Jay Z and Weinstein Co. to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series

Trayvon Martin (photo via variety.com)

article by Justin Kroll and Brent Lang via variety.com

Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and the Weinstein Company are partnering on an ambitious series of film and television projects about Trayvon Martin.  The indie label and the rap icon won a heated bidding war for the rights to two books — “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It” and “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.” The 2012 shooting of the 17 year-old Martin sparked a national debate about racial profiling and inequities of the criminal justice system that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The African-American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, 28, who was a member of the neighborhood watch in his Florida community. He claimed he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self defense after the two became involved in a physical altercation. Zimmerman’s acquittal on a second-degree murder charge inspired protests around the country.

“Suspicion Nation” is by Lisa Bloom and recounts her experience covering the trial for NBC. She looks at the mistakes made by prosecutors that caused them to lose what she describes as a “winnable case.” “Rest in Power” is by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. It tells a more personal story, looking at Martin’s childhood and the aftermath of his death.

The plan is to make a six-part docu-series with Jay Z producing as part of a first-look deal he signed with the studio last September. The indie studio will also develop a narrative feature film. The Weinstein Company earned critical raves for “Fruitvale Station,” another true story, about the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer.

To read more: Jay Z to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series | Variety

EDITORIAL: Serena Williams Wins 7th Wimbledon Title, 22nd Grand Slam and Makes Us All Feel Like Champions

Serena Williams ended her yearlong pursuit of Steffi Graf’s mark for Open-era Grand Slam wins by defeating Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the Wimbledon final Saturday. (Credit: Andy Rain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief (@lakinhutcherson)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really needed this today.  I specifically set my alarm this morning to wake me at 6AM (PST) to watch Serena Williams compete for her seventh – yes, take that in – seventh Wimbledon title, and to tie Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slams won in the Open Era.

I’ll admit, regardless of the week of continued brutality and violence by police against black citizens and the gut-wrenching retaliation in Dallas because of such violence, as a lifelong fan, I most likely would have been up and watching Serena anyway.  But because of its timing, this victory – this continued rising, this perseverance – was that much more coveted, and that much sweeter.

Although Williams did not mention or comment on what’s been happening in America as she accepted her trophy, don’t think she’s remained silent in the media about it.  On her Twitter (which we here at GBN happily follow), she spoke directly to the recent atrocities and let us know they were on her mind days before this most crucial, career-defining match:

This tweet leads me to speculate that Serena was that much more focused, that much more centered and that much more desirous of the outcome that occurred – because she knew in her heart she wasn’t just winning her 22nd Grand Slam and making history for herself, but for all of us.

So thank you, Serena – for playing your best tennis today and being so damned undeniable.  You have been and are a shining light and the G.O.A.T. and a champion for the ages.  You are loved and supported in all of your endeavors.  You are #blackexcellence.  (And P.S. having Beyoncé and Jay Z in your box was on point, too! #Freedom #Formation)

Now, to the tennis facts, courtesy of Naila-Jean Meyers via the New York Times: Continue reading

Jay Z’s Tidal Donates $1.5M to Black Lives Matter and Several Other Social Justice Organizations

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Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Jay Z and J. Cole onstage at the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015, in New York City.  (JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES FOR ROC NATION)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

Jay Z’s fledgling music streaming platform Tidal is donating $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter and several other local and national social justice organizations from money raised at an October concert, reports Mic.

The announcement was made on Friday, the same day Trayvon Martin would have turned 21 years old. The Trayvon Martin Foundation will receive a portion of the monies.

Tidal raised the funds at its Tidal X: 10/20 charity concert at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Barclay Center. The live-streamed show featured Jay, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Usher, T.I. and Damian Marley, among others.

The October concert was billed as a fundraiser for the New World Foundation, which will distribute the funds.

The nonprofits that will share the bounty include national organizations such as Opportunity Agenda, and Sankofa.org, as well as local grassroots groups such as Hands Up United, in Ferguson, Mo.; Dream Defenders in Tallahassee, Fla.; the Black Youth Project 100 in Chicago; the Baltimore Justice Fund; the Ohio Students Association and Million Hoodies and the Justice League in New York City.

Donations will also be given to organizations created by the families of victims of police brutality, including the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Ours Sons and Daughters Foundation and the Oscar Grant Foundation.

Read more at Mic.

R.I.P. Musical Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White

Maurice White

Maurice White, center, leads Earth Wind & Fire at the Forum in Inglewood, CA on Dec. 12, 1981. (Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chris Barton via latimes.com

Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 74. His brother and bandmate, Verdine White, confirmed the news with the Associated Press.

The source for a wealth of euphoric hits in the 1970s and early ’80s, including “Shining Star,” “September” “Reasons” and “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire borrowed elements from funk, soul, gospel and pop for a distinctive sound that yielded six double-platinum albums and six Grammy Awards.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and although White had ceased touring with the group since a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the ’90s, he remained behind the scenes as the act continued to tour, including a run of sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013.

“[Maurice White’s] unerring instincts as a musician and showman helped propel the band to international stardom, influencing countless fellow musicians in the process,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow wrote in a statement. Earth, Wind & Fire are slated to receive lifetime achievement honors from the Grammys this year.

Born in Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 19, 1941, Maurice White sang in his church’s gospel choir at an early age, but his interest quickly gravitated to the drums. He earned his first gig backing Booker T. Jones before the organist founded the MGs. He moved to Chicago in the early ’60s and studied composition at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and eventually found work as a session drummer for the Chess and OKeh labels, where he played behind Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“That’s where I learned about the roots of music,” White told the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “I learned about playing with feeling.”

After also backing jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis in the ’60s, White moved to Los Angeles in 1969 with a band called the Salty Peppers. The group failed to gain much traction, and White changed the group’s name in 1971 to Earth, Wind and Fire, a name rooted in astrology that reflected White’s spiritual approach to music.

“In the beginning,” White told the Tribune in 1988, “My message was basically trying to relate to the community. From that it grew into more of a universal consciousness; the idea was to give the people something that was useful.”

The group’s lineup evolved through the ’70s and eventually included vocalist Phillip Bailey and White’s brother Verdine, both of whom toured with the band into this decade. The band’s reach extended into movies as well in recording the soundtrack album for Melvin Van Peebles’ landmark 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasss Song” and appearing in the 1978 film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which yielded the band’s hit cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

White’s hits with Earth, Wind & Fire spanned a particularly influential space between R&B, rock and disco that remains current. His music with Earth, Wind & Fire was prominently sampled by scores of hip-hop and pop acts in recent years, including Jay-Z and 2Pac. His mix of incandescent soulfulness and suave, funky arrangements informed recent bestselling albums by Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

Remembrances of White came from all corners of the music world. On Twitter, Nile Rodgers, the Chic founder and record producer who was White’s peer in the ‘70s disco scene, wrote “RIP my soulful brother — You’re one of the most amazing innovators of all time.” Bootsy Collins, bassist of the funk mainstays Parliament-Funkadelic, wrote that White was a “legend, pioneer life long friend.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-maurice-white-earth-wind-fire-dies-20160204-story.html

Times staff writer August Brown contributed to this report.

Jay Z’s TIDAL Adding Exclusive Drama & Comedy Shows to Service

Jay Z At Tidal

Jay Z at Tidal (photo via theurbandaily.com)

Jay Z’s music streaming service TIDAL is expanding its content beyond just music, according to exclusive reports on Variety.

Today (November 3), a new show titled “No Small Talk” is set to premiere on the service. The comedy, which will initially include five, 25-30 minute episodes, is hosted by DJ Cipha Sounds, who himself is signed to the management arm of Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Each episode is set to detail the lives of three burgeoning comedians performing at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar.

“I didn’t want it to feel polished like the standup specials you see on TV,” Cipha Sounds says. “My goal is to help new guys get known, like Def Comedy Jam set up a lot of people’s careers.”

Elsewhere, TIDAL has ordered the second season of “Money & Violence,” an urban drama based on the lives of a group of thieves and drug dealers in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The second season, which is scheduled to premiere in January, is set to be comprised of 12 episodes and will be available exclusively on TIDAL for one week prior to wider distribution, Variety reports.

This change in strategy is part of TIDAL’s next step forward to increase value to its subscribers, Tim Riley, TIDAL’s Senior VP of Artist and Label Relations, said.

“If someone is paying for Tidal, we want that to be the best experience they can have,” Riley said.

article by Henry Mansell via theurbandaily.com

Jon Platt Named CEO of Warner/Chappell Music

Jon Platt 2015

Jon Platt speaks onstage at the 2015 SESAC Pop Music Awards at New York Public Library on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for SESAC) 

Jon Platt will lead Warner/Chappell Music going forward.  As part of a transition plan, Platt, who joined Warner/Chappell in 2012, will be promoted to the company’s CEO on Nov. 1 from his current position as president, North America. Subsequently, in May 2016 (most likely when Cameron Strang’s contract ends), Cameron Strang, currently chairman & CEO, will step down to devote his full focus to serving as chairman & CEO of Warner Bros. Records.

Platt is known for being a doubled-edged sword, having great creative skills combined with top-notch leadership. On the creative side, he has helped attract such artists and songwriters as Jay Z, BeyoncéVance Joy and Echosmith to Warner/Chappell.

“Jon has a deep understanding of the creative process, an outstanding devotion to songs and songwriters, and an innate ability to nurture the next generation of talented publishing executives,” Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said in a statement. “His combination of artistic sensibility and commercial savvy is very rare, and is clearly why so many of the world’s greatest songwriters want him as their partner and champion.” Cooper added that Platt will enhance Warner/Chappell’s “position” as the best home for songwiters.

Over the last five years, Warner/Chappell’s revenues have steadily declined, from $582 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2009 to $503 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013, before rebounding last year to $517 million. In the first nine months of this year, Warner/Chappell revenue stands at $359 million, down from $387 million, or 7.2 percent.

Platt’s ability to attract top flight songwriters should help boost the company’s bottom line. Over the last several years, Warner/Chappell has added such songwriters as Pharrell Williams’ pre-2010 repertoire, Taio Cruz, Aloe Blacc, Sean Douglas, Belly, Mano, Julia Michaels, Steve Kipner, Nico & Vinz, Slash, Dave Mustaine, Mike WiLL Made It, Lady Antebellum, Liz Rose, and Lee Miller, as well as the Roc Nation publishing catalog.

“Ever since Jon came on board in 2012, he has played a pivotal role in our success story, making enormous contributions to the company’s rapid development,” Strang said in a statement.”Warner/Chappell is now ready for the next phase of its ongoing evolution, and Jon is exactly the right executive for the job. He is a force of nature: a brilliant creative collaborator; a principled leader; and an inspiring mentor. He will be a terrific CEO, as he brings his dynamism and expertise to our songwriters, teams and business around the world.”

Cooper added that “with a smooth transition underway at Warner/Chappell, Cameron will lead our plan to build on [Warner Bros. Records] existing success, turbocharge its long-term growth and deepen our commitment to A&R and artist development.”

Prior to joining Warner/Chappell Platt, who received SESAC’s Visionary Award in May, spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he signed an early-career Jay Z, Kanye West, Usher, Drake, Ludacris, Mary Mary, Young Jeezy, Fabolousand Snoop Dogg, according to Warner/Chappell’s announcement.

“Warner/Chappell is an iconic music company with an incomparable roster of extraordinary songwriters,” Platt said in a statement. “Our mission is to develop, grow, reward and sustain a prosperous and healthy creative community — the community of songwriters who make it possible for music to have such a special place in all of our lives. My vision for Warner/Chappell is one of peerless commitment to the songwriter and unmatched advocacy for the value of music.  I see us leading the industry in our service not only to our songwriters, but also to the partners and fans that help make their livelihoods possible.”

article by Ed Christman via billboard.com