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jermaine dupri - award

Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo & Mike Will Honored with 2014 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards (Photos)

jermaine mike ne-yo

*Los Angeles, CA – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted its 27th annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards on Thursday, June 26th, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

The invitation-only event honored music producer and mogul Jermaine Dupri, singer-songwriter and producer Ne-Yo, and hit music maker Mike WiLL along with honoring the songwriters and publishers of the most performed ASCAP songs on the 2013 R&B/hip-hop, rap and gospel charts.

During the ceremony, Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, songwriter and producer Jermaine Dupri was presented with the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award by ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, along with surprise guests Usher and Bow Wow, and ASCAP VP of Rhythm & Soul/Urban Music Nicole George-Middleton. The award is among the most prestigious honors that ASCAP gives, and is awarded to songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators. Each recipient is a musical innovator who possesses a unique style of creative genius that will enrich generations to come. Past recipients include Ashford & Simpson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Dr. Dre, Berry Gordy Jr. & Motown Industries, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, Patti Smith, Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder.

Prolific songwriter-producer Ne-Yo was awarded the ASCAP Golden Note Award by Nicole George-Middleton. This award is presented to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones. Previous honorees include Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Jay Z, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, LL Cool J, Lionel Richie, Usher, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder.

The Songwriter of the Year Award went to hit maker Mike WiLL, who has amassed great success through the numerous top 10 hits he’s written including “Bandz a Make Her Dance” for Juicy J, “Pour It Up” for Rihanna, “Bugatti” for Ace Hood and “Body Party” for Ciara, to name a few.

Other winners include Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford “T.I.” Harris, who received the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song award for the hit “Blurred Lines;” Dion “NO ID” Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Shawn “JAY Z” Carter, Terius “The-Dream” Nash and Timbaland were awarded the Top Rap Song of the Year for “Holy Grail;” and Anthony Brown was honored with the Top Gospel Song Award for “Testimony.” The Publisher of the Year Award went to Warner/Chappell Music Inc.

The evening featured performances by Lecrae, Anthony Brown, Jekalyn Carr, Jennifer Hudson, Mario, Mike WiLL protégés Rae Sremmurd, a DJ battle between DJ Nabs and DJ SNS, and house band The Komposers. The Jermaine Dupri segment was also highlighted by surprise performances by Usher and Bow Wow. Other evening highlights included a fun-filled DJ Battle with DJ Nabs and DJ SNS as well as an interactive photo booth with BEATS Music.

Members of the press may download images here.


The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP’s mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world’s best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business – from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 500,000 members representing more than 9 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.

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the redland

EUR Music: The Redland ‘Survive’ (Video)


*Earv and Kose of Hip Hop duo, The Redland, met while in college at Morehouse in Atlanta, GA. That chance meeting was the beginning of a lasting partnership in creating game-changing music.

Earv is from Louisiana and Kose is from Oklahoma, aka the Redlands, which inspired the duo’s name, but it took on new meaning as their collaborations – Earv’s writing and Kose’s production – proved to be more than just typical Hip Hop.  Their sound and content were a departure from the superficial monotony of what the genre has to offer today,  leading them to consider The Redland more of a “state of mind” or a “movement.”

Earv’s and Kose’s collective influences include culture-impacting artists from John Lennon and Bob Marley to the Fugees and OutKast, creating a multi-layered sound that doesn’t fit strictly in the confines of Hip Hop as it’s known today.  Their music maintains the “fun” integrity of the genre, but distinguishes itself by its substance and their hybrid musical sound.

The Redland’s recent release “Survive” is an example of how the group gives their fans more to “consume” than the common themes of “I’m richer than you,” “I’m a womanizer,” and “I’m the toughest.”  The song’s video is inspired by The Walking Dead and its lyrics are about persevering through tough times:

“When we came up with the song, it’s basically about your support system not allowing you to give up … you know, the people you lean on not allowing you to call it quits, and every week we watch watch The Walking Dead and we’re like, that’s it!  They’ve gotta depend on each other just to keep motivated, to keep fighting, it was a  natural fit,” they said.


“Survive” is from The Redland’s new album, Enlightened Contagion – named so out of the understanding of how easily negative things can spread, and how “dope it would be if positivity could spread just as easily,” which will be released this July on Redland Entertainment through eOne Distribution.

Follow them on Instagram @theredland, Twitter @theredland and on Facebook at The Redland.

ford ladies

Lincoln Motors Helps Capture ‘Essence’ of Black Achievement

ford ladies

Vanessa Bush (Editor-In-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine), Ava DuVernay, Lupita Nyong’O, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Shawn Thompson (Multicultural Marketing Manager, Lincoln) and Michelle Ebanks (President of ESSENCE Communications).

*Oscars season is now firmly in our rear view mirror.  But the tracks this particular season left behind are remarkably different than those of previous years.

This year, at the 86th installment of the Academy Awards, there was plenty of color, both on stage and off, and for the first time, it didn’t feel forced.  Not that people of color have never been recognized by the academy, but this go ’round just seemed to feel more welcoming than previous years. There was even a black President running the show.

Back when Halle Berry and Denzel Washington both took home the top acting honors, Best Actor and Actress, or when Monique walked away with a golden statuette for her jarring role in Precious and Jennifer Hudson the following year for Dreamgirls, or even when the infamous ‘Hard for a Pimp’ Best Song contender was performed, there still seemed to be a palpable “us against them” sentiment in the air for the black audience.  Based on the near-white-out composition of the lists of nominees and invited audiences during those years, it seemed that the academy and show organizers were curiously oblivious to the long-standing perception of the exclusive “club” they had created and sustained since the award’s inception. With that, the inclusion of blacks during those years seemed more sympathetic, like the throwing of bones and scraps as opposed to equal-footing consideration; some (blacks) even debated the merits of those wins and nominations.

This year, though, a comfortably diverse telecast saw a black written and directed film, 12 Years a Slave, take  best picture – albeit with debatable pride and a touch of irony – and there were a fair share of black nominees in other categories.  As for the irony, in Slave, Solomon Northrup (portrayed by Ejoifor Chiwetel), to his relief, was rescued and restored to freedom by whites who could vouch for him as a previously freed man.  But after rejoicing for him, you couldn’t help but consider those Northrup left behind on the plantation to continue to live the long nightmare of inequality (a relatively mild term only used here for the sake of context) that he had escaped. He was delivered, but it did nothing to change the abominable institution of slavery that was still firmly in place.  And in an off way, that’s how many felt after the Oscar wins of Halle, Denzel, Monique and Jennifer, not to mention Hattie McDaniel’s and Sydney Poitier’s breakthrough wins all those years ago.

That being said, the number of nominations and subsequent wins this year, along with the inordinate number of guests of color gave this 86th ceremony a different ring.  It seems as if a corner was finally turned as it relates to merited inclusion.  But despite the obvious rise in popularity and the career boost that Academy recognition provides for those who receive it, does it really have direct impact on the perception of black film and all people of color who are instrumental in delivering them to the big screen – even with this banner year of such?  Does winning an Oscar or receiving nomination recognition really significantly impact black entertainment and culture – which art has been known to directly impact?

As it felt after watching the movie with Solomon Northrup being delivered while others were left behind in bondage, the win for 12 Years (arguably marred by it being a movie that depicts blacks as slaves), despite the also arguable leveled playing field of the 2014 Oscar season, the impact of Academy recognition will likely always be negligible due to its deeply engrained perception of “majority” leadership. And with that, there will likely always be a glaring difference between the resultant ‘come and join us’ recognition as opposed to that which is received from within our community.   No one can capture the essence of black achievement like, well … blacks, which makes events like the annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood (BWIH) event, now in its 7th year so significant.

Matching or quite possibly exceeding the excellence and prestige of events such as the NAACP, Image and Trumpet Awards, Black Girls Rock and the BET Honors, BWIH is a platform for women of color in the film industry to share the narratives of what led to their success and dream fulfillment. It’s also a forum wherein the inspiration from such stories being told can be galvanized to breed and foster the same in other dreamers.  So, while an Oscar win or nomination is great for many reasons, recognition from, specifically,  BWIH, which occurs during Oscars week in Beverly Hills, may resonate more.

Validated by the participation (this year) of ultimate examples of barrier-breaking such as Oprah Winfrey and Sidney Poitier and past amazing recipients, BWIH combats the “crabs in a barrel” theory that often dogs people of color in that the peer to peer sharing of positive energy is unmistakable and the acceptance speeches delivered make us feel like “we can” in an industry that’s been perceived as making us feel like “we can’t.”

But making events of such high caliber possible is no easy feat, because it costs … thus the money has to come from somewhere.
With that, corporate dollars are hard to come by – especially in a strained economy, so it’s not to be taken lightly when a corporation commits to lending their financial support to causes that promote the essence of who we are and the telling of stories about how we’ve overcome obstacles.  Lincoln Motor Company chose to join Essence Magazine in doing just that.  Financially backing events such as BWIH as well as other events that present the black community in its most positive light is a testament to its commitment to diversity and equality.

This year’s honorees, Actress Lupita Nyong’o, Writer/Director Ava Duvernay, and AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, all beat compelling odds to earn the recognition they are enjoying at this stage in their careers and their stories – as a representative sample of countless others – need to be heard to inspire and provide hope to others.  BWIH provides that necessary platform.

The posh event, hosted by Lincoln’s corespondent, Bevy Smith, was attended by a host of the honorees celebrity peers, featured a technology-forward blogger bar and had on display throughout the all new Lincoln MKC for guests to view and experience.



Ford Goes Further on the High Seas with Tom Joyner Foundation

tomjoynerfordMIAMI – This week the 2014 Ford Fusion and 2014 Ford Focus ST are going further, cruising the high seas of the Caribbean Islands in the spirit of educational attainment. As part of Ford’s relationship with the Tom Joyner Foundation, Fusion and Focus ST set sail for eight days and seven nights as part of the 2014 Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage.

This marks the third year Ford is the official presenting sponsor of the cruise and the eighth consecutive year the company has been the automotive exclusive sponsor. The cruise, which supports Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is just one way Ford is continuing to support educational attainment within the African American community.

This year, one lucky listener of the Tom Joyner Morning Show or a cruise attendee will have a chance to win the keys to any Ford vehicle, costing up to $30,000, as part of the 2014 Win Any Ford Giveaway promotion.

“We are very excited to once again be a part of an event that supports higher education within the community,” said Shawn Thompson, Ford manager, multicultural marketing. “Our ongoing involvement in this cruise allows us to continue to go further when it comes to not only our products, but also as it relates to our commitment to educational attainment within the community. We are thrilled to be able to provide one person with the chance to select the vehicle of their choice as part of the Win Any Ford Giveaway.”

Now in its 15th year, the cruise set sail from Miami last Sunday, March 16, making stops in St. Thomas, Grand Turks and Caicos, and Nassau, Bahamas. With more than 60 performers, theme night celebrations and numerous activities on board, cruisers are sure to be entertained all week long. This year’s performers include Charlie Wilson, Katt Williams, Robin Thicke and Ice Cube.

In addition, Ford will provide a way for cruisers to share their experience with their family and friends via social media by using hashtag #fordand.

2014 Win Any Ford Giveaway promotion

The 2014 Win Any Ford Giveaway kicked off March 17 and runs through March 28. Cruise attendees and all Tom Joyner Morning Show listeners are encouraged to register by visiting to submit for a chance to win any Ford vehicle costing up to $30,000. Ford will also bring along Play Date™ for the fifth year. This entertainment-based company offers an alternative to the traditional party with interactive games like Giant Connect 4-In-A-Row Challenge.

Power of choice
Ford Fusion continues to exceed expectations, providing midsize car customers a class-leading package of stunning design, fuel efficiency and smart technologies.

The 2014 Fusion offers customers the choice between six powertrains, including the new fuel-efficient 1.5-liter EcoBoost® engine. The car comes equipped with even more available driver-assist technologies, features often found only in luxury vehicles, including Intelligent Access with push-button start, heated steering wheel, 10-way cooled and heated power passenger seat and rear inflatable safety belts – all working together to make the drive more enjoyable and convenient.

Fusion is available in two new exterior colors in line with this year’s forecasted trends – Darkside and Sunset metallic paints. The car also features new interior leather color packages –medium soft ceramic, and a stylish red on the Titanium series level.

To be a part of the conversation during the event, please follow #fordand.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 181,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit


25th Annual Barnstable Brown Gala Star-Studded Multicultural Toast of 139th Kentucky Derby

smokey robinson*As a roving writer, I’ve found myself in many intriguing spaces and places, from the east to the west coast and various international destinations to boot.  And as par for the course during my travels, given my hard-to-pin-down accent and sensibilities, I’m usually asked the question, “where are you from?”

I used to hesitate a touch before answering because in my mind I had previously never felt like I exactly hailed from the pride of our great country … Louisville, Kentucky. It was no New York, LA or Miami, etc.  So, once I would manage to get it out, without fail, I’d receive the polite yet sympathetic, “oh … OK…” Continue reading

aloe blacc

Lincoln Collaborates with Aloe Blacc to Create Interactive Music Video Experience

aloe blaccDEARBORN, Mich. – The Lincoln Motor Company continues to offer new avenues for potential customers to experience the brand and its vehicles.

Lincoln has teamed with recording artist Aloe Blacc and Interscope Records to create an interactive music video for his new song “Love is the Answer.” The video – produced by Legs and directed by Radical Friend – was teased during one of four Lincoln ad spots that aired during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards telecast and is available on the Lincoln YouTube channel.

“Lincoln’s long-standing relationship in film is being transformed as we look to attract new audiences,” said Andrew Frick, group marketing manager, Lincoln. “By actively participating in this music video’s creative process, Lincoln is able to connect with open-minded individuals who want to understand the heritage of our brand while being engaged in unique and unexpected ways.”

The collaboration with Blacc is Lincoln’s latest approach to surround cultural conversation of its vehicles and amplify the brand’s digital content by providing an interactive experience that allows consumers to uncover their own version of the video. Viewers are presented with a unique audiovisual experience that features the MKZ sedan. Various camera-view selections embedded in the video allow viewers to peel back layers in order to seamlessly switch from one angle to another.

“Lincoln is a classic luxury brand but reinventing itself in a very modern way, which I can relate to right now as an artist going through a transformation with my music,” Blacc said. “The way the digital experience was shot incorporates this new technology to directly engage with the individual so they become part of the story, and the results are beautiful.”

“We were thrilled to partner Aloe with Lincoln in this ground-breaking project marrying video, art and music. Aloe is a visionary artist who can seamlessly integrate creative concepts across any media platform.” Jennifer Frommer, Interscope.

The relationship with Blacc builds upon other Lincoln initiatives that involve the music and film industries. Lincoln’s “Hello, Again” campaign, an initiative that launched last year with a re-imagined 360-degree, interactive online concert experience featuring award-winning singer/songwriter Beck, introduces consumers to a luxury automotive experience different from the competition.

Additionally, the automaker sponsors the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and recently collaborated with Vanity Fair and Film Independent to support emerging filmmakers in creating a series of original short films that reimagine classic Hollywood themes.

By working with artists who share the brand’s passion for art and design, Lincoln is able to create quality content for its digital platforms and series such as “Hello, Again” and The Lincoln Reimagine Project. To view recent works from those campaigns and others, and to learn more about Lincoln’s uniquely designed vehicles, visit Lincoln Now.

aloe blacc

About Lincoln Motor Company
Lincoln Motor Company is the luxury automotive brand of Ford Motor Company, committed to creating compelling vehicles with an exceptional ownership experience to match. Lincoln is in the process of introducing four all-new vehicles through 2016. For more information about Lincoln, please visit or Follow us on Facebook at

About Aloe Blacc
Aloe Blacc will release his major-label debut album Lift Your Spirit on March 11th on XIX Recordings/Interscope Records.  The set follows up Blacc’s collaboration as vocalist and co-writer on well-known DJ/producer Avicii’s track “Wake Me Up,” a song that hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on its Hot Dance Club Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs charts.  Blacc’s five-track Wake Me Up EP came out last September and included an acoustic version of the title track along with new songs, “Love is the Answer,” “Can You Do This,” “Ticking Bomb,” and current single “The Man.”  Blacc is featured in the line-up for this April’s Coachella festival and will be touring the U.S. this summer with Bruno Mars.


Michelle Matthews-Alexander
[email protected]