Press: Columbia/Legacy Honors the 50th Anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s Pop Recording Career With a Deluxe Box Set

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has had her share of heartache, celebration and obstacles, including her latest recovery from pancreatic cancer. She is quintessentially the personification of what “soul” would sound like manifested in a  For almost fifty years, Ms. Franklin has ruled what it means to sing “soulfully” and has been the prototype of talent wrapped in spirit and body. (Let’s not forget that she is an accomplished pianist and songwriter.)

The past week has had stories and rumors about the Queen’s biopic on the big screen. Actually, a biopic on Ms. Franklin is way overdue considering how Hollywood loved Ray Charles’ biopic, and the biopics of other male stars. This is the first biopic since Lady Sings the Blues that a biopic centering on a Black female singer has been –and, no, Cadillac Records doesn’t count, and Dreamgirls was fiction.

Ms. Franklin publicly voiced her support for Halle Berry to play her in the film. According to news reports, Ms. Berry was a bit reticent at the thought of playing the legendary Franklin. Some viewed Halle’s concerns as an insult of portraying Franklin as she has appeared to the public in the later part of career –i.e., in odd fashion choices and much larger than Ms. Berry; but then again, what woman doesn’t gain weight in her later years? Others in the industry have suggested Jennifer Hudson, who’s career seems to be gaining speed after her (ahem) weight loss via Weight Watchers. Still, others think that someone with the stellar career of Ms. Franklin deserves a star of Ms. Berry’s Oscar-winning magnitude.

Audiences are eagerly awaiting a Queen of Soul biopic, and let’s just hope they don’t mess it up since films centering on Black women are so few and far between.

The news of Ms. Franklin’s film is perfect timing for other career centered news, specifically, that Columbia is records is releasing a twelve (yes, twelve!) CD set starting with songs from the start of her career in 1960 to later releases.

The 50th anniversary of Aretha Franklin‘s arrival on the popular music scene is set for a major celebration in 2011. Signed to Columbia Records by the legendary John Hammond in the spring of 1960 (soon after her 18th birthday), Aretha released her debut album, Aretha (With The Ray Bryant Combo), on February 27, 1961.  Her coming of age at Columbia as a young artist in New York is one of the great stories in the annals of popular music, and set the stage for her ascendance as the Queen of Soul at Atlantic Records.

TAKE A LOOK: ARETHA FRANKLIN COMPLETE ON COLUMBIA marks the first time that Aretha’s entire Columbia output, including master takes, unissued performances, rare mono mixes and studio conversations, have been preserved in one deluxe 12-disc (11 CDs + DVD) box set.  The package is available for pre-order at www.arethafranklin.net in advance of its March 22, 2011, release at all physical and digital retail outlets through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.  The suggested retail price for the box is $169.98.

Songs include:

  • Aretha (with the Ray Bryant Combo) (released February 27, 1961)
  • The Electrifying Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • Laughing On The Outside (1963)
  • Unforgettable – A Tribute To Dinah Washington (1964)
  • Runnin’ Out Of Fools (1965)
  • Yeah!!! In Person With Her Quartet (in two sequences: the original 1965 album recorded live in the studio with overdubbed applause, followed by a new previously unreleased version without the overdubbed ambience)
  • Tiny Sparrow: The Bobby Scott Sessions (1963)
  • Take A Look: The Clyde Otis Sessions (1964)
  • A Bit of Soul (the full album as it was compiled in 1965, but never released)
  • The Queen In Waiting (includes Aretha’s last seven Columbia recordings which were produced by Bob Johnston, who was noted for his work during this time with Bob Dylan; the disk also features new recordings of Aretha’s songs that Columbia “sweetened” after she left the label)
  • …and more!

Find out more at Aretha Franklin.net

Just In! 2010 MOBO Awards Red Carpet from the U.K.

One of the hottest urban music awards shows in Europe (if not the only one!) will be showcasing a bevy of talent from both sides of the pond tonight in the United Kingdom!

If you’re not familiar with the MOBO’s, according to their site it was:

“Launched in 1996, by founder and CEO Kanya King, the MOBO Awards were the first Awards show in Europe to celebrate urban music. In our 14 year history, the MOBO Awards have, undoubtedly, played an instrumental role in elevating black music and culture to mainstream popular status in the UK.

The Awards continue to attract the largest prime time multicultural audience and boast broadcast access to over 250 million people, due in no small part to the fact that MOBO has played host to the music industry’s finest, witnessing jaw-dropping performances from the cream of both UK and international talent. Over the years A-list artists have included: Janet Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Justin Timberlake, Tina Turner, Jay- Z, LL Cool J, Amy Winehouse, Dizzee Rascal, Estelle, Usher and John Legend to name but a few.”

So check out their just-in Red Carpet pics and see if the stars are just as bright across the pond!

OBITUARY: Jazz musican, singer and actress Abbey Lincoln dies at 80

The phenomenal, multi-talented pianist, singer, actress and activist Abbey Lincoln passed away at the age of 80 years old.

Known in her later years for her Civil Rights activism, she was often compared to another firebrand jazz artist, Nina Simone. Abbey Lincoln, however, did not start as a musician or singer.

Her talents were first noticed by the Black press as a fashion model who graced Black magazines in cosmetic ads. Her beauty often distracted people from taking her seriously, especially when she transitioned her career from model to actress.

Her first role was in the highly acclaimed, independent film “Nothing But a Man,” starring alongside fellow actor Ivan Dixon –an actor later known for his work on television’s “Hogan’s Heroes.” Ms. Lincoln’s understated portrayal of a privileged Black, middle-classed school teacher in a rural, country town who falls for an itinerant migrant worker with big dreams propelled her to other roles, including the lead role in “For the Love of Ivy,” co-starring Sidney Poitier. She continued acting until she fell in love with Bebop pioneer and jazz drummer and activist Max Roach, in the late-1950’s. They soon married, and her career was changed to one of activism and jazz.

They divorced in 1970, but Ms. Lincoln continued her music career, influencing other musicians and creating music that was played well into her career. She was also introduced to a new generation of admirers through a short monologue in Les Nubians song “Makeda” and had songs featured in films such as “Drugstore Cowboy.”

She also had small roles in later films, including Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues.”

According to the New York Times, she had no children, but is survived by two brothers and a sister.


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ANNOUNCEMENT: ProducHer Beats Looking for Talent

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance

PSA: Calling all Talent!!

ProducHer Beats is co-hosting a radio show on shovio.com for upcoming talent everyweek, Monday and Wednesday. They are looking for rock pop R&B songwriters anyone musically inclined.

Please send them your info and what you do. They will have people come on the show or they can beam you in over the Internet.

Send your info to ProducherBeats@nullgmail.com!!!

On Facebook: Producherbeats

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance

Janelle Monae:: ARCHAndroid – In Stores Now!


After her hit album “Metropolis,” Janelle Monae is back with the much anticipating “Arch Android” concept album. As with all of her work, she seamlessly incorporates music, video, art and social networking for a 22nd Century approach to music. MTV’s “Woody Awards” gave her a nod from the college crowd, but her real impact is live. She’s performed at the Afro Punk festival in NYC, and at a number of clubs, campuses and venues around the world.

Get your sneak peak into her new album, and purchase it today!

Oliver Stone Wants to Film Tony Award Nominated Musical “Memphis”

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

(Take the Poll at the end of this post!)

The New York Times reported that Justin Timberlake –who’s from Memphis, Tennessee– wants to make a film version of the Tony Award® nominated Broadway musical “Memphis,” starring singer/actress Montego Glover. Legendary director Oliver Stone has also shown interest in turning the musical into a film.

For those who aren’t into musicals, you’ll be surprised to know that Broadway is getting “souled” up lately, with such successes as “Fela!” and a revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.

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Timberlake is said to be interested in the lead role, but a leading lady hasn’t yet been discussed.In true Stage/Book/Television-to-Film style, they may just go the usual route and cast someone who isn’t necessarily an actress or a  stage singer. (It won’t be the first time.)

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Or, Oliver Stone may decide to “keep it real” and cast someone with a stage background to bring the miscegenation storyline to life.

Who Would You Cast?

Whitney Performs; Fences Opens; Tribeca Premieres; and More!

April has been a busy month for film premieres, events and glam gatherings! From the opening of the late-August Wilson’s drama “Fences,” starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, to Whitney’s shaky comeback, we have the latest photos of the latest glam gatherings!

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Am(erykah)’s Artistic Statement

Okay, let’s cut right to the chase. Erykah Badu’s video “Window Seat” has been heating up Facebook pretty much for the past couple of days. I was hit with an onslaught of links and “whadya thinks?” since March 29, 2010. To say the least, people were “vexed,” distraught, titillated, mortified and stupefied.

Comments ranged from questioning her sanity, to outright anger, and to kudos.

Though Miss Erykah is one of my favorite music (and performance) artists, I hadn’t taken two minutes to watch the video because I’m just not one for a hard sell (no pun intended). I like people to get all of their nutty comments, talk show appearances and morning show battles out of the way before I actually feel compelled to view something objectively.

In this case, it was the subject matter that was so compelling that I had to finally watch: the perceived exploitation of the Black woman’s body, and controlling the image of the Black woman’s body. (What could it hurt, right? Plus it’s free, so stop complaining.) I click on the one of many links and sat, and sat, and sat.

First, I wasn’t that blown over by the song itself. It was pretty standard, and I felt it was more of a “filler” song. There were no vocal pyrotechnics, or note gymnastics, but it was listenable.

I started getting that Coldplay feeling like, “Oh, here we go again. Another film school experiment in an attempt to make some big –albeit undecipherable– artistic statement.”

For those who haven’t seen the video, Ms. Badu is in the same location as President Kennedy when he was assassinated in Dallas. (OK, keep that point in mind.) Dallas is also Ms. Badu’s hometown. (Point number 2.) The film is grainy and shaky. (Nothing good can come from that given the first point.) The camera is unflinching and Erykah is never out of view.

But wait… there’s more!

As Miss Erykah is walking down a busy Dallas street, she is slowly taking off clothing. By the time she takes off her top, you’re pretty sure it’s going down a slippery slope. (No pun intended, again.)

Yes, she strips down to nature’s own scuba suit… in public. And, no, there was no permit to for the filming.

In the end is a simulated assassination.

Wow. I didn’t see that coming… given the first point. But for many Am(erykah) it was just a little too much.

As someone who still cringes at nude scenes in film, I was a little floored, and somewhat impressed that she dropped it like it was hot. One side of me thought, good for her! The other side thought, now that was just unnecessary.

Of course people are outraged, including the City of Dallas. Folks in Texas don’t take to kindly to public nudity, especially when it’s filmed.

Talk shows, including the “Early Show,” went 5150. (That’s city code for “crazy.”) Morning co-host Maggie Rodriguez almost lost her breakfast while spewing out her distaste for the video, even bringing President Kennedy and how Ms. Badu disrespected the assassinated President. (Maggie, chill the f– out.)

My own mother had an interesting (and funny) comment, “You can’t expect a child not to be traumatized by seeing a nekkid Black woman… or man!” (Of course it was said in the humor.) We laughed because it was definitely in the humor of one of my favorite Mel Brook’s movies, “Blazing Saddles”: “Excuse me while I whip this out!” Aaaaaagh!

It also brought to light a bigger issue: How does America (still) respond to the Black body?

Erykah responded via Twitter to everyone’s ire:
@fatbellybella character assassination due to mob mentality/ groupthink is the theme of the window seat video . The message is encoded.

OK, I got that, but I think that a deeper message about the Black body, America’s perception of it, and the fear, fascination and loathing it still possesses for people who never have an opportunity to see it in a positive light.

Hopefully the video will deliver a larger message and start a larger dialogue. Read Natalie Hopkinson’s take on the video and the Black woman’s body at “The Root,” and visit Erykah Badu’s Twitter account for her deeper insight into the controversy.

March 11, 2010 @ 7 pm and 9:30 pm: T’Keyah Crystal Keymah in the CJP’s “Ella to Mandela”

T’Keyah says, “Just in case you haven’t heard, I am part of the CJP concert you will not want to miss! I hope you can make.”

Event: T’Keyah Crystal Keymah in the CJP’s “Ella to Mandela”

“The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Concert”
What: Concert
Start Time: Tomorrow, March 11 at 7:00pm
End Time: Tomorrow, March 11 at 9:30pm
Where: Auditorium Theater

More Info: http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=284

Leona Lewis’ Unrecognizable Shoot

(*Any ad that may appear in banners to promote skin lightening is absolutely not endorsed by the International Black Women’s Film Festival or it’s web-site.)

Beautiful Brit singer Leona Lewis was recently featured in British fashion magazine, “Grazia.” A wonderfully shot layout featured the season’s newest trends in pale pastels, and included a ballet theme.

What was the issue?

Well, Ms. Lewis is not as well known in the United States, so no one would necessarily remark on her extreme weight loss. But one thing we can remark on is the extreme washing out of her skin tone.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, there are several issues going on with this particular layout:

1. It’s still a little to close to “Beyonce-Gate” when cosmetics giant, L’Oreal, was accused of intentionally lightening the already light performer in order to appeal to a wider audience

    2. The pale pastel wardrobe selection for Spring 2010 is reminiscent of Vanity Fair’s recent “pastel cover” featuring “New Hollywood” …and not one Black woman (or Asian) was featured, and

      3. Why is the media obsessed with making Black, multi-racial, and Latina women lighter than they actually are…even considering how lighting can change your skin tone?

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      Brit blog Stylelist seemed more concerned with Ms. Lewis’ weight loss, but readers were a touchstone to the other issue of skin lightening, or at least the perception of skin lightening, to make non-white women appear more acceptable, even to their own community. Although Leona Lewis is multi-racial, one reader writers:

      Leon is black, regardless how she is airbrushed to look more caucasian. Black is beautiful and nothing can change that! Why change her colour when she was more beautiful before. A paler skin does not prove anything….

      I know very few examples (outside of the late-Michael Jackson) of this same principle being applied to Black men in fashion magazines. Hopefully, film, television and media will understand that women of African heritage come in a multitude of shades, colors, hues, and ethnicity,  and we don’t need someone else defining what is beautiful to us.

      Alvin Ailey’s Judith Jamison Preparing to Move On

      For all of you danceophiles and balletomanes, you’ve watched that quintessentially American modern dance company, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (click link for videos and more!), flourish, wane, and then flourish again over its 40 year history. The company started in 1969, under the leadership and artistic vision of dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey. His company was revolutionary for its time because: 1) there were virtually no modern dance companies with Black dancers, 2) he used Black dancers in his company and 3) though the dance vocabulary was strictly from the modern genre, he infused the dances and the body language with Black vernacular themes and movements.

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      From his company, Judith Jamison became the Ailley’s version of a prima ballerina. She was not the usual dance type of that time (or this), which was short, waif-like, and, invariably, white –or passably white. Ms. Jamison was tall and lithe, curvy, and dark-hued. She was also a strong, aggressive dancer who attacked each movement. Audience members seemed to understand that her dance was speaking to a much larger issue than just movements.

      [picappgallerysingle id=”2622406″]Mr. Ailey created a dance to highlight her essence and her long limbs, and it became a standard dance for the company, and can still be seen today. She performed the solo Cry, which was supposed to be a piece within the larger dance called Revelations. Her performances brought audiences to their feet, and her fierce dancing spoke about the struggles and life of a Black woman –a topic that was never approached previously.

      The Ailey company also produced such renowned dancers as Carmen De Lavallade and Masazumi Chaya, in addition to Ms. Jamison.

      Unfortunately, in 1989, Mr. Ailey passed away. The company faltered while it tried to get its foothold. There were struggles regarding the direction of the company, and who should lead. During that same year, Ms. Jamison became the Artistic Director of the company.

      Under her direction, the company grew, and continued Mr. Ailey’s vision, while also acquiring a new, state-of-the-art facility on West 55th Street.

      According to AOL Black Voices, the company has been seriously searching for a new director for the past three years. Ms. Jamison is trying to gradually move on, while she is committed to a seamless process of knowledge transfer. From the same article, she states, “This company is about past, present and future, and I’m seriously reaching into the future,” she shared. “I am not going be around here forever. I want 50 years more for this company, and while I am here, I really want to do this process.”

      Regardless of who they select, the vision of Ailey has been in capable hands for 20 years. Hopefully, the vision will continue, as will the spirit of Alvin Ailey, himself.

      Stop Dissing Kim Porter

      Normally I don’t comment on the foolishness of today’s “celebrities,” but Sean “Diddy” Combs recent comments about Jennifer Lopez are starting to become nauseating and publicly humiliating for his so-called girlfriend and “baby mama” Kim Porter –especially since he just threw Ms. Porter a birthday party less than a week ago in West Hollywood.

      Though they’ve been on-again-off-again for more than a decade, and though they have three children together, he still openly pines for his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. It wasn’t enough that when he *was* with La-Lopez, he wasn’t yet “through” with Ms. Porter, yet and still, he made such outrageous proclamations that he was “in love” with J-Love, and went as far as to purchase signage in NYC to proclaim it.

      The message this is sending is not about unrequited love, or “two ships sailing in the night,” it’s obviously about setting a dollar sign on a relationship and placing a social hierarchy on a relationship –and the Black woman is still the lowest valued in both. This also sends a message to young, Black women about their personal worth, and can only chip away at the delicateness of young, Black, female self-esteem. Imagine the countless hip-hop fans who are young, Black women who are witnessing this repeated public disrespect of Ms. Porter? To have our magazines hold up this dysfunction as a “healthy relationship,” while one of the partners publicly declares his love to another on gossip blogs, gossip magazines, and in Playboy Magazine, is too much. (Read The Dish here…)

      Please, let’s stop co-signing on this kind of public humiliation of Black women and stop feeding into its dysfunction and self-hatred.

      I’m officially off of the soap box…

      Related News:

      Looking for Talent!! Conscious female rappers/artists/dancers/poets, etc…

      ———————–
      DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance
      ———————–

      DEADLINES:
      **PLEASE APPLY BY JANUARY 5TH, 2010 FOR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION**
      **LAST DAY TO APPLY IS JAN. 12TH, 2010**

      Are you a FEMALE MC with a slick flow, crazy style, and great stage presence? Or are you a FEMALE VISUAL ARTIST, SPOKEN WORD POET, or DANCER? Are you also politically conscious and inspire others through your work?

      If so please apply for Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 3: Back To Our Roots, Environmental Justice, Education Equality

      We are looking for conscious female rappers/artists/dancers/poets, etc… Who are interested in performing on:
      Saturday March 6th, 2010
      at Hostos Community College
      in the Bronx
      for
      Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 3: Back To Our Roots, Environmental Justice, Education Equality

      If interested please apply by:

      1. Going online to www.mhhk.org
      2. Click on “Vol. 3: 2010”
      3. On the left hand side of the page you will see the link “Participant Application
      4. Click that link, and apply!

      Please email hiphopkitchen@nullgmail.com if you have any questions

      **PLEASE APPLY BY JANUARY 5TH, 2010 FOR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION**
      **LAST DAY TO APPLY IS JAN. 12TH, 2010**

      Description of the Event:
      Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 3, Back to Our Roots, will be honoring International Women’s Month by shedding light and creating awareness on Environmental Injustices and Educational Inequalities and their impact on women of color.
      Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen will bring together women of color educators, students, environmentalists, djs, emcees, b-girls, poets, visual artists, dancers, healers, pastors, organizers and activists. We will come together through a hip hop showcase to express our solidarity with women’s rights!

      The South Bronx is a community that has been in constant resistance, seeking justice in education and the environment. It is a community resisting pollution, asthma, toxic wasteland, and budget cuts for art, music, and gym programs. It is a community that lacks access to healthy fruits and vegetables, adequate health care and after school programs. The South Bronx’s need for reproductive and sexual health education is highly reflected in its high levels of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
      In place of access to healthy alternatives, the South Bronx has an over abundance of jails and prisons.

      However, the South Bronx is not lost. It has experienced a period of healing through leadership guided by community organizations and collectives. This leadership has lead to the creation of new parks, food co-ops, recycling programs, and successful cultural community centers. We have won many amazing victories as a community!
      Join us as we fuse our energy, our politics, our ancestry, our traditions, art, song and dance into a brew for Environmental Justice and Education Equality.

      Turn Up the Heat and Let the Soul Simmer, as We Stir this Soup for the Hip Hop Soul!

      SAVE THE DATE

      Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 3: Back To Our Roots, Environmental Justice, Education Equality
      When: Saturday, March 6th, 2010
      Where: The Hostos Center for Arts and Culture
450 Grand Concourse (at 149th St.) Bronx, NY
(Main Theater)
      Time: TBA (most likely 2-5pm)
This event is FREE and open to all ages.
      for more information about the event, please
      visit our website @ http://www.mhhk.org
      or email hiphopkitchen@nullgmail.com

      Kathleen Adams and Lah Tere, Founders of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen

      Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen (MHHK) is a multifaceted hip hop event designed to showcase women artists, especially women of color. MHHK serves as a social justice community-organizing platform that educates and empowers women of color on issues that impact their lives, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice. Our mission is to create a dynamic interactive exchange and safe space for all women of color to express themselves through their art.

      Janelle Monae makes an appearance at MTV’s Woodie Awards

      ATLien Janelle Monae has been rocking the scene lately making a number of appearances at such underground events as New York’s Afro-Punk Festival, and elsewhere.

      In 2008, she was featured in Interview Magazine as an up-and-comer. However, most folks may recognize her –in a less alien appearance– from fellow ATLiens OutKast’s movie IDLEWILD, even appearing on the soundtrack. Like creative, independent funkstresses before her, Miss Janelle has run across a lot of stereotypes that try to impede her progress as an artist. According to her Interview Magazine feature, she states, ““It’s unfortunate that a lot of people think African-American female artists are monolithically R&B this-or-that …I don’t have to do anything by default.”
      Janelle Monae Presents "The Soul Collective" In 2009, was re-imagined and reworked to her current persona as a renegade alien who’s in love with an earthling on her creative album “Metropolis.” The incredibly lush orchestration of Ms. Monae’s music are a wonderful accompaniment to her lilting, bird-like vocals that are reminiscent of Edith Piaf and Marilyn McCoo, all wrapped up in one funky, Mothership package! On Friday, December 4, 2009, Miss Janelle appeared on MTV’s (literally) hot mess of an award show, the Woodies. Nominees –which included Ms. Monae– were selected by college students, who are the barometers of cool.
      Not only was Ms. Monae nominated, but she even let her funky android out to present one of the awards!

      Miss Janelle isn’t finished, and her epic album has more to go! Also, check out her label Wondaland Arts Society.

      Dreamgirls Opens at the Apollo Theater

      The legendary Apollo Theater is presenting a limited engagement of the revival of “Dreamgirls.” Turned into a major motion picture starring Oscar Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and the voice of the upcoming Disney film “The Fairy Princess,” Anika Noni Rose.

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      The musical garnered major attention in 1981 when it debuted on Broadway and starred Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Holliday, Phylicia (Ayers-Allen) Rashad, and others, who went on to star in film and television. The musical gained even more attention from the powerhouse performance of Jennifer Holliday and the signature song, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” The opening night saw such luminaries as “Dreamgirls” alumna Sheryl Lee Ralph, director George Lucas, and others. You can still purchase tickets if you’re in Manhattan on or before December 12 (http://www.apollotheater.org/calendar.htm)!

      Janet Jackson’s American Music Awards After Party

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      Miss Jackson –Janet, if you’re nasty– is back! After the stunning and untimely passing of her closest brother, Michael “King of Pop” Jackson, she’s been the sane and professional face of the Jackson Family.

      Her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards stunned audience members who may have forgotten why she reigned the top of the charts and dance floor for many years, and proved herself as a consummate professional.

      Many have tried to dethrone her while her rival Madonna gets skinnier and crazier, only to become Lady Gaga. Miss Janet is an incredible performer with real women curves, and a talent that leaves Britney-wannabes in the dust.

      Well, Miss Jackson threw herself an “I’m Back!” party after the American Music Awards called “The Number Ones.”

      Check out the blinding bling and beauty of some of the best performers and actors around today!

      For Colored Girls; Rumored for the big screen

      Post-“Precious” there’s another rumor circulating about the dynamic duo producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry: They will be producing a screen version of radical poet Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning choreopoem, “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.”

      Rumors are also circulating that superstars Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Angela Bassett, and Jill Scott will star. There are even murmurings that the queen herself –no, not First Lady Michelle Obama– will star in the production. Oprah Winfrey is not new to the big screen, and her repertoire and film roles have only grown increasingly intense with each new film.

      Who will deliver this ginormous project? Lionsgate. It would only make sense considering that the Wonder Twins jumped on the “Precious” train, and catapulted the indie-film to new heights.

      Halle Berry attends Keep A Child Alive’s 6th Annual Black Ball hosted by Alicia Keys and Padma Lakshmi at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 15, 2009 in New York Cityjillscott

      Can they do it for such a raw, real piece of work like “For Colored Girls”? Again, the casting seems a little off, but apparently that’s what it takes for a film to have any chance for survival. Big names, and bigger supporters.

      The poem doesn’t give any wiggle room for glamor, perfect hair or guarded emotions. If you remember the poem, it deals with serious issues surrounding Black women, including infanticide, and other hot-button issues.

      Hopefully, this project will come to fruition and whomever is selected to star will bring the same unpretty grittiness that the original poem demanded.

      Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary

      If you’re younger than 45 years old, then PBS perennial “Sesame Street” is probably a huge part of your youth. “Sesame Street” was a huge change from

      19th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards

      Sesame Street alumna Tatyana Ali

      Raul Julia

      Sesame Street alumnus Raul Julia

      baby-boomer children shows in that: 1) It was set in the inner-city, and not the suburbs; 2) children of every hue were represented; and 3) the neighbors on “Sesame Street” looked like the integrated neighborhoods that most post-integration Americans were looking for.

      Desiree Casado

      Desiree Casado

      "Sesame Street" 40th Anniversary Temporary Street Renaming

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      Sonia Manzano

      Sesame Workshop's 7th Annual Benefit Gala

      Sesame Street alumnus Roscoe Orman

      “Sesame Street” was also one of the first children’s shows to feature African American, Puerto Rican, and Caribbean kids and adults in the 1970’s who weren’t junkies, living in violence-plagued communities, or cracking jokes about “honkies.” People on this show actually spoke to one another, shared front stoops, and sang happy songs that anyone was welcomed to sing with them.

      So here’s those vanguard neighbors who helped to usher in Elmo, Takalani, and others who brightened our day… especially the ever hopeful and sensitive Big Bird!

      T-Boz shares her battle with brain tumor

      90’s girl-group TLC saw success throughout the 90’s and early-00’s, until problems with their management, inter-group disagreements, and the untimely death of Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopez, broke the group apart. TLC tried valiantly to get the group back together with a fleeting UPN reality series called R U the Girl?” which was supposed to find a replacement for former member Lopez.
      UPN's Live Finale of "R U The Girl"


      Watch CBS News Videos Online

      During the entire career of TLC, very few people –outside of fans– knew of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins’ battle with a life-threatening illness, specifically, Sickle Cell Anemia. She overcame doctors’ predictions which included she would never have a child (she did), and that she wouldn’t live past 30 years old (she’s 39).

      It was her most recent battle that stunned morning show viewers. Tionne had been battling a benign, but possibly devastating, brain tumor that could have left her severely impaired.

      T-Boz shared her story with Harry Smith on CBS’s Early Show, and how her experience with Sickle Cell Anemia made her more proactive about her health and treatment.

      An inspiring story, and one that all women –especially African American women– should hear. When it comes to your health, know who really cares about your recovery, and who’s just treating you like a statistic. Another lesson is to be an informed patient. Watch her interview and find out more on The Early Show.