Featured Post

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...


Breaking News

Saturday, December 31, 2016

'Greenleaf' CD offers a variety of powerful songs

buzzz worthy. . .

While fans are awaitig the season 2 premiere of OWN's mega-church drama, "Greenleaf" a soundtrack of powerful songs by various artists is available

Greenleaf: The Gospel Companion Vol. 1 has been released on Malaco Records.   The album it’s more than worth noting that this is not an ordinary soundtrack album but, then again, Greenleaf, is far from an ordinary TV series. The series, from Lionsgate and seen on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) just set a network record for viewership and ranks as summer’s No. 1 new cable series both among women and total viewers.  The series revolves around Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, a Memphis mega-church and has spawned a companion soundtrack album, to be released next week by Malaco Records. Malaco, known in the industry as “The Last Soul Company,” was tasked with marketing and releasing the album in light of its truly massive (estimated to be as many as 3,000 individual album titles) gospel catalog that encompasses numerous labels including Savoy, Apollo, Atlanta International, Muscle Shoals Sound and others.  On the eve of the August 26 release of Greenleaf: The Gospel Companion, a closer look at the songs and performances is in order.

The album is unique in that it focuses on gospel music in a very eclectic and wide-ranging way. The show’s main title theme is “The Root” performed by Mavis Staples, the multi Grammy® winner who, later this year, will receive the Kennedy Center Honor.  Tim Lauer who has worked with a vast array of artists including Taylor Swift, Cheap Trick, Sheryl Crow, Blake Shelton and Emmylou Harris wrote the song especially for the series. Lauer’s experience working over a range of genres underscores how the sourcing of material for the album is extraordinarily ecumenical. 

The McCrary Sisters perform Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” on the Greenleaf: The Gospel Companion album.  The song was originally a track on Dylan’s Oh Mercy album, reflective of his foray into Christian music in the late 1980’s.  The connection with Dylan is even deeper insofar as Regina McCrary toured with Dylan for six years, beginning in 1979. The song includes the verses:

"Ring them bells ye heathen
From the city that dreams
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
Cross the valleys and streams”

One of the tracks on the album that has received quite a bit of attention is “(God Bless The) Broken Road.”  The performance features the voice of Deborah Joy Winans who is a key member of the cast in the role of Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee.  The song is, perhaps, familiar, as it was a huge country hit for Rascal Flatts in 2005. “(God Bless) The Broken Road,” earned its songwriters, Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hana -- the latter a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- a Grammy Award in the Best Country Song category at that time. The Greenleaf interpretation is quite a departure from previous versions insofar as Deborah Joy Winans’ reading is soulful and filled with true gospel spirit. Deborah Joy’s performance is reflective of the fact that she is a member of the gospel music’s legendary Winans family and niece to BeBe and CeCe Winans. BeBe Winans, her uncle, wrote “Testimony” which his niece performs on the album.  The gospel great co-produced the track with Tim Lauer.

 “Say Something” is performed on the album in a spectacularly evocative way by Melinda Doolittle, an American Idol finalist.  A Great Big World members Ian Axel and Chad King, with Mike Campbell, wrote it. Their collaboration with Christina Aguilera on the song won a Grammy in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance last year.  The Greenleaf version, produced by Tim Lauer and Lionsgate Television's Executive Vice President/Music Russell Ziecker, was recorded in Nashville with a choir for the project.

Shirley Caesar, “The First Lady of Gospel Music,” sings the traditional gospel standard “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down” on the Greenleaf album. She first recorded the song more than 40 years ago and has had a glorious gospel career spanning 6 decades and 11 Grammys. The version heard on the Greenleaf album is a truly powerful rendition that was recorded in Nashville and in Pastor Caesar’s hometown of Durham, NC where she runs the Shirley Caesar Outreach Ministries.

“Let Love Find A Way,” performed by Deborah Joy Winans, was recorded in Nashville and produced by Tim Lauer.  Lucy Schwartz, who composed the song with John Hanson, wrote “Black Roses” which was heard in the Nashville TV series as performed by Clare Bowen and was a pop and country hit for the actress/singer.

