GBN would like to take a moment to commemorate the birth of one of the most talented musicians to ever grace planet Earth, Aretha Louise Franklin, on what would have been her 78th birthday.
Although 2020 will offer memorials to the Queen in the form of MGM‘s theatrical movie “Respect”starring Jennifer Hudson and the limited series under National Geographic Channel’s “Genius” banner starring Cynthia Erivo, it’s doubtful either will focus on an oft-overlook aspect of Franklin’s myriad talents: her songwriting.
Above you can watch Aretha performing “Think,” one of her best-known compositions in a clip from “The Blues Brothers,” while below you can listen to fourteen more gems penned by Aretha in a Spotify playlist called The Aretha Franklin Songbook:
Rihanna‘s Clara Lionel Foundation announced yesterday that it will donate $5 million to aid in the global coronavirus response.
The foundation will team up with on-the-ground partners to serve marginalized communities in the United States, Caribbean, and Africa to prepare and protect against the spreading virus. Justine Lucas, Executive Director of the Clara Lionel Foundation, said in a statement, “Never has it been more important or urgent to protect and prepare marginalized and underserved communities–those who will be hit hardest by this pandemic.”
• Local food banks serving at-risk communities and the elderly in the United States;
• Acceleration of testing and care in countries like Haiti and Malawi, as well as the mobilization of resources and additional capacity and support for Native communities;
• Protective equipment for frontline health workers and diagnostic labs, the establishment and maintenance of intensive care units, and acceleration of the development of vaccines and other therapies across the globe;
• Healthcare worker training, virus prevention and containment in countries that will be on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response; and,
• Distribution of critical respiratory supplies.
The Clara Lionel Foundation stated on its website that it “believes that one of the most powerful weapons we have against COVID-19 is preparedness. Protecting our frontline health workers and marginalized communities around the world requires getting ahead of it fast and the time to act is now.”
According to NBCSports.com, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara have pledged 1 million meals to Food Lifeline and Feeding America in an effort to help keep Americans in need fed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
To quote the article:
“Obviously this worldwide pandemic, coronavirus, is changing the world, second-by-second, minute-by minute. People are losing loved ones, the elderly and the young, people in between. … So what we’ve decided to do is partner with our local food bank in Seattle, Seattle Food Lifeline, and we’re going to donate a million meals and hopefully make a difference,” Wilson said in a video message.
Wilson and Ciara mentioned people losing jobs in the wake of increasing shut down initiatives in an effort to keep the spread of the virus from proliferating an exponential rates. They’ve already seen friends in the area that work for companies such as Alaska Airlines, the Seattle Sounders – where the pair are part owners – and Seattle Children’s Hospital hit with the effects of the virus.
“We want to encourage every out there to join us in whatever way that you can, big or small,” Ciara said. “Everything makes a difference. Everything that we do together makes a difference and together we will conquer this tough time that we’re going through.”
The Feeding America network of food banks “distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.”
Music icons Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. are among the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s 2020 inductees, the organization announced this morning. The other inductees are The Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and T. Rex.
The 35th annual ceremony will air live for the first time this year — May 2, on HBO, from the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets are on sale Feb. 27; performances and special guests will be announced later.
This year’s performance lineup will likely be filled with tribute performances, as half of the inductees — Houston, Notorious B.I.G., and Marc Bolan of T. Rex — are deceased.
Four of the inductees — Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., the Doobie Brothers and T. Rex — and nine of the 16 total nominees were on the ballot for the first time, with nominees Dave Matthews Band, Motorhead, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy filling out that list.
Chaka Khan, with and without the group Rufus, and Kraftwerk have both been up six times. To be eligible this year, each nominee’s first single or album had to be released in 1994 or earlier.
Prince will receive an all-star Grammy tribute featuring Alicia Keys, Beck and H.E.R. along with Sheila E., The Time and The Revolution.
— Read on variety.com/2020/music/news/prince-all-star-grammy-tribute-alicia-keys-beck-sheila-e-the-time-1203461660/
Whitney Houston, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and Notorious B.I.G. are among the 16 nominees for the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
Houston and Biggie Smalls are on the ballot for the first time along with Dave Matthews Band, The Doobie Brothers, Motörhead, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden, T.Rex, and Thin Lizzy. This is the third time Rufus & Chaka Khan have been nominated.
Inductees will be announced in January 2020. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony takes place at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on May 2, 2020.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame offers fans the opportunity to participate in the induction selection process. Beginning October 15 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on January 10, 2020, fans can go to Google and search “Rock Hall Fan Vote” or any nominee name plus “vote” to cast a ballot with Google, vote at rockhall.com, or at the Museum in Cleveland.
The 17thAnnual ImageNation Outdoors Festival: Soul Cinema and Music Under the Stars kicks off this year on August 8th with an outdoor screening of BOSS: The Black Experience in Business.
Held in partnership with the Historic Harlem Parks and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, ImageNation Outdoors, is New York City’s only free summer-long outdoor film and music festival dedicated to Black cinema, will continue with a dynamic slate of free entertainment.
On August 22nd, ImageNation Outdoors will present a special screening of Amazing Grace, the acclaimed documentary of Aretha Franklin recording her gospel album live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. The screening will follow a live musical tribute, and Harlem will attempt to make the Guinness Book of Records by forming the world’s longest Soul Train line.
On August 30th and September 6th, join ImageNation will be screening When They See Us. The critically acclaimed docu-series that tells the untold story of the Exonerated Five. Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson of The Exonerated Five will be in attendance.
Come to slay with a screening of an intimate documentary as stylish and unconventional as its subject, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami on September 20th. The documentary depicts Jones in her Jamaican hometown, follows her into the studio with longtime collaborators Sly & Robbie, and at cutting-edge live shows—featuring performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” and “Pull Up to the Bumper”.
The screening will follow live tribute performances and a fashion show of OKETSA by Thulare Monareng and designs by Sheila Prevost.
Festival dates are August 8th and continue through September 20th. All programs are free and open to the public. Music and activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown.
2019 Outdoor Lineup:
August 8th – BOSS: The Black Experience in Business, Marcus Garvey Park
August 13th – Poetic Justice, Marcus Garvey Park
August 17 – If Beale Street Could Talk, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week!
August 22 – Soul Train Tribute to Aretha Franklin and Amazing Grace, Marcus Garvey Park
August 23 – Decade of Fire, St. Nicholas Park (Black Public Media 40th Ann.)
August 24 – Kids Night Out – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week!
August 30th- When They See Us, Adam Clayton Powell State Office Bldg @ 125th St
September 6th- When They See Us, Adam Clayton Powell State Office Bldg @ 125th S
September 20 – Black Girl Magic – Grace Jones: Bami & Bloodlight, Marcus Garvey Park
Kids’ Night Out is curated by eight year-old Harlemite Kgari Kgama-Gates who shared, “I chose the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because it really inspired me to have a young superhero who looks like me. Plus, the music is awesome!”
Children as well as adults are bound to have a great time as the screening celebrates Harlem Week as well. The program will also offer STEM games, face painting, and a back to school backpack giveaway by the Harlem-based Xi Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
ImageNation Outdoors is sponsored by Harlem Community Development Corp, Black Public Media, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Harlem Week, Radio 103.9, HBO, the Colonel Young Park Association, Harlem 2020 and Global Black Network of Black Pride. Launched in 2002 with a single screening for 300 people, ImageNation Outdoors has grown to draw nearly 10,000 attendees each summer. ImageNation Outdoors is the only summer long festival dedicated to films and music about the Black global experience.
Full descriptions of the festival programs are enclosed below. All programs are free and open to the public. Music/activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown:
According to Variety.com, Sony Music Entertainment announced today the promotion of Sylvia Rhone to Chairman and CEO of Epic Records. In this role, Rhone will lead the overall creative direction and management of Epic Records, overseeing Epic’s roster of hit-making artists such as Travis Scott, Future, Camila Cabello, 21 Savage, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana.
Rhone has been President of Epic Records since 2014, and since then has overseen projects including Scott’s 2018 best-selling album “Astroworld”; Camila Cabello’s debut album “Camila” and the smash single “Havana,” as well as music from Future, 21 Savage and others.
“I am excited to continue my amazing journey at Epic Records supported by Rob Stringer’s vision and leadership,” stated Rhone. “Everything we do is a testament to our incredible artists who set the bar of the entire Epic culture, inspiring our dedicated executive team every day and enriching the legacy of this great label.”
Before joining Sony Music, Rhone was President of Universal Motown Records and Executive Vice President at Universal Records from 2004. From 1994-2004, Rhone was Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group’s Elektra Entertainment Group, the first African American woman to be named Chairman of a major record company, where she oversaw releases from artists such as Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Metallica, Staind, Third Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman, and Natalie Merchant. Rhone began her career at Buddah Records in 1974, a label best-known for its Gladys Knight and the Pips albums.
Rhone is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania‘s well-regarded Wharton Business School. She received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music on April 5, 2019, in recognition of her achievements as a leading female music executive who has headed labels multiple times during her career.
It’s official — the upcoming third season of National Geographic’s scripted anthology series Geniuswill be devoted to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died in August at age 76. The announcement was made Sunday at TCA.
Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner of the project, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios. Music mogul and longtime Franklin collaborator Clive Davis as well as Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.
Genius was renewed for a third season in April, with author Mary Shelley revealed as its subject, to follow Albert Einstein and Picasso. The Mary Shelley story remains in consideration for future installments of the anthology series.
The idea of doing a Franklin-centered Genius came together quickly following the music icon’s August 16 death, spearheaded by Imagine’s Brian Grazer. The project had been moving full steam ahead since, with securing access to Franklin’s music considered the one key element that would clinch a green light.
Bringing David, Kallman and Warner Music Group on board was very important in that aspect, with the producers currently able to use about 80% of Franklin’s catalog and working to secure the remaining titles.
Natalie Maria Cole was born on February 6, 1950, and grew up in a heavily musical atmosphere in Los Angeles’ exclusive Hancock Park area. In addition to her famous father, jazz and pop musical legend Nat King Cole, Natalie’s mother Maria had been a background vocalist with Duke Ellington.
Cole’s own breakthrough as a musical artist came via her early 1970s association with Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, who once worked with one of Natalie’s real-life idols, Aretha Franklin. Her debut album “Inseparable” came out in 1975, which included two of her signature hits – “This Will Be” (#6 on the pop charts and the title track. Her debut also garnered her Grammy Awards for Best R&B female vocals and Best New Artist.
Cole subsequently had hits with “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mr. Melody,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “Our Love,” “Stand By,” “What You Won’t Do for Love,” “Hold On” and “Nothing But a Fool,” along with more platinum and gold albums. Acute drug problems, however, hindered her career and Cole eventually took time off time for recovery.
In 1985, Natalie released, in what was the start of a comeback, her album “Dangerous” for Modern Records. Late 1980s pop singles included “Jump Start My Heart,” “Miss You Like Crazy”, “Pink Cadillac” and “I Live for Your Love.”
In the midst of her ebb-and-flow R&B success, in 1991 Cole shifted into her familial jazz roots to record a new CD, “Unforgettable…with Love,” paying homage to her late father. With the help and encouragement of family, Cole re-arranged and re-recorded some of his greatest songs in the same studio that he recorded (Capitol Studios), used some of the same musicians and even recreated one of his signature songs, the title tune “Unforgettable,” with a technological effect that appeared as if they were dueting together.
Never before or since has this been pulled off and marketed so successfully. Not only did it sell well over 30 million copies, it would become an eight-time over platinum winner. It earned several awards on Grammy night, including “Album of the Year” and “Record of the Year,.”
Over time Natalie began covering more jazz standards. A jazz CD in 1994 also captured a Grammy. In addition, Cole branched out into occasional acting roles, including the social drama Lily in Winter (1994) and the autobiographical feature film Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000) in which she played herself. She has also made infrequent acting appearances on such shows as “I’ll Fly Away,” “Law & Order,” “Touched by an Angel” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Cole passed away from congestive heart failure on December 31, 2015 in Los Angeles. She was 65 and is survived by one son, Robert Adam Yancy.