Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stellar Award Nominees, Controversy

Announced on Thursday during a press conference in Nashville, TN, Don Jackson of Central City Productions delivered the list of nominees for the 25th Annual Stellar (Gospel Music) Awards.

Among the chief of nominees, a number of independent artists including Vickie Winans, Phillip Carter & SOV and Malcolm Williams & Great Faith head the list of multiple mentions. Artists including Donald Lawrence & Co., Paul Morton, Israel Houghton, Mary Mary, Kierra Sheard and Hezekiah Walker top the list for most mentions from mainstream talent.

Axed from the final ballot and set of nominees were Coko, James Fortune & FIYA, Sheri Jones-Moffett, 21:03 and Melinda Watts.

Word has already leaked of the possibility of paid-for-play or behind-the-scenes payola as being the the reasons behind so many multiple mentions from independent artists in the category. The biggest observation coming from upset Stellar supporters stems around Vickie Winans' super list of nominations - coming from an album that bearly met the deadline for an album release date according to SAGMA (Stellar Academy) guidelines.

According to the Stellar award web site, nominees for the 25th annual Stellar Awards must be released in between the dates of July 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009. Winans' album How I Got Over was released to stores on August 25, 2009. The album made the deadline, but gospel lovers are concerned if foul play is at fault.

Jawn Murray, popular celeb journalist and Tom Joyner's gossip resource, started a Twitterbot called #YouKnowYouMadeTheStellarsBallot. One of the most hilarious comments he posted on his Twitter page mentioned "you know you made the Stellars' ballot if your CD has never appeared on the Billboard Gospel charts."

The jokes, coming from a large source of gospel artists and industry vets, made the Twitter bot a popular destination. Some of the most popular jokes posted included:
"You know you made the Stellars' ballot if you didn't know you was nominated," "You know you made the Stellars' ballot if you and your label buy up all the units" and "You know you made the Stellars' ballot if you spent your entire budget on SAGMA memberships."

Indeed, the controversy continues.

Stellar Awards [Official Website]
25th Annual Stellar Awards; Full List of Nominees []

BeBe & CeCe Featured on Jet Mag

Returning to the music charts with their new reunion project Still, gospel duo BeBe & CeCe Winans landed on the front cover of last week's issue of JET Magazine. The two talk about their new album, the long-anticipated reunion and the loss of their father.

If you can, pick up a copy of the issue at your local news stands.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mayor Langford Found Guilty

I may be setting my eyes on moving away from Birmingham, but today is a new day.

Larry P. Langford, mayor of Birmingham, Ala, was found guilty on all 60 counts in his federal bribery case. It only took 2 hours for the jury to come up with their decision.

This was what he had to say to the news media and his critics. Ouch. Feel pretty sad for NBC 13's Jon Paepcke. Please watch the clips for yourself.

He along with his wife blamed the verdict on race, even though the defense asked if the case be moved to another city than Birmingham; feeling as if the trial would not be fair for the defendant. Both Al LaPierre and Bill Blount, former co-defendants in the case, plead guilty earlier this year and even testified on the witness stand. Langford didn't.

Beginning today, Carole Smitherman, council president, will serve as interim mayor until a special election is help. Valerie Abbott will become acting council president.

A full report and quick bio on the now-former mayor can be read at:
Wade on Birmingham.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Churches Divided By Racism, Reunited 200 Years Later

During an unprecedented year filled with racial harmonics and historical firsts, two historical churches in Philadelphia are hoping to mend the broken pieces of a 200-year old schism that led Rev. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the founding fathers of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, to walk out of St. George's United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, October 25, the parishioners of both congregations, Mother Bethel AME and St. George, united together at St. George during Sunday morning worship services. The bittersweet occasion proved to be a glorious moment of historical relevance as both congregations help to heal the wounds of the past.

"This balcony that's been a symbol of bad memories can also be something that stokes some hope and some positive memories moving into the future - that we can be together." Rev. Fred Day, pastor of St. George's, said to CBS 3.

