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Updated:  July 7, 2005

One week plus since I’ve returned from St. Kitts, saw some great performance and met lots of new friends.  I have put the St. Kitts story on its own page – CLICK HERE in case you missed it which includes pictures of performances of Keshia Chante, Wyclef, Boyz II Men and Ludacris. 

This week the newsletter returns to its regular format with lots of news, inclding coverage of Live 8 and the devastating news of the loss of two music greats – Luther Vandross and Obie Benson Of The Four Tops.  Particularly, Luther has meant so much and has influenced so many of Canada’s R&B talents. 

This week is full of entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTSWant to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.






Kicking Off The Celebrate Toronto Street Festival

Source:  City of Toronto, Special Events

The 7th Annual Celebrate Toronto Street Festival will launch Friday, July 8 with a huge, FREE outdoor concert at Yonge-Dundas Square featuring jazz chanteuse Holly Cole, R&B sensation Jully Black, Celtic rockers Great Big Sea, alt-rock super group Broken Social Scene and Les Girafes — An Urban Operetta from Compagnie Off (France), a street performance troupe featuring a spectacular herd of 8-metre high red giraffes.  This open air celebration, hosted by comedian Seán Cullen, begins at 7p.m.

The Toronto Branding Project is hosting this evening of incredible entertainment as a thank you to everyone who participated in developing the new Toronto brand by giving their thoughts and opinions about Toronto during the public engagement campaign.  How they view Toronto led to the unveiling of a single brand identity for the city — Toronto Unlimited.  The 7th annual Celebrate Toronto Street Festival transforms Yonge Street, the longest street in the world (1,896-kilometres) into a curb to curb celebration of tastes, talent and all that is Toronto.  From July 8 – 10, the Street Festival will present over 500 artists on four distinct sites featuring 16 unique performance spaces — all on Yonge Street, where it intersects with Dundas St., St. Clair Ave., Eglinton Ave. and Lawrence Ave.

7 p.m. — Vocalist Holly Cole is an artist who defies categorization.  Her smoky voice is sultry, yet she's ironically humorous and candid while reshaping traditional standards and pop classics. Jazz is her bedrock, but not exclusively.  Her most recent release, "The Holly Cole Collection, Vol. 1", is a cross-section of recordings that span her 20-year career.  This is a rare local appearance.

7:30 p.m.Toronto R&B diva Jully Black’s astounding debut album “This Is Me”, featuring her signature rasp and soul-stirring voice, was just released by Universal Music Canada.  Jully Black has received four Juno Award nominations, four MuchMusic Video Award nominations and Fashion Magazine recently recognized her ambitious nature by naming her one of the most alluring Canadians.  In addition, she recently broadened her talents by appearing in the hugely successful theatre production Da Kink in My Hair and added artists Destiny's Child and Nas to her songwriting credits.

8 p.m. — The sea chanty tradition of Newfoundland is fused with the spirit and energy of contemporary rock and popular music by Great Big Sea.  They are renowned for drawing together disparate threads of folk and pop music, while their shows are a storm of powerful singing, driving rhythms and soaring melody. Critics are often at a loss to describe the unique appeal of the band, who built a strong and enduring career by combining the traditional music of their home with a myriad of pop influences.

9 p.m. — Les Girafes, Urban Operetta is an ambulatory spectacle set to original music with elements of circus arts, theatre, dance and opera.  A herd of red giraffes leisurely stretch their legs while balancing their supple necks. Tall and slender, the giraffes’ silhouettes glide through the streets, casually poking their noses in storefronts and building windows.  The city becomes the stage for a crimson ballet, led by these enormous, upwardly mobile necks. Standing 8-metres high, the curious giraffes are the creation of France’s Compagnie Off.  Accompanied by a theatrical ground crew, 18 master stilt walkers blindly manoeuvre the giraffes to play out this animal operetta on the streets of Toronto.  Local performers from Toronto’s SwizzleStick Theatre Inc., who provide free-form roving / busking and specially choreographed performance pieces, join Compagnie Off for this presentation.

10 p.m.With each hometown Toronto show the myth and wonder around Broken Social Scene's emotional and powerful live shows (filled with collective ever-near-breakup energy) grows steadily.  Nearing the completion of their first studio album since 2002's “You Forgot It In People,” which will be released this fall, Broken Social Scene are equally at ease with ambient electronica, psychedelic work-outs, droning ambience, impressionistic vignettes, android rock'n'roll and gentle folk-rock. 

The celebration will be hosted by comedian Seán Cullen who has toured the world performing and perfecting his unique brand of improvisational, absurdist comedy.  Last year Seán Cullen starred as Max Bialystock in the Canadian production of Mel Brook's The Producers and he recently toured Canada and the U.S. with the Barenaked Ladies.  Also, for the first time, the celebration will be shown on all the video screens in the Yonge–Dundas area — simulcasting the show live.  Yonge – Dundas Square is located right in the heart of downtown Toronto on the southeast corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets.  By TTC:  North or South - On the Yonge subway line, exit at the Dundas subway stop.  East or West - Take the 505 Dundas East or West Streetcar, exit at Yonge Street.  For further information, check or contact 416-393-INFO (4686).

For more information on the 7th annual Celebrate Toronto Street Festival, the complete entertainment line-up including a full schedule of events, visit or call Access Toronto at 416-338-0338.




Celebrate Toronto Street Festival

The Toronto Street Festival will once again transform the world's longest street into a curb to curb celebration of tastes, talent and all that is Toronto.  Get your feet on Yonge Street and Celebrate Toronto on July 8, 9 & 10, 2005. Toronto Street Festival is an outdoor celebration on the world's longest street. For three days enjoy tastes, talent, and all that is Toronto. There will be five sites along Yonge Street, each offering its own distinctive programming mix, from world music at Bloor to family fun at Lawrence.

In all, the festival offers more than 500,000 square feet of free entertainment, with something for all ages and tastes. Enjoy live music featuring roots, jazz, hip hop, world, pop and children's artists. Check out the jugglers, stilt-walkers and buskers on the street corners, and don't miss the spectacular thrill shows. The best part is that it's all free!  Along with fantastic free entertainment, the festival also presents Toronto's annual Summerlicious restaurant promotion offering special prix fixe menus at 120 of Toronto's top restaurants from July 8 to 24, 2005.

Admission is free and getting there couldn't be easier. All four festival sites are accessible via the TTC. Festival subway stops on the Yonge line are Dundas, St. Clair, Eglinton and Lawrence stations.  For more information on the entertainment line-up at the four sites please visit







Motivational Note:  The Best Success Advice Around

Excerpt from

Focus on the next one! When you really think about it, every goal is just a series of small steps brought together. There aren't many goals you can start in finish in one single step; they're usually made up of smaller pieces. And while Harry might not be confident about writing an entire book, he has no problem writing a few words or sentences. It's not a complicated idea, but that doesn't mean it isn't extremely powerful. So let's use it right now. What is the first thing you have to do to get what you want? Just the smallest, easiest step you need to take. And if you've already taken it, what's the next small step you have to take? Don't focus on anything else; just think about the next step in the process. When you do this, you'll be motivated, not overwhelmed. You'll take action, not procrastinate yet again. Now, this tip will build your confidence and make sure you do something about what you want, but what if you were able to simply say what you wanted and automatically feel driven to make it happen? It wouldn't have anything to do with willpower or trying to force it; you'd actually want to do whatever it took to succeed. Would you like to be able to do this? Would you like the ability to instantly motivate yourself to do all of the things you want to do? It's possible, and our new guide, The Motivated Mind, can show you exactly how to do it. And for a short time only, you can get our most popular motivation tips book - Motivated in Minutes - at no extra cost. Motivated in Minutes gives you over 1,000 quick and easy tips and ideas to help you uncover your goals, get motivated, and improve your attitude. That's two books for the price of one! To learn more, visit this address: The first step. That's it. Don't worry yourself with what comes second, third, or fourth. Just focus on what comes first. Until next time... Jason M. Gracia Founder and President







Neil Young closes Live 8 in Barrie

Source: Canadian Press

(July 2, 2005) Barrie, Ont. — Live 8 in Barrie ended Saturday night with Neil Young performing his hit Keep On Rockin' in the Free World, joined by several of the day's acts including Gord Downie, the Barenaked Ladies and Blue Rodeo. Veteran rockers Bryan Adams, Tom Cochrane, Bruce Cockburn and Randy Bachman pulled out their catalogue of crowd-pleasing hits. Montreal punk band Simple Plan exploded with youthful exuberance, spraying the audience with water and sprinting up and down the stage. Roughly 35,000 free tickets were distributed, but by mid-afternoon, organizers estimated the crowd at only about 24,000 Saturday as they took in the worldwide music bonanza known as Live 8. "Today we are part of the biggest rock concert in history," Adams told the cheering spectators gathered at Park Place, about an hour's drive north of Toronto. "We're seeing people power. I believe in that." He finished his set with a snippet of Tears Are Not Enough, a song Canadian artists recorded some 20 years ago to raise money for African famine relief. Saturday's show was one of nine held simultaneously around the world to pressure leaders of the wealthy G8 nations to increase aid to Africa when they meet in Scotland this week. Hosted by comedians Dan Aykroyd and Tom Green, the Barrie gig had been criticized for a talent line-up that some deemed "over the hill." But Simple Plan lead singer Pierre Bouvier seemed to make it his mission to singlehandedly change that perception. The band's performance got one of the biggest responses of the day. He also reminded Live 8 revellers they had gathered for a reason. "Please remember this day is more than just a concert," Bouvier told the crowd, which appeared to be made up mostly of young people. "Don't forget about it tomorrow. Help out people who are in need."

By contrast, Celine Dion — who performed by satellite hook-up from Las Vegas — elicited boos from the audience in Barrie. Many artists on the bill — like Deep Purple and Adams — were whisked off to other gigs moments after they left the stage. Roughly 35,000 free tickets were distributed, but by mid-afternoon, organizers estimated the crowd at only about 24,000. Backstage, Cockburn said there was "wonderful energy" coming from the audience. While southern Ontario has been in the grip of a heat wave for the last week, Saturday dawned clear and balmy. By afternoon, the temperature was a comfortable 24 C. Between acts, concertgoers watched other Live 8 events on giant screens, taking in R.E.M from London, The Black Eyed Peas and Destiny's Child from Philadelphia and an address from Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. While most musicians who performed made mention of the purpose behind the event, it seemed lost on some in attendance. Marty Gradwell from Whitby, Ont., said he came to the Canadian gig "to rock out and enjoy the start of a warm summer." Asked what prompted the worldwide music bash, he could only venture a guess. "For AIDS in Afghanistan, is it?" The giant stage was flanked with two Live 8 banners featuring the golden guitar logo over a Canadian flag. They read: "We don't want your money. We want your voice." Anti-poverty activists, many wearing bright orange shirts saying Make Poverty History, roamed the crowd to stress the cause. People in more than 140 countries were expected to experience the event via television, radio, Internet and mobile phones. Three hours into the London show, Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof said three billion people were watching around the world. Neil Young, in his first return to the stage since he suffered a brain aneurysm in April, was scheduled to close Canadian show. Organizers want Canada to immediately hike its annual aid to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product — an increase that would mean more than tripling the $3-billion a year it now spends.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has said that's an unrealistic goal. Costs for Canada's show — with a budget estimated at $1 million — were covered by a combination of corporate sponsorship and broadcasting fees. Performers and organizers volunteered their services. Backstage, crews worked furiously to change over guitar and drum equipment with only five minutes between acts. Other shows were held in Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Paris and Rome.




Rapping for Africa

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(July 1, 2005) Rapper KRS-One once took a stab in one of his songs at the apparent hypocrisy of the USA for Africa campaign back in the 1980s. No one was paying any attention to Africa, until it became a fashionable, celebrity-driven cause, or so KRS argued. Now K'Naan, a Somali-born rapper and poet living in Toronto, is on the bill at the Live 8 concert in Barrie, Ont., and he hints at similar reservations. Africa is too often depicted as a sorrowful continent needing the benevolence of the West, which makes people feel good about giving. Or it is shown merely for the entertainment of Westerners, he says. Yet K'Naan also sees potential in Live 8. "If it was merely a concert for entertainment purposes, while looking at the misery around the world, I wouldn't have done it. That's what has happened many, many times. "I'm really concerned with the state of affairs in Africa and what the next G8 summit would bring to the table. Unfortunately, Africa has to look to the rest of the world for its own future -- which I'm quite unhappy about and hope that changes." The difference in Live 8, he says, is that the free concerts taking place tomorrow around the world aren't about charity, but about changing public awareness about policies and trade practices that perpetuate Africa's cycle of poverty and exploitation. With an eclectic, almost Caribbean-bohemian style and fine features that make him seem much younger than his 28 years, K'Naan is worlds away from the many rappers copping South Central sensibilities. True, he rhymes at times about violence and thugs, but in the context of life back in Somalia. In his song What's Hardcore?, he mocks other rappers' faux toughness and the fact that, compared with Somalia, rappers in the West live in affluence and security.

K'Naan, whose full name is K'Naan Warsame, managed to leave Somalia in 1991 on the last commercial flight out of Mogadishu before order collapsed and fighting engulfed the city. Mogadishu was a tough city already. But his family was also living in a notoriously rough neighbourhood. For a year, K'Naan's mother kept trying to get visas for her family from the U.S. embassy, until finally an official took sympathy on her. "My mother would go every day to try to secure a way for us to get out, and it was only in the very final moments that she was able to get us visas," he says. After spending a few months in New York, the family settled in Toronto. In songs such as My Old Home and the single Soobax, K'Naan learnedly teaches Westerners a Somali perspective, but he's also talking to Somalis about their own condition. Soobax doubles as a rallying cry against Somali thug leaders. K'Naan, however, despite being able to communicate the spirit of Somali culture far more succinctly than the average African expert, dropped out of grade 10 and spent a couple of years backpacking before eventually settling into music. The name K'Naan means "the traveller."  "African names often have significance and try to embody that person's destiny," he says. Settling back in Toronto, he hooked up with producers Track and Field, who launched Nelly Furtado's career and who helped record his latest album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher. Up-and-coming in North America, K'Naan is so popular in East Africa that he was once told by a foreign journalist that "you would be hard pressed to find one single Somali around the world who doesn't know you." (He still seems a little blown away by that remark.)

His childhood in Africa is at "the forefront of everything that I do," he says. "I found who I was at such an early age when I knew that the backdrop to Africa was its magnificent wisdom and beauty -- and yet in front of me, there were people shooting at me with guns. It was surviving those moments that I owe everything to." Beyond the need for debt relief or fairer trade practices, K'Naan's writing really focuses on the dignity and honour of Africans and the fact that no one wants to be given assistance if it's on someone else's terms. And Live 8 is also about battling ignorance, even if K'Naan himself fell victim to it, in a funny way, at the hands of concert organizers: A typo in the official announcement for the concert in Barrie listed K'Naan as Kna'an, which, as it turns out, is the name of an Israeli heavy-metal band.




For Political Rocktivists, It's The Cause That Counts; World Hunger Or Wind Power?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju Mudhar

(July 2, 2005) It's no wonder so many big-name artists were willing to perform at today's multiple Live 8 concerts around the globe. Beyond mere exposure for their music, the cause is worthy, and the outcome of their efforts will be almost immediately known.  But even beyond big-ticket benefit blitzes, musicians have always been keen to lend their names to a cause, whether it's an end to world hunger or support for labour unions. (Or, in the case of Paula Abdul this week, better sanitation at nail salons.)  Today's worldwide concerts are meant to raise awareness of world poverty and to put public pressure on the leaders of the world's richest countries to relieve the burden of impoverished African nations. The shows have been timed to coincide with the G8 summit, which begins in Gleneagles, Scotland, on Wednesday.  "Should we fail on the days leading up to Gleneagles, it will not only be a shameful failure," said Bob Geldof, Live 8's ringleader, to the Star's Vit Wagner. "It will be a glorious failure. The miserable defeat will be etched on those eight men around the table who could have changed things irreparably for the poor of the world."  The majority of benefit concerts don't have such a measurable goal. Nor do they have the global spotlight, which few artists can resist. At smaller events, musicians know that despite their involvement, little or no change may occur. So the question we put to a handful of musicians is: Why bother?

  Bruce Cockburn

CAUSES: Land mines, environment, animal rights, IMF, censorship  "You always hope that there will be an effect, although experience has taught me otherwise. Once in awhile, your expectations are met," says the veteran political singer/songwriter.  "For instance, the land-mine issue; when I started working on that, there was resistance, but eventually the work that a whole lot of people did for that resulted in an international treaty with 46 countries as signatories, but that work isn't finished."  In a career that has spanned more than 30 years he has never separated his political ideas from his music. His biggest hit, "If I had a Rocket Launcher," was written by his frustration of seeing the plight of the Guatemalan people. Cockburn figures his "Call it Democracy" will be part of his set today in Barrie.  "One of the things that you have to learn if you're going to be involved in a so-called issue is not to get attached to the outcome," he says. "Because chances are, if there is a beneficial effect it could be after you're dead, or a long time in the future."  "For me, though, the bottom line is if you don't do anything, then everything's going to keep getting worse."  Cockburn says he receives so many requests to be a part of causes that "if I turn one down, there's another offer waiting for me when I get home." He says he likes to help as much as possible, but time constraints are an issue, and he turns down requests when organizers don't have a clear idea of what they want to do.


CAUSES: War Child, Africa, refugee rights  "I think this (Live 8) has potential because it isn't charity," says the Somali-born Canadian rapper who's on today's line-up in Barrie. "If it was charity, I wouldn't be playing this show, I can guarantee you that. Because charity is a momentary thing and it also has the potential to be a not dignified thing, which I don't think the African people want.  "Even when we struggle, our struggles are dignified, and that is not often reflected in `Oh, poor Africa.' And that's how you get money into organizations, you have to say `Poor Africa,' and I'm not really down with that.  "What I'm doing is directly connected to Africa and change for humanity, period. It makes quite a bit of sense, because I'm not really about making pop strides and moves around the world. I'm really emotionally involved in trying to make some changes."

  Sarah Harmer

CAUSES: Saving the Niagara Escarpment, wind power  Last summer, the Burlington-born singer/songwriter became enraged by development on the Niagara Escarpment. She released the single "Escarpment Blues" and launched the "I Love the Escarpment" tour, for which she played seven shows in the region to drum up support for the escarpment.  "Issues of land and water and habitat and wetlands are all at stake, and there aren't very many bigger issues than that, as far as I can see," Harmer says. "Because I've been privileged to grow up in the Niagara Escarpment and I know its natural assets and wonders, I can be a part of speaking for it.... It doesn't matter who you are, as long as you engage and participate, particularly at a local level...  "There's so much work to do, it can all add up incrementally."  Harmer was enraged when Lafarge, a transnational construction company, received extraction rights on the escarpment, and even though when she got involved it was considered a done deal, she still saw value in raising the issues and meeting people along the way.  "Politics come down to what kind of food you buy and whether you leave the tap water running when you're brushing your teeth. That's politics, too," she says. "We met so many escarpment lovers along the way, and these people need to react, because the decisions being made around the world affect these people directly."  She says there is a lot more to be done, and has already started planning an "I Still Love the Escarpment" tour.

  Republic of Safety

CAUSES: workplace rights, environment, nuclear waste  This Toronto band recently played protest shows outside two Wal-Mart locations, organized by the Canadian Labour Congress. Member Jonny Dovercourt says the group played the shows simply because it was an opportunity to perform in front of a different audience — and they agreed with the cause.  "I feel like I get disappointed in the music scene because often everything becomes very insular, but that's because it's a question of economics. Being a musician at any level, it becomes a very economically intensive activity, and a lot of musicians find it really hard to make a living," he says.  "It ends up taking all your energy and all your resources, and then you have nothing left over. And then you end up feeling like, where's my sense of social responsibility? Is this just a narcissistic pursuit? That's what I don't feel comfortable with."  Dovercourt says he feels social responsibility as a person, but also as a musician.  "It's actually really important to be engaged with the wider community, that's why I think it's important to address political issues in your lyrics and to play fundraisers whenever possible. That's the thing, it's not always possible, because we need to play the few shows we do where we can actually make money."

