R.I.P. Clyde Stubblefield, 73, James Brown’s Legendary ‘Funky Drummer’ 

Clyde Stubblefield (photo via nytimes.com)

article by  via nytimes.com

It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”

It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014— its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, from the 1980s to the present day. It made Mr. Stubblefield, who died on Saturday in Madison, Wis., at 73, perhaps the most sampled drummer in history.

The cause was kidney failure, said his manager, Kathie Williams.

Mr. Stubblefield was born on April 18, 1943, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he was drawn to the rhythms of local industrial sounds, from factories to trains. “There was a factory there that puffed out air — pop-BOOM, pop-BOOM — hit the mountains and came back as an echo,” he told Isthmus in 2015. “And train tracks — click-clack, click-clack. I listened to all that for six years, playing my drums against it.”

By his late teenage years, he was already playing drums professionally, and he moved to Macon, Ga., after playing with Otis Redding, who hailed from there. There, he performed with local soul acts, and was introduced to Brown by a club owner. Soon, he was flying to join Brown on the road, and became a permanent band member.

He performed with him on and off for about six years, one of two key drummers — the other was John Starks, who was also known as Jabo — playing on the essential James Brown albums of the civil rights era: “Cold Sweat,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “It’s a Mother,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Sex Machine.” He performed at some of Brown’s most important concerts, including at the Boston Garden after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and for United States service members in Vietnam.

His sharp funk provided the anchor on anthems like “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “I Got The Feelin’.” Always, his playing was complex but collected — his flourishes between beats were as essential as the beat itself. Brown demanded a lot of his band, and Mr. Stubblefield, with playing that had punch, nimbleness and wet texture, never appeared to be breaking a sweat.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/arts/music/clyde-stubblefield-dead.htmlrref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

PBS to Air Documentary on Iconic Civil Rights Leader John Lewis this February

john-lewis

Congressman John Lewis (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Ny Magee via eurweb.com

Georgia congressman John Lewis is finally getting what many believe to be the TV treatment he deserves. The civil rights icon is the focus of a forthcoming new documentary set to air on PBS.

Get In The Way: The Journey of John Lewis” aims to tell the story of the civil rights pioneer, who led a 26-hour sit-in for gun control, marched with Dr. King, challenged political houses and continues to fight for human rights, per Jetmag.com.

According to the film’s website, it offers a “highly personalized narrative of an epic chapter in U.S. history.”  The biographical documentary will air on PBS as part of the network’s Black History Month programming.

“He is the moving, roaring protector of the rights afforded to every person in this nation. Get in the Way arrives at the perfect time,” actress and activist Alfre Woodard is quoted as saying in the documentary highlights.

“Get In The Way” airs on Feb. 10.

To read full article, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2017/01/john-lewis-pbs-air-documentary-iconic-civil-rights-leader/#

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams (photo via essence.com)

article by Paula Rogo via essence.com

Taking a cue from Octavia Spencer, both Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams have bought out screenings of Hidden Figures at movie theaters in Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. on Sunday.  Spencer paid for a free screening of the critically-acclaimed film earlier this month, saying that her own mother would not have been able to afford to take her and her siblings.

Henson, who plays the lead role as NASA physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, was inspired to do the same in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, her hometown of Washington D.C. On Instagram, she said she was moved by Spencer and “similar actions taken by so many of YOU across the country.” Anonymous donors have been buying out whole screenings.

To see full article, go to: Taraji and Pharrell Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’ | Essence.com

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.

Continue reading

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/