Happy belated Valentine's Day! Yeah, whatever. Try to shovel your way out of this
winter dumping long enough to have a good read of all the hot news and events
I have a special interview for you this week withCanada's Tamia! We had the opportunity
to sit down for a few minutes last week to talk about many things - you'll fall
in love with her!!
Added to the list of events is the special HIV/AIDS fundraiser Oscar Goes
to Africa Fundraising Event for the StephenLewisFoundation on February 25, 2007. Come out and support!
Don't forget the artistic and athletic dance of the Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theater on February 16-17. Be
sure to mark your calendars for the inspiring sounds of the Grammy-winningSoweto
Gospel Choir on February 27-28. Langfield
Entertainment and The Hummingbird Centre have a special offer for you.
Check out the details below!
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Toronto - Feb. 16-17!
Source: Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
TORONTO, Ontario – For more than 45 years, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theaterhas dazzled audiences from New York City to South Africa to China with unparalleled artistry. After a long awaited return, Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theater is back at The Hummingbird Centre for the
Performing Arts in celebration of Black History Month for three performances
only from February
16 – 17, 2007.
Through captivating performances and unparalleled artistry, the Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theater has been fulfilling AlvinAiley’s
vision that “dance is for everybody… dance came from the people and it should
always be delivered back to the people.” From jazz-inspired works and
intimate portraits to explosive epics teeming with passion, “one cannot deny
the genius behind Ailey’s…stirring eloquence,” says the Washington Post.
Led by Artistic Director Judith Jamison, this magnificent company celebrates an
exhilarating performance, drawing inspiration from a variety of experiences -
life’s joy, sorrows, passions, beauty and ultimate truths. Their
unmistakable style and unsurpassed talent, continue to leave audiences
breathless. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform
several works from its classic repertory–including Revelations, Ailey’s signature masterpiece that
explores African American spirituals, encompassing songs of love, struggle, and
deliverance. The engagement will also include new dances by some of
today’s most exciting, daring, and visionary choreographers.
"There are moments when you watch the
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and begin to believe that the figures on
stage are not quite real. The human body can't really move like that… defies
- Chicago Sun-Times
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16 AND SATURDAY,
FEBRUARY 17 ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing
1 Front St. East
Friday: 8:00 pm
Saturday (two shows) 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $55 - $75
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416-872-2262 or by
Or in person at The Hummingbird Centre Box Office, 1 Front Street East,
GROUPS of 10 or more call: 416-393-7463 or 1-866-737-0805
Oscar Goes to Africa Fundraising Event - Stephen Lewis
Foundation – February 25, 2007
**Win a Trip to Kenya, London-Nairobi-London, courtesy of Kenya Airways**
The Oscar Goes to Africa fundraising event! Your
chance to have an amazing Oscar experience while supporting a unique fundraising initiative for
HIV/AIDS in Africa through the StephenLewisFoundation.
Suggested minimum donation to attend is $100
per person, payable by cheque made out to The Stephen Lewis Foundation, or
by credit card through Canadahelps. Tax receipts will be provided.
The organizers of this event are three Kenyan Canadians who are
greatly committed to raising awareness on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10 percent of the world’s population but is home to
more than 60 percent of all people living with HIV---25.8 million. In 2005, an
estimated 3.2 million people in the region became newly infected, while 2.4
million adults and children died of AIDS. The StephenLewisFoundation
provides essential assistance to those suffering from the crippling pandemic of
HIV/AIDS in this region, currently funding more than 150 projects with more
than 80 organizations in 14 sub-Saharan African
Africa has been the focus of two
critically acclaimed films in the past year; The Last King of Scotland
and Blood Diamond. The brilliant performances by Forest Whittaker
and LeonardoDiCaprio have both been nominated for Oscar awards in the Male
Actor in a Lead Role category. The Oscar Goes to Africa fundraiser
is an opportunity to watch the 79thAnnualAcademy Awards live on a big screen in a
safari picnic themed environment. Attendees will experience
Africa-inspired music, cuisine and beverages at the beautiful Manyata Courtyard
Café in Yorkville, Toronto.
Entertainment will be provided by Washington Savage, The Afro-Fusion Band of
African Musicians, DJKwame’s music - inspired by the soul of Africa and many more.
All guests will receive a special “AsanteSana” basket at the end of the evening.
100% of all funds raised will go to the StephenLewisFoundation.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2007 OSCAR GOES TO AFRICA FUNDRAISING EVENT Manyata Courtyard Café
55 Hazelton Lanes, Yorkville
Doors open at 6pm; screening commences at 8pm sharp
$100 per person (Tax receipts will be provided)
Tickets: visit www.manyata.ca; or Rispah
Adala at 416.980.4494. Hurry as tickets are limited.
Complimentary Refreshments: Full bar including special
Maasai Martinis courtesy of AMARULA, the tasty WINES OF SOUTH AFRICA and Steam
Whistle Breweries GregCouillard’s Samosas and Pakoras courtesy of the Spice Room and Chutney Bar
Safari Burgers and Fries courtesy of Hero Burgers DavidNganga’s Kebabs and NyamaChoma
courtesy of Mobilemiser Inc.
About the StephenLewisFoundation
The StephenLewisFoundation helps to ease the pain of
HIV/AIDS in Africa at the grassroots level. It provides care to women who are ill
and struggling to survive; assists orphans and other AIDS affected children;
supports heroic grandmothers who almost single-handedly care for their orphan
grandchildren; and supports associations of people living with HIV/AIDS. For
more StephenLewisFoundation information please go to www.stephenlewisfoundation.org.
Soweto Gospel Choir Makes Its Triumphant Return To Toronto –
Feb. 27-28, 2007
Source: Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
Langfield Entertainment and The Hummingbird Centre have a
special offer for you. The first 65 people who purchase tickets to Soweto Gospel Choir at The Hummingbird
Centre February 27 & 28 will receive a copy of their new CD, Blessed. Blessed has been nominated for a Grammy
Award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category! For February 27th, follow the link HERE and for February 28th, follow the link HERE and enter in the promo code blessed.Act now - this offer is only available
to the first 65 readers!
Soweto Gospel Choir
is an awe-inspiring vocal ensemble, performing in eight different languages, in
an inspirational program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel.
Returning to The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts after a
standing room only performance in 2005, Soweto Gospel Choirwill
perform two shows only, from February 27 – 28, 2007.
Soweto Gospel Choir has achieved major success inEurope and in South Africa. Drawing on the best musical talents from the many churches
and communities in and around Soweto, the concert will feature a dynamic four-piece band, traditional
dancers and drummers. Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, acapella and
charismatic performances combine to uplift the soul and express, through a
vocal celebration, South
great hopes for the future. The most exciting vocal group to emerge from South Africa since Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Soweto Gospel Choir, will
bring their magnetic energy, joyful spirits and beautiful harmonies to Canadian
audiences. They are much more than simply a musical phenomenon.
Soweto Gospel Choir was created in 2002. DavidMulovhedzi and
South African Executive Producer Beverly Bryer held auditions in Soweto to
form an all-star “super-choir.” They were able to create a powerful
aggregation made up of the best singers from his own Holy Jerusalem Choir, as
well as various Soweto churches and from the general public, including a finalist on the
nationally-televised South African equivalent of “Star Search.” Adorned
in traditional and beautifully coloured South African garb, the choir has been
known to win audiences with their exotic blend of South African spirituals,
traditional Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho gospel songs which are interspersed with
popular songs and folk anthems.
"Nothing can really
prepare you for the riot of exuberance and depth of emotion." -The Scotsman
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 AND WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2007 SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR
The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
1 Front St. East, Toronto, Ontario
Ticket prices range from $35 - $75
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416-872-2262 or by
Or in person at The Hummingbird Centre Box Office, 1 Front Street East,
GROUPS of 10 or more call: 416-393-7463 or 1-866-737-0805
Between Friends Interview With Tamia
9, 2007) Tamia, Canada’s Own
Wonder. Not only is she a mother and wife, but
she’s got an amazing sense of self and substance. What a pleasure to
interview one of Canada’s shining artists! Tamia’s a Grammy-nominated artist and
married to NBAerGrantHill, and her latest offering Between
Friends is one extraordinary and iPod friendly CD
filled with tracks of real R&B that will move you and interludes
that will amuse you. Tamia chose her long-standing producer ShepCrawfordand added Rodney
Jerkins on three tracks as well. This CD gets 5 out of 5 in my
For a little background, Tamia was bon and raised in Windsor, Ontario.
She still remains one of the only
artists to have received Grammy nominations before even releasing an album, all
at the tender age of 19. She is best known for her 2001 solo hit Stranger
In My House and for Into You, her 2003 duet with rapper Fabolous.
After three successful albums, she left Atlantic Records and released
her new album Between Friends independently. Tamia only aspired to
be a vocal coach, but a chance trip brought her to Los Angeles where she caught
the attention of super-producer Quincy
Jones at a 1994 awards show after party.
Tamia speaks to us about life, family, the music business and her battle with
Welcome back home! Do you get a chance to visit us
here in Canada often?
Yes I actually do. My family still lives in Windsor (LaSalle). We go there
all the time, at least every two months. In the winter, they come and
visit me since I live in Florida now. Especially with my daughter, it’s important that she
go there. She always tells everyone, “I’m half Canadian and half
American.” She knows the Canadian anthem, she doesn’t know the American
anthem. She hears me singing it (the Canadian anthem). I sang it
for one of the All Star games that Grant (Hill) was playing in. The Canadian anthem is a beautiful
Your CD is so great – it reminds me of old skool days.
I’ve found something in every track especially Too Grown and When a Woman –
there isn’t one I don’t like and unfortunately, I don’t get to say that
Oh thanks. It’s classic R&B. I wanted to do a
classic R&B album and not be about the producers and have so much music
over the vocals. Just really about the melodies and the songs and the
emotion. And making an entire album that you can listen to from top to
bottom. And not to take you on these big waves and dips – but very
consistent. Now we’re finding in picking second and third singles, it’s
difficult because I didn’t want to do an album that had fillers. I wanted
to do an album that all songs were all good enough to be singles. Luckily
for me, when we went to work in the studio with ShepCrawford (who
executive-produced the project). We have a connection – he’s a great writer and
he writes for how I sing. We write together very well. It just kept
Who was the male voice on the CD?
The guy voice on the album was Grant, the male voice singing
Vocally it’s really superior and I can’t say that enough.
What’s been the highlight around this project for you?
The highlight is going out there and singing live. That’s
highlight of the project. The songs take on a different personality when
you sing them live. You love them in the studio and it’s great but when
you get the live instruments and you get the vibe in the room – you can just
feel the energy in the room, they take on a whole new energy. I loved
“Me” when we recorded it but I love it even more when I sing it live. It
comes alive and you could drop a pin in the room. When you hear the piano
and the guitar going … That’s the best part … loving songs you record on an
album and loving to do them live. And also being able to do them justice
live because we use live instruments. People actually leave saying “I
liked it better live.”
What are your thoughts about the music industry and what’s been
the biggest challenge?
The industry has become very disposable for artists. I’ve
been in it for a while now (almost 11 years) and I’ve seen a lot of artists
come and go and it’s not because they weren’t talented. It’s because if
the record doesn’t hit right away, then they (labels) want to move on to
the next person and it’s become very disposable. It’s important for
artists to get a hold of their career. For example, and I know you can’t
always do this when you’re starting out, I put this album out
independently. I created my own record company, Plus One Music Group.
I do distribution through Universal in Canada.
I think that the only way you can make sure that you’re around is to make sure
that you control the product and obviously that you have a good stage show –
that sustains you.
It’s called the music business, and there’s a lot of
business that goes on. Getting on stage and singing is such a small part
– that’s why you’re so excited to get out there and you can’t wait.
That’s your release moment. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the
scenes to make that stage performance even happen. I think we have to be
in control more of our own destinies and not just give up our lives. Just
because someone says that you’re not good enough doesn’t mean that that’s the
end. You have to keep moving and try to have as much control over your
product as possible.
I’ve seen people who have had hits actually and you never hear of
them again. Even on the business side of it, in the major record
companies, even those jobs are turning over very quickly. I think
my first contract was like a four album deal because they realized that it was
going to take at least the first album to get to know you and to be drawn to
you. Now if they don’t know you after the first single … it’s very
difficult to sell an album now.
And people have way more access to music now. But I don’t
think the quality is there. People that were in the top 10 five years ago
wouldn’t have been in the top 30 if you look at album sales alone. For
people to go out and buy an album, which you can pretty much download for
free. If you don’t believe as an artist in what you’re selling, then
you’re selling yourself short and the fans as well. They’re not so
forgiving and you’ve got to get it right.
It’s become homogenized. It’s the same ol’ thing. Once
they find a formula, let’s get a girl with blonde hair and let’s put her with
this producer, this producer’s hot right now, and that’s the formula so let’s
do it over and over again. Then they’re over that formula. Then
whoever’s the next hot person, let’s get 10 other person to look like that hot
person. The only person that wins at that is the person that did it
Who are some of your influences –musically or personally.
What’s the formula that makes up your sound?
I grew up listening to a lot of gospel. The first concert I
ever went to was a Winans/Clark Sisters concert and so I grew up listening to
them. I love a lot of female singers as well, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan,
Yolanda Adams, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston of course. I love those
classic female voices.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists? Favourite
Deborah has an amazing voice and she’s really really nice. I like NellyFurtado too.
If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it
Oh goodness. I’d love to do a song with EllaFitzgerald.
That would be fun.
What do you want people to remember you for?
I want to be remembered for things that I do musically but also I
of music in maintaining my family, my career and finding that balance. My
husband and I do charity work too. I think it’s about finding a
balance. I could be the best singer in the world but if my daughter
doesn’t know me and if she doesn’t think I’m the bomb, then what was it all
I’ve met a lot of singers who are really great and I’ve met their
kids and I was like woooow. You sacrificed all of that for your own
greatness. There’s a sadness to me about that. I’d like you to meet my
daughter and say ‘You’ve done a good job’. And then you would think even
more of me as a singer! (laughs)
How have you found your balance?
I think it’s what you want out of your life. I’ve been fortunate
to see the good and the bad and the ugly in having money. Even before I
was an entertainer, I got to realize that it’s not all about that. I know
lots of people who are very wealthy and very sad. But I lots of people
who are very wealthy and very happy as well. There’s one common thing –
they’re happy with their family and happy in their own skin. So you have
to have that happiness within yourself in order to be happy. I think
those are the important things. If I didn’t think that daughter and my
husband were cool at home, I wouldn’t be able to sit here and be calm, talking
with you. I’d be like, I gotta get home!
But they’re fine. She’s not brushing her teeth or combing
her hair, but she’s fine! (laughs)
How has having MS made you approach your career/life
When I was in the hospital and they were trying to figure out what
it was, I
wasn’t thinking ‘oh my career’, I was thinking ‘oh my family’. I have to
get better for them. It really puts things into perspective. At the
end of the day, what are the things that are most important to you?
That’s the people and the love that you have from the people around you.
And those same people are the ones that rallied behind me. They said’
let’s go, let’s get it going. You’re not feeling sorry for
yourself.’ My husband said ‘You should put this album out on your
own label, you should own it.’ So I thought I can do this! And you
need those people around you.
What it changed about me is that it put everything into
perspective. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I have a job that I
love to do. And I have such a great family and they support me in what I
do. My parents both worked in factory and they both hated their jobs and
I got to see that. So, I feel very blessed. I mean, there are days
when I feel like ‘ahhh, this business!’ I have a job that I love and that
I get to affect and touch people. Music is such a powerful thing.
It speaks to the heart. No matter where you are, no matter what country
it is, it speaks to the heart. It’s a powerful gift.
I think God puts an anointing on certain voices and that anointing
what speaks to the heart. You can feel it and when its in a room
and you’re singing and you can feel the whole atmosphere like ‘whoa!’
Sometimes the atmosphere changes and you can feel it so heavy. It’s an
extremely powerful gift. I just feel honoured to be able to share it with
Special thanks to Daphne Gray of Universal
Music Canada for hooking up the interview in the
beautiful pink room of the Park Hyatt. For more updates on Tamia, go to www.tamiaworld.com.
::JUST MY OPINION::
Ellen - Music Lover? Guilty!
I just love me some Ellen! No, not that way. I've only caught a handful
episodes of the Ellen DeGeneres Show but I have to admire this woman who has not only defeated the
odds by coming back after coming 'out' but who is still such a fan of music and
the expression of it. There's nothing that renews my love for my
involvement in this industry, even though it's remote, than seeing a fan just
embrace music. Ellen often speaks on the power of music and the fact that she
dedicates a portion of her show just to have people dance is more
evidence of her love and attachment to it - it's just great!
OK, so many of the audience members often remind me of people that I've
gyrating and convulsing to some sort of beat on the dance floor which I've
rolled my eyes at, I must admit that I can see now that they're just having a
good time and letting the music move them. Isn't that what music is
supposed to do? Perhaps I'm less of a cynic and accept the expressions of
Have you noticed Ellen's inclination towards soul music (Aretha's her
favourite) and even hip hop? At the pre-Grammys, sshe bought Luda a doo rag and said that hip
hop artist Nelly is one of the sweetest guys she knows. This week on her 'Ellen
at the Grammys' show, she had NellyFurtado on and
it was great to see some Canadian talent on a U.S.
national stage having a good time and doing us proud.
Even Beyonce (sigggh!) credits Ellen with getting her through her performance at the Grammys as she
saw Ellen singing the words and dancing in her chair in her eye line while
performing. That's powerful stuff.
And that's just my opinion.
Denise Gillard Witnesses The Fruition Of A Dream For Her
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
(Feb. 10, 07) She has a master's of divinity degree from McMaster
University in Hamilton, a grandfather who fought at Vimy Ridge and was
recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal, and a phalanx of ancestors in
Nova Scotia graveyards from Springhill to Truro. On her mother's side, one line
goes back through nine generations of Loyalist stock and Mi'kmaq first nations.
"Ten," her mother corrects her. But Rev. DeniseGillard, 45, laughs and shrugs that she's not sure how the older folks
are really counting. "I'm Canadian, ninth or 10th generation," she
says. "But people ask what island I'm from." Meaning Caribbean island -- because if
you're an African-Canadian, you must be from Jamaica, or so
the reverend senses her white neighbours feel. As she talks, she sounds
easygoing. But her message isn't. "I often feel I am not at home in my own
country." When you don't feel at home, you build a community. Ms.Gillard is the
founder of the Toronto Children's Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company,
TC3 for short. TC3's résumé will get a major boost on Feb. 27 and 28, when its
50 kids perform in the mezzanine lounge of the Hummingbird Centre, a
pre-performance warm-up act to the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Tyra, 15, has been with TC3 since she was 8. She says what she likes is
"performing and seeing the people's faces." Gabby, 13, who sings and
dances with TC3, says, "I come to this because it's like my family. People
come together and support each other." Ms.Gillard
listens approvingly, and then declares, with almost biblical cadence, that her
group is open: "Whosoever will, may come." But most of the kids who
come to TC3 are Christian and black. Canada is
home to more than 660,000 people of African descent. In Toronto, about
one person in 15 (more than 300,000 people) is black. The choir's centre is in Scarborough's Eglinton East/Kennedy
Park district. Here, on an industrial street of small-scale manufacturing,
wrecking yards, car mechanics and bargain outlets near the Lawrence East subway
stop, is Ms.Gillard's congregation, the LivingHopeCommunityChurch, and
TC3's rehearsal space. Every two weeks, TC3's full group, about 53 children and
teens -- 80 per cent from single-parent families -- turn up to practise singing
and dancing. They also get fed and have academic tutoring; 11 TC3
"grads" have gone on to postsecondary education programs, from the University of Toronto to OhioState. All
this is accomplished in three rooms crammed with boxes, banners, keyboards and
drums, costumes, a pulpit/lectern, a dining area and some used computers.
Coming up with the $1,600 a month in rent (plus utilities) for the place is an
iffy thing for this group, but TC3's existence has always been a bit of a
In 2001, Ms.Gillard says, "I was pastoring a mission at a bigger church, but it
was very challenging for me as a female." One day, she got a call from a
Baptist minister in Detroit. "He said, 'God told me to call you and bring my choir up to
Toronto.' " Ms.Gillard retorted: "Well, God didn't tell me anything!"
Lest she sound too rude, she agreed to help book the Detroit youth
choir into various Toronto churches. "But I am Canadian! I kept asking local kids to be
the opening act. I told them, we can't let these Americans show us
up." So TC3 was born, and made a joyful noise unto the Lord, and it
was good, and as the Americans were heading back to Detroit, the
reverend remarked, "I think God wants you to do this on a more permanent
basis." "God hasn't told me that, either," Ms.Gillard
bristled. ("Americans . . . always tell us, 'Why don't you all just -- .'
") Still, she decided he was on to something. For six years, TC3
survived through the support of parents and local businesses. More recently, it
has had some provincial money through the African-Canadian Christian Network.
When it gave concerts in Nova
Scotia in 2001, and last year went to
London, the kids raised their own airfare by selling chocolate bars and
the like. By now the group has done enough performances and developed
enough of a profile that Helen Nestor, head of promotions at the Hummingbird
Centre, was able to find TC3 by Googling "church," "choir"
The Hummingbird is in the midst of finding a new mandate and a new audience.
Its recent headlining of Iranian pop stars and Bollywood road shows is part of
that strategy. No longer drawing WASP establishment ballet and opera fans --
those companies have moved to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
-- the former O'Keefe Centre has linked up with a developer, Castlepoint. The
Hummingbird gets $15-million, while Castlepoint gets the right to construct a
360-unit condo tower designed by DanielLibeskind (the
sales centre will be open by June; construction should begin by the third quarter of 2008). If all
goes well, the Hummingbird's old performance space is to be rebuilt as a new,
interactive multicultural "arts lab" with a video/film theatre.
And Ms.Nestor and her boss, CEO DanBrambilla, are
inviting community groups who have never been through its weighty brass doors
before to come in and make themselves at home. It's a big deal and a sign of Toronto's
social evolution. The youth of TC3, practising for Feb. 27, can sense
that. "I've been with TC3 to London, Memphis, Vancouver, Detroit,
but no matter where you are, it's always butterflies," says Chris Thorne,
22, president of the TC3 youth advisory committee and the group's bass player.
"The Hummingbird is a pretty big deal. If you haven't already made it,
well, it's a sign that you're well on your way."
Aboriginal Youth Connect To Hip Hop
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
(Feb. 9, 07) NikkyErmineskin sits down in a sound-editing cubby at theKnowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association centre in East Vancouver. Excitedly, she plays a track recorded by a group of 11-year-olds
she is hoping to steer away from graffiti tagging and toward more constructive
art forms. Ermineskin, 21, is the recording-studio co-ordinator for KAYA, an
organization that advocates and runs programs for urban aboriginal youth. A
repeated riff of "No one at home/ No one to hold" hooks into the
tune, improvised around the theme of being left behind. The song could be an
anthem for aboriginal people in Greater Vancouver, determined not to be left
behind in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Games. To that end, the aboriginal
hip-hop scene is taking part in the city's huge pre-Olympics ice-skating party
on Feb. 17, called the Countdown at the Coliseum. "If we actually think
about it," JerilynnWebster, KAYA's director of programs, says, "in the Pacific Coliseum
or any other venue, no Indian kids would be allowed on the stage speaking
truth, like, 70 or 80 years ago." Ermineskin is quick to correct her:
"How about 10 years ago? Five days ago? Yesterday?" Together, they
laugh at the undeniable reality.
KAYA's showcase and Time 2 Shine CD release -- both at the Coliseum
event -- will cap a week of after-school hip-hop workshops held by KAYA,
starting Monday. Ermineskin has a simple explanation for why aboriginal youth
are drawn to the inner-city cultural form: "Hip hop is the music for
oppressed people." Though rap is sometimes frowned upon for its focus on
"bling" and "bitches," the root of hip-hop culture is
community, activism, musical talent and pride. Webster, 22, explains that hip
hop's four forms -- graffiti, breakdancing, MC-ing and DJ-ing -- mimic the
traditional art forms of many first nations. By embracing hip hop, the youth
are able to update and reconnect with aspects of their heritage. DaveRudberg, the
City of Vancouver's general manager of Olympic Operations, says he and his
colleagues are looking at ways "to drive aboriginal business and
opportunities as a result of the Games." Inclusive events like Countdown
at the Coliseum are a first step. Despite four hours of performances by KAYA
artists and collaborators, however, it's the ice rink that will take centre
stage at the Coliseum event. Free public skating sessions will sandwich a
two-hour display of pomp, featuring guests such as Mayor SamSullivan, MLA Colin Hansen, MP DavidEmerson and TewaneeJoseph of the
Four Host First Nations Society.
