The boys of “Moonlight” will be getting their moment.
Both 13-year-old Alex Hibbert and 12-year-old Jaden Piner, are slated to receive keys to the city of Miami Gardens, FL at this year’s Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival. The two students from Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens had starring roles in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” with Alex playing young Chiron and Jaden playing Kevin, Chiron’s best friend.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for us to acknowledge what they’ve done at a young age, and tell them how proud we are of them,” shares Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III. “Because so often when you hear about young black kids, people don’t want to tell you the stories of these kids and areas that they excel in,” continues Mayor Gilbert. “We aren’t talking about them most times. Most times we’re talking about young black boys in a negative context, so anytime we get an opportunity to tell them how extraordinary they are, we will do it. And ‘Jazz In The Gardens’ is the biggest stage that we can offer in the city.”
The key ceremony will be just one highlight of the highly-anticipated weekend. As the staple event each year in the city of Miami Gardens, Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival is back for its 12th year, and is quickly growing beyond its borders. Hosted again by veteran comedian Rickey Smiley, the city can expect more than 70,000 music lovers from all over the United States and Caribbean Islands.
The festival will take place this upcoming weekend, March 17-19 at Hard Rock Stadium, featuring performances by Jill Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Common, and LLCoolJ.
LL Cool J received Hollywood’s biggest honor by snagging a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The rapper is being lauded for his career accolades, including being one of the first rappers to sell 10 consecutive platinum plus selling albums, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Queen Latifah and Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs were in attendance speaking during the ceremony about what the actor/rapper’s career has meant to the entertainment industry.
Other notable attendees included Mike Tyson, Russell Simmons and Magic Johnson.
NEW YORK (AP) — A group of young people at a New York City jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor/rapper LL Cool J.
The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons’ RushCard, a prepaid debit card. RushCard’s Keep the Peace initiative is giving grants to neighborhood organizations. One of those is LIFE Camp, a Queens organization that works with young people, including those at Rikers, to reduce violence.
Cool J told the audience that his rough upbringing could have had him where they are if things had worked out differently, and he encouraged them to believe in themselves. “You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to,” he said.
Simmons told them to focus on what’s inside them. “It’s your spirit you’ve got to work on,” he said.
Deputy Warden Clement Glenn said partnering with programs like LIFE Camp is among the ways the Department of Correction tries to get young people to change their behavior.
“We’re trying to encourage them not to come back into the system, hoping they will integrate into society and become contributing members of their community,” he said.
According to the Boston Globe, Rapper-actor LL Cool J has been named Harvard’s 2014 Artist of the Year, and will be honored at the annual Cultural Rhythms Festival on Feb. 22. In making the announcement Wednesday, Harvard Foundation director S. Allen Counter had this to say about Ladies Love Cool James (aka Todd Smith): “His pioneering contributions to a new genre of music and distinguished history of creativity have been lauded by young people around the world, and he is greatly admired for his excellent humanitarian efforts through the Jumpstart program,” an initiative that enhances early education programs in low-income neighborhoods. In recent years, the Harvard Foundation has honored Shakira, Quincy Jones, Queen Latifah, Sharon Stone, Andy Garcia, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, Jackie Chan, and Denzel Washington.
According to Variety.com, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced an eclectic lineup of nominees for 2014 induction today, including rap acts LLCoolJ and N.W.A., disco band Chic and New Orleans funk group the Meters.
Other newly-anointed candidates include Chicago’s blues-rocking Paul Butterfield Blues Band, British hard rock act Deep Purple, U.K. singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, blue-eyed soul duo Hall & Oates, costumed Detroit metal act KISS, Seattle grunge icons Nirvana, Minneapolis’ shambolic punks the Replacements, vocalist Linda Ronstadt, singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, pathfinding guitarist Link Wray, Brit prog-rock kings Yes, and ‘60s British Invasion group the Zombies.
Stevens, LL Cool J, Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, KISS, N.W.A. and the Meters are all repeat nominees; it is the first time in the running for the remainder of the field. Gabriel is already a member of the Rock Hall via his association with Genesis, inducted in 2010. The induction ceremony is set for April in New York, and will be presented on HBO in May.
Inductees are select by a panel of 600 music biz authorities, including musicians, execs and writers. Beginning today through Dec. 10, fans can vote online at rockhall.com/vote; the top five vote recipients will constitute a “fan’s ballot” counting toward the final vote tally.
Singers Jill Scott (L) and Maxwell arrive at the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NAACP)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Essence Music Festival is dropping the music — from its name, that is.
The festival held in New Orleans every July 4th weekend for the past 18 years has rebranded itself The Essence Festival. Organizers say the change is designed to showcase the event as more than a music festival.
Still, music will remain a focus for the 19th annual festival, which is July 4-7.
The lineup includes more than 30 acts — a number of them Essence veterans. On the roster are Jill Scott, Maxwell, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Keyshia Cole, LL Cool J and Brandy.
As in past years, concerts will be held at the Superdome while empowerment seminars on health, beauty, careers, education and relationships are held at a nearby convention center.