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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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Friday, February 27, 2015

At 71, Jerry Lawson - Original Lead Singer of The Persuasions - Releases His Debut Solo Album, Just a Mortal Man, April 28

buzzz worthy. . .


Performing "People Get Ready" with Peter Cooper and Eric Brace at
Nashville's famous The Station Inn - bit.ly/186ic2K

New York, NY -- In 1999, Eric Brace -- then a writer for The Washington Post -- wrote an article previewing an upcoming concert by The Persuasions, boldly declaring the group's lead singer, Jerry Lawson, to be the best soul tenor since Sam Cooke. Two weeks later, he received a pen-on-paper 'thank you' note from Jerry. The two quickly became friends and promised to someday make an album together.
Years later, they've done just that. Just a Mortal Man is Jerry's first record as a solo artist, pairing his timeless, tireless voice with the soulful sweep of a full backup band. Already a familiar name in the world of a cappella music -- first with The Persuasions, and later as the leader of Talk of the Town, who rose to fame as finalists on the second season of NBC's "The Sing-Off" -- Jerry explores new territory on Just a Mortal Man, whose songs were written by everyone from Paul Simon (who asked The Persuasions to sing with him during an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in 1977) to Peter Cooper and Eric Brace.
While guest musicians like Jim Lauderdale and the McCrary Sisters also make appearances on Just a Mortal Man, Jerry is the album's star, singing with a sweet and smoky voice that's only grown richer throughout his 71 years. It's an album about growth, about pushing forward. At the same time, Jerry also pays tribute to some of his heroes, recording newer versions of songs originally popularized by David Ruffin and Bobby "Blue" Bland.
With The Persuasions, Jerry reinvigorated a cappella music for a new generation of music fans more accustomed to the electrified energy of rock & roll. The Brooklyn-based group performed without a backup band, but that didn't stop them from touring with Joni Mitchell and sharing bills with everyone from Ray Charles to Bruce Springsteen.

Tom Waits famously complimented the charismatic vocal group, stating, "These guys are deep sea divers. I'm just a fisherman in a boat." The Apollo Theater paid its own compliments to The Persuasions by painting the band on the legendary venue's famous mural of performers, and Rolling Stone listed the group's 1977 album, Chirpin', as one of the 100 best works of the 1970s. These guys might not have played rock & roll music, but they were still rockstars.
Decades later, Jerry's star still shines brightly. Released on April 28th by East Nashville's Red Beet Records, Just a Mortal Man marks a new beginning: the start of his career as a proper bandleader, as well as his first solo release. For those who've followed him since The Persuasions' heyday, however, this is still the same Jerry: an electrifying showman and unmatched soul singer whose voice -- as well as his taste -- remains pitch-perfect.

Jerry will release tour dates soon, leading up to the release of his anticipated solo album.

Just a Mortal Man Track Listing

1. Peace Like a River
2. Time and Water
3. I'm Just a Mortal Man
4. Wine
5. Never Been to Memphis
6. In the Dark
7. Down On My Knees
8. Members Only
9. I Hope That Love Always Knows Your Name
10. Woman in White
11. Once in a While
12. Loving Arms
13. I'll Come Running Back to You
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

GET THE FACTS: Limited use of marijuana legalized in the nation's capital

buzzz worthy. . .
By Mona Austin

Limited, private use of marijuana has been passed in the District of Columbia effective today.   Despite opposition and the threat of being sued by some Republican members of Congress, new DC Mayor Murial Bowser supported the voter approved initiative 71 to legalize pot for recreational use.  

Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told the Washington Post, "You can go to prison for this. We're not playing a little game here."

Chaffetz wrote a warning letter to Bowser stating if the District decided to legalize the drug it would be "doing so in willful violation of the law."

Mayor Bowser said she did not believe the measure was illegal and went forth with it, calling out lawmakers who were against the decision for bullying the District officials.

Although DC has joined several states where it not againt the law to smoke pot, usage stipulations on usage make the law quite different in the nation's capitol. The main difference is cnnibus plant   must be home grown and used in the home.

What the new marijuana usage law permits:
  • Private use only
  • No more than 2 ounces to be used at a time
  • Up to six plants can be grown
  • Must be 21 or older to use, possess or grow marijuana
  • Sharing 1 ounce or less
What is  not permitted under the law
  • Selling
  • Public use in or outside of a vehicle
  • Consumption, possession or sharing with individuals under 21
  • The sell of marijuana 
 Outside of the usage parameters defined, marijuana use remains illegal. Individuals arrested for smoking or consuming marijuana in public could face up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.
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buzzz worthy. . .

Tickets for the Neighborhood Awards and Neighborhood Awards Weekend
August 6th – 9th in Atlanta
On Sale February 27th

ATLANTA, GA (February 26, 2015) – Steve Harvey, EMMY winning talk show and Family Feud host and star of the Steve Harvey Morning Show, is excited to announce the 13th Annual Neighborhood Awards and Neighborhood Awards Weekend!  The Ford Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey and four-day signature experience filled with star entertainment, the college expo, film and TV screenings, and more, are returning to Atlanta, GA for a second year, August 6-9, 2015.  Tickets for all of the weekend events go on-sale Friday, February 27th at 10 am EST.
The 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend features over 15 events and activities with the return of the Ford Neighborhood Awards and Ford Celebrity Blue Carpet to Philips Arena on Saturday, August 8th, and the State Farm Neighborhood Awards Expo to the Georgia World Congress Center, August 7-9th.  Radio Row will feature 30 radio stations from across the country broadcasting live from the expo floor, along with Celebrity Row and 2 shopping zones featuring over 100 vendors. 
Other weekend activities will include the popular Steve Harvey Morning Show live broadcast, Family Feud Live presented by Ford, with host Steve Harvey, the Curobiks fitness program with award-winning recording artist Cupid, the Act Like a Success seminar with Steve Harvey, the Stand Up Comedy Jam hosted by Nephew Tommy, the Ford VIP After Party, Greek step shows, the Ford Ride and Drive experience – plus the church choir competition, the Table Classics tournaments, where players can register to compete in spades, bid whist, or dominos, and the Sing Your Way to the State Farm Neighborhood Awards All White Freedom Friday Party finale.  New additions to the 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend include a Health Pavilion presented by Heart & Soul, a drumline showcase and the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour.    
Steve Harvey and television/radio/film producer Rushion McDonald created the one-of-a-kind Neighborhood Awards (formerly the Hoodie Awards) and Neighborhood Awards Weekend to recognize and celebrate men and women from all over the United States who uplift their neighborhoods through their contributions and excellence as entrepreneurs, religious and community leaders, educators and more.  Driven by public nominations, the show will bestow 12 non-traditional awards in the following Neighborhood Awards categories: Best High School Coach, Best Nail Salon, Best School Teacher, Best Car Wash, Best Church Choir, Best Soul Food Place, Best Barber Shop, Best High School, Best Barbecue Place, Best Beauty Salon, Best Church, and Best Community Leader
Tickets for the 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend go on sale beginning Friday, February 27th via Ticketmaster.  To register for the Table Classics tournaments, the Sing Your Way to the State Farm Neighborhood Awards All White Freedom Friday Party competition, hotels, and more information on the 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend of events, visit www.NeighborhoodAwards.com.  Also, stay tuned to the #1 rated Steve Harvey Morning Show weekdays on the radio or online from 6-10 AM EST at www.SteveHarvey.com for updates on the 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend, essential news, daily inspiration, laughs and more from Steve Harvey and his co-hosts.
2015 Neighborhood Awards & Weekend Expo: August 6 – 9, 2015, Atlanta GA
Venues: Georgia World Congress Center and Philips Arena 
  • Thursday, August 6 – Stand Up Comedy Jam, hosted by Nephew Tommy (two shows)
  • Friday, August 7 – Steve Harvey Morning Show Live Broadcast
  • Friday, August 7 – Family Feud Live event presented by Ford, hosted by Steve Harvey
  • Friday, August 7 – State Farm Neighborhood Awards All White Freedom Friday Party, featuring the finale of the Sing Your Way to the State Farm Neighborhood Awards All White Freedom Friday Party competition
  • Friday, August 7 – Sunday, August 9 – State Farm Neighborhood Awards Expo, which includes Shopping Zones, a Health Pavilion presented by Heart & Soul, College Expo and more!
  • Friday, August 7 – Sunday, August 9 – Film and TV screenings
  • Friday, August 7 – Sunday, August 9 – Ford Ride and Drive
  • Friday, August 7 – Sunday, August 9 – “Curobiks” with Cupid
  • Saturday, August 8 – Sunday, August 9 – Table Classics Tournaments, hosted by Junior
  • Saturday, August 8 – Sunday, August 9 – Greek Step Shows
  • Saturday, August 8 – Act Like a Success, with Steve Harvey
  • Saturday, August 8 – Ford Celebrity Blue Carpet, hosted by Shirley Strawberry
  • Saturday, August 8 – Ford presents the 13th Annual Neighborhood Awards, hosted by Steve Harvey
  • Saturday, August 8 – Ford VIP After Party
  • Sunday, August 9 – Church Choir competition
  • Sunday, August 9 – Drumline Showcase
  • Sunday, August 9 – McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Story in the Stars' documentary offers Christian worldview on astronomy and astrology

buzzz worthy. . .

(TORONTO, Ontario) -- From bestselling author and award-winning filmmaker, Joe Amaral, comes the new documentary, Story in the Stars, to be released on March 2nd in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack.

Since the beginning of time man has wondered, what is up there, who put it there and why. After an intense dream during the cold Canadian winter of 2012, Amaral decided to look up the images he had seen: a woman in the heavens, a looming dragon and millions of stars.

"These images eventually led me to Revelation 12," said Amaral. "It was exactly as I had seen them in my dream. Over two thousand years ago, the apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation, was on the island of Patmos. It would have been pitch black with zero light pollution, and the stars would literally have been popping out of the night sky. After some fierce study and comparison, I realized that the images that John was describing in the book of Revelation, perfectly lined up with the constellations in the sky. This led me to search out the Scriptures for other evidence that God was the source and the root of the constellations.

After years of careful study and analysis, Amaral reached the conclusion that each of the twelve zodiacs were created and positioned by God to tell the greatest story ever told, and He wrote it in the stars.

Story in the Stars uses biblical, historical and scientific knowledge to reveal how each constellation actually points us back to Jesus, and that the message of salvation is written in the stars for all of mankind to see. This is presented in a way that Amaral believes is not only eye-opening for Christians, but also for people who need to be free from the ties of horoscopes and astrology.

Instead of looking to the stars for direction, we can look to the One who made those stars, says Amaral. For God so loved the world that He designed the universe to reveal the plan of salvation in the stars. 

Learn more at storyinthestars.com/
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MARY MARY Is Back With An Explosive, Fourth Season On Thursday, March 5 (VIDEO)

Are the ladies of Mary Mary able to rebuild after the
devastation that wreaked havoc on their lives last season?

In the wake of the shocking betrayals and devastation of last season, Erica and Tina Campbell attempt to reunite and rebuild in season 4 of WE tv’s MARY MARY, premiering Thursday, March 5 at 10PM ET/PT. As they forge ahead, secrets and ambitions are revealed at every turn making it difficult to move forward. With the ladies being drawn in two different directions and Mary Mary
on hiatus and managerless; they must look within themselves, and each other, if there is
any chance for Mary Mary to survive.

Devastated by Teddy’s actions, Tina and Teddy work through the heartbreak, to reestablish
their foundation with the hopes of coming out stronger as a couple with love,
music and wisdom to share.

Erica's solo career has taken off and continues to thrive, however she quickly realizes
that being a solo artist is more difficult than she anticipated. Without the support of the
team behind the dynamic duo that is Mary Mary; she must buckle down, grab the
reigns and overcome the challenges she faces with making it on her own. As Erica
attempts to balance her personal life with her career, Tina is breaking out and
embarking on her own solo project. However, their record label has other plans for
Mary Mary and Tina’s quest for artistic independence is met with resistance.

In the premiere episode, former Mary Mary manager, Mitchell Solarek, makes a surprise
visit to Erica and Tina in hopes of making amends. Tina sets to forgive and move on but
it’s not so easy for Erica to follow suit. Mitchell fueled by his revenge against Erica and
Warryn for betraying him, focuses his energy on being part of Team Tina for her solo
project; causing a rift between the sisters.

As the pressure from the label begins to build, Tina attempts to take control in the
absence of a manager for Mary Mary. With both sisters having aspirations of their own,
and their record label hungry for a new Mary Mary album, will Tina and Erica be forced
to put their solo ventures aside? Tune In Thursday, March 5 at 10PM ET/PT on WE tv.
MARY MARY is produced for WE tv by Entertainment One (eOne) and executive
produced by eOne’s Tara Long, John Morayniss and Eric Hoberman; Lauren P. Gellert
and Kate Farrell for WE tv; and Erica Campbell and Tina Campbell.

GET MORE MARY MARY AT WEtv.com For more on MARY MARY, visit www.wetv.com for
sneak peeks, photo galleries, blogs, deleted scenes and more. You’ll also find the
weekly behind-the-scenes scoop and exclusive videos. “Like” the MARY MARY ON WE
tv (link: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMaryOnWEtv) page on Facebook and follow
@MaryMary_WEtv on Twitter for the full insider experience.


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Think like a negotiator: 7 Must-Ask Questions in Any Negotiation

buzzz worthy. . .

7 Must-Ask Questions in Any Negotiation

A negotiation is nothing more than a discussion through which both parties seek to formulate and settle upon a mutually beneficial agreement, whether this agreement is a multi-million dollar contract or simply at which restaurant to meet for dinner. Our daily professional and personal lives are riddled with negotiations, those across a boardroom table, the kitchen table and everywhere in between. 

But, what sets a successful negotiator—one who comes out on top in deal-making more often than not—apart from those who struggle to gain advantages? Of course, there are numerous strategies one can employ to improve their chances of emerging victorious in a negotiation, and paramount among these is asking just the right kind of questions—those that will elicit answers that facilitate a win for all parties involved. 

With this in mind, here are 7 “must ask” questions in any negotiation to best ensure a desirable outcome: 

1. Would you explain the reasons for your position?
If you can’t clearly understand the other party’s reasoning through simple discussions, the best way to discern the other parties position and motivations on deal points is to directly ask them their rationale for what they are offering or seeking.  Once you know the other party’s thought process and justifications, rather than just the outcome they desire, you can better adjust your strategy and response to coincide with their position.  For instance, in a scenario where the other party is requiring some advance payment that doesn’t sit well with you, you might find out that they need the funds at this initial juncture to fund required material or other costs in order to put the arrangement in motion.  Once you understand the logic behind requests and demands relating to a deal structure, you are better able to control discussions and create agreeable terms.

