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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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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Club Nouveau has a new album coming out!

buzzz worthy. . .

Fans of 80's R&B and Pop -- it's not an urban legend, dream or a rumor.  I can confirm Club Nouveau has returned to the scene with an album called "Consciousness."

The group will be performing all of their classic hits; Jealousy, Lean On Me and more at  Jamie Foster Brown's, Sister 2 Sister Magazine 25th Anniversary Celebration in Las Vegas on November 7th at The Palms.

I had an opportunity to interview the group lead Jay King, so stay tuned.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blurred Lines: Copycatting could be costly

buzzz worthy. . .


When the use of intellectual property starts to affect an entity's ability to make money or blurs the lines of ownership, is it still flattery?  Not so much.

R&B singer Robin Thicke has been in the news recently about  the use of a familiar background groove in his internationally popular hit "Blurred Lines." He's currently in a  plagiarism feud with the late Marvin Gaye's  children about allegedly sampling   Gaye's 1977 smash single, "Got to Give It Up." Thicke and crew (producer Pharrell and rapper  T.I) preemptively sued the Gaye estate after being accused of using Gaye's music. The Gaye family filed a counter suit against Thicke for a historic pattern of borrowing from Gaye's sound and style. Thicke has publicly acknowledged Gaye is one of his musical influences, but  the song in question is so reminiscent of the originator's style and sound he appears to be  "imitating or duplicating"  the "Trouble Man" singer. A New York Times critic noted that Thicke has attempted to be the "White Soul" version of Gaye due to the the similarities. 

In the above example, it is important to note Gaye's style was his imprint, one that gave us a snapshot of his soul. That's where the line becomes blurry: Are you trying to be like the originator or replace it/them? 

Sampling is normal, so some people have wondered why Thicke won't just  fess up.  One reason may be that it is wrong (i.e., illegal) to sample music without giving credit at the onslaught of or prior to using the sample.  The definition of sampling is "the technique of digitally encoding music or sound and reusing it as part of a composition or recording." This is something Thicke said he has not done. In an interview he admitted he was inspired by "Got to Give It Up"but did not sample it and sought to create a similar groove.   If  Gaye's attorney wins this case it will set a precedent for intellectual property disputes by broadening the definition of plagiarism.  Not the mentioned the moulah the deceased artist's children could make.  This is a prime example of hoe costly copycatting can be.

While we are on the subject of "lifting" others' work, think about this: When you are on Facebook and see an event or something someone designed (jewelry, clothes, art, etc.) and you try to duplicate it after you saw it (and were not thinking of doing it prior to seeing someone else do it), is that stealing or a form of flattery?   Some believe that it is nearly impossible to prove copyright infringement or intellectual property claims in such instances.  I believe integrity should be your guide and nothing trumps originality. The Web is now a playground for taking ideas.  Many people want to treat the online space as if it is a gray area with regard to intellectual property.  The lines are not as blurred as they once were.  For instance the journalism community is beginning to bare down on "infojacking" because frequent copying online with no or improper attribution impacts credibility and rights of ownership of news entities among other things. 

 A USA Today writer details how admiration can cross the line here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/10/30/gaye-lawsuit-robin-thicke/3315849/

'"God made you an original.  Don't die a copy." Author unknown)
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Dressing up ignorance this Halloween, the American way?

buzzz worthy. . .
By Mona Austin

People do a lot of crazy things in the name of amusement and freedom and just when you thought you'd seen it all, the 2013 Halloween season rolls around.  

This year,  the top patrons of dumb wit made the news.  They are a celeb and a trio of friends who  left many dumb with astonishment by donning racially offensive costumes. "Black Face" has reared its ugly head again in a most un-amusing manner.

'Safe Haven' actress Julianne Hough showed up to a party in Beverly Hills on Oct. 25 with a group of friends dressed as the cast of Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black.' Hough came as her favorite character CrazyEyes (Uzo Adubah),  but before leaving the party she was "out of character."  People were so put off by the dark brown facial make-up she wore that she wiped it off while still at the event.  The ex-'Dancing With the Stars' pro dancer, 25, didn't have to go there. The hair ball twists alone were a dead give-away of who she was trying to portray. Viewers quickly expressed disapproval online.

Claiming to mean no harm, Hough responded to the controversy in a tweet the next day writing: "I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize."

This sounds like a sincere apology, but no one gets a pass.  That Blackface is off limits both in and out of Halloween season should not be up for discussion in 2013, yet the work of educating the ignorant, dispeling myths and stereotypes or otherwise attempting to eliminate disconnected behavior that offends most African Americans remains unfinished business.

During Halloween time the most creative costumes are intended to cause you to do a double take or inspire awe.  They are not supposed to make a mockery of life and death, which is exactly what another news-making get up did. 

A neck-snapping photo of two White men dressed as  slain teen Trayvon Martin and neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman surfaced on Instagram.  They went all out, with the Martin character painting his skin charcoal colored, blood stained hoodie and all. Like most sane people I was agasp to the point  of being speechless.  The memories of this racially charged, highly controversial case as still fresh and way too taboo to touch.  Racial wounds are still healing, but even a century from now it won't be appropriate to wear black face or satirically minimize what happened in  Sanford, FLA. that caused the nation's first Black president to speak out on race for the first time in his two terms, to quell the quiet current of racial tension that is swelling in America.  

There is no excuse for wearing these costumes. 

No one wants to hear about freedom of expression or the inability to regulate morals as if it is the "American Way"  to be callous and socially detached.  Costumes that are inhumane, degrading and morbidly offensive  that they could incite violence should be outlawed.  But, wait. That description fits the grand old KKK. They have been wearing offensive costumes for over a century. Is tolerating some disguises of ill-repute the "American Way"?  

This is not a matter of insensitivity or a matter of ignorance as some have said.  What Hough and the fellas may have assumed in this so called "post-racial" America is that equality means fairplay when it comes to creative expression and they must be accountable for what amounts to extreme poor judgement and misuse of freedom. 

As an African American, my black face is not something I can wash off and return to life as usual when the party is over. African Americans don't live a make-up optional lives, public disguises to hide our fantasies behind. We show our faces every day and say to our  "Look at me. Accept me the way I am and treat me like you want to be treated."  

These Halloween "characters" must understand that what you don't know has the potential to hurt you and others.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


buzzz worthy. . .

            Often referred to as “the funniest woman in the world,” the iconic African-American standup comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley broke racial and sexual boundaries and continues to inspire comedians to this day. In her directorial film debut, a modern-day comedy favorite pays homage to this pioneering talent when WHOOPI GOLDBERG PRESENTS MOMS MABLEY debuts MONDAY, NOV. 18 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: Nov. 18 (4:45 a.m.), 21 (1:45 p.m.), 24 (5:45 p.m.), 26 (11:15 a.m.) and 30 (1:30 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Nov. 20 (8:00 p.m.) and 28 (3:00 p.m.), and Dec. 24 (4:45 p.m.)
HBO Documentary Films presents a weekly series this fall, debuting provocative new specials every Monday through Dec. 9. Other November films include: “Tales from the Organ Trade” (Nov. 4); “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (Nov. 11); and “Toxic Hot Seat” (Nov. 25).
“Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy,” says Goldberg. “There are a lot of us who wouldn’t be working today without pioneers like her. HBO gave me my first break on TV, so it’s only fitting that Moms has a home there now.”
Goldberg also executive produces the documentary, along with Tom Leonardis and legendary producer and director George Schlatter, creator of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”
Featuring recently unearthed photographs, rediscovered performance footage and the words of entertainers and historians, the film includes interviews with Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Arsenio Hall, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, who emphasize how Mabley paved the way for female comedians and performers everywhere in provocative stand-up routines that challenged racism, sexism and ageism.
In addition, archival footage showcases Mabley in performance at the Playboy Mansion with Sammy Davis, Jr., and on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”
Born Loretta Mary Aiken in Brevard, NC on March 19, 1894, Jackie “Moms” Mabley was one of the most successful entertainers to perform on the black vaudeville stage, also known as the “chitlin’ circuit.” Mabley’s monologues touched on traditional topics such as family, as well as more controversial subjects that were typically avoided by comedians of the era, regardless of race, including infidelity, poverty, welfare and alcohol.
Mabley’s successful career spanned five decades (though white audiences generally did not learn of her until the early 1960s). In 1939, she became the first female comedian to play the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where she earned $10,000 a week at the peak of her career. Mabley performed at Carnegie Hall in 1962, and appeared on such mainstream TV programs as "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (1967), “The Ed Sullivan Show” (1969) and “The Bill Cosby Show” (1970).
Jackie “Moms” Mabley passed away from heart failure at age 81 on May 23, 1975 in White Plains, NY. She was survived by her children, Bonnie, Christine, Charles and Yvonne Ailey.
HBO Documentary Films and Whoopi Goldberg present A WHOOP INC Production; a film by Whoopi Goldberg; produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Leonardis; directed by Whoopi Goldberg; supervising editor and creative producer, Geeta Gandbhir; editor and associate producer, Maya Mumma; archival producer, Prudence Arndt; consulting producer, Ellen Sebastian Chang; executive producers, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis and George Schlatter.
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Sebelius sticks to her story in House hearing on Obamacare

buzzz worthy. . .

 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she is just as frustrated as anyone with the flawed launch of healthcare.gov, but the problem is fixable.  At a House hearing on Obamacare today Sebelius promised. CNN has learned the administration was given stark warnings just one month before the launch that the federal health care site was not ready to go live, according to a confidential report.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


buzzz worthy. . .

(NEW YORK, NY) - October 28, 2013- Underground star turned viral success story, rapper Dee-1 has inked a deal with RCA Inspiration, the label announced today. A New Orleans native, Dee-1 burst onto the national scene with the mix tape "I Hope They Hear Me Vol 2", which featured the wildly popular single "Jay, 50, Weezy". The record proved to be a viral juggernaut spawning a YouTube video that to-date has over 600,000 total views, spins on MTV Jams and radio airplay.
"We are truly excited about Dee-1 joining the RCA Inspiration family," says General Manager, Geo Bivins. "In the current marketplace, where people are listening much closer to artists and seeking music that is authentic with a 'real' message, we believe Dee-1's music will resonate with today's diverse Hip Hop and Inspirational music consumers and beyond."
"Signing with RCA is a life-changing partnership that I'm excited to be a part of. I know we're about to make history together so I'm motivated to work harder than ever. Coming from New Orleans, I realize that my success is bigger than me. It's a symbol of hope for others who want to chase their dreams and make a difference in life. So I'm going to make sure that together we all win. #MissionVision," said Dee-1.

A graduate of Louisiana State University, after college Dee-1 could not settle into a life of normalcy and ultimately left his position as a middle school teacher to pursue a full time career in music. The decision proved to be a smart one and before long the educator turned rapper - and aspiring role model - caught the attention of Grammy award winning producer Mannie Fresh, who hosted Dee-1's "The Focus" mix tape released in 2012. That successful release was followed by the "Psalms of David" mix tape (2013) featuring the hit single"Work" with LaCrae.

Dee-1 is currently in the studio working on his new album, due in 2014 under the RCA Inspiration imprint.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Chris Brown arrested in DC, freed the next day

buzzz worthy. . .

Chris Brown is facing charges for allegedly assaulting a fan outside of the W Hotel in DC early Sunday morning. The artist had just finished performing at a club and was taking pictures with fans when the victim, 20-year-old Isaac Adams Parker, attempted to photo bomb.

"I'm not down with that gay sh**," Brown said.  "I feel like boxing." (The word on the street is Brown has been fighting off gay rumors that started online a two years ago.) He then allegedly hit Parker and did enough damage to send him to the hospital, according to one report.   Brown's bodyguard was also arrested for the blows he exchanged in the brawl. There are discrepencies about who threw the first punch in the police reports. It has also been reported that the fan was attempting to sneak onto the tour bus.  Brown is on probation for the 2009 assault of his ex-girlfriend Rihanna.

This new incident could impact his probation and carries a possible 10 year sentence.


A DC judge released Chris Brown and his bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy  on misdemeanor charges yesterday, with orders to report to his California probation officer within 48 hours and to stay at least 100 yards away from the man he is accused of assaulting early Sunday. 

Both men must return to court on November 24.

From CNN.com: "Christopher Brown committed no crime," his attorney Danny Onorato told reporters after the hearing. "We understand that his security acted to protect Mr. Brown and his property, as he is authorized to do under District of Columbia law. We are confident that Mr. Brown will be exonerated of any wrongdoing."

New charge may put Chris Brown in prison

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Black Girls Rock to honor Patti Labelle, Latifah, Marian Wright Edelman, Venus Wiliiams and more

buzzz worthy. . .
 Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Rowland, Ledisi, Janelle Monae, and Alice Smith will be rocking the stage at the “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” taping on Saturday, October 26th at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJ.  “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!”  will offer a unique take on art, music, and expression, through the eyes of women everywhere.  Hosted by crowd favorites Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, this will be an exciting evening dedicated to promoting positive images of women of color. “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” premieres on Sunday, November 3rd at 7p.m.
BET Networks and Beverly Bond, Founder and CEO of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, today announced 
Previously announced “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” celebrants are legendary singer Patti Labelle (Living Legend Award), hip-hop pioneer Queen Latifah (Rock Star Award), esteemed writer and producer Mara Brock Akil (Shot Caller Award), tennis icon and entrepreneur Venus Williams (Star Power Award celebrated by Chevy), community organizer Ameena Matthews (Community Activist Award), ground-breaking ballet dancer Misty Copeland (Young, Gifted & Black Award), and children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman (Social Humanitarian Award).
Presenters for the night— including actresses Nia Long, Tatyana Ali and La La Anthony, multi-talented musician and recording artist Marsha Ambrosius, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien and BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ founder Beverly Bond—will commemorate the strengths, triumphs and talents of women from diverse fields, ranging from entertainment, to business and social activism.
“Girl Power” is an understatement when it comes to the likes of this powerful line-up. And, what better way to communicate “Girl Power” than to recognize the dynamic achievements of the next generation of young ladies: specifically, young ladies who are “Making a Difference” a.k.a. “M.A.D. Girls.”  Always a heart-warming moment in the show, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” will recognize women under 30 who are changing the world for the better.  This year’s dynamic “M.A.D. Girls” are: Brooklyn Wright, Mary Pat Hector, and Ty-Licia Hooker.  These young social entrepreneurs utilize community-based initiatives to not only empower, but also to improve the socio-political landscape.
Brooklyn Wright, 11, of Atlanta, GA., is an award-winning “earth saver,” who travels from school-to-school to share her passion for litter prevention. Wright will donate learning gardens to 10 schools this year and will have her first annual Earth Saver Girl day camp.
Mary Pat Hector, 15, of Atlanta, Georgia founded “Youth Action USA” in an effort to take a stand against gun violence, bullying, and youth issues.  She also serves as the National Youth Director of National Action Network Youth Move, an organization founded by civil rights pioneer Reverend Al Sharpton.
Ty-Licia Hooker, 22, of Stockton, CA, is the president and founder of not only one but two community outreach programs.  She influences at-risk youth through her programs STORM and the Summer Success and Leadership Academy, where an emphasis is placed on youth development and maturation.
“This is Why I Rock,” the official theme song of “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” is now available as a ring-tone by texting BGR to 79922.  “This is Why I Rock,” is written and performed by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Marsha Ambrosius.
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