Legendary music producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff discuss their 40-plus years in the music business. From Vinyl to iPods, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers talk about downloading music, the love songs on the radio today and the genius of late soul music icons such as Teddy Pendergrass and Barry White.
In a quest to create a moment of separation from the grinding world of reality, Dr. Leslie King-Hammond turned to the plentiful corridors of art. As a little girl, King-Hammond would use art as a support system and a way to release all of the built-up creative energy harboring in her adolescent frame. But now as an educator and world-renowned art curator, art is no longer a way to a second life; it has become her life.
Born and raised in New York City, Leslie King-Hammond was reared in an era of boiling racial tension that created a prime opportunity for a microscope to be focused on the inequality that was harboring in America. That’s why education was so important to Oliver King and Evelyne Alice Maxwell King, as they knew that knowledge would be the key for their daughter to survive in an ever-changing world. The classroom is where King-Hammond excelled; as she would go on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University, thus landing in a city where she would have an everlasting artistic and cultural impact.
For nearly 40 years, Dr. King-Hammond has brought her vigorous expertise of the art world to the halls of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. And now as the Graduate Dean Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA, King-Hammond has found a unique way to merge both the roles of art and the perplexing issue of race in our society. This fusion has created a think tank-esque experience not only on the campus of MICA, but also in the city and community that surrounds its campus.
Dr. King-Hammond has accumulated a plethora of awards and accolades during her prestigious career as an curator, educator, historian and forward thinker. She has served as the Doctoral Supervisor for Howard University’s Department of African Studies and on the Board of Directors of the International House of Art Critics. She also brought home the National Endowment for the Arts Award in 2001. But with all of her success, nothing may bring her more satisfaction then the gift of spreading the vital love that art can bring to one’s life. This is something the doctor can attest to first hand.
With all of the success Sherri Shepherd has experienced in her career, it doesn’t come remotely close to her mission of being a great mother. This was truly evident in 2008, when she voted for the first time in her life for a president whom her handsome, young son could look to for inspiration as he grows into adolescence. But that joyous moment didn’t dawn on the four-year-old lad in the voting booth, because, as Ms. Shepherd so eloquently and amusingly puts it, he was having a temper tantrum.
And that what makes the beautiful, curvaceous comic and actress so relatable, she knows how to relay anecdotes with a disarming wit that transcends through all of the political correctness and aims right at the truth. After earning her stripes as a stand-up comic, and gaining meaty, supporting roles on sitcoms such as “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” Shepherd decided to challenge herself by becoming a co-host on “The View” in 2007.
After a rocky start on the talk show, it seems that Shepherd has found her niche as the person who unapologetically stands by her convictions, even when they aren’t particularly popular. This attribute has led the host to two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Talk Show Host and to share a win with her “View” co-hosts for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
But the 42-year-old’s talents are not limited to “The View.” She has been continuing to gain movie roles, most recently appearing in the breakout film, “Precious” and also maintaining a recurring role on the TV comedy, “30 Rock.” But it’s juggling the workload of having her own sitcom, “Sherri,” on Lifetime Television and promoting her new book, “Permission Slips: Every Woman’s Guide to Giving Herself a Break,” that really has the entertainer and devoted mother counting her blessings of success. But the ability to be home in time to kiss her son goodnight every evening must be the truest blessing of them all.
It seems as if we aren’t aware that Nick Cannon will soon be taking over every facet of entertainment known to man.
And that’s the way I think he likes it.
It’s rare that you’ll find Mr. Cannon without an immaculately-tailored suit on his trim, six-foot frame these days, as he spends a majority of his time as chairman of the television network, TeenNick. And it was a homecoming of sorts for Cannon, as he started his career with Nickelodeon as a teen comic sensation, eventually working his way around the boardrooms to establish his name as a sure-fire brand for quality entertainment. His successful MTV show, “Wild’n Out,” re-invented the sketch comedy genre and gave it a millennial twist with a hip-hop braggadocio. Bottom line, Cannon’s success with creating material for Viacom, one of the world’s largest media corporations, has made him a true force in today’s media circles.
Thankfully, Cannon’s business acumen hasn’t taken away from his passion for acting. With the ability to switch gears from his comfortable terrain of comedy (“Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Underclassmen”) to the dramatic (“Bobby,” “American Son”), the thespian’s talents are truly endless. But all of the young mogul’s accomplishments were the vehicle for the creation of one of the most unique combination of teenage ambition and goodwill that has been screened for television. The HALO (Helping And Leading Others) Awards recognizes extraordinary young people using their specific gifts to change the circumstances of the people and the world that surrounds them. The HALO Awards ceremony aired last month on TeenNick, but Cannon wants the movement to go beyond an annual event and become an experience that inspires everyone to contribute to the idea of empowerment.
With his marriage to the beautiful singer Mariah Carey being an obsession for noisy tabloid sites, and the creation of his corporation, Ncredible Entertainment, becoming an entity in the new world of media, Nick Cannon still remains a humble pioneer who has seen countless things in his 30 years of life. But even though he’s humble, you still have to respect his conglomerate.
In only the span of six years, Darryl “Lil Scrappy” Richardson has made his mark as one of the most important artists to carry southern hip-hop on his back. Laying down the groundwork in his hometown of Atlanta, Scrappy first broke onto the national scene in 2003 after being discovered by local mainstay and producing czar Lil Jon.
And as they say, the rest is history.
Scrappy’s mix of grind and hustle pushed his monster smash, “Head Bussa,” into the sphere of mixtape bliss. The success of that hit would eventually lead Lil Jon into a successful joint venture deal with Warner Bros. Records.
But today is a new beginning for the 28-year-old MC, as he has a new record deal and another big-name artist to help push his musical agenda. After linking up with Ludacris and his Disturbing Tha Peace imprint, Scrappy is gearing up to release his third studio album, “The Grustle.” The title of the new album holds true to Scrappy’s work ethic, as his grustler’s ambition continues to grow even stronger as he strives to reach the pinnacle of musical success.
It seems like an entire era has passed since we first laid our eardrums on the uptown resonance of LaRon James. Better known as Juelz Santana to his loyal Dipset followers, the Harlem-bred MC has been somewhat of a child star, beginning his career in a rap duo named Draft Pick in the late nineties at the age of 15. After catching the attention of another Harlem heavyweight by the name of Cameron Giles, Santana made his mark on Cam’Ron’s 2000 release, “Sports, Drugs and Entertainment” (S.D.E.). Since then, it has been nothing but full throttle hustle for the 25-year-old. After scoring a Grammy nomination for his collaboration with Cam on the 2002 smash hit, “Oh Boy,” Santana was brought into the fold of The Diplomats–a New York City hip-hop movement founded by Cam’Ron and two of his longtime friends, Jim Jones and Freaky Zekey.
Making his mark in a crew that brought numerous trends (pink-hued clothing) and phrases into the hip-hop lexicon (no homo), these days bring a new direction in the career of Juelz Santana. The MC and new-found record executive is readying the release of his third studio album, “Born to Lose, Built to Win,” on Def Jam Records. This will be the first release for Santana after inking a 50/50 venture with the label after his former mentor Cam’Ron sold his contract to Def Jam for $2 Million. But through all of the tumult that has surrounded the dissolve of The Diplomats and the relationship between its members, Santana maintains a positive outlook and even says that the Dipset movement is still alive and well.
And that should be good news to the movement’s truest fans, as they are holding on to the hopes of hearing one last album from the hip-hop collective. But until that day comes, Juelz Santana’s main focus is pushing his new label, Skull Gang Records, toward the forefront of the future of hip-hop. The new single from his album, “Back to the Crib”–which features Chris Brown–has been heating up radio as the album gets its finishing touches for a 2010 release. As droves of people will be ringing in the New Year staring intently at the Time Square crystal ball or partying the night away, Santana just might be pulling an all-nighter in the studio–gearing up for another win.
2010 will mark a new direction in the career of the singer, dancer, songwriter, record executive and filmmaker known as Omarion. The Los Angeles-bred Omari Grandberry has witnessed the entertainment business firsthand, as he saw hordes of talent come and go in a city whose avenues are paved with the debris of broken dreams. But after starting his career under the tutelage of Chris Stokes in the R&B group B2K, and having deals fall through with mega-producer Timbaland and the world-renowned hip-hop star Lil’ Wayne, the 25-year-old maestro is looking to benefit creatively and financially with the January 2010 release of his third solo album, “Ollusion.”
For his new album, Omarion penned all of the material, and even directed the video for his first single, “I Get It In,” which features Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane. Call it a coincidence, but just as the young mogul decides to personally explore the trials and tribulations of the music business on this album, it will be the first release under his StarWorld Entertainment imprint with EMI. This perfect mixture of circumstances should make for an exciting and emotional project, but it won’t stray far away from Omarion’s core– and that’s entertainment.
With the passing of Michael Jackson this summer, Omarion was one of the artists that I thought would be greatly affected by the legend’s death. He even confessed that if there was a bloodline of performers, he would definitely come from Jackson’s. But his artistic DNA would also incorporate the genetics of Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire, James Brown and The Nicholas Brothers, entertainers whose music and fluid movement created a unique harmony of innovation.
As the bright beginnings of the New Year dawns upon us, and his album release date swiftly approaches, Omarion now sees the love of music continuing to trickle down his family tree. During his down time, he occasionally observes his one-year-old niece move to the beat of music whenever it’s in her earshot–bringing back the memories of when he first fell in love with entertainment. As her star power continues to grow in its infancy, Omarion’s should shine brighter with each definitive leap he takes from this album forward.
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