One of the breakout songs from Greenleaf is “The Master’s calling,” again performed by Deborah Joy Winans.  Thad Cockrell, the Nashville-based “alt-country” indie artist who is the son of a Baptist minister, wrote the song.  Deborah Joy’s rendition, produced by Tim Lauer, has been steadily climbing Billboard’s gospel chart and has become the Greenleaf series’ current audio calling card.

“The Battle Hymn of the Republic” dates from the time of the American Civil War and the Greenleaf rendition featuring Deborah Joy Winans and choir plus an interlude in which the voice of Keith David, in his role as Bishop James Greenleaf is heard.  It must be noted that one James E. Greenleaf coincidentally, arranged the arrangement for the original version.

“The Songbird of the South,” Dottie Peoples and her group The Peoples Choice are no strangers to Malaco Records.  There are, in fact, no fewer than 12 full-length albums by her in Malaco’s catalog.  She wrote, produced and sings “Get Your House In Order.”  The track was actually recorded live at Atlanta’s Greater Bibleway Temple Worldwide.  It’s as authentic a gospel music experience as one could imagine hearing.

Deborah Joy Winans is featured on “Take Me To The Water,” the track produced by Bebe Winans, Tim Lauer and Russell Ziecker.  The song is a traditional gospel standard and, appropriately, associated with the rite of Baptism.

Jason Eskridge and Nickie Conley collaborate on “Blessed/We’re Blessed,” again produced by the Winans-Lauer-Ziecker team.  The song, written by Tommie Walker and Fred Hammond is an upbeat, totally joyful contemporary soul gospel outing.

LISTEN TO "THE MASTER'S CALLING" FROM THE "GREELEAF" SOUNDTRACK


“River” from Deborah Joy Winans is another Winans-Lauer-Ziecker.  The track was recorded in Atlanta. The song was co-written by contemporary soul sensation Leon Bridges who recorded it on his Coming Home debut album.

The album concludes with “(We’ll Understand It Better) By and By,” performed by Desiree Ross, the youngest member of the featured Greenleaf cast.  Charles Albert Tinley, an African American Methodist minister and hymn writer, known in his time as “The Prince of Preachers,” wrote the song early last century. 

Greenleaf – The Gospel Companion Soundtrack Vol. 1 is available on CD and digitally August 26.  Greenleaf airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on OWN.
Read more ...

TUNE IN ALERT: 'Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve performers and hosts announced

buzzz worthy. . .

GLOBAL ICON MARIAH CAREY TO PERFORM FOR OVER 1 MILLION PEOPLE MOMENTS BEFORE THE BALL DROPS LIVE FROM TIMES SQUARE ON ‘DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2017’

CAREY WILL BE JOINED IN TIMES SQUARE BY MUSIC SUPERSTARS DNCE, THOMAS RHETT AND GLORIA ESTEFAN WITH THE CAST OF HER HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL ‘ON YOUR FEET!’
FERGIE RETURNS TO HOST THE BILLBOARD HOLLYWOOD PARTY WHILE JENNY MCCARTHY REPORTS LIVE FROM TIMES SQUARE
‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017’ Begins Live at 8:00 p.m. EST, on ABC, from New York’s Times Square