  Rosina Kazi, LAL

CAUSES: The environment, poverty, immigrant issues ...  Kazi is one who finds it difficult to separate the personal from the political. Her Toronto-based band, LAL, has always been quick to step behind causes, from tsunami relief to women's rights.  "I think it's important not to stick just to one thing, and really try to look at the entire picture," she says. "I think it's even more important than ever for artists to get involved because there's so much going on, like with the environment to globalization, those things really need work and those causes can use all the help they can get....  "I think it's my responsibility as an artist to try to express those issues. I can't force people to care, but if I address things in my art, I can hope that they will be inspired to do something too."




Live 8 Rocks The Globe: London Show Ends, Concerts Rocked On From Tokyo To Toronto

Source: Associated Press

(July 2, 2005) London — Bono effortlessly worked the crowd. Half a globe away, Bjork strutted the stage. Bill Gates was cheered like a rock star. And on the continent that inspired Saturday's unprecedented Live 8 extravaganza, Nelson Mandela outshone them all. From Johannesburg to Philadelphia, Berlin to Tokyo, Rome to Moscow, hundreds of the world's top musicians and more than one million of their fans gathered for a music marathon designed to put pressure the world's most powerful leaders to fight African poverty. Twenty years after he masterminded the legendary Live Aid concerts, rocker Bob Geldof delivered on his promise to deliver "the greatest concert ever," broadcast live around the world on television and the Internet. But his ultimate goal went far beyond music: to squeeze debt forgiveness, trade concessions and $25-billion (U.S.) in aid for Africa out of next week's Group of Eight summit meeting in Scotland. The power to even attempt such things sprang from Saturday's "declaration of interdependence," actor Will Smith, host of the Philadelphia show, said on Independence Day weekend in the United States. "Today, we hold this truth to be self-evident: we are all in this together," Smith said. Via satellite, he led the global audience in snapping their fingers every three seconds, signifying the child death rate in Africa. Taking the stage in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela received a five-minute ovation. "History and the generations to come will judge our leaders by the decisions they make in the coming weeks," Mandela told the crowd of more than 8,000 people. "I say to all those leaders: 'Do not look the other way, do not hesitate...It is within your power to prevent a genocide."'

In London's Hyde Park, Paul McCartney and U2 opened the flagship show of the free 10-concert festival with a rousing performance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A thunderous roar erupted from the crowd of about 200,000 as the two icons belted out the first line: "It was 20 years ago today..." — a nod to the mammoth Live Aid benefit that raised millions for African famine relief in 1985. This time, the scale was bigger — 10 concerts, instead of two, and thanks to the Internet, a potential audience of billions. The goal was different, too. "We don't want your money," said Live 8 banners in London. "We want you." Bono, dressed in black and wearing his trademark wraparound shades, wrapped the crowd around his finger, enticing tens of thousands to sing along to the anthemic One and Beautiful Day. The crowd cheered when a flock of white doves was released overhead. "So this is our moment. This is our time." "This is our chance to stand up for what's right," Bono said. "We're not looking for charity, we're looking for justice. We cannot fix every problem but the ones we can, we must." Geldof appeared onstage to introduce Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Gates, whom the crowd greeted with a rock star's roar. "We can do this, and when we do it will be the best thing that humanity has ever done," Gates said. The crowd joined in as REM sang Man on the Moon, then heard UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declare: "This is really the United Nations...The whole world has come together in solidarity with the poor."

Geldof's claim that three billion people around the world were watching Saturday seemed overblown, as did talk in Philadelphia that one million people were on hand. But Live 8 was huge nonetheless, with a two-kilometre-long crowd stretching from the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and more than five million page views on America Online's music site,, which broadcast all 10 concerts in their entirety. AOL said more than 150,000 people simultaneously streamed its video, the most in Internet history. The first concert kicked off in Japan, where Bjork and Good Charlotte joined local bands for a show that failed to generate much interest in Asia's only G8 country. Despite Bjork making her first live performance in two years, the crowd of 10,000 people was only one-half of what the hall in the Tokyo suburb Makuhari could hold. Still, "we believe passionately in what this is about," Bjork said. "Just the acknowledgment of the problem is an important step." Live 8 then rolled on to Johannesburg. That show, plus one featuring African artists in southwestern England, were organized following criticism that African artists had been left out of an event aimed at their own continent. "Africans are involved in helping Africa, which doesn't happen too often," Cameroonian singer Coco Mbassi said before the England show. "We're presenting a different image of Africa." Near Paris, an eclectic line-up including Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Goth-rockers The Cure played to a crowd of 100,000 at the 17th-century Palace of Versailles. Faith Hill and Duran Duran joined Italian stars in Rome for a concert at the ancient Circus Maximus, which was packed with about 200,000 fans. German crowd-pleasers Die Toten Hosen kicked off Berlin's show — which attracted about 150,000 people — with a string of power anthems while reminding revellers helping Africa stood above the music. "This is no rock concert, it's a reminder about next Wednesday," singer Campino told the crowds, referring to the G8 meeting.

Tom Cochrane started Canada's concert with Life is a Highway before 35,000 roaring fans on a crisp sunny morning in Barrie, Ont. And in Moscow, tens of thousands jammed a square in the shadows of the Kremlin. In London, Madonna performed Like a Prayer hand-in-hand with Birham Woldu, an Ethiopian woman who as a malnourished toddler appeared in some of the most wrenching footage of the 1984-85 famine. Her life was saved, Geldof said, partly through donations from Live Aid viewers. As night fell, Sting performed Every Breath You Take as a message to the G8 leaders — "We'll be watching you," he sang. The Who belted out their classic Who Are You? to a backdrop of images of the G8 chiefs. And the crowd went wild for the reunion of '70s supergroup Pink Floyd — the first time guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, keyboard player Richard Wright and bassist Roger Waters had appeared onstage together since 1981. London concertgoer Tula Contostavlos, 19, said she was there to see Mariah Carey — and to send a political message. "Obviously some people are here for just music," she said, "but they're forgetting what's important and what they're here for."




CTV: Live 8 Audience 'Remarkable'

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 4, 2005) Toronto — Despite the lure of the great outdoors on a long weekend, a "stunning" 10.5 million Canadians tuned in Saturday to watch some or all of Live 8 on television, CTV said Monday. The network said one in three Canadians — and 45 per cent of all households — tuned in for the 18-hour, 23-minute broadcast at some point, according to data from BBM Canada. Peak viewership was over two million at 8:16 p.m. EDT when Neil Young closed the show at Park Place in Barrie, Ont., with Keep On Rockin' in the Free World. Coverage of the Canadian concert lasted nine hours and 20 minutes and had an average audience of 1.1 million viewers per minute. "The television audience is even more remarkable when considering that the Live 8 event fell on Canada's July 1 long-weekend and doesn't reflect audiences watching from seasonal residences (cottages)," CTV said in a statement. The broadcast showed every act on the stage in Barrie — there were more than 20 — as well as international hits, sometimes on a split screen, in other locations, including London, Paris, Philadelphia, Johannesburg, Moscow, Berlin, Rome and Tokyo. Around the world there were an estimated two billion Live 8 television viewers. The free concerts were organized by musician Bob Geldof to pressure leaders of the G8 countries at their meeting in Scotland later this week to increase aid to poverty-stricken African countries. CTV said 18 separate feeds were pulled in from all the international concerts, and 23 cameras were in position for the Barrie event. "Never before have the people across this company pulled together to do the impossible and as such, it was a defining moment for CTV," Ivan Fecan, CEO of CTV Inc., said in a statement.







Friends Remember Luther; Questions Surround Death

Excerpt from

(July 5, 2005) Funeral services for Luther Vandross will be held Wednesday and Thursday in New York at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, located at 1076 Madison Avenue (at 81st Street). Public viewings are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. Friday in New York at Riverside Church, located at 490 Riverside Drive.  As the world continues to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Vandross, Fox’s Roger Friedman is reporting that the late singer was caught in the middle of a disagreement over his method of care at the time of his passing.   “What will come out in the next few days will be the story of how his manager, Carmen Romano, fought to keep Luther on track with his medical care,” Friedman writes in his column. “Opposing Romano were Vandross' mother and sister,” who, according to a source, “did not keep appointments he was supposed to have. It was a constant struggle to get Luther the attention he needed." Friedman says he was told that Vandross was having physical therapy at the time of his death. "They were walking him and he just collapsed," a source told him. Vandross, 54, died at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, N.J. The cause of death was not revealed, but a statement released by hospital spokesman Rob Cavanaugh said that Vandross "never really recovered" from a stroke two years ago. The singer suffered from diabetes and severe swings in weight. Artists at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans Friday spoke warmly of the vocalist, whose romantic ballads are most likely responsible for thousands of babies birthed during the eighties.   "I'm gonna try to give a hand to Luther Vandross one more time," John Legend said while onstage, just hours after hearing of the singer’s death. "All us people making slow jams now, we was inspired by the slow jams Luther Vandross was making."

Aretha Franklin spoke of his loss onstage before singing “Precious Memories,” while Alicia Keys said a few words in his memory before dedicating her hit single, “If I Ain’t Got You.”  "I can't believe it, I'm so sad," Keys said backstage. "There's something in the back of your mind that wishes someone was playing a big prank on you. That's how I felt when I found out. I couldn't even believe it. I'm happy to say I can call him my friend. I think he's such a wonderful man that's left behind such a beautiful legacy. That's something that will truly inspire generations to come. We will absolutely miss him. We pray for his family, that they heal, and ... My goodness, this is so sad." Ruben Studdard said of Vandross backstage: "Luther was a big influence on me. I'm blessed to be able to have seen him do his thing and have him influence me musically. I love him. He has been and continues to be a great inspiration to me. He will be truly missed." Patti LaBelle offered: "He was one of the greatest voices that ever sang a song. He was one of the sweetest men I have ever known. And he was one of the best friends I have ever had. I'm so happy that his legacy will live on forever. ... Luther was one of a kind and will never be forgotten. I miss him more than words could ever say." Luther’s everyday fans are feeling the loss just as deeply.  His passing has led to the sudden and dramatic movement of his music on  According to a release from the web site, his CDs dominated the site’s “Movers & Shakers” list for Music, making up 22 of the top 25 spots within 24 hours of his death.   On’s Top Sellers list for Music, “Dance With My Father” shot up from No. 2,835 to No. 3. “The Night I Fell in Love” went from No. 48,400 to No. 6, while Vandross’ “Greatest Hits [Original Recording Remastered]” jumped 57,887 percent from No. 4,639 to No. 8.

For even MORE on Luther, writer and soul music historian David Nathan shares remembrances of his personal friendship with Luther, warts and all, in an exclusive article you'll find here . Also, check out Steve Ivory's thoughts on Luther here.




Luther Vandross dies: Grammy award winning R&B crooner was 54

Source: Associated Press

(July1, 2005) New York — Grammy award winner Luther Vandross, whose deep, lush voice on hits like Here and Now and Any Love sold more than 25 million albums while providing the romantic backdrop for millions of couples worldwide, died Friday. He was 54. Vandross died at 1:47 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, N.J., said hospital spokesman Rob Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh did not release the cause of death. Since suffering a stroke in his Manhattan home on April 16, 2003, the R&B crooner stopped making public appearances — but amazingly managed to continue his recording career. In 2004, he captured four Grammys as a sentimental favourite, including best song for the bittersweet Dance With My Father. Vandross, who was still in a wheelchair at the time, delivered a videotaped thank you. "Remember, when I say goodbye it's never for long," said a weak-looking Vandross. "Because" — he broke into his familiar hit — "I believe in the power of love." Vandross, in addition to his stroke, battled weight problems for years while suffering from diabetes and hypertension. He was arguably the most celebrated R&B balladeer of his generation. He made women swoon with his silky yet forceful tenor, which he often revved up like a motor engine before reaching his beautiful crescendos. Vandross was a four-time Grammy award winner for Best Male R&B Performance, taking home the trophy in 1990 for the single Here and Now, in 1991 for his album Power of Love, in 1996 for the track Your Secret Love and a last time for Dance With My Father. The album, with its single of the same name, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts while Vandross remained hospitalized from his stroke. It was the first time a Vandross album had topped the charts in its first week of release. In 2005, he was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for a duet with Beyonce on The Closer I Get To You.

Vandross' sound was so unusual few tried to copy it; even fewer could. "I'm proud of that — it's one of the things that I'm most proud of," he told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview. "I was never compared to anyone in terms of sound." Vandross' style harkened back to a more genteel era of crooning. While many of his contemporaries and successors belted out tunes that were sexually charged and explicit, Vandross preferred soft pillow talk and songs that spoke to heartfelt emotions. "I'm more into poetry and metaphor, and I would much rather imply something rather than to blatantly state it," he said. "You blatantly state stuff sometimes when you can't think of a poetic way to say it." A career in music seemed predestined for the New York native; both his parents were singers, and his sister, Patricia, was part of a 1950s group called the Crests. But he happily toiled in the musical background for years before he would have his first hit. He wrote songs for projects as varied as a David Bowie album (Fascination) and the Broadway musical The Wiz (Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)), sang backup for acts such as Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, and even became a leading commercial jingle singer. Vandross credited singer Roberta Flack for prodding him to move into the spotlight after listening to one of his future hits, Never Too Much. "She started crying," he recalled. "She said, 'No, you're getting too comfortable (in the background). ... I'm going to introduce you to some people and get your career started."' Vandross' first big hit came as the lead vocalist for the group Change, with their 1980 hit, The Glow of Love. That led to a recording contract with Epic Records, and in 1981, he made his solo recording debut with the disc Never Too Much. The album, which contained his aching rendition of A House is Not a Home, became an instant classic.

Over the years, Vandross would emerge as the leading romantic singer of his generation, racking up one platinum album after another and charting several R&B hits, such as Superstar, Give Me The Reason, and Love Won't Let Me Wait. Yet, while Vandross was a household name in the black community, he was frustrated by his failure to become a mainstream pop star. Indeed, it took Vandross until 1990 to score his first Top 10 hit — the wedding staple Here & Now. "I just wanted more success. I didn't want to suddenly start wearing blond wigs to appeal to anyone," he told the AP. "This is the same voice that sang Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, NBC 'proud as a peacock,' ... America, the world, has heard the voice, so there's no reason that that music shouldn't have gone the complete distance, I mean, to number one." Another frustration for Vandross was his lifelong battle with obesity. Health problems ran in his family, and Vandross struggled for years to control his waistline. When he first became a star, he was a hefty size; a few years later, he was almost skinny. His weight fluctuated so much that rumours swirled that he had more serious health problems than the hypertension and diabetes caused by his large frame. Vandross' two sisters and a brother died before him. The lifelong bachelor never had any children, but doted on his nieces and nephews. The entertainer said his busy lifestyle made marriage difficult; besides, it wasn't what he wanted.




We Remember Luther Vandross: Beloved Singer Dies At The Age Of 54

Excerpt from

(July 1, 2005) *Grammy-winning R&B icon Luther Vandross, whose distinct tenor powered such classic ballads as “Here and Now” and “If This World Were Mine,” died Friday at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, NJ He was 54.   Here is the official press release regarding his death from his record label, J-Records: "At 1:47 PM at JFK Medical Center, Luther Vandross had a peaceful passing under the watchful eye of friends, family and the medical support team.  As you know, Luther Vandross suffered a stroke two years ago, which he never fully recovered from.  Throughout his illness, Luther received excellent medical care and attention from his medical team.  Luther was deeply touched by all the thoughts and wishes from his fans." The singer and songwriter had been ailing since suffering a stroke in April, 2003, that left him in a coma for nearly two months.  His last album, “Dance with My Father,” was released in June 2003 during the same week he emerged from his coma.  Born Luther Ronzoni Vandross on April 20, 1951, in New York, Vandross began his career in the 1970s writing and singing jingles for television commercials. David Bowie discovered him in the mid-seventies and featured the budding talent on his “Young Americans” album. Vandross co-wrote Bowie’s hit single, "Fame," and served as the opening act for the rock star’s tour.  Luther’s wide exposure led to back-up gigs for such artists as Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan and Barbra Streisand. But after signing to Epic/CBS Records as a solo artist, his career took off to new heights. His 1981 single “Never Too Much,” went double platinum in the US and reached No. 19 on Billboard.  Subsequent albums – 1983’s “Forever, for Always, for Love” and 1986’s “Give Me The Reason” – spawned more hits for the R&B powerhouse, and cemented his signature smooth falsetto and trademark belly-rattling run. Vandross’ 1989 greatest hits album, “The Best of Luther Vandross ... The Best Of Love,” gave him his first-ever Top Ten single, “Here And Now.” More hits would come in the 1990s, including 1991's “Power of Love” and a 1994 remake of “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey.  Vandross suffered a stroke on April 16, 2003, and lapsed into a coma.  The illness was believed to be tied to the singer’s diabetes and hypertension, which runs in his family, his mother Mary Vandross had publicly stated. His father Luther Sr. died of complications of diabetes when Luther was five years old. On June 10, 2003, Vandross released the album “Dance With My Father” in memory of his father. The title track won Luther and his co-writer Richard Marx the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.  On the day Vandross came out of his coma, “Dance With My Father” was the No. 1 album in the country.  The disc had become Luther’s career to reach the top position.   Vandross' two sisters and a brother died before him. The crooner had never married or had any children, but lavished love on his nieces and nephews.

Candlelight Vigil For Luther: Saturday evening from 6 PM - until, Project Islamic Hope will sponsor a candlelight vigil will held in Luther's honor in Lemiert Park, 3415 West 43rd Place, in Los Angeles' Crenshaw district.




Lil Kim Sentenced To Prison Time

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong and Houston Williams

(July 6, 2005) Platinum selling rapper Lil’ Kim was sentenced to one year and one day in prison by a federal judge today (July 6), after being convicted on federal perjury and conspiracy charges.   Lil’ Kim was escorted by rappers Freddie Foxxx (Bumpy Knuckles), Maino and a fortress of security that helped fend off a mob of fans as she entered a Manhattan court house to face sentencing.   Kim, born Kimberly Jones, was found guilty in March of 2005 of lying to a federal grand jury about her knowledge of a broad daylight shootout that occurred in 2001 outside Hot 97’s SoHo offices.  The altercation occurred on February 25, 2001 when members of Kim’s Junior M.A.F.I.A. entourage were leaving Hot 97 as men associated with Capone-N-Noreaga were entering the radio station.   The two groups of men were at odds with each other over a song on Capone-N-Noreaga’s album The Reunion, which featured fellow Brooklyn rapper, Foxy Brown.  On the song “Bang, Bang,” Brown hurls insults in Kim’s direction.  Brooklyn don't raise hoes, just slip, and graze hoes/What b**ch? You're soft and your p**sy name hoes/So f**k your ni**as too, them ni**as can get it too/Them f**ots act more b**ch then you/Let the ni**a [Notorious B.I.G.] rest in peace, and hop off his d**k…b**ch do you  The lyrical feud boiled over when the groups collided in a verbal altercation as Kim’s crew was leaving the radio station following an interview.  The drama escalated and a shootout took place on the street, with over 22 shots fired from six different guns, including a machine gun. One man associated with Capone-N-Noreaga was shot in the upper back.  Before the trial commenced, two men linked to Kim - former manger Damion “D-Rock" Butler and bodyguard Suif “Gutta” Jackson - pled guilty to their role in the shootout.  Federal authorities investigating the incident called Kim to testify before a federal grand jury in 2003 about her knowledge of the altercation. Kim repeatedly testified that she didn’t know the person or persons responsible for the shootout.  Jackson pled guilty to gun charges surrounding the incident in September of 2004 and Judge Lynch sentenced him to 12 years in prison due to his involvement in the shooting.  Butler pled in January of 2005 and is awaiting sentencing as of press time.  During the trial, Butler admitted that he fired the handgun outside of the radio station “with the intent of hurting someone.”   Kim entered a not guilty plea in April of 2005 before a federal judge and her attorney Mel Sachs called the allegations “baseless.”  She surrendered in a New York Federal Court and was freed on $500,000 bond.   During the trial, prosecutors produced photographs of Kim standing near Butler shortly before the shooting, as well as a video of several of the suspects entering Lil’ Kim’s limousine following the shooting.

