing the world around us. Rooted in Hawkins’ raw yet poetic lyrics and effortlessly captivating vocals, her new single “Love Yourself” – a soul-stirring piece of symphonic pop threaded with Hawkins’s true-to-life storytelling – is an undeniable anthem for rising above negativity of all kinds and embracing absolute self-love. A dynamic creative force known for a spellbinding live show that all but erases the divide between audience and performer, Hawkins is currently on the road celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Tongues and Tails and will be touring through late next year. Hawkins emerged as a vibrant force on the musical landscape with the arrival of her platinum-selling debut album Tongues and Tails, and its iconic lead single “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.” She defied categorization and embraced her individuality by embodying a daring fluidity as a musician, working with some of the most creative jazz musicians of the era on her debut album. She also challenged the norms of gender expression and sexual orientation at a time when political, social, and sexual labels were more rigid. Her ever-evolving career has included releasing six widely beloved albums, breaking chart records with her smash hit “As I Lay Me Down,” four worldwide singles from Whaler, songs in cultural touchstone TV shows and films (from recent hits Stranger Things, Euphoria, Ozark, and PEN15, to landmark series Beverly Hills, 90210, Dawson’s Creek, The L Word and more), and a starring role as Janis Joplin in the critically acclaimed musical Room105. Hawkins will be releasing new music culminating in an album in the Spring of 2023.


Check out some of Sophie’s other albums, like The Crossing, Wilderness, or Live! Bad Kitty Board Mix.


Eric Essix – Stride

Posted on: October 10th, 2022 by Steve Wilkison

Over a period of more than 34 years and 28 full length album releases, Eric Essix has maintained a steady flow of new music that continues to push the boundaries of contemporary jazz. Following the success of his Songs From The Deep project, Eric recently released his 28th album entitled STRiDE on his Essential Recordings label, again distributed by Lightyear Entertainment/Virgin Music/UMG.

The album features nine original compositions written by Eric and a lush arrangement of the Bill Withers’ classic, Ain’t No Sunshine, featuring fellow Birmingham, AL native and American Idol winner, Ruben Studdard. Released as a single, the song has done well on smooth jazz radio  maintaining a solid presence on several charts and syndicated programs.

STRiDE showcases a diverse mix of songs ranging from danceable, funk instrumentals, sultry ballads, hints of blues and traditional jazz textures and, as always, a very intentional nod to Eric’s gospel roots. “This album is an extension of the Songs From The Deep record in a sense. I made a conscious effort to build on what I did with that project compositionally and maintain the same kind of vibe. Musically, it just felt like a good place to explore a while longer.”

Even though STRiDE does not directly have Eric’s southern upbringing in the forefront conceptually for this record, the influences and the sound are still essential ingredients in the mix. “Some things will just always be buried in every note I play I think and those down home elements that are inherent in my playing are never going away. I gave up trying be someone other than myself 22 years ago and learned to embrace who I am as a guitarist and an artist. I haven’t looked back.”

STRiDE has several uptempo standout’s with Steady, Coming Home To You, The Light and the title track leading the pack. However, the ballads Until We All Are Free, Slow And Easy  and the beautiful 6/8 time, Inside Out (featuring flutist Claudia Hayden and a brilliant synth solo by Grammy winner, Phil Davis), are compelling vehicles for some of Eric’s best guitar work on the session.

“I’m not done yet,” Eric says. “In fact, when the last record was so well received, I felt I was starting to hit my ‘stride’ again with my audience and my music. It really inspired me to keep going and I am excited to see how this new album will resonate with listeners.”


Check out Eric’s other albums, Songs From The Deep and Birmingham!

Al Strong – Love Stronger

Posted on: January 11th, 2022 by Steve Wilkison

Al Strong is an award-winning trumpet player, composer, recording artist and educator. A cultural innovator, he is the co-founder of the Art of Cool Project and Festival. His first album “Love Strong Vol. 1” was released in 2017.

Lightyear Entertainment, in association with Al Strong Music, will release his second album entitled Love Stronger, in Spring of 2022. Al has assembled an exemplary group of jazz musicians to record the Album and tour with him to support the Album. Three-time Grammy Winner Branford Marsalis will guest on two songs.

In addition to his trumpet and flugelhorn work, Al served as Producer, Recording Engineer and Mixing Engineer for this Album.

Eric Essix – Songs From The Deep

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by Steve Wilkison

For Eric Essix, the year 2018 marked two inspiring milestones in his multi-faceted career. In celebration of 30 years as a solo recording artist, the Birmingham, Alabama based,contemporary jazz guitarist released “More”, his 25th full length album.It was a pivotal moment in a creative journey that has made him a genre icon – not only for his keen ability to fashion a continuous flow of infectious melodies and funky grooves, but also because of his willingness to artfully dismantle past ideas of what jazz is and reinvent them.

Fast forward to 2020. In the midst of a devastating global pandemic, social unrest and economic upheaval, it would seem like the most unlikely time for an artist to be inspired to write and record new music. However, for Eric, it has proven to be the perfect season to do just that.

His latest offering is a collection of nine compositions written and arranged by the guitarist, called “Songs From The Deep” which highlight his experiences living and growing up in the Deep South and their relevance in today’s world. Produced by Eric, the record reunites him with multi Grammy nominated keyboardist and bassist, Kelvin Wooten and journeyman drummer, Marcus Finnie. As a trio, they were the core unit that created two of the biggest albums of Eric’s career, “Evolution” and “The Isley Sessions”.

Check out Eric’s other albums, Stride and Birmingham!