Fourteen-time Billboard Music Award winner and ten-time American Music Award winner Mariah Carey will give the last big performance of 2016 when she performs live for over one million people in Times Square moments before the ball drops on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017.” Multi-platinum selling band DNCE, international superstar Gloria Estefan with the cast of her smash hit Broadway musical “On Your Feet!” and chart-topping country artist Thomas Rhett are set to join Carey for performances in the hours leading up to the 2017 countdown on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, on the ABC Television Network. Carey was the first artist to perform live from Times Square on the program in 2005 and will return to perform her greatest hits during the 45thanniversary of America’s biggest celebration of the year.
“I am so excited to return to ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest’ and feel blessed to be a part of this year’s magical celebration,” said Mariah Carey. “I can’t wait to perform once again for my incredible fans as we ring in the New Year together live from Times Square.”
“Mariah was the first live performance from Times Square in 2005 when I joined Dick Clark as co-host,” said host and executive producer Ryan Seacrest. “After nearly a decade, I’m excited to join her again in Times Square, along with all our incredible performances, to ring in 2017.”
In addition to these performances, actress and comedian Jenny McCarthy will report live from Times Square while superstar Fergie returns to host the Billboard Hollywood Party.
America’s biggest celebration of the year will include 5 ½ hours of special performances and reports on New Year’s celebrations from around the globe, and Ryan Seacrest will lead the traditional countdown to midnight from Times Square in New York City as he has for the last 11 years.
A true trailblazer, Mariah Carey has earned acclaim in all facets of her career as a singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. As the best-selling female artist of all time, with more than 220 million records sold and eighteen No. 1 singles – the most for any solo artist in history – Carey is a luminous and enduring talent who has enthralled audiences for a quarter-century.  Carey has been recognized with five Grammy Awards, 10 American Music Awards, 14 Billboard Music Awards and BMI’s coveted Icon Award, among myriad others, and was named Billboard’s Artist of the Decade and the World Music Awards’ World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium. Referred to as the “songbird supreme” by the Guinness World Records, she is famed for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register. She is equally distinguished as a songwriter, penning all but one of her No. 1 singles, including “Fantasy,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Hero,” “Touch My Body,” “One Sweet Day” and “We Belong Together,” to name a few. Carey has also gained acclaim as an actress and was awarded the “Breakthrough Performance Award” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival for her performance in  “Precious” (2009). Beyond industry honors, her popularity is evident across social media, with 21 million Facebook fans and 16 million Twitter followers. Mariah Carey is on Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.
Formed in the summer of 2015, DNCE first introduced themselves to audiences worldwide with the release of “Cake By The Ocean,” their now 3x certified platinum-selling breakout smash. Included on the group’s four-track debut EP, “SWAAY” [Republic Records], “Cake By The Ocean” entered the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a hit at Top 40 radio, where it went on to become one of the most played songs of the year. An international success, global consumption of the song is over 7 million adjusted singles, including nearly 450 million streams on Spotify worldwide. The companion music video has over 200 million views on VEVO. Following up “Cake By The Ocean,” the sexy, gold-selling “Toothbrush” amassed over 50 million YouTube/VEVO views with an unforgettable music video starring supermodel Ashley Graham as well as achieving global consumption over 1 million. Moreover, it received widespread critical praise from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, People and Rolling Stone.
Cementing them as one of 2016’s breakout acts, the band recently took home the win for Best PUSH Artist at the 2016 MTV European Music Awards and Best New Artist at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. They were also nominated for two American Music Awards for Favorite Duo or Group Pop/Rock and New Artist of the Year Un-leashed by T-Mobile. DNCE recently released their self-titled debut album and announced their 2017 North American headline tour DNCE IN CONCERT, which kicks off January 17 at the House of Blues in San Diego. The album, “DNCE” [Republic Records], features the band’s latest hit anthem, “Body Moves.” DNCE is front man Joe Jonas, bassist and keyboardist Cole Whittle, guitarist JinJoo and drummer Jack Lawless.
International Superstar, Gloria Estefan, is a Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, songwriter, author of two New York Times best-selling children’s books, philanthropist and humanitarian.  She is considered one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved performers. Billboard Magazine considers her the single most successful Latin crossover artist in music history. Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Gloria along with her husband Emilio, are successful entrepreneurs owning and operating several business, which include a globally recognized music publishing company, a hospitality division that includes seven restaurants and two hotels (the Cardozo Hotel on South Beach and Costa d’Este Beach Resort in Vero Beach). The Estefans are also the first Cuban-American couple to own a minority share in a major NFL franchise, the Miami Dolphins. She has been awarded with seven Grammy Awards, an Oscar nomination for the song “Music Of My Heart,” a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, an induction into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress, among many others. Most recently, President Obama honored Emilio and Gloria Estefan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the United States, to world peace, and to cultural endeavors. Gloria is also the founder of the Gloria Estefan Foundation whose mission is to support charitable programs for disadvantaged children, and empower young people through education and opportunity. The foundation also supports spinal cord research through the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
Gloria Estefan has sold over 100 million records and sold out stadiums around the world. Emilio and Gloria Estefan together have won 26 Grammy Awards® – but their music is only half the story. From the heart of Havana to the streets of Miami came a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the music industry had ever seen. “On Your Feet!” is a new Broadway musical that follows the Estefans’ ‘American Dream’ journey to superstardom, set to their chart-topping, smash hits, including “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “1-2-3,” “Get On Your Feet,” “Mi Tierra,” Don’t Want To Lose You Now,” and “Reach,” in addition to an original song written by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan. The New York Times raves, “the very air in the room seems to vibrate in this fresh, flashy and undeniably crowd-pleasing new musical. Resist if you dare!” Since opening, “On Your Feet!” has also received nominations for Tony Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards and  Drama League Awards.
As Thomas Rhett continues his “his journey to stardom” (TODAY), he makes waves with the fastest rising single of his career, “Star Of The Show.” “The early success of ‘Star’ suggests another personal highlight could well be on the horizon” (Billboard) as the track climbs the Top 15 on Country radio charts this week. Known for his “retro, soul-inspired danceable mix of arena-sized tunes and hooky melodies” (Associated Press), the newly released 18-track “Tangled Up Deluxe” (The Valory Music Co.) includes his latest single and is filled with party anthems, dance tunes, drinking songs, love ballads and five never-before-heard tracks including a remix of the CMA, ACM and Billboard Music Award-winning “Die A Happy Man.” Produced by Thomas Rhett and a combination of music’s most respected and fresh talent, the dynamic singer has the “winning blend of sentimental songwriting, slick production and a smooth vocal” (USA TODAY) with the 2x platinum six-week No. 1 “Die A Happy Man,” along with the platinum-certified No. 1 “T-Shirt” and No. 1 “Crash And Burn.” For more information and a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.thomasrhett.com.
Fergie, an eight-time Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum solo artist and vocalist for The Black Eyed Peas, is putting the finishing touches on the follow-up album to her 2006 solo release “The Dutchess.” Her debut single, “M.I.L.F. $” from her forthcoming sophomore album “Double Dutchess,” debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes chart and has racked up over 135 million YouTube/VEVO views since its release. Fergie’s latest, “Life Goes On” was called “essential” by Entertainment Weekly, and Noisey raved, “a perfect banger: heartfelt, emotional…” Fergie’s solo album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 and spent 94 weeks on the chart. “The Dutchess” went on to sell 7.2 million copies and 28.5 million tracks worldwide and spawned three No. 1 hits on the Hot 100: “London Bridge,” “Glamorous,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” as well as the Top 5 singles “Fergalicious” and “Clumsy.” In 2014, she released the multi-platinum single “L.A.LOVE (la la)”.  Fergie also released four multi-platinum albums with The Black Eyed Peas, with whom she has sold more than 32 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide.
Jenny McCarthy is an actress, comedian, host and New York Times best-selling author known for her unique combination of intelligence, outrageousness, unpredictability and humor. She is a regular on the airwaves with “The Jenny McCarthy Show,” her sensational daily live morning radio show on SiriusXM, discussing relationships, pop culture and current events. As part of her SiriusXM show, Jenny recently launched a new series, “Jenny McCarthy’s Inner Circle.” Jenny and her guests are joined by a community of listeners for a more in-depth conversation where they are able speak candidly with a personal touch, and Jenny’s signature brand of wit and humor
“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017” is produced by dick clark productions with Ryan Seacrest, Allen Shapiro and Mike Mahan serving as executive producers and Barry Adelman and Mark Bracco are co-executive producers. Larry Klein is producer.
The complete lineupSaturdaynight, December 31 is:
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Central – “DICK CLARK’S PRIMETIME NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2017 – Part 1”
9:00 – 10:00 p.m. Central – “DICK CLARK’S PRIMETIME NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2017 – Part 2”
10:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Central – ACTION 2 NEWS AT TEN
10:30 p.m. – 12:09 a.m. Central – “DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2017 – Part 1″
12:09 – 1:13 a.m. Central – “DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2017 – Part 2”

Read more ...

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET FAMILIAR WITH 'FENCES' THE PLAY

buzzz worthy. . .
By Mona Austin

Critics agree that "Fences" starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Viola Davis is one of the best films of 2016. However, because it was originally a Pulitzer Prize winning play some of the nuances and motifs that playwright August Wilson executed on stage were lost in the film adaptation some reviewers are saying. A film that explores the troubles of black manhood during 1950s Pittsburg in such an intricate manner and the impact it had on the family structure and black community at large deserves to be understood as it was intended.


Denzel Washington ad Viola Davis in "Fences."
The most obviously centered metaphor Wilson uses is a literal fence. For the woman of the house (Davis) who asked that it be built it is postive, protective. The son who is building it uses the fence as a barrier to keep her out emtoionally. One of the lessons in "Fences" is that not dealing with self-imposed or circumstantial conflicts can lead to generational curses. This factor alone is reason enough for additional reasearch and analysis on the story.

Twenty to 30 years ago, Wilson's work was commonly discussed in high school English or Lit courses. Today, black historic works are not as integral in U.S. high school curriculum. The deprivation of education on the social and historic meaning of black life in America is starving for attention and clarity in modern times. In this Internet/social media age we have been conditioned to watch versus read. With "Fences" it is important to do both. It's not that it is necessary to understand the work academically. It is moreso that without further study the historic context may be overshadowed. It's the kind of information that helps us understand why the FX Network's "ATL," a program that focuses on young African American men attempting to break the cycle of hardship, still has traces of Wilson's characters in it over 60 years later. "Fences" ultimately shows that the reality is the story for many African American men in inner cities has not changed much, a message that Black Lives Matter supporters have attempted to keep relevant in their quest for social justice and racial equality.

I strongly suggest doing research on the play by reading the book or script. Becoming familiar with "Fences" as a written work will broaden one's perspective on understanding the significance of Black Lives Matter, the prison industrial complex, the broken family, etc. Like so many period pieces that have been released in the last several years, "Fences" acts a conversation starter, a relevance builder and a document that reflects the truth of the African American experience when detractors would otherwise blot out oppressive race relations.

Both Washington and Davis were nominated for Golden Globe Awards for their performances in the acting category. "Fences" is in theaters nationwide.
Read more ...

Christian Hip Hop rapper NF is blazing a trail to mainstream

buzzz worthy. . .

By Mona Austin



Don't call him the "Eminem of Gospel." Michigan-born rapper NF (Nate Feuerstein) is tired of the comparisons. There are obvious parallels between the two Hip Hop artists from their style to their personal lives and roots in Michigan. However, NF spits lyrics for Jesus.

The first hip hop artist signed to Capitol CMG, NF has came a long way from Michigan. His parents divorced. His mother’s boyfriend physically abused him. And his mother committed suicide. None of the adversities he faced stopped him from reaching his destiny.  In fact, they fueled his pen and helped him rise above the pain.  He was in the spotlight on the Dove Awards stage in 2015, the first time I got a glimpse of what attracted his diverse fan base. The artist has a level of skill and style that defies categorization. His next big gig was at the Syracuse game.

NF PERFORMS ON THE 2015 DOVE AWARDS


The top 10 of the iTunes hip-hop charts right in between J. Cole and Nicki Minaj. The top 10 of the iTunes hip-hop charts right in between J. Cole and Nicki Minaj. Empire used Mansion in the railer for their season 1 finale, further exposing him to mainstream.

NF says his distinction is that he writes "real music." Millions agree that his content is more substantive than a lot of the repetitive lyrics in lazy songwriting today.  He's also got some "hustle" with his flow, having created his music at times piecing together recordings without real equipment. He began recording songs on a karaoke machine, with instrumentals on one microphone and his raps in the other.something did or didn't happen there would be an explosion. He got signed. The debris of his impact is laid all over the Internet for the world to see. One fan wrote in the comments under that he would have killed himself if NF's lrics had not saved his life. That his music the music he uses to escape may have saved his own.

His debut album, "Mansion", was released in early 2015 and reached #62 on the Billboard 200, while topping the Christian Albums chart.
Read more ...

Friday, December 30, 2016

RICKEY AND BRANDON MAKE UP, SOMEWHAT, ON TV ONE'S RICKEY SMILEY FOR REAL, TUESDAY, JAN. 3 AT 8 P.M. ET

buzzz worthy. . .

