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Ken Batie: Heart of homegrown soul scene succumbs

Batie's influence still heard

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On Monday, Feb. 12, musical tastemaker and longtime WCLK-FM (91.9) employee Ken Batie was killed in a car accident. His death at the age of 56 stunned the Atlanta soul community.

Ken Batie is frequently acknowledged as the spiritual godfather of Atlanta soul. On his long-running radio program "Hot Ice" (which ended in 2005) for WCLK-FM, Batie exposed listeners to varied forms of black music, from the contemporary jazz sounds of George Benson, to British soul artists Omar and Incognito, to Chicago house producers Frankie Knuckles and Lil Louis. His presentation influenced dozens of local musicians to broaden their palettes beyond mainstream R&B styles, particularly during the city's "neo-soul" explosion in the 1990s. After "Hot Ice" ended in 2005, Batie continued to work for WCLK-FM while launching a successful online radio station, www.hoticeonline.com.

"He was my introduction into the Atlanta music scene," wrote acclaimed musician Anthony David on his MySpace blog. "He was one of the first people to play India.Arie and have her up for an interview. He was one of the first to do the same for me."

For more on Ken Batie, check out next week's issue of Creative Loafing.

THE GREATEST: Josh Rifkind, manager for the Whigs and impresario behind the annual Open Mic Madness, is organizing a new super-event called 500 Songs for Kids. Scheduled for May 3-12 at Smith's Olde Bar, it will draw together 500 different artists, each playing a song from Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Proceeds will go toward the Songs for Kids Foundation, which serves as a liaison between the music industry and needy and at-risk children. If you want to play during the festival, apply at www.500songsforkids.org.

GRAMMY FAMILY: Congratulations to the many Atlanta artists who picked up Grammy awards. Winners include Ludacris, Bryan-Michael Cox, Gnarls Barkley, Johnta Austin, Van Hunt, T.I., Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Third Day, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Robert Spano and even former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. ... Also, congratulations to Paste magazine, which won Magazine of the Year at the PLUG Independent Music Awards.

RANDOM NEWS: Deerhunter is following up its just-released Cryptograms with a new EP, Fluorescent Grey, on April 16. The EP will be sold separately and as part of a vinyl package that includes the album. ... I Am the World Trade Center's Dan Geller has formed a new project, Ruby Isle, with drummer Aaron Lemay and Minneapolis solo artist Mark Mallman. The crew's debut EP, Into the Black, is due out on Kindercorpse, a none-too-subtle allusion to Geller's late, lamented Kindercore imprint.

CD RELEASES AND ANNIVERSARIES: Pop-rock group My Friend Ian's Band issues a new CD Thursday, Feb. 22 at Andrews Upstairs. High River Band and Chris Milam open. ... Garagey rock band Ocha La Rocha celebrates Ocha Lives Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Earl. The Clean Prophets and All the Saints open. ... Sonic provocateurs the Black Lips drop Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo Friday, Feb. 23 at Whirlyball Atlanta. Dark Meat and the Fatal Flying Guilloteens also perform. ... Blues hangout Blind Willie's commemorates its 21st anniversary Friday-Saturday, Feb. 23-24. Sam Lay performs on both nights. ... Funk combo Entropy celebrates Crawl Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Loft. Collective Efforts and Social Espionage open. ... Americana band Liberty Jones issues Southbound Chronicles Saturday, Feb. 24 at Red Light Café. Roger Mathis and Spencer Durham warm it up. ... The Seventh Ring of Saturn puts out a self-titled CD Saturday, Feb. 24 at Drunken Unicorn. Lay Down Mains and Big Eyed Beans from Venus open. ... Singer/songwriter Spencer Durham releases Much More Than Words Sunday, Feb. 25 at Club 29. ... Acoustic artist Ryan Horne drops Love & War Monday, Feb. 26 at Red Light Café. Jon Black and Micah Dalton open.

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