October 11, 2012
By Joy Childs
LAWT Contributing Writer
It truly was an artful night, as the Friends of the California African American Museum (CAAM) feted legendary actor Sidney Poitier and acclaimed artist John Outterbridge with Lifetime Achievement awards at the foundation’s seventh annual black-tie fundraiser this past Saturday. CAAM’s main hall was transformed into an elegantly glamorous and festive venue, with pristine white tablecloths and dainty bright burgundy flowers adorning the tables.
A diverse group of hundreds of dinner guests turned out to honor the two and to also support the museum, which is a huge source of community pride, at the event called “An Artful Evening at CAAM.” Celebrities who came out to salute the honorees and to support CAAM’s outreach missions — Mentoring Generations Program, the Young Docent High School Intern Program, and the Busses and Docents Program (the last of which provides transportation service for Title I schools that otherwise could not afford a field trip to CAAM) — included Larkin Arnold, Clarence Avant, Howard Bingham, Bernie Casey, Art Hillery, Dawnn Lewis and Larenz Tate.
The excitement that comes with being in the in-crowd and honoring an acting gem like Mr. Poitier was palpable — from CCH Pounder, the Emmy®-nominated actress who hosted the event and welcomed the crowd to former First A.M.E. pastor Cecil “Chip” Murray standing up for the requisite invocation to the scrumptious dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck.
A little while later, several young docents who’ll no doubt directly benefit from the fundraiser proudly shared their life-changing experiences and career goals.
CAAM Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson beamed with pride as she told of how the funds raised by CAAM and its 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Friends of CAAM support the state-supported institution’s missions and goals. CAAM hosts around 10 in-house curated and/or traveling exhibitions and more than 80 public programs each year.
As Councilman Bernard C. Parks explained: “We work very closely with CAAM because they used to be in our district … This is a place that really is our legacy for this city and the nation. It’s the only place you can find the concentration of African American art, culture and history in one place … And for those who are unfamiliar or who came along after the struggle, this is the place for them to get a tremendous education about our past … ” Though he’d met Poitier only once, when jokingly asked about his favorite Sidney Poitier movie moment, Parks responded, “a scene in ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ ”!
The reigning grand dame of stage and screen, Diahann Carroll, who’s known Poitier since both were starting in the business (he was in the historic Negro Ensemble Company while she was in the Actor’s Studio: “I already knew how to be a Negro,” she quipped), says it was important for her to be there primarily because of him.
Her favorite Poitier movie moment? She said she’d seen all his movies and, because the two are friends, they’d discussed many of them, so she couldn’t name her absolute favorite, sighing, “There were just too many of them.”
Jackée Harry, the diva behind “227,” then “Sister, Sister,” told of meeting Poitier when he was in New York casting young people for a movie. She was 15 at the time. The star looked her straight in the eye and told her, “You know you’re going to be famous,” as she nervously shivered inside. Many, many years later, at a time that she would have sworn he didn’t know her from Tom’s house cat, she ran into him at an event and he said to her, “I met you when you were just 15!” She chuckled at the memory, going on to reveal that she’s just learned in an elevator ride with Poitier and Carroll that at one time the three had lived in the same building in Hollywood — Joan Collins too!
Talented actor Larenz Tate said his favorite Poitier movie moment was from “In the Heat of the Night” when Poitier declares, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” As Tate saw the movie just recently, he noted: “It’s such a strong moment in the film but it was such a strong moment in our culture for someone to stand up and say, ‘Recognize who I am.’ ”
When called to accept the award, Mr. Poitier graciously thanked his forebears for giving him the strength to do what he’s done and what he will do — and, the actor added, it was always his intent to be famous!
Right on point!
October 04, 2012
By Starla Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call
Lana Michele “MC Lyte” Moorer burst on the rap scene in the late 1980s, and immediately established herself as one of the best female emcees in the game and one of the most popular. She was the first female rap artist to release a full length solo album, be nominated for a Grammy award and be inducted into VH-1’s Hip Hop Honors. Never one to be one-dimensional, through the years MC Lyte has branched out into acting, voice over work and business endeavors. She is also a well sought after motivational speaker, DJ and is known for her community activism.
The Brooklyn bred rapper has recently added “author” to her extensive resume with the release of her book “Unstoppable, Igniting the Power Within To Achieve Your Greatest Potential.” Final Call staff writer Starla Muhammad recently interviewed MC Lyte about her career longevity, the current state of hip hop and her new book at the 2012 African Festival of the Arts that took place in Chicago during Labor Day weekend. Below are excerpts from that interview.
LA Watts Times (LAWT): The first question, M.C. Lyte, you’re a hip hop legend, of course, and have accomplished so much in the rap game. You’ve evolved as not only as an artist but an author, businesswoman, activist and much more. How do you view your development and evolution over these years?
MCLYTE (MCL): Oh boy, how do I view it? I definitely see it as necessary. I mean there’s only a couple of ways you can go and that’s either up or down. It’s either to grow or wind up depleted. The evolution to me has been, it’s God-sent but it’s Him giving me the vision to be able to get it done. I don’t know. It’s almost like when people say to me how was it being a woman in the business? Well, shucks that’s the only thing I know. When you ask me what it’s like to expand, it’s the only thing I know to do, to do more, to be bigger and be greater than I was before.
LAWT: As an artist when you see and listen to hip hop today, what are your honest thoughts and feelings when it comes to lyrical content, presentation and imagery?
MCL: My thought is they’re doing what feels either one, comfortable for them, which sets a whole other place in time. What is now acceptable in our community back when I was there was not. If we were to go back in that space and time, and what is also deemed necessary I think mainstream, the record labels have made it so that it’s no longer entertaining to just hear a woman rap. You’ve got to see skin, you’ve got to see things that just don’t make sense when it comes to hip hop. Like the whole reason for hip hop has become one to be heard and so I think we’ve moved into a space that’s a little disheartening but that’s only on the mainstream level. We have so many female MCs that are kicking knowledge that are, you know, well respected in their circles, in their community and even online for just being the MCs that they are and not selling sex.
LAWT: Do you think it’s fair to say that this new generation of artists is destroying hip hop culture versus examining the record corporations and their role in it?
MCL: No. For me destroying feels so malice like they’re intentionally doing it. They don’t know what they’re doing and they don’t know that they’re being used as pawns in the game either until they’ve moved into a space where they’re able to stop, look and listen; and right now if you have an artist out there that’s selling, you know, a whole lot of records and people are showing up at concerts in droves, screaming. They’re calling women out of their names but yet women are the top purchasers of their music and they’re the ones spending $60 to 100 bucks to get into their concerts, you can’t tell them they’re doing anything wrong.
‘How am I doing anything wrong?’ ‘These people love what I’m putting out there.’ So, I don’t feel like they’re intentionally destroying it, but we see what they don’t. Just as our parents saw things that we didn’t see. That it’s much more of a community and that means generations of people that will suffer because of what’s happening, if it’s not turned around.
LAWT: In light of the continued violence that we see in our communities, do you think remakes of songs like “Self-Destruction” or “Not With the Dealer,” could aid in heightening the awareness of how violence is really destroying and impacting the Black community in particular?
MCL: Yeah, yeah, but I don’t know who’s going to do it. Who’s going to do it that someone is going to listen? It could be a Nas; it could be a Jay-Z; it could be a Kanye. It could be one of those people to actually put it in a record where it’s cool enough. When Jay-Z said, okay, we’re part of the 40-Club now, it’s time to take off the jerseys and suit up. You know it’s time to be a man. When he said that in a song, it resonated with people, especially with the guys I know because they all of a sudden… nobody was wearing jerseys. They were all wearing button-up shirts. These guys are trendsetters and so in understanding their power, if they took on a mission like that, I’m sure there could be some success to it.
LAWT: Of course, your new book, “Unstoppable, Igniting the Power Within To Achieve Your Greatest Potential”… talk a little bit about the inspiration behind that title and what you want to share with the young people out there.
MCL: I just think for me it’s all about inspiring people the best way that I can so if by chance this book can inspire some young kids to want to do better, be it male or female, that’s what I’m after and I’m hopeful that one page in that book has the possibility of changing someone’s outlook and having them be better for themselves so then they can be better for their friends, for their family and for their community.
LAWT: Last question, MC Lyte: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?
MCL: Oh goodness! I only could say to believe in yourself. There’re so many things out here that try to deter us from being who we really are at the core. Things that tell us it’s not cool to be nice; it’s not cool to be kind or generous or thoughtful. It’s cool to just take. It’s cool to look out for self. And to me I think kids are happiest when they are themselves and when they’re true at the core and not hung up on trying to be like the in-crowd or taking upon activities that takes them outside of who they really are, whether that’s smoking weed, whether that’s drinking, whether it’s hitting on girls, you know, whatever that thing is, I just want them to get to the core and love themselves.
You can follow MC Lyte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mclyte or visit her website athttp://www.official mclyte.com or http://www.hiphop sisters.org.
You may want to make this week a schmooze-fest! Whether you go out to a party or stay in with a friend, you’ll have a good time if you remember that charm is the only weapon that’ll work for you this week. Soul Affirmation: I work hard to combat envy this week.
Your vibrations could cause you to pause. That’s good, because a pause is just what you need to remember to think of the positive. Reject the negative and you’ll have a wonderful week. Soul Affirmation: I give my mind a holiday again this week.
Rev up your engines. This is a fine week for making progress with projects that you’ve got in the works. Your energy is high and your mind is clear. Use every advantage this week to finish up your work. Soul Affirmation: What life has given me is sufficient to any task.
A spirit of competition may be troubling you. Let it go. Celebrate differences and get on with the work of creating new hope in the world! Your tendency to speak without considering the full impact on others should be checked this week. Soul Affirmation: I graciously anticipate joy and this gives me the ability to give
Confusion exists over some question, and every time you think you’ve got the answer, circumstances will change and new information will come to your attention. Don’t worry, things are going to clear up and work out. Take it easy. Soul Affirmation: My smile is a radiant light to those I encounter.
Communications flow smoothly this week and your word is golden. A wild idea for money making could come to you, but you should let the strictly material walk on by. Stick to your current plan and use your imagination for ways to streamline your work. Soul Affirmation: Confusion gives me an opportunity to show my love.
Creative mental energy makes this a banner week. An ambition that you thought you had left behind years ago suddenly resurfaces, and you’ll see similarities between what you are doing now and what you dreamed of back then. Soul Affirmation: I give my brain full power this week.
Educate those around you in the area of personal growth. Their improvement will bring benefits to you. Humor in communication is the key. Humor in introspection is a must. Soul Affirmation: Success that has been following me is trying to catch up.
This week romance is begins to percolate. Enjoy your feelings and let your brain relax. Suspend all judgments of others. Being stern won’t work for you this week. Soul Affirmation: I go along to get along.
Romance will find you this week. Don’t be looking the other way. Your “rap” is especially strong. Make as many of those important phone calls as possible. Soul Affirmation: Friendships are shock absorbers on the bumpy roads of life.
Don’t take any big gambles this week, the time is not right for a flight into the unknown. A newfound harmony is in store for you and your mate. Your mate will understand your fears. Soul Affirmation: New insights create new directions and a new cast of characters.
The air can be cleared easily. Admit your need for help. Seek understanding. You’ll help another by seeking help from them. Communication problems will smooth themselves out. Soul Affirmation: Moving slowly might be the fastest way.
By CHRIS TALBOTT Associated Press
Darius Rucker’s conversion to country is now complete: He's joining the Grand Ole Opry.
Rucker performed on Opry October 2 and received a visit from unannounced guest Brad Paisley, who surprised him with the invitation.
“I’m still surprised,” Rucker said afterward. “They shocked me. Everybody, my wife and I’m just finding out even my kids knew. I wasn’t expecting anything today. I didn’t think tonight is the night I’d be asked to be a member of the Opry. That’s unbelievable.”
The singer rose to fame as the frontman for South Carolina rockers Hootie & The Blowfish but began to pursue his lifelong passion for country music a few years ago. He's had a multiplatinum, award-winning run since and will release his third country album early next year.
The 46-year-old is the third black performer to hold Opry membership, joining Country Music Hall of Fame members DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride.
“I felt like I was in,” Rucker said. “I felt like I was accepted and I was part of the family. This is the completion of the conversion from Hootie into Darius the country singer. With the induction into the Opry, it’s definitely complete now.”
Rucker will be inducted into the Opry on Oct. 16. That show will air live on GAC.
September 27, 2012
Two people charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from Stevie Wonder pleaded no contest on Monday September 24 and were released after being sentenced to time-served in jail.
Alpha Lorenzo Walker and Tamara Diaz were sentenced to serve 292 days in jail and three years of probation for attempting to sell a video that purportedly portrayed Wonder in a negative light. Jail credits made the pair eligible for release Monday.
The pair was arrested in May after the Grammy-winner’s attorney arranged a sting and claimed Walker had sought up to $5 million for the video.
Walker’s attorney, Ian Wallach, said the deal was reached after prosecutors encountered trouble proving the extortion case and that the charges were eligible to be reduced to misdemeanors and expunged later if the pair comply with the terms of their release.
A judge ordered the pair to stand trial in July after a preliminary hearing in which a police detective described the video as an 80-minute rant against Wonder. Portions of it were filmed in the former home of the singer’s late mother, which is now dilapidated, and it also shows Wonder's son, whom the musician is protective of.
Wallach had maintained his client was innocent and that he had a constitutional right to make and market the video. Diaz is Walker’s girlfriend and was present during a police sting that involved Wonder’s attorney and led to the pair’s arrest.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said both were ordered to stay away from Wonder and his associates while on probation.
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