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Pres. Obama and Trump let their guards down at White House

buzzz worthy. . . By Mona Austin President Obama and Donald Trump met for the first time on Thursday to begin talks about the official...


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Thursday, December 2, 2010

BET ANNOUNCES CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL TALENT

KIRK FRANKLIN , MARY MARY, CHAKA KHAN, EL DEBARGE, SMOKIE NORFUL, FAITH EVANS, KELLY PRICE AND VASHAWN MITCHELL TO PERFORM ON BET’S CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL 
PREMIERING SUNDAY, JANUARY 30 AT 8:00 P.M.*

Hosted by Comedian, Radio and Television Personality Steve Harvey, BET’s CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL will Feature Performances and Appearances by Kim Burrell, the Rance Allen Group, Israel Houghton, Beverly Crawford, James Fortune and FIYA and Many More.

LOS ANGELES — December 1, 2010 — Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary as the number one gospel show on television, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL moves into the new decade with inspiring and uplifting music. This highly acclaimed two-hour special, premiering on Sunday, January 30 at 8:00 p.m.*,  pays tribute to the rich history of gospel music in a unique format that combines today's leading gospel and secular artists!

Keeping the Faith” is this year’s show theme, setting the stage for a world premiere of new music from award winning gospel superstars, Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary.  The stellar line up also includes soul stirring performances from secular artists El DeBarge, Chaka Khan and Howard Hewitt.

Live performances and appearances from Byron Cage, Donnie McClurkin, Pastor Shirley Caesar, BeBe Winans and Smokie Norful will pay an in memoriam tribute to two of gospel music’s major generals: “Queen of Gospel” Albertina Walker and prolific songwriter/performer Bishop Walter Hawkins. In addition, singer-songwriter Faith Evans featuring Kelly Price and SUNDAY BEST runner-up Jessica Reedy will raise the roof and shine alongside Israel Houghton, James Fortune and FIYA, Kim Burrell, Earnest Pugh, VaShawn Mitchell, the Rance Allen Group, and Jonathan Nelson and Purpose.  

Other special appearances include Bishop TD Jakes and actors Hill Harper and Keith David as they perform in CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL’s signature spoken word segments.

Hosted by popular actor, author and comedian Steve Harvey, this highly anticipated special will be taped at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, December 11, 2010. Tickets to attend the taping are free to the public on a first-come, first-service basis by submitting a request via betrsvp@bet.net


CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL is a BET Networks Production. Stephen Hill, BET’s president of music programming, along with Lynne Harris-Taylor, BET’s vice president of specials, and Geovanni Brewer will executive produce the telecast.
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2011 Grammy Award Nominations Recap, Gospel Nominees & Predictions

Eminem received 10 nominations for the 53rd Grammy Awards

The nominees in the top five categories for the 2011 Grammy Awards were announced on Dec. 1 in a live telecast on CBS.  LL Cool J hosted the show at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles with announcements being made by celebrity presenters.

The full list of nominess in all other categories can be viewed at http://www.grammys.com/

Eminem tops the list with 10 Grammy nominations for the come back album, "Recovery,"  including a nod for Album of theYear.

I'm hoping to see Marshall (his real name) and Rihanna rock "Love the Way You Lie" at the Grammys, which was nominated for Song of the Year.

R&B's soulfully sleek El Debarge also made a valiant comeback this year, earning two Grammy nominations for "Second Chance" (Best Male R & B Vocal Performance and Best R & B Song.)

If last night's performances were any indication, it's going the be a great show.  (2010 sure was a good year in music across the board, but I'll save my thoughts on that for another entry.)

Ever looking like a pin up doll, Katy Perry opened the hour long show with a performance of  "California Girls." (She and her background dancers looked more like they were walking in a winter wonderland with the shimmery silver and white body suits they wore.)  Perry delivered an icy hot performance and was thrilled her "Teenage Dream" CD that "California Girls" came from was nominated for Album of the Year.

"Bieber Fever" paid off as Justin Bieber was nominated for  Artist of the Year. The lad played his guitar and sang his heart out via satellite from London.  When LL asked him how he felt about the nomination he was grateful, but not as enthused as I'd imagined he'd be.  Yet, he's so humble. He said he doesn't see himself as this big huge star.  (Sidebar: Didn't LL say Bieber was going to do a new version of his popular "Baby"?  The music and lyrics sounded completely different to me, as in like a completely different song.)

Bieber's definitely got skills, but the best performance of the night came from chooo chooooo -- Train (nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo for Group with Vocals)!  They probably never sounded better singing "Hey, Soul Sister."  B.o.B and Bruno Mars (nominated for Record of the Year for the song "Nothing on You") and Miranda Lambert (nominated for Best Female Voal Country Performance, "The House That Built Me") all had commendable performances too, but Train sounded better than ever.

Of the five categoreis announced I'm slightly worried about the prosepcts for the Song of the Year.  That Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" (the F-You song) even has a chance to best a song as lyrically thoughtful as Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" makes me nervous. Green received four noms, so there's a good chance he'll win something.   Perish the thought when in future Grammy flash backs to this enormous honor, the "F You" song is mentioned in the same breath as songs like Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," or even Bey's "Ring on It." (In my most sarcastic thought voice: classy, real classy). It's a fun, catchy song that lots of people can relate too, but not "Song of the Year" caliber. 

The category that captivates me the most was not announced last night-- Category 14. Best Traditional Vocal Album. Take a look at names in this category:

14. Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Crazy Love

Michael Bublé
[143/Reprise]

The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time

Barry Manilow
[Arista Records]

Let It Be Me: Mathis In Nashville

Johnny Mathis
[Columbia Records]

Fly Me To The Moon…The Great American Songbook: Volume V

Rod Stewart
[J Records]

Love Is The Answer

Barbra Streisand
[Columbia Records]
All hail the legends: Steisand, Manilow, Stewart, and Mathis are all contendors for the traditional pop vocals award, along with the much younger vocal impresario Michael Bublé.  The newcomer  fits right in with these singing giants.  I'll be waiting with baited breath to see who wins this one and won't be too shocked if it's Bublé. 

As far as surprising nominations go, the gospel category is filled with them.  If you're a gospel music junkie like me, just take a look at the categories listed and you'll automatically know what I mean. 

I've color coded my predictions with yellow for the likely winner and the lavender for favorites.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Gospel Performance

For solo, duo, group as collaborative performances. Singles or tracks with vocal containing Gospel lyrics. All genres of Gospel music are eligible.

He Wants It All

Forever Jones

Track from: Get Ready

[EMI Gospel].


You Hold My World

Israel Houghton

Track from: Love God. Love People.

[Integrity Music].


Nobody Greater


VaShawn Mitchell

Track from: Triumphant

[EMI Gospel].


He's Been Just That Good


Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway

Track from: The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III

[Rendezvous Music/ Mack Avenue Records].


Grace


BeBe & CeCe Winans

Track from: Still

[B&C/Malaco].


Best Gospel Song


Beautiful Things

Lisa Gungor & Michael Gungor, songwriters (Gungor)

Track from: Beautiful Things

[Brash Music].


Better Than A Hallelujah


Sarah Hart & Chapin Hartford, songwriters (Amy Grant)

Track from: Somewhere Down The Road

[Amy Grant Productions/ Sparrow Records; Publishers: River Oaks Music, spiritandsong.com Publishing, Sony/Tree Music Publishing, Michael Puryear Music].

It's What I Do

Jerry Peters & Kirk Whalum, songwriters (Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway)

Track from: The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III

[Rendezvous Music/ Mack Avenue Records; Publishers: Whalumusic/Jerry Peters Music].


Our God


Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Chris


Tomlin)

Track from: Passion: Awakening

[Sparrow Records / sixstepsrecords; Publishers: Thankyou Music, sixsteps Music/worshiptogether.com Songs/Said And Done Music/Vamos Publishing/Jonas Myrin/SHOUT! Publishing].

Return To Sender

Gordon Kennedy, songwriter (Ricky Skaggs)

Track from: Mosaic

[Skaggs Family Records; Publisher: GlennJoy Music].


Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Church Music

David Crowder Band

[Sparrow Records / Sixstepsrecords].


For Those Who Wait

Fireflight

[Flicker Records].


Beautiful Things

Gungor

[Brash Music].

Rehab


Lecrae

[Reach Records].

Hello Hurricane


Switchfoot

[Atlantic Recording Corp/ Credential Recordings].


Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman

[Sparrow Records].

Love God. Love People.


Israel Houghton


[Integrity Music].


Pieces Of A Real Heart

Sanctus Real

[Sparrow Records].


Mosaic

Ricky Skaggs

[Skaggs Family Records].

Tonight


TobyMac

[ForeFront Records].


Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Times Like These

Austins Bridge

[Daywind Records].

The Reason

Diamond Rio

[Word].

Expecting Good Things

Jeff & Sheri Easter

[Spring Hill Music Group/She Loved Music].Journey On

Ty Herndon

[FUNL Music].

Live At Oak Tree: Karen Peck & New River

Karen Peck & New River

[Daywind Records].Back to top


Best Traditional Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

The Experience

Vanessa Bell Armstrong

[EMI Gospel].

A City Called Heaven


Shirley Caesar

[Light Records].

Downtown Church

Patty Griffin

[Credential Recordings].

Here I Am


Marvin Sapp

[Verity].

All In One

Karen Clark Sheard

[KaRew Records/ EMI Gospel].


Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Get Ready

Forever Jones

[EMI Gospel].

Love Unstoppable


Fred Hammond

[Verity].

Triumphant

VaShawn Mitchell

[EMI Gospel].

Aaron Sledge

Aaron Sledge

[EMI Gospel].

Still


BeBe & CeCe Winans

[B&C/Malaco]
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GRAMMYS LIVE NOMS TONIGHT-TRAIN SET TO PERFORM AND SELENA GOMEZ, DAVE GROHL: My Predictions

One-Hour CBS Entertainment Special — Hosted by LL Cool J — Will Announce Nominations for

the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards® Live from Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Dec. 1

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Nov. 30, 2010) — Singer/actor Selena Gomez, seven-time GRAMMY® winner Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), singer/songwriter Hayley Williams (Paramore), and 25-time GRAMMY winner Stevie Wonder have been added as presenters for "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night®," which takes place live on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.

GRAMMY-winning band Train will also perform on the one-hour special, joining previously announced
performances by pop star Justin Bieber, rapper B.o.B, country artist Miranda Lambert,
singer/songwriter/producer Bruno Mars, and singer/songwriter Katy Perry. Two-time GRAMMY winner LL Cool J is once again set to host. The show will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound on the CBS Television Network from 10 – 11 p.m. ET/PT. The special marks the third time nominations for the annual GRAMMY Awards will be announced live on primetime television. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy®'s social networks on Twitter and Facebook: www.twitter.com/thegrammys,
www.facebook.com/thegrammys.

The road to Music's Biggest Night begins with "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" and culminates
with the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, live from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 and broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Last year's airing of the nominations special reached more than 7 million viewers and led to double-digit percentage increases in all key demos for the 52nd Annual GRAMMYAwards telecast earlier this year, delivering the show's best ratings in all key measures since 2004 and the biggest year-over-year increase in more than 20 years.

MONA AUSTIN PREDICTS THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS---LIVE BLOG TONIGHT

I'm loving the live roll-out concept of the Grammys willbe blogging duirngthe show.

Before I catch the live Grammy nominee announcements this evening, let me share my predictions with you.    Stating the obvious: teen and tween favorites, chart topppers and performers on the show will be among the nominees. Nothing new. That basically means all  the "Bieber fever" will translate into a nod for Justin B.  Tons of fans  were going "goo goo for Gaga" this year  so she she'l get her share. 
Am I saying the show wil be predictable. Yep!  Now the actual Grammys has managedto keep me guessing. Sometimes it's jus so close and sometimes there are sheer surpises.  Either way, I'm captivated.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER CELEBRATING REVELATIONS AT 50

2010‐2011 NEW YORK CITY CENTER SEASON COMMEMORATES ALVIN AILEY’S TIMELESS CLASSIC WITH SPECIAL PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS
Guest Appearances Featuring Grammy Award‐Winning Vocal Ensemble Sweet Honey In the Rock
Artistic Director Judith Jamison Conducts Live Music with Full Choir
Cast of 50 Dancers for First Time with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, The Ailey School
Documentary Short Film with Exclusive Footage Introduces All Revelations Performances
Target 1960 Night Offers All Seats at Special Price for Target Sponsored Performance
DECEMBER 1, 2010 – JANUARY 2, 2011


(New York)  – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will begin a celebration of 50 years of Alvin
Ailey’s Revelations, an American classic called a must‐see for all people, with special performances, singular events and guest appearances at New York City Center from December 1, 2010 – January 2, 2010. Other related initiatives throughout the year will offer new perspectives on this masterpiece that has been seen by more people around the world than any other modern dance work, and that is a tribute to the resolve and determination of a people and the human spirit.

