All posts by LaRita Shelby

LaRita "Jazzy Rita" Shelby is a broadcast media & marketing professional. She serves as V.P. of Marketing and Special Programming at Additionally she is an actress, singer/songwriter who has appeared on TV and in film.
jojo mcduffy funderburg

JoJo McDuffie-Funderburg’s ‘Shameless Hussy’

Shameless Hussy is  former Mary Jane Girl Joanne Funderburg's latest release.

Shameless Hussy is former Mary Jane Girl Joanne Funderburg’s latest release.

*Joanne “JoJo” MuDuffie-Funderburg has no shame in her game.

She was a music and style icon in the 80′s as the lead vocalist in Rick James’ inspired girl group du jour “The Mary Jane Girls.” Jo Jo, Candi, Maxi and Cheri blazed the charts and toured the world with hits like All Night Long, In My House, The Boys, Candy Man and more.

Rick James is a treasured memory and the Mary Jane Girls are no more but Jo Jo’s zest for the music industry has not missed a beat, though some chapters were more eventful than others.

Jo Jo’s current “Shameless Hussy” project is a collection of dance inspired tracks that showcase a range from Euro-pop to R&B.  Jo Jo hopes to delight her old school fans as well on tunes like “C’mon” or “UR Kiss.”

Jo Jo describes her new album as ‘not your daughter’s music.’  For the curious minded, she is not in contact with the other Mary Jane Girls at this time, but she definitely tries to include cuts from their cartel of hits whenever she performs.

The “Shameless Hussy EP” project is available at

porgy and bess

The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess opens Wednesday in L. A.

Porgy+and+Bess+Photo+8-3051143508-O *The Tony Award-winning musical “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” makes its triumphant debut at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, opening Wednesday, April 23 at 8 p.m. at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.  Performances continue through June 1, 2014. (Preview April 22.)

“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess”  by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin, features one of Broadway’s most accomplished creative teams, led by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus (“Pippin,” “Hair”), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”), and two-time Obie Award-winning composer Diedre L. Murray (“Running Man”).

The cast, which includes Nathaniel Stampley and Alicia Hall Moran as Porgy and Bess (respectively), also features Alvin Crawford as Crown, Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life, Sumayya Ali as Clara, Denisha Ballew as Serena, Danielle Lee Greaves as Mariah and David Hughey as Jake.

In addition, the cast includes Dan Barnhill, Vanjah Boikai, Adrianna M. Cleveland, Roosevelt André Credit, Cicily Dainels, Dwelvan David, Nkrumah Gatling, Tamar Greene, Nicole Adell Johnson, James Earl Jones II, Quentin Oliver Lee, Cheryse McLeod Lewis, Sarita Rachelle Lilly, Kent Overshown, Chauncey Packer, Lindsay Roberts, Fred Rose and Soara-Joye Ross.

For tickets and more information click here:

Ras Baraka

The Gateway City’s Next Great Gatekeeper

Newark, New Jersey 2014 Mayoral candidate Ras Baraka

Newark, New Jersey 2014 Mayoral candidate Ras Baraka

*Newark Council Member Ras Baraka is vowing to be new hope for Newark, New Jersey as he makes his bid for mayor in 2014.  For 70 years the Baraka family has lived in the city and in 2010 Ras was elected to the Newark Municipal Council representing the South Ward.

Politics, culture and empowerment have been a mainstay for Baraka and part of his family legacy.  He is the son of Amina and Amira Baraka.  He penned his own book “Black Girls Love Hard” in the memory of his late sister.  He has been a community organizer for twenty years, and he’s a political science graduate of Howard University.  Mr. Baraka is also an educator who earned his Masters in Education from St. Peter University in Jersey City.  On Tuesday, May 13th Newark’s native son Ras Baraka hopes that his constituents will cast another vote of faith in him as he strives to reduce crime and violence in Newark.  According to The, Newark ranked as number 8 in the top ten most dangerous cities in the country.  Baraka’s other mission is to improve rates of employment, public health, safety and the overall quality of life.

Baraka’s notable positions include having held the position of principal of Newark’s Central High School since 2007, Newark’s  Deputy Mayor from 2002-2005, former organizer of Newark’s Committee on Violence and key organizer of Newark’s Ceasefire Peace Initiative in 2004.  Additionally Mr. Baraka created the Senior Citizens Committee and was a founding member and Chairman of the historic first National Hip Hop Political Convention.

For more on the Ras Baraka mayoral campaign, visit:

Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr.

‘Do You Know Your Daddy?’

Pastor of Cathedral International hosts Town Hall Discussion

Pastor of Cathedral International hosts Town Hall Discussion

*Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 from 7:00- 9:00 pm  Cathedral International’s Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr. invites award winning journalist Ed Gordon (President of Ed Gordon Media) to be his special guest host for a thought-provoking town hall discussion about the dynamics of fatherless households in America; particularly within African-American and Latino urban communities.

Ed Gordon joins Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr. for Town Hall Discussion April 23rd 2014 "Do You Know Your Daddy?"

Ed Gordon joins Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr. for Town Hall Discussion April 23rd 2014 “Do You Know Your Daddy?”

The distinguished panel consists of James Mtume (Grammy Award-Winner and Activist) Chris Broussard (Sports Analyst, ESPN) Dr. Obery M. Hendricks

(Professor of Biblical Interpretation, New York Seminary) Tyrone Muhammad
(Director, Cotton Funeral Home) Frederica Bey (Executive Director WISOMMM Holistic Preschool Center) and Kevin E. Taylor (Co-Pastor Unity Fellowship Church NewArk) will lend their voices and expertise in addressing single-parenting issues that are impacting employment, education, social behavior; but more importantly, lack of the male presence in homes and its relation to crime and incarceration.
“…I am so sorry that I cannot be with you today as I am out of the country…
I do want you to know that I have, and still am totally committed to this issue of HIV/AIDS within our communities in numbers that are so much out numbering those in other communities throughout the USA and WORLDWIDE!!…
I am pleased that Bishop Hilliard has taken the initiative to hold this event to continue to keep information coming to all in attendance of great value. 
Please know that although I am not there in the flesh I am in spirit and hope when the opportunity again arises I will be able to be a part of this important forum being discussed…” 
Dionne Warwick
This national epidemic today has statistically risen to an alarming concern for African-American and Latino communities. Pastor Hilliard is passionate that:
“This town hall discussion is not just an opportunity to voice frustration; 
its purpose is to determine how we can best resolve this epidemic.”  
Important issues for discussion will include:
  • single-parenting
  • unemployment
  • education
  • social behavior
  • lack of male presence in households
  • crime and incarceration
  • job-readiness programs
  • summer employment
  • literacy programs
  • GED application process
  • HIV testing
  • Other major concerns within the communities
Join us and share your voice as we seek solutions to better our communities and children. Bishop Hilliard encourages you to stand and participate. This event will stream live on:
Cathedral International Church is located at 205 Smith Street, Perth Amboy, New Jersey 08861.  For media and other information call (212)629-9404 Double XXposure Media Relations
nut job - screenshot

The Nut Job coming to DVD!

The Nut Job cast spread Easter baskets and cheer in DC, Chicago and Dallas.

The Nut Job cast spread Easter baskets and cheer in DC, Chicago and Dallas.

*This past weekend in Washington, D.C., Dallas and Chicago, families gathered for early Easter celebrations at local malls.

In advance of the April 15th DVD release of The Nut Job starring Maya Rudolph, Brendan Fraser and Will Arnett, children and parents alike spent Saturday afternoon creating Easter baskets which were then delivered to children’s hospitals and organizations.

About The Nut Job

Surly (Arnett) is a mischievous squirrel with a mission: to find the tastiest nuts for winter. When he discovers a whole store filled with his favorite food, he plans a heist of nutrageous proportions. But the place turns out to be owned by ruthless bank robbers so it’s up to Surly and his furry friends to stop the nearby bank heist and save the town. Showcasing an all-star cast including Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, Whole Lotta Love), Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, The Grey), Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Turbo), Jeff Dunham (Arguing With Myself, Spark of Insanity) and Gabriel Iglesias (Magic Mike, Hot & Fluffy), The Nut Job will prove “Enormously Entertaining” for the whole family (Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru)!

jerry quickley

CTG’s Innovative Community-Based Arts Programs Receive Grant from James Irvine Foundation

jerry quickley

Jerry Quickley performing his piece “Live From the Front” in 2006 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

*Center Theatre Group has recently received a $600,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation to help support CTG’s new and innovative community-based arts engagement programs.

CTG will work with Jerry Quickley as well as with Kinan Valdez and members of El Teatro Campesino on two separate projects that will increase opportunities for the African American and Latino residents of Leimert Park, Montebello and Boyle Heights to participate in the arts.

“We are grateful to the Irvine Foundation for helping us expand our notions about arts participation,” said Michael Ritchie, CTG Artistic Director. “These two projects will employ active, community-based art-making in the celebration of the diverse cultural heritage of Los Angeles. It will help expand the scope of CTG’s mission and reach, and I couldn’t be happier with the prospects.”

Performance artist Quickley will facilitate workshops that include citizens of Leimert Park and Montebello who will meet on a weekly basis to examine cultural stereotypes and to write each other’s autobiographies. From these workshops, Quickley will co-create a play in which the community participants will perform, both in their communities and at CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

El Teatro Campesino’s Producing Artistic Director KinanValdez and artists from the venerable theatre company will bring their script of “Popol Vuh: Heart of Heaven,” a spectacle of puppetry and pageantry that recounts the Mayan creation story, to Boyle Heights. Here residents will help adapt the piece for the community, making large-scale puppets and masks, adding local references and sounds, and performing alongside ETC’s professional actors and musicians in free outdoor performances at the Music Center’s Grand Park.

“Popol Vuh” will be created at CTG’s costume and prop shop in Boyle Heights, where CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships department has created The Shop programming with a series of workshops and events that offer Boyle Heights residents a chance to express creativity, build community and connect the craft of theatre with their daily lives.

CTG’s two-year grant is one of six awarded to nonprofit arts organizations by The James Irvine Foundation under its Exploring Engagement Fund for Larger Organizations program.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grant-making foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grant-making focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1.3 billion in grants to more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations throughout California. With about $1.8 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $69 million in 2013 for the people of California.

Center Theatre Group’s mission is to serve the diverse audiences of Los Angeles by producing and presenting theatre of the highest caliber, by nurturing new audiences, by attracting new audiences, and by developing youth outreach and arts education programs. On its three stages – the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theatre – CTG presents the highest quality and broadest range of theatre: groundbreaking new works, explosive productions of the classics and hit Broadway plays and musicals.


L.A.’s Theatre Company
Ahmanson Theatre  |  Mark Taper Forum  |  Kirk Douglas Theatre