Olympic skater MiraLeung and 2006 Canadian Junior gold-winning ice dancers AllieHann-McCurdy and
Michael Coreno will perform, Kitsilano's Velocity Speed Skaters will
demonstrate their sport. Meanwhile, the aboriginal hip-hop crews will be
"keeping it real" on the lower concourse, away from the mainstream,
which is right in line with the hip-hop ethos. Ermineskin says KAYA and its
collaborators are consciously choosing not to be "tokenized or
exploited." They see the event as an opportunity to reach out to an
audience -- up to 5,000 over the course of the afternoon -- who might not
otherwise attend an aboriginal event. Although she will ask performers to limit
their swearing, Ermineskin says the aboriginal artists at the Coliseum will not
be toning down their criticisms of society, governments and popular culture.
"We don't want to disrespect anybody," she says, "but we have a
right to use our voices."
The Countdown at the Coliseum is on Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the
Pacific Coliseum, 100 N. Renfrew St. Admission is free; see http://vancouver.ca/events.cfm.
For details on KAYA's 1st annual Hip Hop Week, starting Monday, call
604-254-5513 or see http://www.kayaweb.ca.
Blow For Justice Happens Right On Camera Excerpt from The Toronto Star - JimBawden
11, 2007) It is the awesomeness of Mississippi that
imaginations. The grass is as green as Ireland, whole
rolling fields of it. The first shots are of vast pine forests so thick dead
bodies could be easily hidden in them. The next shots are of
villages which seem set back in time at least 40 or 50 years, when the area was
real Ku Klux Klan territory – the
peeling paint on one tiny snack bar is the only sign of a way of life that once
flourished here and has now retreated. And then a car stops. A handsome older
black man, Thomas Moore, steps out and recollects.
This is where his brother was dragged to his death more than 40 years
ago. Various white locals he talks to all remember what happened that
day. A double murder was committed, and one victim was Moore's
brother. Now, after 42 years of seething and internalizing all of this, ThomasMoore is
back, not for vengeance but for justice. And so begins the extraordinary Mississippi Cold Case,
directed by DavidRidgen, a documentary to be sure, but with all of the melodrama of lurid
fiction. It airs tonight on CBC. In one early shot Moore is
lamenting the fact that he'll never be able to confront the chief suspect, JamesFordeSeale, who
died years ago.
And then comes the kicker: "He ain't dead," chirps the old man at the
gas pump. "His house is just over there." And he takes Moore to a
trailer right down the road. "Months of planning can't produce a moment
like that," says director DavidRidgen,
wiping his brow, shaking his head. "It scared me that day, still scares
me." In a striking moment, the cover of suspected killer James Ford Seale
had been completely blown. CharlesEddieMoore and HenryDee, both
19, were killed in May 1964, a month before the famous killings of three civil
rights workers. Moore and Dee had been hitchhiking and were picked up, driven deep into the
thick woods, tortured and killed. Consumed by the bigger case, the FBI dropped
the first one but Canadian director Ridgen threaded together a narrative of
what might have happened. About his job in the three years spent making the
doc, Ridgen jokes, "I drove the car, asked the questions, was camera and
sound at times." Both Ridgen and Moore nod their heads when asked if it's a bit crazy the CBC stuck to
this intricate production which American networks consistently ignored. There
still has not been a major offer from an American network. Mississippi Cold Case is
filled with great spontaneous moments. Moore
confronts one man, a church elder, who insists he did not kill CharlesMoore – and
then he flees into the church with his wife, who bolts the door. Moore points
at Ridgen: "He got it made. Time was ticking out. I felt one of these
fellas might die before I could get to them." Shots of the ringleader
arrested and in prison orange awaiting arraignment are "satisfying, but I
only wish it had happened decades before." Mississippi Cold Case is so well
constructed that it plays like the first draft of a feature movie. Perhaps
starring SamuelJackson or MorganFreeman. Says Ridge: "We're thinking about it."
Mississippi Cold Case airs tonight at 9 on Newsworld and at 10 on CBC.
Nicole Smith Dies
Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 08, 2007) HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Anna
Nicole Smith, the
pneumatic blond whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale — jeans
model, Playboy centrefold,
widow of an octogenarian oil tycoon, reality-show subject, tragic mother — died
Thursday after collapsing at a hotel. She was 39. She was stricken while
staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and was rushed to a
hospital. EdwinaJohnson, chief investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner’s
Office, said the cause of death was under investigation and an autopsy would be
done on Friday. Just five months ago, Smith’s 20-year-old son died
suddenly in the Bahamas in what was believed to be a drug-related death. Seminole Police Chief CharlieTiger said a private nurse called 911 after finding Smith unresponsive
in her sixth-floor hotel room. He said Smith’s bodyguard administered CPR for
about an hour before she was declared dead. Through the ’90s and into the
new century, Smith was famous for being famous, a pop-culture punchline because of
her up-and-down weight, her MarilynMonroe looks,
her exaggerated curves, her little-girl voice, her ditzy-blond persona, and her
over-the-top revealing outfits.
Recently, she lost a reported 69 pounds and became a spokesperson for TrimSpa,
a weight-loss supplement. On her reality show and other recent TV appearances,
her speech was often slurred and she seemed out of it. Some critics said she
seemed drugged-out. Her former lawyer Lenard Leeds told the celebrity
gossip website TMZ that Smith “always had problems with her
weight going up and down, and there’s no question she used alcohol.” Leeds said it was no secret that
“she had a very troubled life” and had “so many, many problems.’’ “She
wanted to be like Marilyn her whole life and ironically died in a similar manner,” Leeds said. Monroe died
of a drug overdose at age 36 in 1962. Her attorney RonRale told
The Associated Press that he had talked to Smith on Tuesday or Wednesday, and
she had flu symptoms and a fever and was still grieving over her son.
“Poor AnnaNicole,” he said. “She’s been the underdog. She’s been besieged ... and
she’s been trying her best and nobody should have to endure what she’s
endured.’’ The Texas-born Smith was a topless dancer at strip club before
she entered her photos in a search contest and made the cover of Playboy
magazine in 1992. She became Playboy’s
playmate of the year in 1993. She was also signed to a contract with Guess
jeans, appearing in TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads.
In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J.HowardMarshallII, owner
of Great Northern Oil Co. In 1992, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $550 million (U.S.).
In a 2005 interview with ABC Smith recalled meeting Marshall at what she called a “gentleman’s club’ in Houston. “He
had no will to live and I went over to see him,” she said. “He got a little
twinkle in his eyes, and he asked me to dance for him. And I did.’’ Marshall died in 1995 at age 90, setting off a feud with Smith’s former
stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over whether she had a right to his estate.
A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million (U.S.). That
was later overturned. But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case,
ruling that she deserved another day in court. The stepson died June 20
at age 67. But the family said the court fight would continue. She
starred in her own reality TV series,
The Anna Nicole Show, in 2002-04. Cameras followed her around as
she sparred with her lawyer, hung out with her personal assistant and interior
decorator, and cooed at her poodle, Sugar Pie. She also appeared in movies,
performing a bit part in The
Hudsucker Proxy in 1994. After news came of Smith’s death, G.
Eric Brunstad Jr., the lawyer who represented Marshall, said in a statement:
“We’re very shocked by the news and extend the deepest condolences to her
In a statement, Playboy
founder HughHefner said: “I am very saddened to learn about AnnaNicole’s
passing. She was a dear friend who meant a great deal to the Playboy family and
to me personally.’’ Smith’s son, DanielSmith, died
Sept. 10 in his mother’s hospital room in the Bahamas, just
days after she gave birth to a daughter. An American medical examiner
hired by the family, CyrilWecht, said he had methadone and two antidepressants in his system when
he died. Low levels of the three drugs interacted to cause an accidental death,
Wecht said. Last month, a Bahamas
magistrate scheduled a formal inquiry into the death for March 27.
Meanwhile, the paternity of her now 5-month-old daughter remained a matter of
dispute. The birth certificate lists Dannielynn’s father as attorney HowardK.Stern,
Smith’s most recent companion. Smith’s ex-boyfriend LarryBirkhead was
waging a legal challenge, saying he was the father. DebraOpri, the
attorney who filed his paternity suit, said Birkhead “is devastated. He is
inconsolable, and we are taking steps now to protect the DNA testing of the
child. The child is our No. 1 priority.’’ She was born VickieLynn Hogan on Nov. 28, 1967, in Houston, one of six children of DonaldEugene and Virgie Hart Hogan. She married
BillSmith in 1985, giving birth to Daniel before divorcing two years later. “From my professional
exposure to AnnaNicole, I can say she was always personable, down to earth and driven.
All in all, a joy to have as a client,” said WayneMunroe, her
Bahamian lawyer who has overseen the aftermath of her son’s mysterious death in
Akon and Geffen Records Present Brick & Lace
(Feb. 8, 2007) Part urban singers and part urbane songstresses, sibling
duo Brick & Lace are genre-busters who
staunchly defy the 30-second pitch. The amalgamated sound that makes up their
180/Geffen debut, Love Is Wicked, is unique, though also at once very
familiar. Born to a Jamaican father and an American mother and raised
predominantly in Kingston, Jamaica, on an opulent musical diet of reggae,
R&B, hip hop, pop and country, 26-year-old Nyanda and 24-year-old Nailah
Thorbourne couldn't help but be trans-eclectic. "We are a hybrid,"
affirms Nailah in her effortlessly sexy West-Indian lilt. "It's not
fabricated at all; it's who we are."
Indeed, who they are is evident in their moniker: "Our mother came up with
the name 'Lace' and we immediately liked it," explains the incisively
passionate Nyanda. "But we still felt that there was an edge missing, so I
came up with 'Brick.' It has stuck with us ever since and has evolved with
us." To the ladies of Brick & Lace, their name represents the
duality and complexity of the every woman. "Sometimes you want to wear a
cap and sneakers and look grimy," Nyanda tells. "And sometimes you
want to wear your sexy dress and heels and look cute." Nailah puts it all
in perspective: "People always ask: 'Who is Brick & Lace?' And we
always tell them it depends on the day!"
This unpredictability and uncompromising expressiveness makes Love Is Wicked
(which features the production prowess of Akon, RaphaelSaadiq, Will.I.Am, among
others) an aural delight. On their agile down-bottom introductory single
"Never," over Akon's seething sonic brew, Brick & Lace caution
wayward suitors to behave themselves if they want a chance with the sisters.
"The track's so grimy that the lyrics and the arrangement just came to
us," Nailah recalls enthusiastically. "It was a very collaborative
effort that was fun and exciting to record all the way."
'Rocket' Scores Genies Triple Hat Trick
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - PeterHowell, Movie
14, 2007) It shot ... it scored! The
Quebec-made screen story of Montreal Canadiens great Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, slapped nine awards
into the net last night at the 27th Genie
Awards for Canadian film. Known as MauriceRichard in its
home province, The Rocket was the most valuable player of the evening by
any name and its nine wins symbolically matched the No. 9 on the late Richard’s famous jersey.
The film took the gold for Best Director (CharlesBinamé),
Actor (RoyDupuis), Actress (JulieLeBreton) and
Supporting Actor (StephenMcHattie), plus Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Editing and
Sound Editing. Dupuis fought back tears as he accepted his Best Actor
award and spoke of his friendship with hockey legend Richard, who died in
2000. “He opened up to me and we became friends, and then he died. But I
think he’s not really dead, because he’s still winning. So I’ll just say what Maurice would have said: thank
you.” The ceremony at The Carlu came with a classic Canuck snowstorm
raging outside for added realism — and indoors a sudden-death finish for Best
The top Genie went not to The Rocket, but rather to its nominations
rival Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the bilingual buddy comedy that has the
distinction of being the top-grossing Canadian film of all time, earning more
than $12.5 million at the national box office. Its financial success was
enough to earn Bon Cop the non-competitive Golden Reel Award for top
Canuck ticket seller, in a year when several Canadian films did uncommonly
brisk box office. The Rocket director CharlesBinamé said
he had mixed emotions losing the Best Motion Picture award to Bon Cop, Bad
Cop. He wanted the prize, but he’s friends with the makers of the buddy cop
movie. He was happy to see them get the award, “because it’s good to recognize
comedy as a legitimate contender.” But he had one small dig for the story
about rival cops across the Ontario-Quebec border: “I don’t buy the storyline,”
he said with a smile. But the rest of the evening was mostly bad for Bon
Cop, which took just one other Genie, for Overall Sound. The final score
for Bon Cop was two wins for 10 nominations. The Rocket fared much
better, with nine wins for its leading 13 nominations, just one Genie less than
last year’s big winner C.R.A.Z.Y. And it joins a Quebec
winning streak, where two films from la belle province share the record for
Genies: DenysArcand’s Jesus of Montreal and Jean-ClaudeLauzon’s Un
zoo la nuit, both of which won 13 trophies. The Rocket may
just be the first movie to win the most Genies while at the same time losing
the most prestigious prize of all. But it escaped the more ignominious
fate of a shut-out, which other contenders suffered. Tideland, a
head-tripping coming-of-age saga, was 0-6. Cheech, about chaotic affairs
in an escort agency, was 0-4. And the TV comedy spin-off Trailer Park Boys:
The Movie, which set a Canadian box office record for its opening week, was
0-3. All of the other winners besides The Rocket and Bon Cop
had to be content with single Genies.
B.C. native Carrie-AnneMoss, best known for her work in the sci-fi franchise The Matrix,
was the sole actor not to win for The Rocket. She won for the
bittersweet comedy Snow Cake, set in Ontario’s
north. She was a no-show at last night’s events but sent her thanks via
video, saying she values her Canadian homeland and the luck she has had as an
actress. “I just feel like the luckiest person in the world to do this for a
living.” Toronto’s JenniferBaichwal, director of Manufactured Landscapes, the winner for Best
Documentary, said she feels her film about manmade changes to the natural world
is in tune with greater public concern for the environment. “I think the
fate of the Earth is top of mind right now with many people, I really
do.” They’re starting to realize they have no choice but to care about
the natural world, she added. “If we don’t, we’re all going to
perish.” PatrickRoy, executive producer of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, was upbeat about
the prospects for a sequel (“as soon as possible”) and also the franchise
potential for the chemistry between stars ColmFeore and PatrickHuard, who
play rival cops in Ontario and Quebec. Roy was equally enthusiastic about the prospects for Canadian films
in general, which historically have struggled in the shadow of Hollywood.
The key to success is to continue to make movies that celebrate Canadian
culture, he said. “I think the biggest mistake we can make is to try to
copy what the Americans are doing.”
Don't Give Me That Jazz
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - J.D.Considine
(Feb. 10, 07) 'I believe the Bad Plus is jazz," says EthanIverson.
people say it's not jazz, it's fine. It's the Bad Plus." Given that the
Bad Plus -- with Iverson on piano, Reid Anderson on bass and David King on
drums -- looks like a classic jazz piano trio, with no electric instruments,
and a penchant for lengthy improvisation, it's hard at first glance to imagine
why anyone would not consider them jazz. But because the trio doesn't stick to
traditional, swing-derived rhythms and likes to play tunes by alt-rockers such
as Nirvana, the Pixies and Blondie, some jazz critics and fans have written the
Bad Plus off as a rock band in jazz clothing. To a certain extent, that has
more to do with the trio's media profile than with the music it makes. "We
got a lot of press for the rock covers," says Iverson, over the phone from
his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. "But the covers are fairly deconstructed in a normal jazz
way. Like on our first major label album, These Are the Vistas, there's
a Blondie tune and a Nirvana song. But the Nirvana is swinging 4/4, and the
Blondie is free jazz." Iverson and his band mates aren't complaining about
the press coverage, by the way, because on the whole, the media have been very,
very good to them. "We got a sort of old-fashioned, high-profile publicity
send-off in 2003 that was beyond our wildest dreams," the pianist admits.
"There were things even in the mainstream press about us. It really took
us by surprise. It took the label by surprise. And we're eternally grateful for
that. In the postmodern world, fewer and fewer artists are getting that type of
chance." Part of what makes the Bad Plus so accessible to non-jazz fans is
that it doesn't work like a typical jazz combo. For starters, says Iverson,
"the music of the Bad Plus is aligned with indie rock. Absolutely. We
really believe in the song, first and foremost, and the emotional connection we
try to establish is, I think, philosophically similar." Then there's fact
that this isn't "The Reid Anderson Trio with EthanIverson and DavidKing."
It's a band, with all three members taking an equal share in the writing, playing
and decision-making. "It can be a bit leader-centric in jazz, and at one
point that was fine. But I think it's very hard for people to keep working
groups together today," says Iverson. "And in that sense, I think we
also have something out of the rock tradition in the fact that the three of us
are all three composers, just sort of doing this thing, splitting everything
equally." Iverson credits some of that to the fact that the Bad Plus
aren't part of "the cool New
York jazz tradition" --
although he adds, "To be honest, if I could be part of the cool New York jazz
tradition, maybe I would go for that. But since I wasn't born here, I'm not
part of that. And neither are Reid and Dave. We just have to do what we do.
"See, one of the things about our aesthetic is we grew up in the Midwest, and we've never tried to be
anything other than who we are. We've checked out a lot of music, and are
reasonably fluent in many different genres. Between us, Reid has played in symphony
orchestras, I've played in tango bands, Dave's recorded hip-hop records -- we've done all sorts of stuff. But
when we come together in the Bad Plus, it's just sort of like the old Minnesota chums,
hanging out and doing their thing." By any standard, jazz or rock, their
thing is doing quite nicely. Since 2003, the Bad Plus have released three
albums -- These Are the Vistas, Give and Suspicious Activity? --
with a fourth due in early May, and the band has toured extensively.
"We've been playing upwards of 150, 200 gigs a year, all over the world,
trying to jump through the window while it's open," Iverson says.
"All three of us quit or tabled our other projects -- we knew that this
was our chance to sort of try to have a proper career in music." But on a
certain level, what pleases Iverson most is the kind of audiences the Bad Plus
have been reaching. "There is a lot of music in the Bad Plus that has a
beat that has more to do with rock, or electronica, or something not related to
the swing beat," he says. "So as a result, we somehow managed to
reach people who love rock -- of all ages, but especially youth. "It has
happened to me more than once that a teenager has come up to me and said, 'I
didn't know I liked jazz. Now I'll have to check it out.' Then I really feel
like I can die in peace, because no one ever had to tell me how deep and
mystical and wonderful jazz is. "I mean, I've been listening to TheloniousMonk since
I was 10 or 11," he says. "But in America, you
probably won't be that exposed to jazz unless someone leads you to it. So
sometimes the Bad Plus leads people to it, and that's great."
The Bad Plus performs with the RoyHargroveQuintet at Toronto's
Massey Hall tonight at 8 (416-872-4255).
Aguilera Looking Ahead As Spring Tour Looms Excerpt from www.billboard.com -
Gary Graff, Detroit
(February 07, 2007) The North American leg of her Back to Basics 2007
tour is still as couple weeks away, but Christina
Aguilera says she's already looking further into her future.
"I'm already exploring new ideas for what the next look is and what the
next sound will be, which I'm really excited about," Aguilera said on a
conference call yesterday (Feb. 6). "I have to put it on the back burner
and finish with the tour, but I definitely have ideas for the next
(project)." But, she added, "I can't give away what they are.
There always has to be that element of surprise and really giving my audience
something to be excited about for next time. What I can tell you is, yeah, I am
extremely driven. It'll always be inside of me to keep that focus ... of
bettering myself and constantly evolving and changing and seeing what the next
time has to offer." Aguilera did let on that she does have acting
ambitions. "Like music, it's another art form I want to take
seriously," she explained. "I've been reading scripts and whatnot. I
want to make sure it's the right role and, if I want to act, to do just that,
not just play myself as a singer."
One of those places will be the Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday in Los Angeles, where
Aguilera is nominated for two trophies and will perform -- another secret that
she promised will be "a special treat for everybody, including myself.
It's something I've never actually performed anywhere before." She's also
slated to sing at halftime of the NBA All Star game on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas -- two
days before Aguilera kicks off her North American tour in Houston.
She'll visit 41 cities into early May with an extravaganza that includes 92,000
pounds of equipment, 10 costume changes, 820 pounds of confetti, several stage
sets and a vintage carousel horse -- not quite "basics." "If I
play an arena," she noted, "I don't think it would be fair to my
audience to just kind of sit on a stage with a mic." Off the stage,
however, Aguilera said she'll continue plotting her next move. "When
you're on tour you learn so much about yourself (and) have a lot of time for
yourself," she said. "You get a lot of time to write, write in my
journal, express myself, so by the time the next record comes around, I have a
good idea of a head start of where to go next."
Common: Getting Some Props By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices (Feb.
7, 07)Hip-hop artist Commonwill be among the honourees duringthe
5th annual AEC Grammy Luncheon, to be held Feb. 11 at the Beverly Hilton
hotel. R&B hottie Chris Brown and original
'Dreamgirls' star Sheryl Lee Ralph will also be
feted by the not-for-profit Artists Empowerment Coalition, which considers
itself the urban music industry's leading social responsibility organization.
"The AEC Brunch is a wonderful celebration and acknowledgement of those
who use their creativity, music, art and culture to "give-back" to
the community and inspire others to do the same," offered respected
entertainment attorney L.LondellMcMillan, who founded the organization
in the early 1990s. "The event represents the soul and faith of a creative
people hoping and working to improve the quality of life for our community. It
also brings so many wonderful and talented people together to congregate and
fellowship." Through the years, McMillan --through his New York City-based law practice The McMillan Firm,
and NorthStar Business Enterprises -- have represented some of the biggest
names in music, including Prince, MichaelJackson, Spike Lee and Lil' Kim, among many others.
Legally known as Lonnie
Rashied Lynn, Common is a hip-hop pioneer who brought the Midwest rap scene into the mainstream
with a slew of albums released in the 1990s via the now-defunct Relativity
Records. Currently a spokesperson for Gap clothing brand, and a staunch
advocate for AIDS/HIV Awareness, the single father has been a shining example
of evolution and progression -- without all of the pomp and circumstance of
many of his platinum-plated colleagues. "Common has been an innovator and
shining example of maximizing both street credibility and social consciousness
by performing great music and demonstrating his love and commitment to his
community," McMillan said. "He has authored children's' books, makes himself
available to speak to the youth, established an admirable HIV awareness and
prevention program and more. He has also been a long-time AEC supporter and we
respect and honour Common for all his gifts." According to event spokesperson
Nicole 'NikkiMarz' Marzan, rootsy rapper Mos Def will do a
special presentation to Common during the ceremony. Additionally,
'Dreamgirls' movie star Jennifer
Hudson will reportedly present Ralph with her award. And
Jive Records labelmate Ciara
will be on hand to support Brown. Previous honourees at the exclusive event have included
entertainment icons such as Stevie
Wonder, KanyeWest, Queen Latifah, Chaka Khan, TyraBanks, DannyGlover, Prince, RobertaFlack, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, and Nas.
(Feb. 9, 07) NEW YORK — Music company EMI
Group PLC — home of the Rolling Stones and Coldplay — has been talking with
online retailers about possibly selling its entire digital music catalogue in
MP3 format without copy protection, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday,
citing numerous people familiar with the matter. The MP3 format, which can be
freely copied and played on virtually any device, would allow consumers to play
music purchased from any online store on any digital music device. Currently,
music purchased at Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, for example, is wrapped in Apple's
proprietary version of Digital Rights Management technology known as “FairPlay”
and can only be played on the company's iPod devices. Songs purchased from
rival online stores that carry different DRM technology cannot be played on
iPods. That has caused some to wonder whether it might be hampering sales.
According to the people familiar with the matter, London-based EMI asked the
retailers to submit proposals by Thursday telling the company what size advance
payments they would offer in exchange for the right to sell EMI's music as
MP3s, the Journal reported.
One of the unidentified people said EMI would decide whether to forge ahead
with the strategy based on the size of the offers. A decision about whether to
keep pursuing the idea could come as soon as Friday, the Journal said. When
asked about the report, EMI spokeswoman JeanneMeyer told
The Associated Press, “We're not commenting on speculation.” Earlier this week,
Apple chief executive SteveJobs called on record labels to abandon their requirement for online
music to use DRM, which is designed to limit unauthorized copying. Jobs said
such restrictions have done little to slow music piracy and eliminating them
would open up the online music marketplace. One person familiar with the matter
told the Journal that several major music companies have recently floated the
idea of scrapping copy protections, but none appears to have gone as far as
EMI, and some maintain that copy-protection software is critical to stop
piracy. EMI is the world's third-largest music company by sales and home to
acts ranging from The Beatles to the Beastie Boys. But some of its performers —
notably including the Beatles — do not yet sell their music in any digital form. EMI has
experimented with releasing singles in the DRM-free MP3 format. In the past few
months, the company has released tracks by NorahJones, LilyAllen and
the band Relient K. Meyer said Thursday night: “The results of those
experiments were very positive, and the fan feedback has been very
On The Scene At Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By DeBorah B. Pryor (February 9, 2007) Montego
Bay, Jamaica was the place to be recently as
the 10th Anniversary Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues
Festival descended upon the island, bringing with it 40,000 music lovers
from around the globe, anxiously anticipating the arrival of their favourite
artists from the genres of Jazz, Blues, Reggae and Pop. Themed
"The Art of Music" anticipation surrounding this year's festival was
high for many reasons: An artist line-up that read like an entertainment Dream
Team with performances by the incomparable Earth, Wind & Fire, Chuck
Mangione, Roy Ayres, Michael Bolton, Pieces of a Dream, Kenny Rogers, The
Robert Cray Band, Christopher Cross, Monty Alexander, the soulful Anthony
Hamilton and Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics, and that's just to
name a few. A new seaside venue customized with the event in mind set
amidst a clearing next to the ocean utilizing natural ruins from an ancient
aqueduct. An expanded program featuring the music intrinsic to the island
nation brought an eclectic mix of reggae artists including Shaggy, Freddie
MacGregor, Luciano and Wayne Wonder together for "A Tribute to
Reggae"; and a regional U. S. talent competition that held auditions in a
variety of U.S. cities and offered local artists an opportunity to perform
before a panel of celebrity judges; with the winners traveling to Jamaica to
play in a series of satellite concerts that led up to the big event.
"The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival have a special aura to it unlike
any other event that I've produced or experienced," says WalterElmore of
Turnkey Productions, the hardworking organizers of this massive event. "It
is a combination of the musicians, the people, the setting and the infectious
vibe of Jamaica that create an almost spiritual experience for anyone who
attends..." Backstage in the Press Room, the buzz was on high as artists
found their way to eager journalists representing esteemed media outlets
throughout the country. To bear witness to RussellThompkins, Jr. and
The New Stylistics as they break into an impromptu acappella rendition of
"People Make the World Go Round" is an indescribable delight,
especially following their wonderful onstage performance. The impeccable
choreography, the harmony; that memorable Thompkins, Jr. falsetto, all of it -
had the audience eating out of this group's hands. "It's a blessing.
Everything is a blessing," exuded RussellThompkins, Jr. when
this writer asked how he manages to maintain his voice. As the original lead
vocalist for The Stylistics, it is that voice impeccable falsetto which has
lead the group to international fame, accolades too numerous to name, a plaque
on The Walk of Fame and an induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Two years following the Thompkins, Jr. departure from the original Stylistics in 2000 brought about the
release of "A Matter of Style," his first solo album and the
formation of his current group, The New Stylistics. "We are two different
groups," he stated backstage when asked why "New" was necessary.
"There are two guys that I used to sing with, that are The Stylistics...We
[the new group] are going back into the studio to start a new album between the
four of us…I am starting my second solo album…and there is a DVD that we've cut
already that's being finished." There was no denying the excitement from Jamaica's
native son Shaggy, who was returning to the event for the second consecutive
year as part of the "Art of Reggae tribute."
"Jamaica has created some incredible superstars," he bragged
confidently. Shaggy started his career as a reggae DJ and moved from Jamaica with
his family to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York before
enlisting in the military. "Bob Marley, myself, Sean Paul, Shabba Ranks,
Jimmy Cliff…these guys have paved the way for us and I've had the opportunity
to be onstage with them, apart from Bob Marley, of course." I asked
Shaggy, who had to cut his interviews short much to the disappointment of other
waiting journalists, to complete a sentence for me that began, "One
hundred years from now, say, your name comes up, and people remark 'Shaggy is
one artist who never...' (Finish the sentence) "I'd like to say, 'quit' -
one artist who never quit because it's been a turbulent type of journey for me.
It's had its ups and downs." When asked if he ever thought of giving it
all up? "Never," he replies. "This is what I do. I'm horrible at
everything else," and added, "To the EUR readers I'd like to say
thank you very much for the support over the years and I hope you come to
Jamaica and enjoy the jazz festival one of these days (laughs)." True to
his word, Shaggy returned the following evening to speak with the journalists
he had previously missed; and then went on to blow the audience away during his
set with the reggae all stars; into the wee hours of the morning..
"Reggae is so vital to the identity of Jamaican people, our spirit, our
culture," says David Shields, Deputy Director of Tourism for the Jamaica
Tourist Board; who was one of the sponsors of the event. Mr.Shields was
especially excited about this aspect of the program. "It is an art form
that has…introduced the world to Jamaica and
Jamaican people. It is one of our great ambassadors to the world."
The Problem, Say Record Labels Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 08, 2007) LOS ANGELES – A recording industry group fired
back Wednesday at Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, suggesting his company should open
up its anti-piracy technology to its rivals instead of urging major record
labels to strip copying restrictions from music sold online. MitchBainwol,
chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said
the move would eliminate technology hurdles that now prevent fans from playing
songs bought at Apple's iTunes Music Store on devices other than the company's iPod. "We have no doubt
that a technology company as sophisticated and smart as Apple could work with
the music community to make that happen," Bainwol said in a prepared
statement. In an essay posted Tuesday on the Cupertino-based company's Web
site, Jobs called on record labels to abandon their requirement for online
music to be wrapped in Digital Rights Management, or DRM, technology, which is
designed to limit unauthorized copying.
The major record labels – Universal Music Group, EMI Music, Sony BMG Music
Entertainment and Warner Music Group – control some 70 percent of the music
market and have maintained that DRM safeguards are needed to stave off rampant
piracy. Jobs said eliminating such restrictions would open up the online music
marketplace. Songs purchased on iTunes are wrapped in Apple's proprietary
version of DRM technology, known as "FairPlay." Songs purchased from
rival online stores that carry different DRM technology cannot be played on
iPods. In his essay, Jobs said Apple is against licensing "FairPlay'' as
an alternative method for making iTunes accessible to all portable players,
because making the technology widely available would make it easer for hackers
to figure out how to bypass it. Calls to Apple were not immediately returned
Wednesday. Several analysts suggested the record companies should follow Jobs'
"Clearly, DRM is not working," said TedSchadler, an
analyst at Forrester Research. "It sends a message to the customer that
'we don't trust you.''' PhilLeigh, senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, suggested that removing
copy restraints would give the labels' music more exposure. "Digital music
has entered the mainstream," Leigh said. "The restrictions (the labels) require Apple and
others to carry are preventing the market from developing to its full potential
– it's retarding the growth.'' Not everyone agreed that dumping DRM is the best
strategy for the record labels. "Eliminating online DRM appears to us to
be an overly risky move that eliminates the potential for a future digital-only
distribution model free of piracy," Deutsche Bank analyst DougMitchelson wrote
in a research note. Jobs could have just as easily lectured the software
industry, which includes Apple, for its unwillingness to pursue an industrywide
DRM standard or work to make media players recognize and not play pirated
songs, Mitchelson wrote. Copy protection is necessary to make other digital
music sales models work, such as an all-you-want music subscription offered by
Napster and the limited song-sharing features of Microsoft Corp.'s Zune player.
"All these music services wouldn't work without DRM," said DavidCard, music
and media analyst for Jupiter Research. "(Music labels) are very nervous
about distributing content that is unprotected. They think that everybody will
share music, and there's evidence that a lot of people will.''
Other analysts pointed to the success of eMusic, an online service that sells
music in the MP3 format, which is free of anti-piracy restrictions. The
service, owned by New York-based Dimensional Associates Inc., offers downloads
from a catalogue of more than 2 million tracks by independent artists through a
subscription plan. Britain's EMI Music is experimenting with releasing music in the DRM-free
MP3 format. In the past few months, the company has released tracks by NorahJones, LilyAllen and
the band Relient K. "The feedback from fans (has) been very
enthusiastic," EMI spokeswoman JeanneMeyer said. Leigh believes older music
could be made available without copying restrictions. "I think the labels
will release selected back-catalogue stuff, to see what happens," he said.
Still Ahead Of Jazz Curve
Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 08, 2007) NEW YORK – Ornette Coleman has always kept
ahead of the curve, even as a teenager back in Fort Worth, Texas, when he'd
play hot jazz licks on the saxophone and get a scolding from his church band
leader. Today, at 76, the jazz visionary is not slowing down to let others
catch up, launching his own record label with his first disc of new music in
nearly a decade – the Grammy-nominated CD "Sound Grammar.'' As a largely
self-taught musician who dared to be different in the late 1940s and '50s, Coleman suffered worse indignities
than even the most hapless "American Idol" contestant. One bandleader
paid him not to solo; others simply fired him. Musicians walked off the stage
when he showed up at jam sessions. Coleman was told he played out-of-tune and didn't know the basics of jazz
improvisation. One incident remains deeply ingrained in his memory. That was
the night circa 1950 when the saxophonist was playing with an R&B band at a
Louisiana road house and his unconventional bebop-inspired solo stopped the
dancers in their tracks. Coleman was dragged outside the club, roughed up and his horn was thrown
over a cliff.
"One guy kicked me in my stomach ... and said, `You can't play like that!'
He didn't even know what I was doing," recalled Coleman, perched on a stool in the
music room of his Manhattan loft. "I think with dance music it's the rhythm that people
like and I was just playing musical ideas. But I really did grow when I
realized that all music uses the same notes whether it's classical or religious
or funk. ... And when I realized that ... I decided to take my beatings until I
can establish where people can say, `Oh don't beat him, listen.''' Coleman now is regarded as one of the
greatest innovators in jazz history along with LouisArmstrong and CharlieParker. In
the late '50s, he originated "free jazz," challenging the bebop
establishment by abandoning the conventional song form and liberating musicians
to freely improvise off of the melody rather than the underlying chord changes.
Coleman broke down the barrier between
leader and sidemen, giving his band members freedom to solo, interact and
develop their ideas. "In order to play with Ornette, you have to listen to
every note that he plays as you're playing, and you really learn about
concentration and listening in that way. ... Ornette approaches improvisation
completely different than most people," said bassist CharlieHaden, a
member of Coleman's
original quartet that rocked the jazz establishment when it burst on the scene
in 1959 with the aptly titled album "The Shape of Jazz to Come.'' The jazz
revolutionary has now become a respected elder statesman with the accompanying
honours, including membership in the elite AmericanAcademy of
Arts and Letters.
This year, even the Grammys have finally gotten around to recognizing Coleman with a lifetime achievement
award, even though he has never won a Grammy. But Coleman feels an obligation to his
musicians and audiences to write new music for every concert he performs rather
than play his old compositions or jazz standards. "`Tea for Two' – I don't
do that," he said. Frustrated by dealing with fickle record company
executives, he started his Sound Grammar label because he wanted "to put
out lots of music and some people's tastes might not be the way mine is.''
"Sound Grammar," nominated for a Grammy as best jazz instrumental
album, is Coleman's
first live recording in nearly 20 years. Its unusual sonic mix includes two
acoustic bassists – the classically trained TonyFalanga, who
mostly uses the bow, and GregCohen, who
plucks his bass. Coleman not only plays alto saxophone but also trumpet and
violin, two instruments he taught himself to play in an unorthodox style in the
1960s to give himself a more colourful sound palette. The drummer is Coleman's son, Denardo, who has
developed an intuitive interplay with his father since his controversial debut
in the saxophonist's band at age 10 in 1966. The recording, from a 2005 concert
in Ludwigshafen, Germany, features six new Coleman compositions, including the heart-wrenching ballad "Sleep
Talking" on which he again shows his uncanny ability to make his saxophone
cry out like a human voice with a full gamut of emotions. He also revisits two
older pieces –the frenetic "Song X," the title track from a 1985
album with guitarist Pat Metheny, and "Turnaround" from his 1959
album ``Tomorrow Is The Question" on which the alto saxophonist's bluesy
wails reflect his R&B roots with some quotes thrown in from ``Beautiful
Dreamer" and "If I Loved You.''
"I want everyone to have an equal relationship to the results," said Coleman. "I don't tell them what
or how to play. ... Sometimes the drum is leading, sometimes the bass is
leading. ... I don't think I'm the leader, I'm just paying the bills.'' Coleman may be one of the most controversial
figures in modern American music, but in person the slightly built musician
comes across as a modest, gentle revolutionary – soft-spoken with a
high-pitched voice that still bears a trace of a Texas twang.
"I don't claim at being the best at anything," said Coleman, whose moustachioed angular
face is deeply lined. "But I do know that I have learned how to avoid
making musical mistakes.'' In conversation, Coleman shapes his responses almost
as if he is improvising a jazz solo in words rather than notes, stating a theme
and stretching it out in an unpredictable way, then returning to it and taking
off in a different direction, occasionally bouncing an enigmatic question off
of his interlocutor (``What is the purpose of human beings?''). One theme he constantly
returns to is motherhood, and he likes to recall what his mother told him
whenever he sought her approval: ``Don't worry Junior, I know who you are?'' Coleman credits his mother with giving
him the strength to overcome the adversity he faced growing up in a largely
segregated Fort Worth. Coleman's father died when he was 7, and his mother supported the family
on her seamstress earnings. She bought him his first saxophone when he was 14
from money he earned shining shoes.
"At that time bebop was just being born and CharlieParker was
the main man," said Coleman. "I said, `Oh man, what kind of music is that?' And I
thought I'm going to play that.'' Coleman's bebop solos made him a poor fit with the R&B bands
dominating the local circuit. Tired of rejection, he moved to Los Angeles in
1952 where he got a job as a department store elevator operator, studying music
theory on his breaks. Coleman, who a decade before the Beatles had
shoulder-length hair and a beard, soon found a like-minded group of musicians,
including Haden, who had performed in his family's bluegrass band back in
Missouri; Don Cherry, who played a tiny pocket trumpet, and drummer Billy
Higgins. "I wanted to play on the inspiration of a composition rather than
on the chord structure ... and every time I tried to do this the other
musicians that I was playing with would be upset with me," said Haden.
"And the first time I played with Ornette all of a sudden the lights were
turned on for me because here was someone else who was ... doing the same thing
I was trying to do.'' Coleman recorded his first album "Something Else" for Los
Angeles-based Contemporary Records in 1958. The new sound caught the attention
of the Modern Jazz Quartet's pianist and musical director JohnLewis, who
introduced Coleman to
Atlantic Records producer NesuhiErtegun. The
November 1959 New York debut of Coleman's quartet at the Five Spot set off a musical firestorm. Coleman's radical new approach had its
champions, including the classical composers LeonardBernstein and VirgilThompson. But
many leading jazz musicians denounced him as a charlatan.
MilesDavis remarked that "psychologically, the man is all screwed up
inside.'' Undaunted, Coleman went on to release a series of groundbreaking albums for Atlantic, most notably the
double-quartet recording ``Free Jazz" with a nearly 40-minute collective
improvisation. Coleman has always considered himself more than a jazz player. He has
journeyed to Morocco to play in a mountain hut with the Master Musicians of
Joujouka, performed with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, and composed works
for string quartet, woodwind quintet and even a symphony, "Skies of
America," that he performed with the New York Philharmonic and his own
electric free-funk fusion band Prime Time. Coleman, who previously called his musical system ``harmolodics,"
now prefers to call it "sound grammar." He is seeking to decode that
universal musical language that crosses all borders. "I would like to go
around the world and play with people that don't worry about the key they're in
or the song they're playing ... because I really do play from sound," said
Coleman, who has decorated the main room of his loft with folk art he has
collected on his musical odysseys to Morocco, Nigeria, India and elsewhere. ``To
me sound is eternal ... and there are still some notes that haven't been heard.
I don't know where to find them, but I know they are there.''
2,000 Musicians Take Up Challenge To Record Album In A Month Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Philip
Elliott, Associated Press
(February 08, 2007) CONCORD, N.H. — Guitarist Mike Samborn used to
sketch out a song, play it, decide he didn't like it and toss it in the trash.
But this month, he doesn't have that option. Samborn is one of more than 2,000
musicians worldwide facing a March 1 deadline to write and record an entire
album as part of the second RPM Challenge. There are no prizes or winners, but the participants' works will
be uploaded to an online jukebox. “Once I signed up, I realized I had to finish
this thing,” said Samborn, a 34-year-old from Dover. “The
panic is a big impetus.” Last year's effort brought 165 finished album entries,
ranging from a 35-minute instrumental work to a 10-song tribute to Annie Oakley
and Bonnie and Clyde. Most were submitted by musicians in the Portsmouth area,
where the RPM Challenge is based.
“People took chances they wouldn't normally take,” organizer DaveKarlotski said
of last year's contest. “Instead of over-thinking what their next album should
be, they did what they wanted to do.” The program is similar to a San
Francisco-based effort to get would-be authors to write a novel in November.
Last year, almost 80,000 people participated worldwide. In the campaign's
eight-year history, a handful of books have found publishers, though most find
only a handful of readers. Before signing up to record an album in a month,
guitarist and singer Michelle Moon, a 37-year-old education director at a
living history museum, had booked minor gigs and played for friends. But she
had never written music and certainly didn't record it. Last year, she wrote
the tribute to Annie Oakley and Bonnie and Clyde. This year, she has 12 songs started, though she expects about a
third of them to be set aside. “I'm no longer as afraid of writing. I know now
I can write those songs,” said Moon, whose tunes this year are in the vein of
Hank Williams and honky-tonk love ballads. Samborn, who records as Floppy
Jalopy, works on the project after his two children are in bed. “I do this all
at night between eight and ,” he said. “If I don't have
any deadline, I'll throw away a lot of stuff. When you have that deadline looming
over you, you throw away that inner critic.”
TonyMatterhorn Visits U.S.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By KevinJackson (February 8, 2007) Dancehall
artiste TonyMatterhorn to make first visit
to the US in three year.
Selector-turned- dancehall deejay TonyMatterhorn
describes himself as a big kid at heart. However it’s his four children
including his latest offspring, a sixth month old boy named Rich, who keep him grounded.
The man, who shook the dancehall by storm last year with the sizeable hits
Dutty Wine and GoodasFiDem, enjoys watching cartoons and playing his PST games. ‘I love the
PST games. I have six of them since they came out’, Matterhorn confided in an
interview with this writer recently. Matterhorn who is currently in London, recently obtained a work permit to re-enter the United States. It was in 2003 that he last visited the US and in another week’s
time, his fans, specially invited guests, top hip hop and R&B stars and the
media, will get a chance to meet and greet the man, who has dubbed himself ‘The
Man From Mars’. A big celebration is being planned for MARS 2112, a trendy hot
spot in Times Square, New York to host a welcome back party for him. ‘I didn’t get to
travel the US for three years. I went in to the US
embassy in Jamaica and they cancelled my visa. I have never had a police record in Jamaica or in
any other country for that matter’, Matterhorn explained. He said contrary to rumours, he was never involved in
any illegal or criminal activity that resulted in the cancellation of his US visa
Mattehorn says that the opportunity to travel to the US again
will give him the opportunity to rekindle with fans from his sound system days
on the Addies disco. New fans will now get to see and hear him perform his hit
songs. ‘I can now reach out to my extended fans. The real Matterhorn fans. It feels good to
be able to reunite with them. But in some ways I have been interacting with
them on my space a lot’, said Matterhorn. He added ‘Having your own page on myspace.com has given me the
ability to link with my fans. They post messages and its really good to kick
back be interactive with them sometimes’. Matterhorn pointed out that since the success of the Dutty Wine single, a
number of young fans have reached out to him. “They are always emailing and
making a link. From Fully Loaded days and RAS parties, I realized that the
younger fans were into what I was doing. On New Years Day I was in Canada and I
couldn’t get my hair cut because the barber shops were closed. I went to a
barber’s house and his children started to demonstrate the Dutty Wine song when
I came in. It was really surprising’, said Matterhorn. Julie Lexy Brooks, CEO of VIP Connected Entertainment, the
agency that handles management, bookings and promotions for Matterhorn, was very instrumental
in helping him regain his travel/working privileges to the US. She
commented ‘ First let me say how really excited I am that Tony now can travel and work
in the USA again.
I know it was a very, very long wait but fans stateside will soon be graced
with his presence and the opportunity to see him perform live. I know the United States; specifically New
York is one of Tony's favourite places’.
Asked how difficult it was to secure his US visa, MsBrooks said
‘It was quite a long and at times tedious task to secure his visa. At times it
seemed almost impossible but we kept the faith. My company first started
working with his immigration case a little over 3 years ago. Although the hopes
of him getting his visa looked bleak, we really believed that there was no
legal reason to keep him from coming and working in the states .So we kept
working on it, believing that one day he would once again return to the US. After
all, there are thousands of adoring fans who are anxiously waiting to see and
enjoy his live performances. We brought the attorney's office of Spar and Bernstein on board to assist us. They
worked hard and for this we would like to thank them for their kind assistance.
We would also like to thank the office of Congressman GaryL.Ackerman and the Jamaican Consulate for the role they played as well. But
just to be clear at the end of the day the reality of what Tony has been
preaching all this time came to pass and that is he has done nothing wrong and
he stuck to his argument’. After his celebratory party in New York, Matterhorn will head back to London to
fulfill performance obligations. He returns to the island in time for a guest
shot on the Jim Brown Memorial dance. March will see him marking his birthday
celebrations with parties planned for several Caribbean countries. In April he will commence a tour
of Europe. The trek will culminate with
several dates in the US in May.
Asked what became of the publicized interest that Atlantic Records had shown in
signing him during the height of the Dutty Wine craze, Matterhorn (real name DuftonTaylor) said
‘It was pure politics when it came to my career. I was supposed to do an album
but someone foiled the attempt. The delay in Atlantic Records working with me
as basically because I didn’t have a US visa.
But for now I am only concerned about making hit singles’. Mattehorn recently
hit the charts with Man from Mars and Wickedest Ride (featuring Mr.Easy). He
is currently working on a slate of singles. He predicts collaboration with
singer Alaine titled On Your Knees will be a big hit over the summer. “the song
is like a man and woman fuss. It was produced by Daseca. I also have a song on
the pepper spray rhythm from DJKarim.
I have always thought about things in a futuristic way. Look at the song Man
from Mars. Everything that I said in that song is coming to pass’, Matterhorn concluded.
Vieux Of His Father's World
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Staff Reporter
(February 08, 2007) A young African guitarist has come out of nowhere to
seize the mantle of his famous father, stirring excitement over the
continuation of a rich musical legacy. Vieux
Farka Touré, a 25-year-old from the West African
country of Mali, plays Harbourfront Centre on Saturday to headline the three-day
Kuumba Festival, the city's premier cultural event celebrating Black History
Month. He is the son of Ali Farka Touré, the eccentric guitar genius who died of bone cancer 11 months
ago and is still being mourned. Until now, it was assumed that long-time
protégé AfelBocoum would take the successor role. Bocoum is from Touré's village of Niafunké, on
the Niger River near Timbuktu. He performed on some of Touré's recordings, used some of the
same musicians for his own band and recorded with the same London
producer, NickGold of World Circuit Records. At one point, the elder Touré named
Bocoum his musical heir. Attempting to rise to the honour, Bocoum performed at
a world music convention in Spain last
October, delivering a faithful rendition of Touré's "desert blues"
but failing to command the stage like his mentor. At the same gathering, young
Vieux announced himself. He had a representative distribute hundreds of advance
copies of a debut album, Vieux
Farka Touré, released officially this month. Until recently, Vieux
had been playing in secret, worried about his father's disapproval. Then –
bizarrely – a visiting Torontonian talked him into making a CD, the ailing
father conferred his blessing, and the young guitarist brought his act straight
to the United States and Canada. As though to contain expectations, he also issued a news release
both honouring his father's work and staking his own territory.
"Everyone has their own ideas and their way of doing things," he
stated last month. "I am working to follow my father's path but that path
continues into new areas. "I am of a new generation, so there are
things that inspire me in today's world that I put in my music, just as he did
in his time." VieuxFarkaTouré was born in Niafunké, the second son of Ali's 12 children by four wives.
At birth, he was named for his grandfather and inherited the grandfather's
nickname Vieux, meaning "old man." He also assumed his father's
moniker Farka, meaning "donkey" in the Sonrai language, apparently a
compliment to the father's strength and determination. Vieux spent his early
years with an otherwise childless aunt and uncle, at a village several hours
south of Niafunké. "I would see (my father) every time he would pass on
his way to Bamako (the Malian capital)," he said in a telephone interview from
New York last week. "He would stop and spend time with us." At
the age of 9, Vieux moved home. He began to soak up his father's guitar
playing, he says, and at 13 joined his dad's band as a calabash (percussion)
"I was close to my father," he says. "We would fish on the Niger River and go hunting
together. When I joined the band, I travelled with him all over Mali and to
South Africa, France, England and a few other places (but not North America)."
All the while, he continued to absorb his father's playing technique.
Touré children learned by being shown something once, the son says. Vieux
learned guitar not from lessons but by watching, and when his father discovered
Vieux practising he discouraged him. "He was serious," Vieux says.
"Basically, he stopped doing me favours. He stopped giving me money to go
to school and he started to refuse me things he never refused me before. He
wanted me to become a soldier." Vieux continued to play in secret,
however, and began to master his father's music, played on the five-note blues
scale with punctuated rapid-fire fingering. In 1999, at age 18, Vieux moved to Bamako. He
continued to play more or less secretly for a while and worked part-time in a cinema
to help pay for studies at the national arts institute, in Mali.
There, in 2003, he met EricHerman of Toronto, now 23.
Herman grew up near Spadina and St.
Clair Aves., and was by then a music student at WesleyanUniversity in Connecticut. He
had come to Mali on a research project to deepen his knowledge of African music
and to pursue a fantasy to jam with AliFarkaTouré. The
two in fact met and played guitar together, and afterward Herman became friends with Vieux.
"By the time I met him, he was a virtuoso," Herman says. "He could imitate
his father's playing brilliantly and knew his whole repertoire." Herman returned to Connecticut to
finish his studies, but two years later graduated and went back to Mali.
By then, he had also founded a record label, Modiba. His idea was to produce an
original Malian record to raise money for malaria prevention. He
reconnected with Vieux, who had started playing under the tutelage of ToumaniDiabaté,
foremost master of the 21-string West African kora. Both musicians agreed to
contribute to the disc, as did AliFarkaTouré. But
when the sessions started, attention quickly shifted to Vieux. "He was
ready," Herman says. "He had the material and he certainly had the ambition
and the talent." On the album the elder FarkaTouré
features in two tracks, his last recording session performed in great pain but
with equally great conviction. ToumaniDiabaté also
features in two, also performing brilliantly. The rest of the album belongs to
Vieux, playing with confidence and verve with different combinations of
musicians, sometimes in a deeply traditional vein, sometimes experimenting with
elements of reggae and American blues.
On the disc, and in his YouTube video postings, he at once conjures up the
ghost of his father and declares his own independence. Watching him, it
is hard not to feel nostalgic for Ali, to long for the return of his charisma, his charm, his
elaborately mystical world view and his unwavering conviction that in the roots
of his music lay the source of all blues music. "I am the root," he
would say. "The rest are the branches." But it is also easy to admire
Vieux. His licks are similar but not the same. Some he finishes faster. Others
he leads with a more modern edge. All carry a sense of a musician who wants
something for himself and is prepared to take the music in new directions, no
matter what anybody else thinks. The Saturday show promises to be even more
adventuresome than the album – "more a fusion of different styles
converging," Herman says. The touring band is a five-piece: Vieux on vocals and
guitar; SeckoTouré, no relation, on vocals and calabash; Ali's former lead guitarist Mama Sissoko (a man) on guitar and ngoni; Herman on bass; and fellow Wesleyan alumnus TimKeiper on
percussion and drum kit. Sales from a T-shirt during the tour, and a percentage
of CD profits, are to go toward protecting the people of Niafunké from malaria.
"Every time you hear somebody has died, you say, `Malaria?' and they say,
`Yes,'" Vieux says. "AIDS is chronic. Malaria you die." The goal
is to distribute 1,200 and 1,500 mosquito nets to residents of the area and to
educate people in their use. AliFarkaTouré, a
magnanimous philanthropist to Niafunké, would be proud.
On The Same Wavelength Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop
(February 08, 2007) There isn't much but good to be said for whatWavelength has done to nurture Toronto's
independent music scene. Surely it's no coincidence that the weekly music
series, which marks its seventh anniversary with its 350th instalment beginning
tonight, has mirrored the city's emergence as a hotbed of popular music, having
played an integral role in introducing local scenesters to the Constantines,
Broken Social Scene, Final Fantasy and countless other artists. Co-founder JonathanBunce
(a.k.a. Jonny Dovercourt) is rightly proud of that legacy, but not to the point
where he's ruled out the possibility of improvement. Last year, Wavelength
introduced a panel discussion as part of its anniversary shows, specifically a
stock-taking investigation into the meaning and value of artistic independence.
It was, Bunce acknowledges, a necessarily reflective, inward-looking debate.
"It indicated that Wavelength had grown up to the point where it's about
more than music and a party," says Bunce of last year's event. "There
are serious things going on around our scene that we want to talk about."
Now it's time to broaden the conversation. Specifically, Bunce is seeking
ways to build bridges between Toronto's monochromatic indie scene and the city's larger, multicultural
reality. "Part of the mandate of Wavelength was to bring a diversity of
styles of independent music together," says Bunce, a 33-year-old cultural
activist who also serves as co-artistic director of creative music centre the
Music Gallery and as guitarist for indie rockers Republic of Safety.
"We feel we've failed a bit at the mission, to the extent that the series
has become identified with the white, indie rock scene. It's too bad, when
there are so many different types of indie scenes happening in Toronto."
Participants in the panel discussion, which gets underway at 7 p.m. at the
Music Gallery, include Bunce, David Dacks of CIUT and Exclaim!, hip-hop MC
More or Les, south-Asian influenced musician Rosina Kazi of the group LAL, Sara
Saljoughi of Fig Records and moderator Misha Glouberman, host of the Trampoline
Hall lecture series. The two-hour format will include a Q&A session, as
well as smaller group discussions incorporating the audience. "The point
of the panel is not to just wring our hands and say, `We're so bad for not
being more diverse,'" Bunce says. "It's not about finger-pointing.
For whatever reason, there is a disconnect between different parts of the city
in a cultural sense. But there's more to be excited about than there is to be
upset about, so what can we do to make things better?"
The program will be followed by a concert featuring performances by Wyrd
Visions, Double Suicide and LauraBarrett.
Barrett's inclusion loosely fits the evening's theme, in that she has
adapted an African instrument, a thumb piano called the kalimba, to the western
singer/songwriter format. "We've been talking about getting LauraBarrett to do
a concert with some traditional kalimba players at some point in the
future," Bunce says. "We think that what she's doing would be
interesting to people from the African community. "I'm also trying to
figure out how to book an Ethiopian band at Wavelength. I love Ethiopian music.
And I love the Ethiopian bar scene. But the paradigm is totally
different. "They don't have bands in the way that the indie scene
has bands. They have a bunch of individual working musicians who play at
different clubs on regular nights of the week. It's a rotating cast of people.
"So there are structural obstacles that need to be worked around.
"At the same time, the Wavelength audience is so open-minded that if they
were presented with that music I know they'd go crazy for it."
Arcade Fire Fans Its Red-Hot
Flames With A New CD Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner
(February 11, 2007) MONTREAL -- From the moment that its 2004 debut Funeral
catapulted Arcade Fire from local club heroes to
international indie rock phenoms, the Montreal band has constantly adjusted to the
shifting realities imposed by its sudden popularity. "During the Funeral tour,"
recalls guitarist/percussionist WillButler,
"it seemed like every week was a transition. We started playing for 50
people. Then it was 100. Then 200, then 400, then 800, then 1,600, then
3,200." In that sense, the five-night, hometown residency that wrapped up
last night at the Ukrainian National Federation, a 650-seat community centre
located in the city's downtown, was an arrangement of choice rather than a
matter of necessity. Arcade Fire is more than plenty big enough in Montreal – and
a lot of other places – to have graduated to larger venues. Not only were
all five shows sold out, desperate fans huddled overnight outside a local CD
store, in temperatures approaching -20C, to lay their hands on one of the 50
tickets set aside for sale on the morning of each show. The record shop
initiative aimed to keep a lid on potentially extortionist prices demanded by
scalpers, but that didn't prevent at least one pair of $25 tickets from being
sold for 10 times its $50 face value on eBay.
More of the same can be expected this week when Arcade Fire launches another
sold-out-in-advance, five-night stand at the 400-seat JudsonMemorialChurch in New York's Greenwich Village. The
venues are small partly because Arcade Fire views these gigs, along with a
previous run of comparatively intimate shows that received rave reviews in the U.K., as a
touring equivalent of spring training. The set list leans heavily toward the
new Neon Bible
– a sequel to the half-million-plus-selling Funeral
– due out March 6. The music is demanding and the band is still
working out the kinks before heading back to Europe next month and then returning
in April to California's Coachella music festival, where the group performed for an
estimated crowd of 15,000 last year. Coachella and other outdoor music
festivals aside, Arcade Fire still doesn't see itself as an arena act – even if
a show at Montreal's Bell Centre, home of the Canadiens, is theoretically within its
grasp. Although nothing is official, Massey Hall is said to be the Toronto stop
on a yet-to-be-announced North American tour.
"It's a question of balance," says Butler, during an interview,
alongside Régine Chassagne, a multi-instrumentalist and singer who fronts the
band with Win Butler, who is both Chassagne's husband and Will's brother.
"You want to fit as many people in as want to see you, but you also don't
want to play the Bell Centre," he continues. "It's not the greatest
ambience. So you end up playing more nights in a smaller venue like a nice
theatre, but then you don't get to as many places. You end up playing three
nights in Chicago, instead of one night in Chicago and
another in Champlain."
Adds Chassagne: "I don't know if it would actually help for people to see
us in a gigantic venue, where we would look like ants and you can't really hear
much. "Would that be better?" she asks, imagining herself as a member
of the audience. "I don't know. I wouldn't like it." The irony,
perhaps, is that if any band seems built for a big podium it is Arcade Fire.
During last week's Montreal shows, the stage was barely big enough to accommodate the
musicians and their instruments. The group's core membership – also including
Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara – ballooned to
10 with the addition of a two-member horn section and a second string player.
The performances were characteristically exuberant, with band members wailing
away with customary abandon on instruments freely traded between them. At
Wednesday's show, the audience responded with particular enthusiasm during a
mid-set revival of barnstorming anthems from the half-million selling Funeral, while also
heartily endorsing the newer material.
On that night, the title track from Neon
Bible was saved for the end of the second encore, presumably in the
hopes that the down-tempo number would dampen the raucous and apparently
tireless crowd's demand for more. It didn't work. Fans kept chanting and
clapping long after the house lights came up, the crew began clearing the stage
and, finally, recorded music was turned on. It's possible the audience was
reluctant to leave until they were treated to the kind of signature,
show-ending finale for which Arcade Fire is known. In 2005, for instance, the
band concluded a show at the DanforthMusic Hall by exiting up the aisle and busking on the sidewalk outside.
"You should be pleased when things like that happen," Butler says.
"But you shouldn't expect them to happen." Besides, on Wednesday the
wrinkle came at the start of the show when the young daughter of a friend
opened the proceedings by reciting a passage from "The Wolf and the
Fox," the 17th-century French fable that inspired one of NeonBible's 11 tracks,
"The Well and the Lighthouse." The new album, which will be released
as a regular CD, a deluxe CD with a 32-page booklet and a double LP, was
recorded throughout 2006, mostly in a small church outside of Montreal but
also in London, New York and Budapest, where orchestral passages arranged by violinist and band friend OwenPallett, of
Final Fantasy, were tracked. Generally, the sonic canvas is even busier than it
was on Funeral,
the album which earned the band its reputation as purveyors of elaborate
chamber pop, bolstered by strings, horns and booming backing vocal choruses.
"No Cars Go," a song which originally appeared on an early EP, has
been reworked for the new album to reflect its evolution as a long-standing
staple of the live show.
"I always had an orchestra in my mind from the conception of that song. I
always heard it like that in my mind," says Chassagne, who creates the
skeletal frameworks for the songs with Win Butler before inviting input from
the rest of the band. "But there was no way we could have done it like
that back then. I was using the accordion to imitate the strings, but I
imagined it with an orchestra. Then it became an option and I wanted to do
it." Chassagne, even more than most of her bandmates, seems to revel in
her role as an interchangeable musical part. A backing and sometimes lead
vocalist, she started Wednesday's gig behind the drum kit before turning to the
keyboards, the accordion and her current infatuation, the hurdy gurdy, a
stringed instrument with a crank at one end. "It's still new for me,"
she says with obvious relish. "When you're playing it, it feels like
you're playing a cranking keytar. And it sounds like a bagpipe violin.
"It's very high maintenance, especially the way that I use it. I treat it
pretty rough." Not as roughly as percussion instruments are handled by
other band members, who occasionally bash maniacally at anything within
striking distance. In performance, Arcade Fire doesn't so much play their
instruments as play with them, sometimes with little apparent regard for the
niceties of note-perfect execution. "There's a long and fruitful history
in rock 'n' rock of not being able to play your instrument," Butler says.
"This isn't the band's ethos or anything, but in my mind the first rule is
to be interesting and then to be memorable and then to be good, in that
Arcade Fire's reputation for memorable performances is partly what propelled
its original success, initially as a word-of-keypad phenomenon of the indie
music blogosphere which exploded the band becoming cover fodder for the
Canadian edition of Time.
Since then, things have moved so far beyond the word-of-mouth stage that
anything related to the band, such as the release of a homemade video to
YouTube in December, is viewed by some as a manipulative marketing ploy. A Montreal daily
newspaper recently linked a story about so-called "stealth" or
"viral" marketing – essentially an orchestrated campaign designed to
generate buzz – to events around the forthcoming release of Neon Bible. "We
made that video in an hour with a camera and a laptop," says Chassagne,
scoffing at the suggestion that the stunt was cynically conceived or
premeditated. Adds Butler: "Yes, we're orchestrating things. But we're orchestrating
them in the sense that: Here's a stupid joke. Let's put this stupid joke
online." Which is not to say that Arcade Fire isn't interested in
maintaining control over what it does – as well as how and when it does it.
When the post-Funeral
media frenzy threatened to get out of hand in 2005 – round about the time
Coldplay's ChrisMartin took to calling them "the best band in history" –
members simply stopped granting interviews. "If I exhaust myself with
6,000 interviews a week, then it's totally not worth it," Chassagne says.
"It gets in the way of what I love, which is writing music and playing it
for people." "It's an attitude thing," Butler says.
"I don't think we should have the attitude of sticking it to the press any
more than we should have the attitude that we're going to get press to become
celebrities. Either way, it takes up too much space in your mind. It's not what
you should be thinking about. "You should be thinking about how good the
cup of coffee you're drinking tastes. Everything figures itself out from there.
At least it has up to this point. And I assume it'll keep figuring itself out
without too much bother."
Hargrove Draws Diverse Crowd Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Ashante Infantry, Jazz Reporter
12, 2007) No longer a young lion, not yet a legend,
literally and figuratively, trumpeter RoyHargrove
bridges the gap in jazz. The WyntonMarsalis
protegé is a 37-year-old Texan who earned his stripes collaborating with
stalwarts such as Sonny Rollins, ShirleyHorn and OscarPeterson. His
current band includes musicians who would have been in diapers when the
Grammy-winning player embarked on a professional career 20 years ago. Though
he's played Massey Hall on several occasions, Saturday was the first time
headlining there with his quintet, comprised of bassist Joe Sanders, pianist GeraldClayton,
drummer MontezColeman and alto saxist JustinRobinson. The
leader took the stage wearing a stylish black suit, red satin tie and a
smile. He launched into "Autumn Leaves" with a stirring solo
reminiscent of MilesDavis's classic 1958 recording of the ballad: long, haunting tones and
soft, fluttering strokes courtesy of a mute. Then he moved to the
sidelines, where he would spend much of the 90-minute set.
Saxist Robinson was most deserving of the spotlight yielded him. He counteracted
Hargrove's relaxed intro on the first song with big, blustering commentary, and
matched his imagination and intensity when they traded and dueted on subsequent
tunes. Clayton, the classically trained son of acclaimed bassist-bandleader JohnClayton,
sounded the most inspired notes in the rhythm section, which was adept if not
always innovative. The collective supported Hargrove's warm, soulful sound and
the menu he dished up from his genre-expanding repertoire. Cool '50s-era Miles
Davis-like jazz? Check. Spontaneous free playing? Sure: a frenzied version of
"Cameraderie" from last year's Nothing Serious, which featured
a fanfare opening and long circuitous ride back to the opening statement.
Fusion? Yeah, a bouncing, funk-based original that wouldn't be out of place on
a smooth jazz radio station or Hargrove's next record with his R&B band, RH
Factor. Standard? That was the lyrical and elegant flugelhorn rendering of
"Fools Rush In." Post-bop romp?
Doesn't get much better than the brisk delivery of Nothing Serious's
Latin-flavoured title track. The people at the Massey Hall show comprised one
of the youngest and most ethnically diverse audiences at a non-festival,
non-club jazz event in this city. Even though the venue was only 60 per cent
full, it included a good chunk of the younger demographic that local jazz
promoters are keen to engage. Hargrove doesn't interact with his audience– no
song titles, he barely mentioned his own name in the band intros – but he's not
aloof. He laughed, danced, urged on the other players and reacted with mock
horror when a cellphone went off in the audience. Also making their
Massey Hall debut were The Bad Plus, a traditional bass-drums-piano trio with
an avant-garde approach. This entertaining group, defined by precision timing,
a sense of humour and penchant for Nirvana and Blondie covers, has scored fans
amongst the rock and jam band set.
Randy Crawford And Joe Sample Are 'Feeling Good' About New CD
Source: J'ai St. Laurent-Smyth, Inque Public Relations, inquePR@comcast.net
(February 13, 2007) On Tuesday, February
20, 2007 PRA Records will
release Feeling Good, a new album from Randy
Crawford and Joe Sample. This Tommy
LiPuma-produced CD marks a return collaboration between vocalist Crawford and pianist Sample who first
worked together 30 years ago. To celebrate this special reunion, the album's
upbeat title track and lead single received a literal around-the-world launch
in December of 2006, as the song accompanied NASA astronauts on the Space
Shuttle STS 116. Astronaut JoanHigginbotham took
the song "Feeling Good" with her on the shuttle, which launched from KennedySpaceCenter, and
the song was selected by NASA as one of the official songs used by Mission
Control to wake the astronauts for their daily chores during the 12-day
mission. From the first downbeat of "Feeling Good" through the last
note of "Mr.Ugly", the listener is drawn into the warm embrace of Joe and Randy's musical heritage, a
mixture of soul, jazz, gospel, pop, and a touch of the blues. One of the
premier songstresses in contemporary music, Crawford showcases her versatile vocal instrument on songs such as
"All Night Long", "End of the Line", and the moving ballad
"Save Your Love for Me".
The lasting mastery of Sample's piano playing skill is evident through each of
the album's 13 songs. From their interpretation of PeterGabriel's
"Lovetown" to the Latin-flavoured "Rio de Janiero Blue", to
a modernly funky but also softened reading of "See Line Woman",
Sample's work on the keys surrounds, highlights, and compliments Crawford's voice exquisitely.
Some of the other covers chosen for this album include a seductive take on
Billie Holiday's "Tell Me More and More and Then Some", a breezy run
through "Everybody's Talking", the tune made famous by Harry Nilsson
and the film Midnight Cowboy, and a heartfelt version of "When I
Need You", written by Albert Hammond and Carol Bayer Sager. A
special sentimental choice is "Last Night at Danceland", a song written
by Sample and originally recorded by Crawford in 1980. The keen interaction between Sample and Crawford throughout the album is a
clear testimony to a musical friendship that began 30 years ago when Joe played on Randy's debut CD, Everything
Must Change. Soon after, when writing songs for his influential band The
Crusaders, Sample invited Crawford to be a guest on their record and wrote the song "Street
Life" especially for her (1979). Of course, that tune went on to
become an international hit, and the two collaborated on and off for years
afterwards. With both artists having worked previously with
GRAMMY®-winning producer TommyLiPuma, the
three coming together to record Feeling Good was a natural fit. Also the
joining the team was multiple GRAMMY®-winning engineer Al Schmitt, whose
inimitable touch gives the album its flawless, crystal clear sound, along with
Steve Gadd on drums and Christian McBride on bass.
GeraldLevert’s Last Interview
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By BongaPercyVilakazi
release today of his new CD, "In My Songs," EUR is proud to pay
tribute to GeraldLevert with this interview between the singer and BongaPercyVilakazi. It is the final interview Gerald did
before his death
(February 13, 2007) Editor's *I still remember the day like it was yesterday,
when I received the sms, informing me about Gerald's untimely passing.
That day, the music world almost came to a stand-still. It hadn't been that
long since LutherVandross died. Now, one more of our greatest soul artists, Gerald Levert, had left this earth.
South Africans were still mourning LeboMathosa's
death, our own talented diva… I suppose what saddened me the most about Gerald's death was the fact
that it had hardly been two weeks since he and his dad Eddie were here in South Africa, to perform. Those that attended the show will testify that it
truly was one of greatest, most remarkable shows ever to be staged in this
country. No fancy fireworks, no bikini girls - just great, soulful music. Gerald and Eddie took us right back to
memory lane. Below, is the FINAL interview that Gerald gave, just before he
died at age 40. I should also add that this interview almost didn't happen, as Gerald wasn't feeling well on
this day. I was told that he was too tired to give any interviews. As if that
wasn't enough, my day was just chaotic, almost preventing me from meeting Gerald & Eddie. Stubborn me went to
him anyway - I knew the restaurant he was in, and all I needed were just ten
minutes, I told his PR person. When I got there, it seemed like Gerald wasn't aware that I'd
be interviewing him, but being the polite person he was, he smiled and agreed
to it. Unbeknownst to him and his camp, this would be the very last interview
he'd give. In that very brief time, I saw in Gerald a very gentle man, who
was very passionate about music. Full of life, laughter and jokes. Speaking to Gerald's family member James, a week after Gerald’s funeral, he said,
"I just wanted to thank you for your blessings and condolences, from all
of Africa and South Africa." I have no doubt that Gerald is at peace, as his
final memories were created in Africa, his homeland. At his death, Gerald was busy recording his
Welcome to South Africa!
Thank you so much! This is truly a beautiful country, and I love being here.
It's so hot though! But I'm okay with that.
You've been here
Yes, in 1999 for the Kora Awards, but I wasn't here for long. This time,
I'm here to perform!
Before you came here
(the first time), did you have a preconceived perception about South Africa?
You know what, I've never really believed all the things that
we're used to seeing in the news, those that just elaborate on how bad this
place is - I've never believed that. I've met a lot of people from Africa. I know that (we) Americans
tend to be arrogant, and at times think that the world begins and ends in the
States. But I guess it's because I've always been a person that's always had my
own opinions. So for me, my thinking was I can't really say much about a place
that I've never been to. So this is a learning curve for me. I'm learning about
the South Africans, their cultures and beliefs
You have an album with
your dad, and you've been touring with him for quite some time. Do you ever
differ artistically, and fight?
Oh hell yeah! All the time. My dad's old school. We interpret a lot of
things differently - his definition of hip-hop differs from mine completely. He
thinks what was hot five years ago is still hot! And I'd be like, yo dad -
that's history. A lot has changed…
But we always meet each other halfway. We need to. And I think another thing
that helps us is that we both listen to a lot of music, every type of music.
What do you listen to?
Who are your favourites?
MarvinGaye is number one. I love Stevie Wonder, The Ojays and a lot of soul
singers. I've met a lot of great singers, and obviously, they've had a lot of
influence on me.
I think as far as the
world is concerned, you've had a great career. How do you see it?
I've been really blessed. I mean, I've been able to do so many great
things, met a lot of great people. It's been amazing.
Is there anything else
that you'd like to do on earth - something you feel like you haven't done,
perhaps a dream or an achievement?
I've done a lot of things, which I'm really happy about. But if I'd choose,
I'd wanna do more music. Music that is just universal. Music that everyone
would get to listen to, cos right now, that's not happening. For example, with
radio stations, there are stations that only play R&B, or Country or Rock -
so people don't really get to hear something other than what's being fed to
them. So I'd like to be a part of that group, if I may call it that, that will
bring about that revolution. I've been in the industry for a good twenty years…
Does it feel like
Nope. It doesn't. Everything just happened so fast.
I can imagine.
Yeah. I've sang with my brother, my dad, and I was with LSG. So I've done a lot
in a very short time. But to answer your question, I guess what I wanna do is
to make a difference.
I think you have made
a difference. You've given us great memories, you've entertained us,
you've sung amazing songs. On top of that, you've also written a number of
great songs for other artists. I'm gonna ask you about two particular songs,
that are my personal favourites. The one song, Shoe Was On The Other Foot,
which you wrote for PattiLaBelle… How did you come up with that song?
MissPatti and I have toured together a lot of times, and those that have
seen her know too well that she tears the place down every time she performs.
She'll kick off her shoes and roll on the floor. So, I called her one time and
said, Mama Patti, I
have a song for you. I then played it for her over the phone and she loved it. Patti's an amazing woman.
How are you guys
doing, as far as Luther is
concerned? Cos we were very saddened this side to learn about his death. He was
really loved in SA.
You know what, strange as it may sound, we weren't really surprised. We knew
that he was very ill. Inasmuch as that was the case, we were still very, very
sad. Luther was the man. No one sang love songs like Luther. I guess all we have t
do is just accept that these things happen. It's sad, I know. What's also sad
is that it's all the soul singers that are leaving us.
A few years ago, I
think it was 1992 when I first heard your song I'd do anything. Now I didn't
understand half the things you said cos I was still learning English, but I
knew that that was a great song. And that voice! Where did you get that song
That is a great song. I remember, there was a group back then that was in the
same label with me - All 4 One - and they were very talented. They came to me,
presented me with a song called I Swear. I listened to that song and I said 'I
can't sing this! It's too pop'! So they went ahead and sang that
song themselves, and it became a huge hit. It was number one on the charts! So,
the next time those guys came to me with I'd Do Anything, I quickly grabbed it
and told them I'd do it. I didn't wanna be wrong again. That's still one of my
favourite songs. It has a lot of meaning to me.
And then you later
formed and joined LSG…
Yes. Now what happened there, Keith (Sweat) and I were on the phone and he told
me how much he'd wanted to form this group - something that had never been done
before - get some of the greatest singers and record a few albums, so that
would be me, Keith and two other people. I loved the idea, so I said cool. Who
do you have in mind? He said I don't know, man. Think of names. I called Johnny (Gill) and he was sold.
Then I called R.Kelly, and he also thought it was a great idea. So we got on the phone
and started talking. Robert (Kelly) just got on a roll and said: Guys, this is
what I wanna do, you guys are gonna come to my studio and we're gonna do these
songs that I wrote, and this is what I want you guys to do. So we were like
what?! We also write our own songs.
So we reached some sort of conclusion, and we ended the call. We never called Robert again. I mean, he's an
amazing artist, and I'm not taking any credit from him. It's just that we didn't
think he shared our vision at that time.
Well I suppose things
happen for a reason, cos you worked perfectly as a trio.
Yeah. And our debut album was a smash. It did very well.
You also had a second
album with LSG...
That didn't do as well as the first one (commercially), because at that time, I
think we all had our solo albums that were out, and we were busy with our own
things, but nevertheless, we were happy with that album.
And a new album from
you? When can we expect that? It's been a while.
I've actually been working on it. I've got a couple of finished songs, and
hopefully, the album will drop early 2007. There's really some amazing songs in
That's amazing! Can we
expect any duets? You do some kick-ass duets.
Not at the moment. It's just me.
Cos I loved the duets
you did with YolandaAdams - I Believe I Can Fly.
We had fun doing that song. Yolanda's like my little sister. I love her. We've always wanted do work
together, and then when the opportunity came, we had to find a song
quickly. We had a good time though.
I know I said I'd be
here for ten minutes but I've just gotten on and on. I have one last question.
You're performing in a day's time. What can your fans expect?
They can expect a damn good show! As you know, I came with my dad Eddie. So, we're gonna do all
our hit songs, the songs we recorded together, some of the O'jays songs and many songs that
they're familiar with. We've put a lot in this show. Everyone's gonna have a
great time. I'm actually tired of talking. I wanna sing!
About BongaPercyVilakazi: He is currently the entertainment editor of SOUL magazine and
the Language Advisor/Dialogue coach for a successful TV show in South Africa. He also acts as a Publicist for a number of the country’s
musicians and actors. Contact him via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Omarion Winning Big With ‘21’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M
(February 14, 2007) *R&B sensation Omarion has really
been breaking out of the teen-pop iconic role he garnered as the lead singer of
boy band B2K. With the follow-up from his 2005 debut album “O,” aptly titled
“21,” Omarion has gone and “growed up.” The smooth and sexy disc debuted at #1
and is maintaining a hold on radio – single after single. The disc title, “21,”
has a two-fold meaning. Omarion recorded the set in his 21st year (he’s now 22)
and the issues covered on the album are based on the experiences he had or
dealt with at 21. But the title also mirrors the albums attraction. It’s named
after an age that those younger can’t wait to be and that those older wish they
could go back to. It all makes sense because the disc is a favourite among the
new and old school. “It’s a milestone in everyone’s life,” Omarion said.
“It’s an age that you can remember and you have great memories.” For the
singer, turning 21 was a pretty easy transition and the milestone, ironically,
wasn’t such a big deal. He explained that his celebrity status gave him the
perks that most had to wait for.
“I’ve never really been big on age anyway,” he added. “I’ve always been mature
for my age. When we started doing the record and felt how mature it was, we
decided to call it that.” His maturity is pretty evident on this self-described
“coming-of-age” album that he said was really created off-the-cuff.
“Everything was created in the moment. When we got in the studio, that’s when
[the producers] would say, ‘Ok, Omarion, what do you want to talk about?’
They’d pick my brain and I started to talk about this… that’s how the concepts
came about. That’s pretty much how we got the gist of what I was going through
in my life.” The first single from the disc, “Entourage,” reflects a bit of the
mature, old school rhythm that the young artist hoped to have achieved. He told
EUR’s LeeBailey that legendary influences helped shape the track as well as his
career. “A lot of people don’t know that I’m really familiar with the
history of music. They wouldn’t expect me to know about SammyDavisJr., the NicholasBrothers, Cab Calloway…I can go on. I understand the
history, especially the performing and dance, but the music, too. I really wanted
to convey that I had some history and I had some background. These are the guys
I looked up to – MichaelJackson, JamesBrown – all the greats. With ‘Entourage’ I felt like that’s what music
was missing. It was missing the feeling and the funk. I wanted to bring that
element back.” The follow-up single, “Ice Box,” also maintains mature subject
matter. The song reflects a serious broken heart – that Omarion experienced
“A lot of the reasons why that’s my personal favourite is because it’s a personal
experience. Most people can tell -- the way I’m singing and expressing myself –
that I know it’s hard for men out there. We don’t talk about it all the time
and we may say we don’t get hurt, but it happens. It puts up a wall like we’re
not really able to love strongly again after having loved like that,” he
reflected. “It was a very recent experience where I was involved with this
young lady and I didn’t plan on falling for her the way I did, but I did. She
knows the song is about her. I told her. And I told her, ‘Thank you.’ I don’t
know if I had been able to find that feeling inside of me and getting into the
booth and really making it come to life if it wasn’t for that.” “21”
covers the gamut of experiences that generations can relate to and that has
made all the difference for the album, which is a winner for VH1 Soul and MTV.
Omarion said that keeping in touch with the history of music, the legends of
music, and learning from the past while melding into the soul of the new
millennium is just what he tries to represent in his music, as well as how he
lives. “In music and a lot of different aspects in life, there’s so much
to learn, so much knowledge. If you keep yourself in a humble state and you
keep yourself a student, there’s no limit to the things you can learn. And I’m
always going to strive to be better.” Apparently, there is life after 21. “21”
is in stores now. For more on Omarion, check his website at www.omariononline.com.
Dion Song At Oscars
Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 08, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Celine
Dion will sing her new song,
"I Knew I Loved You," during a tribute to Italian composer Ennio
Morricone at this year's Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences said Wednesday. Morricone, who will receive an honorary Oscar at the Feb. 25 awards, orchestrated the
song for 1984's "Once Upon a Time in America," directed by SergioLeone. Songwriters Alan and MarilynBergman wanted to write lyrics for the song but
the film's producers felt none were needed. The Bergmans got their chance with Dion's version. Morricone, 78,
has received original score Oscar nominations for ``Days of Heaven," "The
Mission," "The Untouchables," "Bugsy" and
"Malena." The new rendition of "I Knew I Loved You,"
produced by Quincy Jones, will appear on Morricone's upcoming greatest-hits
album and on Dion's forthcoming record.
Kid Capri Releases the 'Budda Early'
Mixtape Source: The Pulse of Entertainment, By Eunice Moseley,Freeassocinc3@aol.com
(February 8, 2007) DJ turned radio personality
turned producer turned
record label owner, Kid
Capri, recently released the first album off
his label, No Kid'N Records. That release is "The Budda Early
Mixtape." It highlights the awesome material of rapper Budda Early. He has
a flow and lyrical content I haven't heard since Tupac. "He (Budda Early)
got so much music," Kid Capri says in amazement of Early as to why there
are 23 selections of the album. "We have 250 songs so it's not a real
issue." Capri met Budda Early about nine years ago when
they had did some work together. "He started rolling with me," Capri says. "I had two artists ahead of him that I had
to develop." So that left it open for Early to go first. Of course Capri can be seen on RussellSimmons' Def Comedy Jam. He has been there since the concept in
1992. "It was MartinLawrence and Russell's idea," Kid says about the comedy
show's birth. "Russell was at one of my shows and seen the
pandemonium and asked me (to come aboard). It's been number one for eight
years." Capri says he started his label three years ago
to produce good music "people want to hear." He believes that music
is changing ... that there is what's called Street Rock now (rap with rock)
that’s different and breaking ground. "We gave it (the release) to all the
DJs, the college campuses," Kid Capri says about his plans to promote the
album as an "indie" label. "It's a slow process."
The Police Planning 30th Anniversary
World Tour Source: Associated Press
(Feb. 9, 07) Toronto — The
Police, still preparing for their Sunday-nightgig
at the Grammy Awards, will stay reunited and launch a 30th-anniversary world
tour, music-industry publication Billboard reported yesterday. The tour will be
announced at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday, Billboard said. The band will
also celebrate their anniversary at the Whisky A Go Go the day after the
Grammys, and 20 lucky contestants will win a spot in the audience. To enter the
drawing for a spot, fans must be "legacy members" of Sting's official
website, Sting.com. Twenty winners will be notified today. "After the
event, we would like the winners to each submit to us 250 words that describes
their experience of the day -- we can say with some certainty that none of you
will be lost for words!" the announcement said.
Three Canadian Dates Set As Police
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail –
(Feb. 13, 07) Los Angeles -- On the heels
of their much-ballyhooed reunion at Sunday's Grammy Awards, the Police announced yesterday that they will reunite for a tour
set to kick off in Vancouver on May 28. Sting, Andy Summers and StewartCopeland will play Toronto on July 22 and Montreal on July 25. Tickets for all three
Canadian dates go on sale this Saturday. A show in Edmonton is expected to be announced in the next
few weeks. The trio scored a string of hits in the early 1980s, including Don't
Stand So Close to Me and Every Breath You Take. They broke up 23
years ago, but reunited to open Sunday's Grammy telecast with their smash song Roxanne.
9, 2007) *AlGreen is currently in the studio recording his
upcoming album for Blue Note Records over tracks produced by Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of the rap collective The Roots.
According to Billboard.com, the unlikely pairing came about after Thompson "ran my big mouth" and told [Blue Note
senior director of A&R] Eli [Wolf], "'Yo, man. You want a real AlGreen record? Come see me.' So now I've got to
live up to that." ?uestlove had some initial reservations in tackling the
production for Green’s follow-up to 2005’s “Everything’s O.K.” "If
it were up to me and it was absolutely totalitarianism, I would live all my
derivative fantasies out on this record," he says. "It would be 1974
all over again, sonically. I think they're still getting used to that."
One of the frustrations, according to Thompson, is that veteran artists find it hard to resist
teaming with younger, hotter talent in an attempt to reap commercial
acceptance. "If you're going to compete with T.I., Chamillionaire and Jay-Z, then by all
means, let's try and reach the kids of today," he tells Billboard.com.
"But if you put the dart in your hand and you're not going to hit a
bullseye, you're better off just doing what you know best." "I'm not
saying Al Green wants to do his version of [Chamillionaire's] 'Ridin',' but for
veterans, their examples are the Santana of 1999 and the Tony Bennett and Rod
Stewart of today," he continues. "They're thinking, 'Okay, that is
going to get me to the Grammy podium. Someone phone up John [Legend], Alicia [Keys] and Corinne [BaileyRae] and let's get on Adult Contemporary
radio.' I'm trying to get them out of that mode. It'll be a struggle but I
think at the end of the day it will be a quality record."
MarcusHouston, A ‘Veteran’ At Age 25
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough (February 9, 2007) *MarcusHouston will have new material in the streets
on March 20th under his new T.U.G./Universal album, “Veteran.” The set features
production from Bryan-MichaelCox and the Underdogs, who also produced the
singer’s prior hit track, "Naked." “Veteran’s” first single is
"Favorite Girl," with a video directed by ChrisStokes and starring "Clueless" actress
StaceyDash. Stokes also directed a video for "Circle," a
piano-based love song intended as the second single from the album. Among
other tracks on “Veteran,” Yung Joc teams with Houston for "Like
This," while Mya and Shawnna jump on the song, "Hold N' Back."
“Veteran” is the follow-up to 2005's "Naked," which peaked at No. 5
on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 13 on The Billboard
9, 07) Pursuing passion has turned out to be quite a good thing
forGordon Chambers -- the former 'Essence' magazine editor
who became a sought after, award winning songwriter for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin,
Beyonce, Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams, to
name a few. On March 27, the Brooklyn native will release his sophomore opus, entitled
'Love Stories.' Released via his own label, Chamber Music, the 14-track project
exudes the joy and celebration of love in the classic soul tradition. It's a
follow-up to his acclaimed 2005 debut, 'Introducing Gordon Chambers.' The new
disc, however, focuses more on upbeat songs, such as the 'Get To Know,' a
stepper's delight, co-written and produced by Barry Eastmond (with whom Chambers
collaborated on the Grammy-winning 'I Apologize' for Baker); 'Stay Together,' a
funky track produced by India
Arie's writing team, Drew
Ramsey and Shannon
Saunders, featuring a live horn section; and the pop-flavoured
'Unfair' (co-produced with top Swedish hit-maker Arnthor Birgisson).
Vocal powerhouse Melonie
Daniels show up on the inspirational ballad 'Still Blessing
Me,' and Chambers reworks his original composition of 'If You Love Me,' which
was a chart-topping crossover hit for Michael
Jackson's female soul trio Brownstone in the mid-1990s. To support
the promotion of the new disc (which will be available online on Feb. 14), Chambers will showcase selections at the Brooklyn Academy of
Music on Feb. 23 during the inaugural borough-wide celebration "Brooklyn
KanyeWest: Mama's Boy By KaruF.Daniels, AOL Black Voices (Feb.
9, 07) The apple didn't fall too far from the tree in the case
superstar KanyeWest. Wonder where he got all of his wherewithal and
gumption? No one knows more about the multiple Grammy Award winning
musical wunderkind better than his beloved momager, Dr. Donda West, who
is putting the final touches on a forthcoming memoir, titled 'Raising Kanye.'
Yes. We've should've seen this coming. But I am never mad about someone going
for theirs. Now, if Paris
Hilton and NicoleRichie can write books, why can't The Good
Doctor? In the tome, co-written with best-selling author Karen Hunter, West talks about her life as a single mother and the
difficulties she faced in raising a son in the African-American community, The BV Newswire has learned
today. She not only worked full time as a teacher but also attended night
school to achieve her doctorate, and will share personal and private stories of
her life with her son and her later experiences as his manager as he rose to
superstardom. According to a spokesperson at Simon & Shuster's Pocket
Books imprint --who will release the book May 15 -- 'Raising Kanye' will also
include never before seen photos and personal anecdotes of mother and son. Dr.West worked as the Chair of the English
Department at ChicagoStateUniversity before retiring to serve as Kanye's
Legend, Bailey Rae Make Spring Touring Team Excerpt from www.billboard.com - JonathanCohen, N.Y.
09, 2007) JohnLegend and Corinne Bailey Rae will join
forces for a month-long spring tour of North
America, beginning April 3 in Irvine, Calif. The
outing will play theatres and a handful of outdoor venues through a May 4
finale in Atlanta. The next day, Legend will perform at the New Orleans Jazz &
Heritage Festival. Both artists are in line to win Grammy gold Sunday
(Feb. 12) in Los Angeles. Legend is up for best male pop vocal performance, best male
R&B vocal performance and best R&B performance by a duo or group with
vocals, while Bailey Rae is nominated for record of the year, song of the year
and best new artist. In addition, Legend and BaileyRae will
perform together along with JohnMayer during
the Grammy telecast.
SXSW Finally Confirms First Round Of Artists Excerpt from www.billboard.com - KatieHasty, N.Y.
(February 08, 2007) Bloc
Party, the Good, the Bad & the Queen, Taylor
Hicks, Daniel Johnston (with the Nightmares), Mastodon, Lily Allen, Paolo
Nutini, Spoon, Mogwai, the Stooges, the Apples In Stereo and Amy Winehouse are
among the first acts confirmed to appear at the 2007
South by Southwestconference and music festival, which will be held March 14-18 in
Austin, Texas. This year's diverse line-up includes more than a dozen
notable Mexican artists, including Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Canseco, Mexican
Institute of Sound, Panda and Zoe. Over
1300 musicians have been scheduled thus far, with more acts to be
announced. As previously reported,
the Who's Pete Townshend will deliver the festival's keynote address, while
country star Emmylou Harris, Gilberto Gil and the Stooges' Iggy Pop are also
scheduled to speak. Other previously confirmed performers include the Comas, TomMorello,
MSTRKRFT, RJD2, MuteMath, BenJelen, Money
Mark and TommyRamone's new
project Uncle Monk.
The line-up also features the usual slew of buzz-worthy acts from the U.K.,
including the Cinematics, ex-Tricky singer MartinaTopleyBird, Mika,
the View, Field Music, the Fratellis and Fujiya & Miyagi. All confirmed
artists can be seen on the South by Southwest Web site.
Whitney Houston, JenniferHudson Albums Shaping Up
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
13, 2007) *News
is beginning to trickle out regarding two highly-anticipated album projects
under the stewardship of record mogul Clive Davis. According to Fox411 columnist RogerFriedman, seven songs have been chosen for Houston’s comeback album, while Oscar nominee JenniferHudson is in the process of choosing songs and
producers for her debut album, due later this year. Friedman writes of Houston’s project: “The songwriters include DianneWarren, R Kelly, JermaineDupri and Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds. Warren’s song is titled ‘I Didn’t Know How Much
Strength I Had.’” As for Hudson’s potential producers, Friedman writes: “I’m told their first choice comes from
hip hop star Ne-Yo. Davis — whose ears are nearly never wrong —
hears a match with the phenomenal Oscar winner-to-be.”
Bollywood Director Says Lack
Of Incentives Mean He May Not Return Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Prithi Yelaja, Staff
(February 10, 2007) Bollywood actor Dharmendra sits pensively on a
Toronto park bench as snowflakes, appearing on cue, float through the air.
"Cut," yells director Anil Sharma, grinning because he got the one
thing he came all the way from India for:
snow. "It was a perfect shot for me," he says. In five days of
shooting in the GTA, a stand-in for Manhattan,
Sharma and his crew of 50 filmed on the waterfront, at a Raptors game, the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and in various spots in Mississauga. His
$7 million Apne caters
to the Bollywood appetite for "exotic" locales. Toronto is
cheaper than New York, and it's easier to get Canadian visas. But Sharma isn't
sure he'd come here again. "Quebec
City, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Banff – such
beautiful places God has given Canada.
They're perfect film locations. But this country should be a little more
film-friendly." Sharma's disappointment – despite that overly broad
generalization – suggests that while Hollywood is
turning its back on Toronto, the city may also be missing out on opportunities in India, with
the biggest movie industry on the planet.
The value of film and television production in Toronto
dropped from $928 million in 2001 to $773 million in 2005. Another decline is
expected when 2006 figures come in, and 2007 began with an actors'
strike. Significantly for Bollywood, countries such as Switzerland, Australia and Ireland lure productions with deep discounts on flights and hotels and
other subsidies Canada doesn't offer. Like Toronto, they will help filmmakers seek out locations, but also go the
extra step of negotiating for them, another perk Sharma says he didn't get
here. The paucity of the incentives puzzles him, because exposing huge
Bollywood audiences to a location boosts tourism. "About 50
Bollywood films have been shot in Switzerland. Now, in India, couples go to Switzerland on honeymoon or Australia on vacation because they have seen it on the movie screen." DonnaZuchlinski,
acting director of industry development at Ontario Media Development Corp.
(OMDC), says the province's incentives to Bollywood films "are very
similar to the marketing efforts we use for all production we're encouraging to
shoot in Ontario." That includes free help to scout locations from a
database containing 130,000 images, a federal tax credit of 16 per cent and a
provincial 18 per cent tax credit on the labour component. The city pegs the
exchange rate for its services at a generous 78 cents U.S.
But other Canadian cities offer that and more: Ontario provides domestic
productions with an extra 10 per cent tax credit for shooting in locations
outside the GTA, and Ottawa offers similar incentives to shoot outside southern
Ontario, according to Toronto film commissioner Karen Thorne-Stone: "It
makes it tough for us to compete."
Additional discounts or subsidies aren't in the cards at the moment, though a
Canada-India co-production treaty needed to bypass Canadian-content rules is in
the works. "I don't think we can just talk about, `If we give away
flights, we'll get the show,'" says Zuchlinski. CameronBailey,
international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival, regularly
previews movies in India and sees the potential. "The Swiss figured out there
was a great market for Indian films, so you see the Swiss Alps in a lot of
Bollywood movies. The Indian film industry likes to shoot internationally,
especially song sequences. One song sequence can start in Mumbai and go to Switzerland and then Niagara
Falls. It's globetrotting in one
scene. "Toronto and Ontario could definitely be part of that, and there's a lot of room to
grow." Film officials in Canada do
appear keen to crack the Bollywood market, which churns out more than 900
productions a year, compared with Hollywood's 500. Representatives from Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have
joined recent trade missions to Mumbai. JamesWeyman,
manager of industry initiatives for OMDC, was on Premier Dalton McGuinty's trip
to India last month. "Not only is India on our
radar, we're on theirs," says Weyman, who discussed joint ventures with
film executives in Mumbai.
"Bollywood is ... evolving into an international industry, whereas it was
primarily (focused) on the domestic market in the past. It's not so much a
question of how big is it now but how big will it be in the future,
particularly as Bollywood producers seek to shoot in international
locations." Weyman believes "we're reaching out in an appropriate way
to Bollywood. Ontario doesn't have mountains so we can't compete with Switzerland. Ontario doesn't have jungles so we can't compete with New Zealand" – though the CN Tower and Niagara Falls,
Bollywood's No. 1 Canadian location, are iconic, he adds. Of 196 foreign movies
filmed in Ontario from 1995 to 2006, 14 were Bollywood productions; most of the
rest were from Hollywood, according to the OMDC. "We're right next to the U.S., so
our bread and butter in terms of foreign productions is Hollywood.
People are very geared to that. It would take a switch in mindset to say, `Oh
yeah, there's also a big market in Indian films to be served, too,'" says Bailey. And there's the
bang-for-the-buck factor. "Bollywood budgets aren't that large by
international standards, and so I think we look at our activity in terms of
marketing and outreach in relation to the overall return on our investment and
energy," says Weyman, a view Zuchlinski shares. "We're servicing a
tremendously large volume of production here, so we have to devote our
resources appropriately to the size of the industry and the size of the
production," she says. Sharma figures he spent $1 million in Toronto. If he
hadn't needed snow in an urban landscape, he would have gone to Switzerland instead, he says, "where they welcome Bollywood with
Justice Critic To Meet With Law Officials
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Alex
(February 08, 2007) OTTAWA -- Calls to criminalize camcording in movie theatres
have reached Parliament this week, as one opposition MP vowed to embark on a
fact-finding mission to assess the magnitude of the DVD-piracy
problem in Canada. Liberal justice critic MarleneJennings said
she would meet with law-enforcement officials, theatre operators and
movie-industry representatives. Jennings will then decide whether to push the government to include the
offence of camcording in theatres in the Criminal Code. Justice Minister RobNicholson will also study the issue, said his spokeswoman, GenevièveBreton.
"The minister is aware of the problem of DVD piracy and the role of
camcording in contributing to that problem," Breton said in a statement. Both Jennings and
Nicholson have received letters from industry lobbyists urging them to stiffen
penalties for pirates. Their comments come on the heels of a Globe and Mail
report last month that uncovered lax copyright laws in Canada. For a
third year in a row, the U.S.
government has lumped Canada with Russia and China on a piracy "watch list." In theory, camcording movies
in a theatre is an offence under the Copyright Act punishable with up to
$1-million in fines and up to five years in prison, according to the Department
But prosecutors must first prove a culprit's intent to commercialize the
recording in order to obtain an indictment under that act. And police rarely
charge moviegoers who sneak a camcorder in a theatre, said GaryOsmond of the
Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA). For instance, Osmond
has been monitoring a group of pirates currently operating in Montreal theatres.
While Montreal police stopped one of the group's members in December as he was
recording a screening of MartinScorsese's The
Departed, officers could not simply arrest the man, Osmond said. "The
camcorder had been so brazen as to tell the manager, 'There's no law, there's
nothing you can do to me,' " said Osmond, himself a retired RCMP officer.
An added difficulty stems from the fact that the Copyright Act is federal
legislation and can be enforced only by the RCMP, Osmond said. Enshrining piracy
as an offence in the Criminal Code would empower local police to tackle pirates
operating smaller-scale ventures that often pass under the RCMP's radar. In one
such example, a pirate has started to peddle DVDs to staff in a hospital,
Osmond said, refusing to disclose the name or location of the hospital so as
not to compromise the ongoing investigation.
The Motion Picture Association of America claims that in 2005 piracy cost
American studios $6.1-billion (U.S.). In Canada, the
CMPDA estimates that its members lost $118-million the same year. Only last
year, police seized 120,000 counterfeit DVDs in raids across the country. More
than half were new releases not yet available on DVD that could be traced to a
camcorder file, Osmond said. But some observers remained sceptical. One law
professor said the calls to get tough on camcorder piracy serve only to draw
attention away from the movie industry's inability to deal with theft from
insiders who start circulating movie copies before their official release. "Much
of the problem . . . is an internal issue, not a camcorder issue," said MichaelGeist, the
research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. With
respect to movies pirated with a camcorder, "we already have in Canada laws
that deal with this issue," he said.
Lights, Camera And, Finally, Some Action
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
(Feb. 10, 07) Toronto filmmaker David Weaver was given strict
instructions by his Los Angeles agent: When you enter the Warner Bros. lot in
Burbank, go through Gate B, make sure you park in the visitor's lot, not the
space reserved for the studio executives. Anxious to please, Weaver dutifully wheeled his rented
Kia into the appropriate space, the white compact standing out like a sore
thumb in a sea of Mercedes, BMWs and Hummers. For a moment on that day last fall, Weaver
just sat there before embarking on the long walk through Warner's backlots and
sound stages, past the production offices of Clint Eastwood and Superman
Returns director Bryan Singer, before finally ending up at his destination
— the office of Hunt Lowry, a veteran producer interested in optioning Weaver's
screenplay, Superhero, about a little boy obsessed with a comic-book
saviour. A few hours later, Weaver had a handshake deal to sell the rights to the family movie with Lowry, who has produced over 30
feature films, including White Oleander, DonnieDarko and The
Last of the Mohicans. “It was a real historical trip to be on the Warner
Bros. lot,” says Weaver. “But I've had a fair number of those meetings now, so I'm not
that intimidated.” The deal — which officially closed last week — is the kind
of break the 41-year-old director of such art-house films as Siblings and
Century Hotel has been waiting for. It also comes with a healthy cheque
that gives him the breathing space to keep doing what he loves: the cinematic
telling of quirky stories that speak to him as a Canadian, and as an artist.
For the past several years, Weaver has been at the centre of a group of young, hard-working Canadian
filmmakers who often get critical praise for their small-budget films — but
often can't generate enough buzz (or exhibitor/ distributor interest) to get
substantial audiences. Among them are Sarah Polley, Andrew Currie, Paul Fox,
Philippe Falardeau, Reg Harkema and Julia Kwan, to name a few: steely talents
just now starting to muscle into the feature-film territory so far conquered by
only a handful of Canadians, including David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan and Deepa
Mehta (this year nominated for an Oscar for her film Water). They've
battled government agencies like Telefilm Canada for
better financing. Watched projects they'd nurtured implode or just die off.
Many — including Polley, a couple of years back — have toyed with moving south
because English Canada's moribund movie industry seemed to be in a downward
spiral no government was inclined to fix. But remarkably, of late, Weaver and
some of his peers say they've noticed a definite shift. Pride and optimism
among English-Canadian filmmakers, they say, seems to be slowly returning.
Among the proof they offer: Canada's
strong showing of independent titles (Polley's Away from Her; Currie's
horror-comedy, Fido; and Falardeau's picaresque Congorama) at such festivals
as Cannes, Sundance and Berlin. “So many filmmakers I know feel galvanized these days,” insists
Weaver, who believes a lot of it has to do with the fact that Telefilm's new
head, WayneClarkson, has significantly diluted the strategy of his predecessor, RichardStursberg, to
make American-style, blatantly commercial films that, ironically, often don't
end up being commercial successes. “Clarkson,” says Weaver, “seems to
understand we want a better way to get our voices heard.”
As an example, he points to last year's off-beat, decidedly Canuck-heavy
success stories Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which beat every Canadian box-office
record, and the hoser-heavy Trailer Park Boys: The Movie. The
latter had the biggest opening weekend of any Canadian film ever. Both are
nominated for best picture at next week's Genies (along with The Little Book
of Revenge, The Rocket and A Sunday in Kigali). The
momentum began improving even more, say some, at the start of the year, when
Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival announced it was programming several
Canadian titles, including Away from Her, Fido, Jennifer
Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes, Ian Iqbal Rashid's How She Move
and S. Wyeth Clarkson's Sk8 Life. The industry got another lift when the
Berlin Film Festival — which opened Thursday — chose 11 Canadian titles,
including BruceMcDonald's The Tracey Fragments and Clément Virgo's Poor Boy's
Game. Polley is thrilled, but bemused, by the industry's emerging profile:
She hazards a guess that the outlook for making commercially viable
English-Canadian film has improved simply because morale had no place else to
go but up. “It's just been such a hard time, for so long, and now there seems
to be this little window opening, of hope, to get our movies financed. “Maybe
everyone's in a slightly better mood than they were a few years ago,” adds
Polley. “For a while it was a nightmare, and I'd been floating around in the
system so long, I was losing hope. But I'll continue taking on this challenge,
because even though it's hard money to get, when you finally do, at least you
end up with the film you wanted to make. The Canadian system, for all its
flaws, provides creative autonomy that is pretty much non-existent anywhere
else in the world.”
Besides the sale of his Superhero screenplay (which he may be tapped to
direct), Weaver is
busy with two major independent Canadian projects. The first is a feature-film
version of a short, Moon Palace, which premiered at TIFF in 2000, and
tells the story of a man who gets a job at a Chinese restaurant where all the
tables are bugged, the better to produce well-informed fortune cookies. The
other involves a consortium of young directors and Weaver friends — Sook-Yin
Lee, AndreaDorfman, AaronWoodley, SudzSutherland and Weaver himself — who will each produce a “Toronto story”
as part of a cinematic anthology. A diehard optimist, Weaver began insisting
things were looking up for English-Canadian filmmakers around the same time
that Telefilm was weathering an embarrassing low. Last April, an elite
gathering of filmmakers and producers came out to a Telefilm press conference
at Toronto's members-only Spoke Club to meet MichaelJenkinson, a
Toronto-bred, L.A.-based studio exec whom Clarkson had just hired as the go-to
man for anglophone filmmakers seeking government cash. The hire was a
disaster, with Jenkinson bailing on the position (due to “business
complications in California”) the day he was slated to start. Clarkson was left red-faced.
The industry — used to mayhem and missteps at Telefilm — was wryly amused. But
since that monumental gaffe, many in the industry say Telefilm has been taking
some encouraging strides, including the recent launch of a marketing strategy
called Engaging the Audience, whose goal is to improve the domestic market for
homegrown English-language films over the next one to two years. Certainly such
movies could use some help. Last year, they carved out a meagre 1.7 per cent of
the domestic market (which, to be fair, was a rise from 1.1 per cent in 2005)
thanks in large part to Bon Cop, BadCop taking in $13-million,
and Trailer Park Boys earning $4-million (98 per cent of it in English
Canada). Still, not everyone is as optimistic as Weaver and Polley about
Telefilm's support for younger filmmakers. After the 2003 debut of his film, Twist,
which screened at festivals in Venice and Toronto, Montreal filmmaker JacobTierney says he approached the federal funder for help with his second
feature, only to be roundly rebuffed. “I found it incredibly difficult,” he
says. “. . . The biggest problem now is the astounding seven-year average
between your first and second film. I think it's a crippling way to treat
younger artists who often have a lot to offer.”
AaronWoodley, who directed 2003's charmingly askew Rhinoceros Eyes,
also got fed up with trying to scrounge money through Canadian sources for the
film, and eventually turned to American financiers. His second feature, Tennessee
(currently in production, and starring MariahCarey as a
waitress who dreams of becoming a country-music star) has also been financed by
Americans. “You take what you can get,” says the 35-year-old YorkUniversity film
grad and nephew of DavidCronenberg. Still, unlike Tierney, Woodley believes the Canadian
English-language film industry is on the cusp of a significant mend. “I feel a
huge groundswell,” he says. “I had to go to the States to get my movies made,
but as soon as I can start making films in Canada, I
will. I refuse to get sucked into the [American studio] system.” Like Woodley,
Toronto-based BradPeyton is a director who's finding it wise to split his focus between
the United States and Canada. A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre, where he won acclaim for
a short called Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl, Peyton now has three
scripts in the works with Hollywood studios — and is also working on a dark
fable, to be shot in Toronto with producer Gabriella Martinelli, called A
Troll Under the Table. “For anyone who is auteur-minded, or someone
with an eclectic vision, or detail-oriented, Canada is
great because you feel a part of the process,” says the 28-year-old native of Gander, Nfld.
As he contemplates his recent deal to see Superhero made, Weaver says his biggest challenge now
is making the leap from a filmmaker who makes pictures under $1-million to a
director with a budget in the $4-million-to-$6-million range, which is what
he's hoping to pull off with Moon Palace. “Of course, reaching an
audience will still be a struggle for us,” he says, “but at least the mountain
won't seem so high.”
Producer WilliamPacker: King Of The 'Yard' Readies Next Feature
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough (February 9, 2007) *Producer Will Packer is riding high on the success
his latest film “Stomp the Yard.” The electrifying dance flick is the biggest
success so far for the young filmmaker and his company Rainforest Productions,
though the celebration for Packer and the crew has already been subdued by
production on the next project called “This Christmas.” “I’m real blessed
to have this latest success,” Packer said about his film “Stomp the Yard”
taking the #1 slot at the box office. “I’m ecstatic; my feet haven’t touched
the ground. It’s validation because you work so very hard. And this was a
project that was real near and dear to me and it was one that I’d been trying
to get off the ground for a while. I pitched it to Hollywood and
found a studio that believed in the project. I took it to several studios and
several studios passed on the project and now they want to do a film with me.
Strange how that works.” Packer said that the greatest thing about the film
doing so well, is that it was catapulted to the top by the specific targeted
audience. “To do a project like this and have the audience respond – the real
people that I made it for respond – is just tremendous. And to get a #1 hit,
things have to fall in place, it’s hard – things that you can control and
things that you can’t control. Everything has to line up. It’s gotta be the
right weekend, the other competition has to be a certain way, your marketing
has to work.”
Everything certainly fell into place. “Stomp the Yard” held the #1 position for
three weeks and still remains in the Top 10. It made $16 mil in its first week
and to date has pulled in $51 mil. Packer is shooting for at least $60 mil. Not
bad for a film that took $12 to make. “It’s not that we were surprised that the
movie opened at #1,” he said though still thrilled at its status. “We always
expected it to open at #1, but when it actually did we were like, ‘Whew, we
were right!’” Another triumph for the film was its crossover appeal. A third of
the opening weekend’s viewers were non-black, with other urban films claiming a
90% black audience. “I think audiences found it because it was something new,”
Packer theorized. “This [film] was based on reality. It was based on something
that had a hundred years of history and depth and I think that’s why audiences
found it; especially crossover audiences because they find it interesting. It’s
always interesting to people when it has real depth and they don’t know about
it and they feel like they’ve discovered it on their own.”
Probably didn’t hurt that the film was packed with some explosive dance scene
visuals, either. Nevertheless, Packer is on to his next project; a film called
“This Christmas,” which stars LorettaDivine, MekhiPhifer, Nia
Long, Regina King – and reunites Packer with “Stomp” star Columbus Short. “This
is a project that I’m really excited about because we want to make stories that
have universal themes, and just have African-American faces in them. They’re
not necessarily African-American stories,” Packer said. “This is a story about
a family that goes through trials and tribulations under extraordinary
circumstances, but they make it because of their faith and the family bond that
they have. Anybody can relate to that. It’s the story of a family that succeeds
against the odds.” “This Christmas” is a holiday drama centered on the
Whitfield family's first holiday together in several years where they are faced
with certain crisis and circumstances. The film is due out Christmas 2007.
Sk8 Life: A Connection With A Piece Of Wood Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere
(February 11, 2007) On the issue of why Vancouver enjoys a
skateboarding Shangri-La rep that Toronto never will, S. Wyeth Clarkson
gestures at the snow blowing fiercely outside of his second-floor office in
downtown Toronto. "You can't skate in this," he says. Over the past
couple of years Clarkson, a filmmaker and producer whose skateboarding movie Sk8 Liferecently played at the Sundance Film Festival and is now screening
here at the Royal, has at age 34 become something of a late-blossoming expert
on matters pertaining to the board. But even "expert" may be
too mild a word. By the filmmaker's own account, he's lost to the life himself.
"I wasn't a big skateboarder before this movie," he says. He had
dabbled and toppled a bit in his past, but it wasn't until he found himself on
the far side of 30 that he got it. "I was in Vancouver with my first movie," says Clarkson, whose father is veteran
Canadian film honcho S.WayneClarkson, current chief at Telefilm Canada.
"And I noticed something. "In Vancouver you just see skateboarders everywhere. In global terms, it's
probably second only to L.A. and on a par with Barcelona. And every skateboarder had their own skateboarding style. But as
well they had their own personal style, whether that was clothing or hairstyle
or just the kind of energy they gave off."
An avid student of youth subcultures, Clarkson became fascinated by this
largely self-sustaining urban tribe, with its own codes, language, behaviour
and star system. But what made it so interesting was also what set it apart:
within the urban jungle, it was an enclave unto itself, and it didn't allow
just anybody inside. "I can write or produce just about any topic,"
says Clarkson. "But if I’m going to direct something it really does have
to come from a personal place." Thus, having decided to direct a movie
about the Vancouver skating scene that would feature real boarders like the Vancouver legend KrisFoley playing themselves, Clarkson was faced with a daunting
proposition. To both know his topic and bond with his subjects, he had to get
out there and roll. "My only criticism of skateboarders," says the
filmmaker with a grin, "is that when you see videos of them they make it
look too darn easy." He recalls the typical newbie humiliation of standing
and looking nervously at a ramp while "some 5-year-old flies past
you." But eventually the answer presented itself: Don't think. Do. By way
of preparing Sk8 Life, the filmmaker not only auditioned approximately
150 skaters, he auditioned himself. If the kids had to prove to him they could
perform on-camera, he had to prove to them he could perform on the board.
If he was game but nervous at the beginning, something odd began to happen the
more skating he did. "For the first time in my life," he says,
"I understood physical addiction. "You'd be lying in bed and
thinking, `Wow, I wish I felt like I did when I was on a skateboard.'" He
describes it in almost mystical terms, this "visceral connection with a
piece of wood." Once fused with both his board and his cast, Clarkson was
able to make the inside-skate-culture movie he wanted: an account of the Sk8
Life from the perspective of those who live it, and for whom that addiction
is a defining condition of existence. But if the movie's over, the dependence
it activated would seem to be lingering. Back when he first saw the skaters
careening around the streets of Vancouver, Clarkson remembers wondering what, as a filmmaker, he was going
to do next. "It's nice to have passion surprise you," he observes,
"just as I was thinking what's going to excite me next? "I never in
my life," he says, "would have expected it to be getting up on a
board with wheels."
Tyler Perry’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’ Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough
(February 12, 2007) *Writer/Director
Tyler Perry – the man
who introduced America to the hilarious and wise character Madea – is bringing
his talent back to the big screen in his new film “Daddy’s
Little Girls.” But don’t look for the wit and wisdom
from the motherly matron in this flick. Perry’s latest takes on the dramady without Madea. The film stars Idris Elba (“The Wire”) as Monty, a garage mechanic who
takes on his callous, drug-dealing ex-wife for custody of their three
daughters. GabrielleUnion stars as Julia, the workaholic lawyer who befriends Monty and lends her
help. “Casting is 90% of directing,” Perry said of the importance
and success of bringing the two actors to the film. “When you choose the right
talent, they can go instinctively where you want them to go. Idris Elba and GabrielleUnion are
the masters of it and they made my job so easy.” So this time out, Perry’s job on-set only
required his directing. Perry hung up his ‘actor’ hat and focused totally on the dynamics and
nuances of shooting the film. He explained that it was quite a different
experience, as only having one role was a lot less intense. “This picture
wasn’t overwhelming at all,” he said. “I feel like this is my first time
directing because, before, 10 hours of make-up everyday and being in front of
the camera and then you have everybody ask you questions all at the same time
can be a little overwhelming. But in this situation was a pleasure. I got an
opportunity to focus on the camera, focus on the shots, and to think about the
camera placement more.”
Perry even confessed that since he didn’t have to be in front of the
camera, he gained about 40 pounds while shooting because he was having such a
great time eating the KrispyKremes on the set. Nevertheless, there were other aspects of the film
besides casting and undivided attention that Perry says made filmmaking
almost effortless this time. He added that it was also easy to write the story
because he had specific actors in mind, namely Union. “GabrielleUnion was Julia all along for me. Even
if she had said no, I would have had to send someone to her house and kidnap
her. If I see it in my head it makes it so much easier. And Idris, when the two
of them got together at the audition, it was electric.” In addition to that, Perry also gets a little help
in the film from the star power of legendary actor LouisGossettJr., MalindaWilliams, and
Tracee Ellis Ross. Still he says that his success is due to his faith in
God. “It is my faith base; it’s my God connection and what that means is
– it doesn’t mean, by any stretch of imagination that I’m perfect – but it
affords me the opportunity to do things differently,” he said. “It has to be
the faith because there is no way I can explain it. You can have all the talent
in the world, but if everything doesn’t line up where it’s supposed to be – and
we have no power over how things line up – and for me everything has lined up
so it’s got to be something higher than me.”
Including religion in his films is a signature for Perry, but so is including
serious topics of the African-American community. “Daddy’s” takes on the dating
dynamic of white-collar black women, the trials of decaying black communities,
and absent black fathers. “The most important thing about this film was
to show that there are good black fathers,” Perry said. “We hear all the
negativity about what we are as black men and fathers and how terrible we are –
all of this foolishness. I know there are tons and millions of fathers who are
good fathers. They don’t have much, but they love their children. I wanted
celebrate them. And the reaction has been, ‘Thank you. Finally somebody is
saying something about good black fathers. Our boys can see a positive
image.’” “Daddy’s Little Girls” opens nationwide Wednesday, February 14.
For more on the film, check out the official website at www.daddyslittlegirlsmovie.com.
Melvin Van Peebles: Restless Rabble-Rouser Reflects on Career as
By Kam Williams
Born in Chicago on August 21, 1932, Melvin
Van Peebles is
best known as the incendiary iconoclast who financed, wrote, produced, scored,
edited, distributed and starred in Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song (1971) the
politically-progressive picture which single-handedly inspired the rise of the
blaxploitation genre. What few folks realize, however, is that moviemaking was
only a fraction of this Renaissance man’s many talents.
How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It), a retrospective on the versatile maverick’s
entire career, reveals a man who also spent time as a novelist (in French),
playwright, composer, painter, astronomer, enlisted man in the Air Force, and
as a stock trader with a seat on the American Exchange on Wall Street.
Here, Melvin shares his thoughts with me on just about everything.
KW: Hey, Melvin, thanks for the time.
MVP: No problemo.
KW: Congrats on your new movie, and recent lifetime achievement awards, even
if, in my opinion, the recognition is a bit overdue.
MVP: Thanks, I’m really a happy camper, as they say.
KW: Do you still have your seat on the American
MVP: No longer. Unless you’re going to be there continually, you don’t want to
keep your seat because, first of all, it costs, but also, doing stocks is not
something you can phone in. You got to do it right, otherwise…
KW: Were you one of those guys you see on the floor gesturing frantically?
MVP: No, I was a trader for a company. That’s different from the brokers who we
sort of disdain as sort of just errand boys.
KW: So, how did you spend your time on Wall Street?
MVP: I had to do the mathematical calculations to arrive at whether I was going
to buy or sell.
KW: and you were successful enough at it to write about the market.
MVP: I wrote a technical book about how to trade options.
KW: Of which of your achievements are you most proud?
MVP: I like ‘em all. What the heck!
KW: How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company shows you to be so much more
than simply the actor who played Sweetback. To me, you’re contributions as a
trailblazing director and producer is of equal importance.
MVP: Normally, if I’m being acknowledged it is for something in front of the
camera. This puts the spotlight on the fact that there are opportunities other
than just being an actor. That’s what I think our kids sorely need to know.
KW: In my opinion, Sweet Sweetback was a groundbreaking film, not only
because it was filled with black characters, but because of the picture’s
progressive political point-of-view.
MVP: But not just the film itself was groundbreaking, also the fact that it was
made by an African-American without the help of Hollywood. This
was before the rise of the independent era. The studios didn’t really take
independent films seriously, till Sweetback was such a financial success. At
that juncture, what came from that was not only what they call blaxploitation,
but also the independent film. That’s all very important. Just as you said, you
think of me mostly from that early era. And that’s what I really find so
touching, because nothing happens outside of a historical context. No film is
made without the people behind the lens. Of course, most people, even I, tend
to look at films in the most simplistic way, and say, “Wow, so-and-so is in
this film.” We talk about who’s in it, as opposed to who got it made. But there
are financial and technical aspects which go along with it, that should be
addressed and acknowledged, including those minorities who are doing excellent
work as well.
KW: When I was majoring in Black Studies at Cornell, I remember a professor
praising Sweet Sweetback’s positive political perspective, which was so
different from all the blaxploitation flicks which followed which were just new
version of Stepin’ Fetchit coon shows.
MVP: That was why the Black Panthers made it mandatory viewing for all of their
members, for its political content. While that’s an immense aspect, you have to
remember that if I didn’t have control of what was going on BEHIND the lens, I
could never have gotten what you saw IN FRONT OF the lens.
KW: I remember seeing your play, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death and
being so moved by Minnie Gentry’s [Terrence Howard’s grandmother] closing
soliloquy, where she said, “May all your children end up junkies, too!”
MVP: That was called, “Put a Curse on You!” That curse has actually come to
pass. At one time, the general consensus was that only the African community
was considered to be plagued by drug problems. People thought, “Well, it’s just
a problem among those porch monkeys. It couldn’t happen in our community.”
Yeah, right. It has since spread out and become huge all over the country.
KW: Movies, Broadway plays, you did it all and on your own terms.
MVP: Yes, but once again, remember that the hard part was the business and
technical side. People really, really, really to understand that, and that it
can be done. You can take your own destiny. I want people to say, “Hmmm, I
never thought of that. Gee, I guess so.”
KW: What inspired you to try to make your first movie?
MVP: One day, I was sitting in a movie theatre, and I said, “What the hell, I
can do better than that.”
KW: Are you still running? I met you back in 1979 when I came over and
introduced myself at the starting line of the BostonMarathon. How’d
you do that day?
MVP: I broke three hours. That day I was .
KW: That’s incredible. I finished in 4 hours and 18 minutes that day. Are
you still running?
MVP: I did seven miles this morning. I ran all the way across Manhattan and
the 59th Street Bridge. It was pretty steep going and the wind was blowing hard
in my face. I thought at least I’ll have the wind when I need it on my way
back. Don’t you know that after I ran around Queens, and got back to the bridge,
the wind had shifted and was blowing in my face again. I said, “Man, this
racist wind out here.”
KW: Have you run the New
My wife ran it a couple of years ago.
MVP: Oh, yeah, but I don’t like New
York anymore because I hate all
that waiting at the VerrazanoBridge. I just get too cold.
KW: You should be in that contingent of world-class and celebrity runners,
like Diddy, that they give special treatment to and place at the front.
MVP: No, you don’t want special treatment when you’re very serious about it,
though I guess for my age-bracket, I’m pretty good. Still, Boston is the
one, brother. That’s the great one. I also enjoy the Buffalo to
Niagara Falls Marathon. And Philly’s nice. But if you asked me my favourite, I
suppose I’d have to say Boston.
KW: You must eat very healthily to keep up this demanding regimen at your
age. Do you have a special health food diet?
MVP: That depends on whether you consider neck bones health food. Me, I’m into Uncle Ben’s and fat.
KW: How did you like “How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass,” the biopic
your son, Mario, made about you?
MVP: I was bowled over by it. I thought it was just terrific. And the interesting
thing was, it was all true. It brought back some very tense memories there,
KW: You had already made Watermelon Man with Columbia
Pictures when you made Sweet Sweetback. So, wasn’t making a militant film a
risky move for you?
MVP: Very. I had a three picture deal with Columbia that I
lost. And nobody’s offered me a job since.
KW: So, it really set back your career
MVP: Oh well, what the heck. It doesn’t particularly bother me.
KW: But didn’t it have an effect on your life?
MVP: Oh, it had a major effect. For a long time, there were assassination
attempts and all that good stuff. Okay, if you can’t stand the heat in the
oven, what are you supposed to do? I mean, I was born and bred in the briar
patch. I’m from the Southside of Chicago. So, it was no big deal. [laughs]
KW: Isn’t it ironic though, as someone who was so targeted by the mainstream
and the government as a threat to be embraced by the Establishment?
MVP: Hey, look at how we have Martin Luther King Day now, and how did he go?
KW: Even as feared a figure as MalcolmX eventually got his own stamp.
MVP: It’s all very classic. I’m not so surprised. They say possession is
9/10ths of the law. I say survival is 10/10ths of the law. And I always felt
that one day my contributions would come to the forefront.
KW: Yeah, sooner or later, and you’re getting the last laugh now.
MVP: It may seem soon to you, but when you’re waiting, brother, it doesn’t seem
all that rapid, if you know what I mean. [laughs heartily, sighs]
KW: What question would you love for someone to ask you that nobody ever
asks? Is there any question I haven’t asked that you would like for me to
MVP: No, I really like to talk to people and to get their take on things. This
has been very instructive. While we’ve been talking, you’ve shared your
impressions and I find that fascinating, because you mustn’t forget that
essentially, I’m, most of all, a writer. So, what makes people tick interests
me, and I appreciate your questions.
KW: Well, I appreciate your sharing your time, your wisdom, your
reminiscences, and your sage insights about the industry. And in case I haven’t
already, I want to express my gratitude for all your seminal contributions
which changed the course of cinema history for black folks, opening doors and
creating opportunities for many who have come behind you. And though I feel
that many owe you a debt of gratitude, I don’t mean to suggest that Sweet
Sweetback is in the same genre as the blaxploitation era it inspired.
MVP: It’s not. It’s a revolutionary film. What happened when Sweetback made all
that money, the studios were in a very difficult position. They wanted the
money, but they didn’t the message. This marked the advent of the caricatures
which became known as blaxploitation. Hollywood realized that they were totally
unfamiliar with black vernacular, so they had to hire some black people which
meant the beginning of some job opportunities to do the costumes, the sets,
etcetera. And now we’re slowly beginning to see some of the fruits of that.
KW: Thanks again, bro, I guess we’ve got everything covered.
MVP: Yeah, see you in Boston!
Mirren, WhitakerWinBritishAcademy Awards
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - JillLawless,
12, 2007) LONDON — A
gracious monarch and a
charismatic dictator took the top prizes Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards. Dame HelenMirren was crowned best actress for playing the Queen in The Queen,
which also was named the year's best picture. Forest
Whitaker took the best actor prize for his riveting turn as IdiAmin in The
Last King of Scotland, the story of a young Scottish doctor's entanglement
with the Ugandan dictator. Last King was named best British film and
also took the prize for best adapted screenplay. PeterMorgan, who
wrote The Queen and co-wrote The Last King of Scotland, joked
that the double triumph might spawn a sequel. “IdiAmin wrote
love letters to the queen, he offered himself as her lover,” Morgan said. “Forest, if you're willing, I think
there may be some takers.” Whitaker beat DanielCraig (
Casino Royale), LeonardoDiCaprio ( The Departed), RichardGriffiths (
The History Boys) and PeterO'Toole (Venus) to the best-actor prize. DirectorKevinMacdonald,
however, said he initially doubted Whitaker was right for the role.
“He seemed such a sweet, gentle, lovable sort of person,” said Macdonald, whose
last film was mountaineering documentary Touching the Void. “He proved
he did have those depths of anger and paranoia and terror in him.” No film
dominated the awards, popularly known as BAFTAs and considered an important
indicator of success at the Oscars in two weeks. The Last King of Scotland took three prizes,
as did Guillermodel Toro's fantastical saga Pan's Labyrinth, which was named best
foreign-language film and also won for costume and makeup design. PaulGreengrass was
named best director for United 93, a docudrama-style reenactment of one
of the flights hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
Former American idol contestant Jennifer Hudson was named best
supporting actress for the musical Dreamgirls, while Alan Arkin won the
best supporting actor trophy for Little Miss Sunshine.MichaelArndt won
the best original screenplay prize for Little Miss Sunshine. The
Queen, which depicts the public mourning and palace intrigue that followed
the 1997 death of Princess Diana, beat AlejandroGonzalezInraritu's
multi-stranded saga Babel, MartinScorsese's cops-and-crooks saga The Departed, quirky road comedy Little
Miss Sunshine and The Last King of Scotland to the best film prize.
The James Bond thriller Casino Royale went home with just one prize —
for sound — despite nominations in nine categories. The film's “Bond girl,” EvaGreen, was
named rising star of the year, an award decided by public vote. The ceremony
has become an essential pre-Oscars stop since it was moved in 2000 from April to a February date to
precede the Academy Awards in Hollywood. KateWinslet, JakeGyllenhaal and PenelopeCruz were among the stars attending Sunday's ceremony at London's
elegant Royal Opera House. Mirren, 61, is now a strong favourite to take the
best actress prize at the Academy Awards on Feb. 25. To win the BAFTA, she beat
a strong field that included Dame JudiDench for Notes
on a Scandal, Cruz for Volver, Winslet for Little Children and MerylStreep for The
Devil Wears Prada. Bookmakers were so certain Mirren would win that some
stopped taking bets on her — a confidence shared by Dench. “I'm a betting
woman, so I'll put money on Helen,” Dench said before the ceremony. “I'm just here for the show.”
Settlement Reached In ACTRA Strike Excerpt from The Toronto Star –
(February 08, 2007) Two days of federal mediation aimed at settling the
national performers strike ended Thursday without a deal, ACTRA said in a news release. Federal mediator ElizabethMacPherson has invited the union and producers to
additional talks by phone next week, the union said. "The two parties
narrowed the issues slightly but failed to reach agreement," said the
union which represents 21,000 members across Canada. The performers went on strike Jan. 8
after ACTRA members voted 97.6 per cent in favour of walking off the job. A key
sticking point in the dispute is compensation for performances viewed in new
and emerging media platforms. Corner Gas star EricPeterson, comedian ColinMochrie and actress WendyCrewson are among Canadian performers who have
complained they're being asked to work for free on Internet and cellphone
Drought Ends For Movie Fans In India Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 08, 2007) MUMBAI, India — The Oscar-nominated Canadian
movie Waterwill be
shown in cinemas across India later this month, seven years after angry Hindu
nationalists stormed the sets and forced its Indian-born director to stop
filming. This time, distributors say, they don't foresee any trouble. “We plan
to release the film on Feb. 23 in theatres across the country,” SanjayBhutiani, the film's distributor, said Wednesday.
He had earlier said it would be released in March. The film's Indian-born
director, Deepa Mehta, had to abandon shooting of the film in 2000 after Hindu
nationalists, who alleged it was anti-Hindu, destroyed sets in the holy city of
Varanasi. The Toronto-based Mehta resumed shooting the film in Sri Lanka four years later. “We are trying to get DeepaMehta to visit India for the film's release,” Bhutiani said.
“We don't expect any trouble.” Water has been nominated for an Academy
Award in the best foreign language film category. The film, shot mainly in the
Hindi language, centres on a home where widows were sent by their families to
live in social exile. It depicts their desire to live a life free of stigma.
Under ancient Hindu tradition, widows were considered bad luck and sometimes
even blamed for their husband's death. Remarriage of widows was frowned upon —
although there were no such social barriers for widowers. The Oscars will be presented on Feb. 25 in Los Angeles.
EURWEB.COM Hosts Red Carpet At PAFF
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(February 8, 2007) *Electronic Urban Report creator Lee Bailey has
been chosen to host the red carpet gala at tonight’s 15th Annual Pan African
Film Festival Opening Night Gala. Bailey will welcome such confirmed stars as Forest Whitaker,
Quincy Jones, Wesley Snipes, AlfreWoodard and KerryWashington as they make their way into the event at
the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Also slated to attend are Ambassador AndrewYoung, Honorable Ephraim Hlophe, Ambassador of
the Kingdom of Swaziland to the United States, His Excellency Dr. Kwame Bawuah-Edusei,
Ambassador of Ghana to the United States and Los Angeles Mayor AntonioR.Villaraigosa. For the 15th consecutive year, PAFF will
present over one hundred quality films from the United States, Africa, the
Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the South Pacific and Canada, all showcasing
the diversity and complexity of people of African descent. The event also
includes one of America's largest fine art shows featuring prominent and
emerging black artists and fine crafts people, including local, national and
international poets, musicians and storytellers. Venues: AMCMagicJohnsonTheaters & BaldwinHillsCrenshawPlaza.
Eur Film Review: Constellation Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kam Williams
(February 8, 2007) *When Carmel Boxer (Gabrielle
Union) passed away, almost
all of her extended family willingly descended upon their sleepy hometown of
Huntsville, Alabama for her funeral. The only holdout was her brother Helms (BillyDeeWilliams), an embittered expatriate living in Paris. Helms had to be tricked into believing
his sister had already been buried before he would return to his roots. Why?
Because he had made such a mess of his life by the time he left there. He had
grown up during the days of segregation and had dared to date and then even to
wed a white woman. And though that marriage to Nancy (LeslieAnnWarren) would not last, it did at least produce
an estranged, café au lait daughter in Lucy (Melissade Sousa). His second marriage, to Jenita (RaeDawnChong), a black woman, didn't last
either, it did happen to produce another offspring, namely, relatively
well-adjusted Rosa (ZoeSaldana). If this scenario doesn't sound like
enough of a soap opera, also back in town is Lucy's white husband, Kent (Alec
Newman), and Rosa's black ex-boyfriend, Errol (Hill Harper), who cheated on her
with her white best friend, Celeste (Ever Carradine). For full review by KamWilliams, go HERE.
Oprah And Albom Team Up For Movie
Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
(February 13, 2007) DETROIT – Author and
newspaper columnist Mitch
Albom will work for the third time with ABC and
the second time with Oprah
Winfrey to turn his latest best-selling book into
a made-for-television movie. Casting is under way and filming is expected to
begin in July for the two-hour movie version of For One More Day. It's tentatively scheduled to air in December. The
movie, produced by Winfrey's Harpo Films, will carry the Oprah Winfrey
Presents title as did the 1999 film adaptation of Albom's Tuesdays with
Morrie. Albom wrote the teleplay and will serve as an executive producer.
He told the Detroit Free Press for a story Tuesday that Winfrey saw For
One More Day in manuscript form and expressed early interest. The
book, which tells the story of a former baseball player who plans to end his
life but finds redemption when he gets the chance to spend another day with his
dead mother, debuted last year at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller
list and has more than 4 million copies in print. "We're thrilled to once
again see (Winfrey and Albom) partnered up," ABC Entertainment president SteveMcPherson told Variety. "We're really
only targeting these big franchise films, and a select group of minis that make
sense for us." LloydKramer, who directed Albom's second
book-to-movie, the Hallmark Entertainment-produced The Five People You Meet
in Heaven, will direct For One More Day.
T.O.'s Movie, TV Biz Take A Hit
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce
Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(February 14, 2007) Film and television
production in Toronto suffered a precipitous decline in 2006, dropping 23 per
cent from 2005 levels. Figures released by the Toronto Film Office show production, at $594,399,000, was down
$178,704,000 or 23.11 per cent in 2006, compared to $773,103,000 in 2005.
"It's significant," said Toronto Film Office manager RhondaSilverstone. The news comes at a particularly bad time
for the city's film and television industry, which peaked in 2001 with $928
million spent on film and television production. It's been in decline
ever since: $886 million in 2002, $863 million in 2003, $802 million in 2004
and so on. Production has nearly ground to halt so far in 2007, with only
one major feature film, Hank and Mike, and a small number of TV projects
filming in the GTA as a result of a strike by 21,000 ACTRA (Alliance of
Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) members, which began on Jan.
8. Sixty per cent of ACTRA members live in Toronto. "It's slow, it's very quiet (this
month)," Silverstone added. Last year's disappointing results were
expected because negotiations with all the major film trades and technical
unions were not resolved until November, causing major U.S. studios to give the city a wide berth. A
range of other issues have also hammered the industry, including the rising
Canadian dollar and more lucrative tax credits offered in other jurisdictions.
But the city's film commissioner, KarenThorne-Stone, held out hope for a better 2007 if the
labour dispute is settled. "We're in regular contact with studios and
productions in both the U.S. and other countries, and they've all told us
they'll be back looking at Toronto as soon as our labour issues are
resolved," Thorne-Stone said.
(Feb. 12, 07) On the Feb. 15 episode of 'The Montel Williams
and comedian Mark Curry will reveal the true life tragedy he recently endured for a show
centering on guests who have overcome enormous odds and tragic circumstances to
rebuild their lives. The 'Hangin' with Mr. Cooper' star said he was he
lived through a freak accident last spring when he inadvertently knocked an
aerosol can of spray starch off a shelf, in his California home.
According to Curry, the can hit a metal wall bracket that connected the
water heater to a wall and ruptured, causing an explosion and a fire that
engulfed him. He suffered second degree burns over 18% of his body and
spent three days in a medically induced coma.
"It was so bad, I didn't think about it--the pain was so excruciating that
I just threw it out. I wanted to kill myself," he revealed to Williams. "By the 4th day, I said,
'I can't do this.' I felt less than a man. I couldn't even look at my own body.
I saw my hand with the peeling skin and threw up and I didn't look at myself
again." Curry, who had a memorable role on Kirstie Alley's short-lived
reality based Showtime series 'Fat Actress,' says support from fellow comedians
helped to lift his spirits and that, coupled with the love and encouragement
from his family, made him want to live again.
called, BillCosby called and even Martin
Lawrence's mother called. She sounded like my mother who'd just
passed [away] earlier this year," he shared. "When the comedians
called, they all joked and accused me of freebasing like RichardPryor,"
he said, adding, "When Bill Cosby calls, you get up - I don't care what's
wrong with you. They made me laugh and that helped."
Photo courtesy of The Montel Williams Show.
'Girlfriends': Hitting At Home By KaruF.Daniels, AOL Black Voices (Feb.
9, 07) Though one of the beloved characters is no longer in the
the show continues to go on for the long running sitcom 'Girlfriends.' And the Mara Brock Akil
created series -- which centers on black woman in Los Angeles --
always hits home with tackling topics and issues that affect their target
demographic, such as adultery, paternity, sex addiction, interracial dating and
HIV/AIDS. On the Feb.12 episode, domestic abuse will be at the center of the
plot. While dining at Chili's, Maya (Golden
Brooks) and her husband Darnel (Khalil Kain) meet another couple Alicia
and Ray (played by China
Shavers and television veteran Carl
Anthony Payne) in the episode titled "Time to Man
Up." Excited at the prospect of befriending another Black couple in their
new neighbourhood, it seems like destiny. The attractive couple hails from Atlanta and
turns out to live right next to them, and after spending some time with the
couple, the always over-the-top Maya (best-selling author of the self help book
'Oh, Hell Yes') grows suspicious that Ray is abusing Alicia. When she tells Darnell, her friends and even calls the police,
no one believes her and she is told to "mind her own business."
If you watch 'Girlfriends,' you know that words like that don't bode too well
with Mrs.Wilkes. However, when Darnell overhears violent yelling from Ray and Alicia's house he can no
longer ignore the signs and decides to "man up." Get it? That's the
title of the episode. "I believe the measure of a country is how
well women and children are treated, protected and revered," Akil told The BV Newswire
today regarding her motivation for dealing with domestic abuse on the show.
"In America four million women a year are assaulted by their partners. By
this number alone and my theory, America has a
lot of work to do and it's not in Iraq."
we at Girlfriends thought we would, one, shed some light on domestic abuse and
it's continuing problem, as well as offer a solution to the problem - men in
the community have to get involved and make these abusers know that abusing
women is not all right. Not only will this help to end abuse, but perhaps
salvage the American family." The episode, well executed and masterfully
done -- as always, leaves the door open for continued discussion surrounding
this topic. It's definitely worth seeing.
PenelopeCorrin:CBC Comedy Gets A Fresh Face Excerpt from The Toronto Star - VitWagner
11, 2007) These days, heads look up when PenelopeCorrin
strolls through the CBC atrium. After all, she is a brunette stunner and it's
as if the people sipping coffee suppose she's an actress – if only they could
remember the show she's on. Well, now she is a CBC regular of sorts.
She's on the Royal Canadian Air Farce– for this month only. Maybe. "I've
replaced JessicaHolmes, who has taken maternity leave," Corrin reports. "I
thought I'd be outta here by the end of the month. But I'm now hearing she may
want some more time off." The Air Farce has been making maximum use
of their rental cast member. She starred in a recent sketch spoofing NancyGrace –
coming up with a cleverly malicious take on the CNN personality, right down to
the screaming red dress and the overblown hand movements. Luba Goy was U.S.
speaker Nancy Pelosi and they tried shouting each other down: "Call me Nancy, Nancy!" "The camera clearly loves her, she has a big future
in TV. The way she got right into her characters surprised us – when she was NancyGrace, she
had the head movements down, even the hand gestures," says RCAF founding
father RogerAbbott. In another skit, she was CBC's Gill Deacon, falling asleep on
her own show and telling incoming Environment
Minister JohnBaird to shout if he likes – "nobody's watching."
She was also a giddy, slurring PaulaAbdul
dropping by Canada AM, and in a high state of
confusion because she hadn't been up so early in years. Adds Abbott: "She didn't have a whole
lot of experience working in a TV environment but she had no problems adapting
... It's a real challenge to come onto a show and understand our
shorthand." Corrin is making the most of a lucky break. The RCAF was
looking for temporary and rotating Holmes replacements. Corrin's name came up and she happened to be
working in London (Ont.) at the time. "I went through the casting agent, TinaGerussi, and
did two rounds of auditions. I wrote a character piece, but as I was leaving, the
panel wondered why I was carrying a guitar. It just happened I was going to do
a skit using it, then backed out. But they sat back and demanded I show them
and I think that got me in." Corrin and Holmes both attended Ottawa's Canterbury H.S., but were years apart. "I got my yearbooks
out and showed Jessica our Midsummer Night's Dream: I was a fairy, she had a
lead. She still didn't remember!"
Born and raised in Ottawa, Corrin took drama at UBC and settled in to 12 years of
mirth-making in Vancouver. "For some reason, little of Vancouver comedy gets on TV. I really didn't care. I was making folks laugh
and proud of it." She's done guest dramatic work on such West Coast-based
series as The L Word, Stargate: Atlantis and Masters of Horror.
And besides appearing in comedy troupes she's also directed revues. "I'd
like to stay in Toronto for a bit," she says. "My sister in Ottawa is
having a baby – it would be nice to visit more often." At the Air
Farce, "It's very collegial. That was a pleasant surprise. You just
plunge right in. Everything is so meticulous, from props to wardrobe. I can get
used to this high standard, it helps make the characters grow on me.
"We tape Wednesdays, two shows a night ... The second attempt usually
produces the material that's used on air. "We did a funny bit about Luba
Goy making me feel at home – I had to flush her cat out of the toilet ...
"But I want you to know it was really a crew member's cat, and was on a
board out of view. Besides, the cat was a pro, there was no squawking.
‘Lost’s’ Perrineau Finds New CBS Drama
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(February 8, 2007) *Now that he’s no longer “Lost” on
ABC, actor Harrold Perrineau will join the CBS family as a cast member
of “Demons,” a drama from CBS Paramount Network TV. The show
centers on Gus, an ex-Jesuit priest-psychologist who
performs exorcisms. Perrineau will play a priest who has known Gus since seminary and is his confessor,
confidante and good friend. Perrineau has starred for two seasons on “Lost” as
single father MichaelDawson. Viewers last saw his character sailing
off with his son in the show’s Season 2 finale. According to the Hollywood
Reporter, there was a possibility that Perrineau could return to the
Emmy-winning series, but sources said the sides could not reach an
agreement. In the meantime, Perrineau will next be seen in the features
"28 Weeks," "Gardens of the Night" and "Your Name
Four Finalists Named For Youth And
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - GuyDixon
(Feb. 10, 07) Toronto — Finalists for the $50,000 Shaw Rocket Prize for Canadian youth and family television
productions were announced yesterday. The jury-selected finalists are Hope
for the Future, a documentary travelogue of Canadian students to the
Balkans; CTV's drama Instant Star about an Avril Lavigne-like musician
fending for herself in the music business; the CBC's Make Some Noise, a
documentary about Canadian kids fighting for causes around the world; and the
CBC's The Snow Queen based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale. The winner
will be picked by 700 Grade 6, 7 and 8 students across Canada taking part in the Royal Conservatory of
Music's Learning Through the Arts program and will be announced May 3.
Refugee Story Told By Refugees
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju
Mudhar, Staff Reporter
(February 13, 2007) Sitting in the third row of the Theatre Passe Muraille,Soheil Parsa is trying to keep his voice
down and his energy up. It is the weekend before previews of his production of
the acclaimed drama The Sheep and the Whale, and the cast is trickling in for rehearsal. He still has to
tinker with some details and it's obvious he is tired. This is the
English language debut of the play written by Moroccan-born, Canadian
playwright AhmedGhazali. Based loosely on a true story, TheSheep and the Whale
is set on a Russian freighter in the Strait of Gibraltar that
hits a small boat containing Moroccan stowaways, which sinks. Through the long
stormy night, the freighter searches for a port willing to take the recovered
bodies as crew members hunt the survivors. The play touches upon several
burning geopolitical issues but also plays with issues of identity. As such,
Parsa wanted to make sure the story was told by people with a personal
understanding of what it means to be a refugee. The theatre is what
brought Parsa to Canada. When he fled Iran more
than 20 years ago, he knew it was the only choice if he wanted to pursue his
"I was 28 years old when I fled my country after the Islamic revolution,
but I had a very clear idea; I had one goal, to come and pursue my career as a
theatre artist. When I came to this country, I barely spoke English and I had
to start from scratch." He enrolled at YorkUniversity and
supporting his family at a variety of jobs – bus driver, newspaper deliverer,
doughnut shop employee – scraped by in order to realize his dream. Parsa says
the theatre was where he first found something familiar, and discovering
like-minded people let him know he made the right choice – even if it was a
frustrating journey at times. "It was hard, but now I look back and think
that it was part of what made me who I am today." The past five weeks of
rehearsals have taken their toll on Parsa. And his mother died last Wednesday.
But he feels confident that she wouldn't want him to forsake his art.
"She would understand, and my family is taking care of the arrangements,
so I can finish here and dedicate the entire run of the show to her.... When
you have no organized religion, this place, the theatre is my temple," he
says. AndyVelasquez, who plays Hassan, also knows what it's like to make a life in a new country.
"I know one of the things ... in terms of the things that I bring
personally to the show, is that idea of being lost somewhere between two
cultures," says Velasquez. "I'm from Chile, but
we left during Pinochet's time. We came here, and while I feel comfortable with
my Canadian friends and life, in any new culture there can be a disconnect ...
I'm not completely at home in either one. Whenever you're in one, you're
missing something from the other." Modern Times theatre company has
partnered with Cahoots Theatre Projects to present the play. The companies have
also mentored young refugees, through a program called Crossing Gibraltar, in
weekly acting workshops. Five of those youths are in the show. The result
is a more ethnically diverse cast than is typically seen on Toronto stages,
says Parsa. "Because the theatre community in Toronto is
very similar to the political structure in this country, you rarely see people
of colour. It's still very white. It's changing now, it's getting better, but
it's still hard to see actors of colour, or directors from different
communities in the mainstream." From a logistical standpoint, the
show has posed challenges. For a small theatre company, a cast of 17 would be
unwieldy under any circumstance, but with some of the younger actors still in
school, juggling rehearsals has made things interesting for stage manager IsaacThomas. So
has Parsa's method. "Some of the actors haven't worked in a process
like Soheil's," says Thomas. "In many instances, the actors basically work, and then the
lighting and sound comes in at the end. With Soheil, he likes everyone to work
together from the beginning: the lighting manager, the sound engineers. It's
really quite brilliant and, in the end, his way leads to much more of an
integrated product." Previews for The Sheep and the Whale
start tonight. Opening night is in one week.
9, 07) Tony Award winning dynamo Lillias White has a new gig --
albeit a limited one. The 'Once On This Island' and 'Dreamgirls' star has been
cast in the Off-Broadway premiere of 'Blind Lemon Blues,' a musical revue
celebrating the legacy of blues musician Blind
Lemon Jefferson -- credited with having a profound influence on
shaping American popular music. Presented by The York Theatre Company and
Documentary Arts in association with Central Track Productions, 'Blind Lemon'
was created by Alan
Govenar and Akin
Babatunde who portrays Jefferson.
FeaturingBenitaArterberry, TimothyParham, guitarist Sam
Swank and CalvinYarbrough, and Alisa
Peoples Yarbrough, the show is packed with 60 songs from Jefferson's
expansive repertoire. Jefferson was a blind street musician who played his guitar with a tin cup
tied to its neck at the corner of Elm Street and Central Avenue in Dallas, Texas until a Paramount Records scout discovered him. Between 1926 and
1929, Jefferson made more than 80 records and became the biggest
selling-down-home blues singer in America.
Set in New York City circa 1948 at the last recording session of the legendary Huddie Ledbetter --
better known as Leadbelly
-- 'Blind Lemon' combines elements of traditional blues, gospel, rhythm and
blues, soul, doo-wop, and rap to evoke the enduring legacy of Jefferson and his
Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, Lillian Miller and
According to a spokesperson, after seeing a workshop of Blind Lemon Blues,
Wilson said, "I listened to the music of Blind Lemon
everyday for five years. Blind Lemon Jefferson was the voice of Black America
at that moment." So if it's good enough for him, it will be good enough
for me -- and maybe you. To be honest, LilliasWhite can
sing me the telephone book on her worst day -- and still bring down the house.
She is "just a stone singer" (to quote the late, great clergyman Reverend C.L. Franklin
from The Queen of Soul's 'Amazing Grace' landmark recording) and one of the
most dynamic performers on The Great White Way. And if the name Yarborough & Peoples
rings a bell, it is because it is indeed the same duo who churned out
chart-topping R&B hits in the 1980s, such as 'Don't Stop The Music."
Performances for 'Blind Lemon Blues' will begin Feb 15 and continue through Feb
25 only at The York Theatre at St.Peter's in New
York City. The York Theatre
Company, believed to be the only theatre in New York
dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals, and preserving
neglected, notable shows from the past, has for more than three decades
garnered critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences
alike. This year marks the tenth anniversary of JamesMorgan's tenure as Artistic Director of the company.
Luminato Promises 10 Days Of `Electrifying' A-List Talent
(February 13, 2007) Luminato stepped into the spotlight yesterday, when
a special preview revealed the incredible variety of programming that will make
up the 10-day arts festival scheduled to begin on June 1. Names like Eric Idle,
Atom Egoyan, Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen feature high on the list of stellar
participants who will provide Toronto with "wide-ranging programs and
electrifying events that would help us see the world in a new light" as
the National Ballet's Karen Kain told the crowd gathered at the Design Exchange
for the official announcement. DavidPecaut , the
driving force behind the event, invited everyone to look on it as a celebration
of Toronto's potential. "The city is the canvas," he said,
"and the festival is the paint."
Festival CEO JanicePrice
proudly announced a bill of more than 90 events that will take place at
numerous venues all around the city's downtown core. They include the Mirvish
Productions presentation of Vida! by the famed Danza Cuba
company, Luna – an
opera gala starring 16 of Canada's
finest stars, including IsabelBayrakdarian, Carnivalissima – a giant street festival which promises to
combine Caribana, Mardi Gras, Junkanoo and La Diablada. World premieres of
plays about GlennGould and IrvingLayton will alternate with events like the Muhtadi International
Drumming Festival and the Spiegeltent – a 1920s cabaret that will include
everything from showgirls to acrobats. Another highlight is sure to be
"Summer of Love," a giant outdoor installation which will attempt to
return Yorkville to the hippie splendour it knew 30 years ago. And as
previously revealed, Eric Idle's new comic oratorio "Not the Messiah (He's
a Very Naughty Boy)," inspired by the film Life of Brian is
expected to be a must-see, as will the collaboration between Philip Glass and
Leonard Cohen, "Book of Longing." "I'm positive that we're going
to be able to program something that will be of interest to everyone,"
said the ebullient Price, who came to this position only five months ago after
successful stints at the Stratford Festival, LincolnCenter and
the KimmelCenter. "This is absolutely not a one-time only event," she
assured the Star. "We intend to be around for many years."
Asked how she expected to define what would make this festival unique, she
said, "Every year, when it's over, I'd like people to be able to think
back about what they've experienced and say `You know what? Without Luminato,
we wouldn't have seen that in Toronto this year.'" Luminato runs from June 1-10. For more details,
go to www.luminato.com.
(February 10, 2007) NEW YORK–A new $80 million (U.S.) Museum for
African Art will serve as "a cultural gateway to
Harlem," which is enjoying a real estate and economic renaissance, New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday. "This museum reaffirms our
city's commitment to arts and culture as the backbone to the tourism
industry," Bloomberg said at the GuggenheimMuseum. Plans
were unveiled for the new home of the Museum for African Art, which is to open
in 2009. The first exhibits will include a recreation of an African village, a
selection of ancient masterpieces and the work of contemporary artists both in Africa and in the so-called diaspora
outside the continent. During its 22-year existence, the museum, now based in Queens, has had to borrow space for
its exhibits, which have travelled worldwide. "We often joke about our
nomadic existence," said museum president ElsieMcCabe. At
the same time, she said of its exhibits, "we've been everywhere from Birmingham to Budapest."
Construction on the building, designed by RobertA.M.Stern, is to
begin this spring. Bloomberg noted that the new building will be part of the
Museum Mile, a stretch of Fifth
Avenue that also includes the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, which itself has a major collection of African art.
The tree-lined walk down the avenue along Central
Park also passes the Jewish Museum, the
Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design, the Museum of the City of New York and El
Museo del Barrio. The Museum for African Art, the first to be erected on the
Museum Mile since the Guggenheim in 1959, will occupy 8,360 square metres, with galleries, space
for conservation and storage facilities, a library, a restaurant, a shop, a
rooftop for events and a children's reading area. The museum has named EnidSchildkrout as its
chief curator. She has worked for three decades at New York's AmericanMuseum of
Natural History and will be responsible for creating and organizing
exhibitions, maintaining relations with scholars, collectors and other
institutions, and working with architects and designers to plan the galleries
in the new building.
Canadians Up For Commonwealth Prize
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
Jill Lawless, Associated Press
(Feb. 12, 2007) London — Alice
Munro and Peter Behrens are two of
the homegrown authors vying for this year's Commonwealth Writers Prize. Behrens, who was born in Montreal but lives in Maine, was shortlisted for The Law of Dreams,
which has already won the Governor-General's award. Munro was cited for The View from Castle Rock. Other
best-book finalists are MarkFrutkin of Ottawa for Fabrizio's Return,
Toronto-raised ClaireMessud, who lives in Massachusetts, for The Emperor's Children, NegaMezlekia of Toronto for The Unfortunate Marriage and
New Brunswick-born DavidAdamsRichards for The Friends of Meager Fortune.
Hudson Joins Elite Company With Vogue
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(February 13, 2007) *When the new March issue of Vogue magazine
hits newsstands later this month, Jennifer
Hudson will become one of only three
African-American actresses to have graced the cover since its launch in 1892.
The other two: OprahWinfrey and HalleBerry. Noted celebrity photographer AnnieLeibovitz shot the Chicago native at the World Famous Apollo Theater
in Harlem last month. Hudson’s cover photo for the magazine’s annual
Power Issue will be accompanied by a seven-page spread that reportedly includes
three more portrait pictures of the “Dreamgirls” powerhouse. Vogue
will probably begin releasing images of the Hudson spread sometime next week, a source tells
E! Planet Gossip. Well if that's true, how is it that we have
EXCLUSIVE photos (see below) from the shoot! How indeed. The magazine’s
editor-in-chief, AnnaWintour, chose Hudson for the cover despite the common belief
in the publishing world that African-American celebrities on magazine covers do
(February 8, 2007) Up and coming fashion Design
outlet Matti Rouse will
pay homage to the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, MaryJ.Blige, with
it's new couture handbag the "Mary Jane." The "Mary
Jane" was inspired by the life of Blige, who helped to save Matti Rouse's
CEO's Life. In a candid video essay on Mary's website
"Stevo" explains how MaryJ.Blige's
music saved his life after finding out his daughter had Leukemia Cancer. He
embraces the audience in a real-life no holds barred testimony that's inspiring
to anyone dealing with this deadly disease. Mocked as "Mr.
Blige" by friends, Stevo tells us why he choose "Mary Jane."
"Mary has always been an artists who have made a struggle in the right
direction, so after seeing all of her efforts and what she is doing to place
positive thoughts into this universe, it would only be right to show her love
back. Besides, when I had no one on December 31, 2000, to
comfort me while dealing with my daughter's cancer, MaryJ.Blige saved
the day." Matti Rouse expects the handbag samples to arrive
spring/summer of 2007. "Designing a bag to pay tribute to MaryJ.Blige is an
honour," said Stevo. "She didn't ask us, we choose her. Not because
of her celebrity, but because of her humanity and constant efforts to educate
those who were deprived." View the Matti Rouse Collection here: www.myspace.com/mattirouse
Dancers To Ignite Arts Fest Excerpt from The Toronto Star - MartinKnelman, Arts Columnist
10, 2007) They're Cubans, all women, who seduce
with a unique brand of dancing. They're persona non grata in the United States. And they're coming to Toronto in June, the Star has
learned, to help ignite Luminato – the city's new annual arts festival. The troupe is called
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, named
after the phenomenal 38-year-old woman who created the company 15 years ago and
creates its one-of-a-kind choreography. "This is a great example of how
Luminato will play an active role as a partner and developer bringing Toronto
something in the spirit of adventure," says Luminato CEO JanicePrice. Price had hoped to keep the news secret until Luminato's glitzy
media launch at the Design Exchange on Monday. But yesterday she confirmed that
in a three-way partnership with DavidMirvish and Toronto arts
manager PeterSever, the troupe will perform at the RoyalAlexandraTheatre from
June 1 to 10.
Instead of just bringing the company with its mixed-program act, combining
Spanish flamenco and Cuban influences, Luminato will offer the world premiere
of Vida, linking dances and music with Cuba's
social history, seen through the eyes of an old woman.
Mirvish went to Cuba last fall to see the Cuban dancers and fell in love with them. So
did retired Toronto ballet star VeronicaTennant, who
is making an hour-long documentary about the company which Price hopes to show at Luminato. As
recently as 2003, this troupe toured the U.S.
frequently and received rave reviews in New York, Chicago, Washington, Denver andCleveland. But more recently, the Bush administration has clamped down on
Cuban artists, refusing to let them into the country. The cost of bringing Vida
here is about $1 million, but there could be a payoff. If Toronto
embraces the show it could run well past Luminato into mid-July. The producers
hope the Toronto run will create a demand all over the world – but if Americans
want to see Vida, they'll have to come here. With a budget of $10
million for its first year, Luminato promises to offer Toronto over
90 events showcasing Canadian and international theatre, music, dance, film,
design, literature and architecture.
Seize The Stage
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - SusanWalker, Dance
08, 2007) To those on the fringes of the artistic
main stage can be a closed shop. But emerging and experimental performing
artists are increasingly seizing the means of production and organizing their
own showcase events to present work in progress. The latest such salon is A
Month of Sundays. Dancer Aimée Dawn Robinson has rounded up a group of musicians and dancers who will be
performing each Sunday in February at in a little studio on
the 8th floor at 96
Admission is $7 or pay-what-you-can. Robinson, JoshThorpe and ColinClark, all of them alternating on electric keyboard, acoustic and
electric guitar, call themselves The Thorpe and their performance of what they
call – quite rightly – "warped" songs, opened the series last Sunday.
The meandering songs with their weird – possibly found – lyrics are built up by
recording layered tracks of improvisations. Done live, to mostly tuneless
strumming and keyboarding, they sounded like the vocal day-dreaming of a child
left to play on its own. After that mood-setting music, ClaudiaWittmann, under
the influence of Japanese Butoh and the "poor" theatre practices of JerzyGrotowski,
performed a chilling solo to no sound but her own – and the flapping of some
torn plastic sheeting over the windows. Beginning in silence from a standing
position, she slowly brought herself to a crouching position and opened her
mouth to expel an extended roar that one would hardly identify as human. In the
coming weeks, Robinson will dance on a program with musical duo Moth Ring, dancer AmeHenderson and
the musical group The Draperies. Composer StephenParkinson
presents new work on the same bill as dancer BarbaraLindenberg.
Expect the unexpected. For more information go to motherdrift.blogspot.com.
National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson makes a smooth transition into acting for the camera in MozeMossanen's Roxana,
airing tonight at on CBC Television's Opening Night. Mossanen adapts
the story of the 17th-century courtesan from DanielDefoe's
novel to a 1950s setting, making Roxana a poor showgirl who dances for a few
dollars at a nightclub and can't pay the rent on the coldwater flat she shares
with her young daughter. Putting her beauty and seductive powers to more
lucrative work, Roxana acquires wealth and social position as mistress to the
powerful men enthralled by her. Actor SheilaMcCarthy plays Amy, a former dancer turned
photographer who becomes a companion and quasi-servant to Roxana. She would
like to have Roxana herself, and becomes a voyeur who betrays her. RobertoCampanella
choreographs the dance sequences that run from a jazzy cabaret act, to a
balletic waltz number in an art gallery, to synchronized lovemaking on a silk
sheet as Roxana amuses herself with a succession of lovers. Former principal
dancer RexHarrington plays a besotted government minister blackmailed by Amy's photographs. ChristopherBody is a
man who is truly in love with Roxana, as illustrated in an emotional pas de
deux. Roxana's rise should have led to a subsequent fall, but in this version,
she simply leaves. The dialogue is clichéd and, cinematically, this Roxana
reminds one of Butterfield 8. Except for a couple of dramatic glitches,
the narrative is much stronger here than in Mossanen's previous dance films.
The sets and costumes are suitably lavish and Hodgkinson seems to relish her
role as a haughty, high-class whore. Tomorrow night at , Bravo! airs Roxana as a series of four dance shorts
accompanied by interviews with Hodgkinson, McCarthy, Mossanen and Campanella.
Harbourfront Centre's Kuumba Festival presents dance from every corner of the
African diaspora. Classes with hip-hop artist Ponytailz take place at the Lakeside Terrace on Saturday at JamesWilliams
demonstrates his brand of jazz fused with hip hop, Afro-Cuban and modern dance
on the same stage at . Ballet Creole performs at and at CicelyBradley and OlisaThompson of
Nu-Styles, best known as celebrity judges on So You Think You Can Dance,
give a workshop. The Choreographer's Ball, from to , is a gathering of Toronto's top
urban dancers, with a tribute to ShawnCuffie of DLM
Dance and Entertainment Company. All events are free.
(Feb. 8, 07) 'I've never understood what it did for dance in Canada in
bringing me down," Robert Desrosiers says. The Toronto-based choreographer is, of course, referring to
the cause célèbre that rocked the Canadian dance world when the Ontario Arts
Council and the Canada Council effectively shut down his company after almost
20 years by pulling his grants. It was 1998, and the man who had been one of
the best known choreographers in the country was effectively silenced. "I
didn't have the tools, I didn't have a creative centre to do my work," he
says. By that, Desrosiers means the dancers and the studio space that a
choreographer needs. Fast forward to 2007. Tomorrow night, at the Betty
Oliphant Theatre in Toronto, Desrosiers, now 53, will unveil his new work Rendezvous,
working with the dancers of Ballet Jorgen Canada. Says artistic director BengtJorgen:
"I followed Robert's work closely, and behind his elaborate props and costumes was a
great choreographer. I never forgot him even though he had dropped out of
sight, and when the opportunity arose to commission a work, he was an obvious
choice. He always had the craft and the artistic talent to touch people."
In its day, Desrosiers Dance Theatre, founded in 1980, was known as a
wellspring of whimsical imagination. Desrosiers was considered a visionary and
a genius who designed his own elaborate props, sets and costumes that made for
large-scale dance extravaganzas. In fact, he may have attracted more non-dance
fans to dance with his theatrical delights than any other choreographer in the
country. The choreography, somewhat obscured by the lavish staging, was always
breathtakingly athletic and notoriously challenging in its cunning mix of
ballet, gymnastics and contemporary dance. Desrosiers acknowledges that there
were financial concerns with his company. A former administrator had had a
nervous breakdown on the job and the operations of the company were in a mess,
but by 1998, an able new administrator was in place. On a note of irony,
Desrosiers -- who won two of the country's most prestigious dance awards: the JacquelineLemieuxPrize in
1980 and the JeanA.ChalmersAward in 1985 -- was nominated for a DoraAward for
his staging of Vivaldi's Sacred Songs the year the plug was pulled. In fact, it
was the Vivaldi piece
that made Jorgen sit up and take notice. "I was not enamoured of Robert's big pieces. I like
choreography when movement itself creates ideas. Vivaldi's Sacred Songs had no
props and costumes, and the sheer power of Robert's choreography shone
through. It was pure dance at its best. It transcended the ordinary." The
turn of the new century was not an easy time for Desrosiers, who admits that he
watched a lot of television and did a lot of meditation. The loss of his
company also coincided with his hip finally giving way to wear and tear,
leaving him unable to dance. He still walks with a limp. As well, his long-time
relationship with company dancer Robin Wilds came to an end. "I was more
sad than bitter," he says. "I also went through a period of
self-doubt. If my choreography was that bad, then it cast a negative light on
me as a creative artist."
Desrosiers may have dropped out of sight, but he was busy. He went back to the
visual arts, producing a series of pastel drawings executed at his cottage
studio near Bancroft, Ont.,
and had successful shows at galleries in Toronto and Hamilton.
He was also the featured choreographer in RobertAltman's film
Company, which portrayed life inside a ballet company. Says Desrosiers:
"Altman would tell you how he wanted you to do a scene and you just
improvised away through all the takes. It was fun." What he wasn't doing
in any of these activities was being his own man as an independent
choreographer. In Company, he recreated an existing work. With the
Mendelssohn Choir, it was the choir choosing the music. Which brings us to Rendezvous.
Says Desrosiers: "This is the first time since my company where it is me
alone as the creative spirit. Bengt [Jorgen] has essentially lent me his
company. I've chosen my own costume designer, EvelynBastien, and
my own composer, EricCadesky, and I'm working with wonderful dancers." Desrosiers's
inspiration for the piece is how people are attracted to each other, not just
romantically, but as strangers -- what he calls an instant communication. He is
also interested in why the magnet also goes the other way, and puts people at
loggerheads instantly. "It's about the dynamics of people who come
together in a space, some whom may want contact and other who do not," he
Jorgen finds that the piece shows Desrosiers's ballet heritage. He is, after
all, a graduate of the NationalBalletSchool, but Jorgen also sees a contemporary sense of energy that is
refreshing. "It has sparkle," he says. "It's pure Robert -- powerful, energetic
and very physical -- yet he also manages to create nuance of character and
relationships." Dancers TaraButler and DanKing are
delighting in Desrosiers's creative force in the studio, although they are
exhausted both physically and emotionally by the demands of the piece. "Robert is unusual in that he
doesn't use music to inspire creation," Butler says.
"The piece comes from within the choreographer, from some internal
musicality and rhythm that is naturally in him." Adds King: "I swear he makes us use
muscles that have never been used before." Working with the Jorgen dancers
has given Desrosiers a second wind, and he is excited about dance again.
"I spent a lot of time on my own in the last seven years," he says.
"I realized that I had lost my identity and had to start anew on a very
personal journey. I believe we are here on Earth to learn. I guess my lot in
life was to learn more than other people." Ballet Jorgen Canada performs a mixed program that includes works by RobertDesrosiers, BengtJorgen and CrystalPite at Toronto's
Betty Oliphant Theatre tomorrow and Saturday. The program is scheduled to
appear in western Canada and Yukon later in the spring.
NBA Vet John Amaechi Out Of The Closet
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(February 8, 2007) *With John Amaechi’s announcement Wednesday
that he is gay, the former NBA center, who played for such teams as the Utah
Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers, makes history as the league’s first player to
come out publicly and discuss his homosexuality. "He is coming
out of the closet as a gay man," Amaechi's publicist HowardBragman said Wednesday. Born to a Nigerian father
and an English mother, Amaechi was raised in Stockport, England before moving to the U.S. to play high school basketball in Toledo, Ohio. He began his college career at Vanderbilt, but transferred to PennState where he excelled as a two-time First
Team Academic All-American. He was signed undrafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers
in 1995, then went on to play overseas, as well as in the States with the
Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets. Three years after his
playing career ended, Amaechi has decided to come out of the closet, and is one
of only six professional male athletes from one of the four major American
sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) to do so. In
his book, Amaechi describes the challenge of being gay in a league where it is
assumed that all players are heterosexual. He writes that while playing in Utah, coach JerrySloan used anti-gay innuendo to describe him.
He also writes of the challenges he faced as a kid growing up in England, where he was raised by his mother and
felt isolated because of his size and black race.
Aguilera, Braxton, Blige To Work NBA
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(February 14, 2007) *The NBA has tapped Toni Braxton
and Christina Aguilera to entertain folks during halftime of Sunday’s NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas, while Mary J. Blige has
been booked to perform at the league’s NBA Cares event to be held the day
prior. Braxton, currently starring in her hit production show, "Toni
Braxton: Revealed" at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, will open Sunday's
halftime extravaganza by performing "Making Me High" from her
“Secrets” album and "Take This Ring" from her “Libra” album. To culminate
the show, Aguilera will perform "Ain't No Other Man" and
"Candyman" from her platinum-selling album, “Back to Basics.” On
Saturday, triple Grammy-winner Blige will pay tribute to NBA Cares, the
league's social responsibility initiative, with a performance of her rendition
of the U2 original hit "One" during NBA All-Star Saturday Night,
airing live on TNT at 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET. In addition to the
musical acts during Sunday's All-Star Game, to be held Sunday (Feb. 18) at , at the Thomas & MackCenter, Cirque du Soleil artists will perform a
dynamic display of acrobatic martial arts from the opening act of KA, the
gravity-defying production presented at MGM Grand. In a special
performance, "Mr. Las Vegas" WayneNewton will take part in the NBA All-Star player
Slim Your Butt & Hips By JoyceVedral, eDiets Guest Columnist
You've heard it before:
"wide load," "child-bearing hips," "big Butt!"
Well, you can hone down that out-of-control rump if you're willing to work out
just a little bit every other day. But it gets better! While you're at it, you
can tone your flag-waving triceps and hamstrings (back of your legs). How can you
do this? You do special exercises that attack two body parts at a time. It
saves time and prevents boredom. I find that working the hip-butt area can be
One of my favourite ways to work fat off the hips and butt is to do two-for-one
hip-butt exercises. For example, why not get your hamstrings toned while
zapping your hips and butt? And why not tighten those flag-waving arms (the
triceps) while melting down your hips and butt? This makes me more motivated to
work out, especially on days when I really don't feel like disturbing my lazy
tranquility. And yes, like everybody else, I have those days. The
following two "double whammy" exercises will go a long way toward
getting rid of your reindeer rump -- and at least it gives you a good start by
Christmas. As I said, you will also make headway on your hamstrings and arms.
So let's get started!
& Hamstring Toning Hack Squat Position: Stand with your feet a
natural-width apart, holding a broomstick or barbell behind your back (see
Movement: Bend at the knees to a
comfortable position, not more than your knees can go and not more than thighs
parallel to the floor. Flexing your butt, hips and back thighs, rise to start
position and repeat the movement until you have done 12 repetitions. Without
resting move to the next exercise.
Butt/Hip & Triceps Toning Floor Lift Position: Sit on the floor with your legs
extended straight out in front of you, and your arms at your sides, elbows
bent. (See start photo.)
Flexing your triceps and hip muscles as you go, lift yourself off the floor by
straightening your arms not quite fully. Flex your triceps and hip/butt area an
extra time, and return to start position. Repeat until you have done 12
Repeat the sequence two more times. This little routine will take no more than
five minutes and goes a long way toward getting your reindeer rump, along with
your hamstrings and arms in shape! To get there faster, it's a good idea to add
more exercises for this area and for the rest of your body!
Motivational Note - Why Having a Goal Isn't Nearly Enough
By J.M.Gracia; www.motivation123.com
Twenty-three out of twenty-five people couldn't give me the answer I was
looking for. Unfortunately, this means that twenty-three of the twenty-five
people I met with will never experience the motivation necessary to get what
they want. If you want to get motivated to change something in your life or
achieve an important goal, you must know the answer that ninety-two percent
failed to deliver. Before you can offer the right answer, however, you have to
know what I'm looking for.
I Used to Believe This...Not Anymore
So much has been said about the importance of having goals that many people
have been lured into the false notion that having a goal naturally leads to the
motivation to achieve it. Even more, setting a specific goal with a timeline
will all but guarantee success. As someone who has set goals in the past, I'm
sure you know firsthand that merely having a goal isn't enough. While setting
clearly defined goals is critical to living the life you want to live, lasting
change requires something more than a specific goal. And this extra step was
something that twenty-three out of the twenty-five people I spoke with didn't
know. They had goals, some of them even specific and scheduled, but without
answering the most important type of question, the motivation to achieve
success will be short-lived. And if you don't have the motivation to follow
through on your goals and dreams, you'll never succeed. That is why you must
take that extra step, you must answer the most important questions.
Here is the Missing Link
If setting a clearly defined goal isn't enough, what's the missing link? W-H-Y
That's right, the missing link is why you want the goal. Without a strong and
persuasive 'why' behind each one of your goals you'll never achieve it. As I
sat down with those twenty-five individuals I asked them each about their
personal and professional goals. Every one of them had an answer. Some took
time to think about what they wanted while others already had a clear idea of
what they hoped to achieve. After the goal was identified, I asked each the
exact reasons why they wanted to achieve the goal, the compelling and powerful
motivators. Only two out of the entire group offered satisfactory answers. I
say 'satisfactory' because reasons such as being happier or making more money
aren't strong enough. Reasons such as these will never overpower the habits and
obstacles that stand in your way. We will soon discuss specific techniques to
uncover the reasons you need to get what you want, but before we do that I want
to mention a note about choosing your goals in the first place. If you don't
know what you want, nothing else matters. I have worked with many people who
only knew that they wanted something different in their lives, but it stopped