After he rocked the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Cool J always one to be modest remarked to reporters, “It’s been years since lots of these people have seen me perform. It’s always fun to share the gift and to share the talent. ”
He’s been starring on the hit TV drama “NCIS: Los Angeles” since 2009 but he gets a thrill being back on stage and rapping: “It’s a thrill being on stage because it’s what I love to do.”
Jill Scott showed off not only her unique soulful sound at the Festival but also her special sense of style – something she can truly sink her teeth into.
“I actually have a bottom of diamonds,” Scott says when talking about teeth in the front of her mouth.
There’s more than music at the Essence Festival. At the Ernest Morial Convention Center hundreds of vendors are providing scores of gifts and valuable information to consumers. Ford is among them – giving test drives of its hot cars, including the Fusion.
On Saturday, McDonald’s s 365Black Awards will be given to legendary singer Gladys Knight and supermodel Beverly Johnson, among others. The awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community.
The Festival concludes on Sunday, July 7 with Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank,) among others.
See comments from LL Cool J and Jill Scott in this video:
Keith Washington stars as the post Motown Marvin Gaye in My Brother Marvin
*This weekend, the curtain will rise at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles (Hollywood) for the highly anticipated stage play “My Brother Marvin.”
The eagerly anticipated production was written by renown director and producer Angela Dunlap, and inspired entirely by Zeola Gaye, sister to the late music icon Marvin Gaye.
Zeola once again gave another candid interview to Electronic Urban Report/EUR publisher Lee Bailey. She told him how the tour had gone so far, and what Los Angeles theater goers can expect:
“The tour has been off the chain and everything is going well, I’m getting great reviews and I’m also helping people and that’s my main goal, is to help somebody out there by presenting my story, my family story.”
Marvin Gaye’s vocal style helped define the Motown era of music that prevailed in the 1960’s and into the 1970’s.His first number one hit “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” scored in 1968, while “Let’s Get It On” became his second number one hit in 1973. Marvin had many hits, but “Sexual Healing” established his biggest post Motown hit on the Columbia label in 1982. The three previously mentioned songs made it on the Rolling Stone list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” (As cited in Wikepedia.)
The Grammy winning Marvin Gaye died on April 1, 1984, just one day prior to his 45th birthday after a brawl with his father ended tragically.Though Marvin’s music lives on, for years there has been a looming curiosity over what really happened on that fateful day.Despite Marvin’s obvious musical talents, the long stewing undercurrent of family dysfunction, steeped in addiction, depression and denial was the culprit that silenced Marvin’s voice forever.Zeola Gaye originally documented her story in the book My Brother Marvin, published in 2011. Thanks to her collaboration with urban theater’s leading lady Angela Dunlap, Zeola courageously brings the Gaye family matters to life on stage in the hope of demystifying and de-stigmatizing these types of issues for other families who might be in need of help.
Now that Zeola has faced her own addictions and is successfully maintaining her recovery, EURweb.com was the recipient of candid details of the Marvin Gaye family trauma, the drama between Zeola and Marvin’s ex-wife Janis Hunter (who was married to Gaye from 1977-1981), and their subsequent triumph over tragedy.
EURweb Exclusive: Zeola Gaye talks to Lee Bailey about “My Brother Marvin,” the stage play:
“My Brother Marvin” stars three leading men as Marvin at various stages of his life and career.According to Zeola, it took three men to portray him because that’s how complicated her brother was.
Harvier Hill-Roller plays young Marvin, while Anthony Grant plays Marvin, the Motown legend, and Keith Washington plays the latter Marvin who dazzled a new generation in the 1980′s.
Emmy Award-winning Lynn Whitfield plays Marvin’s mother and Clifton Powell plays Marvin Gaye, Sr.
Lynn Whitfield Keith Washington and Clifton Powell (Whitfield and Powell play Marvin Gaye’s parents in the play)
The Los Angeles, CA performance schedule for “My Brother Marvin” is as follows: Thursday, May 23rd at 8:00 PM, Friday, May 24th at 8:00 PM, Saturday, May 25th at 3:000 PM and 8:00 PM at the Pantages Theatre 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.Tickets can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000, and at the Pantages Theatre Box Office (Opens daily at 10AM). For more information on “My Brother Marvin,” log onto www.detroittouringco.com Follow My Brother Marvin on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MyBrotherMarvin.
“My Brother Marvin” made its’ off Broadway theatrical premiere in Detroit, Michigan in 2006 during the Christmas Holiday. It received rave reviews and would go on to play a limited engagement tour in theatres in Philly, Chicago, Oakland, Memphis, Oklahoma, Kansas City and Little Rock. During the 2006-2007 season, the play’s storyline was told from the sole perspective of Zeola Gaye and her book.
Recently, Zeola discovered the private memoirs of their mother and letters of their father, adding some very integral elements and scenes to the original storyline presented in the play. It was believed that Marvin’s mother, Alberta Gaye took her secrets to her grave, until the recent discovery of her hidden journals, in which she writes candidly about her husband, her family and of course her superstar son.
Now, the world will hear and see it all. Zeola and her only other living sibling Jeanne are currently working on My Brother Marvin II. Their brothers Frankie and Michael are also now deceased.
*EURweb publisher and legendary broadcaster, Lee Bailey, has been tapped by the County of Los Angeles, AC Bilbrew Library, to present excerpts from his critically-acclaimed radio docu-drama, King: From Atlanta to the Mountaintop.
The tribute, which utilizes Bailey’s unique baritone voice, vividly recounts the unforgettable events of Dr. King’s life during the Civil Rights era; with moving excerpts from some of his most impassioned speeches. Audiences will also hear Coretta Scott King speak of her husband’s motivations and strategic moves, and the people Dr. King studied and held as his mentors.
Friends and colleagues of Martin Luther King – including the Reverend Ralph Abernathy - share emotional and chilling stories about the environment and people they encountered on many occasions during their support of the man. You will get chills as you listen to Miss Rosa Parks - describe the climate she endured with one bus driver in particular in the weeks leading up to the day she decided she had had enough, and refused to give up her seat. This will be an interactive experience, where attendees will have the opportunity to participate in discussions.
ALL are invited. The event takes place Saturday, January 12, 2013, at 2PM at the AC Bilbrew Library, 150 E El Segundo Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90061.
*The secret is out—“Braxton Family Values” is the highest ranking reality TV series on WE television. The show is ranked as the number one telecast among African American viewers during primetime.
As the show rolls into its second season, the WE television network held a special meet-and-greet with Traci, Towanda, Trina, Tamar, mom Evelyn in Beverly Hills that turned out to be a lively and entertaining exchange. Clips of the upcoming episodes were previewed, immediately followed by a Q and A with the Braxton sisters chatting about the upcoming shows.
Toni, however, was unable to attend after experiencing a flare up of lupus, but sent her regards. “Thank you so much, you’re the ones that make the show for successful for us,” Toni related.
President Kim Martin praised the Braxton sisters and the show.
“We want shows on WE that reflect our lives,” said Martin. “Women want to see other women on TV that remind them of themselves, and ‘Braxton Family Values’ has been doing really well for us. The women have big personalities, but the bottom line is that the show is really about sisters. And let’s face it—they’re funny,” Martin said.
The sisters assure that upcoming shows will be packed with plenty of love, laughter and plenty of drama.
The sisters said that despite rumors, the show is not scripted.
“There’s a lot of stress when you’re doing a reality show,” Trina revealed. “The stress is lessened when you get to talk about things. We don’t leave any stone unturned.”
As for Trina’s last episode confession that infidelity has derailed her marriage to her husband, Gabe, Trina confessed:
“I still don’t know where my man is. I’m still praying and deliberating about (our relationship). We’re trying to leave all the outside influences on the outside.”
Despite her marital troubles, Trina, who no longer drinks, revealed that she is diligently pursuing her education. “It was hard to go to school when you’re taking care of a family, but I’m going back to get my master’s,” she said proudly. “Academics are important. It’s something that no one can take away from you. I express the importance of education not only for myself, but for my children, as well.”
Traci is forging a new path in her life by heading back to beauty school and opening a salon. As for Towanda, she’s headed for an acting career and hopes to make it big on the silver screen.
Other big news is that mom Evelyn is planning to get married, which will be captured in upcoming episodes. “We’re happy,” Evelyn revealed about her relationship. “I don’t want to grow old by myself,” Evelyn confessed. “I’m a good person, so why not? I’ve been burnt before, but this time around, I think I’ve met a really nice person.”
And clips show that Evelyn has expressed interest in singing on the planned Braxton family CD. But in the clip, a few of the sisters look aghast at the possibility of mama joining in.
“Do you see Lady Gaga’s or Beyonce’s mom performing with them?” argues Tamar on the clip. “I don’t think so.”
But Evelyn declared, “I taught my girls how to sing. So I got it like that. I hope to sing (with them) in the future,” said Evelyn.
Tamar said she is working on an upcoming album. “I’m excited about my solo record,” she revealed. “All these years, I’ve been trying to find out who I am as an artist. I think I’ve finally found the sound that fits.”
Asked what was the craziest rumor she’s experienced so far, Trina responded, “One of the craziest things people say to me is that I’m a man, a drag queen or a transvestite. Those are the things men say to me,” she revealed.
“They say I married my husband for money,” said Tamar, whose husband Vince is a producer. “I’m not even going to talk about that because it hurts my feelings.”
Towanda added, “Someone will come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know Tony had another sister.’”
As for the rocky relationship with their father, Tamar said, “It’s a work in progress. We were hurt and devastated and he finally sees it’s something he needs to fix.”
The clan said they are working on a Braxton clothing line, and Tamar announced that she and Vince have just signed on for their own reality show, which will be entitled “Tamar and Vince.” “There’s a lot more to our lives than what you see on ‘The Braxton Family Values’,” Tamar hinted.
Trina added, “Toni is coming out with a weave line, a skin care line, as well as flat and curling irons in the near future.”
There promises to be lots of twists, turns, laughter and drama in the second season of “Braxton Family Values,” which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the WE network.
Here’s a video of the event, courtesy of 135th Agency’s Saptosa Foster:
*Although it wasn’t the top movie at the box office last week, “Red Tails” is still a success in the eyes of Kevin Ross (“America’s Court with Judge Ross“).
So much so that the former California Superior Court judge hopes a new trail can be blazed for more films featuring African-Americans and other minorities. Ross, along with TV writer/producer Michael Ajakwe and Project Islamic Hope’s Najee Ali, took his support of “Red Tails” to the next level with Occupy Red Tails, a movement designed to raise awareness and encourage support for the Anthony Hemingway-directed feature.
According to Ross, Occupy Red Tails sprang from the mind of Ajakwe during a conversation they had about the movie. After seeing an interview with “Red Tails” executive producer George Lucas, Ajakwe became intent on getting the word out about “Red Tails.” The men eventually joined forces and worked to promote the film, which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
“I was just going to send a message out to all the people that I have a personal relationship on Facebook. I knew I didn’t have time to e-mail or call folks,” Ross told EUR’s Lee Bailey about the creation of campaign. “I said, ‘I’ll just create an event and say ‘Look, I’m going out to see “Red Tails.” I’m encouraging you. Let’s see a big box office on the weekend. It wasn’t a black thing because I’ve got friends across the spectrum. It was just ‘You know what? I think this is worthy of our effort and if you feel so too, share it with some friends.’”
Taking a cue from the Occupy Wall Street movement, Ajakwe came up with the name Occupy Red Tails. Despite the film harboring a predominately African-American cast, Ross is quick to point out the success and promotion of Red Tails is more universal than what many would perceive.
“I think it’s bigger than that,” he explained. “This is a general market issue.”
Released during the weekend following the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, “Red Tails” finished second behind “Underworld: Awakening.” The film, which stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ne-Yo, netted with $18.8 million in its first three days while playing in 2,512 theaters. To date, the film has grossed an estimated $33,780,000.
Ross confessed that the good fortune encountered with Occupy Red Tails is a testament to the power of social media and exposure on websites such as EURweb. Days after setting up an official page on Facebook, more than 30,000 people were invited to join the campaign. Ross attributed EUR with being the catalyst, saying that activists such as Cornel West, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley and Michael Baisden were drawn to Occupy Red Tails after the web site ran a story on the effort.
The producers and marketing team behind “Red Tails” also took notice by posting links to the EUR story on their web page, Ross added, while also noting how the movie’s good showing in its first week should be a wake up call to those in the film industry.
“It wasn’t about it being a black thing as much it was about making a statement that these are the type of stories we want told. There’s no reason why we can’t see a black woman as a sci-fi action hero. There’s no reason that we can’t see a Latino man and woman in a romantic comedy or someone Asian giving us a different perspective on a particular touching story… Instead of talking about what you are against, let’s start talking about what we are for and using our dollars to make that statement.”
Lucas’ involvement in “Red Tails” and his willingness to spend $90 million of his own money to make and promote the movie spoke volumes to Ross, who admitted to feeling an immediate connection to do more than just see the Star Wars creator’s latest release.
“As the father of two boys, I said ‘OK, I understand.’ I’m a foot soldier now because you made that movie for my children and you’re telling me that that’s why you did it,” Ross shared. “I had to tell my circle of friends and family and people who follow me on social media that it spoke to them as well. That they owed it to their children to do something affirmative, to make a statement that we’re not at a place at this journey now where we’re about boycotting or tearing people down or saying what we’re against. We are at a point in our lives where we want to affirm what we’re for. And if affirming what we’re for means that people come out of our pockets, go to the movie theaters and vote with their dollars that this is the type of entertainment that we want to see…it’s great to talk about how the collective dollars of minorities, African-Americans in particular, but you have to be able to demonstrate that.”
With criticism concerning the lack of African-American actresses in “Red Tails,” Ross is hopeful that Lucas will expand the storyline in the movie to focus on the experience of the women behind the Airmen.
“For women to say ‘Even though we don’t see any picture of me, I have faith in what the bigger picture is.’ That says to me that if George Lucas put it out there, that this is a trilogy and that what we’re seeing right now in the movie theaters is part two of the trilogy,” the ”America’s Court with Judge Ross” host remarked, “…that tells me that there is a story as to how they got there and there is a story as to what happens when they come home. And in both of those stories, African-American women must play a dominant role because you know that those men could not have withstood everything it took to get them to be Tuskegee Airmen and everything that they had to withstand when they dealt with the consequence of being Black in America after the war was over without their women being right by their side. It’s impossible.”
“That’s the story,” Ross continued. ”What they [Black women] had to sacrifice while these men were gone and what they had to do to hold it down and then the challenges of staying married to men who may have been dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, how the women had to keep them uplifted and keep the family together. I can’t wait to see those stories and I think that if we can all just stay focused and see the big picture we’re gonna get a lot of mileage out of this movie. Hopefully it spawns a new generation of storytelling from a different perspective.”
*The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza has it going on. Of course, you already knew that. The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza BHCP Live! Presents a series for concerts on the renovated Outdood Plaza across from the newly renovated RAVE Theaters.
The mission of BHCP Live! Presents is designed to offer family friendly experience for shoppers and neighborhood residents to enjoy award winning artists and quality music in the beautifully renoved Mall Promenade.
Several luminaries have brighten up the plaza and put a huge spotlight on the wonderful happening taken place at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The series kicked off with a return engagement of Goapele. Her show was great. The series continued with an outstanding performance by Ms. Stephanie Mills.
The Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure joined recording artist and Komen Circle of Promise spokesperson Kelly Price for a special summer concert and community outreach effort on this special evening. August 31st, I was privilege to attend the concert performance of Kelly Price.
Needless to say, Ms. Price kicked it up a notched as she performed a solid hour and half set of classic tunes that she has written for others as well material from her amazing catalog of hits. Her set list featured the tunes “And You Don’t Stop,” “Secret,” “You Should’ve Told Me,” “Love Sets You Free,” “Ain’t Nobody,” “Him-a-holic,” “It Will Rain/The Rain,” “As We Lay.” She took the crowd back in the day with a hip-hop medley with Heartbreak and other memorable tunes.
Her entertaining set continued with “Tired” where she invited several people from the audience to duet with her. 12 year old Ramon D. Collins took her up on her offer and held his own on the stage along side Kelly Price.We need a version of America Got Talent to be renamed Los Angeles Has Talent. The show continued with “Tomorrow” from the play Annie, “Not My Daddy,” “Friend of Mine” performed with her friend Jesse Lea.
The audience and I were rewarded at the end of the concert. Mr. Entertainer himself, Cedric the Entertainer capped off a incredible evening with a hilarious improvised set of comedy.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photograher. Contact him via: email@example.com.