Sunday, May 28, 2006

Confessions On The Dance Floor

Just when you thought that gospel music was safe. Recently in Detroit, the latest news break seems to prove that even those led to do ministry aren't always the ones to totally trust. Ryan Baker is well known in Detroit church circles for his ministry of hip-hop dance and choreography and is known in gospel circles for performing on stage with gospel sensation Dorinda Clark-Cole. He can be seen dancing on her DVD presentation "Dorinda Clark-Cole Live" (GospoCentric) and has delivered presentations at conferences, concerts and with other big names in gospel music. The announcement of Baker being a confessed and convicted sexual pedophile sends an alarming message to the public and to the religious communities - about a disturbing pattern of poor self-control and unforgivable patterns of carnal hunger that tends to be a major hypocrisy to those whom passionate about their walk with God.

The announcement began to emerge to the surface when one woman, who didn't want to be identified, came to the public to confess her story regarding her involvement with the popular dancer. She knows Brother Baker and initially thought highly of him and his work. "It's like an anointing he has to touch people through his dance ministry, especially the kids because that's the kind of dance he does," she said.

The woman said she knows the dark and disturbing secret Brother Baker himself surely never mentions in church or anywhere else his interest in young boys like her 14-year-old son. "He made him take his clothes off and he fondled him," she said.

Baker admitted it almost immediately and repeated the confession in front of his parents and others from the church shortly thereafter. The woman said she went to the police a couple of days later, though she claims the church folks pressured her not to, to let them handle it.

According to the website, after their two-part exclusive on the breaking news, he was given supervision by a probation officer and was ordered not to perform in the company with minors. After Steve Wilson of WXYZ News (of Detroit) entered an investigation on him, he learned that he completely did the opposite. He performed at the Soul Train Music Awards. While on probabtion, which was in the company with other minors and after he was told not to leave the state of Michigan. and he continued to perform at local churches in the city of Detroit. Video tapes of him recently performing at those churches were even displayed in front of a perplexed Baker according to the news station, after Wilson of WXYZ confronted him in person. Since that incident, Baker has run across a dead end and was on his way to jail after he was caught for a second time violating his probation after he confessed to molesting a woman's 14-year old son.

That woman said, "He said when the Vaseline hit the bed, he realized what was going on and locked himself in the closet. He made him take his clothes off and he fondled him and he was in the process of penetrating him, but it didn't get to that point."

Baker's fine is pretty confusing to some, especially when you look at the severity of the issue. He got no jail time for the sexual assaults, but will do thirty days in jail for the violation of his probation and could possibly do two years in the pokey.

Pastor J. Drew Sheard of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God In Christ (whom is married to gospel legend Karen Clark-Sheard - the sister of Dorinda Clark-Cole) spoke about the situation and was not aware of Baker's problems. He has also stated that Baker has not performed or ministered at his church since the news break.

Looks like Dorinda is going to need a new background dancer. But we prefer she sing without dancers. They just get in the way.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mt. Calvary Has A New Cross

"It takes a real man to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. I'm not talking about no faggot or no sissy. I mean a real man who has made up their mind ...Let all the real men come on down here and take a bow." - excerpt from a Bishop Alfred Owens sermon (Palm Sunday, 2006)

We barely take the time to cover serious issues in the church, but it seems this story just couldn't escape our media radar. Bishop Alfred A. Owens, senior pastor of the renowned and prominent Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., couldn't help but used derogatory words in his pulpit towards homosexuals and lesbians. Many have cited in the press that this kind of behavior at Mt. Calvary is not uncommon, but this time the mayor of D.C. and candidates for this year's race for the mayoral office are unhappy about it. The Washington Post reported that several major candidates for D.C. mayor have stated their concerns for black pastors to become more tolerant for homosexuals - with a greater emphasis on refraining from hateful language or venomous homophobia.

