All posts by EurWebWriter

anthony anderson & tracee ellis ross1a

Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross Steal the Show at BET Awards

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The 2015 BET Awards shaped up to be very best in a five year stretch of very good BET Awards shows.

As is often the case, the very best stars in the Black pantheon of entertainment elite, as well as trans-racially affiliated white artists, were in attendance to a BET Awards that was expertly hosted by the comic styling of Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson of the hit ABC comedy “Black-ish.”

From the very beginning, the dynamic duo successfully and seamlessly segue between silly skits, award presentation and snappy repartee in between performances by P. Diddy, Lil’ Kim and the rest of Bad Boy,  The Weeknd and Alicia Keyes, Big Sean, Chris Brown, Nikki Minaj and Meek Mills, as well as French Montana, Patti LaBelle and many more. The legendary MC Lyte used her signature vocals to punctuate the evening’s festivities as the lead announcer as well.

Despite the great performance turned in by Diddy, there were quite a few chuckles as he fell through an opening in the stage. However, the saying is the show must go on, and he continued on in true showmanship fashion without a hitch.

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“Empire” was definitely in the house as Jussie Smollett, Yazz and Serayah performed as well. Meanwhile, Smoke Robinson shut ‘em all down with a speech that both admonished younger performers for their narccisism, but uplifted them for their talents as well.

Sam Smith won the BET Award for Best New Artist. But Anderson accepted the award in his place wearing a hysterical toupee based upon the crooner’s actual hairstyle.

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Michael B. Jordan, star of summer blockbuster hopeful The Fantastic Four, gave a rousing tribute to those who fell to police brutality, as well as acknowledgement of those who have fought white supremacy from Ferguson, North Charleston, Los Angeles, New York and all places in between.  This is significant seeing as though the absence of such overtures on other shows drew the ire of the Black digital illuminate.

Homage to Janet Jackson performed by Tinashe, Jason Derulo, Ciara and was capped by an appearance by Ms.  Jackson herself to accept the Ultimate Icon Award.

As usual, there were naturally many different individuals in the media and in the blogosphere as well who felt the BET Awards haven’t changed one bit. However, I can recall a time of industry tensions among artists, rampant beef on wax and behind the scenes, horrid performances and an all around adversarial atmosphere between new and old artists. This award show was filled with love, stellar performances and tributes to the greats.  But whether one enjoyed it or not, it’s still about entertainment. Were you not amused? All and all, we ain’t mad at the 2015 BET Awards.

Here’s a complete list of last night’s winners.

Best New Artist
Dej Loaf
Fetty Wap
Rae Sremmurd
Sam Smith** WINNER 
Tinashe

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Azealia Banks
Nicki Minaj** WINNER
Tink
Iggy Azalea
Trina
Dej Loaf

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
J. Cole
Drake
Common
Kendrick Lamar** Winner
Big Sean
Wale

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Beyoncé** WINNER
Janelle Monáe
Jhené Aiko
Ciara
Rihanna
K. Michelle

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
The Weeknd
John Legend
Trey Songz
Usher
August Alsina
Chris Brown** WINNER 

Best Group
A$AP Mob
Migos
Rae Sremmurd ** WINNER
Rich Gang
Young Money
Jodeci

Best Collaboration
Chris Brown – “Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)”
Big Sean – “I Don’t F**k with You (feat. E-40)”
August Alsina – “No Love (Remix) [feat. Nicki Minaj]”
Common & John Legend – “Glory” ** WINNER
Chris Brown – “New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)”
Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)”

Best Actress
Gabrielle Union
Kerry Washington
Taraji P. Henson ** WINNER
Tracee Ellis Ross
Viola Davis

Best Actor
Anthony Anderson
Idris Elba
Jussie Smollett
Kevin Hart
Terrence Howard** WINNER

Youngstars Award
Jacob Latimore
Jaden Smith
fact
Quevenzhané Wallis
Zendaya

Best Movie
“Annie”
“Beyond the Lights”
“Selma” ** WINNER
“Think Like a Man Too”
“Top Five”

Best Gospel Artist
Deitrick Haddon
Erica Campbell
Fred Hammond
Lecrae ** WINNER
Mali Music
Michelle Williams

Video of the Year
Beyoncé – “7/11″ ** WINNER
Chris Brown – “New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)”
Chris Brown – “Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)”
Big Sean – “I Don’t F**k with You (feat. E-40)”
Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
Common & John Legend – “Glory”

Video Director of the Year
Benny Boom
Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Todd Tourso ** WINNER
Chris Robinson
Fatima Robinson
Hype Williams

Sportswoman of the Year
Brittney Griner
Candace Parker
Serena Williams ** WINNER
Skylar Diggins
Venus Williams

Sportsman of the Year
Chris Paul
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Lebron James
Marshawn Lynch
Stephen Curry ** WINNER

Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award
Beyoncé – “7/11″
Dej Loaf – “Try Me”
Kendrick Lamar – “i”
Nicki Minaj – “Only feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown)” ** WINNER
Rae Sremmurd – “Throw Sum Mo (feat. Nicki Minaj & Young Thug)”
The Weeknd – “Earned It”

Centric Award
Avery Sunshine – “Call My Name”
Jazmine Sullivan – “Dumb (feat. Meek Mill)”
Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)”
Sam Smith – “Stay with Me (feat. Mary J. Blige)”
The Weeknd – “Earned It”** WINNER
Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2015/06/the-complete-list-of-winners-2015-bet-awards/#x9vdpXGiS26ExvB2.99

 

christina l barr - book expo1

Black Authors Discuss their Craft at Book Expo of America (Video)

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*Recently I was in attendance at Book Expo of America 2015 at the Jacob Javitz Center on New York City’s far west side. 68 years in the making, the BEA serves as an annual mecca for big time publishing companies, independent publishers and authors from across the creative spectrum.

Indeed, it was a book lover’s dream simply walking through the center, flipping through the crisp pages of the latest novel by your favorite author, or marveling at the cover art by a relatively unknown penman.  However, for our audiences, diversity is not just the cause for a day, a week or even a month, but for an entire lifetime. To that end, I searched up and down the aisles over the course of the three day festival for Black authors that you may not have heard of, but whose work is original and interesting as well.

I came across authors Christina L. BarrK. Edwards and  Celia Mai in the author exhibition section within a stone’s throw of one another. Luckily, the camera was rolling as each  explained the ins and outs of their respective works.

Christina L. Barr (science fiction, fantasy) The Color of God’s Eyes:

K. Edwards (nonfiction narrative) The Five Nincompoops, the Princess and the Savior:

Celia Mai (science fiction, fantasy) Switched: Other Side of the Wormhole:

Seasac

EURweb Red Carpet Recap of the 19th Annual Sesac Pop Awards (WATCH)

2015 sesac awards

*Recently I was in the house amid the grand stone lion status of the New York Public Library in Manhattan to attend the 19th Annual Sesac Pop Awards.

Among the honorees for the evening Warner/Chappell Music president John Platt, who was presented with the Visionary Award by none other than Chuck D of Public Enemy, legendary DJ and producer Keith Shocklee, as well as Angela Hunte, Grammy Award-winning songwriter of the seminal New York anthem Empire State of Mind as performed by Alicia Keys and Jay Z.

Also in the building were Grammy Award-winning songwriters James Napier and William Phillips, winners of the Sesac Award for Song of the Year for Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” while Universal Tunes was named Publisher of the Year, producer Mike Free was in the house as well, nominated for a Sesac Award, along with DJ Marley Waters and many others.   Emerging singer and songwriter Miesa was in the building as well.

Check out some of our video interviews from the red carpet below.

Chuck D and Keith Shocklee

Songwriter William Phillips aka Tourist

Producer Mike Free

Singer-songwriter Miesa

 Check out the abbreviated list of winners below.

Songwriter of the Year: James Napier (PRS)

 Song of the Year: “Stay With Me”
Written by James Napier (PRS) & William Phillips (PRS)

Published by: Salli Isaak Music Publishing (PRS)
Method Paperwork LTD (PRS)
Universal Tunes

Publisher of the Year: Universal Tunes

Visionary Award: Jon Platt

SESAC Sync Music Award:
“Best Day of My Life”
Recorded by: American Authors
Written by Zac Barnett & James Shelley
Published by Zac Barnett Publishing, James Shelley Publishing, Round Hill Copyrights

kirk whalum-slider

The (Jazz) Gospel According to Kirk Whalum

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*It is rare that one is ever afforded the luxury of speaking frankly to a master of his or her craft without consequence born of inflated egos and pride.  That goes especially so for a journalist. Sure, we often score exclusive interviews but the direction of said conversations are comparable to a well-worn propaganda path that is usually laid out by said individual’s representatives, or the terms are dictated by the artisans themselves.

Recently I had the chance to speak with legendary jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum about consumerism and popular music, the direction of jazz music and how he injects his Christian faith and African spirituality into his music. Yes, to say it was an interesting conversation would be a significant understatement. It was easily one of my favorite interviews in quite some time.

“The African diaspora means so much for me,” said Whalum.  “First of all, as a Christian who puts that out there and says ‘I love Jesus’, I am very beholden to African spirituality.  The particular perspective that we come at faith, whether it’s the Muslim faith or anything else, being African is an amazing thing, spiritually.”

“Musically it’s the same thing. There’s a certain ‘intentionality’ of passing down what was important.  Another particularity of being African, is the reaching back where we’re saying the fathers and mothers are still with me. I’m looking to my African ancestors to guide me. It’s like Lion King.  That was a very heavy thing that they were getting at and I love when kids go see that. It’s really important to connect that way spiritually and through my music. I know people who say ‘I’m not a Black artist, I’m just an artist’ and I get that. But I would counter by saying we’re not there yet. For me, I don’t feel like I ever have the luxury of not being a Black artist. I feel like you have to know what your place in this whole thing is ‘I’m representing the diaspora, I’m representing this group of people and this is OUR contribution.’ I am an African person, and the more time I spend down there the more I realize that.”

Prior to meeting up with Whalum, I did my research to try and place my finger on the contemporary pulse of this great genre. Sadly, it is at point of virtual irrelevance to many young fans, according to published reports. I asked Kirk his thoughts on the phenomenon.

“I think that art has to have its own courage. Whatever this is that you’re doing, your contribution has got to step into the frame, step into the market place and say ‘This is what I have to offer’, let it stand or fall based upon its intrinsic value in the market place. Not everything is going to be for everybody. Even the word popular, right away that connotes the fact that we’re talking about mass appeal. There’s something very mediocre about mass appeal. That says we kind of have to skid it into that window where enough people can see it and say ‘Yeah, I kinda like that.’ Outside of that window is all kinds of great art. It’s not just jazz, it’s bluegrass, Irish music, African music, world music, there’s all kinds of music that we could say all share that kind of persona non-grata type of a pop scrutinizing, and that is not a bad thing.

“I think the expectations of a jazz musician and right at the beginning say ‘Hey, why’re you doing this?  If you’re doing this to get into that pop window then you may or may not make it.’ Kenny G is in there and Dave Koz is in there, and Kenny G and Dave Coz are great musicians, but you need to know that you’re chances of getting in that window wearing Black skin are very slim. Fine, you good? Now, are you going to make art that, spiritually speaking, is a part of who you are and what you’re supposed to represent? If you’re willing do that and maybe not get into that pop window then you’re going to have a good life. You may not be rich but if you’re really good then you will not miss a beat.”

Legendary, transcendent, maestro, these are but a few of the multitude of accolades that are frivolously tossed around the music industry like Tic-Tacs at a garlic eating contest. However, when it comes to Kirk Whalum, all accolades are well deserved.  12 Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song in 2011 for “It’s What I Do” featuring Lalah Hathaway, in addition to performing and touring with several soul music greats. Now, with the release of The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter IV,  Whalum is releasing the latest in a music catalog that is long gorilla arms. I asked him of his current mindset at this advanced stage in his career.

“I celebrate my 57th birthday in July. So that, to me, says 60. When you get past 55, in your head you’re 60. So, it happened over night, but I do think about that. I think about Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly, Jeffrey Osborne, and all these great artists, they kind of peaked at a certain point to where the audience was not willing to continue to go with them.  They love hearing the, but you know what they gotta play. They gotta play the old stuff!  If they were to go in the studio right now and just have a good time and order some rally Thai food then cool, but it ain’t about coming out with nothing that’s going to get mass acceptance because people have turned that off.  Because, in effect, they peaked at some point.  That epoch was sealed and put it in a vault. Then, it’s all old school.  I think about that more now more than I ever have. I think ‘Wow, is that going to happen to me too?’

“When I’m on a positive day I think music, especially improvised music, isn’t in the mainstream anyway. It’s still out there on the fringes-which is a beautiful place to be because people pay more attention to the details or it and the nuances of it. But I do think about will there comes a time when I’m no longer relevant in the sense of ‘Hey what’re you doing now? Talk to me with your instrument about what you’re doing right now.’ Who knows, but it is a great question and one of those things to ponder.”

“The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter Series is something that are very precious to me,” he explained.  “It’s something that came out of a great disappointment for me. So, I set myself into the wind of Spyro Gyra, Bob James, who I was fortunate to work with, this is the music that fired me up. Instrumental R&B, soul, Grover Washington, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, that’s the music I wanted to emulate as I began to write and arrange for myself. I was fortunate to start that process early on. Right out of college I began to right and arrange when I was at a small club in Houston.  I never though then that I would get to the point that I’m at now. “

“The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter IV” is a 28-track live album that features contributions from Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp and Tamala Mann. Though it is technically a gospel offering, all genres of rhythmic music indicative of the African Diaspora are contained therein.  For more information on Kirk Whalum, his touring plans, or to purchase his new album log on to www.kirkwhalum.com.  In the meantime, check out a selection from the album below.

 

EUR associate Ricardo Hazell is a journalist based in New York City. Contact him via: [email protected]

TPain

A Cleaned Up Looking T-Pain Talks New Mixtape, Haters and More (Watch)

TPain

*Since 2005, T-Pain has been banging out club hit after club hit. These days, the entertainer is long past having cut his one-time signature braids.

The two-time Grammy Award-winning artist recently presided over a crowd of sound engineers, DJs, media professionals and fans in celebration of the release of his new mixtape “The Iron Way.”

EURweb.com was in attendance for this exclusive affair.

Celebrities such as Busta Rhymes and Nick Cannon mingled with the crowd and took photos as veteran hip-hop journalist Shaheem Reid moderated over a lively Q&A session with T-Pain.

The drinks from the open bar flowed as easily as the conversation.

During EURweb associate Ricardo Hazell’s interview with the rapper he discussed everything from remaining relevant, being honest with oneself, nerdiness and much more. Check out the video below.

(Warning: Strong Language)

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EURweb.com Was in the House for ‘Run All Night’ Red Carpet (Watch)

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*Last week EURweb.com was in attendance for a star-studded red carpet to promote the newly released film Run All Night.

Starring Liam Neeson, Common, Ed Harris and Joel Kinnaman, the Jaume Collet-Serra directed film tells the story of a father who defends his wayward son from certain demise at the hands of Shaun Maguire, played by Ed Harris.

The tale is situated in the Big Apple and is just the type of gritty, modern crime noir that men love. However, according to a recent report from Variety, older women were significant in helping the film make headway over the weekend in landing in second place behind Cinderella.

Run All Night earned $11 million over the weekend while Cinderella raked in over $70 million.

Check out the video of Common discussing the nuances of Run All Night as compared to Selma, budding star Malcolm Goodwin explain how he came across the role, and actor David Zayas, Sal Maroni of Gotham, talks about his role on Gotham and his upcoming works as well.