Articles

June 27, 2013

By Kenneth Miller

Entertainment Editor

 

Teenage pop dynamo Jadagrace, who was discovered by LMFAO’s Redfoo, will perform her debut hit single, “Run Dat Back,” on Saturday at the Taste of Soul Community Stage.

The track, which earned Jadagrace major buzz on Radio Disney, is the first single from Jadagrace’s upcoming debut album for Epic Records. She is currently working with veteran record executive Kerry Gordy and Epic’s Tricky Stewart, who has produced tracks for Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, among many others. R&B legend Smokey Robinson has been mentoring Jadagrace in the studio and has lent his vocal and production talents to the project as well.

Jadagrace shows off her performing chops in the dance-driven video for “Run Dat Back,” which features her own choreography and an appearance by LMFAO’s Redfoo. The video premiered recently on VEVO.

Last year, Jadagrace embarked on a 50-show tour that included performing at schools across Southern California, which she will continue to do in 2013. She also recently sang the National Anthem in front of 50,000 cheering fans at Dodger Stadium.

The 13-year-old singer, dancer, and actress is already a triple-threat who got her start from the legendary Debbie Allen at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy at the age of three. In addition to being a gifted singer and dancer, Jadagrace is an accomplished actress, landing the role of “Star” in the 2009 action movie Terminator: Salvation, alongside Christian Bale and Sam Worthington.

Jadagrace also has her own television series, The Jadagrace Show (a series about a 12-year-old girl who gets her own television show after a video she uploaded on the Internet goes viral). Her song, “Run Dat Back”, was included as a “new artist” track on volume 42 of Now That’s What I Call Music in 2012 and released her first single entitled “Express Yourself” when she was nine years old.

This super talented and gifted teen is so dynamic her many gifts couldn’t be wrapped before opening.

To say that she came into the world, singing, dancing, acting and bringing bountiful joy to all would be short circuiting it.

Parent Category: News
Category: Lifestyle

November 29, 2012

By DAVID McFADDEN Associated Press

 

The robed Rastafarian priest looked out over the turquoise sea off Jamaica’s southeast coast and fervently described his belief that deliverance is at hand.

Around him at the sprawling Bobo Ashanti commune on an isolated hilltop, a few women and about 200 dreadlocked men with flowing robes and tightly wrapped turbans prayed, fasted, and fashioned handmade brooms — smoking marijuana only as a ceremonial ritual.

“Rasta church is rising,” declared Priest Morant, who wore a vestment stitched with the words “The Black Christ.” “There’s nothing that can turn it back.”

The Rastafarian faith is indeed rising in Jamaica, where new census figures show a roughly 20 percent increase in the number of adherents over a decade, to more than 29,000. While still a tiny sliver of the mostly Christian country's 2.7 million people, Jalani Niaah, an expert in the Rastafari movement, says the number is more like 8 to 10 percent of the population, since many Rastas disdain nearly all government initiatives and not all would have spoken to census takers.

“Its contemporary appeal is particularly fascinating to young men, especially in the absence of alternative sources for their development,” said Niaah, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies.

Founded 80 years ago by descendants of African slaves, the Rasta movement’s growing appeal is attributable to its rejection of Western materialism, the scarcity of opportunities for young men in Jamaica and an increasing acceptance of it.

For the black nationalist Bobo Ashanti commune, the Rastafarian faith is a transforming way of life, where Rastas strive to live a frugal existence uncomplicated by binding relationships to “Babylon” — the unflattering term for the Western world. They share a deep alienation from modern life and Jamaica is perceived as a temporary harbor until prophecy is fulfilled and they journey to the promised land of Africa on big ships.

Life is highly regimented at the isolated retreat, cut off from most of the comforts of modern society. But it has a strong appeal for some, among them 27-year-old Adrian Dunkley, who joined the strict sect two months ago after years of questioning his Christian upbringing and struggling to find work as an upholsterer.

“This place is helping me a whole heap. I’m learning every day, and things are starting to make sense,” the new recruit known as Prince Adrian said in the shade of one of dozens of scrap-board buildings painted in the bright Rastafarian colors of red, green and gold.

Other Rastafari adherents follow a more secular lifestyle, marked by a passion for social justice, the natural world, reggae music and the ritualistic use of pot to bring them closer to the divine.

A melding of Old Testament teachings and Pan-Africanism, Rastafarianism emerged in colonial-era Jamaica in the 1930s out of anger over the oppression of blacks. Its message was spread by the reggae songs created by musical icons Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear and others in the 1970s, and the movement has attracted a following among reggae-loving Americans, Europeans and Asians. Academics believe at least 1 million people practice it worldwide.

In the United States, the population of Rastafarians appears to be steadily growing due in part to jailhouse conversions, said Charles Price, associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of “Becoming Rasta: Origins of Rastafari Identity in Jamaica.”

“I regularly get letters from inmates seeking information,” Price said. “I also get regular invitations to talk to prisoners at local North Carolina juvenile facilities, often from chaplains trying to figure out what to do.”

Besides the well-known ritual use of marijuana, Rastas endeavor to reject materialist values and practice a strict oneness with nature, eating only unprocessed foods and leaving their hair to grow, uncombed, into dreadlocks.

Most of its many sects worship the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, even though he was widely considered a despot in his native land and paid little heed to his adulation by faraway Caribbean people whose ancestry tended to be West African and not Ethiopian.

The worship of Selassie is rooted in Jamaican black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey’s 1920s prediction that a “black king shall be crowned” in Africa, ushering in a “day of deliverance.” When an Ethiopian prince named Ras Tafari, who took the name Haile Selassie I, became emperor in 1930, the descendants of slaves in Jamaica took it as proof that Garvey’s prophecy was being fulfilled. When Selassie came to Jamaica in 1966, he was mobbed by cheering crowds, and many Rastafarians insisted miracles and other mystical happenings occurred during his visit.

Adherents were long treated as second-class citizens in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, looked down on for their dreadlocks and use of marijuana. But discrimination never stopped businessmen from cashing in on the faith, whose red, green and gold clothing and accessories earn millions in sales of T-shirts, crocheted caps and other items. Marley’s music and the faith's pot-laced mysticism has also been used to promote Jamaica as a tourist destination

Rastafarian and veteran reggae luminary Tony Rebel said discrimination against Rastas has faded considerably in recent years in Jamaica.

“That discriminatory vibe has relaxed. But even so, we still we don’t see a person with locks working in a bank these days, we don’t see a person with locks in the police force as we would see in America or other places,” Rebel said.

The first dreadlocked politician in Jamaica’s Parliament was elected only last year.

Many Rastas advocate reparations for slavery and a return to Africa. The latter is a particularly fervent desire among those at Bobo Ashanti, who differ from other Rasta sects in the belief that their founder, King Emmanuel Charles Edwards, was the black incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Some Jamaicans dismiss the faith as bizarre.

“There is a whole part of the society that would still consider Rastafari to be delusional, and this is largely hinged on the claims made about Emperor Haile Selassie and also the consumption of (marijuana) and the idea of repatriation,” Niaah said.

But for adherents like Prince Xavier, a 27-year-old Frenchman who moved to the Bobo Ashanti commune a couple of years after being introduced to Rastafarians in his native Paris, it’s providing answers and a positive self-identity.

“I’m learning a lot about Rastafari and about our heritage,” said the bearded Frenchman, clad in a red turban and black robe. “It is a matter of life and death.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Lifestyle

August 30, 2012

 

Associated Press

 

 

 

Will.i.am has premiered his new single — from Mars.

 

The NASA rover Curiosity beamed to Earth his new song “Reach for the Stars” on Tuesday August 28 in the first music broadcast from another planet, to the delight of students who gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to listen.

 

The song had been uploaded to the rover, which landed near the equator of Mars, and played back — a journey of some 700 million miles.

 

The musician, who promotes science and mathematics education, was among more than a dozen celebrities who were invited to JPL to watch Curiosity’s landing earlier this month. Others included Wil Wheaton, Seth Green and Morgan Freeman.

 

In 2008, NASA beamed the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” into the cosmos to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the song.

 

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September 06, 2012

Associated Press

 

R&B diva Patti LaBelle has agreed to pay $100,000 to a Manhattan woman who accused her of hurling curses and water at her and her 18-month-old daughter during a dust-up over parenting in an apartment building lobby.

Roseanna Monk and her husband, Kevin, filed a lawsuit against LaBelle last year.

The couple lives in a Manhattan building where the Grammy Award-winning singer stayed while appearing in the Broadway musical “Fela!”

The couple’s lawyer, Sam Davis, tells the New York Post LaBelle settled the case even before being deposed. The Monks will donate the money to a children’s cancer charity.

LaBelle’s publicist declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, LaBelle chastised Roseanna Monk, threw a bottle of water and launched into an obscenity-filled tirade during the Nov. 11, 2010 argument.

Parent Category: News
Category: Lifestyle

June 28, 2012

By JESSE WASHINGTON | Associated Press

 

Let’s get this out of the way up front: R. Kelly’s autobiography does not discuss what really happened with the sex tape that almost sent him to prison. It does not include a single word about Aaliyah, the late singer Kelly allegedly married when she was 15. Other tantalizing incidents and individuals are glossed over. A tell-all, this is not.

 

Instead, “Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me” recounts the creative and family life of a once-in-a-generation performer and musician. Despite its guarded tone, the book is a vivid and entertaining journey that reveals much about the musical engine of a true artist.

 

Kelly, whose ability to write and produce hits for himself and others is unparalleled in modern R&B, does confront the defining theme of his career: the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, the sexual and the spiritual.

 

In the first paragraph of his life story, Kelly’s beloved mother promises that he “could achieve all things through Christ Jesus.” Turn the page, and Mama Joann is sneaking 5-year-old Robert into a lounge where she is singing with her band. Next she's in church, speaking in tongues. A few pages later, 8-year-old Robert is inside his mother's house on the South Side of Chicago, taking pornographic pictures of adults and being molested by a teenage girl.

 

And people question how “Sex Weed” and “U Saved Me” can come from the same man?

 

Music was a constant presence inside young Robert. He literally had sounds cascading through his mind, “like I had a radio playing nonstop in my head . I would hear melodies, although I never knew what they meant. In fact, I thought everybody heard the music.”

 

Kelly also never knew his father and could not read due to an undiagnosed disability. (Kelly says he is still illiterate; his book was written with David Ritz, biographer of Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, and other giants.) The only reason Kelly graduated from elementary school was because he could play basketball. All this created a shy, shameful boy who often felt “like an alien,” a phrase that reappears throughout the book.

 

Kelly credits his middle-school music teacher, Lena McLin, with recognizing his talent. As Kelly tells it, the first time McLin laid eyes on him in class, she singled him out and said: “You are going to be famous. You are going to write songs for Michael Jackson. You are going to travel the world.”

 

Did she really say that without hearing him sing or play a note? It's difficult to decide, especially since Kelly shades the facts elsewhere in the book. It’s obvious, however, that Kelly loves McLin, and that she played an enormous role in Kelly’s development. Strangely, she vanishes from the book after Kelly drops out of high school, and one can’t help but wonder what this God-fearing pastor thought of her star pupil's raunchy material.

 

“Soulacoaster” goes on to describe the rise of Kelly’s career and engrossing details of the creation of his many classic songs and albums. Fans of Kelly and black music in general will enjoy his description of working with artists from Jackson (Kelly wrote “You Are Not Alone” for him, unasked) to Celine Dion (“I’m Your Angel”) to Notorious BIG (the title of their best collaboration can't be printed here).

 

His description of how he created “I Believe I Can Fly” must be read to be believed (it involves childhood dreams and melodies realized decades later). And Kelly does go into some detail about the conflicts with Jay Z during their tour, which led to Kelly being pepper-sprayed backstage and fleeing Madison Square Garden arena in the middle of a show.

 

He can get defensive at times. “I never considered my music sinful,” he says. “For the most part, what people see onstage — R. Kelly bumping and grinding, dropping my pants, seducing women — that’s all show business. What I do onstage doesn’t mean I jump off the stage and continue my act in real life.”

 

But Kelly’s sex life looms large over the book. He is frank about his inability to remain faithful to his girlfriends or wife. And a shadow is cast by Kelly’s trial on child pornography charges, which stemmed from a videotape that prosecutors said showed Kelly having sex with a minor.

 

Kelly was acquitted of all charges. The brief paragraphs where he discusses the “supposed sex tape” feel legally sanitized, and well-known stories about who leaked the tape and why are never addressed. “Certain episodes could not be included for complicated reasons,” Kelly writes in the author’s note at the beginning of the book.

 

In this all-access, reality-show era, it feels odd for a musician as bold as Kelly not to bare all. But when it comes to Kelly’s music, “Soula­coaster” leaves a clear picture of an artist, unbowed, who still has “thousands of songs to write and sing.”

 

Parent Category: News
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