According to rollingstone.com, an exhibit dedicated to the life and legacy of musical legend Aretha Franklin will open this week at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
The estate-approved “Think: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul”arrives this Tuesday and will exhibit at the Wright Museum until January 21st, 2019. “This is an opportunity for people to come back and engage, reminisce and reflect,” Wright museum board member Kelly Major Greentold the Detroit Free Press. “It’s the beginning of a much longer expression of who Aretha is.”
The exhibit will feature wardrobe, shoes, video displays and photos from Franklin’s decades-long career, including a copy of the first-ever recording Franklin released, a 1956 vinyl of “Never Grow Old” by “Aretha Franklin, Daughter of Rev. C.L. Franklin.”
The Charles H. Wright Museum previously hosted Franklin’s public viewing following the Queen of Soul’s death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. The “red, lace-trimmed ruffled suit and crimson satin pumps” that Franklin wore at the public viewing will display in the “Think” exhibit.
Over the exhibit’s four-month tenure at the museum, curators will rotate items in and out of display to “reflect the same ever-changing dynamics that marked the singer’s own life,” the Detroit Free Press writes.
The Franklin estate is also planning a long-term exhibit dedicated to the Queen of Soul housed at an undetermined location in 2020.
According to thegrio.com, international singing star and cosmetics entrepreneur Rihanna has a new title to add to her resume – ambassador to her home country of Barbados.
“Rihanna has a deep love for her country and this is reflected in her philanthropy, especially in the areas of health and education,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said in a statement.
The prime minister hailed Rihanna — who grew up and was raised as Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty in Bridgetown, Barbados — as a music icon with “significant creative acumen and shrewdness in business. Mottley said Rihanna has made significant charitable contributions to the island. “She also shows her patriotism in the way she gives back to this country and continues to treasure the island as her home,” Mottley said.
According to the island’s Government Information Service website, Rihanna’s official title is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the island in the Caribbean Sea with 285,000 residents. Rihanna’s job in her new role extends beyond her 2008 role as cultural ambassador to promote tourism. Ambassador Fenty’s new responsibilities now extend to promoting education and investment for Barbados as well.
The songstress and creator of the year-old Fenty Beauty makeup line hailed for meeting the needs of women of all colors said in a statement that she could not be more pleased with her appointment. Rihanna maintains residences in Barbados and in Los Angeles.
Rihanna said she is proud to take on such a prestigious title in her home country. “Every Barbadian is going to have to play their role in this current effort, and I’m ready and excited to take on the responsibility,” she said in the statement, posted by CNN. “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Mottley and her team to reimagine Barbados.”
Today was Aretha Franklin‘s homegoing service at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, MI. Some may have questioned why the Queen of Soul’s ceremony wasn’t held at her father C.L. Franklin‘s New Bethel Baptist Church (she did hold her final viewing there) – perhaps New Bethel just isn’t a big enough space for those attending her ultimate show. Because once again, the Queen sold out the house.
In a send-off equal parts grand and personal, an all-star lineup of speakers and singers included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, professor Michael Eric Dyson, Cicely Tyson, Tyler Perry, Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Faith Hill, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Ariana Grande, Gladys Knight, Shirley Caesar, mayors, senators, members of congress, family and loved ones.
Robinson, the Motown great, remembered first hearing Franklin play piano when he was just 8 and remained close to her for the rest of her life, talking for hours at a time. “You’re so special,” he said, before crooning a few lines from his song “Really Gonna Miss You,” with the line “really gonna be different without you.”
Bill Clinton described himself as an Aretha Franklin “groupie” whom he had loved since college days. He traced her life’s journey, praising her as someone who “lived with courage, not without fear, but overcoming her fears.” He remembered attending her last public performance, at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation benefit in November in New York. She looked “desperately ill” but managed to greet him by standing and saying, “How you doin,’ baby?”
Clinton ended by noting that her career spanned from vinyl records to cellphones. He held the microphone near his iPhone and played a snippet of Franklin’s classic “Think,” the audience clapping along. “It’s the key to freedom!” Clinton said.
Rev. Sharpton received loud cheers when he criticized Donald Trump for saying that the singer “worked for” him as he responded to her death. “She performed for you,” Sharpton said of Franklin, who had sung at Trump-owned venues. “She worked for us.” Dyson took it even further by saying, “She worked above you. She worked beyond you. Get your preposition right!”
Many noted her longtime commitment to civil rights and lasting concern for black people. Her friend Greg Mathis, the award-winning reality show host and retired Michigan judge, recalled his last conversation with her. They talked about the tainted water supply in Flint. “You go up there and sock it to ’em,” she urged Mathis.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced during the service that the city, come Tuesday, would rename the riverfront amphitheater Chene Park to “Aretha Franklin Park” to loud applause. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder reminded those in attendance that Aretha Franklin’s voice is designated as a natural resource of the state in the 1980s.
Franklin died Aug. 16 at age 76. Her body arrived early in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse. She wore a shimmering gold dress, with sequined heels — the fourth outfit Franklin was clothed in during a week of events leading up to her funeral.
The casket was carried to the church that also took Franklin’s father, the renowned minister C.L. Franklin, to his and Parks’ final resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the singer will join them. Pink Cadillacs filled the street outside the church, a reference to a Franklin hit from the 1980s, “Freeway of Love.”
Program covers showed a young Franklin, with a slight smile and sunglasses perched on her nose, and the caption “A Celebration Fit For The Queen.” Large bouquets of pink, lavender, yellow and white flowers flanked her casket.
Family members, among them granddaughter Victorie Franklin and niece Cristal Franklin, spoke with awe and affection as they remembered a world-famous performer who also loved gossip and kept pictures of loved ones on her piano.
Grandson Jordan directed his remarks directly to Franklin, frequently stopping to fight back tears. “I’m sad today, because I’m losing my friend. But I know the imprint she left on this world can never be removed. You showed the world God’s love, and there’s nothing more honorable.”
To see a large part of the almost eight-hour service, click below:
Beyoncé and husband Jay Z may be raking in the dollars with their highly acclaimed On The Run II tour, but they are pouring those dollars back into communities all over the country, too.
The Carters announced a new scholarship program that will award $1 million in scholarships to “exceptional” high school seniors with financial needs, the couple’s representatives announced Saturday. The scholarships of $100,000 each will go to one qualified student in each of the following cities: Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Arlington, New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and Seattle. Each of the cities is a site where the OTRII tour is appearing.
The Boys and Girls Club of America will choose the winners, according to the announcement.
The students must demonstrate “academic excellence” and “financial need” so great that it threatens to prevent them from attending college for the 2018-2019 academic year.
This is not the first time that the power couple has extended outreach toward needy students.
The Shawn Carter Foundation hosts tours to historically Black colleges and universities and offers scholarships to students headed to college. The organization was founded in 2003 by Jay Z and his mother, Gloria Carter.
The BeyGood initiative, headed by Beyoncé, has created a merit program called the Formation Scholars Award. The program helps female students reach educational goals. Another program, the Homecoming Scholars Award, provides resources for students to study at HBCUs, according to the announcement.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America is based in Atlanta and has been in existence for 150 years. The organization runs more than 4,300 clubs that serve about 4 million young people and provides mentoring and youth development programs during non-school hours. Clubs are located all over – in cities, towns, public housing and Native American lands as well as on military installations.
Franklin, who began her unparalleled music career singing at her father Rev. C.L. Franklin‘s New Bethel Baptist Church, became an international superstar and chart-topper in the 1960s with such classic songs as “Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You,” “Chain of Fools,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Respect,” and again in the 1980 and 1990s with “Jump To It,” “Freeway of Love,” “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me,” “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” and “A Rose Is Still A Rose.” Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won 18 competitive Grammys across multiple decades, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Aretha was also involved in civil rights activism and philanthropy during her lifetime. Franklin, who Elle Magazine noted had it written into her contract in the 1960s that she would never perform for a segregated audience, was glad that the song “Respect” became linked to feminist and civil-rights movements. She added that the line “you know I’ve got it” has a direct feminist theme. “As women, we do have it,” Franklin said. “We have the power. We are very resourceful. Women absolutely deserve respect. I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society.”
According to Vanity Fair, though Franklin didn’t participate in civil disobedience herself, she lent very public support to at least one person who did. In 1970, famous feminist activist, scholar, and a then-avowed member of the Communist Party Angela Davis was arrested at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Midtown Manhattan and incarcerated for 16 months for what were found to be wrongful kidnapping and murder charges. Jet magazine reported that Franklin was ready to cover Davis’s bond, “whether it was $100,000 or $250,000.” Davis was released on bail and cleared of her charges in 1972.
Since becoming the creative director for American Express Platinum in December 2016, Pharrell Williams has worked closely with the financial services company to bring awareness to the importance of arts education and advocacy. Nearly two years later, the “Happy” singer is taking his efforts one step further with the inaugural Yellow Ball gala.
The event will take place on Monday, Sept. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum and will benefit the Young Audiences Arts for Learning, the nation’s largest arts-in-education network. The Yellow Ball title was chosen by Pharrell himself, as the color has many meanings — and ties in with the purpose of the event.
“Pharrell views the color and event as helping to shine a light on the need for arts education and its ability to pave the way for a brighter future,” Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer of American Express, says. Pharrell adds, “That’s what this is about — bringing light to this cause.”
The Yellow Ball will feature musical performances, including a special set from Missy Elliott. Along with music, the event will also include multi-room art experiences from American Express Platinum Collective member Daniel Arsham, and a multi-course dinner experience by American Express Global Dining Collection Chef Dominique Crenn.
Ahead of the announcement, Billboard chatted with Pharrell about his latest initiative, his thoughts on today’s young generation of artists, and why the arts (and the color yellow) are so important for all ages.
When you were named creative director of AmEx Platinum, what were your goals and where does the yellow ball kind of fit into all of that?
My goals were to work with a company that I felt like had the means to make a difference, but just maybe needed a nudging, or maybe needed some direction. But then when I started working with them and got an education on all the things that they’ve done — from the Tribeca Film Festival to the sales program they have for small businesses on Saturdays — I realized that they had been doing this the entire time. When we talked about doing the Yellow Ball and I told them I wanted it to be about arts and education, they didn’t blink. What I wanted to do with them was just going to be just yet another great thing that they do in the world.
Why did you decide on the name the Yellow Ball, and what does the color yellow mean to you?
Not to get all esoteric, but yellow is like the color of the solar plexus. Yellow is the color for creativity, yellow is the color for curiosity. Art is largely diminishing throughout the curriculum throughout this country, and we need to protect the creative mind.
Everything around you right now versus everything you’re using, it’s just not organic, it was someone’s epiphany. That’s creativity, that needs to be protected. If we don’t have that, I don’t know what kind of future we have. We have to protect the artist community at all costs, across all artistic disciplines.
Why do you think it’s so important for people to be exposed to the arts and learn from it at a young age?
On a more paramount level, everyone is a creative. Everyone that makes a move or does anything in life is a co-creator, but the ones who actually create things that we use and things that we need, that needs to be protected. There is a future that will have corporations that will have more say. You see all the things happening with lobbyists now, you just can never doubt that. In the artistic community, it’s the educational portion of it is eroding, what kind of future is that for us? So we need to talk to all the corporations that we can — that care — now.
Did the controversy surrounding the funding cuts for the NEA change the course of action for you in your involvement with AmEx platinum in any way?
A lot of decisions that are being made are having a domino effect on programs like the [NEA]. And while we might not like that, the powers that be are the powers that be, but we are still the people and we can do things to help the people with the resources that we have access to. That’s literally all we’re doing, there’s no political stance, it’s more of a people’s stance.
Has becoming a father had an impact on the way you think about how art can affect lives?
I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access and support. All kids, not just my own. There’s a lot of variables in a situation as to why something falls apart, but there’s only one scenario where it holds together, and that’s when all the variables are there. The environment, the family, the school, the system — there’s so many things. We just want to do what we can to balance the odds so that as many kids as we can afford, or help and assist in whatever ways, get this access and support.
What do you think the younger generation of today’s musical artists are bringing to the table?
I love what they do and how they express themselves. It’s like these amazing pockets of lyrics or melodies that feel good to them. The music just takes on a direction of its own, it’s not so formatted. I love that this generation is just grabbing the instruments and using them in whatever way feels good to them. That’s just like a sign of how the times have changed.
It’s kind of like the fourth time that I’ve seen music and the spirit of it change — like drastically change. It’s been amazing to see it. You see certain things that feel familiar, then you see things that you’ve never seen or thought of in your entire life. As a musician I can feel connected to it.
While Spike Lee’s upcoming BlacKkKlansmanmovie has already received critical acclaim ahead of its August 10th release, viewers are in for a treat at the end of the movie when a Prince song plays; something the award-winning director believes was meant to be.
Lee spoke to Rolling Stone about the Prince cover of the Negro spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” that plays at the end of the movie. Lee said that the song was perhaps a divine sign from the deceased singer.
“I knew that I needed an end-credits song. I’ve become very close with Troy Carter, one of the executives at Spotify [and a Prince estate advisor],” said Lee. “So, I invited Troy to a private screening. And after, he said, ‘Spike, I got the song.’ And that was ‘Mary Don’t You Weep,’ which had been recorded on cassette in the mid-Eighties.”
“Prince wanted me to have that song, I don’t care what nobody says. My brother Prince wanted me to have that song, for this film,” he says emphatically.
“There’s no other explanation to me. This cassette is in the back of the vaults. In Paisley Park. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it’s discovered? Nah-ah. That ain’t an accident.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, during the world premiere of BlacKkKlansman at the Cannes film festival, the audience broke out in applause about a half-dozen times during the movie. And they were so moved by the end of the film, that they clapped for four minutes during the credits and then stood up for a six-minute standing ovation.
Making this feature even more timely and culturally significant is the fact that Lee has decided to release it on August 10th, the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist rally. Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, portrays the movie’s lead character, Ron Stallworth. The movie is based on a true story.
Here’s part of his Rolling Stone interview.
On Jordan Peele’s initial BlacKkKlansman script and what was missing:
“They acquired Ron Stallworth’s book and felt it needed more flava. And that’s what I brought. I was grateful for the opportunity because I had never heard of Stallworth. I didn’t know his story. People say, “That is too unbelievable to be true.” And that’s what makes it such a great story.”
On deciding to include footage from the Charlottesville riots:
“We started shooting in September. When Charlottesville happened, I knew that was going to be the ending. I first needed to ask Ms. Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, for permission. This is someone whose daughter has been murdered in an American act of terrorism — homegrown, apple-pie, hot-dog, baseball, cotton-candy Americana. Mrs. Bro no longer has a daughter because an American terrorist drove that car down that crowded street. And even people who know that thing is coming, when they see it, it’s like, very quiet.”
On if he saw any of Denzel Washington in John David Washington:
“John David is amazing in this movie. That phrase ‘the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree’ — there’s a reason people say that. He is Denzel Washington’s first son. That’s a big, big burden. But he’s also his own man. I have a history with him. His first film was Malcolm X. At the end of the movie, when the kids say, “My name is Malcolm X!” He’s one of the kids. He was about six years old.”
Rihanna made history by becoming the first black woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue‘s September issue. Like the publication’s U.S. edition, the September issue is the most prestigious edition of the fashion magazine.
Rihanna shared her cover photo on Instagram. She’s wearing a hot pink Prada dress, Savage x Fenty gloves, a flower headdress and thin, drawn-on eyebrows a la Marlene Dietrich. The “Wild Thoughts” singer also posted photos from inside the issue, in which she dons different oversized floral headpieces.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, styled the cover and photo shoot, and Nick Knight served as photographer. Enninful wrote in his editor’s letter that he knew he wanted the singer on the cover for the magazine’s September issue.
“I always knew it had to be Rihanna,” he wrote. “A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her. No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery. She is always Rihanna. There’s a lesson for us all in that. Whichever way you choose to dress the new season, take a leaf out of her book and be yourself.”
Enninful wrote that the two talked about diversity and Rihanna’s life as a diva for the accompanying profile.
British Vogue’s September issue hits newsstands today.
Just before Coachella was rechristened Beychella, Beyoncé Knowles and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had an idea. It happened in a rehearsal, while Beyoncé and her dancers were practicing in their Balmain-made looks inspired by the marching band uniforms of America’s historically black colleges and universities. “When she saw all the dancers loving the outfit—and she was loving her own outfit—she realized that what we were creating on stage for her, for all the dancers, was something really impactful,” says Rousteing. It clicked: Why not make a Beyoncé x Balmain collaboration that could make those poignant graphics available to all of Bey’s fans clamoring for a piece of history?
On Friday, July 13, Balmain will launch a three-piece Balmain x Beyoncé collection in its Paris flagship, with the items going on sale on balmain.com and beyonce.com the following day. Comprised of the yellow and pink sweatshirts Beyoncé wore on stage at Coachella, the collection also includes a black tee with the same sorority-inspired graphic.
“I worked really long with her on the Beychella moments, and the fact that we can release this collaboration that is based on our creativity, Beyoncé and I, is really a big, big step for fashion and music together,” continues the designer. “Beyoncé, she’s such a perfectionist; she’s someone that is so strong and has such a great point of view. She’s about feminism, empowering women, and the idea of bringing that collaboration where we can share the same ideas, the same vision of music, the same vision of fashion, the same vision of what is going on in the world, it’s more than just clothes. It’s a strong message, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”
He continues: “Sometimes, you create a moment, and it’s just one moment. With the clothes that we are creating now, it’s going to be a moment that keeps going and going and going. This is something really important. Everybody is always telling me about millennials or about the future—this is the future. This is making sure that these iconic moments talk to the young people. This is something important and this collaboration is talking to the new generation and saying you can get that piece, you can be a part of the history.”
The message, as Rousteing tells it, is to never stop dreaming. He relates Beyoncé’s global success, her message of standing against racism and standing for women, as something he wishes he had growing up in France. “This to me feels really emotional because, as you know, I’m of mixed race. I’m black and my parents are white. I grew up in France without having a real identification of being black and being an adult. I couldn’t see myself in the future, in a way, because there were not so many people in the ’80s or early ’90s that could show me a direction,” he says. “For me, working with Beyoncé, it’s more than only music. It’s about history, working with a woman that’s going to be part of the history and has made her own revolution, not only in music, not only in fashion. She is an icon to an entire generation and so many more generations can follow the steps of Beyoncé and say, ‘You give us hope, you make us dream.’ ”
Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit the United Negro College Fund, following Beyoncé’s $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges after her Coachella set. “The donation was the main goal of this collaboration,” says Rousteing. “We don’t forget where we come from. This is really, really important—I come from an orphanage, you know. I think there is something really emotional about our collaboration.”
Balmain x Beyoncé will be available on July 13 at Balmain’s Paris flagship and from July 14 online and at select retailers; tee, $290; sweatshirts, $550–$1,790
Next week, new female group The Shindellas from the Nashville-based collective Weirdo Workshop, will be performing on Sunday, July 8 in New Orleans at the 2018 ESSENCE Festival and featured with Louis York at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Band members Stacy Johnson, Tamara Williams, and Kasi Jones describe themselves as “Three women who have come together in sisterhood to sing songs about self-love, self-worth and self-respect,” and they have just released their debut single “Reconsider.”
Written and produced by multi-Grammy nominated songwriting-production team Louis York a.k.a. Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly (Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Fantasia), “Reconsider” is catchy mid-tempo, old-school-meets-new-school song with contemporary lyrics such as “Don’t let anyone tell you who you should love / baby this is your life / it’s okay to like / the whole rainbow / I don’t care who you love / as long as / he or she fills you up / and never drags your heart / through the mud / so if you don’t feel like a winner / reconsider” packed in retro doo-wop, Motown-style beats.
Watch them perform the single on Today In Nashville below to get a taste of their considerable chemistry and style: