Maryland Votes To Remove References To Confederacy From State Song

Historic Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Historic Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland, USA

article by Desire Thompson via newsone.com

The Maryland Senate voted on Thursday in favor of removing lyrics connected to the Confederacy from their state song, The Washington Post reports.

The 38-to-8 decision occurred Thursday after debate about the song, Maryland, My Maryland.” It was penned by James Ryder Randall in 1861 following the death of his friend, who was shot while protesting against Union troops. The lyrics represent the anger Randall felt towards the North and calls on Marylanders to join the South’s battle against the Union.

Lyrics from the song (including those calling Northerners “scum”) will be replaced with a poem by John T. White about the state’s appearance and natural beauty.

Via The Washington Post:

“I think it’s time to get rid of the verse that basically criticizes and makes us look bad,” said Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick). “The [song] is degrading to Maryland and should not represent us moving forward.”

However, Sen. Robert G. Cassilly (R-Harford) said Maryland should use the opportunity as a teaching lesson, instead of erasing bad moments from history.

Listen to “Maryland, My Maryland” by clicking here and read the poem here.

Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard to Host Fox Holiday Special Featuring Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx and John Legend

Empire Season 2 premiere

COURTESY OF CHUCK HODES/FOX

Fox’s “Empire” may be headed on its midseason break after a couple of more episodes, but the network hopes to keep its Wednesday timeslot warm by slotting a holiday music and variety special hosted by the show’s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard.

The network announced Monday that “Taraji and Terrence’s White Hot Holidays,” featuring a special duet by Henson and Howard and modern performances of classic holiday songs, has been set for Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 9. Among the entertainment superstars scheduled as guests and musical performers are Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Jamie Foxx.

“Empire” is broadcast television’s No. 1 series this fall in adults 18-49, averaging a 6.8` rating in the demo and 16.7 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates. The show is scheduled to exit the airwaves after its Dec. 2 midseason finale, and won’t return until March 30.

“White Hot Holidays” is produced by Casey Patterson Entertainment, Don Mischer Productions, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and Vincent Cirrincione.

article by Rick Kissell via Variety.com

Kendrick Lamar Will Perform ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ Songs At the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar (photo via theurbandaily.com)

A live band rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly is in high demand, and you’d have to look no further than Kendrick Lamar‘s performances on Stephen Colbert‘s shows to know why.

Lamar has been performing cuts live with a backing track, but that changes for one day later in October. The star will perform To Pimp A Butterfly songs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on October 20, according to the Washington Post. Nas performed with the orchestra last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.

article by bjosephsny via theurbandaily.com

Siblings Lauren Conner, 11, Ashleigh Conner, 10, & Christian Conner, 9, Play Classical Music in Subway to Raise Money for Homeless

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories

(From left) Lauren, 11, Ashleigh, 10 and Christian Conner, 9  (Photo via people.com)

Lauren, Ashleigh and Christian Conner have been studying music since they were toddlers. Violinists and a cellist, the trio of siblings has long had a heart for music.  But when they moved to New York from New Jersey last year and saw the number of homeless people in the city’s streets, they realized they had a heart for much more.

“I saw [the homeless people] on the street and I felt sad for them,” Christian, 9, tells PEOPLE.

The three moved from Sussex County in October with their parents, Zenobia and Keith Conner. Zenobia says that from the moment the family got to the city, Christian wanted to help.

She tells PEOPLE that the young cellist would repeatedly ask her for money to give to the less fortunate and, after awhile, she said, “If you want to give some money to the homeless, then go out there and play your cello.”

And play he did. Christian and his sisters, 10-year-old Ashleigh and 11-year-old Lauren (both violinists), decided to take to the Fulton Street subway station to play music with hopes of raising enough money to give to the less fortunate.  To see video of these amazing siblings busking, click here.

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories

Talented Young Conner Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless (photo via people.com)

Last week, the three siblings set up their music stands in a corner of the bustling station. Ashleigh tells PEOPLE that on their first day, they played for two hours and raised a little more than $240. The three play works by composers like Beethoven, Bach and Karl Jenkins as onlookers in the station watch in amazement.

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Cicely Tyson and Rita Moreno Among 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees

George Lucas Cicely Tyson Rita Moreno

George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno (GETTY IMAGES)

Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King, conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Eagles have been selected to receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, the center said Wednesday.

The artists will be celebrated Dec. 6 at a gala to be broadcast Dec. 29 on CBS.  President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend along with other notables from the worlds of showbiz, politics and business.

The Honors gala, now in its 38th year, will again cap a weekend of celebrations to include a private dinner at the U.S. State Department the preceding evening hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. Honorees receive their colorful medallions at that event. In addition, the Obamas will host honorees and others at the White House prior to the gala performance.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein saluted this year’s selections, which were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center’s Special Honors Advisory Committee. Other input is offered by the center’s board of trustees, its artists committee and the public.

Rubenstein praised Tyson for her range of strong female roles on stage and screen that “have broken boundaries for women of color,” and said Moreno’s “iconic spitfire roles” are embedded in the heart of American culture, while Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has “set a new standard for orchestras around the world.” He

Rubenstein said the music of the Eagles “has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations.” The core band members to be feted are Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh.

King, another pop hitmaker, has a canon of “heartfelt lyrics and tunes (that) are woven throughout the tapestry of American music.” Films from Lucas have “enriched our world with stories of epic adventure,” said the KenCen chieftain.

Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said the latest slate of honorees shares a powerful common theme — artists as history-makers and artists who defy both convention and category. “Each honoree and their career-spanning achievements exemplify a rare quality of artistic bravery,” she said. “They have pushed the limits of their gifts as musicians, actors, and storytellers to inspire generations of Americans and those around the world.”

article by Paul Harris via Variety.com

Condoleezza Rice Performs “Amazing Grace” to Benefit the Troops (VIDEO)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice  (Photo: Curtis Compton) ccompton@ajc.com

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Photo: Curtis Compton)

Condoleezza Rice is a woman of many talents, but among the most impressive is her piano playing. The former Secretary of State, who is a classically-trained musician, put her skills on the ivories to use for a good cause recently, collaborating with violinist Jenny Oates Baker for a rendition of “Amazing Grace” that is sure to cause the shedding of a few tears.

The duo recorded their version of the 236-year-old Christian hymn to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and the single was released on iTunes. “Amazing Grace has always held a special place in my heart,” Rice wrote on her Facebook page. “It seemed only appropriate to release the video in conjunction with the 4th of July weekend as we recognize the blessings we have in this country and the sacrifices of our servicemen and women for our freedom.”

Rice’s single comes on the heels of President Barack Obama performing the timeless hymn at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the victims of the Charleston Massacre.

As it has for more than two centuries, “Amazing Grace” continues to offer comfort in times of need.

Watch the beautiful rendition in the video below:

article by Evelyn Diaz via bet.com

Grammy Awards 2015 Winners List (So Far): Beyoncé and Pharrell Win Early!

Beyonce Pyramids 4-22

Before the show even started, a handful of winners have been announced for this year’s 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Beyonce, who has had a record-breaking 52 nominations, took home an early award in the Best Surround Sound Album category for her self-titled 2013 release. Beyonce has now won 18 Grammy’s but has yet to take home the Album of the Year title, an award she’s up for later tonight.

Meanwhile, Pharrell won another Grammy for himself in the form of Best Music Video with his wildly popular “Happy” visuals.

Ahead of the ceremony and performances, check out an early list of the winners and nominees below:

Album of the Year

Beck, Morning Phase
Beyonce, Beyonce
Ed Sheeran, x
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
Pharrell Williams, G I R L

Best New Artist

Bastille
Iggy Azalea
Brandy Clark
Haim
Sam Smith

Record of the Year

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
“Chandelier,” Sia
“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Song of the Year

“Chandelier,” Sia
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith
“Take Me to Church,” Hozier

Best Rap Album

The New Classic, Iggy Azalea
Because the Internet, Childish Gambino
Nobody’s Smiling, Common
The Marshall Mathers LP2, Eminem
Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q
Blacc Hollywood, Wiz Khalifa

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
“A Sky Full of Stars,” Coldplay
“Say Something,” A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera
“Bang Bang,” Ariana Grande, Jessie J & Nicki Minaj
“Dark Horse,” Katy Perry ft. Juicy J

Best Rap Performance

“3005,” Childish Gambino
“0 to 100/The Catch Up,” Drake
“Rap God,” Eminem
“i,” Kendrick Lamar
“All I Need Is You,” Lecrae

Best Alternative Music Album

This Is All Yours, alt-J
Reflektor, Arcade Fire
Melophobia, Cage the Elephant
St. Vincent, St. Vincent
Lazaretto, Jack White

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