Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
Aretha Franklin performs at the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles in 2012. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, file)
by Mesfin Fekadu
AP Music Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Long before she became the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin sang in her father's Baptist church in Detroit.
On Saturday, she'll headline the annual McDonald's Gospelfest at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker and Cissy Houston will be featured.
But that's not the only event on Franklin's weekend calendar. She also has a meeting about her upcoming biopic, which has been in the works for years. Franklin says she's heavily involved in the project, including who will play her in the film. Front-runners include Jennifer Hudson and Tony winner Audra McDonald.
"I just try to come up with the names I feel are going to best present this, who are the people that will best present my biopic and what I have in mind," the 71-year-old singer said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.
AP: Who's going to be a part of the meeting about your biopic?
Franklin: Mr. (Clive) Davis has gotten in the group and Suzanne de Passe, who co-wrote 'Lady Sings the Blues.' Taylor Hackford, who did ... 'Ray' ... and the William Morris agent and myself. Those are the principals that will be meeting this weekend.
AP: What do you think about Audra McDonald starring in the film?
Franklin: The question where Audra is concerned is whether or not Audra can get into soul. That would be the question because she has the voice, she has a beautiful instrument. I just wonder how far she can get over into soul.
AP: What about Jennifer Hudson? She has a lot of soul.
Franklin: Jennifer would come up with some good things.
AP: Anyone else?
Franklin: The rest would come out of the producer's book. People that they want me to listen to that I may not know.
AP: Some people are upset because Zoe Saldana is playing Nina Simone in that biopic and they don't believe she resembles Simone.
Franklin: I did know Nina and I would have liked to see someone with a little more of a likeness and hopefully played the piano. But I don't know Ms. Saldana's work and Hollywood can do a lot of things in terms of changing your features and all of that.
AP: What's it like to perform for gospel fans?
Franklin: It's just being me and back at home — that's it. Just being back on the old campground; that's how I was brought up. I came up in gospel. Like Johnnie Taylor used to say, 'I'm an old gospel singer.'
AP: What are you going to sing?
Franklin: I'm going to sing some things from 'Amazing Grace' and then 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.'
AP: Are you working with Babyface on your new album?
Franklin: Clive (Davis) has talked to Face and to Danger Mouse about producing my new CD for RCA. And right now I am just waiting to hear from them to see exactly what they are going to do.
AP: What sound do you want to take on?
Franklin: Well, I'm not producing it. I'm just waiting to see what they come with. ... It should be good. As long as it's good music. I love all music. It's got to be constructed properly.
AP: I know you're a fan of Adele, and she's covered some of your songs. Would you ever do a duet with her?
Franklin: I think it would be good. ... She has some great material. I like her material. She's a very fine writer. (Her songs) were all very original and all very different.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at http://www.twitter.com/MusicMesfin
Last Updated on Saturday, 11 May 2013 20:00
Category: Entertainment Written by Terri Schlichenmeyer
The dirty glasses haven’t quite made it to the kitchen yet.
They’re still communing with last weeks’ newspaper in the living room, while dust bunnies dance with cookie crumbs strewn on the carpet. Forgotten toys lie everywhere and your sweatshirt is right where you left it, balled up as a pillow on the sofa.
So you made a mess. It’s called “living,” you’re not ashamed, and you’ll deal with it later. But in the novel “All I Did Was Shoot My Man” by Walter Mosley, another mess needs cleaning up soon—or somebody dies.
Zella Grisham always said that she was innocent.
Yes, it was her storage unit that had held some of the $58 million stolen from a capital holding firm nine years ago. Yes, she’d shot her boyfriend three times for cheating on her with her best friend, but the heist? No, Zella always claimed she didn’t have anything to do with that.
Leonid T. McGill believed her. He believed her because it was he who set her up to take the fall for grand larceny.
It was a scam that McGill had pulled before without problem but this time, it looked like there was trouble. With Zella out of prison, there were people who wanted to talk with her, a lot of people who figured that she knew where the rest of the cash was. They figured McGill did, too, because he was suddenly involved with Zella and he was not known for being squeaky-clean.
What they didn’t know—and neither did Zella—was that McGill was also the one who sprung her from prison.
But in the midst of sorting out the mess, and while trying to keep Zella protected from thugs, McGill’s biggest nemesis warned him that he wasn’t safe. Three other men suspected of planning the heist were all dead, and it appeared that someone wanted McGill to join them. That notion was underscored when two professional gunmen broke into his house in the middle of the night with assassination on their minds.
Through the years, Leonid McGill had annoyed a lot of people in New York City. Sure, he had enemies. But this time, he wasn’t sure who the enemy was.
There’s something about a Leonid McGill mystery that I truly do love.
Maybe it’s that author Walter Mosley strongly reminds his readers of trench coats, black-and-white movies, rainy streets, and Maltese falcons, even though this book is set in modern-day New York. Or maybe it’s that his main character is smart, wise, and cooler than a polar bear’s nose. Then again, I might love this series because, each time, Mosley gives his readers a little more about McGill and his (under)world, which only makes us want to visit it again and again.
(“All I Did Was Shoot My Man” by Walter Mosley, c.2012, New American Library $15/$16 Canada, 327 pages.)
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 13:06
Category: Entertainment Written by Genea Webb
MINT CONDITION (Photo by Nathan Santos)
PITTSBURGH--Pittsburgh fans will be in for a musical treat when R& B band Mint Condition takes the Benedum Center Stage for a Mother’s Day concert that will truly be fit for queens.
The band will be performing with friend and fellow R& B crooner Charlie Wilson for the Charlie Wilson Live & in Concert Tour on Sunday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $43 and can be purchased by visiting www.trustarts.org or calling 412-456-6666.
The concert is being hosted by the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, which according to its web site, engages in activities that ensure and improve the availability and accessibility of low-income and affordable housing in the North Side communities while improving the lives of families.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the sixth annual Women’s Walk for Peace.
The Women’s Walk for Peace is a two-mile walk held in September that begins at the Pittsburgh Project on N. Charles Street and ends at West Park near the National Aviary.
Members of Mint Condition met as teenagers at Central High School in St. Paul. They were rightly influenced by the blazing music scene of the time period which was saturated by tight funk and R& B groups like The Tyme, The Replacements, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Soul Asylum and Prince.
A show at the First Avenue club in 1989 caught the attention of super duo Jam & Lewis and led to the band being signed to Perspective Records. Their debut album, “Meant to be Mint,” made Mint Condition a household name with their first single “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” That hit was followed up by a string of classic love songs like “Forever in Your Eyes,” “U Send Me Swingin,” “Someone To Love,” What Kind of Man Would I Be,” “You Don’t Have to Hurt No More,” and “So Fine.”
Songs that cut to the heart of a female is what has garnered Mint Condition a devout following of fans. Current members of the band are: lead singer Stokely Williams, Keyboardist Lawrence El, bassist Ricky Kinchen, Jef Allen, Larry Waddell and Homer O’Dell.
“We’ve focused on staying true to what we do. Our music gives the people insight into who we are. There is a vulnerability that comes across in the music and people embrace that, whether it’s joy, love or pain,” explained the band members.
After Perspective Records folded, Mint Condition signed with Elektra and continued to deliver mega hits like “If You Love Me” and “Is This Pain Our Pleasure.”
In the early 2000’s, the band took a five-year hiatus from recording and touring. They returned to the music scene in 2005 as a quintet, with keyboardist Keri Lewis absent. Lewis decided to work on his then-marriage to songbird Toni Braxton.
Mint Condition released “Living the Luxury Brown” album on their own Caged Bird label and had a hit with “I’m Ready.” From there they released “Live At The 9:30 Club” and in 2008 “E-Life,” which gave fans the hit “Nothing Left to Say.”
2011 was a quintessential year for the band that keeps on going. Mint Condition was selected as the house band on TV One’s “Way Black When” program and appeared on Prince’s “Welcome 2 America Tour.”
“In many ways Prince continues to be a mentor to us,” said Keyboardist Lawrence EL. “He’s a musical genius yet he is never condescending. He has a way of making you feel he’s your biggest fan—we certainly are his! He’s the best. Watching him perform always sends you back to the shed; you know you still have work to do.”
Mint Condition’s newest effort, “Music @ The Speed of Life” was released on Shanachie Entertainment on Sept.11, 2012. The album showcases the band’s quest to create timeless hits and push their music to the next level. The album’s lead single “Believe in Us” proves that.
“With all the choices that people have out there, we have to keep our music fresh and keep it coming often,” the band said. “We’re headed in the right direction. It’s kind of strange to say this after two decades but we feel it’s our time now. We’ve paid a lot of dues, been schooled in the business and honed our craft. We’ve gone to the puppet show and seen the strings!”
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 13:55
Category: Entertainment Written by The Michigan Chronicle
Jay-Z attends "The Great Gatsby" world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall on May 1, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
by AJ Williams
The roaring 20’s a time when alcohol and gambling was illegal, morality low and segregation high. Yet, in Baz Luhrmann’s film adaption of the Great Gatsby, love and recapturing the past is a focal point.
From a cinematic perspective, if you are a fan of Luhrmann’s other films, Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet—in which Leonard DiCaprio also starred—then this film will not disappoint. The lush, color-rich sets and off-beat, in your face transitions, pull you right into J. Gatsby’s world.
Known for mashing up period films and 21st century undertones, Luhrmann creates interesting rides of conflicting time references in his movies. In this film, he partners with artists Jay-Z and Kanye West to include tracks like ‘No Church in the Wild’ and ‘100$ Bill’, a remake of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ by Emeli Sande.
However, as I bobbed my head along with the soon-to-be hit soundtrack and took in the visual splendor of the movie, the grandness of the parties of the 1920’s, the random love affairs, and even the innocence of the love story of a man trying to recapture the past, I was left to deal with my feelings of lovely Black women being objectified and the sobering realization that despite the wonder of the movie, segregation was a real factor in the 1920’s.
And even though Jay-Z could have performed at these parties, unlike today’s time, he would have had to exit not stage left, but stage through the kitchen and out the back door.
It left me to wonder, if mixing in the sounds of African American artists was a true play of artistry on the part of Luhrmann’s or was it just a ploy to draw in an African American audience to celebrate a time when we were still fighting for civil rights and freedoms but drink the Kool-aid and look the other way because Jay-Z, Kanye, and Beyonce are on thetrack.
But hey, it’s just my perspective; I would love to hear yours.
Follow AJ Williams @IamAJWilliams
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 15:46
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
Kerry Washington arrives at the world premiere of "Peeples" at the ArcLight Hollywood on May 8, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 08:10
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