Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Happenings at GMWA 2009

This year's festivities at the 42nd annual Gospel Music Workshop of America convention is loaded with wonder and lots of stargazing. Of course, since the week long gathering sports a laundry list of worship services, musicals, concerts, live recordings and new artist showcases, we decided to condense some of the big events down to a thread. Hopefully, if you're anywhere near the Cincinnati area during this week, you will find a way to get to one or two - if not all - of our personally selected events.

Intercessory Prayer starts at 8:30 a.m. with the Daily Bread Service starting at 10:00 a.m. An unsigned artist showcase takes place at 4:30 p.m. Midnight musical (let the Praise Continue) takes place at midnight.

Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr. will be preaching during the Daily Bread Service from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. After the service, according to the folks at Light Records, Morton will be signing copies of his new book and CD, Cry Your Last Tear.

A Gospel Announcers Guild (GAG) Showcase and Luncheon will take place afterwards at 4:30 p.m. where Bishop Morton will showcase his latest single and bonus track "Don't Do It Without Me."

The 25th annual National Prayer Breakfast, sponsored by the GMWA Men of Promise, will take place at 7:30 a.m. The guest speaker will be the GMWA chairman Bishop Albert Jamison, with musical selections provided by Lamar Campbell and Chester D.T. Baldwin. The event will also honor a number of GMWA legends including founder Rev. James Cleveland, Rev. Theodore King, Dr. Isaac Whittmon, Bishop Richard "Mr. Clean" White, Rev. Quincy Fielding, Jr., Dr. Charles Fold, Dr. Steven Roberts, Rev. Daryl Coley and Rev. Timothy Wright. Individual tickets are $35.00.

The Tribute to the King celebration, in honor of Rev. James Cleveland, takes place at 4:00 p.m. Youth and young adult forum is scheduled at 11:00 p.m.

A Who's Who in Gospel will make their way to the Duke Energy Convention Center for the Macy's sponsored-Gospel Festival at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are from $20-$40. Special musical guests include Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Byron Cage, Kurt Carr, Smokie Norful, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Dorothy Norwood, Dottie Peoples, Youthful Praise feat. JJ Hairston, the Tommies Reunion Choir and others.

If you're into the Hat & Tea thing, check out the 5th annual Hatter's Tea at 3:00 p.m. The event will honor the musical contributions of Yolanda Adams and the legendary Clara Ward Singers. Individual tickets are $35. For more information, you can call the chairperson Juanita Suggs at 832.231.4590.

Men's and Women's night services takes place at midnight.

Academic convocation and workshop recording begins at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude at 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Footage of Michael Jackson Pepsi Accident

US Magazine purchased the footage to the pyrotechnic accident on the set of the controversial 1984 Pepsi commercial shoot and has since revealed it to the public in order to kill any doubts of the events' occurence. It is noted that Jackson - who suffered second-degree and third-degree burns to his scalp and face - became addicted to painkillers since the accident.

It is pretty sad and horrific to watch. Just letting you know, before viewing the footage, that you have been warned.

Erik Dillard Vocal Clinic: Show Premiere

My good buddy Erik Dillard is doing big things! Some of you may remember him as an indie artist (releasing Great Things and The Basics) and for appearing on Bobby Jones Gospel years ago. Well, he's an excellent vocal technician with a strong background in vocal training, teaching and even music production. He's become a sensation on YouTube with his tutorials and vocal warm-up lessons - even internationally. Recently he posted one of the first episodes of his newly-invigorated Vocal Clinic, which features some neat warm-ups, vocal health specialist Crystal Sellers and a musical appearance from country songwriter/singer Cliff "Crash" Cody. Cool thing about it, it was taped before a live studio audience.

I enjoyed myself. Kinda wished I was there. The audience had fun and the viewers are as well.

Highlights (from me) include Cliff Cody's excellent song selection, that hilarious myth segment and the closing funky tongue twister performance at the end. Somebody is definitely going to sign up that band for a job well-done. And shout-out to the "Sherberts."

And for gospel viewers, the big question arises during the Q&A segment: "Is there a proper and great way to growl when singing?" Check out the videos to learn the answer.

According to Dillard, more episodes are soon to be posted, so be sure you subscribe to his YouTube page and keep checking out for more updates. Live tapings for the Erik Dillard Vocal Clinic will resume this fall.

See two segments of Episode 2 below.

Erik Dillard Vocal Clinic
Erik Dillard Vocal Clinic [YouTube]

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Madea Actor Terrell Carter Caught in Media Spin

The rumor mill ran abuzz this week when Terrell Carter, a star in Tyler Perry's stage plays and featured actor in the famed Madea movie blockbusters, was outed this past weekend by an alleged ex-boyfriend who posted photos on the Internet featuring Carter and him together. Alex Cortez, the boyfriend, began posting pictures on networking web sites and on his profile pages at Twitter and MySpace while also writing about the scorn of the aforementioned relationship going wrong. In his words, Cortez wrote "Hell yeah i’m angry!…there are fucked up ppl out there no matter how nice they seem to be & it’s their fault, ppl they harm are bitter!"

Since the outing, black gossip blogs, gay news sources and other media outlets including MediaTakeOut, Rod 2.0, Sandra Rose, Advocate and PerezHilton have been lit up with hundreds of comments from Carter's supporters and some of Perry's hardcore fans. Sandra Rose, who reported last year that Carter was suspect, didn't help much when she wrote that "99 percent of the actors in Tyler's movies are gay."

The actor is also an indie soul artist who has released three albums, according to CDBaby. Along with his background in Tyler Perry gospel plays like Meet the Browns and Madea's Class Reunion, Carter was a background singer for Fred Hammond and Yolanda Adams.

No correspondence or a press statement from Carter's camp has surfaced since the rumored allegations hit the fan. Maybe he's hoping all of this will die down until the next Madea movie announces casting calls.

Since I have been heavily criticized for running a rumor mill at my gospel e-zine and blog (Keish, hope you're reading this), I wanted it to go on record that this blog entry was only submitted because no other gospel web site won't touch it. I was also questioned by the media about the immediate reaction from the faith community. I personally felt it was newsworthy because other news outlets have covered it and it also raises a lot of questions.

Will Carter press charges against Cortez for defamation of character?

When a gospel-related star is in trouble, why do the gospel web sites choke up?

And when issues of homosexuality arise, why is it the church gets louder and the gospel community goes silent?

These and other issues are bound to make you wonder if we are really being effective in our outreach of Christian evangelism. I hate that Carter is now the victim of a bitter, heartbroken drama-king, but the popular, yet paranoia-like proverb remains a careful reminder to our decision-making. It is also a title to one of Perry's stage plays in which Carter was also cast: "What's done in the dark...shall come to light."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Faith Makes Leaps at MJ Memorial Service

It was indeed a spectacular event designed for a king. Over 11,000 fans converged on Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Tuesday to bid farewell to the King of Pop - Michael Jackson and to pay tribute to his musical legacy. Amongst those who attended and participated in the super memorial service was Los Angeles Laker pros Kobe Bryant and Ervin "Magic" Johnson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, Rev. Bernice King, Rev. Martin Luther King, III, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Of the services' most memorable performances, Stevie Wonder wowed the crowd with a fitting two-song medley of "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "They Won't Go When I Go." But Wonder's words offered up a wave of inspiration and encouragement when he spoke: "I do know that God is good and I do know that as much as we may feel – and we do – that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more.”

Also, pop sensation John Mayer provided an acoustic backdrop on an instrumental performance of "Human Nature," Jermaine Jackson glowed on the happy-hearted Charlie Chaplin classic "Smile" and Mariah Carey opened the star-studded show with the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There." But right after Queen Latifah recited the Maya Angelou poetic tribute "We Had Him," the event took on a radiant quality of spirituality that allowed Michael's star to only twinkle while God was getting all the glory.

Lionel Richie's brilliant display on "Jesus Is Love," a song he recorded with the Commodores in 1980, moved the audience to tears as Richie poignantly expressed his gratitude to God's amazing grace. The song was recently covered as a duet by gospel singer Smokie Norful and Heather Headley.

American Idol finalist and Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson, who lost her mother, brother and nephew in a tragic domestic shooting last year, electrified the audience with her soulful gospel rendition of "Will You Be There."

R&B crooner Usher effortlessly walked through Jackson's heartfelt ballad "Gone Too Soon." Towards the end of the song after making his way to Jackson's golden casket, Usher was comforted by the Jackson family after being moved to tears.

Smokey Robinson reminded us of God's blessings and reminded listeners that Jackson was a blessing specially designed by God. Towards the end of his remarks, he repeated that "he's not really gone. He's going to live forever and ever and ever."

Shelia Jackson-Lee eclipsed the commentary of the King family with her amazing speech and her introduction of Resolution 600 officially recognizing Jackson as a musical icon, legend and humanitarian. She also reiterated the importance of faith and acknowledged while Jackson possessed a great sea of fans across all aisles of faiths and walks of life that the story of the Good Samaritan from the Holy Bible best described the heart of the late musical giant.

The closing performances showcased Jackson's strong good will ballads like "Heal the World" and "We Are the World;" which culminated with Jackson's farewell tour singers, his family and other celebrities and pop stars taking the stage as one big chorus.

But the opening moments, highlighted with the Andrae' Crouch Singers echoing "Soon and Very Soon" and the pallbearers entering the stadium with Jackson's gorgeous coffin, clearly set the angelic tone for a moving, somber tribute to the King of Pop.

Rumors in the faith community surfaced last week after gospel duo Mary Mary announced on their Twitter page that Michael Jackson accepted Jesus Christ into his life after a recent meeting with gospel legends Andrae' & Sandra Crouch. Afterwards, the Crouchs quickly responded to Charisma Magazine that the entire set of accusations were "incorrect and absolutely not true." During a recent visit with Jackson weeks before his passing, Andrae' Crouch planned to reunite with the pop icon to work on two new songs for a pending album release.

2009 marked the 50th anniversary of Berry Gordy's musical empire of Motown Records. Unfortunately, it also mourned the lost of one of pop music's greatest contributors.

Below is a clip of Lionel Richie's performance at the memorial service of his gospel ballad "Jesus Is Love."

Remembering Michael Jackson [PRAYZEHYMNOnline]

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

James Fortune Wins ASCAP Gospel Song of the Year Award

New York City - (June 29, 2009) - Co-written by James Fortune and Terrence Vaughn, the sensational gospel anthem "I Trust You" was named the Gospel Song of the Year at the 22nd Annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Awards. The ASCAP Awards honor songwriters and publishers of the most celebrated songs across all genres. "I Trust You" topped Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart for a historic 29 weeks, and claimed the title of the longest running #1 Gospel single.

The star-studded event, which was attended by leading recording artists, songwriters and music industry notable, began with a moment of silence in remembrance of Michael Jackson and his music. James Fortune & FIYA dedicated his riveting performance at the award ceremony to the late King of Pop. A short montage highlighted the illustrious career of Michael Jackson while several award recipients and presenters mourned the great loss. When Alicia Keys accepted ASCAP's Golden Note Award, she thanked Michael for his legacy and said "He went and did from his heart as a genuine and good, blessed artist."