Kim labeled Butler and Jackson former associates who were “greedy and violent” men that were exploiting her and testified that she had ended her relationship with the men prior to the shooting.  During her testimony, Kim said that she couldn’t remember details of the shooting, which she said was “very traumatic.”  "I was shaken by it,” Kim testified. “I couldn't believe it was happening at that very moment."  The jury, made up of five women and seven men, deliberated for almost three days before finding Kim guilty of lying a total of 29 times in three appearances in 2003.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Siebel told the jury that Kim’s testimony was “laughable” and that the rapper may have believed she was above the law.  Kim, who will turn 30 years-old next week, is currently finishing up material for a new album, as well as various television endeavors in anticipation of her stint in federal prison.  As of press time, no word has been given as to whether or not Lil' Kim will appeal the sentence.




10 Questions With Beverley McKee


In this episode of 10 Questions With... (see for previous features) VideoFACT Program Director Beverley McKee talks about her career path and explains the process involved with music video production in Canada.  McKee has a passion for the Canadian music industry, and maintains an artist-friendly environment at VideoFACT. She has been involved in the careers of some of Canada's top directors and musicians since becoming VideoFACT's Program Director in 1997.

Q1: What path did you follow in order to reach this stage of your career and how did you get involved with VideoFACT?

McKee: I was always a big music fanatic and decided I wanted a career in the arts while I was still in high school. I did two years of a journalism degree at Carleton University then decided to switch my major to English language and literature. I also started playing keyboards with an independent rock band in Ottawa that enjoyed a fair amount of success at the time but decided life as a musician was not for me so I moved to Toronto. I had a clerical job at a trucking company my uncle owned but I desperately wanted to work in the music business so I sent out resumes to every record label and music related company I could think of and made phone call after phone call. I finally landed a job as the assistant to the director of public relations at SOCAN which was a great launching pad for me. From there, I moved to Warner/Chappell Music Canada as a talent scout, and finally, in 1997 I was hired on as Program Director of VideoFACT.

Q2: What are your main responsibilities in your role as Program Director of VideoFACT?

I manage all operations and supervise a staff of four. I meet with directors, producers and musicians, both to explain how the program works and also to act as a liaison to the VideoFACT board. I work closely with the Much networks on outreach and public relations initiatives and do a fair amount of public speaking and guest lecturing. I also screen all applications for eligibility, advise the board on production viability of applications received and make sure that approved projects are being produced within the terms and conditions of the VideoFACT and/or PromoFACT contracts.

Q3: What is the most rewarding aspect of your position? What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

When someone like K-OS goes on national television and says that VideoFACT is one of the two most influential things in the Canadian music industry my heart swells with pride. I'm in the enviable position of being able to play a role in developing Canada's stars on both sides of the camera and to me it's a joy and a privilege.

The most challenging aspect of my position is dealing with the many disappointed applicants that are not approved for funding. The reality is that the demand hugely exceeds the money available and the process is hugely competitive. Many artists take it personally when their applications are unsuccessful and they shouldn't. For the most part, an unsuccessful application does not mean that your music is terrible, it simply means that there is not enough money to go around.

Q4: Please describe the process that is undertaken during the decision-making process.

VideoFACT has six deadlines a year and each deadline we receive between around 330 to 390 applications. After applications are screened for eligibility they are reviewed over a two-day period by a nine-person board of directors. The board is made up of representatives from the Much stations, and six independent members appointed by the Chairman and voted in by the board. Special care is taken to make sure that various genres of music and regions of Canada are represented on the board. The board judges applications based on the strength of the track, the strength of the visual treatment, the viability of the budget, the marketing impact a video will have on the artists career, the likelihood of the Much stations being able to play the video, the success of past videos in terms of rotation and audience reaction, and buzz surrounding the act, in that order. However, the single most important element is the strength of the track.

Q5: On a yearly basis how much money is invested in the Canadian music industry through VideoFACT?

The number changes each year. VideoFACT's entire budget comes from a percentage of annual revenue from MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and MusiquePlus. When I started in 1997, the budget was about $1.5 million, and since then it has grown to $4.5 million. VideoFACT supports both new and established artists, so the process is very competitive. We receive roughly $6.5 million worth of requests each deadline and our budget each deadline is about $800,000.00.

Q6: How do you define the purpose of a music video?

A music video is a marketing tool to sell product. Music video can raise industry awareness but to my mind that's a very secondary function. I believe that artists should do music videos only when they have product in place for sale. What if you get a video in heavy rotation, some kid in Edmonton sees the video, decides he or she loves it and wants to buy the album? It's an opportunity wasted if there is no product available either in traditional retail outlets or for sale online.

Q7: What excites you the most about Canada's music industry? What drives your passion to do your work?

Witnessing the success of artists and directors that I've helped out in the very early stages of their careers is hugely gratifying. I've made many friends and shared many successes. So many Canadian acts are breaking internationally right now, it's a very exciting time.

Q8: What are some of the common mistakes you've seen artists make when applying for funding?

The single most common mistake we see is the artist applying before they have a finished master. We often get very rough and poorly recorded mixes which just don't have a chance given the level of competition. Another common mistake is incomplete applications. If a non-complete application is submitted, it does not even go to the board. We pull it immediately. Finally, artists often make the mistake of allowing the production team to submit the application before they have reviewed the treatment. It's very important that the artist review the visual treatment before it goes to the board because if we do approve the application then you are required to produce the video you proposed in your application. We very rarely allow changes to the visual treatment and then only under very extenuating circumstances.

Q9: What are three key tips you can offer to artists that they can do to set their application apart from the pack?

            a. Submit the strongest song you have. Be honest with yourself and if the song is not as strong as what you are hearing on the radio or seeing on rotation on the Much networks, then keep writing until you have a song you truly believe is competitive.
                b. Be proactive with the production team submitting your application and make sure all the elements are in place. Work with the director to come up with a strong visual treatment that reflects what you are saying as an artist and that stands out from the crowd.
                c. Submit a professional promotional photo, preferably two or three different shots if you have them. Music video is a visual medium and we want to see what you look like. Amateurish snap shots make you look like an amateur, so invest in some good photos.

Q10: How has the Canadian music scene changed over the past five years, and where do you see the major opportunities for the industry in the next five years?

The most significant change I've seen is that more and more artists are taking the indie route and doing so successfully by retaining ownership of their masters and simply forging distribution deals with majors or large indies in various territories. They are marketing themselves in a much more region specific and grassroots way and retaining control over their careers that they may have previously relinquished.

Traditional retail has shrunk significantly but there has been a huge growth in DVD sales and more artists are publicizing and selling their music online. Publishing remains a strong side of the music business especially with more opportunities to place songs in non-traditional media outlets. As well, it will be interesting to see what opportunities arise from the new satellite radio systems recently approved by the CRTC. Already, internet radio provides alternative formats to suit any taste in music. Satellite radio will only open it up even further.

UMAC thanks Beverley for sharing this insight with us. The next VideoFACT deadline is Thursday, September 1, 2005. Visit or for more info.




2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards Will Take Place November 4-5, 2005


The 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards will take place Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5 in Toronto.

Friday, November 4 - Gala Awards Dinner
Saturday, November 5 - UMAC Music Lab Workshop & Televised Awards

Thank you for submitting your votes for the new award category this year. You selected Community Service as the award category that you would like to see recognized. This award will honour an individual or organization who has positively contributed to the urban music community through volunteer work.

2005 Award Categories:

R&B Recording of the Year
Hip Hop Recording of the Year
Dance/Electronic Recording of the Year
Reggae Recording of the Year
Soca Recording of the Year
Jazz Recording of the Year
Blues Recording of the Year
Gospel Recording of the Year
Global Rhythms Recording of the Year
Francophone Recording of the Year
Spoken Word Recording of the Year
New Artist of the Year
Songwriter of the Year
Producer of the Year
Record Label of the Year
Music Video of the Year
DJ/DJ Crew of the Year
Media Personality of the Year
Publication of the Year
Website of the Year
Concert Promoter/Booking Agent of the Year
Manager/Management Company of the Year
*NEW CATEGORY: Community Service Award
Special Achievement Award Recipient
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Fan's Choice Award

Nomination submissions for the 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards will be accepted from Monday, July 11 through to Friday, August 5.

The eligibility period for the 2005 CUMA recording categories is between June 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. Recordings must have been released commercially - to retail or radio - during this time period).

When the nominations process closes, the nominees (up to five in each category) will be announced and the voting process for UMAC members (and the public for the Fan's Choice Award) will commence. The voting process will take place from Thursday, September 15 to Friday, October 7, 2005.

For the nominations submission process, please keep the following points in mind:
- Artists, songwriters, producers, and other industry representatives are invited to submit their own names for consideration for awards. An individual/group does not have to be nominated by someone else.
- The eligibility period for the 2005 CUMA recording categories is between June 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. Recordings must have been released commercially (to retail or radio) during this time period.
- In order to be eligible for a CUMA, a recording must either be available for sale on-line or for retail sale or have received airplay on commercial radio in Canada during the eligibility period. Recordings do not require national distribution in order to be considered.
- Submissions do not have to meet CanCon regulations to qualify for a CUMA. As long as the artist is born a Canadian or is a landed immigrant residing in Canada during the eligibility period, the product qualifies.

Starting on Monday, July 11, visit for the nomination overview and to download the nomination submission forms for the 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards.




T.O. Reggae Artist Followed Her Soul And Found Fame On Her Own

Excerpt from The Toronto Sun - By Nicholas Davis

(June 27, 2005) It was a lucky break that landed Sonia Collymore a gig as a backup singer for Jamaica's Beres Hammond -- one of the most famous reggae singers in the world.  "He had two harmony singers who lived in Toronto," Collymore recalls. "One of them was going back to school and Beres' manager asked her if she could recommend someone to replace her. She told him the only person she could think of was her friend Sonia. And that was me."  Luckily for Collymore, she was more than ready for the opportunity. "I used to practice in front of the mirror singing harmonies and pretending I was Diana Ross pretty much every day since I was a kid. And I knew the lyrics to all of Hammond's songs."  The first gig Collymore did with Hammond was in Barbados, her place of birth. Her entire family was there to share the moment with her. "It was an amazing experience," she remembers. "Here I was on stage with a legend like Beres Hammond and when I looked into the crowd I could see my family there giving me support. It was just unbelievable."  For the next six years Collymore travelled the world singing harmonies for Hammond. During this time she learned a lot about the music business and started thinking about going out as a solo artist. Naturally, she sought some advice from Hammond. 


"Beres wanted me to do traditional reggae," Collymore says. "I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do some pop-music-style reggae. He really wasn't feeling what I wanted to do so we parted terms amicably."  Back at home in Toronto, Collymore went to work on her solo career. She released a single called Breathe. It went on to become a big hit in the local reggae scene; so big she ended up winning two Canadian Reggae Music Awards in 2001 -- top female reggae newcomer and top reggae single.  The next year Collymore was named the top female reggae singer at the awards. Things even got better in 2003 when she won the Juno Award for reggae recording for her single You Won't See Me Cry.  "Winning the Juno was pretty incredible," she says. "But it was also frustrating because people really didn't have access to the record because we pressed it as seven-inch single and it was hard to get."  The Juno win helped Collymore get some extra work as a performer, but she realized she would have to put out an album to get the recognition she felt she deserved. While working as an executive assistant from nine to five, she used her nights and weekends to complete her 14-track debut album, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).  The album was released last November, just in time to qualify for this year's Junos. And much to her surprise, the album won the 2005 Juno for reggae recording of the year.  "I never thought I would win again, but when the host had trouble pronouncing the name of the winning album I knew it was mine," she says.


After winning her second Juno in three years, Collymore is starting to feel the impact the awards have on a career. Her record sales have increased, she's been invited to perform in more high-end concerts, and just last week she inked a distribution deal with Fusion 3 out of Montreal. They will be re-releasing her album in July. 

Coinciding with the re-release, Collymore will be busy performing in July. She'll be at Dundas Square on the 9th as part of the Toronto Street Music Festival, the Mod Club on July 18 with David Rudder, and on July 2 7 she'll perform at the TD Gardens for their noon concert series.




Profile On Michael Perlmutter, Director Of Music Supervision, S.L. Feldman & Associates

Source: - By Wendy Vincent, UMAC Publicity Director

Have you ever wondered how that music from jacksoul made it to Bravo's Show Me Yours or who is the personnel behind having that Hip Hop track on the new Rogers Wireless TV ad? Many years ago, I had the pleasure to meet Michael Perlmutter of S.L. Feldman & Associates (SLFA) during one of writer Karen Bliss' music meet and greets at The Big Bop in Toronto. Perlmutter has a proven track record for putting music to moving pictures in this country and has played an integral role in the placement of urban music in Canadian film and television.

With a background in music advertising, music publishing and artist management, Perlmutter joined SLFA as a Music Supervisor for Film & TV in 1997. In addition to the CBC programs Straight Up and Drop the Beat, he has been responsible for music on Queer as Folk, and Don McKellar's feature films Child Star and Last Night.

When asked to identify a specific point in time when urban music became a conspicuous part of the request list from film and television production companies in Canada, Perlmutter recounts that "in 1997, SLFA worked with CBC Television's Straight Up series. The show featured characters and their world in the urban community." The music behind the series was exclusively Hip Hop and consisted of artists such as Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, and Saukrates. Straight Up aired for one season and the producers created a spin-off called Drop The Beat, which aired on CBC-TV for two seasons. Starring Michie Mee, the Queen of Canadian Hip Hop, the program focused on a Hip Hop show on a college radio station. "Once again, for Drop The Beat, we used only Hip Hop and R&B…artists such as Bishop, Kardinal, Choclair, Maestro, Citizen Kane, Ghetto Concept, Jemeni and Tara Chase."

As Hip Hop continues to define mainstream popular music, film and television have taken copious notes and other medium are following closely. When asked to shed some light on some of the "untraditional" sources of request for urban music, Perlmutter teaches us that while advertisers are an 'untraditional' client prospect for Hip Hop artists, the genre itself is prevalent everywhere. This includes video games, ads, trailers, action adventure movies, TV shows. In his years of experience, Perlmutter believes that there is nothing untraditional anymore - everything goes and everything is available to all artists.

He goes on to explain that the current spectrum of urban music is well represented with today's technology and is well within reach of its target audience. The most growth or increase in requests from the genre at the moment is from video games, commercials and trailers for films. "The music industry is reaping huge rewards with placements of songs in video games; it's a marketing machine and a way for new/established artists to be heard by millions even before the song is released to the public! It's in the game and out to consumers two months before conventional means."

So, exactly what happens in the day in the life of a Canadian music supervisor? Well, once Perlmutter and his colleagues are finished reading a script, they meet with producers to identify what kind of music they are looking for. "Then, we watch a 'rough cut' of the episode and suggest a few songs," Perlmutter continues. "For example, in the case of a prospective opportunity to place urban music in a show, a montage of shots needs a hip hop song talking about the neighbourhood. Next, the group selects an appropriate fitting song and get clearance via management, etc."

Perlmutter advises urban music managers to understand what direction they want to take their artist's career. He sites the full spectrum of possibilities when he offers that if one is determined to break their artist across the lines then do it - get it out there...send to ad agencies, music supervisors, film companies, editors and directors. However, he also cautions managers and artists to be smart; in Canada and some US TV shows and films, the fees are not huge. To avoid disappointment early and often, Perlmutter has done well over the course of his career by emphasizing the importance of proper negotiation and without resentment about how low fees my be. Lastly, Permultter recommends licensing music as often as you can without over saturation. And, many artists and managers would agree with Perlmutter when he signs off by seeking opportunities to place your music, as performed live on a potential show or movie.

For more information on S.L. Feldman & Associates, visit




Raspy Voice And All, King Can Still Dazzle On Stage

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alan Niester

(July 5, 2005) It's a virtual pop critic's cliché (something I know a lot about) to wax enthusiastic about how some artists create a performance so intimate that it feels as if the audience were watching them perform in their own home. Veteran singer/songwriter has actually managed to beat the critical community to the punch by aiming upfront for that very feeling. When the 63-year old songwriting legend appeared on the Casino Rama stage for the first show of a two-night stay Sunday, she did so as part of her so-called Living Room Tour, performing her entire show on a stage set complete with sofa, armchair and side tables, and which was accessorized by potted plants and framed photographs. It was an Ikea catalogue come to life, and while this wouldn't work too well for many of her ilk, for King, it seemed the perfect way to go. Sunday's show actually had its roots in a series of concerts she performed last summer (in effect, part one of the Living Room Tour), but last year's shows were generally held in much more intimate settings. Her appearances here upped the ante considerably, and found King performing before what were probably her biggest audiences in at least a decade. But this appearance suggested exactly why King's performances have been so few and far between recently. Whether it was a temporary condition or a fact of life at age 63, the reality is that King's voice is, to put it as painlessly as possible, not exactly what it was during her glory days of the early 1970s. She has developed a noticeable Rod Stewart rasp, most evident in the high notes and higher volumes. And while Stewart's burr is a unique and satisfying trademark, for King, not so much. In fact, on one particularly discordant bellow during Say Goodbye Today, the gentleman behind me actually started to laugh, thinking it was a joke. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

It is worth noting that the condition seemed to improve as the evening progressed, but whether that was because King had actually stretched out those vocal cords or the listeners simply became accustomed to the grating rasp is hard to say. Probably a little of both. That being said, the opportunity to actually watch one of pop music's most successful songwriters ever was still worth such minor inconveniences as weekend traffic and scratchy crescendos. Ms. King has a history that spans more than four decades. Her credits stretch as far back as 1961's Will You Love Me Tomorrow (a hit for the Shirelles) and also include such other standards as One Fine Day, Up On The Roof and Take Good Care Of My Baby. Writing with partner (and eventual husband) Gerry Goffin, the pair actually wrote over 100 charted songs during the 1960s. Then, of course, came the singer-songwriter period of the seventies. Topped by the phenomenal 25-million-selling success of 1971's Tapestry (which included such classics as It's Too Late and So Far Away), it can truthfully be claimed King practically spawned the whole singer/songwriter genre. Sunday's 90-minute performance was a satisfying glimpse of some of the high points. "I'm 63/ and there are so many songs by me," she sang during the cabaret-style opener Songs Of Long Ago/Welcome To My Living Room. That led into a couple of early classics, a piano-pounding Up On The Roof and a version of Tapestry's Where You Lead that King noted was rewritten slightly when used as a theme song for the television show Gilmore Girls. During the performance, King was joined by guitarist Rudy Guess and, later, singer/guitarist Gary Burr. Burr took a few vocal leads mid-set, presumably to give King a bit of a break. There were two highlights in the performance. After King and Burr split the vocals on a version of Smackwater Jack, King returned to her piano for a solo medley of 1960s hits, including Keep Your Hands Off My Baby(recorded way back when by Little Eva, who was, incidentally, originally King's babysitter), Some Kind of Wonderful, Go Away Little Girl and One Fine Day. And the subtle and understated versions of So Far Away and You've Got A Friend that closed the show were a strong indicator that King is most satisfying at this stage when she is not trying to push her vocals too hard. Her two Casino Rama appearances (Sunday and yesterday) kicked off a summer tour that will find its way (on July 13) to New York City's Radio City Music Hall. It will mark the first time King has performed in her hometown in about a dozen years. In this karaoke age when just about everybody feels compelled to sing along (It's Too Late and A Natural Woman were good examples Sunday), the timing of King's full-blown return to the stage could not be better.




Explosive End To 10-Day Blast

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(July 4, 2005) "Keep The Music Simple" was the message New Orleans jazz/R&B/rock legend Dr. John — aka Mac Rebennack — brought to the final concert last night of the 19th Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival.  It was his opening number, a great, fat, swaggering disco groove built — as are most of Rebennack's songs — around a simple vocal lick and an irresistible bottom-heavy backbeat.  Funky and loose, the piece set the tone for the remainder of his 90-minute show, and symbolized the most memorable thematic characteristics of the 10-day event: Diversity, artistic generosity and inclusiveness.  "We're back on track," festival president Pat Taylor told the Star, referring to recent years in which the programming suffered for lack of corporate funding after tobacco money was disallowed by government edict.  "Every (ticketed) concert was a sell-out. We have secure funding through at least 2007. We had the best weather in our history, and we're looking forward to something special for our 20th anniversary next year."  Though the festival's core remains solidly mainstream jazz — Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove and Joshua Redman were among this year's luminaries — the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, like festivals spotlighting other musical genres, is venturing more into blues, rock, world music and folk for celebrity name draws that also fit within its expanding definition.

Typical of this shift was the pairing Dr. John and his excellent band — drummer Herman Ernest III, bassist David Barard and guitarist John Fohl — with Toronto harmonica dog Carlos Del Junco and an astonishingly versatile trio of bassist Henry Heilig, drummer Jordan John and guitarist Shawn Kellerman.  While Rebennack's public relations bumf lumps him in with New Orleans jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong, the gifted pianist owes more to bayou mythology, swamp boogie and R&B than to traditional jazz and pure improvisation.  Dr. John's powerful grooves, acidic chuckle and voodoo mystique — he performed last night with what appeared to me a monkey's skull on his piano — are the stuff of pure pop invention, and when they're extended beyond their natural reach, as they were towards the end of last night's set, the music moves even farther away from jazz and into psychedelic impressionism.  That was a perfect fit with Cuban-born Del Junco's barnstorming, genre-defying performance, which brought the packed house to its feet and seemed destined for an encore when the house lights were raised.  An absolutely breathtaking — literally, given the immense capacity of his lungs — master of perhaps the most primitive instrument in the musical cupboard, the straight harp, De Junco and his very muscular band ripped through boundaries that usually separate jazz, hard rock, blues, ska, and folk, uttering sounds for which the harmonica was never intended, and vesting the simple reed instrument with a dignity it hasn't possessed since Dutch jazz harpist Toots Thielemans brought it to serious music concert halls in the 1960s.  No wonder Rebennack seemed a little ticked off that after an hour of laying down some of the most formidable dance music in the R&B canon, the crowd was still sitting. They were clearly relaxing in the grooves after Del Junco's stunning assault.  "I came all the way from New Orleans, and y'all are still on your ass. Why ain't you dancin' yet?"  They didn't need to be asked a second time.




Lowdown: War Child doc Captures Sum 41 in Congo

By Karen Bliss for Lowdown

"Rocked: Sum 41 In Congo," the War Child Canada documentary which captures the Toronto rock band's May 2004 trip to the Democratic Republic Of Congo -- including their much-reported evacuation from the town of Bukavu as shots and mortar fire -- will air this summer on MTV in the U.S. and MuchMusic in Canada.  A DVD will be released late summer/early fall.  "I remember so much more that didn't make it," says Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley after viewing the documentary. "I don't know what it looks like to someone who has no idea what to expect."  Directors George Vale and Adrian Calender did an amazing job of distilling the footage from the 10-day visit into 52 minutes. While members of Sum 41 -- Whibley, guitarist Dave Baksh, bassist Jason "Cone" McCaslin, and drummer Steve Jocz -- narrate the experience, key statistics and information about the war-ravaged region flash on the screen.  Brought on by the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, which saw millions of refugees fleeing into the Congo, in addition to the extremists who had committed the atrocities, the civil and regional war has since claimed 3.5 million lives since it began in 1996. That figure is more than any other war since World War II. Much of the conflict is over control of coltan, a mineral commonly used in cell phones and video games, valuable to the western world.   "I'm dangerous, so I'm not afraid to go," we see Baksh joke at the outset of the trip.  After visiting with U.N. peacekeepers at United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), on day three Sum 41 hangs out with "dudes with rocket launchers," feeling safe. We next see the guys brave up-close-and-personal encounters with a 500-pound gorilla in the jungle (yes, the primate, not guerilla). There are some funny moments, such as Whibley yanking on Cone's sleeve to get him out of sight.

Among the highlights of the humanitarian trip for Sum 41 was Solidarity Action For Children In Distress (SOCD), a music therapy camp, where the kids sing and dance for the guys and they reciprocate with a nah-nah-ed rendition of The Beatles' "Hey Jude." They didn't feel their own music -- which can be heard throughout the documentary -- would go over very well because you can't dance to it, they claim, but didn't fare much better with The Fab Four.  The other impactful experience was Eckabana House, an orphanage for girls, who have been banished from their homes for witchcraft. Many Congolese families, we learn, believe that suffering is caused by sorcery and blame the girls in the family.  The band stayed at The Orchid hotel on Lake Kivu in Bukavu, an idyllic town with a sign declaring, "Welcome to Bukavu, the tourist capital of the Congo." One night, shots ring out, alarming the guys and crew, who had been told that a UN-brokered peace accord deal had been in place for two years. Josz, a master of understatement, says: "I'm in some kind of pickle here."  They are informed it is a shootout between soldiers, after the Congolese detained some senior Rwandan officials who were trying to pass back into Rwanda a kilometre away. We hear the boom of the mortar, see the band's stoic but concerned reactions, and meet MONUC camp manager Charles Pelletier, the now infamous Canadian, Chuck, after whom Sum 41 named its latest album.  The subsequent safety procedures and evacuation of 35 Congolese and 15 foreigners from the Hotel Orchid by UN peacekeepers is completely documented. After arriving safely at MONUC five minutes away, the band is loaded on a bus with others, where they are instructed to crouch down, use their bags as protection and cover their faces in the event a bullet pierces the window on the ride to the airport.  While the harrowing ordeal may have been caught on tape, it is but a small part of "Rocked: Sum 41 In Congo" and just helps to underscore what the Congolese people and particularly the innocent children continue to endure. Sum 41 lived in fear for a couple of days. The Congolese live in fear every day.  "It's hard because I know so much about what's going on there and I was there and I saw so much more, so for me it's like, 'Ah that didn't make it. That didn't make it. That wasn't in there.' There's just so much stuff that couldn't possibly make it," says Whibley. "I think it's pretty informative, but you can't get enough out of it unless you actually go. You'll always be able to get more if you actually go."  Sum 41 is continuing its relationship with War Child Canada and the Congo by helping to rebuild one of the schools outside Bukavu.




'I Am The Only One Who Went Back'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(July 2, 2005) VANCOUVER -- The journey that has brought Louis Moholo to Vancouver this week began 41 years ago with a train ride from South Africa to Mozambique and from there a flight to Paris. The young Cape Town drummer was a member at the time of the Blue Notes, six South African jazz musicians -- five black and one white -- who played American hard bop of the 1950s in a lean, visceral style of their own. This, under the forbidding scrutiny of their country's apartheid regime. Having made good their escape into exile in 1964, the Blue Notes remained abroad permanently, settling the next year, now as a quintet, in London and later dispersing throughout Europe. But Moholo, now 65, is the only surviving member of what was ultimately an ill-fated band; two of his fellow musicians died in their 30s, trumpeter Mongezi Feza in 1975 and bassist Johnny Dyani in 1986, and two in their 50s, pianist Chris McGregor and alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, both in 1990.  Their memories and their music nevertheless survive, both in the legend and lore of British jazz and in the occasional appearances (since 1992) of the 26-piece Dedication Orchestra, which celebrates the legacy of the Blue Notes and their successor under Chris McGregor's direction, the Brotherhood of Breath, a wonderful big band that married South African rhythms to the passions and processes of the American and European avant-garde. The Dedication Orchestra, with Moholo in his rightful place at the drums and such noted British figures as saxophonists Lol Coxhill and Evan Parker, trombonist Paul Rutherford and singers Phil Minton and Maggie Nichols out front, will do two concerts on this final weekend of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival -- the first at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre tonight and the second with Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts tomorrow.

Moholo is once again living in Cape Town, though only since last November. Naturally he regrets that the other Blue Notes did not live to see the end of apartheid in the 1990s. "Some of my friends never went back," he admits, during an interview the morning after his 20-hour flight to Vancouver. He's a bit guarded, though not unfriendly, solidly built but soft of both voice and handshake. "I am the only one who went back. It's sad for me to be in this situation. They never realized their dream; their dream was to free South Africa." But their dream was also to play jazz, and in that they succeeded. "The desire to leave South Africa was always there," Moholo explains, "because when I was listening to jazz, I was thinking, 'Where does it come from? From America? Wow, I want to go there.' " Instead, Blue Notes wound up staying in Europe, where their influence would be felt deeply by generations of musicians. Moholo is diplomatic when asked to assess the immediacy and the extent of the band's impact, saying only, "It's for the British to tell you." He suggests, however, that the Blue Notes arrived in London resolutely faithful to the jazz tradition as they had gleaned it at home from American recordings and older South African musicians. "We carried this loyalty to the music, this honesty, into England and to the West and we just socked it. Because we came from South Africa and South Africa teaches you to play right. You can't mess around; if you play nonsense, people will tell you so to your face." Other South Africans were also beginning to make themselves known to the world, not least the pianist Dollar Brand, the singer Miriam Makeba and the trumpeter Hugh Masekela. "The Blue Notes came with another vibe," Moholo observes, "absolutely another vibe. Not better, but another level, another impact, another dimension." As for the British view, well, the trombonist Annie Whitehead is quoted in Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath, a biography by McGregor's wife Maxine, as saying, "I think the Blue Notes did have a tremendous influence; they were out of time, and they were out of place as well. They had an energy they'd been born with and they'd been brought up with and that we haven't got over here."

Alto saxophonist Chris Biscoe, who's in Vancouver with the Dedication Orchestra, remembers the first edition of the Brotherhood of Breath, which had its start at London's Old Place in 1967. "The height of my ambition -- apart from playing with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, which never happened, of course -- was to play in that band." London in turn gave the South Africans their first taste of freedom. "Freedom of expression," Moholo says, his voice rising at the memory, "freedom of speech . . . FREEDOM!" Never mind that they were all relatively young, and that the adjustment to their new found state of liberty might have been difficult. "We wanted it," Moholo counters. "We didn't want to be chased by the police all the time. We weren't chased by the police [in Britain], so we had time to ourselves. We found ourselves practising every day in London, whereas in South Africa we'd practise maybe two times a week with the Blue Notes. And we could rub shoulders with [expatriate American stars] Ben Webster, Don Byas, Kenny Clarke -- sit with them and have a drink with them. Me and Dudu, we sat one day drinking brandy with Miles Davis in Zurich. So we came to the West with something and it gave us something back, too." Indeed it has given Moholo -- if only Moholo among the Blue Notes -- a long and quite glorious career, one that has seen him lead his own bands, including Viva La Black, and work with Cecil Taylor, Alex Schlippenbach and other noted figures in the jazz avant-garde. He remembers himself as the young drummer who first left South Africa 41 years ago. "I had some muscle then, and I was tough, you know, because I came from that country. I was willing to roll up my sleeves and have a go. And didn't we? Didn't we just have a go?" The question is rhetorical, but Moholo has his own enthusiastic response. "We did, man. We're still having it now. I'm still having a go, man."




BET Awards Highlights: From The Red Carpet

Excerpt from - By Danna Kiel /

(July 5, 2005) As Tuesday, June 28 grew closer, it was with great anticipation that everyone looked forward to the 5th Annual telecast of the BET Awards at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Will and Jada that is would host this year’s celebration. The award show promos not only had Will and Jada exercising their comedic muscle, but included their children getting a piece of the witty action.  Similar bumpers played throughout the evening which even had the Smiths satirizing the current film Mr. & Mrs. Smith starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, as well as, poking fun at themselves naming their own flops like “Woo” and “Wild Wild West.” The energy was high as fans stood in the heat watching the arrivals of their favourite stars by limo or in the case of West Coast Rapper and Bad Boy recording artist, The Game driving himself into the melee’ down a blocked off Hollywood Boulevard. The very award show evening begins with the Red Carpet. The BET Awards were no exception. The Red Carpet was lined on each side with fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. The questions on everybody’s minds are “who’s coming?” and “what are they wearing?”   Destiny’s Child were hailed by all Entertainment news cast’s as best dressed. Gabrielle Union pulled into second place with the same honour according to Access Hollywood. Halle Berry, Vivica Fox and hosts Will and Jada were also in the “Best Dressed” mix. Common opened the Red Carpet pre Awards show with his current hit single “Go” from his latest opus, “Be” produced by double award (Best Male Hip Hop Artist and Best Video) winner and last year’s Best New Artist, Kanye West. Bobby Valentino also performed his hit single “Slow Down” during the pre award show fervour.    The Red Carpet is of course the show before the show. While it is a parade, it is also an opportunity to get up close and personal for just a few minutes and find out what’s going on with favourites like Judge Mathis with whom we spoke about Cosby’s comments from last year and Michael Eric Dyson’s response in book form this year, “It took a lot of courage for him to say what he said. He may have been a little too general in his comments, but Dr. Cosby has done more for African Americans than all of his critics put together if anybody deserves the benefit of the doubt, its Mr. Cosby.”

When asked about his nomination and his last year of his success, Anthony Hamilton says, “it’s a not only a great year but I am having a great life. My new album will be turned in this August and should be out around October. I also just had a previously unreleased project come out on Soul Life Atlantic Records today.” Tre Smith (Will’s Son) was one of the first to come down the carpet and shared his thoughts on Will and Jada’s hosting responsibilities, “I thought ‘wow’ at first that’s crazy, but then I thought it’s actually great.”  Remy Ma, winner Best Female Hip Hop, was astonished to hear she’d been nominated upon receiving the news she simply said, “word!” After winning later in the evening, she explained that “even being nominated means someone recognizes what you’re doing they recognize your hustle.”  Beloved actor Darryl “Chill” Mitchell paralyzed from the waist down after motorcycle accident about 3 years ago updated us on his latest project, “Inside Man” directed by Spike Lee starring two time Oscar winner and BET Humanitarian Award winner, Denzel Washington. “Denzel is just all into working with the script and everything, he’s just really hands on and that’s what you want!” Darryl recounted. The cast includes Jodie Foster and Willem Dafoe  Amiri Ben Ari, violinist nominated Best Hip Hop Female, spent a little time with us on her way into the awards. She was excited about her nomination as she is the only instrumentalist in the category. She talked about the nomination first, “I was just very humbled and just very excited about people’s support of what I do and their support of live music.” When asked about classical music and working in Hip Hop, “well, I was doing classical and I still do classical but I wanted to flip it and do it my way,” she exclaimed. When asked what do her parents think (Ms. Ari is Israeli), “they think I am crazy.”  Veteran Director, Robert Townsend, currently President of the African American Family Network in Atlanta serving 30 million households came on down the carpet to speak with the EUR. We talked the LA Times reported slump in Theater Box Office here and abroad, particularly what it means for African American filmmakers, “business as usual” Robert said with a sly smile.

Lil Wayne, nominated for Best Collaboration with Destiny’s Child, is currently serving as President of Cash Money Records and attending his second semester of college at the University of Houston majoring in Sports Psychology explained how the collaboration came about, “they called and I said yeah,” he smiled and said. Lil Wayne has a sports management agency and believes his major will help him run his company, “ I have a lot of young players and I don’t want them to fail,” he declared. MC Lyte, rapper turned actress in the UPN hit comedy Half and Half talked about how the role came about, doing comedy and her character’s direction. “Well, Yvette Lee Bowser (creator) created the role and called me. Comedy is no problem I have always been funny (she laughed), it’s just all about timing,” she told us.  Selena Johnson, talented vocalist and Jive recording artist with two critically acclaimed albums to her credit came front and center last year after singing the hook for the Kanye West hit, “All Falls Down” talked a little about her album. “Kanye has a track on my new album which comes out September 13th ,” she shared with us on her way into the show.  Platinum Rapper also turned CEO, Lil Zane stopped to tell us about his latest ventures. “I have single at radio, ‘Twirk Dat’ ‘can you twirk dat?’” he asked the reporter next to me. We also talked about the balance between artist and business man, “when I want to be an artist I put on my baseball cap; when I am handling my business I put on my thinking cap,” he explained. His date took it a little further, “he’s a cancer and cancers are known for being multifunctional.”  Gospel’s favourite energizer bunny, Tye Tribbett spent a few minutes with us talking about the impending performance with American Idol, Fantasia. We first had to talk about the voluminous energy with which he & GA perform and he explained it this way, “Capn’Crunch and Ginseng…just kidding it comes from God. The Bible says that David danced right out of his clothes but David had the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God but so we have to praise him and give him the Glory like David!” On taking the stage with Fantasia he gushed and told us, “we were doing a sound-check and I just turned into a fan. I am so excited” Tye exclaimed as he moved toward the doors. We had the privilege and the pleasure to speak with Nicci Gilbert (Brownstone) who just finished her run with Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and Hip Hop Soul singer, Monifah who have banded with some other great divas Taral Hicks and Dede McKinney to name a few for a play, Nicci wrote entitled “Soul Kids Cabaret” which she described as, “Chicago meets Players Club meets Harlem nights.” From this play and the cast has come a cover of the Emotions hit song, “Best of My Love” which will be serviced to radio July 7. We grabbed awesome actor and according to some reports Halle Berry’s boyfriend, Michael Ealy. We of course talked about his work with the Oscar Award winner on the critically acclaimed made for TV movie adapted from the novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Well, I was just grateful for the honour. I never thought given Teacake’s physical description it would be a role I’d get to do. It is also such a great novel and a great story. My goal when I started out as an actor was just to work and bring integrity back to the craft,” Michael told us. Where can we expect to see him next? The Showtime series, “Sleeper Cell” where Michael plays a Muslim FBI Agent investigating a terrorist cell in Los Angeles. The Red Carpet is truly the show before the show. You can get the 411 on your favourites and more.




BET Awards '05 Shatters All-Time Viewership Mark

Source: Michael Lewellen,; Tosha Whitten-Griggs,

(July 1, 2005)     Los Angeles, CA - It was a night like no other at the 2005 BET AWARDS as the network's annual salute to superlative performances in music, entertainment and sports lit up the Hollywood skyline and the Kodak Theatre on Tuesday. Fans responded accordingly by making that premiere showing BET's most-watched telecast in the network's history with 6.6 million viewers (5.1 rating, 4.1 million households) watching the three-and-a-half-hour program according to Nielsen Media Research. Now in its fifth year, the '05 BET AWARDS will have encore showings on July 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT and July 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.  The 2005 viewership numbers marked a double-digit increase for the BET AWARDS telecast across all metered categories. Total viewers increased a whopping 16% versus the 5.7 million from 2004; households jumped 12% compared to 3.6 million; and the overall rating climbed 11% against the 4.6 generated in '04. BET again teamed with Cossette Productions, famed producers of the GRAMMY Awards® and the four previous record-setting BET AWARDS shows, to handle production of the telecast.

The BET AWARDS POST-SHOW: THE AFTERSHOCK, hosted by BET News anchor Jacque Reid and Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier, maximized momentum from the awards telecast, too, grabbing 3.4 million viewers (2.36 rating, 2.1 million households). It's now the most-watched BET AWARDS POST-SHOW ever, increasing its audience by 9% over 2004.  Rapper/producer impresario Kanye West was the evening's big winner, grabbing awards for Best Male Hip Hop Artist and for Video of the Year for his spiritual composition "Jesus Walks." First-time BET AWARDS nominees Ciara and John Legend each walked away with trophies, as Ciara won for Best Collaboration for her tandem with rapper Missy Elliott on "1, 2 Step," and Legend scored as Best New Artist. Multi-platinum songstress Alicia Keys took home her first BET Award as well, being crowned Best Female R&B Artist. BET also used the star-studded night to honour music legend Gladys Knight with the network's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta with the BET Humanitarian Award.  Former B2k phenom Omarion won the coveted Viewers' Choice Award, voted on prior to and in real time on the website throughout the telecast. This was also the first year that viewers could vote via major wireless carriers. A total of 805,479 votes were cast in the hotly-contested category.  BET's big night exploded with amazing performances and special salutes as Hollywood power couple Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith served as hosts for the first time. Bringing the audience to its feet from the beginning was a surprise reunion of Lauryn Hill and the Fugees with a killer performance of their old school hits including "Ready or Not" and "Killing Me Softly." Other performers included living legend Stevie Wonder, smoking hot "Dirty South" rapper T.I. along with superstars Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child, Toni Braxton, Ludacris, Faith Evans, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Mike Jones, Fantasia, Tye Tribbett and The Game in an "off the meter" throw-down that rocked the house and the thousands fortunate enough to have a seat for BET's biggest show of the year. A sparkling list of Hollywood's celebrity A-List also joined the show as presenters, including Halle Berry, Tom Cruise, Queen Latifah, Steve Harvey and Vivica A. Fox.  The night included solemn moments, too, as BET paid memorial tributes to actor Ossie Davis, attorney Johnnie Cochran, singer Rick James and rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, all of whom died since last year's BET AWARDS show.

The following is a list of all winners from the 2005 BET AWARDS:
Best Female R&B
Alicia Keys
Best Male R&B
Best Group
Destiny's Child
Best Collaboration
Ciara featuring Missy Elliott (1, 2 Step)
Best Female Hip Hop
Remy Martin
Best Male Hip Hop
Kanye West
Best New Artist
John Legend
Best Gospel Artist
Donnie McClurkin
Best Actress
Regina King
Best Actor
Jamie Foxx
Female Athlete of the Year
Serena Williams (Tennis)
Male Athlete of the Year
Shaquille O'Neal (Basketball)
Video of the Year
Kanye West (Jesus Walks)
Viewers' Choice Award
Omarion (O)




Get Ready, Shaggy's Back!

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(July 1, 2005)  Shaggy is looking to conquer familiar territory with his new single "Wild 2 Nite. "The song is a preview to his upcoming album "Clothes Drop" (Geffen Records) which has been earmarked for a late summer release. The song was produced by Shaun 'Sting' Pizzonia and Armando Colon.  Shaggy is quite upbeat about the song, which features an appearance from G-Unit/Interscope recording artiste, Jamaican born singer Olivia.   It's been almost three years since Shaggy released a studio album. In late 2002, his last effort for MCA Records, “Lucky Da" was released.  "Lucky Day" sold 2 million copies. Internationally it did quite well and we had about three hit singles from it. It is one of my best sellers,' Shaggy said during an interview on the set of the video shoot for the single "Wild 2 Nite," in Brooklyn, New York recently.   In explaining the delay in releasing new music, Shaggy said it was a deliberate attempt, so as to not flood the market with tracks. "Due to the long process we released songs that were credible to my style, to act as a warm up as to what was coming. We put out songs like 'Ready fi di Ride' and 'Stand Up and Fight.' Nobody can pigeon hole me in what I do.  With a song like Wild 2 Nite, I wanted to recapture the old dancehall vibe coming from the Shabba Ranks era," said Shaggy.   He commented, "With the whole reggae explosion the other day, I am what they called 'conveniently reggae."  With all I have done for this culture and music, people were saying that I wasn't reggae or a dancehall artiste. However, when I was on the charts, everybody was embracing me. It's ironic that with the explosion, Sean Paul did pretty well. He did an excellent job selling the culture and the music. There was nobody else who sold more than me. The Lucky Day album that they considered a flop, sold two million copies. MCA Records had folded at the time that the album came out so we didn't have that big push from a label."   Shaggy said that even though he was being 'conveniently' tagged a reggae artiste when it suited some persons, his pop success was being referred to as a measuring stick for other artists. 

"When the A&R people are pushing its dancehall artistes and they ask for approval for budgets for marketing and promotions, they refer to Shaggy the dancehall artiste who sold millions of records. Craig Kallman at Atlantic Records tried to sign mean and he lost the deal to his boss who is Trinidadian. He lost the deal to MCA Records. After I blew up and sold ten million records, he sent me a pool table as a gift and thanked me because I made his boss look like an idiot. He went back to his boss and said he wanted to sign Sean Paul and VP Records."  He added: "When the gay rights groups were bashing the music the other day, it was my name that they kept using as a reference saying that dancehall music wasn't about gay bashing, look at Shaggy the dancehall artist. When things are going good for dancehall music and everything a buss the place, then I am not a dancehall artist. It's like I have to be proving myself, and I shouldn't have to after 15 years in this business and selling so many records."   Shaggy has been associated with 4 record companies throughout his career. He started out with Greensleeves Records in London, before moving on to Virgin Records. After his tenure with Virgin his next move was with MCA Records. When that label folded, he unpacked his traveling bags at Interscope's Geffen Records. Shaggy is far from being comfortable with what he has achieved to date. According to him, he still has much more work to do.   "What I have done is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't matter if I sell 10 million records again. I might do another album that might have more critical acclaim than sales, which is credible for me. That itself is more satisfying for me. I think that this year is going to be a great year. Junior Gong has an exceptional amount of talent. I am glad for what is happening for him now," said Shaggy.   Critical about marketing and promotion of reggae music by record companies, Shaggy says that with his upcoming album, he was allowed more freedom to do what he wanted.   'What some reggae artistes get from major labels for catering at their music video shoot, is what I got as a budget for my videos. We got US$40,000 to do the video for 'Bombastic.' I had to put up a lot of fight. They never sat down and promote reggae artistes. A song takes off on its own and then they jump behind it. Nowadays they have meetings and properly plan how to market the artists. What they are doing with me at Interscope, has never been done before. It's the first I have actually seen record label representatives sit down and properly plan things.  Usually, me and my manager Robert Livingston and 'Sting' have to soldier the tunes on our own. Its part of the game, the struggle continues.'  He added 'Jimmy Ivine the head of Interscope was instrumental in the new album. He gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. He has the most successful record company. He has Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, U2, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt on his roster of acts. He signed me after MCA folded.'

Armed with 16 tracks (two are bonus cuts), Clothes Drop features collaborations with Nicole from the Pussy Cat Dolls, Brian Gold, Rayvon and Black Eyed Peas' Will Am I.   "I make so many damn good records that I get emotionally attached to them. I think this is a good album and I am leaving it up to the listeners to judge. You have the dancehall, the reggae, the pop and the roots flavour on it. It comes down to a variety and I am really proud of it. People are going to enjoy it We had over 80 songs to choose from to get it down to 16. I had this wicked song with Rik Rok that didn't make the cut," Shaggy pointed out.   Shaggy said it was hard to say how different his new album was in comparison to his previous set.   "It's so eclectic; it's hard to explain any difference on both. My personal favourite on this album is a song called 'Would You Be Offended' with Brian Gold. It's done with the vocal styling and arrangements of a rhythm and blues song."   Shaggy says his love for the music is what has kept him in the game all these years.   "Music is my passion. I don't do things for money. I live simple, even though I have a lot of money. I survive in this game because I am damn good at it. I write my own stuff. I also write a lot of songs for other artistes. One time I used to be modest but now I am taking my props. I am the only artiste at this point even when I don't have a hit song out, I am always touring. Music is first for me," he said.   Asked what other career path he would have pursued if music hadn't worked out for him, Shaggy said   "I tried the military and that didn't work out. It's hard to say what I would've been doing. At one time I sold weed when I was living in Flatbush in Brooklyn.  I was a product of the environment and I even got arrested once. It is what it is. I am not ashamed of it. I learnt from it, but I am not glorifying the ghetto. Ghetto means get out. I deejay on sound systems and lift up boxes as well. I regret none of that."

His advice to upcoming artistes in the business? "You can be the wickedest talent, but you have to have the attitude and be professional at what you do. This business 10% is talent and the other 90% is attitude. We are not short on talent. You have to sell yourself to people and let them believe in you. I think that Lexxus has a unique style and he can make it. He has to rally the right people around him," Shaggy said.




Buju Banton, Luciano, I Wayne, And Bounty Killer To Headline Reggae Carifest 2005 In New York

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(June 30, 2005) After nearly a year absence from the US because of immigration problems, dancehall/reggae artiste Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie is now free to travel to the US again. Buju returns to his old stomping ground for an important date at Reggae Carifest 2005 on Sunday, July 10th at Randall's Island Park, New York. There he will be joined by Luciano, Bounty Killer, Billboard charter I Wayne and Hasidic reggae superstar Matisyahu for what promises to be the biggest event on the New York entertainment calendar.  The last time Banton performed at Reggae Carifest was at the inaugural event in 1998 where he lit up the night with favourites like “Gal Dem Flex,” “Love Me Browning,” “Movie Star” “Not An Easy Road” and “Only Man.” He has since released numerous hit songs including his new combination song “Too Bloody” with Anthony Cruz that is enjoying heavy rotation on Caribbean stations in the US. Buju’s return to Reggae Carifest is highly anticipated as he will be eager to prove to fans that he still has the goods.   With songs like "Cellular Phone,” “Lodge,” “Down In The Ghetto,” “The Lord Is My Salvation,” “Action Speaks Louder,” “ Not Another Word,” “If A War,” “Miss Ivy Last Son,” “More Gal,” “The Greatest,” and “Tribalism,” Bounty Killer is still in heavy demand by promoters. Internationally, he has scored mainstream success with No Doubt on the pop hit "Hey Baby." Artistically he has proved his mettle, releasing the powerful "Ghetto Dictionary” and “The Mystery” which showcased his dynamic style and uncompromising lyrical content. His current love song “It’s Ok” has been warmly received by the Jamaican community and offers proof that he still has the fire to satisfy the dancehall massive.   Rising star I-Wayne was the big find for 2004 and this year is now hotter than lava. With hits like “Can’t Satisfy Her” and “Living In Love” burning up the charts, Wayne has only taken the reggae world by storm and is making strides on the Billboard chart as well. A solid performance at Reggae Carifest is a must and would go a long way toward ensuring his longevity in the business.

Another highly anticipated performer booked to appear at Reggae Carifest is Luciano. The reggae messenger first caught our attention with spiritual ballads like “It Me Again Jah,” “One Way Ticket,” and “Lord Give Me Strength.” He has since matured as an artist releasing a slew of quality albums that has won him international accolades. With all his accomplishments, Luciano remains the cornerstone of cultural reggae and his performance at Carifest should not be missed.    Matisyahu, the only known Jewish reggae artist on the entertainment scene today is defined by traditional reggae beats reminiscent of the late great Robert Nesta Marley. He has won favourably reviews in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Time Magazine, and has performed on network programs like the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Last Call with Carson Daly. 
With a new album "One Life To Life" that is enjoying multiple spins on Caribbean radio stations throughout the U.S., Antigua’s Reggae Ambassador Causion is ready to rock Reggae Carifest. A forceful and charismatic performer, singer/songwriter, musician, Causion is charged with intense emotions. His deep social and conscious lyrics are filled with appealing messages that blend Reggae, soul and pop music. His new disc, "One Life To Live" is definitely his best effort to date. Released on the Legendary Records imprint, the self produced disc was created with longtime collaborators Hopeton Lindo and Syl Gordon of 321 Strong Records with the support of well known engineer Jason Sterling. Favourite tracks include "Jah The Ruler," "Glad You Are Mine," "Give Jah the Power" and "Number One."  Causion first enjoyed success in 1988 with the single “African Girl,” featuring British DJ Spider Don that reached the top of the Caribbean charts and gained him international recognition. From 1990-‘94 after taking up residency in New York City, he recorded four singles: ‘Different World,’ “All About Love,” “Crossroads” and “All Night Long.”  All received heavy rotation on the Caribbean airwaves. His 1995 cover of ‘Breaking Up,’ an Alton Ellis original, featuring Miss Linda of Worl-A-Girl, made the top 10 chart that summer in California. In 1996 his cover of Groove Theory’s “Tell Me” was also very well received both in the US and in the Caribbean.  Over the years, he has toured throughout the US and the Caribbean with some of Reggae’s best and brightest artists including Rita Marley, Third World, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor and Judy Mowatt. He was also part of the ‘Tribute to Garnet Silk’ tour to the Caribbean along with Lt. Stichie, Merciless and Professor Nuts. In 1995 he was honoured as the first Antiguan Reggae artist to perform at Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica, where he shared stage with Buju Banton, Mikey Spice, Mykal Rose and other luminaries. In 1999 he relocated to south Florida, where he has appeared at numerous events including Freddie McGregor’s popular “Reggae Meets Rocksteady” showcase. With his impressive catalogue of lasting hit songs, look for a memorable performance when he romps on stage at Reggae Carifest 2005. Log on to or call 718-856-5946 or 718-856-3336 to get up to the minute information.  




JAWN’S JUICE: Fantasia, Kem, Dr. Bobby Jones, John Legend, Lizz Wright, Jesse L. Martin and so much more…

Excerpt from - By Mr. Jawn Murray

(June 28, 2005) Rhythm & Blues Revival:  I wasn’t expecting it, couldn’t have predicted it and it caught me completely off guard.  Calling it an out of body experience puts it mildly.  It was many, many things. I saw the Find Your Way Tour featuring Rahsaan Patterson, Fantasia and Kem at Washington, D.C.’s Warner Theatre last week.  I’ve seen all three entertainers perform live before, so I thought I knew what was in store.  I was wrong, oh so wrong. Rahsaan Patterson opens the show.  Backed by a live band, the singer breezed through his hits and some new stuff sans background singers and over-stylized reworking of songs that have caused some to be a little critical of his live shows lately.  This time around, Patterson was offering simplistic soul and humorous banter with the audience which ultimately was received with a lively ovation at the conclusion of his set. Fantasia, sporting braces on her teeth, followed and hit the stage like a mighty tsunami.  She wasted no time exuding enormous energy as she took her hip-hop numbers “It’s All Good” and “Selfish” and sung them as if they were the foot-stomping classic “Jesus Can Work It Out” by Dr. Charles Hayes & The Cosmopolitan Mass Choir.  And she was just getting started! Next came her current hit “Free Yourself,” and I knew it was on when she kicked off her sneakers and began to share the story behind the track.  Hands waved and folks hollered out as though they were talking back to the preacher on Sunday morning and Fantasia growled and hauled back while delivering the incredible ballad.  I thought I had endured all I could by this point, and I thought folks were going to think my friend Vern Goff of Emerald City Communications was related to Fantasia’s American Idol cohort George Huff as her eyes bulged in disbelief by, as she put it, “Fantasia’s unadulterated soul and power!” And if there was ever any doubt about whether Fantasia could sing anything including the phone book, the church-reared High Point, N.C. native effectively executed three R&B staples—her godmother Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady,” Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”  It was obvious to any church folk in the place that Fantasia’s cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” was more so about God’s latter rain as tears began to well up in the A.I. champ’s eyes, and she announced at the end of the song, “I feel the Holy Ghost in this place.” As the singers began tune-up—that’s church-speak for moan in the key of the musicians—Fantasia’s immaculate band began to play the chords that normally lead to one thing: shouting music.  It was at that point that I needed to take a walk.  Get some fresh air.  At least attempt to come down from the emotional rush that had rocked the theatre.  I mean what else could she do?  How much better could this show get?





We Remember ‘Obie’ Benson Of The Four Tops

Excerpt from

(July 5, 2005) *Renaldo Obie Benson, 69, a founding member of the legendary Motown group the Four Tops and the author of Marvin Gaye’s "What's Goin' On," has died. He was 69. Benson, the bass voice of the famed quartet, died Friday of lung cancer that was discovered only a few weeks ago during surgery to amputate one of his legs, according to the group’s publicist Matt Lee.  He also suffered a heart attack during the amputation, which had been done to address circulation problems. Born in Detroit in 1936, Benson formed the group that became the Four Tops with four of his high school friends - Levi Stubbs, Abdul (Duke) Fakir and Lawrence Payton - in 1954. The latter three sang harmony behind Stubbs’ riveting solos.  A 1963 performance of "In the Still of the Night” on the "Tonight" show became the group’s big break. Motown Records’ founder Berry Gordy saw the appearance and signed them to a recording contract. Soon, the group would record timeless classics, such as "Baby, I Need Your Lovin,'" and "Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." Known for their infectious songs, matching outfits and precise choreography, the quartet stayed together for 43 years, until Payton's death in 1997. Stubbs left the group in 2000, but Benson and Fakir continued performing gigs with two replacement members Ronnie McNair and Theo Peoples – most recently making a guest appearance in March on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”  After witnessing San Francisco police rough up a crowd of hippies gathered in the Haight-Ashbury section to protest the Vietnam War, Benson was inspired to write the song “What’s Goin’ On.” Believing it did not fit the Four Tops’ upbeat, happy sound, Benson gave the lyrics to his Motown labelmate Marvin Gaye, who recorded the tune despite the initial scepticism of Gordy. He didn’t believe fans would feel it. Benson, who was divorced, is survived by two daughters, Ebony and Toby.




Renaldo Benson Succumbs To Cancer; Member of Motown Greats The Four Tops Died At 69

Source: Associated Press

(July 2, 2005) Detroit — Renaldo "Obie" Benson, a member of the legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, has died, the group's road manager said Friday. He was 69. Benson died at 10 a.m. at Harper Hospital in Detroit, Fred L. Bridges said. Benson's death also was confirmed by Craig Hankenson, president of Producers Inc., one of the agencies that books dates for the Four Tops. "It was not unexpected. He has been ill," Hankenson said. Publicist Matt Lee told the Detroit Free Press for a Saturday story that Benson died of lung cancer discovered after he had a leg amputated several weeks ago. Benson's death leaves two surviving members of the original group: Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir. The fourth original Top, Lawrence Payton, died of liver cancer in 1997. Through a spokesman, Fakir said Benson "enjoyed every moment of his life, and put a smile on everyone's face, including my own." The Four Tops sold more than 50 million records and recorded hit songs such as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Reach Out (I'll be There)," "I Can't Help Myself" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love." The Four Tops began singing together in the 1950s under the group name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops. They signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced a string of hits over the next decade, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy's Motown stable. The Four Tops are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and were honoured last year on the floor of the Michigan Senate with a resolution marking the group's 50th anniversary. Benson is survived by his ex-wife, Valaida Benson; adult daughters, Eboni and Tobi Benson; and two granddaughters. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Friday.




Kenny Barron … Saluting the Music Masters At The Rose Theatre

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(July 5, 2005) A resounding roll of thunder clashed like cymbals against the dark gray sky as I spoke with pianist, Kenny Barron, about his upcoming Piano Masters Salute to Piano Legends, sponsored by the JVC Jazz Festival and Jazz Forum Arts. The Salute held at the Rose Theater within Frederick P. Rose Hall, housed within Jazz at Lincoln Center, is located at 60th Street and Broadway. The event is a tribute to the music of Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk.  A resounding roll of thunder clashed like cymbals against the dark gray sky as I spoke with pianist, Kenny Barron, about his upcoming Piano Masters Salute to Piano Legends, sponsored by the JVC Jazz Festival and Jazz Forum Arts.  The event is a tribute to the music of Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. “This will be my first time playing at the Rose Theater, although, I have played at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola,” stated Kenny. “However, for the Piano Masters Salute, I will be performing with pianists Geri Allen, Uri Caine and Randy Weston who are wonderful pianist.  We will be performing and celebrating the music of Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. Some of the music will be solo, some duet and some with a rhythm section,” declared the world-renowned musician and composer.  Born in Philadelphia, Kenny Barron, who is recognized as one of the giants of modern mainstream piano, is the younger brother of the late saxophonist Bill Barron. “I listened to a lot of jazz in my youth and had my first gig when I was 14. I continued playing throughout high school and when I graduated, I moved to New York. That was in 1961. I started working with James Moody and then I worked with Roy Haynes. I also worked with Lee Morgan and Lou Donaldson. My older brother, Bill, who has now passed, played sax. He already knew these musicians and introduced me to many of them,” stated Barron. “However, it was it was James Moody who introduced me to Dizzy Gillespie.  It was a fantastic experience working with Gillespie, who was a very generous man. Working with Dizzy was like going to school. He knew a lot and was very generous with his knowledge. I learned a lot from him,” claimed the seven-time Grammy nominee. Barron spent four years (1962-1966) playing and recording with Gillespie. “I started working with Freddie Hubbard after Dizzy. I worked with Freddie on and off for about 3 years. I worked with quite a few people, among them Stanley Turrentine and Yusef Lateef,” reminisced the talented pianist. Barron also formed a relationship with Ron Carter's two-bass quartet. He performed with them from 1976-1980. Barron was a co-leader of the group Sphere in the 1980s, and went on to lead his own trios. Barron also worked with Stan Getz. “I worked with Stan Getz toward the end of his life, the last 4 or 5 years of his life in fact. Getz was a very lyrical player. We had that in common. I am lyrical myself so it was a big thrill for me to play with him. The very last time we played together we did a live duet performance in Copenhagen. The recording is called “People Time.” This was Stan Getz’s last recording before his death.

Married and the father of 2, Kenny likes to cook and read. He also teaches at Juilliard. Mr. Barron’s latest recording is entitled: “Images” which he recorded on Sunnyside and released in 2004.  Barron recently returned from a tour in Japan. “The Japanese are a great audience. Everything is usually first class with them and they are well versed in jazz. I always enjoy playing before the Japanese audience” stated Kenny.  “I am in Europe a lot, too. I have been in Germany, Italy, and Spain and plan to go back to Rome in another two weeks. I have even been to Africa. That was great, too. The Africans love jazz and even recognize that it developed from their country. When I decided to visit Africa, I was playing a gig in Rome with Yusef Lateef at the time. We had a few days off so we decided to visit Tunis, Tunisia, in North Africa” explained the pianist. “It turned out we experienced a surprise while there. While walking down the street in Tunis, I heard someone call my name and when I turned around, I saw it was Percy Heath. Percy recently passed. But at that time, it turned out, there was a big jazz festival going on there in the ruins of Carthage. The Mighty Jazz Quartet was there, trumpeter Roy Eldridge was there and Dizzy Gillespie was there. So, I ended up attending the jazz festival. That was a truly wonderful experience and I had a great time” reflected Barron. “In terms of my craft, I try to be better today than I was yesterday. So, I hope people will turn out to see me at the Rose Theatre for the Piano Masters Salute to Piano Legends, it’s sure to be a great show.”




Canadians Vie To Replace Late INXS Frontman

Source: Canadian Press

(July 6, 2005) Toronto — A few months back, Toronto musician J.D. Fortune was living what he describes as a "crap-tacular" life. Down on his luck, he says he was sleeping in his car and panhandling to raise cash to feed his dog. With nothing to lose, Fortune showed up at local auditions for Rockstar, a new reality show in which contestants vie to replace Michael Hutchence, the charismatic INXS lead singer who hanged himself in a hotel room in 1997. "The first song I learned how to play on guitar was Devil Inside," said Fortune, 31, referring to a hit from the group's 1987 breakthrough album Kick. "I've always been a fan." Now, Fortune is one of 15 finalists on the show, which premieres July 11 on Global. The winner will accompany INXS on a world tour and work on a new album with the band. While some INXS fans will undoubtedly find the gimmicky push to replace Hutchence distasteful, the group has defended Rockstar, which, in addition to Toronto, held auditions in Sydney, London, Tokyo and across the United States. Band members have said they simply need a singer (they've performed with various guest vocalists over the last few years). Montreal-born finalist 31-year-old Tara Slone — lead singer for the Juno-nominated band Joydrop — has no problem with the Rockstar concept. "It doesn't feel creepy to me," she said. "It feels absolutely appropriate at this point for a group of people who still love music to continue making music."

INXS — made up of brothers Andrew, Jon and Tim Farriss as well as Garry Beers and Kirk Pengilly — isn't the only band turning to the tube to find a replacement for a singer who has died. This summer, UPN will air R U the Girl with T-Boz and Chilli, a push to replace TLC singer Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, who died in a car accident three years ago. On Rockstar, TV viewers will vote for their favourite performer, but INXS will have the final say. Toronto singer Suzie McNeill, another finalist, called the members of the band "amazing guys." "We've met them. We haven't hung out with them, per se, but you can tell a lot about people just from the first impression," said the 28-year-old. "They're open, they're friendly. They're family, right, so I feel like that kind of keeps them humble and keeps them together and stuff." While INXS started as a brotherly effort by the Farriss siblings, Hutchence was the undisputed face of the group both onstage — where he was known for his electrifying stage presence — and off, where his love affairs were frequent fodder for the tabloids. Many of those who are auditioning for Rockstar have keen memories of the singer. "Michael Hutchence was just such a powerful performer. He had a lot of drama to his performance as well," said McNeill. "He really rocked ... He was a really dynamic performer." For Deanna Johnston, a 36-year-old finalist from Kingston, Ont., listening to INXS was a part of growing up. "They were huge when I started going to bars and parties and drinking and that whole scene. They were one of the staples," said Johnston, who now lives in Los Angeles.

Rockstar will follow a variation on the Idol format. Monday episodes will chronicle relationships between the contestants, who will live together during the show. Tuesday shows will feature performances and Wednesday will bring the "results" show. Rockstar — created by Survivor guru Mark Burnett — will be hosted by former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro and model Brooke Burke.




Party On, Little Dude!

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jennie Punter

(July 6, 2005) Austin, Tex. — The Paul Green School of Rock Music is a place of much head-banging -- and not just the hair-flipping kind that keeps time to sizzling guitar solos by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and other rock gods. Founded in 1998 in Philadelphia, Green's poster-plastered, feedback-filled academy is the subject of Rock School, the latest in a string of "kids striving for excellence in an extra-curricular activity" documentary films (Spellbound, Mad Hot Ballroom). It opens Friday in Toronto and is now playing in Montreal.  The cinéma vérité feature spans nine months in the life of the school, focusing on a handful of students, ages 9 to 17 at various skill levels. In its third act, the film follows Green and the school's all-star band to an annual Frank Zappa festival in Germany, where they dazzle the crowd, as well as two former Zappa players, with one of the legendary musician's toughest compositions. It is quite likely that no film about teaching -- documentary or fictional -- has ever shown such a volatile, egomaniacal, immature and yet oddly lovable instructor as Green. Mr. Chips he ain't. Green's methods include all manner of freak-outs, taunting, swearing and even the occasional swat to the noggin.

Yet his affection for the kids is always present -- not to mention his constant goal of creating "serious" rock musicians, as opposed to kids who simply copy riffs and singing styles. Following a well-received screening at Sundance (Alice Cooper played with the all-stars at the after-party), Rock School played the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Tex., where director Don Argott and his collaborators Sheena Joyce (producer) and Demian Fenton (editor) sat down and explained that Green -- a guitarist who has played in bands -- is not living vicariously through his students, as one might suspect. (Green became a father shortly before filming began, so we get a few minutes of his son's first "steps" in his rock education.) "Paul really hates most of today's music," said Argott, who shot most of the film himself, showing up for class every day with a mini-camera, which allowed for a great level of intimacy. "Paul's ulterior motives are not to be a rock star himself, but rather to change the face of rock 'n' roll today." (It should be noted that the filmmakers only learned about School Of Rock, a fictional film starring Jack Black and directed by Richard Linklater, several months after they started filming Rock School, and there is conflicting information about whether Black's character is based directly on Green.) "Instead of teaching students scales, Green plays them Zeppelin or Santana -- they break down rock classics and learn to make them their own," Argott said.

While Green's school received some national attention in 2002 when former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha wrote an article for SPIN magazine, Argott was first drawn to the school after noticing posters all over Philadelphia. Shortly after meeting Green, Argott began shooting. "I realized Paul was the same, camera on, camera off," he said. "He will tell your kid to fuck off right in front of you. He fosters this idea of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to the kids, and so is more like an annoying but cool older brother than a parent." The school's concerts had become cult-like events for local hipsters, and that's what first hooked Fenton. "People would say to each other, 'Dude, I heard about these weird shows where nine-year-old kids paint upside-down crosses on their foreheads and play Sabbath,' so I went to one of the shows and saw this little kid playing Iron Maiden," he recalls. "I had been editing BMW commercials and it was just killing me," continues Fenton (the grandson of veteran Toronto jazz pianist and teacher Bob Fenton). He decided he had to make a documentary about Green, and was able to infiltrate the place when his girlfriend bought him guitar lessons. "After figuring out the vibe there, I finally approached Paul who told me I was too late." After his initial disappointment, Fenton contacted Argott and the two realized not only were they both former metalheads whose complementary skills would make sure the film happened, but also that they shared a similar take on Green. "Paul is really the perfect balance between angel and devil," Argott said. "One minute he's yelling at a kid, the next minute he's hugging him and listening to him talk about problems at home."

Although Green is at the centre of the universe he has created at the school, he is not the only character in the film. "One of our biggest challenges was that not all the kids go to [compete in] Germany. They all have different goals and backgrounds and different relationships to Paul," explains Fenton. Sometimes Green's choice of music was problematic as well: "Zappa isn't mainstream, nor the most accessible music, so we had to find moments in the 120 hours of footage that described to viewers why it's such an accomplishment to learn his music." In the end, there is a kind of nostalgia that attracted the filmmakers to Green and Rock School. "When we sat in the editing room, we remembered when we first heard Zeppelin or whatever," Argott said. "And to see a nine-year-old kid playing Sabbath and really learning to love that music really made this a labour of love."




Summer Kicks Off With Lina’s 'The Inner Beauty Movement'

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ICED Media,

(July 6, 2005) Santa Monica, California – Hidden Beach Recordings is proud to announce the release of Lina’s long-awaited album “The Inner Beauty Movement,” featuring “Smooth” as the first single.   (Scroll down to the bottom of this article to check out "Smooth" via the video and/or audio links.)   Musically, “The Inner Beauty Movement” swims against the tide of formulaic and uninspired R&B, and is a sonic summation of those personal experiences that Lina considers critical to her growth as an artist and as a woman. It is also a ‘call-to-arms’ for all of us to embrace our humanity.  For Lina, this timely message is as important as the music:  outer beauty begins with embracing one’s inner beauty, and true beauty is expressing the light that each of us has within, that illumines our Best Selves.  With this Hidden Beach Recordings debut, Lina invites listeners to “come join the Movement.”  “The Inner Beauty Movement” is part of Lina’s musical continuum with her unique sound that first caught listeners’ attention in 2001 when Atlantic Records released “Stranger on Earth.”  The album garnered critical acclaim, most of it for Lina’s ability to bring the sounds and vocal stylings of the past into the present.    “The Inner Beauty Movement” is an amalgamation of several musical genres including jazz, pop, hip-hop, R&B and even swing.  With Lina’s melodically lilting soprano and phrasing, which calls to mind the sophisticated vocal prowess of musical icons Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn, she is able to convey a variety of moods with sass, originality and passion, and in the process Lina creates an emotional landscape that invites the listener into her inner world.  At turns, she is coy and playful, strong and compelling – all the while striving to “touch people’s souls,” which she believes is the reason music exists after all.     All of the 18 tracks on “The Inner Beauty Movement” were written by Lina, and among the album’s stellar selections are “Leaving You,” which is a personal anthem exalting inner strength; “Around The World,” the harmonically textured duet with R&B vocalist Anthony Hamilton, and a look at a couple struggling to maintain a viable commitment, despite emotional turbulence, in the single “Smooth.”

 “The couple in ‘Smooth’ will do anything to keep the relationship smooth because they love each other,” says Lina of the song.  “But it’s still a dysfunctional relationship.  People in my generation seem to be in love with things.  The guys are hard, and ladies are so independent to the point of not needing anyone.  But we always need someone to inspire us.”  “The Inner Beauty Movement” provides an intimate portrait of Lina as self-empowered woman and artist, and is a look at life having survived its ups-and-downs, and the disappointments and victories from her perspective.  Lina is determined to use her music as a means of touching people’s souls, and impacting our world.  Lina’s goal is a simple one:  “I’m not here for the attention.  I’m an instrument of God, here to help people realize themselves.” Founded by music veteran Steve McKeever, Hidden Beach Recordings is an independent record label based in Santa Monica, CA.  Along with introducing music sensation Jill Scott and saxophonist Mike Phillips, Hidden Beach is also the home to vocalist Darius Rucker, trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, husband and wife-led group Kindred the Family Soul, and singer/songwriter Keite Young, among others. Epic Records Group, a division of Sony Music, serves as Hidden Beach’s worldwide distributor and marketing partner. Visit for more info on Hidden Beach Recordings.    For more info on Lina, visit

:: VIDEO “Smooth”






Missy’s ‘Cookbook’ Has Deep Recipes

Excerpt from

(July 5, 2005) *Missy Elliott has decided to deal with some childhood pain in her sixth album “The Cookbook,” which arrives in stores today led by the single “Lose Control.”  The track “My Struggles” addresses some of the anger she experienced during her early years, when she routinely watched her father physically abuse her mother.  "Those memories still haunt me to this day," she tells the New York Post. "You never forget. I remember when I was 4 years old my dad stomped my mom in the face with his combat boots. I used to cry to my mom every day. I was scared to stay in other people's houses because I thought I'd come back home and she'd be dead."  Missy said she was 13 when her mother finally found the strength to leave her abusive husband.  “One day, my mom told me to pack my things but to act like I was going to school," she recalls. "I walked to the bus stop and waited for my dad to pass by on his way to work. After he was gone, my mom picked me up and, when we went back home, she had some of my uncles there with a U-Haul ready."  Misdemeanor, a five-time Grammy winner, says her success has helped them both to move on.  "I promised my mom years ago that when I had some money, she would never cry again," she says. "Knowing that I'm doing that, that's what keeps me happy. That's what keeps me smiling."  When asked about the rumours regarding her sexual orientation, and her recent link to "America's Next Top Model" winner Eva Pigford, Missy shrugs off the talk as nothing more than gossip folk wreaking havoc. "People don't see me doin' nothin' or being with anybody so they wanna dig," she says. "Who's gonna be next? Halle Berry? Oprah? People love negativity. They love gossip."




Babyface Previews Album At Acoustic Gig

Excerpt from

(July 5, 2005) *Babyface asked for a moment of silence in honour of Luther Vandross during his acoustic concert Friday before an invitation-only crowd in New Orleans. It would be the only quiet moment during the singer/producer’s long-awaited return to the spotlight after more than five years off the scene. “It takes a while for me to know whether I like what I'm doing,” Face told AP of his absence. "I had a couple of albums ready to go but they weren't what I was looking for. I like it to be right." The VIP crowd of about 500 got to hear Edmonds sing his classics "Whip Appeal," "Never Keeping Secrets," and "When Can I See You Again?" as well as cuts from his new album, including the title song "Grown and Sexy" and the first single, "Sorry for the Stupid Things." The concert was part of last weekend’s Essence Music Fest.




Jay-Z's Nephew Killed In Auto Accident

Excerpt from - By Kye Stephenson

(July 1, 2005) Colleek D. Luckie, the nephew of Def Jam President Jay-Z, has died tragically from injuries sustained in an auto accident occurring on Route 220 in Pennsylvania, representatives from Def Jam confirmed.   According to sources, Colleek was traveling with friend Roscoe G. Neely, 20, of Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday (June 28) when Neely-who was driving-drifted across the centreline and struck a tractor-trailer head-on.   After the collision, the vehicle-a 2005 Chrysler 300-purportedly struck a telephone pole and traveled some 300 feet through a field.   Sadly, Colleek, who was wearing a seat belt, was killed. Neely sustained a minor injury and was taken to a local hospital.   Through the years, Jay-Z has made numerous references to his nephew in his songs like "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" from The Blueprint.  It's been reported that the vehicle involved in the accident was purchased by Jay for the 18 year-old Colleek as a graduation present.   In the past, Jay-Z said emotionally, his nephews represent something greater than his sister's offspring.   "I carry my nephews like my sons, always have and they have filled that void for me," Jay-Z has stated in published reports.




Eric Benet Weathering The ‘Hurricane’

Excerpt from

(July 1, 2005) *Eric Benet is prepping the release of his new CD, "Hurricane," which contains material written during the happier times of his marriage to Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, as well as after their breakup following her revelation that he was a “sex addict” who cheated on her numerous times throughout the marriage.  He tells the New York Daily News of his self-revelation: "Whatever you do — if you're a singer or an actor or a writer, you expose yourself. There's always truth, some part of yourself in the art. I can hear the good times and bad in this album. But two years have gone by. We've both moved on. I'm proud of the work here. I'm not ashamed that some of the songs deal with examining myself, hoping to become a better man. That's not a bad thing."  When asked if he is ever frustrated about the inevitable queries about Halle? He says: "I'm realistic. People are going to ask. But not as much as I thought. It's OK. There's no point in getting irritated. I was married to Halle Berry. And that will be a part of my story forever." He pauses, "And whatever she thinks about it, I'm going to be a part of her story forever."  On Halle’s declaration that she’ll never marry again, he says: "I think she'll change her mind. I hope she does and that it'll be right for her, finally." No hard feelings? "Hey, it's not like fighting a duel. We didn't make it. But we once were in love enough to get married. I like to remember that." Will he marry again? "I never say never. Marriage is a beautiful thing when it works."  Benet will tour in support of "Hurricane" next month. The album is currently in stores.




Just Blaze To Be Honoured At Producers Convention

Excerpt from - By Tiffany Hamilton

(July 1, 2005) Dynamic Producer, an international support organization dedicated to the advancement of Hip-Hop and R&B music producers, is honouring super producer Just Blaze at their 4th Annual Producers Conference July 27th-30th with the 2005 Impact Award.     Just Blaze will join the conference for an up close & personal conversation about his journey in the music industry.    Following the discussion, Just Blaze will be presented with the Impact Award by two up & coming producers who have been influenced by him.   Just Blaze has produced hits for such artists as Jay-Z, Joe Budden, Memphis Bleek, Rah Digga and others.   The four day conference which will feature both established and aspiring producers, will feature various workshops and contests including $1,000 Beat Battle Competition, Young Guru’s Pro Tools & Logic Workshop, SESAC’s Soundlab Showcase, BMI’s Beats & Rhymes Showcase, Spirit Music Group’s International Exchange Panel, When Easy Mo Bee Met Miles Davis Panel, as well as an array of Major Label Listening Sessions.   Confirmed to attend this year include Just Blaze, Bryan Michael Cox, Rich Harrison, Easy Mo Bee, Dre & Vidal, Unusual Suspects,The Heatmakerz, Chucky Thompson, Kevin Crouse, Nicolay, Young Guru, executives from Warner Music Group, G Unit, Shady Records, Def Jam, Sony BMG, Bad Boy Publishing and many more.   The 4th Annual Dynamic Producer Conference to be held at Loews 34th Street Theaters in New York City.   For more information log on to




Peace-Rapping Arabs

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Muhammad Muheisin, Associated Press

(July 4, 2005) KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip—Three young Palestinians say there's a better way to oppose the Israeli occupation than the violence that they worry tarnishes their people's image for too many in the West. They are relying on rap music.  Their band PR, or Palestinian Rappers, rejects violence and instead dramatizes the Palestinians' plight in songs with names like "Freedom" and "Our Screams."  "Rap music was founded in the United States, so by singing rap we can't be called terrorists," says band member Mohammed Farrah, 19, who goes by the nicknames "D.R." and "Dynamic Rapper."  "The only way for us to fight occupation is through rap singing."  Farrah and fellow band members Moutaz Hwehy, or "Mezo," and Mahmud Abdallah, "Bond," grew up on MTV, where they listened to Tupac, Eminem and other rappers sing about poverty, violence and other problems.  They decided to explore their people's ordeal through rap, too.  "Where's the freedom?" the rappers ask in their song "Freedom." "I'm the son of Salam, I was born a long time ago but I'm still asking who I am. I exist. To be or not to be?"  The band got together in 2002. Even now, they still cut a curious figure in the conservative Islamic society of Gaza, where people stare at the spiky hair and American rapper garb of basketball shirts, baggy cotton pants, and Nike sneakers and hats.  They meet regularly in a small room in the town of Khan Younis to blast their music, but perform only twice a year.  They performed in Ireland last year, and dream of appearing in the United States.  But in poverty-stricken Gaza, they haven't been able to put together enough money to record their music.




Pierre Michelot Passes Away

Source:  Associated Press

(July 4, 2005) Paris — Jazz bassist Pierre Michelot, who recorded with Miles Davis and arranged music for Chet Baker, has died, a fellow musician said Monday. He was 77. The bass player, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died in Paris on Sunday, said pianist Rene Urtreger, a member of Michelot's longtime jazz trio, HUM. Michelot played with Davis on one of the great soundtracks of the 1950s, for Louis Malle's classic thriller Ascenseur pour L'Echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows). He recorded with artists including Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and Django Reinhardt, and he arranged music for Baker's 1955-56 Barclay sessions in Paris. Michelot was considered Europe's best jazz bassist in the second half of the 1950s, Urtreger said. "He had a magnificent natural sound, clear, deep and true," Urtreger said. "It was a dream to play with him." Originally trained in classical piano, Michelot learned bass as a teenager, then performed for American troops stationed in France after the end of the Second World War. He was highly sought-after for concerts by American musicians in Paris in the postwar years. Michelot had a role in French director Bertrand Tavernier's 1986 film Round Midnight, about a musician on the skids in 1950s Paris.





Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Eve, Eve-Olution, Universal International
Missy Elliott, Cookbook [DualDisc], Atlantic
Various Artists, World's Greatest Tribute to Eminem, Redline

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ace of Base, Da Capo, Universal International
Bow Wow, Wanted, Sony
Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi [Bonus Track], Universal International
Slum Village, Prequel to a Classic, Barak
Sting, My Funny Valentine: Sting at the Movies, Universal Japan
Sum 41, Does This Look Infected? [Bonus DVD], Universal Japan







10 Best Bets At The 2005 Fringe Of Toronto Theatre Festival

Excerpt from The Toronto Star — Robert Crew

(June 30, 2005) There are 72 press kits on, around and under my desk, plus 68 email messages in my in-box.  Of the shortlist of 18 press kits on my desk, I'll pick 10 about which to write. These are shows I personally would like to get to at this year's Fringe festival, which consists of 1,000-plus performances of 134 plays at 25 venues, all in the space of 12 days.  Why would I like to see these 18 shows? Some, in my view, are "can't miss," while others have performers, playwrights, directors whose work I know and respect.  An infallible guide? By no means. But that's the pleasure and the pain of fringing; you never know what you will get.  Here then, with no guarantees whatsoever, are 10 that I think will cut the mustard:

  The Slip-Knot. I have never seen a TJ Dawe show I didn't like. This one — intertwined monologues about three hellish jobs — has been around since 2001, but hasn't been presented in Toronto until now because it is 90 minutes long. Not to be missed. It's at the Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St. 

  Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Co-created by Brendan Gall, who directs, and by Tara Beagan, Chris Hanratty, Kate Hewlett and Christopher Stanton, who perform. Last year's UnSpun Theatre production of Thy Neighbour's Wife gave a strong sense of good things to come from this group of up-and-comers. It's at Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.  (Gall's suspenseful first play, A Quiet Place, is also at this year's Fringe. Catch it at the Robert Gill Theatre.) 

  The Stronger: A Variation. Theatre Rusticle is another emerging theatre company to watch, particularly if you like physical theatre with brains. This adaptation of Strindberg stars Liza Balkan, Viv Moore and Lucy Rupert and is directed by Allyson McMackin. At the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 70A St. George St. 

  The Demimonde. Written and directed by the multi-talented Jenny Young, this lively sounding piece is set in Dawson Creek in 1898 and is being staged in a piano bar. Thar's gold in the cast as well, led by Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Claire Clanan and Sara Gilchrist. At the Paupers Pub (second floor), 539 Bloor St. W. 

  Tim's Penis. Written and performed by Toronto film and television actress/script writer Eve Crawford, who is returning to the stage for the first time in 18 years. She's a terrific raconteur and the show should be fun. At Tarragon Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave. 

  Lust's Labour's Lost. An ambitious rock musical by Brock Simpson based on Shakespeare's comedy. The cast of 14 (only at the Fringe!) includes Krista Sutton, Andrew Pifko and Bruce Hunter, there are two full bands (one all-male, the other all-girl) and the director is Mary Francis Moore. At Tarragon Theatre. 

  The Molly Murders. Written and directed by 21-year-old Anthony Furey (remember the name) and inspired by events surrounding the Holly Jones case, this one stars Caroline Azar, Bobby del Rio, Matt White and Greg Dunham. At Tarragon Theatre. 

  Pavlov's Brother. A good pedigree for this dark comedy about brotherly love/hate, written by Denis McGrath (Top Gun: The Musical) and Mark Ellis, directed by Liza Balkan and starring Ellis and Paul Fauteux. At Factory Theatre. 

  Bella Donna. David Copelin's comedy about the poisonous Lucrezia Borgia won this year's new play award from the Fringe. Sue Miner directs a cast that includes Françoise Balthazar and Mimi Melker. Factory Studio Theatre.




Now Playing: Hollywood's Really Big Slump

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Liam Lacey

(July 2, 2005) Now is the summer of our Hollywood discontent. Or, more accurately, the financial first half of our discontent. As everyone knows, want to or not, Hollywood is experiencing the worst slump in two decades: 18 straight weeks of weekends below the 2004 numbers. Overseas numbers show a similar slip: German box office is down 14 per cent; Australian down 12 per cent from this time last year. Hyped pictures such as Cinderella Man and Kingdom of Heaven have done poorly. Hits like Batman Begins and Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith haven't turned the tide. And the slate of upcoming films, from Fantastic Four to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, aren't expected to change things significantly. Gloomy predictions are everywhere: Canadian and U.S. ticket sales are about 6 per cent below last year -- $4.1-billion (U.S.) compared with last year's $4.33-billion. Since May 6, the number is down about 8 per cent compared with last year. A Reuters story this week quotes Brandon Grey of the tracking company boxoffice.mojo, who doesn't see much hope: "We're at too much of a deficit at this point for these movies to bring us back. July could be a busy month in its own right, but it's unlikely it can be big enough." Though this drop in attendance rates more as a concern than a crisis, Hollywood studios are definitely taking a spanking. After years of trumpeting record weekends, the studios have become addicted to an ongoing positive story. Explanations for the downturn have been exhaustively enumerated:

1. One theory is that the apparent downturn is exaggerated, or just part of normal business practice. Take the more than $370-million The Passion of the Christ made last year out of the picture, and this year's figures would actually be ahead of last year. The claim that the box office has been down for 18 straight weekends is not the same as 18 straight weeks: The releases of Ring 2 and Revenge of the Sith actually saw better numbers than comparable weeks last year. Still, however you spin the numbers, attendance is down, revenues are down.

2. The growing popularity of DVD sales means the public prefers to stay at home. A CNN poll last Friday, for example, saw 27 per cent of the audience voting to see Herbie: Fully Loaded, Land of the Dead or Bewitched. The other 73 per cent opted for "None. I'd rather rent a DVD of something good."  The DVD-killed-the-movie-star argument is flawed: DVDs have been around for eight years. Last year, they had an increase in sales of more than 70 per cent, in a record year for theatre attendance. This year, sales aren't growing as fast (they're expected to increase about 20 per cent). As well, DVD sales are directly proportional to theatrical success, and the people who buy DVDs appear to be the same ones who go to the theatre. (Like the movies, sales spike early right after release and drop off quickly.)

3. Some commentators see higher prices as the culprit -- movie tickets jumped 3 per cent in 2004 and 2005 -- but relative to music concerts, theatre and sports events, movies are still a huge bargain.

4. Others cite the public distaste for the antiseptic noisy multiplexes that took over film distribution in the late nineties and the interminable, commercial-packed previews, but again, the case isn't clear: Though the racket in the average cinema can cause a headache, once inside the theatres, the viewing experience has undeniably improved, with better screens, rake seating and good sound systems. And those same theatres created record box office last year.

5. Some of this year's disappointments can be credited to bad marketing decisions, say others. The entertainment paper Variety's editor-in-chief Peter Bart: If Cinderella Man had been released in the fall, it might have been a hit. But the cinemas have gone out of their way to compensate. Currently, for example, AMC Theaters in the U.S. are still nursing Cinderella Man, promising viewers a full money-back guarantee if they don't like it.

6. Some commentators have speculated that a rash of bad movie-star behaviour has put the public off. Cinderella Man started to trough after the report of star Russell Crowe assaulting a desk clerk with a telephone. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's presumed adulterous canoodlings may have hurt Mr. and Mrs. Smith more than helped it. Tom Cruise's suspiciously timed declarations of love for Katie Holmes, and loopy Scientology preaching, may not boost War of the Worlds numbers. Again, the reasoning is suspect: Kooky behaviour is hardly new to show business and it never seems to have hurt attendance in the past.

To summarize, none of the half-dozen excuses is sufficient, nor as convincing as the most obvious explanation: The current movies are particularly bad. Though popular success and quality have no direct relationship (The Pacifier and Hitch both made more than $100-million), audiences may have finally got tired after a particularly lousy string of weekend releases. Check reviewers' sites like and you'll see a long list of foreign films and documentaries praised before even the best recent Hollywood films, War of the Worlds and Howl's Moving Castle (a Disney release of a Japanese film), earn a decent rating. For every mediocre effort such as Batman Begins or Mr. and Mrs. Smith, there are fiascos such as Bewitched, Herbie: Fully Loaded and The Honeymooners. You might notice a pattern here: Every one of these films is a remake. In fact, it's difficult to find a mainstream release this summer that isn't either a remake, a sequel or a comic-book adaptation. Last weekend, for example, you had the choice of Bewitched, the movie version of the vintage television series, or Herbie: Fully Loaded, the remake of The Love Bug, or Land of the Dead, the fourth in George Romero's series of zombie movies. This week, it's War of the Worlds, and in the coming month, we have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Bad News Bears and The Dukes of Hazzard.

What's wrong with remakes? Well, typically they're corporate filmmaking at its worst. They're usually committee jobs, which are created back-to-front. As Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing noted in their recent book, Open Wide: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession, the studios are obsessed with cash-cow entertainment units rather than original movies. Before a movie is even written (their example was Legally Blonde 2), the star, concept and release date are nailed down (as we speak, a team of writers is recreating The Poseidon Adventure for June 6, 2006). Endings are market-tested and altered according to the responses of a focus group, the way fast foods are packaged. You might hope that the studios are beginning to understand that audiences are ready to move on to fresher ideas. Most moviegoers are under 29, the key age for innovations in style and taste. Here's the defence of sequel-itis offered by Sony Pictures vice-chairman Amy Pascal, who's responsible for Bewitched, Charlie's Angels and an upcoming remake of Fun With Dick and Jane, quoted in The Los Angeles Times. "We're not doing this cynically," she says. "Remakes are the best kind of genre film. They allow you to say something without people feeling they're being hit over the head with a message. The core idea within Bewitched is that love and magic are the same thing. It's a great way to tell a love story in a sly, witty way." Most of the above is, at best, doubtful -- Bewitched is about as sly and witty as a rock -- but at least it gives us a hint of what the future holds: Hollywood 2005: The Sequel.




Owen Wilson Likes Offbeat Roles

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ian Spelling, New York Times

(July 4, 2005) Owen Wilson would like to clear up a misconception.  It's not true, the star of Bottle Rocket (1996), Shanghai Noon (2000), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Zoolander (2001), Starsky and Hutch (2004) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) insists, that he jumps back and forth between highfalutin indie films and lowbrow, mainstream studio films.  "I think, when people are talking about my `indie' films, they're probably referring to the films that I've done with Wes," Wilson says, referring to Wes Anderson, who directed Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic, the first two of which he co-wrote with Wilson. "Those were actually studio movies, but the fact that people think they weren't is probably a testament to Wes and his pretty singular vision.  "I sure like working on those," he says, "but I don't notice that I'm having a better time when I'm working on those than I did necessarily even on Anaconda (1997). I have fun acting.  "You want your movies to turn out well and be respected," Wilson says, "but, even in a bad movie, there's this collective brainwashing that happens where you think, `This could be good.' That's because it's too discouraging to go to work every day on a movie you think is terrible."  Wilson is back in lowbrow mode for his latest film, Wedding Crashers, directed by David Dobkin, who directed Wilson in Shanghai Knights (2003) and co-star Vince Vaughn in Clay Pigeons (1998). It's an unapologetically profane comedy that landed an R rating for "sexual content/nudity and language," descriptions rarely heard in this mass-appeal era.  Due for release on July 15, Wedding Crashers casts Wilson and Vaughn — who had previously acted together in Starsky and Hutch and Zoolander — as John and Jeremy, pals and business partners who've mastered the art of picking up women at weddings to which they haven't been invited. John's world is upended, however, when he falls for Claire (Rachel McAdams), a beautiful bridesmaid at the latest nuptials they've crashed.

As the story progresses, John comes dangerously close to maturing — dangerously, because it's hard to develop the character without sacrificing the laughs.  "You've got to walk the line," Wilson says on the phone from a film festival in Hawaii, "because there isn't that much that's funny if you get too much into the romance. My character does start to fall for Rachel, but we tried to make it so it's not sappy."  Canadian-born McAdams is a rising star now, thanks to the sleeper hit The Notebook (2004).  "I really wasn't aware of who she was when she was cast in the movie," Wilson admits. "What I liked about working with her was the way she fit right in," Wilson says. "Vince and David and I had worked together before, and could get talking a mile a minute about the way we wanted a scene to go. It would be easy for somebody to get bowled over, and Rachel was good at standing up for her character and making sure that things were believable for herself. I admired that.  "She's also pretty easy on the eyes," Wilson adds, "which was another nice thing!"  Much has been made of the fact that Wilson, Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Wilson's brother Luke collaborate so often, in various combinations, on various projects. Sometimes they're co-stars, sometimes one or more will turn up in a supporting role or cameo in another's film.  Wilson doubts that working together so often makes it any harder to convince moviegoers that they're watching characters, rather than real-life friends. "I don't know, but it's not something I really worry about," he says.  "I know that with Bottle Rocket, our first film, we had test screenings and a lot of people weren't even sure if it was supposed to be funny, if we were losers or into crime," Wilson says. "So I think it can help if an audience is a little bit more familiar with you, especially in a comedy.  Next up for Wilson is The Wendell Baker Story, a comedy/drama written by Luke Wilson and co-directed by Luke and their other brother, Andrew. After that he'll be heard as the main character in the animated film Cars.  Though he's recognized on the street, Wilson is happy to say that, so far, he isn't crazy famous.  "I haven't had to deal with that so much," the 36-year-old actor says. "There are certain people who seem to become great stories for the tabloids, whom they can make money off and sell magazines by getting stories about, but luckily I've never fallen into that category.  "I was looking at a place the other day and the realtor, at least as far as I could tell, seemed overly concerned on my behalf about, `Well, I don't know if you'd have enough privacy here, with the paparazzi.'  "I told the realtor, `That hasn't ever really been a problem.'"




Hotel Rwanda Writers Win Social-Issues Award

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(July 1, 2005) Los Angeles -- The screenwriters of Hotel Rwanda won the Humanitas Prize on Wednesday for their story based on a hotel manager's efforts to shelter victims of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Writers Keir Pearson and Terry George received $25,000 (U.S.) in recognition of the film's "reminder of the importance and duty of universal concern," the Humanitas Prize organization said. More than $135,000 in prize money was distributed to 10 writers at the Humanitas Prize awards ceremony. AP




Berry hires Alicia for film; T.I. in Warner Bros comedy; Kodjoe, Elba, Gaye in ‘The Gospel

Excerpt from

(July 1, 2005) *Halle Berry has reportedly cast Alicia Keys in her new film project “Composition of Black and White,” based on Kathryn Talalay’s biography about interracial pioneer Philippa Schuyler.  "I adore Alicia and there's nobody more perfect for it than her," Berry said about Keys’ involvement.  Berry will serve as producer of the film about Schuyler, the daughter of renowned and controversial black journalist George Schuyler and Josephine Cogdell, a blond, blue-eyed Texas heiress and granddaughter of slave owners. Believing that interracial children would invigorate both races, they had Philippa in hopes of solving America’s race problems.   Dubbed the “Little Harlem Genius,” the young girl excelled in the arts and graced the covers of “Time” and “Look” magazines, but America’s racial and gender prejudices forced her sudden departure to Europe. By age 35, she was beginning to embark on a racial catharsis, but in 1967, her life was cut short in a helicopter crash over war-torn Vietnam during an unauthorized mission of mercy.

*T.I. got himself a leading role in the new Warner Bros. film set in an Atlanta hip-hip roller-skating rink. The untitled musical comedy, formerly known as “Jellybeans,” will be directed by music video helmer Chris Robinson. T.I. will play Rashad, the head of a roller-skating team, while newcomer Lauren London has been cast as New-New, an employee at the rink who is in love with him.  The script,  written by Tina Chism & Antwone Fisher, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Joe Robert Cole, is based on material by music producer Dallas Austin and T-Boz of TLC.

*Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba and Nona Gaye star in the Sony/Rainforest/Screen Gem film, “The Gospel.” The story follows a young singer who turns his back on God and his father’s church when tragedy strikes.  He returns years later to find the once powerful congregation in disarray. With his childhood nemesis creating a “new vision” for the church, he is forced to deal with family turmoil, career suicide, and relationship issues that send him on a collision course with redemption or destruction. The film also stars Clifton Powell, Aloma Wright, Donnie McClurkin, Omar Gooding, Tamyra Gray, Hezekiah Walker, Keisha Knight Pulliam and Delores “Mom’ Winans. Music is provided by Kirk Franklin, while featured performers include Yolanda Adams, Martha Munizzi and Fred Hammond.







‘Bobby Brown’ Sets Records At Bravo

Excerpt from

(July 6, 2005) *More than a million people tuned in to watch Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston in all of their substance-abused glory last week. The premiere of “Being Bobby Brown” netted 1.1 million viewers, making it the highest-rated series debut on the channel since 2003 and the best Thursday premiere in Bravo's 25-year history – all despite reviews that were about as ugly as Bobby telling Whitney he “had to dig a dootie bubble out of her butt.” “If it’s reality, then it has to be reality,” Bobby said, explaining the show’s warts-and-all depiction of his family. “And reality has to be real. And that’s the one thing we decided when we decided to do this - nothing’s going to be scripted like other, reality shows.  It’s just what is going on at that moment in my life. So some of the show, you might just see me sitting there all day, just in the house. But it’s hilarious to show that I do.” "Being Bobby Brown's" 1.1 household rating was nearly a 200 percent improvement over Bravo’s season average in the time period, and the show's 18-49 audience of 829,000 was almost 300 percent larger than usual. "'Being Bobby Brown' shows a rarely displayed verite glance at the lives of a pop culture icon and his famous family," Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick says, according to "The strong growth of the series over the course of the first two episodes demonstrates the audience's desire to come to Bravo for a deep, inside peek into the lives of these megastars."  More viewers tuned in to the second episode of "Being Bobby Brown’s" back-to-back premiere, a positive sign for a new series – especially one that was first pitched to its star while he was locked up. “I was in jail, so, hey, my reaction was like get me out and I’ll do anything,” Brown says of being approached to do the reality series. “But, but for the most part, I had planned to do something like this awhile back but it just never came together, so at the time, when Tracy Beggen came to me and my brother, Tommy, came to me with the idea, it was just like it was right on time.  I figure they talk about me enough, without being around me, so let the cameras around me talk.”




Idyllic Ratings For CTV

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(July 3, 2005) Congrats go to CTV for achieving the near impossible: landing a Canadian series atop the Top 10 Nielsen TV ratings. It's Canadian Idol, a series that would be pounded in the regular season but in summer goes up against U.S. repeats. And more Canadians than ever are watching. CTV says phone voting by viewers is up 40 per cent from last year. And why not? Wednesday's winners, Amber Fleury of Calgary and Rex Goudie of Burlington, Nfld., become the fifth and sixth members of the CI Top 10. All finalists return to Canadian Idol on July 19 in the first live Top 10 performance show. Those eliminated have chances on the July 12 Wild Card episode to determine the final two positions still up for grabs.





Basketball Star Alonzo Mourning Spreads The Word About Kidney Disease

Source: Ortho Biotech Products, L.P.,; Leanne Madison, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide,

(July 6, 2005) Bridgewater, NJ - Basketball star Alonzo Mourning has overcome tremendous obstacles to become an all-star on and off the court. He was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2000, and had a kidney transplant in 2003. Since then, Mourning has made a triumphant return to the National Basketball Association (NBA), and now he will visit clinics throughout the United States with Rebound from Anemia, a program designed to provide information about chronic kidney disease and its signs and symptoms to the millions of people with the condition and those at risk.  Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition in which the kidneys are unable to function effectively. Many people, including Mourning before his diagnosis, do not realize that they have chronic kidney disease, or are at risk for developing it, until they have reached advanced stages of the condition. This is significant, because more than 20 million Americans -- or one in nine adults -- are estimated to have chronic kidney disease and another 20 million are at increased risk. Through Rebound from Anemia, Mourning hopes to motivate people to take action by evaluating if they are at risk for chronic kidney disease, and by identifying common signs and symptoms often associated with the condition. One such sign, anemia, or low concentrations of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, is an early, yet often overlooked signal of chronic kidney disease.  "Before my diagnosis, I had no idea that I was at risk for kidney disease, or that fatigue or tiredness associated with anemia is a warning symptom for the condition. If I had known more about the risk factors for chronic kidney disease and its symptoms, I could have worked with my doctor and received treatment earlier, which may have slowed my disease progression," said Mourning. "Take my advice -- if you're at risk for chronic kidney disease and have symptoms of anemia, speak to your doctor."  People at risk for chronic kidney disease include those who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or both, and those who have a family history of kidney disease or who are over the age of 65. Chronic kidney disease also is more common among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and American Indians. It is particularly important for those at risk for chronic kidney disease to be aware of the signs and symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue or tiredness, dizziness or shortness of breath.  "Recognition of anemia may lead to an earlier discovery of chronic kidney disease, which can lead to earlier treatment and better health outcomes," said Robert Provenzano, M.D., F.A.C.P., chair of the Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, St. John Hospital & Medical Center, Detroit, MI. "This makes it critical that patients discuss symptoms of anemia with their doctors."  Rebound from Anemia is sponsored by Ortho Biotech Products, L.P., marketer of PROCRIT(R) (Epoetin alfa). For more information about kidney disease and anemia, please visit

Alonzo's Story

In 2000, Alonzo Mourning was at the top of his game. He was a leading player in the NBA, twice-named defensive player of the year and a member of the gold medal Olympic team. That same year, he faced his biggest opponent -- a diagnosis of kidney disease that led to his temporary retirement from the NBA and a kidney transplant in December 2003.  "One of my greatest challenges was the fatigue or tiredness related to anemia that not only kept me from picking up a basketball, but even prevented me from playing with my kids," said Mourning. "Once I began treatment for kidney disease, my doctor explained that anemia was a treatable condition and prescribed PROCRIT(R) (Epoetin alfa), a medication that helped treat my anemia." Individual results of PROCRIT(R) therapy may vary. Today, Mourning has made a successful return to the NBA and has dedicated much of his life to helping others with kidney disease.





First Maple Leaf flag back home for Canada Day

Source: Canadian Press

(July 1, 2005) OTTAWA — The original Maple Leaf flag that fluttered atop the Peace Tower in 1965 returned home on Canada Day to the waiting arms of Prime Minister Paul Martin.  "A piece of Canadian history has come home," a beaming Martin shouted as he held the folded flag aloft to show a cheering crowd of about 25,000 gathered on a sun-soaked Parliament Hill.  "What a great way to celebrate our birthday."  Canadian war veterans shared the Ottawa stage with politicians, the Governor General, young rock singers, bagpipers and dancers during a two-hour program celebrating the country's history and its future.  "Our veterans. . .have left behind them a trail of international goodwill and admiration for Canada," Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson told a group of veterans showered with red and white confetti as Canada Day celebrations expanded beyond the usual July 1st itinerary.  The 60th anniversary of V-E Day and Canada's role in liberating the Netherlands as well as the 100th anniversary of Alberta and Saskatchewan joining Confederation were all marked with music and tributes.  The intense heat that has gripped central Canada forced the prime minister himself to clap on a floppy red canvas hat with its sides pinned up.  Several people who fainted from the humid heat were carried off by ambulance attendants and police forcibly escorted away one man who persisted in trying to approach the prime minister and his guests during the program.  In contrast to the steam on Parliament Hill, Canada Day in Halifax was a soggy affair.  Several hundred people huddled under umbrellas for birthday ceremonies as rain poured down on the Halifax Citadel national historic site.  "We're here to celebrate a birthday, have some fun and free cake," said Lynn MacDonald, 50, who sported a Canada Day t-shirt, jacket, hat and fake tattoos.  "We don't need good weather. We're Canadians. We're hardy stock."  Rain-soaked Alberta, where repeated flooding has threatened many homes, got a break mid-day today, allowing crowds to come out for a 21-gun salute at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton.  Albertans, who often feel hostile toward Ottawa and its politicians, put aside the grievances for Canada Day.  Other issues are more important, said Ray Leckie.

"Hockey is always number one," said Leckie, showing a Maple Leaf tattoo on his left biceps.  "Also, the fact that everybody in the world likes us is pretty important."  The tone was colder in Quebec City, where about 100 separatists, some carrying large Canadian flags that had been cut and marked, protested near Canada Day events held in historic Old Quebec.  There were no arrests but police had to intervene to prevent the festivities from being interrupted.  In Ottawa, the return of the original flag to Parliament Hill for Canada's 138th birthday struck a special chord with the cheering crowd that included many young people born long after that first Maple Leaf fluttered atop the Peace Tower.  After flying for only a few days in February 1965, it was given the Lucien Lamoureux, deputy Speaker of the House of Commons of the day.  After retiring from politics in 1974, Lamoureux became a diplomat and settled — with the flag — in Brussels where it remained until returning to Canada mere days ago.  "We have celebrated 40 years of being united as a nation under a flag that we could truly call our own. . and I think I see a couple of flags out there," shouted Martin, waving to a sea of waving flags, young cheeks sporting Maple Leaf tattoos and huge hats festooned with the country's flag.




Black On White: Brilliant All Over

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Sarah Milroy

(July 5, 2005) Glenn Ligon is one of the leading mid-career black artists in the United States and this summer he's front and centre at The Power Plant art gallery in Toronto. The exhibition, titled Glenn Ligon: Some Changes, has been organized by Wayne Baerwaldt (the recently resigned director of The Power Plant) and Thelma Golden, the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem and a major force in American cultural life. Golden is to contemporary black culture what the Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard was to French Modernism; that is to say, integral to the success of the artists, both from the vantage point of aesthetics and career advancement. Championing the work of Ligon and other African-Americans -- Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson, Gary Simmons and Fred Wilson -- Golden has opened up a firmament of talent. Ligon is clearly a brilliant star. The show is not a full career retrospective. Instead, it distills Ligon's work down to some key themes. For the visitor, the most conspicuous of these is the artist's identity as a black male artist and his identity as a gay male artist. Of these two themes, that of race at first seems to dominate. Gay sexuality is overtly explored here only in Ligon's ongoing scrapbook works, in which pornographic images of black men are intercut with images drawn from family albums -- both his own and other people's. (These comment, he says, on how family albums often reveal the subtle undercurrents of sexual difference, and the family's attempts to efface them.) But, as the show reveals, these themes of race and sexuality are actually inextricably intertwined, giving the work a kind of double heartbeat.

At the core of Ligon's artistic accomplishment are the black-on-black, and black-on-white, text paintings he made in the nineties, pictures based on texts by honoured black authors such as James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and Zora Neale Hurston. To make these works, Ligon stencilled fragmentary passages from their writings onto the canvas using black paint, in the manner of Jasper Johns, and then encrusted the wet surface with granulated coal dust, often rendering the passages illegible but darkly sparkling. One series of these in the current show borrows text from Baldwin's essay Stranger in the Village, in which Baldwin described his experience of being the first black man to visit a remote village in the Swiss Alps. As Golden said in her gallery talk on the weekend, there is nothing blacker than soot, and these paintings seem to strive to be as black as it is possible to be. Hung on the wall, the densest of them seem to suck in all the light around them. Other paintings and prints place black words against white backgrounds, like the painting he made replicating the "I AM A MAN" sign famously held by striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968. Ligon took several runs at this image, at first making a painted black-and-white replica of it in 1988 (changing the line breaks from I AM/A MAN to I/AM A/MAN, emphasizing his own humanity in the equation). Then, two years later, he made two prints of the painting -- one replicating the painting, and the other replicating a museum conservator's report of the painting, highlighting all the little cracks and imperfections that time had wrought. Another work, black on white, borrows from the prose of Zora Neale Hurston: "I feel most coloured when I am thrown against a sharp white background."

These paintings feel like self-portraiture-through-quotation, as do his faux antebellum black-and-white posters from 1993, advertising the attributes of a runaway slave named Glenn. To make the posters, Ligon gathered descriptions of himself from various friends and colleagues (not telling them what it would be used for). He then made the 10 lithographs, each one featuring a different description. "Ran away, a man named Glenn," reads one. "Five feet eight inches high. He has a sweet voice, is quiet . . ." Another reads: "Very articulate, seemingly well-educated, does not look at you straight in the eye when talking to you. He's socially very adept, yet, paradoxically, he's somewhat of a loner." Each seems like a fitting description of the artist, yet each is slightly different. Identity is the fugitive here. A small room in the gallery functions as a three-dimensional self-portrait, including Ligon's elementary-school report cards from his progressive Upper East Side New York private school. (He was raised in a working-class family in the South Bronx and attended as a scholarship student.) On the floor, Ligon is showing two replicas of one of his most significant elementary-school art projects. His teacher had asked him to make a boat and to paint it. When she then asked him to revise his bold orange-and-blue colour scheme in order to "make it pretty," he defiantly painted the boat black -- a decision that he now sees as the turning point in his own self-awareness as an artist. (As he describes it: "That was the moment when I knew that I was right, and that the other person was wrong.") Around these two recreated objects -- the one brightly coloured, the other black -- the report cards paint a portrait of a boy struggling to express his singular talents and point of view, a brilliant child immersed in his private world. It seems that Ligon's recovery from these early trials has been complete. A number of his most recent works abandon black-and-white for dazzling colour -- his kind of dazzling colour. An array of his drawings from 2001, based on children's drawings in Afro-American-heritage colouring books, are on show. One features Malcolm X with bright blue eye shadow and rouged lips -- a luridly comic, effeminate likeness of the black leader that seems to entertain both Ligon's racial and his sexual identity, refusing elegiac, manly solemnity. In a wall painting nearby, Ligon has drawn a head of Malcolm X with shafts of brilliant colour emanating from his eye -- a physical expression of perception radiating from its source. These works suggest a jubilant rainbow world, their multihued palette a charged signifier of gay identity. In the adjacent gallery, however, Ligon's most recent work returns to black and white, casting back to an earlier moment in gay cultural history. A giant custom-made neon sign has been "blacked out" by the artist on its front surface, its lower-case letters spelling out the phrase "negro sunshine." Ligon lifted the phrase from the writings of Gertrude Stein, a figure notorious both for her ardent modernism and her pioneering out-of-the-closet lesbianism. (Stein used the phrase to describe a female character in her short-story cycle Three Lives.) Ligon's neon tubing casts a backward glow against the wall, but the full dazzle of the letters is obscured by black paint. "I was fascinated by this idea of negro sunshine," says Ligon, and also by Stein herself. "So much was said there," he says of her writings, "but it is all said so indirectly. You have to go back and read it again and again."

Glenn Ligon: Some Changes continues at Toronto's Power Plant until Sept. 5. Ligon will be speaking about his work at the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, at 8 p.m. on July 19 (416-973-4949).




Fashion Bits: Cruz Says Yes To Sean Jean; Wyclef Launches ‘Refugee’ Line

Excerpt from 

(July 1, 2005) *Penelope Cruz has reportedly taken SeanP. Diddy’ Combs up on his offer to be the face of his new Sean Jean women’s line. Word has it that she took part in a photo shoot for the new line earlier this week.  As previously reported, Diddy had meetings with the Spanish actress last week in both London and MadridCruz, currently dating her “Sahara” co-star Matthew McConaughey, reportedly had dinner with her ex Tom Cruise and his new fiancée Katie Holmes when the recent “War of the Worlds” publicity tornado ran through Madrid.

*Haitian-born rapper Wyclef Jean has teamed with French fashion designer DIA to launch a clothing line called, Refugee by DIA Clothing. Its aim is to combine elements of French, Italian and American style under the theme, "We are all Refugees."   “We are all Refugees' means that everyone is a refugee,” Wyclef said. "Everyone in the United States is a refugee to some degree. No one's culture originated here."  The line is available at select retailers and is priced from $30 and $600. A woman's line will be available early next year.







The 3-Phase Abs Workout

by Michael Stefano, Special for eFitness

(July 4, 2005)  If you're like me, you've come across countless articles on how to tighten your tummy or flatten a flabby midsection, but to quote Mr. William Shakespeare, there's been "Much ado about nothing."  But before we explore some possible reasons behind your sub-pectoral protrusion, let's take a quick look at the actual musculature of the abdomen.  For a sure-fire way to flatten your belly, check out this great workout program.  The most prominent layer, the Rectus Abdominus, is a thin sheath of muscle that runs midline from sternum to pelvis. It’s what most identify as the sixpack.  Sometimes referred to as the lower and upper abdominals respectively, the Exterior Oblique and Interior Oblique muscles wrap the lower torso and also tie into the pelvis. Finally, the Transverse Abdominus are deep horizontal muscle fibres that from run side to side, holding together your internal organs. The major action of the abdominal muscle group is to support the back and spine, as well as bring the trunk toward the pelvis.

Traditional Abdominal Exercise

When performing traditional abdominal exercises (crunches, sit-ups) there’s a tendency for the body to make muscular substitutions, and allow muscles that are not being targeted to do most, if not all of the work. Sometimes the notoriously short and tight hip flexors (the muscles responsible for elevating the thighs towards the chest) are allowed to take over.   To get a sense of where the hip flexors are and what they do, place your hand over the junction between the pelvis and either thigh as you sit in your chair. Now raise your foot (same leg) off the floor an inch or two. As you do, the hip joint will flex, and the powerful hip flexors will contract.   The traditional crunch is usually done with excessive flexion at the hip joint overriding most, if not all abdominal muscle activity. In order to perform an effective crunch motion that challenges the abs, let’s first attempt to quiet down those pesky hip flexors.

Phase One -- Hip Flexor Stretch:

Lie flat on your back, bend at the hips and knees with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Extend the right leg straight out and bring your left knee toward your chest, taking hold of your bent knee with both hands. Do not allow your tailbone to roll up off the floor as you squeeze your knee to your chest. If the back of your extended thigh cannot remain flat on the floor, your right hip flexors are tight.  If your hip flexors are not tight, skip directly to phase two. Using the muscles in the back of the right leg and buttocks, draw the right thigh to the floor while the low back remains on the floor, and the left knee is held to the chest. Only stretch to a position of slight discomfort, NOT pain. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds, performing three sets on each side. Work up to 30-second holds.

Phase Two -- Crunch Time:

Lie flat on your back in the supine position, legs straight. If your hip flexors are tight, your low back will be arched and away from off the floor. Slowly, bending at the hips and knees, slide your feet towards your buttocks until the arch in your low back disappears and the back flattens on the floor. This is your crunch position. If necessary, support the knees with a pillow or folded blanket to ensure total relaxation of the hip flexors throughout the movement.  Now fold your arms across your chest and slowly curl up from the floor with your head, shoulders, and chest, with the sensation of bringing your ribs towards your navel. The only muscles working should be the Rectus Abdominus, as well as both Internal and External Abdominal Obliques. It's imperative that the low back remain flat on the floor, and the hip flexors stay relaxed.

Phase Three -- Pelvic Tilt:

If you also have a problem with rounded, or hunched shoulders, forgo crunches altogether, as they tend to increase the curvature of the upper spine. Instead, from either the supine position (lying with legs straight), or from the relaxed, hip flexor-supported position (with knees bent), press your low back into the floor by contracting your abdominal muscles, hold, then release. Keep your entire lower body relaxed. Your arms should be held out in a T position, palms up. Perform two or three sets of 10 - 20 repetitions with a brief hold (or you can do one set of two or three repetitions with a 10 - 30 second hold).  Wall Standing is a variation on the pelvic tilt. Stand with your back flat against a wall, heels out at least six inches. Keeping your shoulders and pelvis against the wall, press the low back into the wall with a strong abdominal contraction. The closer to the wall you are with your feet, the more abdominal effort it will take to flatten your back. Hold for 10 seconds up to one minute.

The above combination of exercises, if done properly, will flatten, tone and tighten your abdominal muscles, improve posture and appearance, and possibly relieve symptoms of low back pain. Of course, no amount of abdominal work will remove the layers of fat you’ve accumulated over the years through overeating and under exercising.

A properly orchestrated strength and cardiovascular program, combined with sensible eating is the best way to achieve that.




EVENTS – JULY 7-17, 2005




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar  
574 College Street (at Manning)  
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




Indian Motorcycle
  King Street (at Peter)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment