August 08, 2013


By Shirley Hawkins


LAWT Contributing Writer




Jazz fans around the world were stunned to hear of the recent passing of legendary Grammy-winning keyboardist and producer George Duke, who died Monday night in Los Angeles from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Duke, who composed, sang, arranged and produced in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres, was most noted for his love for electronic jazz, funk, R&B, and acoustic jazz. His lengthy career spanned forty-plus decades.


His penchant for experimentation led him to collaborate with artists such as Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Barry Manilow and several of Brazil’s top musicians. The prolific musician also worked with jazz greats Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderly, Al Jarreau and Stanley Clarke. Duke was well known in the music industry as a successful record producer as well--his “magic touch” graced the recordings of Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Jill Scott, The Pointer Sisters, Anita Baker, Jeffrey Oborne, Deniece Williams, and Rachelle Ferrell.


The multi-faceted musician is also noted for playing keyboards on Michael Jackson’s 1979 album, “Off the Wall.” Duke became entranced with music at the age of four years old after seeing Duke Ellington perform. 


“I don’t remember it too well…but my mother told me I went crazy,” Duke said on his website.  “I ran around saying, ‘Get me a piano, get me a piano!”


Born in San Rafael, California, Duke said he learned a lot about music by going to church. He played in high-school jazz groups and was heavily influenced by his idol, Miles Davis. He earned degrees in trombone, composition and contrabass from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in composition from San Francisco State University.


He first won international acclaim on 1969’s “The Jean Luc-Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio,” considered one of the first fusion jazz recordings. Duke also played with the Don Ellis Orchestra, Cannonball Adderly’s band and with jazz musician Stanley Clarke. Eager to strike out on his own, Duke became a solo artist in 1976 and released more than 30 albums.


Duke brought jazz-funk fusion to the forefront with several groundbreaking albums in the ‘70s, including “Faces in Reflection,” “The Aura Will Prevail” and “Liberated Fantasies.”  All three albums are considered classics of jazz-funk fusion.


Leon “Ndugu” Chancler was one of Duke’s close associates and fellow musicians who knew him for 45 years and began playing with him 42 years ago and will most remember his friend’s spirit and being jovial all the time.


“He had a saying for everything, and his favorite saying was ‘I’m Just trying to Make a Living!,’” Remembered Chancler.


“My fondest memory of him is the two of us in the studio and drinking wine. I made about 20 albums with him including ‘Reach For It’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ which were big at the time. He loved his wife, loved his music and loved his wine,” Chancler told the Sentinel.


Longtime friend and respected bass player Byron Miller played with Duke for over 40 years and recorded three songs with him that will be released on his upcoming CD, but it is the legacy of his friend that he will carry with him going forward.


“I knew him for 40 years and played with him for 40 years. I last played with him in June when we were recording my CD and we recorded three songs. I will keep the funk alive and my legacy with him is always going to be his biggest hits, so every time they play his hits they play me,” said Miller.


His prodigious talent did not go unnoticed--Duke earned a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album as the producer for Dianne Reeve’s “In the Moment—Live in Concert (2000)” and for “The Calling” (2001). A little more than a year ago, Duke’s wife, Corinne, died of cancer. Duke was devastated and could not make music for months. But last month, Duke overcame his grief and released “DreamWeaver,” which many consider a touching and poignant tribute to his wife.


Among his many achievements, Duke also worked as musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards and other special events. Several of his songs were featured on soundtracks for “The Five Heartbeats” and “Karate Kid III.” Duke’s son, Rashid, thanked his father’s fans in a statement released Tuesday.


“The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father’s friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming,” he said.


Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), was saddened by Duke’s passing. 


“Grammy winner George Duke was a multitalented producer and keyboardist whose sound infused jazz, funk and R&B throughout his 40-year-plus career, he said in a statement. 


“His immense talent will live on through the hundreds of recordings he’s given the world, and we send our sympathies to his family, friends, and all who were touched by his soulful music.”


Assistant Managing Editor Kenneth Miller contributed to this article.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 08, 2013

LAWT News Service


Members of the NAACP are congratulating Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who was named the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy, which produces the annual Oscar ceremony, has not had a female president since 1983, and has never had an African-American president in its 86-year history.

“Cheryl Boone Isaacs is a wonderful selection for an organization that is seeking to expand diversity and inclusion,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “As one racial barrier is broken, we are excited to see what Ms. Isaacs will do to break down even more barriers in the industry.”

 “We recognize the election of Cheryl Boone Isaacs as an historic moment in Hollywood,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. “This appointment sends a clear message to the rest of Hollywood. We believe her selection will encourage the studios and networks to empower more women and minorities throughout the entertainment industry.”

 “Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ appointment is another step in the right direction for the Academy and diversity in Hollywood,” stated Robin Harrison of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. “We congratulate her and look forward to the Academy’s work and influence under her new leadership.”

 Isaacs’ career includes stints in marketing and publicity, previously working at New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures. At the Academy, she previously served as first vice president, and has served in every other office within the or­gan­ization. Her role will include selecting a host for the Oscars telecast.

 In July of this year, the Academy sought to expand racial and ethnic diversity among its voting members by inviting 276 new members from various backgrounds. The Academy also hired former NAACP Hollywood Bureau Exec­utive Director Vicangelo Bulluck as managing director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives, to help foster inclusion and diversity.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 01, 2013



It looks like the struggles in which Kelly Rowland sings about in ballad/ musical confessional “Dirty Laundry” are long gone. The music video for the personal song debuted on Monday, July 22nd and Ms. Kelly is seen crying through much of the video as she confesses to being jealous of “sister” Beyonce’s success and abuse from a former boyfriend. However, the rough patch seems to be over and everything is coming up roses for Rowland.

Kelly has just landed an exciting new gig as the new brand ambassador of luxury car company, Jaguar. The singer was spotted in Miami on set of a commercial for the British car company. In addition to being the face of Jaguar, Kelly is also keeping busy promoting her Talk a Good Game album and hosting the newest “X Factor” show!

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 01, 2013




Harmonious communications are part of your charm, and you’ll get far this week by speaking your word in an easy-going way. You’ll find that your domestic arrangements are very comfortable to you.


Soul Affirmation: I let my words reveal the not-so-hidden truth about my being.
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 12






This week is a good week to get in touch with your emotional self. You will respond well to what people close to you will ask from you.  Your loved ones will appreciate your kindness when they find out how highly sensitive you are to their needs.


Soul Affirmation: My life itself is my greatest creation.
Lucky Numbers: 8, 19, 54






You know what you want and you have the ability to make it happen.  Step into action at work this week and you will get a lot done. You can get what you want without being too demanding. Enjoy the time you have with your family. True rewards come from those who are related to you by blood.


Soul Affirmation: Truth is revealed in the smallest grain of sand.
Lucky Numbers: 2, 4, 6






Live this week with an adventurer’s spirit. Trade in the comfortable for the exciting; the reliable for intriguing; the familiar for the new. Perhaps a change of scenery will get you started. You will rediscover feelings that you have denied yourself for a while


Soul Affirmation: Communication is a skeleton key that fits many doors.
Lucky Numbers: 10, 12, 13






If you’ve just made a power move in your work life or love life, you couldn’t have timed it any better. There will be a new level of appreciation and admiration for your leadership and forcefulness.


Soul Affirmation: I work hard to combat envy this week.
Lucky Numbers: 15, 30, 34






You’ve made your point. Now wait. Wait for the feedback about the impact it had on the people around you. Be careful of those who don’t celebrate with you. They feel the impact and are resisting the positive effects.


Soul Affirmation:  Before goodness can come I must expect goodness.
Lucky Numbers: 5, 16, 23






Be sharp! All of your needs will be met in indirect ways. Gifts will come from unexpected sources. They will be carefully packaged to go unnoticed. Unwrap everything and look inside. There will be empty boxes, but there will also be a prize in an unanticipated situation.


Soul Affirmation: I look for the good in all that comes to me this week.
Lucky Numbers: 3, 10, 41






Don’t respond to situations in a hasty manner this week. Your impulsive side is strong. Suppress it. Play a game called self-control. You know that this is the kind of game that you can win easily. Smile as you play at not being emotionally affected by an important matter, and eventually you’ll really won’t be emotionally affected.


Soul Affirmation: I give my mind a holiday again this week.
Lucky Numbers: 4, 28, 50






Offer to help someone in your office who is struggling with a difficult project that you have mastered in the past. There will be several birthday celebrations that you are invited to. Attend them all!   Celebrate!


Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week.
Lucky Numbers: 12, 19, 22






Think of who you like to have fun with. Give them a call. Plan something that diverts you from your unexciting tasks. Spend some money. Find a place that jumps. Jump with it. Flirt. Even serious people flirt once in a while, especially if you’ve worked your buns off all week.


Soul Affirmation: The true path is mapped out by my impulses.
Lucky Numbers: 9, 10, 27






You’re likely to experience a blast from the past. An acquaintance will meet up with you again. Don’t be shy in establishing a more solid friendship this time. It could lead to something important professionally or personally. Love sometimes works better the second time around.


Soul Affirmation: Smooth communications is the key to my success this week.
Lucky Numbers: 16, 17, 20






Who are the people who are empowered to assist you? The material objective you are focused on right now is very do-able. All you need is some assistance. Ask for it. It’s coming soon.


Soul Affirmation: I let positive emotions carry me through the week.
Lucky Numbers: 33, 37, 42



Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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