Gospel Legend Shirley Caesar’s Viral #UNameItChallenge Leads to New Fame, More Charity

Shirley Caesar (photo via defendernetwork.com)

Shirley Caesar (photo via defendernetwork.com)

article by Bil Carpenter via blackenterprise.com

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of DJ Suede, also known as “the Remix God,” sent him a video clip of traditional gospel music legend Pastor Shirley Caesar’s 2007 remake of her 1988 classic “Hold My Mule.” Suede, an Atlanta-based mixer with an Instagram following of almost 100K,  has said that he’ll remix anything. Since his mom was also a big fan of the 11 time Grammy Award-winning artist, he just remixed the song for fun, posting it online with the tag, “Grandma, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?”

That intoxicating hip-hop music mashup has now become the viral success story of the season. It was even referenced during this year’s American Music Awards telecast, and pushed “Hold My Mule,” a song recorded long before Billboard started compiling gospel song charts, into the No. 1 spot on this week’s Gospel Streaming Songs chart, thanks to over 800,000 streams within the last week. It’s the song’s first time on any national chart.

In the original song, Caesar tells the story of an 86-year-old man named Shouting John, who joined a church that didn’t believe in dancing and speaking in tongues. John was kicked put out of the church for shouting too loudly during the sermon.

He countered his ouster with a testimony that God had blessed him as a farmer.”Look!” he shouted. “I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lambs, rams, hogs, dogs, chickens, turkeys, rabbits … you name it!” (See the 5:45 mark in the YouTube video above.) That line became the foundation for Suede’s “You Name It! ” remix.

“It was just a song,” Suede told Big Tigger, on Atlanta’s V103 radio station. Then, on November 13, R&B star Chris Brown reposted the song with his signature choreography with the hastag #UNameItChallenge on his Instagram page. It has since racked up over 2.3 million views on Brown’s page, motivating thousands of people to share it and to answer the challenge with their own video dance responses.

Initially, some observers wondered if the 78-year-old Caesar, who was a hardliner in her younger days about the separation of gospel and mainstream music, would object to the viral video. However, she’s in nearly full support of this new incarnation of it. Continue reading

R.I.P. “Barney Miller” Star and Emmy-Nominated Actor Ron Glass

Actor Ron Glass (Kevin Winter/Getty Images) 

article via npr.org

Ron Glass, the handsome, prolific character actor best known for his role as the gregarious, sometimes sardonic detective Ron Harris in the long-running cop comedy “Barney Miller,” has died at age 71.

Glass died Friday of respiratory failure, his agent, Jeffrey Leavett, told The Associated Press on Saturday.  “Ron was a private, gentle and caring man,” said Leavett, a longtime friend of the actor. “He was an absolute delight to watch on screen. Words cannot adequately express my sorrow. ”

Although best known for “Barney Miller,” Glass appeared in dozens of other shows in a television and film career dating to the early 1970s.

Glass was Felix Unger opposite Demond Wilson‘s Oscar Madison in “The New Odd Couple,” a 1980s reboot of the original Broadway show, film and television series that this time cast black actors in the lead roles of Unger’s prissy neat freak forced to share an apartment with slovenly friend Madison.

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Donella Wilson, 107-Year-Old Daughter of a Slave, Ready to Cast Her Vote Once More

Donella Wilson

Donella Wilson WISTV SCREENSHOT (photo via theroot.com)

article by via theroot.com

Donella Wilson, at 107 years old, has never missed a local or national election since she cast her first vote in the 1940s.  And Wilson, who was born in South Carolina to parents who were former slaves, says she is ready to cast her vote one more time and perhaps make history once again.

“I never thought I would live to see a day like this,” Wilson told WISTV.com. “I’m over 100 years old!”

Wilson has had to struggle some recently to retain her right to vote. She had to secure a new ID and registration card, but now she is ready and prepared for her opportunity to say something, and is heading to the polls, not just to back up her beliefs, but to remember those who came before who fought for the right she currently has.

“We couldn’t spell ‘vote,’” Wilson told the news station. “We didn’t know what the word meant other than we had an opportunity to say something and cast a vote, praying as we go along, that the vote could count to help us as a Negro race.”

Wilson said she remembers President Barack Obama’s historic election, expressing how “proud and thankful” she was to witness it.

And she hopes to witness history once again on Tuesday, saying that she planned to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton.  “I’m looking for her to be our first female president,” she said. “I think it’s an honor, a precious gift from God.”

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/11/107-year-old-daughter-of-a-slave-ready-to-cast-her-vote-once-more/

Cicely Tyson to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from Congressional Black Caucus Foundation this Sept.

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Kellee Terrell via blackamericaweb.com

Legendary actress Cicely Tyson is adding more awards to her repertoire.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) recently announced that the 91-year-old actress will be a recipient of a lifetime achievement award in the arts. Tyson will also be joined by “Being Mary Jane” actor Richard Roundtree and music icon Dionne Warwick during the foundation’s 20th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts.

“With a lifetime of entertaining and educating us, this year’s honorees have also distinguished themselves as remarkable leaders and passionate advocates for the arts and arts education,” said CBCF president and CEO A. Shuanise Washington in a press release. 

“Their outstanding contributions and continuing commitment to the arts make them ideal to help elevate the visibility of the CBC Spouses Visual and Performance Arts Scholarship Program. The awards are conferred on artists whose legacy includes not only extraordinary works but a commitment to cultivating future generations of artists.”

The awards ceremony, which will take place Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C., is organized in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses Visual and Performance Arts Scholarship program, Shadow and Act noted.

The House of Cards and How To Get Away With Murder guest star is no stranger to recognition.

During Tyson’s illustrious 65-year career, she has won an Emmy, a Tony, a SAG and a Drama Desk Award for her work in television, film and on and Off-Broadway. She has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, Academy Award and BAFTA to name a few. And just recently, it was announced that the American Theatre Wing will honor Tyson at its annual Gala September 26 at The Plaza Hotel.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/08/30/congressional-black-caucus-to-honor-cicely-tyson/

NASA Chief Charles Bolden Celebrates Influence of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson in Vanity Fair

katherine-johnson

Katherine Johnson, photographed at Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia. (Photograph by Annie Leibovitz)

article by Charles Bolden via vanityfair.com

When I was growing up, in segregated South Carolina, African-American role models in national life were few and far between. Later, when my fellow flight students and I, in training at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, clustered around a small television watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, little did I know that one of the key figures responsible for its success was an unassuming black woman from West Virginia: Katherine Johnson.

Hidden Figures is both an upcoming book and an upcoming movie about her incredible life, and, as the title suggests, Katherine worked behind the scenes but with incredible impact. When Katherine began at NASA, she and her cohorts were known as “human computers,” and if you talk to her or read quotes from throughout her long career, you can see that precision, that humming mind, constantly at work. She is a human computer, indeed, but one with a quick wit, a quiet ambition, and a confidence in her talents that rose above her era and her surroundings.

“In math, you’re either right or you’re wrong,” she said. Her succinct words belie a deep curiosity about the world and dedication to her discipline, despite the prejudices of her time against both women and African-Americans. It was her duty to calculate orbital trajectories and flight times relative to the position of the moon—you know, simple things. In this day and age, when we increasingly rely on technology, it’s hard to believe that John Glenn himself tasked Katherine to double-check the results of the computer calculations before his historic orbital flight, the first by an American. The numbers of the human computer and the machine matched.

To read full article, go to: Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil | Vanity Fair

R.I.P. Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell: Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Dies

Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Bernie Worrell (GREGORY PACE/BEI/BEI/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Andrew Barker via Variety.com

Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist, songwriter and synthesizer pioneer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton, and was also a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, according to his Facebook page. He was 72.

Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, Worrell was the guest of honor at a massive benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, however, his wife Judie Worrell announced his health had taken a turn, writing, “Bernie is now heading ‘Home.’”

As a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Worrell’s synth playing provided the funk innovators with some of their most distinctive and immediately recognizable elements, which subsequently became signature sounds of the more futuristic strains of R&B, and the bedrock of hip-hop’s West Coast “g-funk” wave, with Dr. Dre in particular sampling Worrell’s music continuously.

From the gurgling, staccato Minimoog bassline of “Flash Light” to the whiny, minor-key synth lines on “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” Worrell introduced a wealth of completely new elements into pop music’s sonic vocabulary. Former bandmate Bootsy Collins described Worrell as “the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards,” while Talking Heads frontman Byrne once noted, “Bernie changed the way I think about music, and the way I think about life.”

Born George Bernard Worrell in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at age 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up with fellow New Jersey native George Clinton while playing in bar bands. He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.

Worrell only appeared on a single track of Funkadelic’s 1970 self-titled debut, but he featured heavily on follow-up “Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow,” and by the time of 1971’s psych-rock freak-out masterpiece “Maggot Brain,” he was firmly ensconced in the lineup, even singing lead on single “Hit It and Quit It.”

Worrell’s role as a keyboardist, songwriter and arranger grew throughout the decade as Funkadelic and Parliament – during the ‘70s, the two groups consisted of the same core members – evolved into a more radio-friendly, dance-oriented outfit, alongside former James Brown bassist Collins, who arrived in 1972. Thanks to his grasp of classical music composition, as well as his ceaseless curiosity in exploring state-of-the-art synthesizer technology, Worrell was essential in imposing structure and melodic order onto the group’s more freewheeling experimentations.

Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” elevated the collective’s profile substantially in 1975, reaching No. 4 on the R&B album chart and becoming the first P-Funk album to go platinum. The group’s popularity peaked with Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” which topped the R&B chart for six straight weeks in 1978, while Parliament’s “Motor Booty Affair” and Funkadelic’s “Uncle Jam Wants You” both reached No. 2 in the months that followed. The P-Funk staples co-written by Worrell in this period include “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadaloop)” and “Flash Light,” which still stands as perhaps the group’s most widely played and influential single track.

Worrell recorded a solo album in 1978 – “All the Woo in the World,” produced by Clinton – and recorded with Collins for his splinter group Bootsy’s Rubber Band, whose 1977 album “Ahh…the Name is Bootsy, Baby!” is a particularly essential funk collection. But as loose and sprawling as the P-Funk universe could be, the spine of the group began to splinter at the end of the ‘70s, and Worrell officially left in 1981.

Shortly after his departure, Worrell was recruited by Jerry Harrison, guitarist for the art-rock/New Wave group Talking Heads, whom Worrell had never heard. Though he found their earlier music “stiff,” Worrell joined the group as a session musician, contributing synthesizers to 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” which would go on to become the Heads’ highest-charting release. He toured with the group for years, and his importance to their live sound is made abundantly clear in the Jonathan Demme-directed 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense.”

During the ‘80s, Worrell also recorded with Keith Richards, Fela Kuti, and Jack Bruce, and after the breakup of Talking Heads, he released a spate of solo albums in the early-‘90s. (1991’s “Funk of Ages” is the clear standout.) He continued to record and tour throughout the following decades, with groups the Bernie Worrell Orchestra and Bernie Worrell’s Woo Warriors, and as part of the supergroup Black Jack Johnson alongside rapper Mos Def. Worrell was the subject of Philip Di Fiore’s 2005 documentary, “Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth,” and he had a role as a member of Meryl Streep’s bar band in Demme’s 2015 feature “Ricki and the Flash.”

Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997, and performed with the reunited Talking Heads during the group’s induction in 2002. Earlier this year, he was given an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music.

Buffalo Soldiers of U.S. Armed Forces Honored by CA State Senate at Capitol Ceremony & Reception

Buffalo Soldiers_0043

Buffalo Soldiers representative with CA State Senator Tony Mendoza (photo courtesy http://sd32.senate.ca.gov)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Sacramento – To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Buffalo Soldiers, an historic group of African American service members, California State Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and State Senator Isadore Hall III (D–Compton), Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, hosted a reception on June 6th in the State Capitol and presented Senate Concurrent Resolution 128, which recognizes the Soldiers for their unique contributions to the United States and its military.

“I am honored to recognize the great accomplishments and service of the Buffalo Soldiers. These men made history by breaking barriers and serving our country with honor and distinction during war and peacetime under tremendously challenging circumstances,” said Senator Tony Mendoza.

The Buffalo Soldiers were established on July 28, 1866 by an Act of Congress. It was officially known as the 9th and 10th Calvary regiment and was comprised of former slaves, free men, and black Civil War soldiers. The Buffalo Soldiers were the first African Americans to serve in the United States Army during peacetime.

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