Well, the BIG 3-8 came on November 19th... and went! Still the BDAY EXTRAVAGANZA continues into December! LOL! And despite some recent breakdowns I produced, Ant still graciously chose to put together a simple-and-most-festive evening for me. Like last year, karaoke was the theme. Tequila Jack’s (on the upper east side of Manhattan) was our backdrop (www.tequilajacksnyc.com/). And upwards of 50+ of my dearest friends – old and new – came out to sing a song and take down $5 margaritas and tasty comfort bites. I hosted ‘the program’ and Ant brokered the night so that I can perhaps go back on Wednesdays and host this karaoke night beyond my birthday evening. It was so good to see each and everyone as they all came bearing gifts and well-wishes. And I am grateful to Ant and each and every one of my friends who came out to celebrate. At a time in which I haven’t been feeling my best on several fronts – from economic challenges to rounds of depression that don’t bode well for my relationship, this evening was a good reminder of how blessed I am and how rich I am with lots of love – all around me. THANKS ANT! THANKS ALL!
The following day, Ant and I received a lovely invite from a couple of friends at Chicago-based Burrell Communications, Iman Jefferson and Tracy Anderson, who I worked with some years ago in New York City (via a place called Medialink – www.medialink.com). It was World Children’s Day and Grammy-nominated singer Tamia Hill and actress/philanthropist Holly Robinson-Peete joined members of Mocha Moms, a support group for stay-at-home mothers of color (www.mochamoms.org/), for a service day at the New York Ronald McDonald House (www.mcdonalds.com and www.rmhc.org). In addition to baking cookies; placing decorations to ready the house for the holidays; and mentoring the young kids, the service day concluded with a spirited and most impressive performance by the Ronald McDonald House Children’s gospel choir. It was “This Little Light of Mine” and these ‘little lights’ sparkled. As Tamia came to the stage to do her part, she joked they pulled from the oldest trick in entertainment: ‘hold back in rehearsals’! This, as they proved a hard act to follow. But as those of us who are Tamia’s die-hard fans go, we know she always comes through in performance. This morning was no exception as she performed her hit “Still” with piano accompaniment followed by a tear-jerking “I Hope You Dance” with the kids singing background. I couldn’t stop crying during this beautiful anthem of hope, optimism, and possibilities.
So, I still have no link to share with you folks from my First Lady Fashion Show appearance on CN8s “Your Morning” (www.cn8.tv). But it’s coming soon. Meanwhile, the appearance made for a bit of a buzz via Philly-based cosmetologist Ursula Augustine who supported all steps of my pulling this segment together. With that, she has shouted me out on her website. Please check it out: http://ursulasaph.web.officelive.com/default.aspx and
http://ursulasaph.web.officelive.com/contactus.aspx Thanks Ursula! And one more shout out to Celebrity Stylist Debra Ginyard who donated her time and worked with Ant and me to pull the First Lady looks together. Here’s some access to her greatness:
Ant and I got to see “Cadillac Records” the other day (www.sonypictures.com/movies/cadillacrecords/). The film – featuring Beyonce as Etta James – chronicles the rise of Chess Records and the many artists who came through – playing the blues, r&b, rock & roll, etc. As I LOVE any ‘celebrity bio’ in any genre – from literature to film, I have to say this project is well done. Beyonce – for sure – goes deeper as the brassy, sassy, Heroin-addicted Etta James requires it. As I am just catching up with Beyonce’s new material from “I Am... Sasha Fierce” (as graciously sent by her publicist Yvette Noelle-Schure), she is at the top of the charts on her double-disc’s debut week (www.beyonceonline.com/). CONGRATS B! Last year this time, Ant took me to Manila to see Beyonce (surely you knew I was gonna run this picture again. LOL!). And look at her now. GO GIRL!
Much like my Diana did in her 1987 “Red Hot Rhythm & Blues” special (on which Etta James was a guest - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goz07feA54Y), Beyonce must know she owes a great debt to Etta James who almost cracks the top 20 of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (www.rollingstone.com). And since Beyonce’s interpreted a Diana-like character in “Dreamgirls”; performed with Tina Turner on The Grammys (Ant and I are going to see Miss Tina tonight in Newark, NJ... by the way!); and Beyonce is now portraying Etta James, maybe next on her list will be Miss Aretha Franklin who is the #1 Greatest Singer of All Time, according to Rolling Stone. We’re watching, Beyonce (just don't forget to call her "The Queen of Soul" at all times, hear?)! You can do anything, Beyonce, it seems (though some critics are likening your much-duplicated “Single Ladies” dance to the new Macarena. Perhaps time to add some new choreography flips to that song and get those new singles going).
Speaking of great ‘celebrity bios’, my friend Vy Higginsen – creator of “Mama, I Want To Sing!” (which chronicles the life of her sister Doris Troy [“Just One Look”]) - just recently got back from her 6-week tour in Japan with her new show “Sing, Harlem, Sing...”. They traveled to my birthplace Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Nagasaki. And they got many standing ovations and love amidst their run. Vy says they were in Japan when they received the news of Obama’s victory. She says that show was such a celebration! And from her vantage point, she says it seemed the Japanese audience was as excited and joyful as all the cast members and staff! Please click on the site – http://www.tnc.co.jp/harlem/.
Speaking of great singers (one with whom I’ve had the chance to sing and share a stage): Cassie Davis, my Spelman sister who you may know as Ella Payne in Tyler Perry’s sitcom “House of Payne” (www.tbs.com/shows/houseofpayne), has returned to a place we know and love Spelman College (www.spelman.edu)... and after 25 years of making her mark on the stage, the big screen, and the small screen, she went back to Spelman College to do the one thing she’d yet to accomplish--completing her senior requirement in order to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree. She performed a Senior Showcase a couple of weeks ago – titled “THE DREAM OF MY LIFE”. Surely, life and her career have given her the tools she needed to complete. CONGRATS CASSIE! MUCH LOVE!
Another great voice from a friend Norm Lewis who I’ve shouted out here in the blog many times. He’s got a new CD coming out and a performance to showcase it on Monday, December 1st at Joe’s Pub (www.joespub.com). For those of you who don't know, Norm is one of Broadway’s best, currently working his magic in “The Little Mermaid” (www.disney.go.com/theatre/thelittlemermaid/). CONGRATS NORM!
I know I mentioned “Somebodies” from BET before (My Spelman sister Karen Ceesay was featured in one of the episodes) - www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/somebodies/. Well, I just got some more tidbits on its creator Hadjii and I will share them here. He is an award-winning filmmaker and responsible for “Somebodies”, its first original scripted sitcom. And the journey to get there is as follows:
- A BET intern slipped a copy of his film (featured at Sundance) to Reggie Hudlin who brought it to BET.
- At 32, Hadjii became the executive producer of that sitcom as well as published a book (Random House)
- He is an intellectual with southern charm and wit, but has a way that translates to an ability to talk to the average guy, street thugs and scholarly types. (He is a former college instructor.)
- He is one of the most humble people I know and as of this note, we’re not certain if BET will pick up the show for a second season though it has received critical acclaim and he has a following of viewers globally
Keep Hadjii on your radar. I relate to the journey, my brother!
Many of you know I Chair the National Association of Black Journalists’ Arts & Entertainment Task Force (www.nabj.org). Its founder and first Chair Karyn Collins is style editor/features writer at 40-74 Magazine (www.4074mag.com/) and The Asbury Park Press (www.app.com/). Well, she’s got two blogs that I want to shout out here:
The Look (fashion and beauty blog) - http://blogs.app.com/thelook/
Culture Klatch (the dance and arts blog) - http://blogs.app.com/cultureklatch/
My friend Diaz who works with jeweler Dorian Webb (www.dorianwebb.com) in Summit, New Jersey is overseeing a hot post-Thanksgiving sale for the line of jewelry, Venetian glass chandeliers, glassware, decorative ornaments, and one-of-a-kind collectibles. Check it all out at www.viaggiohome.com.
I need a getaway! Unfortunately it won’t be Bermuda. Fortunately, my friend Kimberly Jajuan will be performing there and Ern (her manager) will accompany her. My friend Raymond P Lewis via his company RPL & Associates is co-producing the festivities called "Feed Your Spirit Holiday Gift Weekend"in conjunction with the Relevations Group and the Bermuda Department of Tourism. This faith-based destination event will take place December 4th - 7th, 2008 on the beautiful island of Bermuda. The weekend includes:
- 4 days and 3 nights at the beautiful four star Fairmont Southampton Princess Hotel
- Opening Night Performance of the hit gospel musical " No Ordinary Christmas" Starring Gospel Sensation Kim Burrell
- Opening Night Post Performance Gala Reception hosted by Clifton Davis Star of the hit sitcom AMEN
- Tickets to panel discussion " Sisters in the Name of Love" with (Rev. Suzan Johnson Cooke, Evangelist Denise Hill, and WNBA New York Liberty Star, Kym Hampton
- Tickets to panel discussion "Everlasting Faith" Moderated by Rev. Clifton Davis, with Rev. Suzan Johnson Cooke, Evangelist Denise Hill and a stellar line up of Bermuda's most prominent clergy representing over five (5) denominations.
- Tickets to the "Go With God" Worship and Praise Performance hosted by Rev. Davis and the John P. Kee Worship and Praise Band
- Invitations to the Book signings of Rev. Suzan Johnson Cooke and Evangelist Denise Hill
- $1000.00 Passport of discount coupon to Bermuda's finest stores courtesy of the Dept of Tourism
- One Year Subscription to Black Enterprise Magazine
To view the website (WWW.CHRISTMASINBERMUDA.COM).
Back to Beyonce (for a sec): Per Ellen’s request (www.ellen.warnerbros.com/), Beyonce pulled from her BDAY catalogue to perform one of Ellen’s favorites “Flaws & All” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpm6OcsSBZI) – a song with which I identified as it relates to how I can show up – especially in my relationship with Ant. Surely, there are no coincidences. I needed to learn this lesson again. And where there are TWO WILLS, there’s a WAY for me to continue learning until I get it already. WORK IN PROGRESS:
Flaws And All
I'm a train wreck in the morning
I'm a bitch in the afternoon
Every now and then without warning
I can be really mean towards you
I'm a puzzle yes indeed
Every complex in every way
And all the pieces aren't even in the box
And yet, you see the picture clear as day.
I don't know why you love me
And that's why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
And that's why I love you [3x]
I neglect you when I'm working
When I need attention I tend to nag
I'm a host of imperfection
And you see past all that
I'm a peasant by some standards
But in your eyes I'm a queen
You see potential in all my flaws
and that's exactly what I need.
I don't know why you love me
And that's why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
and that's why I love you!!!!
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