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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, December 26, 2015

Gladys Knight & The Pips member William Guest Dies, Recording Academy responds

buzzz worthy. . .

William Guest (l) with Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Glady Knight and the Pips member, William Guest has passed away.  The Associated Press reports Guest died of congestive heart failure in Detroit, MI on Christmas Eve. His sister-in-law, Dhyana Ziegler Tweeted the news on Thursday evening.
A member of the Grammy winning group from its inception in 1953 to its end in 1989, Guest performed on the legendary group's many R&B classics "Midnight Train to Georgia," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” and “Love Overboard.” 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Apollo Hall of Fame member was Gladys Knight's cousin.

His daughter announced his passing on Christmas Eve on Facebook.

Guest was 74.

Statement from the Recording Academy on the Death of William Guest

William Guest was a much beloved music creator and performer. A GRAMMY® winner for his work with Gladys Knight and the Pips, he remained an integral part of the group until 1989. In addition to his musical talents, William was also an accomplished businessman, having started a production company as well as serving as CEO of Crew Records. Our creative community has lost a truly gifted and cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to William’s family, friends, and all of those who had the pleasure of working with him.

Neil Portnow
The Recording Academy
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Teresa Giudice released from prison in time for Christmas

buzzz worthy. . .#RHONJ

Christmas came early for reality TV's  Giudice family with the prison release of  Teresa Guidice on Wednesday.

The "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star reunited with her husband of 16 years, Joe and their four daughters after spending 11 months in Danbury Correctional  Facility in Connecticut for bankruptcy fraud.  The couple was convicted of bankruptcy fraud in 2014.  The courts arranged for Mrs. Giudice to go to prison first since she had the shorter sentence and so the children would not be without both parents.  Joe Giudice was sentenced to 41 months  and could possibly face deportation as a non-citizen. His sentence begins in March 2016.

For now the Guidices are all  together and looking forward to being under one roof for the holidays.

Arriving before day break and escorted by a motorcade of black SUV's, Teresa's attorney. James Leonard described her family's welcome as

"very emotional, very powerful."

"She's safe and sound in her own home. She's very happy to be here,"  Leonard said in a press conference outside of her New Jersey residence. "She's very much looking forward to a nice, quiet, low-key holiday with her family."

Mrs. Guidice will spend Christmas Eve at her brother's home, but  remains on house arrest.

A black Lexus SUV with a big red bow on it, allegedly a gift for the Mrs. was waiting in the drive way.  Leonard said he did not know who bought it, guessing it came from "Santa."
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Iva Foster is offering a free download with the purchase of her CD "Only God"

buzzz worthy. . .#teamiva #ivatrain

It's the gift that keeps on giving

To those who find it difficult to be joyous during the "most wonderful time of the year," whether it is due to heartbreak, grief, lack or a general state of depression, gospel artist Iva Foster is extending comfort through the gift of music.  For a limited time fans who purchase her debut CD "Only God" will be the first to hear and own her unreleased single "What Will It Take?,"  a contemplative anthem of hope that addresses  the spiritual erosion that appears to be consuming today's society and points Believers toward atonement.  This special offer is the gift that  will continue to matriculate encouragement not only during the holiday season, but throughout the coming year.

"Only God" offers 10 diverse contemporary gospel arrangements for music lovers of all persuasions.  The full length CD  is available for purchase  now on  CD Baby. To receive the free download link simply email your request ivafostermusicministries@gmail.com with the subject line "Iva's Christmas Gift." 

Foster is also inviting fans to connect with her on Facebook (@IvaFoster) by sharing their "Only God" testimonies as the year 2015 comes to a close.   (An "Only God" moment is an experience that requires divine intervention to overcome it.)

Radio listeners across the country are becoming atune to Ms. Foster's distinctively warm vocals and positive outlook on life.  Foster recently discussed how she overcame domestic violence on the nationally syndicated Cedric Bailey Radio  Show on the Rejoice Network.  In addition she sang while debuting in the part of "Momma" in the production, "From Crack to Christ."

For more information on Iva Foster visit her Web site at www.ivafostermusicministries.com

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Donnie McClurkin, Kim Burrell and MD Ray Chew light up NYC with ‘Gospel Sing Along’ Concert at Carnegie Hall

buzzz worthy. . .

World-Renowned Music Director Ray Chew and
His Wife/Business Partner Vivian Scott Chew Produce
‘Gospel Sing Along’ Concert at Carnegie Hall
featuring GRAMMY® Award-Winning Donnie McClurkin, GRAMMY®-Nominated Kim Burrell with Surprised Guest,
Music Legend Cissy Houston
(New York, NY – December 14, 2015) -- World-renowned Music Director Ray Chew and his wife and business partner, Vivian Scott Chew were tapped to produce “Gospel Sing Along” concert at Carnegie Hall on the legendary Ronald O. Perelman Stage. “Gospel Sing Along” featured multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning recording artists Donnie McClurkin and GRAMMY®-nominated Kim Burrell with surprised guest, music legend, Cissy Houston. Reverend Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Pastor of Community Baptist Church of Englewood, NJ directed the 160 voice New Jersey Delegation Choir and also served as Creative Consultant. Rounding out the evening were Vy Higginsen’s international ensemble, Gospel for Teens, under the direction of Higginsen’s daughter, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginsen; the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, and the Girls Club Choir.
The Carnegie Hall “Sing Along” concert series was initially presented in the 60’s with music legend Peter “Pete” Seeger, an American folk singer and activist. The “Sing Along” platform was also used as a backdrop of the Civil Right Era and included songs in its concert that were dedicated to support the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement. This season, after several decades, Carnegie Hall landmark “Sing-Along” brand returns to the historic concert hall.
Under the music direction of Chew, who also served as host of the Carnegie “Gospel Sing Along” concert. “Gospel music is at the core of my musical heritage,” says Chew. “I am especially honored that I get to collaborate with some of the most iconic names in music and at the same time, have the opportunity to present music on the most historic concert stage in the world. It’s a blessing and a dream come true for both Vivian and I.”
A few days prior to the concert, McClurkin and Burrell returned from Lagos, Nigeria where they performed for over 700,000 people as part of the successful and sold-out “Festival of Praise” national and international gospel tour. “We were so happy they came back to do this event,” says Chew. “It was a calling.”
During one of the evening’s many highlights, Cissy Houston led McClurkin and Burrell on Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night.” Surprised by her appearance, the audience gave Houston a rousing standing ovation as they too celebrated her legacy and presence at the historic concert hall. 
The music featured a diverse range of gospel and popular music standards including Hezekiah Walker’s “Every Praise,” and “Faithful Is our God;” Thomas Andrew Dorsey and Mary Garner’s “Walking Up The King’s Highway;” Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis’ “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” McClurkin’s “Stand,” and “I Call You Faithful,” and Chris Tomlin’s “We Fall Down;” Clara Ward’s “How I Got Over;” Williams Herbert Brewster’s “The Old Landmark;” Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr’s “Silent Night;” Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand);” and David Crawford’s “Mighty High.”         
Chew is currently the music director for ABC-TV’s Dancing with the Stars and formerly the music director for FOX-TV’s American Idol. One of most sought-after music directors in entertainment, Chew’s work has paired him with who’s who of popular artists including Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Prince, Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Barry Manilow, Queen Latifah, James Taylor, Shirley Caesar, and Jennifer Hudson, just to name a few. Chew is best known for his work on Showtime at the Apollo and BET Network’s franchises Sunday BestCelebration of GospelBET Honors and the BET Awards. Chew also served as music director for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, the 2015 Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the 44thAnnual NAACP Image Awards and the 2008 Democratic National Convention, among numerous others televised specials and high-profile events.
Chew’s wife, veteran entertainment executive, Vivian Scott Chew, also the founder of international marketing and promotion firm, TimeZone International and co-founder of Chew Entertainment was the lead producer for “Gospel Sing Along.” As partners, she is honored to work alongside her husband of 18 years. “We are truly blessed,” says Chew, “God has brought both Ray and I a mighty long way. The opportunities that He has entrusted us with and the many rewards we have received to bless other people is what continues to motivate and keep us going.”
The Chews will produce their “Night of Inspiration” concert series at Carnegie Hall in 2016. For more information, please visit: www.chewentertainment.com.
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Monday, December 21, 2015

CeCe Winans joins star-studded Kennedy Center tribute to Cicely Tyson

buzzz worthy. . .

Award-winning singer Cece Winans reently had the honor of participating in  the all-star tribute to the trailblazing actress Cicely Tyson at the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Joining Winans in the segment was Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Terence Blanchard, Tyler Perry and The Cicely Tyson High School Performing Arts Choir. Serving as Music Director for the evening was multi-talented Rickey Minor and his amazing band.  and endedthe segment with a powerful and touching version of "Blessed Assurance” that received a standing ovation.
“ I’ve been working towards excellence for many years and it’s awfully nice when people recognize it’, says Minor.

   “Tonight was a defining moment for me.  I can’t expressed how blessed I am to be here. I was so honored to be able to use the gift that God is gave me to honor a woman who has done 
    so much for our community and nation. Cicely Tyson is the best. I will never forget this night,” says Winans.                       
In addition to Ms. Tyson, this year’s honorees includes: Rita Morena (actress/singer); George Lucas  (Filmmaker); Carol King (Singer/Songwriter) and Seiji Ozawa  (Conductor).  
Their lifetime artistic achievements will be broadcast in form of gala on CBS Tuesday, December 29 at 9:00p.m.,ET/PT. The presentation of a Kennedy Center Honors to the popular rock band, T Due to the health of Glenn Fry, The Eagles has been postponed until 2016.