2. Is there any reason you can’t?
This is a great question to ask when you know the other party is avoiding or rejecting your offer for no legitimate reason or not having thought it through well enough. Sometimes people make shallow excuses for why they can’t do something or shoot down an idea with short-sighted objections. Most often when the question is asked this way, the other party has a hard time coming up with truly legitimate reasons that effectually negate your argument or offer.  In instances where the other party does happen to come up with a viable objection, you now have the opportunity to directly address, and hopefully overcome, that objection with sound reasoning of your own.

3. Why do you think this is a fair and reasonable term or condition?
A fair and reasonable term or condition, such as a price, proposal or provision, can be defined as what’s prudent under competitive market conditions, given a reasonable knowledge of the marketplace. Fair implies a proper balance of conflicting or divided interests.  Reasonable means not extreme or excessive.  So a fair and reasonable term or condition is one that is balanced between all parties and somewhat moderate. If you are concerned about the reasonableness of an offer, do some due diligence to research comparables. Then ask the opposing party this question to encourage them to define and defend the reasonableness of their requirement. This will help assure you are securing the best deal possible.

4. Why is that point or provision important?
Understanding the significance of a specific point or provision is imperative, and can even result in an adjustment of your own position.  The answer the other side provides will allow you to fine tune your strategy based on this key learning about their critical priorities and values. Understanding, acknowledging and validating the significance of the opposing party’s requests can not only help you recalibrate your approach, but also create more of a team atmosphere or affinity that builds a level of trust at a faster pace.

5. What part of my proposal gives you the most concern?
This can apply to a large contract negotiation, a job offer or handling an issue with a family member.  Breaking an offer down into individual elements or points makes it easier to take things in small bite-size pieces versus one large chunk that, on the whole, is causing kickback. Discussing a proposal point-by-point, particularly specific areas of utmost concern, allows the parties to come to small fractional agreements that may not otherwise have been reached if you discussed the arrangement as a whole.  Dealing directly with the most difficult deal points in triage mode—from the most to least problematic for the other side—shows you care. This can get you past those sticking points and greatly expedite the entire process.  

6. What documentation or proof do you have to validate your position?
You may have heard the adage “Trust but Verify.”  It’s important to know that what is being presented is 100% factual.  The best way to determine authenticity is by verifying the facts through documentation that validates what is being presented. A trusting nature will not serve you well in a negotiation where decisions are being made based on certain claims. It’s imperative to secure documentation to back up applicable assertions. And, while clichĂ©, it’s often true: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is an important place for skepticism in a negotiation in that it’ll fuel your need for verification prior to officiating an agreement or signing on the dotted line. Once that ink is dry, undoing a deal, however disingenuous, is far more difficult and quite unpleasant. 

7. What else do you think I should know?
After you’ve asked all of the questions you intended and can’t think of any other, but you still want to ensure you have thoroughly vetted the arrangement, asking this question may induce some other points that you haven’t uncovered or considered through prior discussions and the negotiation process.  There could be something you don’t know that, once revealed, might actually change your way of thinking, what you are seeking, or the strategy you originally started with.

In any negotiation, however large or small, direct communication with open ended questions is vital. People often don’t ask such questions because they fear rejection or how they will be perceived.  Even asking just these 7 powerful questions above will help ensure that the agreement you reach is not only in your best interest, but also fair and reasonable for all involved. 

Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International—a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills—as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation.
Eldonna may be reached online at www.ThinkLikeANegotiator.com.
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buzzz worthy. . .
“Dancing with the Stars” 10TH Anniversary Premieres Live on Monday, March 16
8:00–10:01 p.m., ET on ABC

Patti Labelle and Susanne Somers join the cast

UPDATE: As an update to the previously announced cast, 'Batchelor" Chris has been added to this year's team of amateur dancers.

This year's dancing duos are:

Noah Galloway with Sharna Burgess
Robert Herjavec with Kym Johnson
Patti LaBelle with Artem Chigvintsev
Nastia Liukin with Derek Hough
Riker Lynch with Allison Holker
Charlotte McKinney with Keo Motsepe
RedFoo with Emma Slater
Michael Sam with Peta Murgatroyd
Willow Shields with Mark Ballas
Suzanne Somers with Tony Dovolani
Rumer Willis with Valentin Chmerkovskiy

March 16 can't get here fast enough!  That is the premiere date of the 10th Anniversary season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" and Lady Marmalade singer Patti Labelle will be a contestant. The producers just may have to change the rules as she has been known to diss her shoes and do the bird dance off cue.

The caste of  dancers were revealed exclusively on “Good Morning America” in anticipation of the premiere on MONDAY, MARCH 16TH (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. New themes and some returning themes such as "Spring Break" are to be expected.

This season’s set of professional dancers includes a beloved returning pro, the reigning Mirrorball champ and show favorites who will each teach their celebrity partner how to bring heat to the dance floor. Fans will have to wait to find out who the two remaining pros are when they’re announced in the coming weeks, completing the cast of twelve dancers. Additionally, the celebrity cast for Season 20 will be announced live on “Good Morning America” on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 (7:00–9:00 a.m., ET).

This season of “Dancing with the Stars” will not only be a celebration of the last 10 years, it will also continue to innovate and surprise with both new and returning theme nights including Disney Night, Latin Night and introducing Spring Break night. Viewers will also have more access to the show than ever before. #DWTSAllAccess will expand to offer viewers a look behind the scenes with six live streams from key positions in the ballroom, as well as never before seen live streams
from the DWTS rehearsal studio available for viewers to watch throughout the week on ABC.com.

As announced this morning on “Good Morning America,” the 10 pros returning to the dance floor (in alphabetical order) are:

MARK BALLAS – Mark is an Emmy®-nominated choreographer, actor and musician. As part of the professional cast of “Dancing with the Stars” for the past 14 seasons, Mark has proven to not only be a fan favorite, but is also no stranger to the coveted Mirrorball trophy. He is a two-time champion and a seven-time finalist – winning season six with Kristi Yamaguchi and season eight with Shawn Johnson.

Born in Houston, Texas, Mark moved to London with his family as a child and joined the Italia Conti Academy of Dramatic Arts Associate School where his training in acting, singing, dancing and music began. When not dancing, Mark focuses on his other passion — music. Mark is an accomplished guitarist specializing in Flamenco, Funk, Blues and Rock. In May 2014, Mark released his debut single “Get My Name” produced by Wizz Dumb, which Ballas co-wrote with writer Jo’zzy. “Get My Name” broke Top 40 in release week on the iTunes pop chart landing #24 and the music video debuted #1 on multiple MTV platforms. On August 3, 2014, Mark released his second single, “Miss Incredible,” again produced by Wizz Dumb and written by Ballas and Jo’zzy. The breath taking cinematic-style “Miss Incredible” video features Miss Incredibles from all walks of life and is set for release August 25, 2014. Mark’s first full production solo EP, “Kicking Clouds,” debuted last fall, 2014. Both “Get My Name” and “Miss Incredible” are available on iTunes now. Last season, Mark was partnered with Sadie Robertson.
Follow @MarkBallas

SHARNA BURGESS – Sharna Burgess grew up in Australia and has always had a love for dance and entertainment. At the age of 5, Sharna began training in ballet, jazz and gymnastics. When she turned 8 her study of ballroom began and went on to win many local and national titles. At age 15, Sharna was chosen to represent Australia at the World Championships in both the Standard and Latin styles, and performed in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony. This was an honor and a memory she will never forget.

Following Sharna’s competitive career, she moved to London and continued to collect numerous titles around the globe and appeared in a UK tour with the theatre show, Simply Ballroom. Shortly after, she was scooped up to dance on the hit dance sensation, Burn The Floor. She was in the cast for 6 years and traveled to over 30 countries and 160 cities worldwide. Sharna had the opportunity to fulfill her childhood dream of dancing on Broadway, and to top it off she was a lead dancer. Upon her departure from the theater, Sharna quickly made the transition to film and television. She has made guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars Australia, and So You Think You Can Dance Holland. She has worked with A-list choreographers to fuse the hip hop and Latin to create a whole new style and even choreographed on the feature film, Street Dance 2 – 3D. Last season Sharna was partnered with Tavis Smiley.
Follow @SharnaBurgess

WITNEY CARSON – Reigning Mirrorball Champion with celebrity partner, Alfonso Ribeiro, Witney was born and raised in a small town called American Fork, Utah. She started her dancing career at the age of three. Being trained in many different dance styles including Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Tap, Latin and Standard Ballroom, she has competed and performed all over the world. At the age of 18, Witney made top six (top three girls) on “So You Think You Can Dance” seasonnine. She then joined ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” Pro Troupe Team, where she performed and choreographed every week for two seasons. In 2014, Witney was promoted to a Pro dancer and was paired with partner Cody Simpson.
Follow Witney @WitneyCarson

ARTEM CHIGVINTSEV — Originally from Russia, dancing has taken Artem all over the world. In 2010, Artem made his professional dancing debut on the original UK version of DWTS, “Strictly Come Dancing.” Paired with Kara Tointon, they went on to win the coveted Mirrorball Trophy, making Artem one of the first professionals to win the series as a first-time Pro.
Additionally, Artem was one of the choreographers on the British second series of “So You Think You Can Dance” and a finalist on SYTCD in the US. In 2014, Artem joined the troupe on “Dancing with the Stars” and last season, partnered with Lea Thompson.
Follow Artem @artemchigvintse

VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY — Valentin Chmerkovskiy joined the cast of professional dancers on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2011. The 14-time US National Champion and two-time World Dance Champion quickly rose to stardom becoming one of the show’s fan-favorites for impeccable performances that showcased not only immense talent and creativity, but an undeniable charisma to match.

Since his TV debut, the Ukrainian-born dance champion continues to steal the hearts of fans—both on and off the dance floor. Val has expanded upon his talents as a dancer, choreographer and instructor to create an empire that inspires others through the art of dance. Valentin co-founded Dance With Me Studios, one of the nation’s leading Latin and Ballroom dance studios, where he also lends his expertise as the venue’s Art Director. The success of the first studio ignited a passion for teaching his craft, leading him to pursue his latest endeavor Dance With Me Juniors, a program he proudly designed to keep kids healthy, focused and active. Val is also a classically trained Violinist, having performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center as a concertmaster of the ISO Youth Orchestra. Last season, Val was partnered with Janel Parrish.
Follow Val @iamValC

TONY DOVOLANI — Tony Dovolani is balancing fitness, dance and family while capturing the hearts of millions each season on “Dancing with the Stars.” Born in Prishtina, Kosova, Tony was proficient in Albanian folk dancing by age three and was inspired by watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films. After immigrating to the United States as a political refugee from his native Kosovo, Tony trained at a Connecticut Fred Astaire dance studio and eventually became one of the most dominant competitive dancers in the country.

A two-time dance champion and certified world judge, Tony brought his expertise to Hollywood when he coached Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere for the 2004 film “Shall We Dance,” in which he also had a small role. He then joined “Dancing with the Stars” for its second season and captured our attention with partner Stacy Keibler, when the two placed third in the finals. During the “Dancing with the Stars: All-Star Season,” season 15, Tony and dance partner Melissa Rycroft won the show and took home the Mirrorball Trophy. Tony co-founded Dance With Me USA Dance Studios in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Follow Tony @TonyDovolani

ALLISON HOLKER — Allison Holker is an Emmy® nominated dancer and choreographer. Holker was nominated with Derek Hough for a 2013 Outstanding Choreography Emmy® award for their work on “Dancing with the Stars.” She was also a featured dancer in two of the other nominated pieces that year. Along with her fellow Emmy®-nominated choreographers, Holker prepared a piece that was performed to rave reviews at this year’s Primetime Emmy® Awards with Neil Patrick Harris.

Holker began her dance training at the age of nine when she enrolled as a student at The Dance Club in Orem, UT. While there, she specialized in Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz and Tap, and performed in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She has won numerous dance titles including her first National competition in Co DANCE in 2004 and as the National Senior Outstanding Dancer at the New York City Dance Alliance in 2005. Holker first burst onto the scene when she competed in season two of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her skill & popularity led to an invitation to return as an All-Star in season seven, where she met fellow dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss. They were married in December 2013. When not filming or traveling around the country teaching dance, she is working on her new dancewear line, Creative Kin. Holker makes her home in Los Angeles with her five-year-old daughter and husband. They most recently collaborated as choreographers for Ellen DeGeneres’Oscars® promo directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, featuring 250 dancers. Last season, Allison was partnered with Jonathan Bennett.
Follow Allison @AllisonHolker

KYM JOHNSON –Aussie Native, Kym Johnson certainly knows a thing or two about taking to the “Dancing with the Stars” stage. Kym first appeared on the show during its debut series in 2004 in Australia, winning the Mirrorball in her second season with her celebrity partner Tom Williams. In 2006 Kym jetted to Hollywood to compete on the US version of “Dancing with the Stars” where she has since appeared in 14 series, winning twice with celebrity partners Hines Ward and Donny Osmond. Kym is the only professional dancer in the world to hold trophies on two different continents. Kym began dance at the age of three, training in all aspects of the performing arts including singing, Ballet, Tap, Jazz and acrobatics. At 13, she was inspired to concentrate her talent in the field of competitive Ballroom dance. She then went on to become the Australian Ballroom Champion and represented Australia in the ‘World 10’ dance championships for two years running. Before appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” in Australia, Kym appeared in the hit show ‘Burn The Floor’.
Follow Kym @kym_johnson

PETA MURGATROYD – Peta was born in Auckland, New Zealand and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She studied classical ballet from the age of four and trained for 12 years under former principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet, Madame Lubov Nikonorenko.
In 2004, Peta was chosen to be a cast member of “Burn the Floor,” where she toured the world for six years. “Burn the Floor” then landed on Broadway in August 2009, where Peta was the lead female dancer.
Peta joined “Dancing with the Stars” in season 13, where she was eliminated in the first round, but she returned with a vengeance as she and Donald Driver won the Mirrorball trophy in season 14. Last season, Peta was partnered with Tommy Chong.
Follow Peta @PetaMurgatroyd

EMMA SLATER — Emma started dancing at the age of five when she joined a local stage school in her hometown of Tamworth, England. In 2005, at age 16, Emma joined the cast of “Simply Ballroom,” touring the UK (Including London’s West End) United Arab Emirates and South Africa, where she also appeared on “Strictly Come Dancing.” Emma won both the UK & British Youth Latin American Championships with her then partner, she then went onto perform in four other West EndTheatre shows including “Dirty Dancing.” In 2007, Emma played one of Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) friends in the film “Mamma Mia” and also sang on the Grammy nominated soundtrack for the movie. She went on to join Tony® nominated “Burn The Floor” for the shows debut on Broadway and continued on for the 2010 world tour.
In early 2012 Emma joined “Dancing with the Stars” as a Troupe dancer and choreographer and later went on to become a Pro dancer taking her partner, Bill Engvall, to the finals. Last season, Emma was partnered with Michael Waltrip.
Follow Emma @EmmaSlaterDance

Hosted by Emmy® Award-winning Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Erin Andrews (sports host & “Dancing with the Stars” Season 10 finalist), “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which are judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman, two-time Mirrorball champ and actress Julianne Hough, and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
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Monday, February 23, 2015


Updated on 2/24/2015

The Home-going Celebration for Shreveport, LA based gospel recording artist Stephanie Dotson will be held on Saturday, February 28 at the Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral where she served as a Pastor/Elder.  Dotson passed away suddenly on Monday from a heart  condition. A musical tribute will precede the funeral at the church on Friday. 

Dotson recorded a CD titled "Miracles Still Happen" after winning the Gospel Dream singing contest and was known for her vocal performance om the big screen of "Pray On" in Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion." She also acted in stage plays and led worship at Praise Temple.

Expressing heartbreak over the loss to local news station KSLA, Nikisha Dotson-Smith, the late vocalist's sister said she wants her legacy to extend beyond her talent.
"I want everybody to remember her as an angel, a gift, a loyal person," Dotson-Smith said.

Details for the  Home-going Celebration for Elder Stephanie Dotson follow:

Friday, February 27, 2015
7pm - A musical tribute

Saturday, February 28, 2015
12pm (Noon) - Celebration

Both services and repast held at:
Praise Temple
4725 Greenwood Road
Shreveport, LA 71109
(318) 631-LOVE (5683)
Services are entrusted to:
Good Samaritan Funeral Home
2200 Laurel Street
Shreveport, LA 71103
(318) 221-7337


Published on February 22, 2015

Gospel singer Stephanie Dotson has passed away.  Dotson was a pastor/elder and worship leader at Praise Temple in Shreveport, LA.  No other information was available at press time, but will be provided on this site as details emerge. In honor of her memory and contribution to the gospel industry, an interview that was conducted during the early part of her career is republished below:

      While speaking to Shreveport, LA born singer, Stephanie Dotson, the squeak of porch swings and thick aroma of a home cooked meal come to my mind.   Her smile is the warmth of a Southern sunset. Her laugh a giggle, skipping like a rock flicked into a lake.

      When she talks it sounds like her mouth is filled with more than

just words. You know the sound ... buxom and round like cotton. 

Stephanie Dotson (Facebook photo)
That down-home voice landed her an appearance at the end of the Tyler Perry film, Madea’s Family Reunion, singing the melancholy, yet reassuring a capella “Pray On.”

      Her musical foray was formalized this Spring with the introduction
of her first album. But, the recording of Stephanie Dotson’s first CD
almost didn’t happen.

      Although she loves to sing, entering The Gospel Dream contest that ultimately secured her recoding deal had not occurred to her. But, Pastor Larry Brandon of the Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral,
recognizing her vocal opulence, encouraged his praise and worship leaderto participate. And then came that one moment in time, when all of her dreams were a heartbeat away. . .Stephanie Dotson was crowned the 2004 Gospel Dream Talent Search Winner, as millions watched the tears stream down her cheeks on BET’s most viewed Sunday morning program. The win was a genuine surprise for the unassuming artist, who said she dropped out of high school and was the least likely to succeed.
(She later earned a GED and nursing certificate.) With firsthand experience she could attest that “miracles still happen.” This epiphany became the title of her Artemis gospel recording.

With her career in full throttle, the Southern lady is still very active in
her church as a praise and worship leader and minister, and said she is grateful
to Co-Pastors Larry and Wanda Brandon for being her spiritual covering.
A more hectic schedule has made Dotson even closer to her family. At the
time of our interview Stephanie was playing hostess to her five and
nine-year-old nephews. Stephanie shared with me how she is getting
comfortable with this new season in her life and some surprise

Mona Austin: How has life been different since your Gospel Dream win?

Stephanie Dotson: Not the same old praise and worship. It’s on a whole
different feel, stage presence, the time schedule is different, all the
traveling. I opened for Lisa McClendon and my ‘God brother' Micah
Stampley.' I’ve been singing everywhere. . . Family knows you and our
church is a big family and when you get before other people a lot times
they're not receptive until they hear the power and anointing of God;
it's a different thing.

MA: What's your reception been like?

SD: All glory goes to God. A lot of people knew me. I didn't think they
would recognize me. . .It’s been really good.

MA: How are you adjusting to the change of pace?

I'm adjusting well. It gets strenuous trying to balance things. I’m
still doing praise and worship at church and preaching. I’m a minister.
My pastor taught me to put God first and everything else will fall into

MA: Tell me about your background?

SD: My Mother and Father raised me. Pastor L.R. Dotson and Diane Dotson.
Grandfather is a pastor. I was in choir, gospel choir in high school.
Started singing at about the age of 3. My mom and Dad would stand me up
on a table and I would sing “Yes Jesus Loves Me.” Been singing 30+ years

MA: Did you aspire to be anything other than a singer?

SD: One while I wanted to be a model. I've been looking at this thing
Mo'Nique is doing, I'm thinking about it ('P.H.A.T Chance'). I think her
style and how she looks is excellent for a full figured women--not her
mouth, but the way she presents her body.

MA: What do you want your fans to know about you?

SD: I'm cool, down to earth, believe in being a part of the people. You
have to know your audience. I believe in conversing with the people. I’m
somebody who loves life and loves God. I’m not stuck up like some
artists can be. You're really nothing without God. I’m a praise and
worship leader, and elder in the church. . .It’s not just a title, but I
want people to know me for who I am and I try to live that life.

SD: What would you like to see come of your gospel career?

. . .I wanna do things that hadn't been done. I want to go preach and
sing to those who don't know about Jesus---to teach the masses-- I want
a life changing ministry. And I want to encourage people to go on
through. I don't focus on what I'm going through--I just go through. I
want the ability and the anointing. With the two together lives will

(Aside.) To work with Bishop Morton was very humbling, many have
imitated but there’s nobody like Bishop Morton; it was the right song for
this time. He's my musical mentor. He chose the right song for Katrina
and Rita.

MA: Why the title ‘Miracles Still Happen?’

SD: It's a miracle because it's been 30 years in the making and to have
it finally come true--to walk in your destiny is awesome. I'm glad it
came through. And I enjoyed working with Ted from Ted and Sheri who
coached me through.

MA: If you had the power to change anything in the world what would you

SD: I would love to change religion. I would “x” out all religions
because we're just one body. There would be no religion. Every body
would just love Jesus.

MA: If you could be any inanimate object what would you be?

SD: I probably would be a spoon, so that I could taste Blue Belle
Millenuim Crunch Ice Cream.

MA: But you get to taste it while you’re a person. …

SD: But I get to live in it if I'm a spoon.

MA: What words would you share with future generations or the young
people of today?

SD: Holiness is right. Trying to live a life that is holy is right and
God will take them to heights unknown.

MA: What words would you like to appear on your tombstone when your
journey on Earth is over?

SD: Romans 8: 28 "All Good." It’s still all good.

This piece was originally published on August 9, 2006 in EURWEB.COM.
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Trumpeter Clark Terry has died; statement from the Recording Academy

Musician Clark Terry (second from left) is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow (right) at the Special Merit Awards and Nominee Reception at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on January 30, 2010. Photo Courtesy of The Recording Academy® /Wireimage.com © 2010. Photographed by: R. Diamond
buzzz worthy. . .

Legendary jazz trumpeter and master of the fluglehorn, Clark Terry,  has died. He was 94. Terry was a mentor to Miles Davis and played with the orchestras of Basie and Ellington and the Tonight Show Band.   His wofe announced his death on his web page late on February 21; the cause of death was not disclosed although Terry was diabetic say AP. His life in music spanned over 7 decades.

Statement from The Recording Academy on the Passing of Clark Terry
Jazz legend and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Clark Terry was a multi-instrumentalist and bandleader whose significant contributions to the jazz world are unparalleled. Known most famously as a trumpeter, he worked with the orchestras of both Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and recorded with leading jazz artists including Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and many more. Highly respected by his fellow musicians, his extraordinary career spanned seven decades, and his love for music led him to be a staunch advocate for jazz education, authoring several jazz instruction manuals and teaching workshops in schools. Our music community has lost a true pioneer, and his legacy will continue to influence jazz for years to come. Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his many collaborators, and all who have been entertained by his exceptional talent. Neil Portnow President/CEO The Recording Academy
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best of the 2015 Oscars Red Carpet: Lupita does it again

buzzz worthy. . . The 87th Academy Awards were held in Los Angels on Sunday night. Despite the unusual rain the stars still came out shining bright! Here are some of the most dazzling red carpet looks.

Last year's Oscar freshman Lupita Nyong'o (and first time Oscar winner) looked like a  veteran wearing a creamy pearl encrusted, haltered gown by Calvin Klein. 

Below are a few other looks we loved.

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