The Queen Of Soul is retiring, but not before one more album with the legendary Stevie Wonder. Aretha Franklin’s career has been one for the record books. It includes 20 number one songs, gold and platinum albums and international acclaim. Now, The Queen says she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren. Franklin has experienced health challenges in recent years, and confirmed she had a tumor removed a few years ago. She had always managed to come back and resume her touring. Franklin says she may be open to some sporadic appearances and performance, but her eye is on one final album. She enlisted her friend Stevie Wonder, who co-wrote her 1974 million seller, Until You Come Back To Me. No word yet on how big a role Wonder will have on this Franklin’s album, but the target date for release is September.
Was a nephew abusing Katherine Jackson? The 86-year old Jackson Family Matriarch has gotten a restraining order against Trent Lamar Jackson, who was her one-time driver. Mom Katherine’s court documents accuse Trent of elder abuse, taking money from her bank accounts and attempting to estrange her from her own children. Katherine even says she had to hide in her own closet to speak freely to her children. I hear he got into a fight with Jermaine and clocked him. Now the courts have intervened and Trent has been ordered to stay 100 yards away from Katherine, vacate her guest home and return all her keys to her. Right now, Katherine is in London visiting Janet Jackson and her new baby, but when she gets back word is her children are prepared to stand up in court for their mom if necessary.
Former President Barack Obama broke the internet this week. His video and pictures of his vacation with former First Lady Michelle Obama in the British Virgin Islands went viral. Especially the water sports challenges he and friend/billionaire businessman/vacation host Richard Branson decided to take on with each other. Looks like the POTUS won the kite surfing challenge with ease. Meanwhile, Essence Magazine has released a commemorative collector’s book on the former First Family. The Obamas: The White House Years is available now.
Queen Bey may be carrying twins but she’s still going to work. Beyonce' will still be attending this Sunday’s Grammys, where she and Lemonade are up for a slew of awards. Will Beyonce be performing as well? Plus, The Bee Hive will still be able to catch the soon to be mother of three at Coachella, the long running California Music and Arts Festival in April. Beyonce' confirms she’s keeping these commitments. Coachella is happening over two weekends: April 14th-16th and 21st-23rd. Beyonce’s co-headliners are Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. The Grammy’s of course air this Sunday on CBS.
Speaking of The Grammys, there are tributes planned for Prince, George Michael and Bob Marley. Bruno Mars, who’s a part of the Marley tribute, The Weeknd, A Tribe Called Quest, Chance The Rapper, Alicia Keyes, Gary Clark, Jr., John Legend, Adele, Usher and Stax Records Legend & First Time Grammy Nominee William Bell are all slated to perform. Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, Kanye West and Adele are leading the nominations. Solange, Fantasia, Barbara Streisand, Ro James and Philly’s own Musiq Soulchild are also up for awards. The 59th Annual Grammy Awards will air from L.A. with first time host The Late Late Show’s James Corden this Sunday at 8pm on CBS.
Larenz Tate (Love Jones; Why Do Fools Fall In Love) and Comedian Charlie Murphy are taking on 50 Cent and Crew. That’s because the actors have joined the cast of the 50 Cent produced Starz drama Power. Still no premiere date announced and details on the casting are pretty quiet, but I hear Tate will play a city councilman with ties to the hood. Power stars Omari Harwick, Naturi Naughton, Lela Loren and 50 Cent and will return to Starz this summer.
Warmdaddy’s is presenting their R&B Rewind Series beginning in February. Upcoming shows will include Alexander O’ Neal & Cherelle, Miki Howard, Deniece Williams and El DeBarge. It all kicks off with Howard Hewett and Alyson Williams with special guest Janee Latrice on Sunday, February 26th at 7pm. For Reservations and information call 215-462-2000 or log onto warmdaddys.com.
Alec Baldwin is riding high from his Donald Trump impression on Saturday Night Live. The variety show is experiencing some of its highest ratings in 22 years. Baldwin will now sure up his hosting record with his 17th turn this Saturday at 11:30p with musical guest Ed Sheeran.
The sleeper hit film Dear White People is now coming to Netflix as a series. The movie, which co-starred Tessa Thompson, James Tyler Williams, Teyonah Parris and Dennis Haysbert, was a send up of the racial tensions being experienced at a prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of its black students. The independent film was a surprise hit and critically acclaimed. Now Writer-Director Justin Simien has adapted his movie for television and even wrote the first ten episodes. The show will star Logan Browning (VH1’s Hit The Floor), Brandon P. Bell and be co-executive produced by Yvette Lee Bowser (A Different World; Living Single). Dear White People will debut on Netflix Friday, April 28th.
Ice Cue returns to the big screen in Fist Fight. Co-starring Dennis Haysbert, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan and Kym Whitley, Day plays a high school teacher who gets his colleague, played by Ice Cube fired. In response Cube challenges Day to a fight after school. Fist Fight opens Friday, February 17th in theaters.
This year’s Academy Award nominations are: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences; Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures; Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Writer/Director Barry Jenkins for Moonlight; and Ruth Negga for Loving. Fences, Moonlight and Hidden Figures are all also up for Best Picture; and history was made with the first African American woman nominated in the editing category, Joi McMillon for Moonlight. Jimmy Kimmel will host The Oscars Sunday, February 26th on ABC.
Best Picture Oscar nominee Hidden Figures is near the $120 million mark and is still in the top five. The film is about the unsung African American female mathematicians who helped NASA crack the numerical codes to insure John Glenn and crew’s trip to the moon. The three stars, Taraji P. Henson, Actress/Singer Janelle Monae and Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer are also on the cover of Essence magazine. And, Taraji P. Henson returns to her number one rated TV drama Empire on FOX Wednesday, March 22nd.
The King Of Pop’s only daughter speaks out. Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris is on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. She’s not holding back in the interview. Paris says she was raped at age 14 by a complete stranger. This lead to her multiple suicide attempts. Now at age 18, she is finding her happiness. She’s been successfully pursuing modeling. She also considers herself African American. Why? Because that’s what her dad told her she was, and, to her knowledge, he never lied to her. Paris also says her dad dropped her hints someone was out to kill him, and she believes her father was murdered not just malpractice by Dr. Conrad Murray. Paris, who has 50 tattoos, is an heiress. She and her brothers will share the Michael Jackson estate, which will probably be worth over a billion dollars by the time they have control of it.
Jill Scott is going into the greeting card business. Jilly From Philly is teaming up with Hallmark. The poetic cards are inspired by the late Maya Angelou, who worked on a similar project years ago. Angelou and Scott share a birthday, careers as singer/songwriters, actresses and activists. The Jill Scott Collection will be released through Hallmark’s Mahogany brand, and will hit shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Motown Legend Smokey Robinson returns to PBS. The singer/songwriter was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington, DC. The event was taped and will air February 10th. Performers include Ledisi, Esperanza Spalding, The Tenors, JoJo, CeeLo Green, BeBe Winans and Smokey leading an all-star performance of the hit he wrote for The Temptations, My Girl. Samuel L. Jackson hosts Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song airs this Friday at 9pm on PBS.
UnSung, the original, is back. In the spotlight this season is SWV, Fat Joe, Jon B., Lenny Williams, Case, Dave Hollister, After 7 and the finale will be a tribute to The Godfather Of Soul, James Brown. UnSung airs Wednesdays at 8pm on TV One.
The NAACP Award nominations are being led by the Nat Turner-slave revolt motion picture Birth Of A Nation. The controversial film became even more controversial when rape charges resurfaced about its Producer/Writer/Director/Actor Nate Parker then disappeared even faster when the film’s box office wasn’t strong due to the negative publicity. Birth Of A Nation has six nominations as does new Oscar frontrunner Moonlight, the coming of age story of a Miami youth in a dysfunctional home during the war on drugs. Four nominations came down for Hidden Figures, including Best Picture and Actress for Taraji P. Henson. Three nominations for the Denzel Washington-Viola Davis film Fences. Beyonce leads music with seven nominations followed closely by sister Solange with five of her own. Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and Donald Glover are all multi-nominees. Black-ish leads TV with 12 nominations, the reboot of the miniseries Roots scored nine nominations and six each for Insecure, Empire and The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Viola Davis, Beyonce, Chance The Rapper, Regina King and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are all up for Entertainer Of The Year. The 48th Annual NAACP Image Awards with Host Anthony Anderson will air live at 9pm this Saturday, February 11th on TV One.
Media is an original TV drama airing on TV One. The TV movie starring Penny Johnson Jerald (The Larry Sanders Show; 24), Brian White (Scandal; Mistresses; I Can Do Bad All By Myself), Gary Dourdan (CSI; Jump The Broom), Pooch Hall (The Game), Stephen Bishop (Being Mary Jane) and Blue Kimble (Devious Maids; The Game) revolves around the double dealing and double crossing within The Jones Family who happen to be powerful media moguls. You know I’m a big night time soap opera fan, so I’ll be checking this out. Media airs Saturday, February 25th at 8pm on TV One.
The Black History Month/February issue of Ebony Magazine is Yes We Still Can, a look at the state of African Americans post-Obama.
President Barack Obama is featured on a separate special collector’s edition of Ebony magazine themed Hail To The Chief: Saluting Eight Years Of Excellence.
Alicia Keys is on the cover of Allure magazine.
Issa Rae, the breakout star of HBO’s Insecure, has a hot photo shoot in the latest edition of Elle magazine.
Essence Magazine is gearing up for its 23rd Annual Essence Fest and The Hip Hop Queen Of Soul, A Legend and The Boss will be in the house! Yes! Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Motown Legend Miss Diana Ross will headline the now legendary festival. Chaka Khan, Philly’s own Jazmine Sullivan, India.Arie, Solange, Shirley Jones of The Jones Girls, Ro James, Tweet, Shaggy, Michel’le, Yuna and Lalah Hathaway will also be performing with more acts to come. The 2017 Essence Fest will be June 29th through July 2nd in New Orleans.
Check out who’s coming to town:
This Friday, February 10th – Jeffrey Osborne in concert at The Sugar House Casino. For tickets and information log onto surgarhouseentertainemnt.com.
This Saturday, February 11th - Valentine’s Weekend Concert starring Erykah Badu and Tyrese at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto boardwalkhall.com.
This Saturday, February 11th – 70’s Soul Jam starring The Stylistics, The Dramatics, The Intruders, and Harold Melvin’s Bluenotes at The Tropicana in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
This Sunday, February 12th – Babyface in concert at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa.
Valentine’s Day Tuesday, February 14th – NuSoul Revival Tour starring Musiq Soulchild, Kindred The Family Soul, Avery Sunshine, Lyfe Jennings and Dwele at The Liacouras Center, Broad and Montgomery. For tickets and information 1-800-298-4200.
Sunday, February 26th – The R&B Rewind Series starring Howard Hewett and Alyson Williams with special guest Janee Latrice 7pm at Warmdaddy’s, Columbus Blvd and Reed. For Reservations and information call 215-462-2000 or log onto warmdaddys.com
Saturday, March 18th – The All The Hits Tour Starring Lionel Richie & Special Guest Star Mariah Carey at The Wells Fargo Center. Tickets and information at wellsfargocenterphilly.com.
Friday, March 31st – The In It To Win It Tour starring Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Johnny Gill and Solero at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto boardwalkhall.com.
Friday, March 31st – Back To The Eighties Show starring Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Al B. Sure, Jalil & Ecstasy of Whodini, Force MD’s, Cherelle, Hi-Five and More at The Liacouras Center, Broad and Montgomery. For tickets and information 1-800-298-4200.
Saturday, April 15th – The Philly Spring Jam starring Guy featuring Teddy Riley, Ginuwine, Jagged Edge, Dru Hill and Next at The Liacouras Center, Broad and Montgomery. Tickets go on sale January 17th and for information 1-800-298-4200.
Saturday, May 13th – Mothers Day Weekend concert starring Frankie Beverly & Maze, Gladys Knight and Kem at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto boardwalkhall.com.
Saturday, May 13th – Mothers Day Weekend concert starring Brian McKnight at The Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto keswicktheatre.com.