R.I.P. Cuba Gooding, Sr., 72, Lead Singer of Main Ingredient 

Cuba Gooding Sr. (photo via rolling stone.com)

article by Althea Legaspi via rollingstone.com

Cuba Gooding, Sr., the lead singer for soul group the Main Ingredient and father of actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., has died, Billboard reports. He was 72.

Gooding was found dead in his car on Thursday in Woodland Hills, CA, according to TMZ. Gooding Sr. had served as a backing singer on some recordings for the Main Ingredient before stepping into the lead role in 1971, following the death of former lead singer Donald McPherson. The group garnered several gold singles, including their highest-charting hit, 1972’s “Everybody Plays the Fool,”Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely,”Happiness is Just Around the Bend” and “Rolling Down a Mountainside.”

Gooding signed with Motown Records in 1977 as a solo artist, where he released two albums. His debut, The 1st Album, housed his charting single “Mind Pleaser.” In 1979, he re-teamed with the Main Ingredient and worked with them through the Eighties. In 1983 Gooding recorded a remake of “Happiness is Just Around the Bend,” which became a dance hit.

Gooding also scored a hit in 2012 with “This Christmas.” He had four children with his wife Shirley Gooding: actors Cuba Gooding, Jr., Omar Gooding and April Gooding, and musician Tommy Gooding.

Source: Cuba Gooding, Sr., Main Ingredient Singer, Dead at 72 – Rolling Stone

REVIEW: BET’s “The Book of Negroes” Miniseries is a Compelling Look at a Slave’s Journey

As a handsome period miniseries, “The Book of Negroes,” which premieres tonight on BET and continues through Wednesday, is a first for a network whose original offerings have often seemed something less than ambitious. That the miniseries is Canadian-made, based on a novel by African Canadian author Lawrence Hill, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jamaican-born Canadian director Clement Virgo, is noteworthy but does not diminish the moment. What would PBS be without the BBC?

The series’ provenance does mean that, as a story of slavery and escape from slavery, it differs in substance and theme from American tellings. The road here, which begins in Mali in 1761 and ends in London in 1807, runs through snowy Nova Scotia (by way of South Carolina, New York and Sierra Leone); in its recounting of the American Revolution, from the black (and Commonwealth) perspective, the British are better than villains and the colonists not quite heroes.

“The Book of Negroes,” which refers to a historical ledger of colonial African Americans granted freedom by the British for their help in the war, is itself a paean to names, words, storytelling and literacy, as containers of the past, organizers of the present and keys to the future. Its heroine is Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis, “The Help”), the bright, independent child of bright, independent parents; she has been trained as a midwife but dreams of being a jeli, or griot, an oral historian of her people.

The first hour, which follows Aminata from Mali to South Carolina, is the series’ most original and compelling. It’s powered by a deep, serious and at surprising times sweet performance by Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, now 11, who plays the young Aminata. The scenes in which she is captured and hustled on her way, through one strange experience after another, toward American slavery, have a sharp-focus dreaminess to them, a kind of horrible beauty. With little exposition, seen as they are from the point of view of one lacking words or context, they feel less played than lived through.

As the series progresses and history moves more swiftly by, its points are made more explicitly; the ironies float on the surface. (Colonial white Americans describe themselves as “slaves” to the British.) For some characters, the story arcs, whether of sin and redemption or of just desserts finally served, are fairly mathematical — sometimes at the expense of an emotional payoff. The story stays novel enough, nevertheless, and the understated tone of the production and performances keep the drama grounded. Hill and Virgo catch the ordinariness even in the awfulness — the creepy dailiness of the business of slavery, and the capability of those who profit from it to regard themselves just and even tender people. In the same way, to the opposite effects, they allow their protagonists daily lives and love; they are not victims all the time.

At the same time, “The Book of Negroes” is an adventure story, a straight-up classic romance. Lyriq Bent plays Chekura, Aminata’s longtime love interest.

The heroine’s fearless and clever character, the self-knowledge and self-possession her tormentors lack, and her gift for survival are fixed from first to last. She is sometimes thwarted but never altered. If this makes “The Book of Negroes” less psychologically complex than it otherwise might be, there are real pleasures and comforts to be had from it.

“The most capable woman I’ve ever seen,” New York innkeeper Sam Fraunces (Cuba Gooding Jr.), of Fraunces Tavern fame, calls her. (There is an old tradition, without much scholarly support, that Fraunces, who was nicknamed Black Sam, was of African descent; in any case, Hill goes with it.) Aminata holds on to her name; she trades slap for slap; no one can tell her what to do. She asks George Washington (a bit of an officious boob in this rendering), “Do you think the Negro will one day have his freedom like you Americans?”

“I’m afraid the general must be on his way,” his flack responds.

review by Robert Lloyd via latimes.com

Oprah Winfrey to Play Civil Rights Protester Annie Lee Cooper in Ava Duvernay’s ‘Selma’

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Photo Credit: ANTHONY HARVEY/GETTY IMAGES

Oprah Winfrey has joined the cast of Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” She is also producing the film.  Winfrey will play Annie Lee Cooper, an elderly woman who tried to register to vote and was unfairly denied by Sheriff Clark. She was a visible leader amongst the civil rights protesters in Selma.  The drama follows MLK’s landmark 1965 voting rights campaign, which is regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement.

The film stars Oprah’s ‘Butler’ co-star David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr.; Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King; Tom Wilkinson as Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson; Cuba Gooding Jr. as Fred Gray; Common as James Bevel; Wendell Pierce as Rev. Hosea Williams; Stephan James as John Lewis; and Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X.

Winfrey earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.” She most recently played Oyelowo’s mother in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” In addition to “Selma,” Winfrey is a producer on DreamWorks’ “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” which hits theaters in August. She’s represented by WME.

article via theculture.forharriet.com

Tony-Award Nominated ‘Trip to Bountiful’ Extends Broadway Run Through Summer

trip to bountiful full

The new Broadway production of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” featuring Emmy-winning stage and screen star Cicely Tyson, has extended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.  The production, which officially opened April 23, had been scheduled for a 14-week limited engagement through July 7. It has now extended an additional eight weeks and will continue through Sept. 1.  “Bountiful” was recently nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Play (Tyson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Condola Rashad), Best Sound Design for a Play (John Gromada) and Best Revival of a Play.

The cast also includes Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” “Red Tails”), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives”), Rashad (Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias,” Broadway’s Stick Fly), Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner.  Michael Wilson directs.

View some behind-the-scenes vignettes below:

article via eurweb.com

Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams Return to Broadway in ‘The Trip To Bountiful’

trip-to-bountifulAfter three weeks of previews, the Broadway production of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful starring Emmy winner Cicely Tyson, Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, opened on Tuesday at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre to several rave reviews (see below). Directed by Michael Wilson and produced by Nelle Nugent, the 14-week limited engagement will end on June 30, so if you’re interested, get your tickets by clicking here.

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article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson