courtesy of the artist

Marlene VerPlanck was a “girl singer” with the big bands of Charlie Spivak, Tex Benecke and the Dorsey Brothers, but she became a more familiar voice in everyone’s life when she became one of the most active jingles singers in the business. “MMM, good. MMM, good. That’s why Campbell’s soups…” That was the ubiquitous Marlene, singing about airplanes and selling musically everything else.

Anthony Barboza / Getty Images

One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers.

He is the self-proclaimed Planetary Prince, a progressive pianist who seeks inspiration from emotion and the galaxy. On this Checkout podcast, he shares his debut as a recording artist.


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WBGO News

An advocacy group says steps some public schools are taking to reduce chronic student absenteeism in New Jersey are making a difference.

Peter Chen with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says 9.7 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade missed 18 or more days of school last year. That's down from 10.3 percent the year before.

"Even though the decline was only 0.6 percent, that's about 8,000 fewer students who are chronically absent, which is 8,000 fewer students who are more on track to graduate from high school."

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says legislation to phase-in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey will be a high priority when he takes office in January.

Murphy joined legislative leaders and labor officials at a Statehouse event where some workers said it's tough to get by on less than $15 an hour.

Sayerville resident Anthony Banos says he works at a warehousing distribution center and has a part-time job at a retail store.

Senator Bob Menendez
NBC News

New Jersey U-S Senator Bob Menendez is walking away a free man after the federal corruption case against him ended in a mistrial. it came after the jury in Newark deadlocked on a verdict.

For the second time this week the jury told the judge they could not come to a unanimous decision on the corruption charges facing Senator Menendez and a co-defendant. That’s when the judge declared a mistrial, saying it would be futile to go any longer.

Illyria
Playbill.com

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews three off-Broadway production during the year-end theatre marathon: Illyria, Jesus Hopped on the A Train, School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls

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