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LIFESTYLE: Modern Christmas or New Year gifts for the person who has everything to deck the home year-round

buzzz worthy. . .

Mona Austin

This article is for the procrastinator with a heart for giving. First, face the fact: If you are reading this with any deep level of interest you were not ready for Christmas or ran out of gift ideas.  But, that's okay.  You are probably a sweetheart for having the desire to give (or you were waiting to pounce on those after Christmas deals all along.)  This article will be especially helpful if you are shopping for someone who is hard to shop for. Don't strike their name off your list just yet. Present the gift as a belated Christmas gift or surprise that lucky someone by gifting in the New Year.

Every year gift givers  face the conundrum of what to give the person on their list who has everything.  This year, think all the way outside the box and give something for use in the home -- other than the latest appliance (because they probably have that anyway). You'll be perpetually on the recipients minds when they see the gift so you'll need to do some research first to learn about their taste.

Shopping for someone else's home can be a daunting task, which could be made a bit easier if you discreetly ask for their home décor wish list.  Even without it take pointers by questions and observation. Know their style (minimalist, eclectic or classic) and color (muted naturals or jewel tones)  preferences for the room you have in mind. 

Have no clue where to start?  Then go small.  Chairs, rugs, and accessories (like platters, book ends or wall clocks) aren't as  permanent or intrusive as tables or wall art so that is a good place to start.

Before purchasing furniture or home décor, consider the age, personality and closeness in relationship to the recipient.We chose a range in prices from affordable luxury to high end.  Ths approach is not for co-worker, bosses, pastors, but for people with whom you have a close relationship. This is for family and friends on the list who you don't mind "investing" time and money in.

Sometimes surprise gifts mean placing the recipient out of their comfort zone.   You must use discretion and not go too far, however.  A good litmus test is to ask yourself if the gift  will be offensive in any way and could it potentially end your relationship.  Buying sky diving tickets for the person who is afraid of heights isn't the idea here.   While you are seeking the perfect gift, remember, the art of sophisticated gifting is being thoughtful and choosing something that will make a positive lasting impression-- not to change a person's taste. 

Of course, for the home you could go the gadgets and accessories route and find a practical, memorable gift that does not require you to go too deep into the pockets, like a spork (fork and spoon combo.)

(I found this one on Amazon.com).
For up-to-date hone décor or cool accessories elsewhere on the web visit any of the following online stores:


In Style Modern offers a wide variety of unique home furnishings in their online store and they are currently providing free ground shipping.  An introduction to their products partly inspired this article.  They email lots of photos and ideas

Happy holidays and happy adventures in shopping!

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” but You’ll Be Warm & Cozy in True Contemporary Fashion

10098-2T        4000-2T

 9222-42-2T          2020-39-1139-2T

10096-2T        2200-Black-Leather-2T
You’ll Be Dreaming of a White Christmas While Sitting Pretty in Modern Style

2207-White-Leather-2T    2013-2T


Hey “Santa Baby,” Kick Back & Put Your Feet up in Jewel-Toned Comfort
              1140-Purple-3T          2214-2-Red-2T

1208-F-2T            1129-Green-8T

This Holiday the “Stars are Brightly Shining” and so is Your Home Decor

2198-2-Silver-2T        1130gold-2T 2

1179-2T        10014sil-9T

“Deck the Halls” and Your Living Space with Lux Dark Furnishings
4004SetOf4-10T    10183-black-2T

10154-2T         1119-5T 2

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

VIDEO: Wrong winner announced at Miss Universe

buzzz worthy. . .

On Sunday night Steve Harvey, host of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant mis-announced the winner. Moments after announcing Miss Colombia won, Harvey said he made a mistake and announced Miss Philippines is Miss Universe. "I will take full responsibility for this," said Harvey. "This is exactly what's on the card." The audience responded to the awkward error with boos. The camera captured Miss USA nudging a chocked and confused Miss Philippines to tell her she should go to the front.   The outgoing
Miss Universe removed the $300 thousand crown from her fellow country woman's head and placed it on the actual winner, Pia Alonza Wurtzbach, as everyone took in the bittersweet moment.

Seconds after the crowning, the "Family Feud" host paced the stage with a look of disbelief on his face as if the error was brought to his attention. The remainder of the 80 contestants did not flood the winner with congratulatory kisses as is the usual scene. The sudden change was anti-climactic.

Miss USA, Olivia Jordan was the second runner up.
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