SILVER SPRING, MD. - Dec. 29, 2016 - Things get heated when Rickey Smileyand Brandon sit down with their counselor, Spirit, to hash out their differences on the next episode of TV One's Rickey Smiley For Real, premiering Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
Although both men apologize for their roles in the argument, tensions linger whenRickey confesses that he is afraid Brandon's drinking and behavior will lead to a tragic end.
"I don't want to see that happen to him. I don't want to go through that and I don't want to see his brothers and sisters suffer as well," says Rickey. "My job is as a parent is to keep him safe, give the best advice and just do the best I can, even if it's unpopular, because I'm not in their life to be their friend. I'm in their life to be their parent."
Meanwhile, Da Brat meets up with Craig and learns that he quit his job. She offers to help him look for work because she knows Rickey will be livid when he finds out. However, Da Brat soon discovers Craig left out some critical information regarding his separation from his former employer that makes her steaming hot.
Gary with da Tea shows his screen test to HeadkrackBeyonce and Swan to get some constructive criticism. Swan doesn't mince words with her feedback and the two trade jabs over who is to blame.
Juicy and friends meet up for a day of spa relaxation and she laments about her troubles at work. They call her Hollywood, but the Little Women cast member is quick to remind them that she's always been a star.
"I told them, 'I'm on TV now, you go get your own breakfast,'" says Juicy. "I'm not new to this, I'm true to this!"

Read more ...

The Good Place Review, one of 2016's best

buzzz worthy. . .



Fall 2016 gave TV viewers many gifts this season with a diverse swath of programming.  "The Good Place" became my "must see" program.

The new NBC comedy series "The Good Place" follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a New Jersey woman who comes to realize that she hasn’t been a very good person through a strange series of events. In the spirit of Everybody Loves Earl, she decides to make up for lost time by becoming better but there is a twist -- Eleanor is dead, a new resident in the "good place" or   the  afterlife.    She mistakenly ends up in the highly exclusive "good place" after living a self-absorbed life on Earth and upon discovering she is supposed to be in the "bad place" she starts to focus on a good deeds ruse to stay. Being paired with the wrong soul mate, the design of her eternal home not  reflecting her taste, and watching a flashback video that referred to her having a completely different career were clues that she was in the wrong place.

No other show has a premise remotely as original as this one. The writers get high marks for originality because when you do something so different it can either flop or be the draw.  In this case creativity and originality were defiitely a draw. The "Good Place" manages to address eternal life without focusing on any particular religion, while interweaving religious ideas into the story. The  series also stars  Ted Danson  who plays Michael, the head guide and self-described "architect" of this euphoric community.   Manny Jacinto (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story), William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden make up the supporting cast.

The final four episodes of season 1 returns on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017.
Read more ...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Too Close to Home' season 2 airs on January 4

buzzz worthy. . .


Will Washington snoops be able to take Anna down? Tune in to the season two premiere on TLC on January 4, 2017 at 10 P.M./EST to find out.

After a bumpy freshman run, Tyler Perry's scripted series, a frst for TLC was renewed.  At first there was skeptiscism about whether  Perry could pull off the series.  Some critics and viewers were offended that Perry made his first all White cast low income (or um, "White trash.")


The show centers around Anna a country girl from ALabama with a sketchy past, and her alleged affair with the president.  The scandal  increased viewership form the frist to the  second week.” Season one ended with Anna returning, stanined by a scandalous past in Washington.  Guest star Heather Locklear (Melrose Place) was a crutch along with the sheer drama of the storyline that gave program a boost.
"Too Close to Home" might not have made up for their former top rated program "The Duggars", but it was a good move for the network according an an executive there.  They traded a rela life scandal for a fictional one and the drams seels to be just as interesting.
“Our audience was ready for a move into the scripted space, and Too Close to Homehas whet their appetite to see more,” TLC president Nancy Daniels said in a statement. “More twists, more heartbreak and certainly more of Tyler Perry’s notoriously dramatic writing.”

Read more ...

SHIRLEY CAESAR, AHMAD JAMAL, CHARLEY PRIDE, JIMMIE RODGERS, NINA SIMONE, SLY STONE, AND THE VELVET UNDERGROUND TO BE HONORED WITH THE RECORDING ACADEMY® LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

buzzz worthy. . .
THOM BELL, MO OSTIN AND RALPH S. PEER TO BE HONORED WITH TRUSTEES AWARD 
ALAN DOWER BLUMLEIN TO RECEIVE TECHNICAL GRAMMY® AWARD
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Recording Academy® announced its2017 Special Merit Awards recipients today. The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone, and the Velvet UndergroundThom Bell, Mo Ostin and Ralph S. Peer are Trustees Award honorees; Alan Dower Blumlein is the Technical GRAMMY®Award recipient.
"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects, and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."
Country star Charley Pride was the first Black person to
perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1967.

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance. The recipients are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing®Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and/or companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.
Additionally, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books will publish A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends, a hardcover book that collects two decades of artist-written tributes to The Academy’s annual Special Merit Awards honorees. Among those who have written tributes in the book are Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Queen guitarist Brian May, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Patti Smith, and Yo-Yo Ma. The tributes were originally commissioned for the annual GRAMMY Awards program book and never published widely until now. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends will be in early January.
Read more ...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Joe Ligon funeral service announced, plus NPR remembers the gospel pioneer

buzzz worthy. . .


Funeral services for Joe Ligon, the legendary lead singer of gospel qaurtet the Mighty Clouds of Joy, will be held in Beaumont, TX today, Dec. 28. Rev. Jesse Jackson will perform the eulogy with Bishop Neal Roberson officiating. Mr. Ligon died at the age of 80 in Los Angeles on Dec. 11.

Location and Time of Homegoing Service

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church - 11 AM
3920 West Cardinal Drive - Beaumont, Texas


Gifts and condolences may be sent to:
Mrs. Peggy Ligon 
c/o Calvary Mortuary   ( www.calvarymortuarybeaumont.com )
1225 South Seventh Street 
Beaumont, TX 77701 
Phone: (409) 838-0159 
Fax: (409)838-0551


Along with The Clouds, Ligon was a man before his time.  He helped usher in a more contemporary sound in gospel music.  The group's biggest hit "Mighty High" introduced their style to mainstream and held its appeal to non-church goers largely due to Ligon's rock star performance qaulity.  He was known as an exciting performer who would milk every drop of feeling out of  a song.


NPR Remembers Joe Ligon


Read more ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

OBAMA: I could have won again

buzzz worthy. . .

Could Pres. Obama have secured a third victory if he was allowed to run again?

According to a Washington Post reporter on assignment in Hawaii where the first family spends their Winter vacation, when POTUS was leaving a game of golf, as the motorcade traveled along S. Kalaheo Ave., two women standing along the road hoisted a large cardboard sign above their heads. Scribbled with marker, the sign read: "4 more Obama!"
Photo: Pete Souza

Like these citizens, POTUS is confident that he would have won again, which he has stated publicly.

“I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it — I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.” 

His confidence is based on his ability to go directly to people and bring them together as a former community organizer, an effort that helped him develop coalitions of support around the nation that he said the Clinton campaign failed to tap into. This not so subtle indictment of Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy comes after Obama campaigned for Mrs. Clinton, the woman he had hope would continue his legacy.   Obama said the Democratic party needed to improve their ground game in the last election, (NOTE: Despite losing to Donald Trump based on the electoral college vote tally, Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million.)

In an interview on David Axelrod's "The Axe Files," Obama said, “See, I think the issue was less that Democrats have somehow abandoned the white working class, I think that's nonsense,” Obama said. “Look, the Affordable Care Act benefits a huge number of Trump voters. There are a lot of folks in places like West Virginia or Kentucky who didn't vote for Hillary, didn't vote for me, but are being helped by this . . . The problem is, is that we're not there on the ground communicating not only the dry policy aspects of this, but that we care about these communities, that we're bleeding for these communities.”

Trump disagreed on Twitter, saying "No way."
Read more ...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Recording Academy® Statement on the passing of George Michael

buzzz worthy. . .


Christmas 2016 was the last Christmas for British Pop singer George Michael.  Michael started out as one half of the group Wham! delivering such hits as "Wake Me Up Before You Go" and later enjoyed a highly successful solo career starting in 1987 where he sold millions as a solo act. He eventually confirmed rumors that he was gay. Michaels died peacefully in his home in England at the age of 53.

His publicist release the following statment: 
"It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.
The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."  

Thames police did not suspect foul play.

The Recording Academy released the following statement on the star's passing:


Dec. 25, 2016

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of two-time GRAMMY® Award recipient George Michael. During an influential career that spanned nearly four decades, George became one of the most beloved pop craftsmen and respected entertainers. From the enormous success he achieved with pop duo Wham! to his influential solo career, his extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless entertainers worldwide, and his creative contributions will live on forever. We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to George’s family, friends, and musical collaborators. He will be missed.

Neil PortnowPresident/CEOThe Recording Academy 

Read more ...

Mona Austin's Top 20 Christmas Play List

buzzz worthy. . .

The season to be jolly is coming much earlier each year, whihc means we start hearing the songs of the season.  In retail by the time the last week in October rolls around amny stores are already playing holiday music.  Capturing the spirit of the season music acts as a unifying force between people of diverse views and backgrounds.  In hopes of spreading Christmas cheer I have compiled a list of 20 classics.

It was difficult to put together a list of my favorite songs.  Every time I think I have narrowed it down to the seminal list another song I cherish pops into my head!  By no means is this list final.  It's more so a combination of the songs that I think have the most appeal to my broad audience of readers and a select few that fall into the category of "Christmas time is here." Here are 20 of my favorites in no particular order:

  1. Frosty the Snowman                              Perry Como
  2. Silent Night                                            The Temptations
  3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus      The Jackson 5
  4. This Christmas                                       Donnie Hathaway
  5. Someday at Christmas                           Stevie Wonder
  6. Christmas Time in Hollis                       Run DMC
  7. Christmas Time Is Here                         Vince Guarali
  8. Feliz Navidad
  9. The Real Meaning of Christmas           Colorado Mass Choir
  10. What Christmas Means to Me               Stevie Wonder
  11. Little Saint Nick                                    Beach Boys
  12. Grown Up Christmas List                     Natalie Cole
  13. The Christmas Song                              Nat King Cole
  14. Jingle Bells                                            BeBe CeCe Winans
  15. Joy to theWorld                                     Whitney Huston
  16. Oh Holy Night                                      Mariah Carey
  17. Emmanuel                                             Norman Hutchins
  18. Mary Did You Know?                          Helen Baylor
  19. Most Wonderful Time of The Year       Peabo Bryson
  20. Handel's Messiah                                 Quincy Jones


Read more ...

Merry Christmas from the President and First Lady Obama

buzzz worthy. . .



WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the Obamas join their fellow Christians around the world in celebrating the birth of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They reflect on the past 8 years in the White House at Christmas time, enourage Christ's  "eternal message, one of boundless love, compassion and hope and invite the nation to focus ona future of shared values in their final Christmas address.  They also addressed some of the progress the Obama Administration has madee and recognized trrops and military families.   They encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how to support service members, veterans, and military families in your community. As  President Obama refers to FLOTUS as his "best friend" the vidoe also becomes and endearing portrait of their joint service to the nation.  The address starts with a funny flash back to their first Christmas in office.  Take a look at the video which was released on Christmas Eve.

The Obama received backlash form the Consrvatives an the religious right for sending out their final  holiday card that did notexplicitly state Merry Christmas, saying the omission downplays the Christian nature of the holiday.  The direct references to their faith and saying "Merrry Christmas" in the final Christmas video should clear the air about the First family's religious beliefs. 



Read more ...

OPINION: Interracial people are not superior, just different

buzzz worthy. . .

"Loving" is a film about the legalization of interracial marriages. A Virginia couple, Richard and Mildred Loving fought long and hard to have their relationship recognized as legal under federal law in the late 1960s. When the Lovings got together they took the risk of being ostracized in society for only one reason--LOVE. They were sentenced to one year in prison for marrying. In the nearly 50 years since winning the landmark Supreme Court decision that prohibited a ban on mixed marriages, Interracial marriages are more accepted and continue to be on the rise, yet in some instances, love is not the focal point of relationship. Love should be the essence of any healthy relationship.

Today, many people pursue inter-racial relationships with a secret wish to produce children that have "best of both worlds" at least in terms of their physical traits, believing that their offspring will have natural advantages. (Unfortunately, those who look racially ambiguous or "other" are dominating the child model market.) Some sociologists are predicting America will be a nation of mainly mixed raced people by 2050. I saw a video recently that basically suggested non-mixed people had better get used to this because it is not a trend, but will be a norm and the rest of us will be minorities, almost as if there is a new race emerging.

There seems to be pressure to conform to the interracial norm that is developining. I am uncomfortable with the idea that if you are content to marrying within your own people group you are considered you will be missing out on something or even worst a racist. I beg to differ. People have choice and preference and one is not better than the other.

In the video below, a black woman who is married to a white man addresses the fetishism and superiority complex that often comes with the desire for mixed children.
Read more ...