August 14, 2014


LAWT News Service


Koffeehouse Music and Vitello’s restaurant are teaming up to present a weekly music series and competition starting Wednes­day, September 3, officials recently announced   The competition is now accepting online submissions from all singer/songwriters at, they said.


“Koffeehouse Music is known for showcasing Los Angeles’ most talented singer/songwriters and new bands, and over the years, has worked with nearly 1,000 musicians,” said a spokesperson for the event. 


The upcoming music series and competition, titled “A Showcase of Talent: L.A.’s Best Singer/Songwriters Compete,” will feature 25-40 singer/songwriters during the 12 week competition.  Cash prizes and in-kind products will be awarded to the winners. 


“With so much talent in the greater Los Angeles area, we wanted to create a competition where anyone could hear great music live in a competition format, outside of television,” states Koffeehouse’s founder Jeremy Koff.  “Vitello’s has always been one of my favorite restaurants and places to listen to music.”


“We’re very excited to partner with Koffeehouse Music and to bring to the Valley this great community of musicians,” says Brad Roen, VP/General Manager of Vitello’s Restaurant.


The competition is open to the public.  Initial submissions will be submitted online to  A panel of music experts will select the top choices for the live competition from the many hundreds of entries expected.  The selected artists will be featured in a 3 month competition, leading to a grand finale on the last night.  Additional information and contest rules can be found at

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 07, 2014


ATLANTA (AP) — Steve Harvey thought moving his annual Neighborhood Awards from Las Vegas to Atlanta would be more economically feasible for his loyal radio listeners to attend.


“Probably 90 percent of my radio listeners are east of the Mississippi River,” the actor and comedian said. “Vegas was great to us. But I thought if we moved this to a hot city like Atlanta, economically we could save people a lot of money.”


Harvey is hosting the 12th annual national convention in Atlanta for the first time. The four-day event will be held at Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center, kicking off on August 7.


The Neighborhood Awards, which recognizes small-town business people, is expected to draw about 150,000 attendees.


Harvey called the cross-country move logical, because 2.1 million listeners of his “Steve Harvey Morning Show” are within a seven-hour drive radius from Atlanta.


Along with a shorter commute, ticket prices are being reduced by half compared to last year's cost of admission.


“We gave the award show back to the people,” said Rushion McDonald, who created the awards with Harvey. The event originated in Los Angeles under the name Hoodie Awards in 2001 and spent nine years in Las Vegas, bringing out celebs including Tyler Perry, Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson.


But the primary initiative behind the awards is to honor people and businesses that uplift their neighborhoods. The fan-nominated awards offer 12 categories including best church, beauty salon, barbecue restaurant, community leader, high school, barbershop and church choir.


This year’s performers include Robin Thicke, Anthony Hamilton, Chrisette Michele, Tamela Mann, India.Arie, Johnny Gill and The Ray Chew Band. The convention will also have several seminars featuring Rev. Al Sharpton, Kandi Burress and Stephen A. Smith.


“This is like an unpretentious Grammy Awards,” Hamilton said. “I’m proud to be a part of an awards that uplifts every day, hardworking people. I love coming here to perform and see others do the same.”


Harvey, who started from humble beginnings and launched a successful career in entertainment, also wants regular folks to experience the limelight of the red carpet prior to the awards, which takes place Saturday night.


“This is to give the common man and business owner a round of applause,” Harvey said. “I’ve been walking down red carpets for so many years, getting awards. I’ve been very fortunate. I think recognizing the common man for their hard work is a great thing.”


Moving forward, Harvey and McDonald want to expand the brand of the awards. That’s why they changed the name from Hoodie to Neighborhood Awards for last year’s event.


“It’s just so hard to explain Hoodie,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to explain Neighborhood Awards. We’re still dealing with general marketing dollars. We had to make it more understandable.”


About 30 radio stations from across the country will broadcast the show live starting Thursday. For the first time, the show will be streamed on Harvey’s website or Neighbor­hood Awards free app.


Ultimately, the hope is to have the awards televised in the near future.


“This move is to educate what the Neighborhood Awards is about,” McDonald said. “We want to show how the awards is impacting everyday people.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 07, 2014


Just last year, Chadwick Boseman successfully channeled the spirit of Jackie Robinson in “42”, a powerful biopic about the Hall of Fame great who made history when he integrated Major League Baseball in 1947. In Get on Up, the gifted young actor is already impersonating another legendary African-American, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (1933-2006).


Unfortunately, this revisionist fairytale works better as a jukebox musical than as an accurate recitation of the late crooner’s checkered past. The problem is that Brown simply is hard to portray sympathetically, despite his overcoming abject poverty and a dysfunctional childhood on the road to superstardom.


Yes, he was abandoned by abusive parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) at the home of an aunt (Octavia Spencer) in Augusta, Georgia who did her best to raise him in the absence of a father figure. Nevertheless, James dropped out of school in the 7th grade, took to the streets, and spent several years behind bars for an armed robbery committed at just 16.


Upon parole, he made a foray into showbiz after joining the Famous Flames, the first of numerous R&B groups he would headline over the course of a career marked again and again by bad break-ups due to disagreements he had over salary with disgruntled sidemen. Brown would also have further run-ins with the law, ranging from repeated arrests for domestic violence against three different battered wives, to embezzlement, tax evasion and bankruptcy, to another three years in prison for illegal drug and weapons possession, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. 


Somehow, Tate Taylor (The Help) has figured a way to put a positive spin on the tarnished legacy of this terribly-flawed figure. Rather than have the film unfold chronologically, the inventive director has crafted an oft-confusing flashback flick which jumps backwards and forwards in time in dizzying fashion with no apparent rhyme or reason.


That scattershot approach ostensibly enables “Get on Up” to sidestep the more tawdry episodes on Brown’s resume without appearing to leave gaping holes in his life story. Consequently, the movie sits on solid ground during gyrating Boseman’s lip-synched, onstage performances of such James Brown hits as “I Feel Good,” “It’s a Man’s World,” “Super Bad” and “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” but not so much whenever it shifts its focus to its morally-objectionable protagonist’s poor people skills.


A nostalgic indulgence which, like the cinematic equivalent of a fluffy fanzine, eschews serious criticism of a revered icon in favor of a pleasant parade of his most memorable classics.


Very Good (2.5 stars)


Rated PG-13 for sexuality, drug use, profanity and violence


Running time: 138 minutes


Distributor: Universal Pictures


To see a trailer for Get on Up, visit: watch?v=guOS6ev6hQ0

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 07, 2014


Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19


Though there's a fun element to the week, you'll also be aware of a difficult issue that needs attention. For instance, the heady enjoyment of romance might contrast with problems around finances, which take the edge off of a date night or special occasion. Things might be made all the more difficult as your motivation could limp along on Thursday and Friday. You'll need to summon your energy and make a determined effort to face up to whatever is bothering you. It's party time over the weekend!




Taurus Apr 20 – May 20


There may be a power struggle going on, so be careful what you say if you want to come out of it looking good. Words can sting, especially at this time when Mars in Scorpio can encourage heated disagreements. Yet with a little diplomacy you'll be able to talk through matters and soothe ruffled feathers. Over the weekend the Full Moon in Aquarius suggests you may be in the spotlight for one reason or another. You'll also get a chance to reflect upon your goals and priorities.




Gemini May 21 - Jun 20


There's a lively social undertone this week encouraging you to pursue contacts, friendships, and memberships. Yet you may need to work hard at communicating with a significant other, particularly if you're not seeing eye-to-eye. Stubbornness could be a major stumbling block if neither of you is willing to compromise. Perhaps you both want the same thing in the end, which you'll find out by keeping the conversation going. Meanwhile, there's a chance of romance over the weekend.




Cancer Jun 21 - Jul 22


Directing your energy into the right channels brings opportunities for success. In this case, brainstorming moneymaking ideas and coming up with creative outlets for your talents could substantially increase your income. When it comes to romance, though, a love interest could be irritable and hard to please. Persuading the person to join you for a social outing or date night could be an uphill struggle. But the weekend Full Moon could be your saving grace in this regard, encouraging positive interaction.




Leo Jul 23 - Aug 22


You're vibrating to the social buzz of summer and eager to mix and mingle with pals and associates. And you're truly in your element with your astrological ruler, the Sun, in your sign. But you could be treading a fine line when it comes to home and family matters. Your upbeat mood could be offset by someone's darker and more manipulative energy. However, the Full Moon on Sunday may push you into saying things you've been holding back - to good effect.




Virgo Aug 23 - Sep 22


Though you may be busy this week, the current lineup hints that this is a good time to relax and recharge. With a focus on your spiritual sector, your inner world and inner life may seem more appealing and even more important than your day-to-day circumstances. Meditating and reflecting on your goals and dreams could be particularly rewarding, especially if you've been feeling uncertain about a course of action. Time out can bring valuable insights and clarity concerning decisions that need to be made.




Libra Sep 23 - Oct 22


With partnership activity stimulated, there may be a few kinks and disagreements to work through before you can make progress this week. At times you could hit up against communication problems that might not yield easily to discussion or compromise. However, with a fabulous social scene showing up, time spent with friends can help ease any heartache. The result will be that you'll begin to see things from a healthier and more relaxed perspective. However, aim for sensitivity when dealing with loved ones.




Scorpio Oct 23 - Nov 21


A fortunate trend provides freedom of action and the chance to showcase your skills and abilities to good effect. With a sizzling focus on career, opportunities abound for enhancing work and business success. However, you may need to clear up unfinished business first in order to be ready for new and exciting projects. There could be a conflict of interest that you'll need to resolve before you can take advantage of the smorgasbord of favorable circumstances on offer. The Full Moon is excellent for partying over the weekend.




Sagittarius Nov 22 - Dec 21


The urge to get away is strong, which could mean getting lost in a daydream, fantasy, good book, or movie. Equally, you'll be eager to travel to new places and explore new horizons. Whether or not you can take a trip now, contemplating one for the future may give you something to look forward to. Watch out for the Full Moon on Sunday, as feelings could be intense. Try not to do or say anything that you might regret at a later date - but do have fun!




Capricorn Dec 22 - Jan 19


An opulent lineup in your zone of shared resources hints at a windfall or increase in business and income. However, there could be a temptation to indulge. It could be all too easy to max out your credit card and come unstuck later. Budgeting may be a way to go in order to guard against this. In addition, your social life looks livelier than has been in some time. Use this opportunity to network with folks who pull the strings and make the decisions.




Aquarius Jan 20 - Feb 18


While it won't all be clear sailing in your career, a more focused and incisive frame of mind can make solid headway possible. When talking to others, you might need to ignore their words and instead go with your gut feelings, particularly when sussing out deals or job opportunities. However, relationships of all kinds continue to flourish. Whether you're in a long-term partnership or looking for love, the week ahead brings all the ingredients together for you to have as much fun as possible.




Pisces Feb 19 - Mar 20

Where your job and lifestyle are concerned, whether you feel a restless stirring within or circumstances beyond your control provide the motivation, it's to your advantage to embrace the notion of change. Passions are strong when it comes to expanding your horizons in general, giving you the courage to make a bold move. The presence of Mars in Scorpio can push you to explore new options. You may be looking for something that speaks to your need for intense experiences that can transform your life.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 31, 2014


By Steve Furay

Special to the NNPA to The Michigan Citizen



James “J Dilla” Yancey, the late Detroit music producer whose stardom has grown globally since his passing in 2006, is headed toward enshrinement in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Dilla’s mother Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, announced the news at the ninth annual “D.C. Loves Dilla” event on July 17.


The legendary hip hop musician will be represented in the museum by his MPC beat machine and his custom Moog synthesizer.


“It’s a beginning,” said Yancey on stage during the Howard Theater tribute concert that featured N’Dea Davenport, Maimouna Youssef and Pharoahe Monch, “and (there’s) so much more to come now that I’ve been practicing what I’ve been preaching to you guys: That when you’re given something special, it’s made to like, love, share. Love is not made to put in your pocket or your home, it’s for sharing. And gifts are made for sharing. So we’re going to share the equipment.”


Yancey introduced the audience to Timothy Anne Burnside of the Smithsonian Museum, who worked with the longtime Conant Gardens, Detroit resident to secure the contribution of the equipment.


“On behalf of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and from the bottom of my heart, we want to thank you for sharing your son’ legacy with us and for trusting us to share it with the world,” said Burnside.


She stated the two items donated “will be used to tell not just Dilla’s story and not just the story of hip hop, but through it will be a story of creativity, of innovation, of perseverance and of dedication.”


The Smithsonian Museum’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has a tentative opening schedule of late 2015 to early 2016. As part of the Smithsonian Institute, the museum will be a part of the world’s largest art, culture and research complex.


“This museum is the final jewel in the crown in the Smithsonian Museum on the (National) Mall,” said Burnside. “This museum will celebrate African American history and culture through every possible lens, through every experience, through history, through politics, through music, through art, through dance, through fashion, spoken word — you name it, it will be there.


“And I’m here to announce today, that also there, when you walk though those doors will be Dilla.”


J Dilla was long considered a master of hip hop production in Detroit, working with many Detroit hip hop artists from an early age, including Slum Village, Phat Kat, 5 Elementz and others. From his basement studio in his mother’s house in Conant Gardens, he would go on to work with Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots, Pete Rock and A Tribe Called Quest, before finally leaving for Los Angeles.


The donated equipment includes the Akai MPC 3000, a popular sample and beat sequencing machine for music producers, and a Moog “Minimoog Voyager” synthesizer, custom made by the brand’s creator Dr. Robert Moog, a prize of his collection received late in his career while J Dilla struggled with his health.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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