Tagged Entertainment

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Former Oakland School Teacher Interviews Himself for Reality Show Audition on Oprah Winfrey Network, Video Goes Viral on Facebook

By Paul Cobb

William McCray (left) interviews himself on ObnoxiousTV.

Former Oakland teacher William G. McCray interviewed himself as a way to get discovered for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
McCray is campaigning for votes to get his own show on the OWN.
Winfrey is producing a reality show presenting the top 10 finalists who auditioned live or who produced their own videos. The winner will be awarded with his or her own reality show. Read more

Movement Music In the House

By Daily Mail

Top, center: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a White House commemoration of Black History Month with a star-studded event last week. Pictured clockwise are: Robert DeNiro, Natalie Cole, Morgan freeman, Seal, Joan Baez, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Howard University Choir, Yolanda Adams, Bob Dylan, John Legend, Smokey Robinson and Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon.

President Barack Obama hosted an all-star lineup of performers at the White House to celebrate the music that fueled the civil rights movement.
The nation’s first black president transformed the grand ballroom into a concert hall packed with members of his Cabinet, Congress, civil rights leaders and students for a program that  aired on public television for Black History Month.
Actor Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the night, hearkened back to the song lyrics Mr Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.
‘A long time coming,’ Freeman said. He later deadpanned: ‘I wish I could sing.’
‘The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music,’ Mr Obama said as he welcomed his audience.
He said activists from coast to coast were inspired by spirituals, felt their will sharpened by protest songs and base broadened by artists of hope.
He said their work created a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.
‘Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement,’ Mr Obama said.
The Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers performed at a mansion that in its history was maintained by slaves.
Mr Obama said the music helped the movement’s faith as their leaders were jailed and their churches bombed.
‘It’s hard to sing when times are rough,’ Mr Obama said. ‘The hymns helped … advance the cause of the nation.’
During that week Black leaders met with President Obama to remind him of the nation’s need for jobs.

Bay Area Native Hosts “Wedding Day” on TNT


By Sandra Varner


Dreams really do come true.

From humble beginnings to soaring above and beyond achieving her wildest dreams, Los Angeles-based, renowned wedding and event producer and designer Diann Valentine continues to turn fantasy into reality.  

This vivacious, innovative mastermind gives deserving couples the wedding of their dreams as the host of Mark Burnett’s highly anticipated TNT series, “Wedding Day.”  

Diann Valentine

Diann Valentine



Sought-after and admired, Valentine is the creative genius behind the jaw dropping weddings of Usher, Toni Braxton, Kelis, Lela Rochon and Boyz II Men crooner Shawn Stockman just to name a few.

Born in Oakland to a contractor father and mother who were both savvy real estate entrepreneurs, Valentine has always been pushed to settle for nothing less than her dreams.  The self-confessed “daddy’s girl,” credits much of her success to her father who always told her that she is “smart, beautiful and can do whatever [she wants] to do;” and her mother whose advice has never failed her, “when in doubt, pray,” two mottos that continue to guide her life.  

While attending Oakland’s Skyline High School, the overachieving Valentine was part of the debate team, active in student government, a school representative for the Oakland School District, and asked – for the first time ever – by her cousin to plan her big day.  Honored by and excited for the opportunity, Valentine got to work.  

She not only enjoyed the excitement and chaos of planning her cousin’s wedding; but found herself really good at it, too.  Not wanting to give up a good thing, Valentine formed her own wedding planning company called Memories, before she even had her high school diploma.

After graduation, Valentine went on to attend college at California State University, Hayward Campus, graduating with a B.S. degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.  Throughout college, Valentine continued to prosper with Memories and through word of mouth, was hired by the Bay Area’s elite to plan their weddings and events.  

Her first celebrity wedding was for actress Lela Rochon (Any Given Sunday, Waiting To Exhale) to director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Shooter).  