Excerpts of the message have been floating across the Internet for the last couple of weeks, and with a close and discerning ear, you can pinpoint Owens' fiery tone in his voice aiming towards a uncomfortable issue for him. But according to City Paper, many gay men attend Mt. Calvary, even after the Palm Sunday sermon. Since then, Owens attempted to apologize for his actions in the media, but returned back to the pulpit seeking for prayers and support - stating that he will not back down from his views at all. Regardless of what, the tone of his usage of words like "faggot" and "sissies" almost sounds like those hateful phrases of "nigger" and "bi$%&". Just when you thought we moved one step forward in God's unconditional love, we tend to take one step back towards hate. But what is so overwhelming is how Owens and his staff wants to condemn the bulk of his church in such a harsh tone. Ain't it kinda too late for that now? Things that make you go hmmmmm.

More Gay Bashing From The Pulpit (Washington City Paper)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Legends Are Made Of

Oprah Winfrey knows how to party. And when she does, she's going to put her all into it. Such was the case when she decided to pull together a list of twenty-five legendary African-American women in the fields of entertainment, civil rights and art for a very special event of a lifetime. The plan: to organize a Legends Ball uniting both the legends with superstars highly influenced by their contributions. The end result was sheer brilliance. And unforgettable.

Winfrey and her Harpo staff taped the festivities which included an unforgettable luncheon, a glamorous white-tie ball and a heart-busting gospel brunch to close the schedule of events. And if you missed the feature presentation on Monday, we are very sorry to hear of that. Really.

The twenty-five legends honored were Maya Angelou, Shirley Caesar, Diahann Carroll, Elizabeth Catlett, Ruby Dee, Katherine Dunham, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Coretta Scott King, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Della Reese, Diana Ross, Naomi Sims, Tina Turner, Cicely Tyson, Alice Walker, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson. Nice list, aint it.

The historic weekend began Friday with a private luncheon at Oprah's Montecito home where the "legends" were greeted by the "young'uns" -- acclaimed stars, including Alicia Keys, Ashanti, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Naomi Campbell, Kathleen Battle, Yolanda Adams, Mariah Carey, Natalie Cole, Kimberly Elise, Missy Elliott, Tyra Banks, Iman, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen and Alfre Woodard, among others. Throughout the weekend, the "young'uns" paid homage to the "legends" for their great contributions. World-renowned event planner Colin Cowie attended to every detail, and Grammy Award-winner John Legend performed his hit song, "Ordinary People." Of course, any of the legends could have sung a song and would have turned the celebration into a revival, but John Legend's appearance allowed the legends to sit back and enjoy the moment while he serenaded them with his trademark anthem.

On Saturday night, it was an elegant white-tie Legends Ball with notable guests, including Sidney Poitier, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Usher, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Lionel Richie, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Diane Sawyer, Smokey Robinson, Mike Nichols, Maria Shriver, Chris Tucker, Barbara Walters, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Senator Barack Obama and Tyler Perry, among many others. A prolific poem was read as the "young-ins" took the stage to once again celebrate the achievements of the legends. Then, it was dancing time...with music from Michael McDonald, Ashford & Simpson, BeBe Winans and many others.

The finale of the Legends weekend was Sunday's exuberant gospel brunch. And what a way to close out the memorable occasion. Denetria Champ, with her Aretha Franklin-influenced pipes, kicked things off with a spirited selection from her recent album. Then BeBe Winans lead a dynamic arrangement of Donnie McClurkin's "Stand". But the service lifted to a glorious, soaring segment of rich devotion when Edwin, Walter and Lynette Hawkins pulled out the all-time favorite "Changed". BeBe Winans walked into the audience and extended the microphone to the legends - and the rest was divine. Shirley Caesar wrecked the song with her preaching style of ad-libs, then Dionne Warwick revealed a smooth ad-lib that amazed almost everyone present. Never before had we heard Warwick sing a song of faith like this. Yolanda Adams also sung a good portion, while Patti Labelle and Gladys Knight offered up a good deal of spiritual dynamics. But it was the acclaimed Chaka Khan that had everyone, from Ashanti to Mariah Carey, from Shirley Caesar to Walter Hawkins himself, lifting hands in mighty worship to God.

We are extra-positive that this will calm down Oprah's haters in the church for a while. At least, we hope so. Regardless of what happens, Oprah is also a legend. And for her to honor those that opened doors not only for her, but for all African-Americans and minorities, is a beautiful and humble thing. One of her strongest quotes she delivered was: "And still, this wasn't enough...they deserve so much more". That clearly speaks volumes of respect, gratitude and passion for such trailblazers. We seriously pray this event is re-televised again...or makes its way to DVD in a full-length form. It was just that good. Oprah's Legends Ball - two thumbs way up!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Cold

*cough cough*

Seems like the church is having a good time trying to counterattack the Ron Howard' motion picture, "The Da Vinci Code"; slated to be hit the box office this weekend. Critics have bashed the film during its opening at the 59th Cannes Film Festival. Hisses and catcalls were tossed at the film when the credits rolled and help staged the film for national release with most of the public's disapproval. More trouble is coming from Christian groups in several countries, who are angry with the film's mix of fact and fiction involving Jesus Christ and Roman Catholicism.

Seems like people are coughing and sneezing to the mixed and controversial views and portrayals of Jesus Christ and the church. Christian networks and shows have spent a number of weeks preparing for the opening day of the film with their hours of criticizing and bashing of the film. Some are calm to state that the book is fiction and should not be taken serious: just mere entertainment. But in some cases, like below the Bible Belt, conservatives are not calm to catching this cold. They would rather stay home...except for those that are comfortable with just "mere entertainment".

Regardless of how the final outcome of this film goes, the expectations of the Da Vinci Code being one of the breakthrough films for the summer is definite. Sure to skyrocket to #1 at the Box Office - but we are wondering what will happen when the curtain goes up and the lights are no longer dimmed.


Clark Sisters: Hit Me One More Time

Dorinda Clark-Cole, Karen Clark-Sheard, Twinkie Clark and Jacky Clark-Chislom will be united one more time for a special live recording session as the Clark Sisters; after fans have prayed and requested for the legendary group to tease today's generation with their classic brand of contemporary gospel covered with their very own traditional R&B ointment. For years, the Clark Sisters have been hailed as being one of the chief innovators for female groups in both R&B and gospel circles and helped launch the success of groups such as EnVogue, Xscape (who also re-recorded one of the Clark Sisters' hits, "Is My Living In Vain?"), SWV, the Anointed Pace Sisters, Witness and Virtue. Their sophisticated Detroit style, heavily influenced by the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, along with their strict spiritual upbringing helped to mold the crop into Gospel's latest sensations during the late 1970s and 80s.

After recording a series of albums beginning from 1973 to 1979 on the Sound of Gospel (SOG) label, the Clark Sisters had already proved that they were definitely a force to be reckoned with. They began to share equal billing at concerts with Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar and Walter Hawkins. The Clark Sisters finally left the small, local based SOG with a bang with the heavy-dance hit, "You Brought The Sunshine" in 1983. The cut was so huge that even SOG needed help, using Westbound (their secular label) and serious distribution from Elektra to meet the massive demands. Word Records, along with the Rejoice! music label, signed them immediately releasing "Sincerely", "Heart & Soul", "Conqueror" and "Bringing It Back Home". In 1994, the Clark Sisters recorded their last project, "Miracle" and provided the opportunity for the group to go their separate ways to achieve their lifelong dreams in ministry, music and in their personal lives. Twelve years later, the Clark Sisters reunite once again to finally end their wonderful musical career as a group with grace. Many may not want to hear of this being a farewell - maybe they will continue to record together on one another's projects like they have during the last couple of years. But we all are grateful to know that this will be a live recording...and probably the Who's Who in gospel, R&B and mainstream music will be there ready to experience history in the making.

You probably may need to mark your dates and plan ahead for this one; even if you are COGIC. The world will be watching and waiting.

DATE: July 8, 2006
PLACE: Annual Church Of God In Christ AIM Convention, George R. Brown Convention Center
TIME: 6:00 p.m.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, others to be announced

Friday, May 12, 2006

Taylor Hicks Arrives

Early Friday morning, the American Idol contestant from Season Five stepped on Alabama soil once again. It is his home. And while this may be a bit of de ja vu for some watchers of the over-popular reality TV show, Taylor Hicks, 29, is the third Alabama contestant to ever reach the Top 3 in all of its seasons. And what an incredible journey it has been for one of America's "underdog states".

But Taylor is in no way an underdog in this year's competition. He has never been in the bottom 2 or 3, and he has picked up a heavy and very supportive army of fans and supporters that dig his soulful style, his energetic performances and his lovable personality on-stage. While he is mostly known for his grey hair and his silly dance moves, it is his amazing vocals that has sent America to the phones to vote for him each and every week; hoping he would claim the American Idol title. People are even calling him the next Elvis...funny they would say that after he rocked the stage with his jumpy rendition of "Jailhouse Rock". But one thing is for certain: Taylor Hicks bears enough soul to make Elvis shake a good foot.

Last week, Chris Daughtry - one whom thought would seal the deal and go home easily as the winner of the AI season - went home. It shocked everyone...even Taylor Hicks' fans. This leaves the Soul Patrol in a very comfortable position - since the threat of him leaving the show sooner floats off in a distance. Now he is parading through the city of Birmingham, down through Linn Park with FOX 6-News anchormen hosting the festivities. High school bands are playing, cheerleaders are jumping and fans from both sides of the color spectrum are shouting with joy for the next torchbearer for the city of Birmingham. He also made a few other visits: one to the Riverchase Galleria and the other being Montgomery, Alabama. But will return for a final send-off at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

One thing that Hicks is fortunate in being a part of is the revival of real soul music. He may be a white boy, but he has soul. And he is not ashamed of that. The other contender in this year's AI competition is another soul fanatic. Probably the better vocalist in the competition, Elliot Yamin could also take the crown with his sultry vocals, his charming vibrato and that fiery blackness in his voice.

Regardless of what, the soul revival is on...we just hope this will revive the flames of real music in the hearts of urban and suburban America. Let real music play again on the radio...enough of the rapping and cuzzing for a minute...let's get back to real instrumentation, real vocals, just real music.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Verity vs. Tonex

Get your controllers ready.

Circulating across the Internet are reports of Verity Records (a subsidiary of Zomba/BMG Recording Corporation) attempting to sue Mr. Anthony C. Williams, II (formerly or currently known as Tonex') for an unprecedented amount of $1 million dollars. Most of the charges against the "retired" gospel artist surround the reports of slander he used in various media outlets including his webpage about "mistreatment" and
"desires to break ties with the record company".

An unknown and fabricated article (possibly written by supporters of Mr. Williams) is being posted on, EnSound Entertainment, and other gospel media outlets and does not give further details on the lawsuit or general information that we normally expect from articles from renowned sources such as the Associated Press.

The article tends to be one-sided and does not feature any quotes from the plaintiffs in this case and also features information on how to donate monies to Tonex' during this crisis.

Tonex' has cited before, and mentions again in the suspicious article, that he is broke and barely surviving financially. But he is hopeful that he will overcome in court. He has retained San Francisco entertainment lawyer, Courtney M. Coates, Esq., of Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy to prosecute his California case. New York attorney, Londelle McMillan, Esq. of The McMillan Law Firm will probably defend Tonex' in the New York lawsuit, according to the article.

After careful review, I know that this kind of lawsuit is extremely serious. In previous blogs entries, we have reported Tonex's remarks on the industry, his claims of retiring (before his contract expired which is a breach of contract to a great degree), and slandering the company he was once an employee of. Regardless of his feelings towards Verity Records and Zomba, they are the largest music company in the country and has a roster that includes Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Hezekiah Walker, Kurt Carr, Marvin Sapp, Donald Lawrence, John P. Kee, Fred Hammond and many others. We are certain that much of the important details on both sides have not leaked into the public arena, so we are sure the courts will reach a very reasonable conclusion of justice.

Verity Records has a website and can be reached at: