"BACK TO NOW"
Iconic ‘70s group LABELLE (www.vervemusicgroup.com) has gotten back together. They came out to SPLASH (www.splashbar.com) to see their adoring fans - the ‘kids' we call them. Ant and I were amongst the bunch. And due to friend and promoter Nathan Hale Williams and our generous and beloved photographer/friend Charlie T (who you may recall shot portraits of Ant and me last December for our 2nd anniversary - http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/3/i-have-a-dream-today.html), I got a photo op with Patti and the girls on SPLASH's stage. Their new project is titled "Back to Now" and promises the best of their classic sound coupled with what they have always been about: a contemporary, funky, and cutting-edge soundtrack (with Wyclef, Lenny Kravitz, and others at the producing/songwriting boards). Ant also got some good shots of Miss Patti and the girls. Those that follow: Also in the house was my friend Patrik-Ian Polk who is promoting his film "Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom" (www.noahsarcmovie.com), which Ant and I love. We will see again (and take our friends) - now that it is in the theatres. (Charlie T took these pix too and ensured via her partner Danielle that Ant and I got home to Jersey - so we wouldn't have to leave early for the bus. THANK YOU, CHARLIE T and DANIELLE). Oh! And LABELLE is coming back to The Apollo Theatre (www.apollotheater.org/) on December 19th - their first and only public performance this year and the legendary group's first full concert since 1977 (www.ticketmaster.com). [And speaking of The Apollo, there's an open audition for "Dreamgirls" taking place there as they will be casting the starring roles of "The Dreams - Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, and Effie White, and the casting directors are looking for women in their 20s.]
Late great jazz diva Hazel Scott has performed at The Apollo along with an impressive line-up of greats from many genres - including swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hip. And I've been shouting out my friend Karen Chilton and her fab new bio on Hazel Scott (http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=197245). It's the first biography of an important but overlooked African American pianist, singer, actor, and civil-rights advocate. And she hipped Ant and me to its release the other week during Fashion Week (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/9/17/blue-thats-the-new-color-children.html). Well, Hazel too was a Harlemite. And our best buddy/choreographer Ken Roberson chose my favorite boutique "N" (www.nharlemnewyork.com/) to host this fete - pictures courtesy of Justin Reid Photography (Ken's cousin - formerly known as 1matrixstyle - http://1matrixstyle.deviantart.com). It was so good to see many friends we hadn't seen in a minute - from Chris to Kele to Raymond. And "N" owners Lenn, Larry, and Nikoa. Ant and I even convinced our favorite Director of Photography and friend Will Miller Jr. (Will Miller & Co. LLC) to join us. He had a great time and bought a book himself. But it knocked my socks off to see and pose with "my" Diana's oldest offspring Rhonda Ross. As most know, she's a jazz singer and New York City realtor (www.RossRealtyInternational.com) - appropriate as Miss Ross (another Apollo player) has gone on the record as owing a great debt to Hazel Scott. Too, in that special, Ross acknowledged many of those great legends - including Billie Holliday - on whose shoulders she stands (pointedly in her special from 1987 "Red Hot Rhythm & Blues"). Rhonda - as always - was so sweet and accommodating... and present. CONGRATS, KAREN!!!
ROSS REIGNS SUPREME (AGAIN) IN NORWAY
With Motown preparing to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, there are no rumors on a Diana Ross and The Supremes reunion (though no one ever expected Miss Ross to headline a charity concert bill with Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, and Chaka Khan. Remember "Divas with Heart" from earlier this year: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/11/divas-with-heart.html). However, Miss Ross has been announced as the headliner for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in honor of the 2008 laureate, Finnish peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari (www.nobelprize.org/). In addition to anywhere in the world, Ross too is beloved in Norway. She was married to Norwegian millionaire Arne Naess Junior from 1985 to 2000. He is the father of her two boys Ross and Evan. Sadly, Naess died in a mountain climbing accident in 2004 while in South Africa. By the way, did you see Tyra Banks' homage to Diana Ross and Mahogany in "V" Magazine (www.vmagazine.com/). She plays Mahogany's agent/mentor Carlotta Gavina, who transforms the character Tracey into the supermodel Mahogany. What transpired in Diana's hit 70s classic is much what media mogul/supermodel Tyra does with her girls on "America's Next Top Model" (www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model11). Ant often says that Diana Ross is really the first ‘supermodel', though first renowned as a singer and actress. Great job, TYRA! And as always... MISS ROSS!
My Savannah homeboy Stacy Quarterman works for SONY/BMG out of Atlanta. He invited Ant and me out to Brooklyn's Two Steps Down Restaurant for the release party of Mary Mary's new CD "The Sound" (www.mary-mary.com/). Like Labelle, they've taken the contemporary route with their collection of songs this go around - and to good effect. After they let everyone hear the CD, they came back to the VIP area and greeted everyone - even posing with Ant and me for the occasion. I alerted them that their first CD moved me in many ways. The song "I Just Can't Give Up Now" (an interpolation of James Cleveland's "I Don't Feel No Ways Tired") would get me (and still sometimes) right in my heart as each day can be such a challenge, but I'm clear that I must keep moving forward (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmQBshQ11uo). Find out more via the aforementioned website and/or WWW.ILOVEMARYMARY.COM and WWW.MYSPACE.COM/THEREALMARYMARY (By the way, Mary Mary are proud to announce their Bath and Body Line entitled "Be U" - dedicated to young women at heart who want to celebrate their uniqueness and inner beauty. It's coming Thanksgiving Holiday 2008 to a participating Wal Mart near you - www.walmart.com).
As I work to hold the freelance day gigs down, you know I'm doing more on-camera pop culture analysis and TV personality work. Here's the latest from my recent appearance on a taping of 'The Truth with Jeff Johnson' (www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/truth/):
Many of my other recent clips are below. But stay tuned for a look at my First Lady Fashion Show segment scheduled next week for CN8's 'Your Morning' in Philadelphia (www.cn8.tv). As always, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT as I develop my brand and reach for the stars (... and try to keep the mortgage paid. SMILE!):
*CN8s 'Your Morning' (live segment on 'Tropic Thunder'- http://184.108.40.206/PRiley/CN8YourMorning.wmv);
*'The Hugh Thompson Show' (AT&T's Technical Station) -http://220.127.116.11/PRiley/PatrickHughThompsonShow.wmv
* GENERAL TALENT REEL:http://18.104.22.168/PRiley/PatrickGeneralReel.wmv
So many friends from my days in Savannah and Atlanta who are doing awesome things or who have friends or friends of friends doing great things. Wanna shout some of them out here:
- My high school friend Monique Thomas (who I got to see at our 20th High School Reunion - http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/6/17/someday-well-be-together-we-still-together-kinda.html) sent me this tidbit. She wanted me to attend her friend Elle Bailey's release party for her debut novel "Living Well is the Best Revenge". Didn't get a chance to attend as it was in Chicago, but check out the book. I'm told you voracious readers won't be able to put it down. It's available in all bookstores like Borders, for example (www.borders.co.uk/book/living-well-is-the-best-revenge/1098910/).
- While Monique and I came up in Savannah, we'd sometimes tune into WSAV (the NBC affiliate in Savannah - www.wsav.com) and see Malena Cunningham - one of the most popular anchors in the city at the time. She soon left for other big marketplaces including Birmingham, Alabama. But now, she heads up her own publicity firm Strategic Media Relations Inc. One artist she wants us all to know about is Jackie Chain, who found his love for rap music - growing up in the trailer parks of Hunstville, Alabama. Check him out via www.myspace.com/jackiechain.
- A friend of my Carl Nelson, Lamar Ariel, has a new book "Ready to Male" (www.readytomale.com). It's an exploration through black gay male identity. It is deemed autobiographical fiction written in the form of letters. The work infuses elements of short-story and memoir writing styles to provide a snapshot of Lamar Ariel's ongoing journey to creatively examine rather than dismiss his personal thoughts. I hear it's quite a read. Check it out.
- As I met Carl Nelson in Atlanta, several other folks from our days have been in touch of late. Old industry buddy Sandra Rose (www.sandrarose.com) shouted me out on her blog recently. Take a look. She pulled this pic of Miss J (from "America's Next Top Model") and ‘she' and I enjoyed one of Kimora Lee Simmons' recent Baby Phat shows. THANKS FOR THE SHOUT OUT, SANDRA ROSE!
- Another Atlanta friend from back in the day: Rhonda Baraka. We were both local journalists during my time there. Now, she has just completed production on"Pastor Brown," a film based on one of her screenplays. It was directed by my Morehouse brother Rockmond Dunbar and boasts an amazing all-star cast: Salli Richardson, Ernie Hudson, Nicole Ari Parker, Keith David, Michael Beach, Tasha Smith, Tisha Campbell, Monica, Angie Stone and Michael B. Jordan. She too is shopping a couple of other film projects as well as a couple of TV pilots. And currently, she is working on Jay Johnson Boot Camp - helping them find ways to get their message out to people about becoming physically fit, especially kids. Check him out on www.cmt.com under the "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team" link and http://www.jaysbootcamp.com/.
- During Arrested Development's hey-day (as a producer at "Good Day Atlanta"), I got the chance to have them on the show several times. Well, Aerle Taree is one of the members of the 2-time-Grammy-Award-winning group Arrested Development. Well, as reinvention goes, she has a new book titled "PoeTaree: The Jurisprudence of Life".Her book is in Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Chapter's.
- My friend Fred from Momentum (www.momentumeducation.com) hipped me to a new street dancer named STORYBOARD (http://www.myspace.com/glideordie). In fact, STORYBOARD called me and let me know what he's doing. Check him out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ8eBtT2IeQ He's cutting edge. Much of what you may see in videos started in his brain and with his bones - much like Shalamar's Jeffrey Daniels is the Soul Train-precursor (by 4 or more years) to Michael Jackson's Moonwalk for which Jacko should be credited as bringing it to the international stage. Speaking of videos, Storyboard too is featured in Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVTyLqkez6A). He truly is one to watch.
- As we have continued to watch my industry buddy Maurice Jamal, he continues to give us good reasons to stay a captive audience. His new TV series "Friends and Lovers" will be screening all around the U-S - including New York City (www.myspace.com/friendsandloverstv). It is a comedy-drama based on his first film "The Ski Trip". It's loaded with a sexy cast, lots of comedy, and tons of drama. He'll be at all the screenings. For NYC, Sunday, November 2nd is the date at 3:00 pm at the QBC Film Festival. For tickets: www.queerblackcinema.org
"GONE TOO SOON"
- MRS. BETHEA -
- LEVI STUBBS from The Four Tops - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HQEhuylZmg
- DEE DEE WARWICK - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSP2ZHLDPUA
- RUDY RAY MOORE - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQYGvVjfaEM