Archive for the ‘Art/Culture’ Category

Sony Pictures is reportedly paying close to $60 million to AEG Entertainment for the 80 hours of Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” concert rehearsal footage. Before the icon’s sudden death on June 25, the 50-night concert was set to begin this month in London at the O2 arena. Sony is planning to release a film […]


Decide for yourself. Last month, Brown pled guilty to a felony assault charge for physically engaging singer Rihanna in February. His sentence includes five years of supervised probation, completion of a domestic violence counseling program, and six months of community service in his home state of Virginia. Speak your peace.


George Wein’s Jazz Festival 55 (for 55th year) in Newport, Rhode Island, August 7, 8, and 9, features a far more diverse lineup than in years past. Black, Latin, and Asian artists will perform on the same stage as legends Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck. Etta James, Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, and Mos Def (and his Watermelon […]


James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, Celia Cruz, the Crusaders, and more are featured in the  new documentary Soul Power, capturing Zaire ’74, a three-day soul music festival that was originally scheduled to take place the same week as Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle championship fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa, […]


American icon Michael Jackson, lead singer of the ’70s R&B group The Jackson 5, later renamed The Jacksons after a record-label change, and winner of 10 individual Grammys as a solo artist in the ’80s, died today of sudden cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. He was 50. The King of Pop made history with the 1982 release of […]


R&B singer Chris Brown pleaded guilty Monday in a Los Angeles court to one count of felony assault involving pop diva Rihanna on February 8. Brown will be formally sentenced on August  5, but his plea deal requires him to perform 6 months of community service and serve five years of supervised probation in his home […]


FOX is making a seemingly serious effort to embed diversity themes and talent at the earliest stages of program development. Ron Taylor, the TV network’s new VP of diverse programming and content, is the most recent example of this effort. Taylor will oversee script development reflective of diverse themes and/or written by writers from diverse […]


Born in 1904 in Sealy, TX, jazz icon Huey Long enjoyed a long, dynamic career as a guitarist. He began his career with a banjo, playing with a Louisiana jazz band in the 1920s. By the ’30s, he had switched to a guitar, moved to Chicago, and recorded with the great Louis Armstrong. He later joined Earl […]


The New York Times calls him the “Senegalese superstar,” but most African-Americans have never heard of him. A new movie, “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love,” about his life and music, just opened in Manhattan last Friday and could change things. Combining Senegalese lyrical expressions with Egyptian arrangements, his 2004 album, Egypt, earned Youssou N’Dour, 49, […]


Hailed as the Queen of the Blues, legendary blues vocalist Koko Taylor died June 3, following surgery on May 19 to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. She was 80. Best known for her 1966 hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” which sold over 1 million copies, her nearly 45-year career was still going strong until just a few weeks before her […]


Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (top) is starring in a new film about police corruption with Richard T. Jones (middle photo), Chris Klein, and Adam Rodriguez. Jackson, who is executive producing with Chris Lighty and Tim Roth, plays a gang-banger-turned-informant in Caught in the Crossfire, written and directed by newcomer Brian Miller, who attended film school in Grand Rapids, Mich., […]


  Suzanne de Passe, the chairman and CEO of de Passe Entertainment who began her career at Motown Records, along with Steven Spielberg and Madison Jones, will produce the first motion picture authorized by The King estate that examines the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. DreamWorks Studios acquired the rights to the life of the […]


Liberia, an African country founded by freed American slaves in the early 19th century, is defined by deep racial and social complexities. A 1980 military coup ended the rule of the American-Liberian elite class and led to a 13-year civil war. The current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa, has written […]


Veteran actress Zoe Saldana, 30, plays the lovely Nyota Uhura in the new Star Trek prequel, directed by J.J. Abrams, that opened in theatres over the weekend and soared to #1 with an estimated $76.5 million in box-office receipts. The role of Uhura was made famous by Nichelle Nichols in the 60s TV series by the […]


Sultry singer/songwriter Chrisette Michele, whose 2007 debut CD, I Am, earned her a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the single “Be OK” featuring will.i.am, released Epiphany yesterday with new songs by prolific singer/songwriter Ne-Yo. Together, the talented twosome will likely make Chrisette Michele more radio-friendly and give her the attention and exposure she most assuredly deserves. […]


Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, Sojourner Truth was a passionate activist, fighting against slavery and for women’s rights in the 19th century. She died 126 years ago in Battle Creek, Mich. Yesterday, Sojourner Truth became the first African-American woman to be memorialized with a bust in the U.S. Capitol. The ceremony at Emancipation Hall was led by […]


African-American figurative painter Ernie Barnes died Monday from a rare blood disorder. The former professional football player was 70. As an artist, Barnes was famous for painting elongated figures of African Americans in various environments. His most famous work, “Sugar Shack,” which showed people dancing, appeared on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” album and […]


Harvard-educated writer Colson Whitehead went to private school in Manhattan, spent summers in Sag Harbor — the black section — and “learned” about being black from friends. His story in his newest book, Sag Harbor, is airy, yet insightful…and fun to read. Check it out. Speak your peace.


Staff Benda Bilili, a Congolese band of street musicians who live near or in the zoo in Kinshasa, are on the verge of success. Due to a polio outbreak, most of the band members are paraplegics — roughly translated, Benda Bilili means “look beyond appearances” — and, together, they create stirringly rhythmic music with lyrical insights about […]


Now playing, Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx stars in The Soloist, the story of Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted, but troubled, violinist. The film is based on a series of columns in the Los Angeles Times by writer Steve Lopez, who discovered Ayers on the streets of L.A. Some critics say the storytelling is overwrought, but others ponder […]