According to Alvin Ailey, Revelations began with the music. Set to a suite of traditional spirituals, Revelations
explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition, from the deepest of grief, to the purest of joy. This
season will pay homage to its musical roots with distinctive live music performances. The Grammy Award‐Winning Sweet Honey In The Rock will bring their soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms to Revelations at the December1st Opening Night Gala and New Year’s Eve performances. Artistic Director Judith Jamison will have the conductors baton dancing while directing live musicians and a full choir, featuring the incomparable soloist Ella Mitchell, at not‐to‐be‐missed performances on Friday, December 3rd and Saturday, December 4th at 8pm.

In a joyful nod to each year of Revelations’ life, audiences will witness the ballet with a cast of 50 for the first‐time ever! Dancers will fill the stage and spill into the aisles as promising students from The Ailey School and talented young dancers from Ailey II enjoy a once‐in‐a‐lifetime opportunity to dance alongside members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during four performances (Dec. 3, 11 mat, 12 mat, 18 mat). Also, Target will sponsor Target 1960 Night, a performance with all tickets at a special price to help extend the accessibility and reach of this inspiring work to all audiences (Dec. 2).

A documentary short film will set the stage this year, beginning each performance with an introduction to the
history, meaning and significance of Revelations over the last half century. Directed by Judy Kinberg, winner of seven primetime Emmy Awards, it will include exclusive footage of Alvin Ailey and interviews with Judith Jamison and others.

Alvin Ailey was only 29 years old when he was inspired to create this landmark ballet based on what he called his “blood memories,” and the work of African‐American writers James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. To further explore the journey of Revelations, a Celebrating Revelations at 50 roundtable panel discussion and AileyConnect, an innovative on demand cell phone service, will offer unique opportunities for Judith Jamison, Ailey dancers, and other luminaries to share their insight. Audience members can join in the exchange too, sharing their memories through My Revelations Story, via the blog of the AlvinAiley.org website that will also feature Rediscovering Revelations, a dedicated section with historical context, background, and interactive features. 

Also, a commemorative souvenir program, that includes historic Revelations photos and more, will be on sale for those interested in a keepsake to bring the enduring
artistry home from the theater.

Throughout the year, Revelations will continue to influence younger generations, as an introduction to modern
dance and as a catalyst to encourage them to reach their full potential on and off the stage. Inspired by the ballet and the life of Alvin Ailey, the innovative Revelations Residency program will offer public schools cross‐curricular lessons in language, arts and history through dance, giving students tools to write their own stories. During Revelations Day at The Ailey School, students will study sections of Revelations and learn about the significance of this masterwork and the African‐American cultural traditions featured in the piece.
First premiered in 1960, Revelations has been performed countless times across the world, was part of Opening Ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics, and has been presented on five separate occasions at the White House, including at the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and, most recently, The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison presented by First Lady Michelle Obama. Hailed by The New York Times as “modern dance’s unquestionable greatest hit,” Revelations has brought audiences around the globe to their feet year after year. Tickets are now on sale for the New York City Center season from December 1, 2010 – January 2, 2010, where the extraordinary artists of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will welcome audiences to experience Alvin Ailey’s genius at one of 28 performances of his beloved classic work, before they embark on a 24‐city U.S. tour that
continues Celebrating Revelations at 50. For further information, visit www.alvinailey.org.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

STEVE HARVEY & KIRK FRANKLIN JOIN FORCES FOR 2011 TOUR


(Atlanta, GA - November 29, 2010) -- Accomplished actor, best-selling author, and comedic icon Steve Harvey is teaming up with multiple GRAMMY®award winner, Kirk Franklin, to bring hope, inspiration and laughter to fans during these tough economic times.  On March 19, 2011, Harvey and Franklin will kick off their first-ever Steve Harvey and Kirk Franklin Comedy Gospel Tour at Phillips Arena Theater in Atlanta, GA providing an up-close and special dose of laughs and gospel music for each city.  The tour will crisscross the United States hitting major cities including Memphis, Tampa and Jacksonville. 

There's nothing quite like sharing laughs and making personal connections with fans through stand-up comedy, and as one of the original Kings of Comedy, Steve Harvey returns to the foundation of his success to deliver his brand of cutthroat and straight-talking humor to communities across the country.  Adding Gospel powerhouse Kirk Franklin adds another dimension to a night that will be filled with the foot-stomping, hand-clapping and evangelistic musical genius of Franklin. 

Harvey and Franklin are keyed up for this first time union. Harvey, one of the most versatile and multi-talented entertainers in the industry, expressed, "I think that this type of tour for me is long overdue. It is going to be an amazing amount of fun and ya'll really do need to see Kirk and me together because as I said before, God really is not thru with me yet! It's going to be funny just watching me trying to get thru this show cleanly. I'm probably going to remind you of somebody you know."  Added Franklin, "It's an honor to tour with my friend and brother in bringing people hope and laugher in what for many are difficult times. Steve brings the jokes and I bring that Jesus!"

Tickets will be on sale beginning Monday, November 22, 2010 via Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com


Steve Harvey & Kirk Franklin Music and Comedy Tour
(Additional dates forthcoming)

March 19, 2011
Atlanta, GA
Philips Arena Theater

March 26, 2011
Tampa, Fl.
St. Peter Time Forum

April 2, 2011
Memphis, TN
Desoto Civic Center

April 9, 2011
Nashville, TN
Bridgestone Arena

April 30, 2011
Charleston, SC
North Charleston Coliseum

May 7, 2011
Shreveport, LA
Century Tel

May 21, 2011
Jacksonville, FL
Veteran Memorial
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

INTERVIEW: PASTOR MICHAEL FISHER OF THE VOICES OF DESTINY, HOW SWEET THE SOUND NATIONAL WINNER

Choir Director of The Voices of Destiny, Pastor Michael Fisher of Compton, CA discusses the choirs reaction to winning the 2010 How Sweet the Sound Best Choir in America title.

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Christian Rapper Christawn Is Fighting to Stay on the Charts

Philadelphia-based rapper Christawn is in a life and death battle to survive. His health is fine but his pulsating radio single, “Save Me,” is dying at gospel radio. On the autobiographical track, he freestyles about the day police apprehended him on suspicion of selling crack. While sitting in the back of the squad card, he prayed for God to save him.  He escaped arrest and seven years later, he says he is “saved” and uses rap to draw youth to church but so far the church community hasn’t shown interest in helping his cause.


“That’s the toughest thing about being a Christian rapper,” Christawn says of his current plight to get his music heard. “The people you would think would help support the holy hip hop movement are the ones who are condemning it. Most of the black gospel radio stations won't even play hip hop for the most part. Rappers like Lecrae have to make their music appeal to the contemporary Christian market for that reason. Another thing I'm seeing is that a lot of churches are very quick to judge youth for being in the street, but won't support holy hip hop artists who have messages to touch the youths’ hearts and encourage them to get off the streets.”


Christawn’s debut CD, Life Story (Abundant Harvest Entertainment), debuted at #49 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Album sales chart this past summer. The “Save Me” single’s only national radio exposure has been one broadcast on Radio One’s syndicated “CoCo Brother Live” show where it prevailed in a contest where listeners called in to “play it” or “fade it.” Even having gospel radio favorite Micah Stampley sing the hook didn’t spur gospel radio to embrace the song. “Gospel radio refuses to accept gospel rap,” says an industry insider speaking on anonymity. “I think the audience is ready for gospel rap but most gospel radio programmers are middle aged and don’t see Christian rap as spiritually uplifting as music by Yolanda Adams or Fred Hammond.”


Surprisingly, when pop rhythms are added to gospel rap, it’s often played on CCM radio stations that have played groups like the GRITS and Lecrae, who recently reached the Top Ten with the Mikeschair duet, “Keep Changing The World.” Not only has gospel radio turned its nose up at gospel rap but so have Hip Hop magazines like XXL that rarely feature gospel rappers. “They show the whole spectrum of secular rap in those magazines,” Christawn adds. “They should also give some space to what we’re doing on the gospel side. Mainstream rappers have it easy because they are literally positioned and marketed to influence the youth but gospel rappers don’t get the same platform to talk about Jesus.”


Still, there are some church folks catching the vision. “I thank God for visionaries such as Bishop David G. Evans [founder of Abundant Harvest Entertainment] who have been given a clear understanding of how to utilize gifts like mine to compete with mainstream rappers. The church should welcome us with open arms but so many close the door and padlock it not knowing that they are blocking life changing messages that will bring the youth in their church closer to the Lord. A lot of youth in church are listening to Lil Wayne and other rappers. Churches need to make sure we are there to counter those negative messages with God’s message.”
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