All posts by Larry Buford

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, and author of Book/CD titled "Things Are Gettin' Outta Hand" (Steuben Pub.) www.amazon.com. He writes Human Interest articles and entertainment reviews for various newspapers across the country. He is also an editor, and provides services for press releases, interviews, business letters, resumes, etc. A native Detroiter, he is a former Motown songwriter.
larry buford

The Church, ‘Blackface’ and Motown

Larry Savoy Buford

Larry Savoy Buford

*Like the children of Israel, God tests and refines with fire to bring out the best in us like silver and gold [Ref: Zechariah 13:9]. If He did it to ‘the apple of His eye’ who are we to expect otherwise?

Great things come out of hardship. Here’s the backdrop of two comparable defining moments in history that took America through hell and back again for the better.

Along with the influence of the church, I’ve come to view Motown music and the Civil Rights Movement as change agents in the 20th century, similarly to the Civil War and the Blackface art form in the 19th century. There were very significant milestones leading up to both moments in Black American history. When you really look at the timelines, there are some parallels.

For instance, historians record that the first shot fired that signaled the beginning of the Civil War was in 1861. It drew national attention. One hundred years later in 1961 Motown got its first number one Pop hit with ‘Please Mr. Postman’ that also drew national attention and signaled a new era. The Civil War had President Lincoln at the helm; the Civil Rights Movement had President Kennedy. Both were assassinated. Both had historical figures in their midst fighting for what they believed – General Lee Grant, General Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglass and a host of others during Lincoln’s time; and Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Sheriff Eugene “Bull” Connor, and Governor George Wallace along with a host of others during Kennedy’s time. All were faced with culture-changing challenges.

While the Civil War was drenched in deadly violence (think of Gettysburg) and the ground-shaking boom of cannon balls, the Civil Rights Movement was about non-violence, and the only ground-breaking/shaking boom (besides the Birmingham church bombing) was coming from the drum and bass in Motown’s Studio A.

During the Civil War the Blackface Minstrel show – an imitation and often offensive exaggeration of Negro music – was popular, but just like Motown did 100 years later, the minstrel show allowed for cross-cultural collaboration and widespread appreciation of the Negro’s contribution to the arts. It was also considered to be the first distinctly American theatrical form.

As a tribute, re-enactments of Civil War battles are staged annually. In 1913 the first major Civil War veteran’s reunion took place. One hundred years later in 2013 Motown veterans were invited to a “Family Night” preview of Berry Gordy’s ‘Motown: The Musical’ in New York. At the 1913 reunion President Woodrow Wilson said, ‘We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten – except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.’ The spirit and sentiment of his words could just as well been spoken by Gordy as together they all witnessed the re-enactment of the miracle that took place on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard.

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) www.amazon.com.  E-mail: [email protected]    Visit the author at www.larrybuford.com. (213) 220-8101

back to basics2

Coming Soon! Back to Basics 2 Music Conference 2015

back to basics2

*(Los Angeles/San Diego – February 2015) Fresh off the success of its 2014 Comeback Conference, Urban Network Digital and Amalgamation Magazine: An Industry Quarterly – are returning to San Diego, Calif., June 4-7, 2015 for the Annual Music-Entertainment Conference. The venue for the 3-day event will be held at tropical-themed Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2270 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108. Early Bird Registration will be $100 for the entire Conference ($150 after April 1st). Hotel guest rooms are $159 per night plus tax (along with Breakfast Buffet for two served each day).

This is the only event of its kind on the West Coast. Once again, executive producers for the Conference are Urban Network Digital President Arthur Mitchell and Amalgamation Mag Publisher David Mitchell. They are joined by Conference co-producers Kevin Briscoe, DJ Artistic, Lin. Woods, Tosha Y. Thomas, Harold Whaley, publicist Lynn Allen Jeter, MANDATE Records CEO Leonard Thompson, and industry executive Troy Marshall. Miller London will continue in his role as Co-Chair of the Conference.

More than 600 people attended the Urban Network Digital & Amalgamation Mag Music-Entertainment Conference, held May 1-4, 2014 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in San Diego. Over 70 independent recording acts performed during the 3 ½ days, including headliners Tony Toni Toné, singer-songwriter Sheléa, Pop-R&B girl group Jasmin Sisters, R&B-Jazz icon Norman Connors, singer/actress Antonique Smith (who played Faith Evans in the movie Notorious), Gospel singer Brent Jones, BET Sunday Best Finalist Jessica Reedy, RCA R&B singer CJ Hilton, singer-songwriter Steve Russell, rappers Kataztrofee, Jon Hart, Kaiser Soze, Conceptz, Pulsar Music Group (featuring Medusa), and a bevy of artists hailing from San Diego such as harpist Mariea Antoinette, Gospel songstress Laneé Battle, Pop trio Elevé, rappers King Trick & the New Breedz, Domi Young, and the list goes on.

