Send a Message
|This user does not have any friends yet...
|Fri, December 31, 2010 at 7:01 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
DAKAR (AFP) – Senegalese-American rapper and songwriter Akon called for greater African unity as he arrived in his home country to perform Friday at the world's biggest celebration of black arts and culture.
The six-time Grammy nominated singer, who recently released a single on which he collaborated with the late Michael Jackson, will perform at the final concert of the World Festival of Black Arts in St Louis, 265 kilometres (160 miles) from the capital, Dakar.
Hundreds of artists, singers and intellectuals from Africa and its diaspora have come to Senegal for the three-week festival, which is themed on an African Renaissance, with many preaching greater unity on the continent.
"Things like this actually create the environment for us to move together as one people," Akon, whose real name is Alioune Thiam, said of the festival, as he addressed a press conference late Thursday.
"The more we realise what we can do together as a unit, the farther we will get as an African nation.
"The one thing we always lack is unity, we always stay segregated. Even though Africa is one of the biggest continents, we never stay together as a people," he said.
The third festival of its kind to celebrate black identity, with the first edition hosted in Dakar in 1966, has been widely criticised for its expense, reported to be around 30 billion CFA francs (about 46 million euros).
State-of-the-art stages and expositions have been set up around the capital, with brightly lit Christmas decorations twinkling downtown as power cuts surge in the suburbs of the poor west African nation.
Asked by journalists how much he was paid to perform, Akon said he was giving the concert for free and the government had only paid the travel and hotel costs for him and his 32-member crew.
"The kind of money I am actually paid for a concert is nothing Senegal would really be able to afford. It's about uplifting the people.
"If I can get the economy up to where it needs to go in Senegal, then I can do freakin' shows here all the time and get paid what I am worth," he said.
Akon was born in the United States but spent his childhood in Senegal and later settled back in the United States before shooting to stardom with his debut album "Trouble" in 2004.
He has collaborated with Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Eminem and Whitney Houston.
While the dusty, traffic-snarled African city of Dakar is far from the sparkling life of celebrity he lives in America, he said it was where he feels most at home.
"Normally when I am here it's a matter of coming home. This is something that we always make time for somehow," he told AFP.
"All my in-laws are still here, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces cousins, everybody is still here. In the next few years when I decide to retire, this is where I will make my home at the end of the day."
The star is massively popular in Dakar, where tireless partygoers throb to his songs in nightclubs, mixed in between traditional mbalax and the strains of Youssou N'Dour.
"When I am normally here I travel at night because during the daytime it is hard to get around when I am recognised because of the love people have for me which I appreciate more than anything," he said.
While artists and presidents call for a United States of Africa, with Libya's maverick leader Moamer Kadhafi urging a unity government with one African army, Akon said it was confli
|Thurs, December 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – She is already the most influential woman on television, publishes a magazine, has starred in movies, opened a school in South Africa and is one of America's biggest celebrity philanthropists.
So why is Oprah Winfrey taking perhaps the biggest gamble in her life and launching a cable TV network this weekend? Because she believes people are hungry for shows that entertain, inspire and offer what she calls "mindful television."
"What I want to do is build a channel that is a respite for your mind, an oasis of stimulation that you come away from with little pieces of light.
"I'm aiming for a moment where somebody could say, 'I never thought of it that way before.' I just love that," Winfrey 56, told Parade magazine in an interview this week.
Three years in the making, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) kicks off on January 1 with a weekend of "sneak peeks" into the array of largely female-oriented original series, lifestyle, and advice shows that viewers can expect in the first year.
OWN, a venture between Winfrey's Harpo Inc and Discovery Communications, will be available in some 80 million homes.
The OWN launch has brought with it some uncharacteristic anxiety for Winfrey, who will end her popular U.S. daytime chat program, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" -- which airs in some 140 countries -- in May after 25 years.
She told her magazine "O" that she has "never felt such fear in all my life" than she has in launching OWN in a crowded TV market packed with hundreds of cable channels.
Winfrey will appear in only 70 hours of programs in 2011, but the OWN schedule has the unmistakable flavor of uplifting tales, self-improvement and struggles in the face of adversity that has come to be known as "Oprahfication."
The lineup includes a four-part special bringing together health, wealth and relationship experts Dr. Phil McGraw, Suze Orman and Dr. Mehmet Oz. There are two reality shows about the fractious relationships between movie stars Tatum O'Neal and her father Ryan O'Neal and country singers Wynonna Judd and her mother Naomi Judd.
There will be frank sex and relationship therapy from Dr. Laura Berman and another reality series called "Kidnapped by the Kids" in which children force their parents to ditch work for family time.
Two shows were Oprah's ideas. "Oprah Presents Master Class" features eight famous people including rapper Jay-Z, poet Maya Angelou, actor Sidney Poitier and TV entrepreneur Simon Cowell talking about their lives' lessons, triumphs and setbacks.
"Finding Sarah", featuring disgraced British royal Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was inspired by a confessional TV interview between the two women earlier this year.
In May, Ferguson was caught on camera appearing to ask for cash to introduce a reporter to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew.
After the scandal broke, Winfrey advised Ferguson to avoid appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" or a celebrity chef program to restore her bank balance and tarnished image.
Instead, Oprah told Ferguson to work on herself, and "Finding Sarah," a six-part documentary scheduled to air later in 2011, is one result of that conversation..
Winfrey will be seen initially in a behind-the-scenes program about her final season of her chat show. She will later appear in an OWN travel series called "Opr
|Thurs, December 30, 2010 at 5:44 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Singer Bobby Farrell of the 1970s European chart-topping group Boney M was found dead in his hotel bed Thursday while on tour in Russia, his agent said. He was 61.
Farrell performed as scheduled in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night, but complained of breathing problems before and after his show, said the agent, John Seine. He had been due to fly to Rome Thursday for a television show.
Farrell, who lived in Amsterdam, was more a dancer and showman than singer when he headlined Boney M in the 1970s. The group, based in Germany, broke into the charts with "Daddy Cool" in 1978. That year their version of "By the Rivers of Babylon" sold nearly 2 million records in Britain alone, keeping it No. 1 for five weeks.
Alphonso "Bobby" Farrell left his home on the Caribbean island of Aruba at 15 to work as a sailor, then drifted to Norway and Germany to pursue a career as a DJ, according to his official biography.
He was chosen in 1974 to front the Caribbean group Boney M, put together by German singer and songwriter Frank Farian, who did much of the recorded singing. Boney M had 38 top-10 hits, including 15 number ones in Germany. They included "Brown Girl in the Ring" and "Mary's Boychild."
In 1978 Boney M was the first Western music group invited by a Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, to perform in the Soviet Union. A Soviet military plane flew the performers from London to Moscow, where they sang for an audience of 2,700 Russians in Red Square.
The original group of Farrell and three women broke up in 1986 and Farrell continued on his own or with various female back-up singers, maintaining his flamboyant style and glittering costumes. In recent years he toured under the name Bobby Farrell's Boney M, melding disco and Calypso music.
Seine said the cause of death was not known, but Farrell had suffered health problems off-and-on for 10 years. He said he was found dead by hotel staff after he failed to respond to a wake-up call.
|Tue, December 28, 2010 at 10:51 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A range of movies from comedy "Airplane!" to George Lucas' "The Empire Strikes Back" and 1906 short film "A Trip Down Market Street" were named to the National Film Registry on Tuesday, ensuring their preservation for future generations.
Among others are horror film "The Exorcist," political drama "All the President's Men," 1959 African-American cultural exploration "Cry of Jazz" and director John Huston's war documentary "Let There Be Light," which was banned in the U.S. for 35 years.
The Library of Congress picks 25 movies each year that are deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant to be preserved for all time due to their significance to American culture.
Movie preservation has grown increasingly important over the last decade or more because about half of the films produced before 1950 and as many as 90 percent before 1920 were made from film stock that is decaying or has already decayed.
"The National Film Registry is a reminder to the nation that the preservation of our cinematic creativity must be a priority," Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement.
Some 2,112 movies were nominated in 2010 by the public, then chosen by Billington after consultation with the National Film Preservation Board and the library's movie staff.
The full list of 25 films follows:
1. Airplane (1980)
2. All the President's Men (1976)
3. The Bargain (1914)
4. Cry of Jazz (1959)
5. Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
7. The Exorcist (1973)
8. The Front Page (1931)
9. Grey Gardens (1976)
10. I Am Joaquin (1969)
11. It's a Gift (1934)
12. Let There Be Light (1946)
13. Lonesome (1928)
14. Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)
15. Malcolm X (1992)
16. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
17. Newark Athlete (1891)
18. Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)
19. The Pink Panther (1964)
20. Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)
21. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
22. Study of a River (1996)
23. Tarantella (1940)
24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
25. A Trip Down Market Street (1906)
(Editing by Christine Kearney
|Tue, December 28, 2010 at 3:47 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
PHILADELPHIA – Bernie Wilson, a baritone member of the rhythm and blues group that produced the 1972 hit "If You Don't Know Me by Now," has died.
Wilson, 64, died early Sunday at Kresson View Center in Voorhees, N.J., following a stroke and a heart attack, his cousin, Faith Peace-Mazzccua, said Monday.
Philadelphia International Records, the former record company for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, said Wilson's death leaves Lloyd Parks as the sole surviving member of the group's lineup at the time. The lineup also featured Teddy Pendergrass and Lawrence Brown.
The group produced a string of R&B hits in the '70s and helped define the Sound of Philadelphia.
"If You Don't Know Me by Now" topped the R&B charts and made the top five on the pop charts. The hits that followed included "I Miss You," "Bad Luck," "Wake up Everybody," and the dance track "The Love I Lost," which has been credited as one of the first disco records, according to an All Music Guide biography on the Billboard website.
"He left home at 16 as a pauper and came back home a millionaire," Peace-Mazzccua told The Associated Press.
She said her cousin kept performing until a few years ago and hoped to return and sing gospel music.
"Bernard was a very funny person. He should have been a comedian," she said. "He didn't take no stuff and he loved people."
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday.
|Mon, December 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Singer Alanis Morissette and her husband, rapper Mario "Souleye" Treadway, welcomed a baby boy on Christmas day, a spokeswoman for Morissette said on Monday.
"All are healthy and happy," the singer's representative told Reuters in an e-mail.
Morissette, 36, and Treadway, 30, married in May.
Morissette, a Grammy Award winning artist, scored a monster hit with her third album, 1995's "Jagged Little Pill."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
|Mon, December 27, 2010 at 6:01 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Hip-hop parties on snow. Snowboard and ski rail contest and party with art and hip-hop music contest on the slopes. Eight resort stops nationwide in Under Armour 3rd Rail Jam starting with Killington, Vermont on New Years Day 2011 and Mountain Creek, Vernon, NJ on January 8.
Vernon, NJ (PRWEB) December 27, 2010
Under Armour 3rd Rail Jam Winter Tour invites all to join the excitement as the nation’s best amateur skiers and snowboarders compete at eight national rail jam contest parties at ski resorts across the nation. “This is the only contest series that includes a live hip-hop music contest all day called The Battle Below Zero, and on-snow graffiti” says tour impresario and multi-entrepreneur Timmy Grins.
Up to 150 riders and skiers will compete at each stop in a competition conducted in true jam format, meaning contestants take as many turns as they can fit in riding the handrail setup during the contest. Judges are stationed at each feature to provide the best scoring coverage possible. Each of four divisions will be competing for cash and prizes and there are music and dance after-parties at each stop on the tour.
“Rail Jams are the best event going for snow sport spectators” says Lauren Traub Teton, editor of SnowboardSecrets.TV and a sponsor of the tour. “Non-stop snowboard and ski derring-do riding on handrails, irresistible dance music, everyone dressed to the nines, and tons of swagger, all right before your eyes. It’s better than Cirque du Soleil! You don’t even have to be a skier or snowboarder to come out and check out this action, the rail jam is usually a short walk from the base lodge” says Ms. Teton. She adds “dress warmly and wear thick soled boots.”
The eight stops this season are: January 1, Killington, VT January 8, Mountain Creek, N.J. January 22, Raging Buffalo, IL January 29, Echo Mountain, Colo.* February 5, Arizona Snowbowl, Ariz.* February 12, Bogus Basin, Idaho* February 19, Mountain High, Calif. February 26, Beech Mountain, N.C. New venues to the 3rd Rail Jam this year are Killington, VT, Echo Mountain, CO, Arizona Snowbowl, and Bogus Basin, in Boise, Idaho. Each resort will design its own rail setup, and Under Armour will be awarding gear to the resort terrain park teams who create the sickest rail array. In past years Mountain Creek, NJ, Mountain High, CA, and Beech Mountain, NC had outstanding rail designs for the 3rd Rail Jam.
Hip-hop culture reigns supreme at the Under Armour 3rd Rail Jam with live painting demos by graffiti crews and a freestyle music competition. The “Battle Below Zero” will have as many as eight MCs performing their best tracks and being judged on their swagger, flow, style, lyricism, and their ability to rock the crowd. Snowboarder Joe Valerie of Milford, NJ is the on-snow Master of Ceremonies.
Judges of the music competition are D.J. Dolamarx of “the coffin” radio show, DJ Image, a Bum Squad DJ, meaning he is one of the top 400 DJs in America and the world, and Timmy Grins, artist, entrepreneur and Tour Producer. A customized online radio station has been created for the tour with Slacker. The 3rd Rail Jam station is filled with original hip-hop, rock, funk, and soul taken completely from DJ Image’s impressive 20,000-plus record collection. Listen at http://www.Slacker.com/3rdrailjams.
Event sponsors include some of the biggest names in fashion, action sports and technology such as Under Armour, Kangol, Bern, Beats by Dr. Dre, 33Third, Grenade, Launch Snowboards, and SnowboardSecrets.TV. The event’s energy continues as each rail jam is followed by pulsating after-parties that feature hot DJs, break dan
|Thurs, December 23, 2010 at 12:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
ST. LOUIS - Ten years into a successful career, rapper Nelly is all about giving back to his hometown community and to the fans who helped make him famous.
Since his debut album, "Country Grammar," in 2000, the 36-year-old hip-hop star has sold more than 20 million records, has had nearly a dozen Top 10 singles (including this year's "Just a Dream") and was rated the No. 3 artist of the decade by Billboard magazine behind Eminem and Usher. His sixth album, "5.0," debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart in late November.
The record, his first in two years, hasn't sold as well as some of his other discs, but that has been true of many artists recently as digital downloads weakened CD sales.
The album's mix of rap and R&B has not gone over as well with critics, either, and some have even labeled Nelly an "underdog," in moving into arenas outside his home arena of hip-hop. The description puzzles Nelly.
"My music is all about growth," he told Reuters as he entered his 5th annual Black & White Ball in St. Louis this past Sunday. "I've got a lot of great things coming. And to me, ten years of doing anything is a blessing."
"5.0" includes collaborations with Diddy, T.I., Chris Brown and a reunion with Kelly Rowland, who worked with Nelly on the Grammy-winning "Dilemma" in 2002. And while Nelly was coy about his future music plans, he said he is more than satisfied with the progress of his career so far, calling it "phenomenal."
The gentle rapper was all smiles as he made this way through the posh crowd at the Black & White Ball. He wasn't interested in basking in his music accomplishments. He was keen to talk about helping others and continuing his personal push to improve St. Louis' reputation among U.S. cities.
CELEBRATE ST. LOUIS
"With the Black & White Ball I wanted to start something to celebrate St. Louis," he told Reuters. "Nice dinner, nice evening, nice time, nice night of music and entertainment. It's a chance to give back. I thought that was a hot thing to do."
But The Black & White Ball isn't the only thing Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes Jr., does to "give back."
He runs the non-profit 4Sho4Kids Foundation, whose work is dedicated to his sister Jackie Donahue, who died in 2005 from leukemia. His Jes Us 4 Jackie fundraising campaign aims to educate African-Americans and other minorities about the need for bone marrow transplants and donors.
This Christmas, he is promoting the teenage not-for-profit group, DoSomething.org and their "Tackle Hunger" campaign, which encourages tee
|Thurs, December 23, 2010 at 6:57 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Keri Hilson called her new album "No Boys Allowed," but a collaboration with one young man has been drawing attention.
The pop-R&B singer has become the most prominent female artist to collaborate with Chris Brown since his arrest last year for attacking his then-girlfriend Rihanna. The album cut "One Night Stand" is her second duet with Brown, following "Superhuman," recorded in 2008.
"I didn't want to be one of those women who is so unforgiving and be yet another person who is slapping him on his hand and crucifying him," Hilson said in an interview. "You have to be allowed back into good graces, meaning, 'Let me earn my trust back to you, let me earn my respect back.' And Chris has done that. He's crawled back into the public eye. ... Women were so unforgiving. And I understand why. I don't condone what he did. But I also believe in second chances."
Hilson, 28, calls the 21-year-old Brown a friend and said she wants the public to separate his mistakes from his music. Despite repeated apologies and atonement-focused songs, Brown struggled to connect with pop audiences in 2010, releasing a series of mixtapes online in hopes of gaining traction, finally finding success with the No. 1 R&B hit "Deuces." Although Brown was recently nominated for three Grammys, Hilson blames unfair news coverage for his struggles.
"When you're an entertainer, I don't believe that anything you do in your personal life should undermine your creative efforts in any way," she said. "And I learned that from Kanye (West). I learned that from watching what happened to R. Kelly. I learned that from Michael Jackson, even. I think it's sad that the media does that, makes an artist feel worthless — like they have nothing to give because they made a mistake."
Hilson herself has faced a minor fan backlash for taking the already sexy image cultivated around her first album, "In a Perfect World ..." to a new level. She shows more skin than ever in the video for the racy song "The Way You Love Me," and says she's noticed online criticism.
"I'm OK with the reaction that the video is getting. I'm perfectly OK with it," she said. "I'm a woman. I'm not a child. Some music that I make, I want children to hear and see. Other music that I make is for women. You know, it's for adults. That is where that video lives. That is what I wanted women to take out of it. I don't do music about the fronts that we put up. I do music about the real (things) we go through, the real ways we feel. And every now and then, I don't want to be cuddled. You know?"
"No Boys Allowed," which also features West and production from Timbaland and Polow Da Don, was released Tuesday.