All aspects of the wedding, from picking the linens to the final dance, were covered by the style and trendsetting bible, InStyle, which solidified Valentine as the expert of all things wedding.  Suddenly, hers opinion mattered to the vastly growing industry of wedding planning and she was now the “it girl” of the business.

Firmly entrenched, D. R. Valentine & Associates, Inc. was born and her reputation expanded.    Valentine’s dinner parties were featured in Essence Magazine and InStyle and sought-after by some of the biggest names in entertainment.

Valentine  will host “Wedding Day,” the newest lovechild of Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind the runaway hit series “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”  Each episode of “Wedding Day” features Valentine and a team of dream makers, including famed food expert Alan Dunn, making the wedding day dreams of a deserving couple go from fantasy to reality.  

The show takes the wedding plans of the couple and throws limitations out the window as they seek good-hearted volunteers and tap into their creative craniums to really make the big day, truly magical.  

I have seen Valentine’s career soar having known her since the mid-90s; recently, we spoke about this dream of a lifetime opportunity.  Read the full interview at www.Talk2SV.com

Bay Area R&B Legend Sugar Pie DeSanto Back On Charts

By Lee Hildebrand

Left to right: Aretha Franklin, Sugar Pie DeSanto, James C. Moore, Detroit, December 2008.

Left to right: Aretha Franklin, Sugar Pie DeSanto, James C. Moore, Detroit, December 2008.

Veteran R&B singer-songwriter Sugar Pie DeSanto is in shock. Three weeks ago, the feisty 73-year old Oakland resident found herself back on a Billboard magazine chart for the first time in 43 years.

The Afro-Filipina vocalist’s last national hit, a duet with her old Fillmore District friend Etta James titled “In the Basement,” peaked at No. 37 on the trade publication’s R&B singles chart in 1966. That song and 23 others that DeSanto recorded for Chess Records in Chicago were reissued last month by Ace Records in London on “Go Go Power: The Complete Chess Singles 1961-1966.”

The CD entered Billboard’s blues album chart at No. 15 on May 30, which is quite unusual for an import with independent distribution in the U.S.

Born Umpeylia Balinton in Brooklyn and raised in the Fillmore, she was discovered in 1955 by bandleader Johnny Otis, who renamed the petite singer “Little Miss Sugar Pie.” Oakland basketball star, disc jockey and nightclub owner Don Barksdale added “DeSanto” to her stage name.

Sugar Pie DeSanto, London, July 1965.

Sugar Pie DeSanto, London, July 1965.

Her biggest hit was “I Want to Know,” recorded by Oakland producer Bob Geddins in his studio at 11th and Clay. It reached No. 4 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart in 1960, leading Leonard Chess to sign her to his company and James Brown to hire her as the first female vocalist to be featured with his revue.

Although DeSanto spent six years as an artist and staff writer at Chess , where her compositions were recorded by the Dells, Little Milton, Minnie Riperton and others, she was not among the figures portrayed in “Cadillac Records,” the recent motion picture about the Chicago firm.

“I think Beyonce is very pretty and she is a pretty good actress, but I don’t think that her vocal thing fit Etta James,” DeSanto said of the film. “Her thing was too light, because Etta never sung that light in her lifetime. They needed someone with a gruffer, heavier voice to portray Etta. Actually, they could have gotten me, but they didn’t.”

Things have been looking up of late for DeSanto, who barely escaped a 2006 Telegraph Avenue apartment fire that took the life of her husband Jesse. Last September, she was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in Philadelphia. Others honored at the ceremony included Chaka Khan, Teena Marie, Bill Withers, the  Whispers, Kool & the Gang, and the late Donny Hathaway.

During a typically acrobatic performance of “I Want to Know,” she caught the attention of Aretha Franklin, who was in attendance. Three months later, DeSanto reprised the song at the Queen of Soul’s private Christmas party in Detroit.

“After the show, she said, ‘Girl, you stole the show!’ DeSanto said of Franklin. “We hugged each other, and that was it. She told my manager (Oakland record producer James C. Moore), ‘I’ve got to have Sugar.’ Next thing I now, I was on my way to Detroit.”

Last of The Montgomery Brothers Passes

By Lee

Charles “Buddy” Montgomery

Charles “Buddy” Montgomery

Charles “Buddy” Montgomery, a jazz pianist and vibraharpist with long ties to the Bay Area, succumbed to heart failure on May 14 at his home in Palmdale, California. He was 79. Two older brothers preceded him in death: electric bass pioneer Monk in 1982 and guitar phenomenon Wes in 1968.
Buddy probably had the best ears I’ve ever encountered,” said record producer Orrin Keepnews, noting that Montgomery was an “intuitive musician” who couldn’t read music or chord changes but would learn new tunes after just one or two hearings.
Keepnews recorded him on vibes with his brothers and pianist George Shearing for Riverside Records in New York in 1961 and produced albums under Buddy’s own name in the 1980s for the Landmark label in Berkeley.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery didn’t begin playing piano until he was 18, but soon found himself on the road with blues shouter Joe Turner, performing at dance halls and dives in the deep South. “I really didn’t know blues that well,” Montgomery stated in 1987. “I was a bebop player. It kinda taught me how to play and appreciate blues. Joe would say, ‘Just play less notes.’ It took me a few years to understand that that was really important.”
“I’ve never worked with anybody would could change around the blues the way Buddy could,” said vocalist Marlena Shaw, on whose 1987 album “It Is Love” Montgomery played piano.
“Buddy was the most phenomenal arranger. Songs that I may have been singing for a couple of years just turned into something else under his fingers and his brain. Because of what he played, it made me sound like I was brilliant. I’ve worked with some wonderful people who do things instantaneously on the spot, with Ray Brown and all of them, but Buddy was number one in that.”
Shaw, singer Mary Stallings, saxophonist John Handy, and many others will participate in a tribute to Montgomery at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 22, beginning at 8 p.m.
Buddy and Monk Montgomery moved to the Bay Area in 1956 when they were with the Mastersounds, a jazz quartet in which Buddy played vibraharp. The group had a best-selling series of albums of songs from the musicals “The King and I,” “Kismet” and “Flower Drum Song” and helped establish the Jazz Workshop on Broadway in San Francisco as a popular club.
Buddy and Monk bought their then-little-known brother Wes west in 1957 to join the Mastersounds, but after living in East Oakland for a month, the guitarist moved back to Indianapolis due to homesickness.
Buddy himself left Oakland following Wes’ 1968 death, but returned in 1982 and remained for 11 years. During his second Bay Area residency, he organized the Oakland Jazz Alliance and produced a series of concerts at the Calvin Simmons Theater and other venues.
Montgomery’s survivors include his wife Ann Montgomery and first wife Lois Ann Moore, children David and Charla Montgomery, and grandchildren Mykah and Anthony Montgomery.

A Passion For Singing Has Kept Group Going 42 Years

By Lee

From left to right: James E. Hill, Elvin Rowe, Darrell Anderson, Jimmy Mack and Donald Raymond. Not pictured are: Clifford McFadden, Lonnie Johnson and Rick Alexander. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

From left to right: James E. Hill, Elvin Rowe, Darrell Anderson, Jimmy Mack and Donald Raymond. Not pictured are: Clifford McFadden, Lonnie Johnson and Rick Alexander. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

Elvan Rowe Jr. paced the living room of a houseboat at remote San Pablo Bay Harbor while crooning a ballad titled “Just a Kiss” to an audience of some two dozen guests as four other members the Legendary O’Town Passions harmonized behind him doo-wop style.
Wearing a red jacket and black slacks, as did the other singers, Rowe stopped at a woman in black, extended his right hand and, wailing in emotive low-tenor tones, asked, “Can I be your only man?”  The woman, who turned out to be his wife Beatrice, took his hand and nodded in the affirmative.
The group’s bass singer, Clifford McFadden, was missing last Saturday afternoon, yet the Passions’ harmonies were remarkably full, particularly during a rendition of “I’m So Lonely,” a Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes-like number they recorded in 1984.
Donald Raymond, a 10-year member of the Passions who formerly sang with Milton “Mickey” Moore’s Numonics, handled the song’s lead with emotive aplomb. He delivered the line, “Here I am, a shell of a man,” with heart-wrenching urgency, prompting Rowe to quip verbally, “Just look at him.”
Other selections in the eight-song set, rendered alternately to pre-recorded instrumental tracks or entirely a cappella, included “Fed Up,” a blues shuffle the Passions recorded three years ago with John Lee Hooker Jr., and “Not the Father,” their current single on the Fairfield-based Prime USA Records label. “Look at me, I’m on TV,” group leader Jimmy Mack sang on the latter tune, a send-up of paternity-test confrontations that have long kept Maury Povich high in the daytime ratings. A video of “Not the Father” can be found at www.myspace.com/otownpassions.
In the 42 years since West Oakland native Mack joined the Passions, originally a doo-wop group formed in Chicago in 1956, they’ve opened shows for such headliners as the Esther Phillips, the Whispers, Con Funk Shun, Tony Toni Tone and Keyshia Cole, but most of their performances have been for community organizations. They appeared in the late 1960s at benefits for Synanon House and the Black Panther Party’s breakfast program and in more recent times for the Mother Wright Foundation and at such events as the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and the Black Cowboy Parade.
The San Pablo Bay Harbor gathering was a reception for the group’s former manager, Pat Womack, who is currently battling breast cancer, and was hosted by Vincent Lackey, an author and former Olympic weightlifter who lost his wife Kimberly to breast cancer a year and a half ago.
“We started off doing socially conscious music,” said Mack, 52, who has kept the Passions going for the past four decades, recruiting new members when others dropped out. Rounding out the current lineup are James E. Hill and Darrell Anderson.
“We bring our cultural influence in with our music,” Mack added.

TNT’s J. August Richards Is “Raising the Bar”

By Sandra Varner

J. August Richards

J. August Richards

J. August Richards, a University of Southern California (USC) alum, sounded energetic and upbeat, speaking form his Los Angeles home, as he effusively shared his view about the hit television court room drama, “Raising the Bar,” on cable’s hottest network, Turner Network Television (TNT).
The series follows the lives and cases of young lawyers who work on opposite sides – the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office – as well as those who sit in judgment on their cases. Season 2 begins Monday, June 8.  Check local listings for times.
Richards seamlessly inhabits the character, Marcus McGrath, a talented and brilliant, prosecutor with a strong sense of morality and responsibility.  Not one to expect or rely on special treatment, he goes out of his way to prove that a kid from a difficult background can grow up to achieve success despite the obstacles.  He also expects nothing less from the people he prosecutes, refusing to be lenient simply because they might be enduring difficult situations.
The character he portrays mirrors Richards’ strong identity and sensibilities away from the camera.
Having no experience as a lawyer, he holds a deep and abiding respect for the law, cultivated during his college years.  “When I was in college, I took an elective course, Law 101, with Professor Charles Whitebread, a very prominent lawyer,” he said.
“There were about 200 people in the class, but it was literally as if it were he and I.  He really excited me about the concept of law and what the law was; the logic and reason that goes into making laws, defending laws or changing laws.  At the end of the course he said to me, ‘Richards, when you’re done with that acting crap, give me a call.’
“He felt that I had the mind of a lawyer and that I should be a lawyer in real life; of course, I couldn’t tell him that that was never going to happen, but, the law and what goes behind it is something that I feel I really understand.  I feel I could defend myself (if the need arises) and I hope I never have to.”
Fortunately, Richards has only had to deal with criminal activity on TV.  “Ironically, I’ve never had any sort of interaction with the legal system personally, but I have with friends and family.  I understand the thought process behind the legal system but I do think that there are flaws and I do think there are certain aspects of the legal system that unfairly target certain people.  That’s one of the aspects that this show explores.”
Read more at www.Talk2SV.com.

Gospel Singer Launches TV Show

By Sandra Varner

Donnie Mcclurkin

Donnie Mcclurkin

Renowned gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin, has more to share than just a song.  He will soon be seen on television on a weekly basis sharing the spoken word. The New York based pastor/singer has inked a deal with RNN (Regional News Network) to air “Perfecting Your Faith” on WRNN-TV on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. (ET).
The broadcast premiered May 17 and those in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas can check their local listings for exact channel and tune in for worship, inspiration and empowering messages.
The broadcast will launch regionally then expand to a national audience. The networks’ total basic cable and DBS Homes reaches over 5 million TV households.    “Its my privilege to bring Perfecting Faith to the masses through our new television ministry.  These practical messages and prudent instructions from the living Word of God will help you understand the will of God for your life.  So get ready…as every bit of this television ministry helps you in Perfecting Your Faith!” Says McClurkin.
The weekly broadcast will feature sermons delivered by McClurkin from Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, NY where he is the senior pastor.   The 2,700 member church opened its’ doors in 2001 and continues to grow as it increases its community outreach with annual events such as: Church Without Walls – summer services that are held outdoors at a municipal parking lot in Roosevelt, NY, Youth Explosions and the-ever popular New York Call (nycall.org).
The launching of New York Call, a coalition of pastors and churches throughout the tri-state area, was birthed in 2004. Families come together for a day of fun and activities highlighted by a fellowship in the park. Long Island’s Eisenhower Park has served as host to 17,000 plus people at the all day affair.
“We All Are One (Live in Detroit)” is a boldly eclectic collection from McClurkin, moving from the powerfully opener “Trusting in You” and the lilting call and response vibe of “You Are My God and King” (featuring a playful battle of the choir sections on the reprise) to the soul-soothing “Let the River Flow” and a duet with the ever-amazing Karen Clark-Sheard for “Wait on The Lord.”
For more information about the “Perfecting Your Faith” broadcast visit www.perfectingfaith.org.

DVD Tribute to Stanley “Tookie” Williams

By Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor

If Crips gang co-founder and five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stanley “Tookie” Williams had not been executed by the State of California, could he have made a difference in calming troubled inner city neighborhoods and turning the country’s gangsta youth away from street violence and towards a more positive, productive path?
The question can never be answered, of course, but longtime Williams supporter and political-social activist and writer Barbara Becnel of Richmond keeps pushing us to continue asking it, as well as to continue the work Williams began after his conversion from gangsta to gang peace and street violence prevention while he was incarcerated on San Quentin’s Death Row.
Becnel’s latest project is a powerful and poignant hour-long documentary on the events surrounding Williams’ execution-”Tribute: Stanley Tookie Williams”-now available both in DVD and for showing at large venues.
The documentary is not a biography of Williams, but is an account of the events immediately preceding and following his execution. In fact, Williams himself only appears as something of a spirit-vision, never in motion but only as a series of mostly-black-and-white montage photographs, speaking only once, like a ghostly echo, at the film’s end.
The effect is like having just missed an earthquake or a lightning bolt striking a tree in the front yard, or a meteor blazing into the atmosphere across the night sky, and then sitting and listening to a group telling you about the experience.
“Tribute” switches back and forth in random order between three events-the vigil outside the grounds of San Quentin on the night of Williams’ execution in December of 2005, his funeral services, and a staged re-enactment of his execution held at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater on the first anniversary of his death.
Of the three events, the staged re-enactment is the weakest. By many witness accounts, Williams’ execution was botched, with the attending nurse unable at first to find a vein amidst Williams’ powerful arm muscles, and Williams later appearing to violently shake and suffer far longer than the swift passing of sentence the State of California contends. In all, the execution took 35 minutes to complete. The Black Rep re-enactment fails to capture what must have been the horror of those long moments.
But that is more than made up from the live footage of speakers at the San Quentin vigil and the Los Angeles funeral-the vigil in grainy black and white, the funeral in feature-length movie quality color. The funeral footage includes excerpts from a speech by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a eulogy by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, who called Williams “the patron saint of all those struggling in gang life.”
But more powerful-if that seems possible-are the remarks by film producer Rudy Langlais, who witnessed Williams’ execution and recounts in quiet, understated tones both the execution itself and Williams’ last meeting with a small group of supporters-including Becnel-in his cell six hours before his death. Also included is footage of a poem read by rapper Snoop Dogg at the funeral, who credited Williams with turning him away from the gangsta life, and who breaks down in tears before its ending.
“TRIBUTE: Stanley Tookie Williams” can be purchased through the Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network at http://www.stwlegacy.net/. The website also includes a trailer on the movie, as well as information on where and when the movie will be shown.

Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” Gets Movie Deal

By Sandra Varner

According to reports from The Hollywood Reporter, “Good Hair,” the HBO Films documentary, which won a special jury prize when it premiered at Sundance in January, looks at hair culture in the black community. Roadside Attractions is set to release the film theatrically in the fall.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock

“I’m very happy to be working with the good people at Roadside Attractions,” Rock said. “I loved the job they did with ‘Super Size Me’ and hope we can have similar success.”
Rock produced and co-wrote “Hair,” and Jeff Stilson directed. The doc is a travelogue that explores the way hairstyles affect the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships and self-esteem of Black people. Ice-T, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symone, Maya Angelou and Rev. Al Sharpton share on-camera stories and observations.
Currently, Rock is filming “Death at a Funeral,” which he co-wrote and stars in. He also has “Grown Ups” in production with Adam Sandler.

Over 30,000 Attended Richmond’s Cinco de Mayo Festival

<p>This year’s Cinco de Mayo Festival in Richmond, hosted by the 23rd Street Merchants Association, was a huge success, according to organizers. Despite the damp weather, over 30,000 people from around the Bay Area attended the event, which featured three music stages, a dancing horse show, team members of the San Jose Earthquakes signing autographs and over 60 vendors. The festival highlighted the 23rd Street shopping district as more people are coming to become aware of this hidden gem that exists in the East Bay, said the organizers, who thanked the City of Richmond, police and fire departments, Chevron, Mechanics Bank and Sims Metal for their support and cooperation. Photos by Gene Hazzard and graphics by Alapi Bhatt.</p>

This year’s Cinco de Mayo Festival in Richmond, hosted by the 23rd Street Merchants Association, was a huge success, according to organizers. Despite the damp weather, over 30,000 people from around the Bay Area attended the event, which featured three music

stages, a dancing horse show, team members of the San Jose Earthquakes signing autographs and over 60 vendors.
The festival highlighted the 23rd Street shopping district as more people are coming to become aware of this hidden gem that exists in the East Bay, said the organizers, who

thanked the City of Richmond, police and fire departments, Chevron, Mechanics Bank and Sims Metal for their support and cooperation. Photos by Gene Hazzard and graphics by Alapi Bhatt.

This year’s Cinco de Mayo Festival in Richmond, hosted by the 23rd Street Merchants Association, was a huge success, according to organizers. Despite the damp weather, over 30,000 people from around the Bay Area attended the event, which featured three music stages, a dancing horse show, team members of the San Jose Earthquakes signing autographs and over 60 vendors. The festival highlighted the 23rd Street shopping district as more people are coming to become aware of this hidden gem that exists in the East Bay, said the organizers, who thanked the City of Richmond, police and fire departments, Chevron, Mechanics Bank and Sims Metal for their support and cooperation. Photos by Gene Hazzard and graphics by Alapi Bhatt.

The Black West: Buffalo Soldiers, Black Cowboys

The largest exhibition of Western art by Black artists ever assembled opens December 20 at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

“The Black West: Buffalo Soldiers, Black Cowboys and Untold Stories” features 65 works of art by 16 contemporary African American artists. Visitors to the museum can view the exhibition through March 22, 2009.

“The Black West” is an important and groundbreaking exhibition because it tells the often overlooked story of Blacks in the West through the art of contemporary African American artists. In addition to the stories of Black cowboys and buffalo soldiers, the art chosen for the exhibition focuses on the complete African American experience in the West, encompassing Black explorers, lawmen, rodeo stars, outlaws, and women. Read more

Bay Area Black Music Awards Set for Dec. 13

The Second Annual Bay Area Black Music Awards (BMA) will honor superstars like Hammer, Joe Sample, George Duke, Tower of Power, Shelia E and the Oakland Symphony.

The event will pay tribute to entertainers from around the Bay Area who have been nominated in categories such as jazz, hip-hop, blues, spoken word, R&B and neo soul. This year, the event will also present the Bay Area Gospel Jubilee Awards.

The BMA will be held Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Berkeley Community Theater, 1930 Allston Way, Berkeley. The show will begin with red carpet ceremonies at 6 p.m. and awards at 7 p.m.

In addition to awards for major entertainers, this year the BMA will feature Verge Awards, recognition of entertainers who are on the verge of major stardom.

Tickets and exhibit booth reservations are now being sold and accepted by phoning (510) 393-7930. Information on the BMA is also available at www.americanblackmusicawards.com

African-American Baritone-Bass in Heavenly Performance

baritone.jpgThe choir, orchestra, soloists and smaller ensembles prior to performance.  Photos by Adam Turner

On Sunday, the 23rd of November, at Hertz Hall (UC Berkeley) “superlative comments only” was the rule after the University of California Alumni Chorus, augmented by the UC Men’s Choral and UC Women’s Choral, plus selected voices from the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Choir performed as a 170-voice choir.

The choir, together with a talented women’s ensemble – Perfect Fifth, and, professional soloists, plus a 26-piece orchestra provided the musical background for the 14th best film of all time – Carl Dreyer’s silent movie, “The Passion of Joan of Arc”. The oratorio background, “Voices of Light”, was a composition by Richard Einhorn. Read more

DeVon Franklin’s Hollywood Executive Star is Rising

devonfranklin.jpgThe producer’s chair in Hollywood is rarely occupied by African Americans, but things are changing.  DeVon Franklin, a Bay Area native  who attended Albany High School and earned Business Administration degree from USC, has been recently named vice president of production at Columbia Pictures.

The dynamic Franklin has already become a major player in the industry having worked on box office hits such as “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Hancock,” both starring Will Smith, which grossed $305 million and $550 million, respectively.

Franklin began his career as an intern for Handprint Entertainment, and went on to work as a production assistant to James Lassiter at Overbrook Entertainment..  He then became an executive at Tracy Edmond’s, Edmonds Entertainment.

In addition to his entertainment industry pursuits, Franklin is a Christian minister and motivational speaker.  He travels from Los Angeles to Oakland at least one weekend a month to preach at Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries, where he is an ordained Elder. Read more

Donald Greene, Post’s New Art Writer

By Donald Greene
Alameda County Arts Commissioner

I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity to express my professional artistic expertise, opinions, and criticisms about art. Frankly speaking, I love telling the truth about art, music, and the people that create it.

“Art is the creative play of the human mind.” This definition was offered by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gary Snyder in 1975. It was a good insight then and today it continues to be useful and very true.

When we peel away all that our society has said about “art”- the business of art, the status of art, the cultural importance of art – we are left with nothing more than a playful, curious human impulse, an impulse that knows neither its ultimate destination nor how it may finally arrive.

Everyone can experience the joy of art. It is in us as a God-given gift.

I will be writing a column about the arts, covering current art exhibits, one person and group shows, poetry, photography, local museums, theatre and dance groups, music events, movie notices, and reviews. The world of art for daily functional living for collecting and investment is also an area that will be addressed in my column.

“House of Hennessey, Flaunt Your Style” Party

By Paula D. Londow

ChefBrian.jpgA recent “House of Hennessey, Flaunt Your Style” party was a special occasion to remember for its great ambiance, an impressive Oakland mansion with a panoramic view, an abundance of the Bay Area’s “cream of the crop” and Hennessey-inspired cuisine by Chef Brian of Bravo’s “Top Chef” fame.

The fall evening, Oct. 24, was a perfect backdrop for an event that made everyone forget, if only momentarily, the ills of the world.  Mojitos, Sidecars and Fly Girls, all made with Hennessey, were a few of the scrumptious cocktails that kept the guests standing in line for refills. Chef Brian’s celebrated skills were evident in his original cuisine, enhanced by Hennessey, and presented in the form of “Original Fried Shrimp with Hennessey inspired BBQ Sauce”, “Salmon Croquettes on Homemade Flour Tortillas with Chef Brian’s Original Divine Hennessey inspired Seafood Sauce”, “Mini 2oz Cheeseburgers” and his “Original Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Relish.”

On the walls was an exhibition of photo installation art by Oakland artist and photographer Keba Konte. Prominently displayed was his memorable interpretation of an album cover of Sly Stone. Read more

91-Year-Old, Blind Author Comes to the Bay Area

EvaRutland.jpgEva Rutland, a  91-year-old blind author,  will be coming to Oakland Nov. 1 to sign copies of her book, “When We Were Colored, a Mother’s Story,” at the African American Museum & Library, 659 14th St., Oakland.
Eva Rutland’s memoir chronicles her life as a black mother raising four children in the 1950s and 1960s during the early days of integration.
Rutland went blind in her fifties, but she continues to write and has published more than 20 novels, mostly Harlequin romances.
Her first book “When We Were Colored” was originally published in 1964 and tells the story of a middle class black family living in Sacramento, California in the 1950’s and 1960’s, before civil rights when segregation was legal and discrimination was the norm. Read more

Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Autobiography At Marcus Book Stores

leebook.jpg“Her sense of justice – and injustice – runs about as deep as it’s possible to go.”  Those are the words of BONO, lead singer of U2 and cofounder of the anti-poverty organization ONE, written on the back of the cover of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s first book.
Lee’s passion for justice and peace are better understood as you read her uninhibited life story which included domestic violence, teen pregnancy, abortion and public assistance.  She opens the book with the story of her birth which was surrounded with racism and inhumane treatment as her Mother, Mildred Massey, in need of a Cesarean Section, was refused admission to Hotel Dieu Hospital in El Paso, Texas. She remembers her father and step-father who served in the Army and “returned to America where racism, segregation, and degradation were legally institutionalized by the government”. Read more

TV Star Gives Back To The Community

By Wade Woods

takewinge.jpgTerri Vaughn who stared in the Steve Harvey sitcom playing the girl friend of Cedric the Entertainer and a product of San Francisco founded a foundation to assist young women in Bay Area inner cities.
The Take Wings Foundation was founded in 1997 by award winning actress Terri J. Vaughn who is a product of one of California’s most notorious city neighborhoods and has a first hand knowledge of the challenges and choices that teenaged girls are faced with on a daily basis. Out of this first hand knowledge, her own personal success and her desire to give back to her community, she started “Take Wings”.
Ms Vaughn was driven to develop an organization that would specifically address the needs of the young women living in Hunters Point and similar communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more

“Rock the Runway” Show

KBLX 102.9 Radio Personality Nikki Thomas will host the Bay Area Rock the Runway Fashion Show, a benefit for Alameda County groups that are helping foster care youth and other young people become productive adults.
The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 25, 6 p.m.. at the Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive in Oakland.
Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks will be recognized for her outstanding work on the frontlines of youth development. In addition, the program will honor two foster youth with the first annual Learners to Leaders Award.
Cost of the event is $20 general admission, $10 for youth. For information, call (510) 472-0782. Tickets are available online at brownpapertickets.com.