*“It was in 2005, I was talking to a friend…he said, ‘you should be writing comic books,’” said the writer of the current Black Panther comic book series, Reginald Hudlin, about how the DVD “Marvel Knights Animation: Black Panther” came to  be.

Reginald, former head of entertainment at BET Networks, started in animation as the producer of the first African-American animated film Bebe’s Kids. As head of BET’s entertainment he placed their first animated series, “The Boondocks.” After the encouragement from his friend that day Reginald is now part a comic book franchise called the Black Panther. With the support of Marvel Knights Animation I have no doubt the series will make it not only to the small screen, but the big one as well.

“(At first) I did six series of the Black Panther. People saw it and flipped out, so I took it to Marvel and they asked what happens if you keep going,” Hudlin recounted about the positive response of the series.

Reginald did 12 more series of the comic book novel with characters drawn by John Romita, Jr. – and as they say the rest is history. This week Shout Factory, in association with Marvel Knights Animation (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company), presents the “Black Panther” on DVD.

Visually I was amazed that they could successfully combined today’s animation with the animation of when the character first appeared in 1966. It is that visual, the combination, that puts the horror of the battles in perspective as a comic book experience – thus, making it open to all ages.

The Black Panther, voiced by Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamonds), comes across as a young, wise and cleaver warrior whose time has finally come. The first black hero even gets the chance to defeat Captain American (and then gains his respect) in the series and then while in battle received the support of the X-Men – how exciting is that!

Jill Scott is the voice of Storm (the Black Panthers love interest); Kerry Washington is Princess Shuri (the Black Panthers’ overzealous sister); Alfre Woodard is both Dondi Reese (US Secretary of State) and Queen Mother (the Black Panthers’ mother); Carl Lumbly is Uncle S’Yan (the former Black Panther defeated in battle), and Stan Lee (co-creator of the Black Panther, the first black comic book hero) is US General Wallace.

For more on “Marvel Knights Animation presents Black Panther” log onto www.HudlinEntertainment.com or www.Marvel.com.

The Rance Allen Group celebrates 40 years with a January 25, 2011 live CD/DVD release featuring Shirley Caesar, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Paul Porter

The Rance Allen Group

*The Rance Allen Group is credited for being one of the first – if not the first – Contemporary Gospel Group because of their sound that’s reminiscent of the Commodores/Temptations/Otis Redding era with lyrics that show a passion for God’s Gospel. They are celebrating 40 years in the Gospel music business with a Tyscot Records released CD/DVD “The Live Experience II: Celebrating 40 Years of Music and Ministry” featuring Shirley Caesar, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Paul Porter (The Christianaires).

“I wanted to stay in touch with my fans,” Rance said about the comeback album since the last in 2003. When asked about his featured artists Allen said, “I called not only my favorite but those I feel would come through. I’ve known Shirley for 25-30 years, Vanessa for 5 or 6 years and Paul is my newest friend.”

The Rance Allen Group consist of bothers Tom, Steve and of course Rance. The CD/DVD was recorded live at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. In 2009 The Rance Allen Group received the Stellar Awards’ “Legend Award.” Their passed hits include “Do Your Will,” “Closest Friend,” “For Your Feet,” and “Something About the Name of Jesus” with Kirk Franklin.

“The Live Experience II: Celebrating 40 Years of Music and Ministry” has many uplifting songs, but the ones I find myself playing over again are “Angel” (the single) a powerful soulful testimony; “Living for Jesus,” “Holy One,” a sweet love song,; “It’s Your Time,” a soul stirring/hand clapping selection featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and “You That I Trust” featuring Paul Porter – cause I just love the harmony on this one.

For more on The Rance Allen Groups’ CD/DVD “The Live Experience II: Celebrating 40 Years of Music and Ministry” log onto www.TheRanceAllenGroup.com or www.Tyscot.com.

Young pastor leads choir to victory as the 2010 Verizon ‘How Sweet the Sound’ winners

Michael J.T. Fisher

*When you are an African-American man living in Compton, California and you are called-on to preach at the young age of 18 – and that being the last thing on your mind to do – what do you do? Well for Dr. Michael J. T. Fisher, 13 years later, life finds him not only leading the Greater Zion Church Family in Compton, but helping it to increase membership to 3,000. Dr. Fisher also leads a choir called “Voices of Destiny.” He entered them into the 2010 Verizon “How Sweet the Sound” choir competition that eventually “crowned” them the best choir in the country.

“I have 11 brothers/sisters and two other brothers who are pastors,” Dr. Michael informed me when I asked if he was the only one of the sons preaching. “I wanted to be a minister, but I ran from it for as long as possible. I did not want to do it.”

He did it though and by age 23 he was the lead pastor at his church and his new choir, “Voices of Destiny,” are now internationally recognized. The choir’s fusion of Hip-Hop dances and vocals to the Gospel of God makes them an unforgettable force.

“I am elated. I am so glad that I choose Him,” Dr. J. T. Fisher said about the choice he made that day to preach. “It was the right choice, doing the will of God.”

“Before we began (the choir) I knew the young would relate and the older would be resistant (to contemporary sounds mixed with Gospel lyrics),” said Dr. Michael when I pointed out that most churches don’t like to mix the two. “I educated the people and reminded them they brought the Blues to the church, that, this is our way.”

You can follow visit the church in Compton and hear the choir for yourself or follow the pastor at www.twitter.com/michaeljtfisher, and learn more about them.