June 14, 2012

By Brandon I. Brooks

Co-Managing Editor


The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin is set to perform on Wednesday, July 25 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. 


Franklin shared with the Sentinel in an exclusive interview that she is excited about the performance and that she is “coming, slamming.”


It’s been about two years since Franklin last made an appearance in Los Angeles so the anticipation has been brewing for quite some time.


With a colorful catalogue of music spanning over 6 decades, Franklin shared that it’s difficult to pick a favorite song to perform but she does favor the many renditions and twists she has put on the world famous track, “Respect” over the years. 


“I find new ways and new things to do to it to keep it enjoyable to me as well,” said Franklin when referring to performing and reinventing the song “Respect.”   


Speaking of reinvention, Franklin spoke about her new album she is working on with Clive Davis due out later this year (September).


“Expect the best,” said Franklin.  “Clive and I are looking for the best and the baddest material out there.  Right now, we are in the process of gathering the material and talking to different writers.  Ne-Yo and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds are among the writers we are talking too and getting material from.”  


Being that Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest performance singers we have ever seen, male or female; I was interested in finding out what she considers her most memorable and precious performing moment? 


Franklin shared that no moment in her career was more precious than the experience of performing for President Barack Obama at the inauguration in 2009. Many people do not know but Senator Diane Feinstein of California, reached out on behalf of the Obama administration for her participation.  


“That certainly right off the top is unforgettable,” said Franklin.  “That was off course as you know a historical moment and something that just will never happen again in history.  That was a first and it will just never happen again.  That was the ice cream on the cake in my career.”


With all that she has accomplished in her music career, Franklin was asked how she enjoys her time outside of music. She shared that like most women, she loves to “shop and peruse the market.”  More importantly, she is watching and keeping up with her health.    


“I am working out trying to maintain my weight loss for sure,” said Franklin.  “And I use to play tennis a little bit.  I haven’t played though in a good little while.  I love tennis though, I love watching it and I am sorry to hear that Serena is out of the game so early this year and her sister Venus.”    


It was fascinating to learn how much she appreciates and adores sports.  Not only was she aware of what’s going on in the sport of tennis, but she was up to date with the current NBA finals series as Oklahoma City Thunder face the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA finals.  She even had time to weigh in on the result as she predicts the Miami Heat will win the championship.


With all of the traveling Aretha Franklin has done over the years it was interesting to find out what are some of her favorite destinations to visit or places she enjoys the most?


“Places I enjoy the most are Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, New York, Miami and love going to Florida but it’s a long drive,” said Franklin.  “The last I came to Los Angeles from Miami, do you know we crossed the country from Florida to Los Angeles and I was talking to Tom Joyner as we were driving and like four days later he said, ‘where are you now?’ And I told him where I was and he said, ‘you are still driving from four days ago?’ I said, ‘we sure are!’ Anyway, by the time I got to Los Angeles I laid down and I had a terrible time getting up, my back was killing me.  I’m telling you I really had a bad time.  I had to have an ice pack on my back.”     


Franklin hopes her journey to Los Angeles will be more pleasurable this time around.  From the looks of things and the excitement brewing up to the show, the stage is set for an unforgettable and evening.


In addition to working on her new album, she is working and producing her son Eddie.  Franklin says that we can anticipate a really good R&B album that is radio friendly and has crossover potential. She plans to appear on the album in a duet with her son so we have to stay tuned to hear what’s coming.     


For more information on Aretha Franklin’s performance at the Nokia Theatre visit http://nokiatheatre­lalive.com/events/festival-detail/163.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012


Associated Press


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — They may have been Oscar rivals earlier this year, but there’s nothing but love between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis.

Streep, who ended Davis’ awards run for “The Help” by winning the lead actress Oscar for “The Iron Lady,” lauded her friend and colleague Tuesday at Women in Film’s annual Crystal + Lucy Awards.

She called Davis “a lion-hearted woman” and a gifted and determined actress who studied at Juilliard, won Tony Awards and captivated Hollywood with her eight-minute performance in “Doubt.”

“She was a newcomer at 45,” Streep joked.

Davis returned the love as she accepted the award.

“I have a confession,” she said, sharing how touched she was when Streep sent her a card after the film wrapped. Davis also kept a photo of the two of them together on set.

“OK Meryl, I framed the card,” Davis said. “So you can never come over to the house.”

Other honorees at the private ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel were actresses Christina Applegate and Chloe Grace Moretz, NBCUniversal Cable chief Bonnie Hammer, cinematographer Anette Haellmigk and five female executives from Fox. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012

By BRETT ZONGKER | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A poet-historian representing a younger generation of writers will soon take office on Capitol Hill, overlooking the politicians, in a lesser-known post enshrined in federal law.

The Library of Congress named Natasha Trethewey on Thursday to be its 19th U.S. poet laureate with a mission to share the art of poetry with a wider audience. The 46-year-old English and creative writing professor at Atlanta's Emory University distinguished herself early, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Trethewey will be the first poet in chief to take up residence in Washington to work at the library’s Poetry Room for part of her term in 2013. As one of the youngest poet laureates ever selected, she also brings fresh perspective to an office more recently held by poets in their 80s.

Part of her work has focused on restoring history that has been erased or forgotten from the official record and the nation’s shared memory. She has researched in the library’s Civil War archive to inform some of her writings.

Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poems, “Native Guard.” She wrote of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

The Confederate prisoners were later memorialized on the island, but not the black Union soldiers.

A stanza reads:

“Some names shall deck the page of history

as it is written on stone. Some will not.”

Librarian of Congress James Billington, who chose Trethewey after hearing her read at the National Book Festival in Washington, said her work explores many tragedies of the Civil War.

“She’s taking us into history that was never written,” he told The Associated Press. “She takes the greatest human tragedy in American history — the Civil War, 650,000 people killed, the most destructive war of human life for a century — and she takes us inside without preaching.”

It’s a “happy coincidence,” he said, that Trethewey was chosen during the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. He was also impressed with her skill in translating a visual image into words and moving from rhyme to free verse — but always keeping her poems accessible.

Trethewey began writing poems after a personal tragedy. While she was a college freshman, her mother was killed by a stepfather Trethewey had long feared.

“I started writing poems as a response to that great loss, much the way that people responded, for example, after 9/11,” she told the AP. “People who never had written poems or turned much to poetry turned to it at that moment because it seems like the only thing that can speak the unspeakable.”

She is the nation’s first poet laureate to hail from the South since the first federal poet — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.

Her term, beginning in September, also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the poetry center and a dedicated poet-consultant position at the world’s largest library.

Trethewey said she hopes to promote national activity around poetry and to engage with the library and people who visit the nation’s capital.

Past poet laureates have included W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove and Warren — the Southern native who was an inspiration for Trethewey. Their agendas as the nation's chief poets have included readings across the country, newspaper syndication of poems and poetry readings over high school public address systems.

Poetry lives in the Trethewey family. Her father, Eric Trethewey, is a poet and college professor. But when she went to graduate school, she was more interested in telling stories and studied fiction writing.

“On a dare that first semester, a poet friend of mine got me to write a poem. I did it because I thought I would prove that I couldn’t do it,” she said. “It was at that moment that something really clicked.”

Her Pulitzer-winning poems also included her personal history as the daughter of interracial parents — and the story of her mother, who died at the age of 40.

In “Miscegenation,” a poem in “Native Guard,” she wrote about her parents' journey to Ohio in 1965 for a marriage that was illegal at home in Mississippi.

“They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong — mis in Mississippi.”

Trethewey’s next collection of poems, “Thrall,” will be published this year. It explores her relationship with her white father and shared and divergent memory within families, along with poems about paintings and the history of knowledge from the Enlightenment. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012

By CHRIS TALBOTT | Associated Press


MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — Everyone loves Kendrick Lamar — from the toughest customers in Compton to the crunchiest fans at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

With a hard-as-nails flow and a socially conscious message, the rising star has proven he fits in anywhere. Crowned the next big thing by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, he also moves comfortably in the tie-dyed world he encountered Thursday on his first visit to the festival.

“I think it just comes from me being myself and not being scared of being myself,” Lamar said of his universal appeal. “When I talk about certain things, it’s something that I want to do and I want to talk about. So when I talk about the streets or I talk about the system or I talk about life in general, all that stuff makes up me. And it comes across in how people here. They feel it because they know it's organic, you know?”

Lamar spoke with The Associated Press in his dressing room minutes before his highly anticipated set that capped what amounted to a new faces of rap segment at Bonnaroo. Detroit's Danny Brown started the run, followed by Alabama’s Yelawolf, who paid tribute to The Beastie Boys’ Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died of cancer last month, with a medley of hits, including “Brass Monkey” and “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Brown returned to the stage to join Lamar for an encore at the end of the night.

That run of some of hip-hop’s most hyped newcomers fit with Lamar’s message of acceptance, one he's been spreading since the start and perfected with his last album, “Section.80.”

“It definitely is a goal to have as many people listen to the music as possible, not just my own backyard cause I’m from Compton,” Lamar said. “I want to have people over in Amsterdam to be able to relate to where I come from. I want the world to be listening to this music because I feel like it's the best music has to offer in the business. As much people as possible. When I say ‘(expletive) your ethnicity’ in the intro to ‘Section.80,’ I really mean that. I don't care where you from, your creed or your color, you’re going to enjoy this music and you’re going to relate to it.”

That was the case at Bonnaroo, where the crowd finished Lamar’s verses on most songs. A musky smoke cloud billowed into the air as he performed his latest single, “The Recipe,” and ode to the best things about Los Angeles that features Dr. Dre. The song’s chorus of “women, weed and weather” fit the night’s vibe perfectly as girls in bikini tops waved joints in the air to DJ MixedbyAli’s beats during unseasonably cool weather than never got out of the 80s.

With Lamar’s set out of the way, he can now return his attention to his much-discussed new album, “Good Kid in a Mad City.” He doesn’t have a release date yet but said he’s been staying tight with his Black Hippy collective of friends despite his move to a major label.

And perhaps someday soon, we’ll get to hear his contributions to Dre’s long-anticipated “Detox.” Lamar spent nine days with his idol, something he spent much of his life day-dreaming about.

“Ah man, crazy,” Lamar said. “I’m a firm believer when you throw something in the universe, it comes back full circle depending on how much you think about it. I used to always think about these legends in the game, so when it finally hit to reality, I can always just imagine all them times I said I want to be amongst the elite and be acknowledged by the elite. Because once they acknowledge you then you know for sure they like you.”


Photo:  ENT-KendrickLamar.jpg


AP Photo/Dave Martin

Rapper Kendrick Lamar performs at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tenn., Thursday, June 7, 2012.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — If video-of-the-year nominee Usher wins at the BET Awards this summer, he won't be far away: He’s agreed to perform at the show.

Rappers 2 Chainz and Big Sean also will take the stage at The Shrine Auditorium on July 1 in Los Angeles. They join previously announced performers Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown.

Comedians Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer will present awards. Samuel L. Jackson will host.

Kanye West has the most nominations with seven. Beyonce follows with six, and her husband, Jay-Z, is up for five.

Usher's competition for the top award includes two collaborative songs by Jay-Z and West, and two songs by Beyonce.

Lil Wayne, Drake and J. Cole also have multiple nominations.

The show airs at 8 p.m. EDT on BET. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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