At the center of the 2014 Conference were many Panelists and Participants from around the industry who signed on to share their wealth of knowledge and expertise. These executives come from some of the following companies: Universal Music Group, InGrooves/Fontana, Capitol Records, Warner Music Group, ASCAP, Royalty Exchange, Lyric Financial, SESAC, SonyATV Music Publishing, Beats Music, Motown Gospel, the Recording Academy, AEG/Live, Launch Yahoo, Fresh Wire, Roc Nation Music, Notting Hill Music Group, the Urban Buzz, Black Entertainment TV, KJLH-FM, Jammin Z90.3, Brand X, Accelerated Radio, Revolt Media & TV, Billboard Magazine, and more.

Ethiopia Habtemariam, President, Motown Records/President of Urban Music for Universal Music Publishing, was the 2014 Conference keynote speaker. She provided unique insight on the music business, and about her rise within it. More than a dozen panel sessions and seminars were held during the weekend: topics and themes ranging from Gospel Meets the Digital World; Licensing & Music Branding Opportunities; Perspectives from Top A&R and Creative Execs; Hip-Hop Onward & Upward;  Financing Your Career, Investing In Your Future; Not Your Daddy’s Radio; Creating Hit Songs for Major Projects; Navigating Social Media & the Digital Music Worlds; Hustle of the Music Industry; and The State of R&B 2014: Is the Genre Still Relevant?

Several music executives were presented with Awards of Excellence. They included Habtemariam, BET executive Kelly Griffin, Rondor Music Publishing EVP Kevin Hall, Motown Gospel VP Larry Blackwell, San Diego Radio Veteran Tayari Howard, Bungalow Records VP Leo Rodgers, and MANDATE Records CEO Leonard Thompson.

“We are elated about the success of our 2014 Conference, and plan on building on its momentum,” says Arthur Mitchell. “We have already hit the ground running for [this] year’s event which I guarantee is going to be bigger and better. The Crowne Plaza is a beautiful hotel, and can accommodate an even larger number of attendees inside its Conference Center and patio/poolside area. We’re also looking forward to hosting a Golf Tournament at the gorgeous Riverwalk Course, less than a mile from the hotel.”

“I especially want to thank all of the executives, indie artists and labels, and music creators that attended the Conference. We could not have done this without them,” says David Mitchell. “There really are no affordable, impactful major music Conferences targeting the Urban Music genres and its professionals, especially on the West Coast. Urban Network is a legacy brand. In conjunction with Amalgamation, we are about maintaining some of those traditions, while more importantly moving our industry forward.”

He went on to say, “We decided to maintain our theme for the upcoming Conference, ‘Back to Basics 2.’ Digital strategies, navigating the social media, along with music brands, mass media and licensing one’s music for TV, Film and Digital will be among the various topics we discuss that are at the forefront of today’s music business issue. But we’re also going to host hour-long panel discussions on the topics Urban Network has long championed: the State of Hip-Hop, Gospel Music, R&B Music, and forums for mix show DJs, indie labels and artists, A&R development, production and songwriting, along with panels tailored to radio professionals.”

For more info, contact:

Arthur Mitchell, [email protected], 619-292-6700;

David Mitchell, [email protected], (424) 227-8046.

Also websites: www.amalgamationmag.com/website or www.urbannetworkdigital.com

holland dozier holland (star1)

How Sweet It Is! Holland/Dozier/Holland Get Their Star in Hollywood (Look!)

Eddie Holland, Stevie Wonder, Lamont Dozier, Berry Gordy, Brian Holland

(L-R) Eddie Holland, Stevie Wonder, Lamont Dozier, Berry Gordy, Brian Holland

*Declaring it ‘Holland/Dozier/Holland Day’ in Hollywood; Leron Gubler, President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said, ‘Today we are honoring them with the 2543rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He said, ‘Today Hollywood honors Holland/Dozier/Holland’ as the crowd erupted in congratulatory cheers!!

Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland (HDH) – who were once Motown’s premiere songwriting team that produced so many hits like Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You,’ The Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go,’ the Four Tops ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There,’ and Martha & The Vandellas’ ‘Heat Wave’ – finally received their much anticipated star on the famous star walk.

The well-attended event included Motown legends Berry Gordy, Mary Wilson, Claudette Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and HDH Invictus label star Freda Payne.

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson thanks the team for the many #1’s by The Supremes (L) Eddie, Brian

Wilson said, ‘During this February Black History Month we are rubbing shoulders with geniuses. Holland/Dozier/Holland wrote music that has touched our souls…that has touched us from the very core. It has united people around the world.’

Wonder acknowledged them saying, ‘Tremendously you influenced how I wrote and came up with songs.’ He then offered them a challenge: ‘[If] in this year you’ll write some more music [we’ll] team up together and write something great. Thank you for writing songs about love.’

Gordy came to the podium in a joking, kidding way like a father figure. He said, ‘Their body of work is classic, enduring, historic and commercially as valid as it ever was. They produced the Four Tops greatest hits, Marvin Gaye, Martha & The Vandellas, and all the number one hits of Diana Ross & The Supremes. They racked up so many number one hits we stopped counting!’

Berry Gordy honors HDH

Berry Gordy honors HDH

Senior Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge presented commendations from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (Hollywood district).

The HDH team was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2003 they were named BMI Icons at the 51st BMI Pop Awards. In 2009 they received the Songwriters Hall of Fame prestigious Johnny Mercer Award.

Eddie Holland lamented: ‘I look back on it now and I still find it amazing. [There were] so many great writers…I would often ask myself how in the hell did everybody become so great at what they were doing?’

Brian speaking fondly of Gordy (as they all did) said, ‘He’s a very magnanimous man…he always has been. I remember times when I’d say “Berry I need to borrow some money” and he’d say “okay Brian how much do you need?” and he would always come through.’

Dozier said, I wanna thank the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for this wonderful honor…thank you Ron Brewington (VP Motown Alumni Association) for your dedication to HDH…a special thanks to Leron Gubler…there are so many people to thank…without them the Holland’s and I would not be standing here today…namely Berry Gordy. Thank you everyone who came out today to celebrate with us.’

HDH reunited for the first time in more than 30 years to write the score for the brand new musical version of the First Wives Club based on the best-selling novel and the hit 1996 film. The musical begins its pre-Broadway premiere run at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre on February 17th and runs through March 29th.

White Water logo

TV One’s ‘White Water’ Film Review

White Water1

It’s been said, one person can change the world.

In the TV-One film ‘White Water’ – premiered February 7 – the central character Michael (played by [twins] Amir and Amari O’Neil) changes his world in this civil rights era story that takes place in rural Alabama. It’s a novel idea bringing to focus again the absurdity of the ‘Whites Only, Colored Only’ water fountains reminiscent of Cicely Tyson’s triumph in the film ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ some 40 years ago.

The tale is written in such a humorous fashion that one can easily forget – except for certain scenes – about what was really taking place during that time comparative to the acclaimed movie ‘Selma.’

For instance, after picking his own switch, the ‘switching station’ where Michael leaned over for his mother Annie (played by Sharon Leal) to mete out punishment has its own music theme, and Michael’s soliloquy as he faces a portrait of Jesus on the wall whose pose changes depending on the severity of his misdeeds. The expressions on Michael’s face are truly remarkable and believable – many scenes needed no dialogue to evoke laughter. When Annie learns he skipped school, the camera trails them in the distance as Annie says, ‘You must be out yo’ mind!’ Michael trailing behind her says, ‘If you say so.’ Hilarious!!

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The character of Michael’s cousin Red (Zhane Hall) is the kind of cousin who when Michael did something he wasn’t supposed to, Red would blackmail him. It seemed the more Red tried to convince Michael to forget about ‘white water,’ the more determined Michael became, and the more trouble he got into. He even dreams of ‘Whites Only’ ‘Colored’ fountains in the dry hot desert!

In another scene, Michael’s wayward father Terrance (Larenz Tate) gets in a fix when he tries to sell insurance to a woman who barters with a dress that got ‘caught on a fence.’ Hmmm!!

Reverend Stokes (Barry Shabaka Henley) is the thread of stability throughout the film. Michael’s friendship with Tommy (Brody Rose) becomes a key factor in the film’s pursuit towards unveiling brotherly love in Michael’s quest to drink some ‘white water.’ Great story; great film!

dick gregory (walk of fame)

Dick Gregory to be Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

dick gregory (walk of fame)

Dick Gregory

*The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced that comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory will be honored with the 2,542nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, February 2, 2015.

The star in the category of Live Theatre/Performance will be dedicated at 1650 Vine Street near Hollywood & Vine.

“We are proud to honor Dick Gregory with a star on the Walk of Fame during Black History month. He has given so much to the world with his wisdom through his work in entertainment,” stated Leron Gubler, President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and emcee of the ceremonies.

The star ceremony will be streamed live exclusively on www.walkoffame.com

The day after the ceremony the celebration will continue with the Dick Gregory & Friends All Star Tribute and Toast on Tuesday, February 3, at 8:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, 1615 N. Vine Street in Hollywood.

Richard Claxton Gregory aka Dick Gregory is a comedian, civil rights activist, author, recording artist, actor, philosopher and anti-drug crusader. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gregory, 82, began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956, with a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.

Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for comedian Professor Irwin Corey.

By 1962, Gregory had become a nationally-known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums. Gregory, whose style was detached, ironic, and satirical, gained the attention of audiences with his political and controversial stand up acts. By being both outspoken and provocative, he became a household name and opened many doors for Black entertainers.

As an influential American comedian, he has used his voice to convey to both white and black audiences his message on civil rights. His social satire helped change the way white Americans perceived black American comedians since he first performed in the public arena.

By October of 1963, Dick Gregory was one of the highest paid entertainers in the world. At that time, he answered the call of [civil rights activist] Medgar Evers to come to Mississippi to join the movement. His life was forever changed. Gregory went to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day.” Gregory later became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform and anti-drug issues and other matters.

In 2000, Gregory was honored at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., by a sold out house with special tributes by Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr. [Coretta Scott King], Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Cicely Tyson, Mark Lane, Marion Barry and many more.

Gregory is listed as No. 82 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of all time. He has appeared in numerous films including: “Steppin: The Movie,” “Letter to the President,” “Malcolm X: A Search for Identity,” “In Remembrance of Martin,” “The Hot Chick,” “Children of the Struggle,” and many more. He has written 14 books and has 15 comedy albums that contain his stand up acts and his political commentary.

He has been married to Lillian Gregory since 1959 and on the day of his star ceremony they will also be celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary. They have 10 children.

Celebrities, politicians and statesmen alike from the Kennedy family to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Marlon Brando sought Gregory’s wisdom and counsel; many still do so today.

Tweet It: Hollywood Chamber to honor Dick Gregory with star on #hollywoodwalkoffame on 2/2 www.walkoffame.com

cortina jackson

Dennis Moore Book Review: ‘On Earth As It Is In Hell’ (by Cortina Jackson)

on earth as it is in hell (book cover)

*(San Diego’s East County) – Cortina Jackson, a doting mother of two sons, with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, and over 15 years of law enforcement experience, has written a fictional novel that reaches within the depths of your soul to examine your relationship with God and the Devil; On Earth As It Is In Hell.

Although fictional, one gets the impression that this book is based on the author’s life experience, especially after reading excerpts of the book and numerous phone interviews with her. With Jackson’s experience and knowledge in law enforcement, she has seen firsthand that; oftentimes, life is scarier than fiction. This has given her a basis for the material in her writing that often seems too detailed to be true. The gory and graphic aspects of those doomed to Hell, such as this fiery inferno continually burning the skin from their bodies, seems so disturbingly realistic. It is actually scary! This born-again Christian has written a spellbinding novel.

The author provided me with some personal, and perhaps embarrassing background which could be the basis of this novel, such as: “I grew up in a Christian home where strict Church of God in Christ (COGIC) principles were ingrained in me every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Although strict adherence to God’s word was always driven, it did not keep out Satan’s influence of incest which began the downhill spiral of my self-esteem.” She speaks of bad choices in men, enduring physical and sexual abuse, as well as extensive infidelity on the part of her husband(s), and two divorces. She specifically stated: “I confided in my Pastor that I had in McKinney. I trusted him with my heart; however, he too broke it when he let me know that he was sexually attracted to me, and wanted to have sex with me. He talked to me in ways that I had never been talked to before; describing in detail what he would do to me! My Pastor!!! I was so broken hearted, that I stopped going to church and believing in men period, and sometimes God too!”

Cortina Jackson

Cortina Jackson

Perhaps most significant are the dreams that the author had, which she indicated was a carryover to the book itself, specifically stated by her to me in an email: “Some of the descriptions of Hell, I would dream about them, I would wake up, and write it exactly how I saw it. The descriptions of demons, was put on paper through the same process. I would pray to God to tell me what to say, and I would have a dream or vision, write it until there was nothing more to say.” Based on this, one could easily say that this book is inspired by God! Jackson further states: “I wrote it specifically for the non-believer, the skeptic; the hurt, the abused, the suicidal person. Satan wanted me to end my life many time, and when he couldn’t get me to take my own life, he tried to get my, now ex-husband, to do it.”

On Earth As It Is In Hell resonates with me in such a way that it seems to grab my soul and gets me to re-examine my life, which I believe is the intent of the author. She gives a graphic depiction of Hell throughout this book that is at times frightening, but also reassuring in the sense that it is a place that you don’t want to go to, and makes you determined to live a life to keep it from happening. The book is a gut check. Jackson’s depiction of Hell seems so vivid and real, unlike any description I have ever known, as if the author had been there to paint this horrific picture of what we have been taught in Church and in life.

(<ahref=http://eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2015/January/Cortina%20Jackson%20Video%20watch.htm>WATCH VIDEO</a>)

Hell, a word that not only describes a dark, fiery underworld, but also defines periods in our lives. Thus is the case for the three main characters in this book, Clara, Nick, and Toni, portrayed in this thriller. The story line follows: Clara, the unbeliever due to God’s lack of intervention; Toni, Clara’s friend, homosexual by nature, faithful friend by design; and Nick, a pastor who endures his own trials. Their lives intersect, as they each experience turmoil and tragedy in their lives. However, no matter the trials and tribulations that they face, choices must still be made that will determine their future.

Jackson is a masterful storyteller in her depiction of the characters in this soul searching book, namely that of Clara, Nick and Toni. She bares her soul in this riveting, intriguing, controversial, and terrifying book, which has all the makings of a movie reminiscent of The Devil’s Advocate, starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. Eerily similar to Jackson’s depiction of what Hell must look like in her book, is another movie starring Keanu Reeves; Constantine. This movie, Constantine, is a dark, yet dazzling film. A terrific story backed up by spectacular effects and great cinematography. Perhaps one day we will be saying the same about Jackson’s On Earth As It Is In Hell. I can see Angela Bassett in the role of Clara.

The book is also reminiscent of The Shack by Canadian author William P. Young, with its Christian theme. As a matter of fact, The Shack is being made into a movie starring and being directed by noted actor Forest Whitaker, which I can see something similar for On Earth As It Is In Hell. A further similarity is that Jackson and Young were first time authors, and their books were immensely successful. Only time will tell for Jackson just how successful this book will be.

Jackson states in On Earth As It Is In Hell: “With all the Hell on Earth occurring these days, the one place that one can expect to find refuge, is the church. But what happens when the church is in direct correlation with Hell? What unfolds as the church is found to be built atop portals to Hell; as demons enter into the services, the pastors, and the people seeking solace?” Sure, all of this is rhetorical on the part of the author, but is it really that far from the truth or what we actually experience for ourselves?

The author further states: “An agenda is about to be introduced, Satan is wringing his hands with delight as new world agendas are exposed. In great detail, the layers of the character’s lives are peeled away, revealing graphic circumstances that will change them forever; for there is a worst fate that could be faced.” Jackson is actually setting the stage for horrific acts to follow in this spellbinding work of fiction that borders on reality. This agenda that the author speaks of is actually being set by a dark and secretive organization aligned with Satan, known as C6. There is plenty of mystery and intrigue in this book, culminating into a surprise and catastrophic ending, as well as redemption for those that believe in God. Metaphors are used throughout this well written book to convey the author’s vision and message.

However, the story does not end without the deep, dark, underworld being revealed. Does Hell exist? Who is worthy of its torment and destruction? In this tale, you may be surprised! The story will captivate you, encompass you, and almost consume you, before releasing you to your own thoughts: which may be scarier than fiction. My former Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, would indicate in his sermons that Hell is real. I believed him, and I believe what the Bible says about Hell. This book by Jackson is tremendous, and should be read by all those concerned about their ultimate salvation, which I highly recommend. The author recently expounded on her story and book as a guest on the BlogTalkRadio show The Authors Corner with Etienne Gibbs. On Earth As It is In Hell, by Cortina Jackson (48HrBooks, 2014, 204 pages).

Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. He is also a former member of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago and its Prison Ministry. Mr. Moore can be contacted at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.