*Roc Nation’s Melanie Fiona is flying high after her split from Universal Republic.
The grammy-award winning singer/songwriter has branched out on her own, inking deals with Pepsi and Comlex to release music on her terms.
*Two-time GRAMMY award winning artist Melanie Fiona hit the road last week to begin a five city college tour with fellow Roc Nation artists, GRAMMY award winning songwriter/singer Bridget Kelly and chart topping songwriter and crooner Elijah Blake.
The tour, sponsored by EOS Products kicked of its first stop in Atlanta at Tongue & Groove on Thursday October 24. The packed room was filled with Atlanta influencers, tastemakers, editors and fans.
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About Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona is a two time Grammy Award winning singer & songwriter. The Toronto native, who is managed by Roc Nation, just released her newest single Cold Piece and is gearing up for her new album release in 2014. Her sophisticated blend of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, reggae and classical flavors is ever evolving. Melanie’s 2009 debut, The Bridge was categorized by The New York Times categorized as one of 2009’s best R&B albums. The album’s breakthrough ballad, “It Kills Me,” topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for nine weeks and earned Fiona her first Grammy nomination in 2010 for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. Her second album The MF Life, released in 2012 reached #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Melanie Fiona has previous toured with Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige & D’Angelo and most recently opened for Beyoncé on the Mrs. Carter Tour – BET Experience Show 2013.
About Bridget Kelly
Grammy award winning songwriter and New York native Bridget Kelly delivers honest, heartfelt lyrics, over powerful vocals. Bridget’s songwriting for “Einstein” from Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger album, won her the Best Pop Vocal Album award at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Now with her debut singles, “Special Delivery,” and “Street Dreamin’” with Kendrick Lamar climbing the charts, the Roc Nation songstress, has captured the attention of fans and tastemakers alike. She honed her performance skills early in her career, having toured with JAY Z (Blueprint 3 Tour), Estelle (BET Music Matters Tour), and performing at this year’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Bridget has been featured in top publications such as Complex, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly, The Source, and the covers of Honey and EDGE magazines and is nominated for 2013 Best New Artist at the Soul Train Music Awards.
About Elijah Blake
Very few artists are just as good at creating amazingly vivid and passionate scenes with their voices, as they are with their words – Elijah Blake, at 22 years old is one of the few. Elijah is a refreshing dose of vocal, hit songwriting, and personal conviction. Elijah has written for/with Rihanna, Britney Spears, Nas, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz and has also appeared on collaborations with Rick Ross, The Game, Meek Mill, Common and Keyshia Cole. Mentored by and signed to famed producer No I.D’s ARTium music label through Def Jam and managed through Roc Nation, Blake is determined to separate himself from songwriter and singer and his 2012 debut EP Bijoux 22 did just that. The EP featured the hits “Birdz”, “Talk to Me” and “X.O.X” with Common. Elijah is currently working on the Bijoux 23 EP, which is due out at the end of this year.
In that vein, it is always better to receive wisdom from those who have not only talked the talk, but who have also successfully walked the walk … and the Lincoln company and Uptown magazine have set the stage for an exchange that absolutely meets that criteria.
Through their recently conceived four-city “The Journey” series, Lincoln has identified several different arenas that would likely be of interest to consumers who align with its product offerings, specifically the new MKZ premium midsize sedan. Within those arenas (Arts, Sports, Music, Theater, etc), recognizable luminaries from each were commissioned to not only talk about the inspiring success they’ve achieved, but also – and more usefully – to talk about the obstacles they encountered along the way. Emphasis was placed on the obstacles because – similar to the fascinating journey of the Lincoln brand, typically, it’s the perseverance and overcoming of those obstacles that produces the most savory and lasting triumphs.
Lincoln wanted to indirectly share its ongoing story of overcoming challenges and reintroduce itself as a long-standing luxury automotive brand, while using the panel experience to enhance the lives of tastemakers and urban professionals who took time out to support it:
“We didn’t want to just have an event and put the new MKZ in the middle of the room so people could just look at it,” said Lincoln executive, Jose Ortiz. “We wanted to create an environment of exchange, where those in attendance could truly take something away from the experience, something life changing.”
In the first installment of the Journey series, held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, screenwriter/producer, Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game), fashion designer, Woody Wilson (Arsenio Hall, Diddy), and music executive Carmen Murray (Melanie Fiona) all participated in an extremely informative panel discussion hosted by lifestyle maven and TV personality, Bevy Smith (Fashion Queens). Guided by the provocative and humorous Smith, the panelists were refreshingly candid about their pre-success struggles and kept the attendees on the edge of their seats with exciting stories about how they became industry leaders and turned their long-shot dreams real-life dilemmas into enviable careers.
Though many valuable words were spoken during the discussion, here are some of the most compelling takeaways from each success story that could get you over the hump of turning your dreams – no matter how difficult – to reality:
Starting Point: hailing from Oakland, CA, Carmen was working a local job, when a random guy told her she didn’t belong.
“He said ‘I see you come in here and work, day in and day out and you need to leave.’ I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but I discussed it with my mom and she said, you know, you should. And I wasn’t one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do, but I tried a lot of things. I did well at some of it, but at some of it I was horrible, but it was OK, because it was part of it. So, I went to my mom and told her I was leaving and she gave me money, $350, and I drove to LA with a Kodak picture, and I said you know what, I’m here and I’m gonna audition, no agent, no manager or nothing, I just knew I needed to eat the next day. So, I knew I wasn’t as talented, but I knew that I didn’t have a choice and that was the difference and it all started to happen for me from there.”
Obstacle: not being respected as a female music executive.
Solution: purchased the rights to song, It Kills Me, performed by Melanie Fiona, that no one in the music industry would hear, and it went on to become a resounding hit, nominated for a Grammy. It was that instinctive move that earned her respect as a bonafide music executive.
How long it took for her to realize what she considered success: 10 years
Starting Point: “I was at a crossroads. I grew up in Columbia, Maryland and all my friends’ parents were in Corporate America, attorneys and lawyers and professional folks, so that’s all I knew. So, I went to college and graduated with a business degree and joined Corporate America, too. I had a lot of success, moved around the country, Delaware, Boston, Chicago, Houston and came out to Los Angeles, but I was confronted at the time where my next promotion would place me somewhere else, outside of California. But there was a guy who I was sitting across from who was my boss and he determined my future … and he didn’t like me … and at the time, the results of our meeting resulted in me looking at him thinking, should I choke him or just punch him? At that very moment I knew that I could no longer work for him, so I had to really look within myself to figure out what I really wanted to do, because I had dedicated so much time and energy to Corporate America and climbing the corporate ladder …
Obstacle: making the career change from Corporate America to what became his passion, working the fashion industry, but with no experience and not being taken seriously.
Solution: so, what I did was take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the center and wrote out my strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes … I was true to myself and fashion jumped off the page. So, I said how in the world am I gonna do this? So, I prayed on it, contemplated … more prayer and I shared it with my friends [networking is essential] and one of them introduced me to his partner [in fashion] and I fell in love with the business. We went to Las Vegas and outfitted Don King, Mike Tyson … I knew it was what I wanted to do. You don’t want to grow up doing a job that you hate, because you won’t be successful at it.
How long it took to realize what he considered success: 13 years
Mara Brock Akil:
Starting Point: “I often tell people don’t criticize children for talking to themselves, because you should recognize that as writing, as imagining, it was my first expression. When I hit the wave of writing … writing is like sitting in the ocean and you catch a little wave and it’s enough to keep you sitting in the ocean waiting, but when you ride that big wave, it is a high unlike any other. I really didn’t need a bunch of playmates, because where I was is where it was at. I’m thankful to my mother who didn’t thwart that and I think it’s very important as adults to see that spark in a child. So that’s mine and it carried me to know that writing was definitely my path, but at the time careers in journalism were for you to be a journalist and most people assumed that I wanted to be a broadcaster. They thought “you’re pretty and you should be on TV.” I stutter, I mess up words a lot … I’m getting better at these things but they make me really want to vomit. I don’t want to be in a career that makes me want to vomit everyday, so I thought I’d be a print journalist and be a novelist. [I was] the product of a single mother and being raised by my grandmother and my aunt, strong women around me, so I just wanted the best for myself at all times, and I knew that very on in my life, so I wanted to be a journalist and I looked up the best journalism schools and at the time, Northwestern was it for me. I only applied to Northwestern and I got in and somewhere along the line (my relationship with God was established very early on in my life), I just believed and so I got in. I loved my experience. I was very aware that this was a major university and I made it there and all that stuff but the interesting thing was I did not become a real student until I got into the screenwriting class … I was a senior. I was always on time, the assignments, I read them twice, I couldn’t stop … we had the choice of writing a treatment of a half hour or an hour … I wanted the hour. I was in love. I fell in love with it just like I love my husband.
Obstacle: Once she received her big break and sold a show, she had to work under the thumb of controlling executive producers of the show she created, but she wanted to control her own destiny and get paid what she was worth.
Solution: In the third season of Girlfriends, she nervously, but resolutely confronted a major studio head with her demands and was willing to walk away from that show – her own show, if she wasn’t given the control and money that she wanted. After prayer and much courage, her demands were met and the rest is history.
How long it took to realize what she considered success: 8 years
Take heed and be inspired! Lincoln Uptown “The Journey” will soon pass through a city near you. To learn more, checkout the #lincolnjourney conversation on Twitter or visit uptownmagazine.com.
*Just like the headline says, this page/board is where you can discuss the stuff that we didn’t cover in today’s issue. (It’s sort of like feedback with a twist) Remember, NO name calling, racial taunting, graphic sex talk and vulgarity in general, PLEASE.
EUR MOTIVATIONAL NOTE
We can say “Peace on Earth.” We can sing about it, preach about it or pray about it, but if we have not internalized the mythology to make it happen inside us, then it will not be. – Betty Shabazz
July 4: Singer Bill Withers is 75. Percussionist Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind and Fire is 62.
July 4, 1827: Slavery abolished in New York State. (Source: www.BlackFacts.com)
EURweb was on hand to talk to many of the stars that walked the red carpet about donating their time and talents to the event, which has raised more than $200 million and has helped hundreds of thousands of students attend college and graduate. Anderson serves as host of the event with performances including Tyrese, Trey Songz, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Keysha Cole and more!
PREMIERE DATE: Tonight, January 26 at 10:00 p.m. EST Nationwide (Check local listings for stations and times) And Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. EST on BET Networks
Here Anthony Anderson talks hosting duties, while Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Hamilton and Melanie Fiona speak about why it is so important for them to be a part of the event and a lot more:
EUR UNCF BONUS INTERVIEWS: Anthony Hamilton, Tracee Ellis Ross, Melanie Fiona and Keke Palmer speak about why it is so important for them to be a part of the event and a lot more.
BET set to air UNCF Evening of Stars, an explosive night of performances
*Multi-NAACP Image Award nominee Anthony Hamilton (NBC’s “Guys with Kids”) does a wonderful job hosting this year’s “UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Evening of Stars” televised scholarship fundraiser to air on BET Network January 26 and 27, 2013. Taped previously in December, 2012 in Pasadena California, you will experience an explosive night of performances.
BET partnered this year to produce the event for UNCF, the country’s largest and most effective minority education organization, supporting the education of over 60,000 students each year. Hamilton expertly carries us through the powerful presentations while reminding us why we are privy to such a red carpeted treat, the funding of minority students “adult” education.
First there were the red carpet arrivals. I got there a bit late but I did get to video tape Keyshia Cole, Anthony Hamilton, Shaun Robinson and Sheryl Underwood going in to take their seats, and I talked briefly with Keenen Ivory Wayans and Melanie Fiona.
“Donate, donate, donate,” said multi-Grammy Award winning Melanie Fiona,while on the red carpet. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste and a wonderful thing to invest in.”
Fiona took my breath away, literally, with her version of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” during the event. It seemed that no one was playing around with their performances, everyone performed my favorite songs so powerfully, felt like it was to be their last performance ever.
What a treat it was for me when Tyrese performing his Grammy Award nominated current single “Best of Me” twice! I thought I was in heaven when he came back on stage to repeat it. Then legendary Faith Evans sang one of her current singles “Tears of Joy,” another favorite, I felt I was in church.
The night didn’t end there this continued with every performance, which included Eric Benet, Charlie Wilson (the crowd went so crazy I couldn’t hear a word he was singing); Anthony Hamilton (rocking it his way with his dancing backup singers); Keyshia Cole (looking stunning); Trey Songz, Yolanda Adams (singing masterfully my favorite, “The Battle is Not Yours”), and it ended with an unbelievable performance by ‘forever young” Chaka Khan (with dancers in monogram T-shirts, elaborate stage set and all). I can still hear Chaka’s last song’s lyrics “it’s not over yet,” ending the event with a beautiful array of falling gold and blue balloons.
“It’s important. We have to keep our schools going,” said Keenen, a UNCF Scholarship presenter about the importance of donating to UNCF. “It provides education for people like myself from the inner city…I’m part of the legacy and we want the legacy to continue.”
Other presenters were multi-Billboard Music Award winning Usher, Keke Palmer, Kim Coles, Loretta Devine, Terrence J and so many more. UNCF’s largest scholarship program is the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. It has a 90% graduation rate among its 13,000 low-income minority students. BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, is the nation’s leading provider of cable programming for the African-American audience – reaching more than 90 million households.
For more information or to donate log onto www.UNCF.org.
ABC’s 2013 winter line-up has ‘Zero Hour,’ ‘Scandal,’ ‘Red Widow’ and ‘Shark Tank’ taking the spotlight
*I attended the TCA for Disney ABC’s announcements for their 2013 winter programming line-up that included new series and recurring. The new series “Zero Hour” and “Red Widow,’’ and recurring series “Scandal” and “Shark Tank” took the spotlight. The line-up of exciting programming didn’t stop there with my favorites, but it also includes a long list of other outstanding series.
“One thing I learned from ‘Prison Break’…stories need to end,” said Paul Scheuring co-executive producer of the upcoming new ABC American conspiracy series “Zero Hour,” which has Charles S. Dutton co-starring as a priest. “The entire Nazi conspiracy will end in episode 13.”
Another intriguing new series is “Red Widow,” about a Northern Californian housewife who escaped organized crime, but is drawn back in to protect her children – when her husband is killed.
“She is very human,” said Radha Mitchell who plays the ‘red widow.’ “But she finds the strength.”
ABC’s “Scandal” is back for a second season. I consider myself an excellent crisis manager and Shonda Rhimes does an excellent job portraying the ‘think process.’ The series is based on the life of former George Bush administration press aide Judy Smith.
Expect to see “Bunheads” and “Pretty Little Liars” return to ABC Family, and “The Middle,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Shark Tank” are to return to ABC.
“I received help from Samsung because I had ½ million in sales. It didn’t work out, but I’m here because it was a great deal,” said Daymond John when asked if there was a ‘shark’ that helped him. Daymond is one of six millionaires who invest in other people’s dreams on the ABC reality show executive produced by Clay Newbill.
On the “Shark Tank” panel with John, who has an international clothing ‘empire’ are Robert Herjavec, who has a ‘fortune’ of over $200 million, Lori Griener, who has created over 400 products and holds 112 U.S. and international patents and Kevin O’Leary, a founder of the first software company.
Seems to be an exciting season for ABC and you can see the complete winter line-up of programming by logging onto www.DisneyABCTV.com.
(Columnist: Eunice Moseley is a PR/media & promotions consultant, and as well as a syndicated entertainment columnist for over 20 years – www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com.)