Tag: Toronto

NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?

02weeknd1-superJumbo
The Weeknd (Photo Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, The New York Times)

The scene backstage last November at the American Music Awards, that annual gathering of pop perennials and idiosyncratic arrivistes, was carnivalesque: Niall and Liam of One Direction toddled about trying to snap a picture with a selfie stick, while Zayn, their bandmate at the time, smoked coolly out of frame; Ne-Yo was there in a leopard-­print blazer two sizes too small; Lil Wayne was wandering around, alone, wearing absurd shoes. In the middle of it all, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, remained calm, slow ­motion to everyone else’s warp speed.

Allergic to these sorts of scrums, he found his way to his trailer to hang with his friends, five or so fellow Canadians, all of them art-goth chic, wearing expensive sneakers and draped in luxurious, flowing black. Tesfaye, 25, was dressed down by comparison, in a black corduroy jacket and paint-­splattered jeans (Versace, but still). He stands 5-foot-7, plus a few more inches with his hair, an elaborate tangle of dreadlocks that he has been growing out for years, more or less letting it go where it wants. It spills out at the sides of his head and shoots up over it, like a cresting wave. Casually, Tesfaye did some vocal warm-ups and sat indifferently as his underutilized makeup artist dabbed foundation under his eyes and balm on his lips.

Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, at his apartment building in Toronto last December. (Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

He’d just had his first flash of true pop success: ‘‘Love Me Harder,’’ his duet with Ariana Grande, the childlike pop star with the grown-up voice, cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. He was scheduled to make a surprise cameo here at the end of a Grande medley. Until that song and, in a sense, that moment, Tesfaye had been a no-hit wonder: a cult act with millions of devotees and almost no mainstream profile.

When Tesfaye came out from the shadows midway through Grande’s performance, the crowd screamed. For two minutes, the singers traded vocal riffs and unflinching eye contact, Grande playing the naïf and Tesfaye the aggressor. The performance was quick and sweaty, and seconds after it was over, Tesfaye was already speeding for the exit, stopping only for a quick embrace from Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When he reached the parking lot, a yappy talent wrangler for an entertainment-­news show sensed an opportunity and asked for an interview. Tesfaye gave him an amused half-smile and kept walking. ‘‘Hey!’’ the guy shouted in desperation, fumbling for a name before landing on the wrong one: ‘‘A$AP Rocky!’’ Tesfaye turned his head and said, ‘‘C’mon, man,’’ arching an eyebrow, then picked up the pace.

Even though he had just performed for an audience of millions, Tesfaye was still, to many of them, a total stranger. When he began releasing music in 2010 — murky Dalí-esque R.&B., sung in an astrally sweet voice, vivid with details of life at the sexual and pharmacological extremes — Tesfaye chose to be a cipher. The only photos of him in circulation were deliberately obscured; he didn’t do interviews. His reticence was an asset — fans devoured the music without being distracted by a personality. Their loyalty was to the songs and, in a way, to the idea of the Weeknd. He was happy to stay out of the way.

Continue reading “NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?”

Toronto Native Tonika Morgan Goes from Homeless to Harvard Graduate School, Thanks to Crowdfunding

Tonika Morgan, pictured at the Artscape Youngplace in Toronto.
Tonika Morgan, pictured at the Artscape Youngplace in Toronto. (Photo: ISA MIGUEL RANSOME)

Tonika Morgan has not had an easy life. Now 32, the Toronto woman says she left home at 14, was homeless for four years, and slept in shelters and on park benches. She was kicked out of high school, she says, because she hardly ever showed up.

Even though she’s overcome problems that would overwhelm almost anyone, it wasn’t until this year that she faced what she calls her “biggest fear of all”: the fear that her application to attend Harvard’s Graduate School of Education next fall would be rejected.

It wasn’t. She’s in. But with her acceptance letter came another big worry: that she couldn’t pay the approximately $77,000 needed for the one-year master’s program, where tuition alone is $43,280.

So, lacking resources or workable options, she joined a growing number of needy college students and turned to crowdfunding to raise the money. She launched a “Mission for Harvard Tuition” in April on the GoFundMe site.  According to aol.com, after local media publicized the page, Morgan exceeded her goal and nearly $93,000 dollars was fundraised.

But Tonika Morgan knows that being able to go to her Harvard is not without the help of others who are helping her fulfill a dream of a lifetime.  “I have to say that this has been quite emotional for me. I have shared hugs, tears of joy and laughter with the beautiful souls who have noticed me on the street. I’ve never felt more supported and connected to anyone the way I have felt since this campaign started.”

“I was on the trolley and this woman reached her hand out and started crying,” Morgan, who goes by “Toni,” said in a phone interview from Toronto. “She said, ‘I’m so proud of you!’ I didn’t know that by telling my own truth, I’d connect with so many people.”

Continue reading “Toronto Native Tonika Morgan Goes from Homeless to Harvard Graduate School, Thanks to Crowdfunding”

Couple Loses $50 Million Lottery Ticket, Returned Months Later By Church Member

Imagine having a lottery ticket worth $50 million in your hands then having it disappear without a trace.  Well Hakeem Nosiru (pictured left) and his wife, Abiola (pictured), lived the nightmare of having a winning ticket worth more than they could possibly ever spend in their lifetimes then losing it before they could cash it in to lottery officials.  The bleak story does have a phenomenally happy ending, though, as the ticket was eventually found months later by a church member, reports the Toronto Sun.

Hakeem checked the winning ticket in January at a convenience store, and after discovering he had a winning ticket, his joy could not be restrained. The Father of four and grandfather of five was ecstatic about his win and actually ran through the aisles of the store shouting and crying over his win.

Just one day after Hakeem and Abiola were flying high over their Lotto Max win, however, they quickly spiraled back down, as they could not put their hands on the winning ticket.

According to Hakeem, he gave his wife of 29 years the winning ticket to secure in her purse, but when they went to church the day after their huge win, she somehow lost it. Abiola was beyond any form of consolation, the woman tells the Toronto Sun, “I couldn’t sleep for days, I couldn’t eat. I was devastated.”

Ironically, Nosiru had so much angst about possibly losing the ticket that he placed it in an envelope and duct taped it to his stomach.  After giving what he thought was a fool-proof move some further thought, he decided his wife’s purse would be a safer and more sensible route to go.  He was wrong.

But when Nasiru found out Abiola had misplaced the ticket, he did not explode; instead, he says he remained calm and placed the situation in God’s hands, telling the Toronto Sun, “God gave us the money,” he said. “We lose the ticket and eventually we found it. Thank God for that.”

The Nigerian couple went to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and filled out all of the necessary paperwork just in case their ticket turned up and just kept hope alive.  The OLG could not give the couple the monies unless they could produce a ticket.  The pair also contacted the police as well to report the missing ticket.

Fate certainly has a sense of humor because on April Fool’s Day, a congregation member contacted the couple to let them know she had found their lottery ticket.  Abiola told the Toronto Sun, “When I found it, I was so happy.”

When the ticket was found, the police established that there was no foul play involved in the case and closed it.

The Nosirus learned a valuable lesson after their ordeal: always sign a lottery ticket after purchasing it.  OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti also adds, “Keep it in a safe place and check it often as well,” he told the Toronto Sun.

Meanwhile, the Nosirus have not made any big money plans as of yet and are so glad their nightmare is finally over.  According to Abiola, losing the money would have been disheartening but they don’t place an emphasis on money but rather on love of family.  “We believed that before the money there was a life,” Abiola told the Toronto Sun. “After the money there would be a life.”

For now, the Nasirus want to just kick back and revel in the fortune that they’ve been blessed with and the love they have from their children and grandchildren.

article by Ruth Manuel-Logan via newsone.com

Continue reading “Couple Loses $50 Million Lottery Ticket, Returned Months Later By Church Member”

R.I.P. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Boxer Whose Murder Convictions Were Overturned

Denzel Washington, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and Evander Holyfield at 1999 premiere of "Hurricane"
Denzel Washington, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Evander Holyfield at 1999 premiere of “Hurricane”

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a star prizefighter whose career was cut short by a murder conviction in New Jersey and who became an international cause célèbre while imprisoned for 19 years before the charges against him were dismissed, died on Sunday morning at his home in Toronto. He was 76.

The cause of death was prostate cancer, his friend and onetime co-defendant, John Artis, said. Mr. Carter was being treated in Toronto, where he had founded a non-profit organization, Innocence International, to work to free prisoners it considered wrongly convicted.

Mr. Carter was convicted twice on the same charges of fatally shooting two men and a woman in a Paterson, N.J., tavern in 1966. But both jury verdicts were overturned on different grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

The legal battles consumed scores of hearings involving recanted testimony, suppressed evidence, allegations of prosecutorial racial bias — Mr. Carter was black and the shooting victims were white — and a failed prosecution appeal to the United States Supreme Court to reinstate the convictions.  Denzel Washington was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for starring in “Hurricane”, a film about Carter’s fight for justice.

Continue reading “R.I.P. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Boxer Whose Murder Convictions Were Overturned”

Nia Long Lands Starring Role On WEtv’s First Scripted Series

nia long

Fresh off the success of Best Man Holiday, 43-year-old actress Nia Long has landed a new starring role on WEtv’s first original scripted series.  According to Deadline, the mother of two has joined the cast of The Divide, a legal thriller centered around District Attorney Adam Page, played by Damon Gupton, “who uncovers new evidence that prompts the re-investigation of a sensational murder case.” Long will play the DA’s hard-charging wife named Billie Page.

Sources say production for Long’s new show is currently underway in Toronto.

article by Myeisha Essex via hellobeautiful.com

16-Year-Old Producer WondaGurl Creates Beat For Jay-Z’s New Album

wondagurl producer

Jay-Z reached out to a number of producers while creating Magna Carta Holy Grail, his 12th studio album. The usual suspects — TimbalandPharrell, and Swizz Beats — were there, but a budding 16-year-old producer from Canada, Ebony Oshunrinde, a.k.a. WondaGurl (pictured), also made her mark on the album, according to The Star.com.

WondaGurl produced the track “Crown” on Holy Grail, which was released digitally July 4th and in stores Tuesday, but the Brampton native first got in to creating beats after watching a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland in the studio together.  “It inspired me, and I wanted to do the exact same thing that he did,” she said. At age 9, Oshunrinde downloaded music software, teaching herself to use it via YouTube tutorials.

She coined the WondaGurl name by switching the name of fellow Canadian producer Boi-1da (pronounced boy wonda). In 2011, she caught her big break, winning the Battle of the Beatmakers competition. This caught the attention of Boi, who began mentoring WondaGurl at Toronto’s Remix Project Studio.  A year after winning the competition, the musical prodigy signed an exclusive management deal with label Black Box and began working in a studio.

Continue reading “16-Year-Old Producer WondaGurl Creates Beat For Jay-Z’s New Album”

Canadian Group to Honor Morgan Freeman for Fighting Racism

Actor Morgan Freeman accepts the Cinema Icon Award at the CinemaCon awards ceremony at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 18, 2013 in Las Vegas

Morgan Freeman will receive a special award in Canada next month for his efforts to combat racism.

The veteran actor, currently starring opposite Tom Cruise in “Oblivion,” will be given the Key of Knowledge Award in Toronto by Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

During the event, to be held May 6, Freeman will take part in a question-and-answer session moderated by Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman, who worked with the actor on “Prom Night” in Mississippi, a 2009 documentary about the first ever racially integrated prom in Charleston.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards establishing the Morgan Freeman Scholarship Fund for international students at the university, according to Canada’s National Post.

article via eurweb.com

Angela Davis Documentary Brings Life Of Revolutionary To Big Screen

 

Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, producer Sidra Smith, director Shola Lynch, actors Will Smith, Angela Davis and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 9, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

From Ebony.com: Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, a new film by Shola Lynch, in which Angela Davis, 68, speaks openly for the first time in forty years about the tumultuous events of her twenties, debuted at this week’s Toronto International Film Festival. Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, who introduced the doc at the festival, just announced that their Overbrook Entertainment have partnered with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation as executive producers of the documentary about the scholar who came to embody Black power and Black radical feminism. Continue reading “Angela Davis Documentary Brings Life Of Revolutionary To Big Screen”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
%d bloggers like this: