*Sadly as we enter the Memorial Day Weekend, we have to report the death of funk and R&B bassist Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson. He died at age 60 on Thursday (05-21-15).
As of this posting, the details of his passing are not known, but Johnson’ death was confirmed by his nephew Troy on Instagram. In addition to being a founding member of the Brothers Johnson with his brother George, Louis was a longtime collaborator of Quincy Jones. You can hear his artistry on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Off the Wall,” and even Jones’ “Mellow Madness” album.
Back in the mid-70s to early 80s the Brothers Johnson was all over the radio and R&B and Pop charts with hits like 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” 1977’s “Strawberry Letter 23″ and 1980’s “Stomp!” In fact, fans of the Brothers Johnson will recall that their 1976 debut, “Look Out for #1″ was produced by Jones and even could brag that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson sang back up on their 4th platinum release, “Light Up the Night.”
But what made Louis Johnson stand out for a lot of music fans was his style of playing which earned him the nick name of “Thunder Thumbs.” And as Billboard points out, he was also one of the pioneers of slap bass, making him an in-demand session player for everyone from Stanley Clarke to Donna Summer. Many of his classic grooves for artists like George Duke and Michael McDonald have also received a second life as some of hip-hop’s most popular samples.
“He was a dear and beloved friend and brother,” Quincy Jones told Rolling Stone, “and I will miss his presence and joy of life every day.”
Read/learn MORE about the death of legendary bassist Louis Johnson at Rolling Stone.
Watch/listen to musical tribute to Louis Johnson with music from the Brothers Johnson:
BONUS: Louis Johnson jams and performs Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) [live]:
Real life sisters Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad
*Phylicia Rashad is probably best known to most folks as Claire Huxtable the wife of Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable (Bill Cosby) on the classic and groundbreaking 80s (NBC) TV series, “The Cosby Show.”
Well, trust us, she’s much more than that. Rashad has created a legacy of excellence in film and television acting and has recently set off to do the same in the director’s seat, commanding veteran actors and newcomers, alike, towards the same level of excellence in theater that she has held for herself. In fact, she’s in charge of the hit play “Immediate Family” from playwright Paul Oakley Stovall which is currently playing at the Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center in Los Angeles.
EURweb associate Troy Tieuel spoke with the Tony Award® winner about her involvement in the production.
Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad and Playwright Paul Oakley Stovall
Speaking with Rashad is akin to stepping into your favorite classic episode of “The Cosby Show.” Her humble demeanor hiding behind lips that smile and release the same wisdom Claire Huxtable was known for. Hardworking, not afraid to speak intelligently and articulate, Rashad explains how she got into theater directing.
“[My directing] didn’t start by me saying that, ‘I wanted to direct,’” explained Rashad. “My venture into directing began with an invitation from Constanza Romero, whose husband was August Wilson. She invited me to direct a production of August Wilson’s ‘Gem of the Oceans’ at the Seattle Repertory Theater. I said, ‘Yes,’ and that’s how it began. That was the first production that I directed.”
August Wilson’s ‘Gem of the Ocean’ garnered Rashad her first Tony Award nomination as a director and national acclaim.
“A couple of years later,” Rashad continued, “Ren Brown, the artistic director of Ebony Repertory Theater here in Los Angeles, invited me to direct a production of ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and I did. After that, Center Theatre Group extended an invitation to me to come and direct at the Mark Taper Forum, ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.’”
It’s hard to parallel one director from another, in terms of style, without taking into account the finished product, the play, running over a series of sessions from opening to closing. Each showing is different and each time all involved must contend with a new set of challenges and unpredictable changes. Rashad, in her usual, modest tones describes her approach to directing.
“I read the play, with the sincere effort to discern what is the playwright is saying,” adds Rashad. “That’s how it starts. Then there is the creative team. You assemble the lighting, the set, costume design, and choose the stage management to work in conjunction with [the director].”
“Then it’s casting. Casting is always a very interesting process for me, because I’m seeing very fine actors and trying to put together a group that will work well together and will bring that story to life. That is when we actually get into ‘The Room,’ as it is called, that is the rehearsal room.”
“I never come into a rehearsal with a set idea of how things are going to look and how they are going to go. I have been working with the set designer before I get to the first day of rehearsal. We have designed the set together. By that, I mean, we collaborate. I look at things and elements, make certain suggestions, always letting the designer do the work, because the designer knows. When we come into the room [the set design] is the one thing that is fixed.”
“As the actors are reading the script,” she continued, “we begin to talk about the script. We begin to talk about the script in terms of the overarching themes; we talk about the script in terms of each character’s journey in the story. We don’t say everything, because if you say everything so much magic is lost. But we say enough to stimulate each other.”
“Then I get the feel for how many times we are reading this script at the table, because we did allot of table work with [Immediate Family]. More than I normally do. And then I can feel and sense when the actors are ready to get up from the table.”
Director Phylicia Rashad at the first rehearsal for Paul Oakley Stovalls Immediate Family, which plays April 22 through June 7, 2015, at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772. Contact: CTG Media and Communications / (213) 972-7376 / [email protected]
“They want to be on their feet and start what’s called ‘Blocking.’ That’s actually positioning actors on the stage, our entrances and our exits. At first it’s quite preliminary, call it skeletal blocking. It’s just enough to get us through to where we are moving. Scripts leave the hands, people begin working without the scripts, and as surely as we are engaged in some authentic exchange, and I’m talking about actors with directors, actors with actors, and actors with directors, the blocking becomes refined. The subtleties, the nuances and the intentions that we discover, allot of what I see, and shaping and molding that. It’s like painting a picture. That’s the way I see it.”
“Then there comes a stage after we have been in the rehearsal hall for a while, after our first, what we call our ‘Stumble Through,’ where we do the whole thing. Then we begin to refine scenes and look through and do ‘run through’s every day, so we get accustomed to the flow of the show, and the actors can begin to feel the threads that need to be connected in their individual character’s journeys and stories and how to relate to one another.”
“That’s what we call, ‘Finding the Play.’ Surely enough, as soon as we have found the play in the rehearsal hall, it’s time to go to the theater and we lose the play. When you get on stage with sets, and props and lights and costume and wigs and those other elements, the play goes away and you have to rediscover it again with these new elements. That’s what we do.”
The play is crafted in its conception by the playwright; in a similar way that a building is conceptualized by an architect’s drawing. The Architect then gives his creation a construction manager who is tasked with the job of actually building or bringing to reality this imaginary creation on a real, pre-existing site.
Rashad, as the director of the play, acts as the Construction Manager, who brings to fruition the vision and the ideas of the playwright on the set. For ‘Immediate Family,’ it’s architect is playwright Paul Oakley Stovall, an African American playwright out of Chicago, Illinois.
“[Paul Oakley Stovall] is a renaissance man,” continued Rashad, “He’s poetry, he’s music, he is literature, he is agriculture, he is science, he is public policy, and he is politics. He is a renaissance man.”
Rashad, who’s off-stage personality does not fall far from the one she made popular during her run as the mother on the Cosby Show, shows her maternal values, embracing Stovall as a mother would a son.
“We were doing a stage reading of ‘Charleston Oleo’ in Jackson Mississippi, and he was part of that cast. So we worked a couple of days together. When we were saying good-bye, he said, “I have a couple of plays that I have written and I’d like to send them to you,’ and he did. ‘Immediate Family’ was one of them and it was about three weeks after he sent the play to me, he called me and he said, ‘Oh, by the way, did I ask you to direct this play?’”
Human rights are a theme throughout our nation’s past, and remains even today as a topic that cannot be ignored. The play ‘Immediate Family’ deals with the rights of people to have the type of life that they want, despite the opinions and feelings of others around them. Homosexuality is a theme throughout ‘Immediate Family,’ but according to Rashad, is not the focus.
“This play is about adult siblings,” corrected Rashad, “this play is about acceptance. This play is about self-acceptance, and this play is about accepting people that we love and seeing them as they see themselves. This play is about family. When you talk about family, you’re going to talk about race, religion, you’re going to talk about politics, and you’re going to talk about sexuality. These things come into play with family.”
“This play suggests a number of things, about this particular father,” explained Rashad, “That he was strong in his home and in his community. He was quite human. I don’t know how well he connected with his children, really. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t love them. It’s something being human, isn’t it? Being human is quite an undertaking.”
Ms. Phylicia Rashad has proven herself as a no nonsense lady, and has been successful at captivating audiences and a stage actress, television actress and has now stepped into the field of directing stage plays. The future is bright for Mrs. Rashad.
Daron Dylon Wint in an undated police handout photo
*(Via MSN News) – Police apprehended the suspect in the gruesome killings of three members of a Northwest Washington family and its housekeeper Thursday night in Northeast Washington, according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.
The suspect, Daron Dylon Wint, 34, is a former employee of an iron supply company headed by one of the victims and has a long history of alleged assaults and threatening behavior, according to law enforcement and court records.
Wint’s DNA was connected to a pizza crust found inside the home where the crime happened, according to police. The night before the bodies were found, a pizza delivery driver left two pizza boxes at the front door of the home where an envelope with cash was left outside.
The manhunt had extended to New York City, where authorities said he has relatives in Brooklyn. Wint is charged in a warrant with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57.
Police said they believe that the victims were held captive overnight and had been bound. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) described the slayings at a Thursday afternoon news conference as “an act of evil.”
Hours later, Wint’s father, Dennis, reached by phone, declined to comment. “I really am not in the mood to talk to any reporters,” he said before hanging up.
Get MORE of this Washington Past story at MSN News.
*Power 105’s own Angela Yee of the The Breakfast Club hosted a private screening of POLTERGEIST at AMC 34th Street in New York City on Thursday, 5/21 to kick off Memorial Day Weekend.
Known for her love of horror, Yee was very excited about the present-day spin on the cult classic, POLTERGEIST. NYC Tastemakers and media came out to enjoy a good scare.
Fans of this classic and the horror genre can peep POLTERGEIST TODAY, MAY 22nd in 3D!
Also, tune in this morning (5/22) to The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 in NYC and iHeart Radio at 9:30AM EST to listen in as Angela, Charlamagne and DJ Envy talk with the POLTERGEIST Paranormal Expert, Christopher Chacon!
SYNOPSIS: Terrifying apparitions hold a suburban family’s youngest daughter captive, forcing the family to seek help from a paranormal expert to save the child before she disappears forever.
*Dang, is the fling between Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and pop star/princess Ciara already a done deal?
A source revealed to E! News that “things have gone a little rocky” between the pair. As a result, they are taking a little break in their relationship. “They haven’t broken up yet,” the source explained. “But things are not looking good.”
Like they say, that was quick. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that these two seemed to be all into each other. At the end of April, they enjoyed a romantic outing at President Barack Obama’s Japanese state dinner. In fact, just one day before the A-list gathering, Ciara teased fans that the football stadium may become her next date location once the new season kicks off.
“Seahawks rock, absolutely,” she shared with E! News when asked if she loves her man’s team. “Absolutely. I think [the fans are] pretty much the best.”
Well that was then. So what happened to the love? It seems their careers are pulling them apart.
“Things are a bit busy for both of them now,” the inside source shared with E! News. “But they are willing to make time and see where this may go.”
Yeah, whatever. Maybe Wendy Williams was right all along when she said the pair’s dating was nothing more than a PR stunt.
*(Via The Huffington Post) — Dozens of teddy bears that memorialized Michael Brown were removed from a site on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday afternoon. The memorial will be replaced by a permanent plaque honoring Brown, who was fatally shot by a police officer in August 2014.
Michael Brown Sr., the slain teen’s father, appeared with Mayor James Knowles in the Ferguson Community Center to unveil the plaque. Brown Sr. acknowledged that the current memorial site has become a safety concern and that he is content with a new, permanent replacement.
The announcement came on what would have been Brown’s 19th birthday, and followed a press conference announcing that Canfield Drive, the street where Brown was shot, would be repaved within the week.
The news you want – unfiltered. The Electronic Urban Report/EUR puts the most buzz worthy African American news at your fingertips. There is no more complete source for urban news than the Electronic Urban Report. Updated with the hottest urban news, African American culture updates, black celebrity news, sports and more daily!
Get up to date black entertainment news and thought provoking editorials from the most insightful and knowledgeable sources online. From black celebrity news and gossip to the latest in the political world, health and international affairs, you can trust the EUR to provide you with the latest information and opinions on today’s biggest stories.
The Electronic Urban Report not only has the hottest trending headlines, but rich original content with a unique perspective. Don’t miss a single day of important information from the leader of online urban news and entertainment. There is no better place to get all the news you care about from around the world.
Make sure to browse the Electronic Urban Report daily to get your fill of the urban news you need to know. Follow us on social media to get updates as they happen.
Meta Title: African American News | Black Entertainment News | EURWeb.com
Meta Keywords: african american news, urban news, black celebrity news, black entertainment news, african american news and issues, african american culture
Meta Description: Your home for urban news and opinion. Get the most up to date black entertainment, world, political and sports news at EURWeb.com!