According to news reports, the reunion idea was developed by both pastors, Rev. Day of St. George's and Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler of Mother Bethel, not long ago.

Day asked Tyler to preach as part of the 240th anniversary. "Why don't I bring Mother Bethel with me ?" Tyler asked Day. Tyler recalled the conversation in an interview last week.

He acknowledged that "a few persons in both congregations were wondering why this was necessary," Tyler said. "A few in our church didn't think going back could ever change anything. And there was some apprehension of us returning on the other side."

But no dissonance was ever expressed, and both congregations overwhelmingly approved the idea, said Tyler, who had been looking forward to his moment in St. George's pulpit.

"...It's a sense of rejoicing, moving beyond bitterness," said Tyler.
Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, was also the center of attention in 2008 when a presidential-hopeful Barack Obama delivered an important speech focusing on America's unresolved racial problems. The Constitution Center, the site of Obama's message, is just a few blocks away from St. George.

2009 marks the 240th anniversary of St. George. The congregations will meet once again: next time at Mother Bethel AME.

Philadelphia Congregations Break Down Barriers (Video) [CBS 3]
Blood is thicker than water [Tyler's AME History Notes]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trials in Alabama: Langford, Thomas

For the month of October (boo), the eyes of the law remain glued on the state of Alabama for the biggest spook-tacular to ever outshine the perils of goblins and witches. Bloomberg opened an editorial this week on Alabama's status using the headline: Armageddon in Alabama. Whoa, could it be?

Two high-profiled cases, now making national headlines, are already in session, which include Mayor Larry P. Langford (D), the current mayor of Birmingham, Ala., who has been accused by the feds of bribery, and former Alabama Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas, who is accused of exchanging leniency for sexual acts such as paddling, masturbation and oral sex to convicted felons.

First case: Larry P. Langford.

While never shy from controversy and the media, Langford is heading up an ocean without a paddle. Both Al LaPierre and Bill Blount, who formerly plead not guilty to their crimes and who stood as co-defendants with Langford, worked up a plea agreement with the government. As part of their plea deal, both will be called to testify against the mayor during the trial.

Langford faces 60 charges from a federal indictment returned in June 2008 and unsealed six months later. Among the charges are bribery, money laundering, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and filing a false tax return. If convicted on all counts, Langford could serve a staggering maximum of 804 years in federal prison.

In closing, take a good listen to the rhetoric delivered at the prayer vigil held last Sunday. Leading the pep rally are Frank Matthews, known as God's Gangster, and SCLC local leader Rev. Calvin Woods. Matthews was recently hired by Langford to serve as the co-director of Birmnigham's Office of Citizen Assistance. Only 55 people attended.

A snippet of the vigil has been posted below:

This quote had me laughing, but it's a golden truth from Birmingham Weekly.
"The vigil was led by the Reverend Calvin Woods of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. That means the same organization that persuaded 3,500 students to come downtown and confront Bull Connor in May 1963 couldn’t get 60 people to come downtown to listen to a guy on a bullhorn in October 2009."
Second case: Herman Thomas

The former Mobile, Ala. judge, known for sporting his bowties and for being a proud cardcarrier of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, is facing major heat due to the bizarre nature of the allegations. Thomas, 48, faces more than 20 felony charges including sodomy, attempted sodomy, sex abuse and assault. Sodomy is the only class A felony, which is punishable by 10 years to life in prison. The case included 11 alleged victims and 52 counts. Closing statements have already been made and the 5-man, 7-woman jury, as of 3:34 p.m on Thursday, begins their deliberations on the case.

Words of advice:
Even if you are a man or woman of the law, that doesn't mean you are a man or woman above the law.

Follow daily updates on the Larry Langford case at:
LangfordTrial on Twitter (NBC 13)
Wade on Birmingham
Birmingham Weekly


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

James Fortune and Isaac Carree Robbed

Columbus Day was a holiday and a day off from work for some. For Isaac Carree (of Men of Standard fame) and gospel artist James Fortune, it was just a day of horrid discovery.

The reports were first made on their Twitter accounts and eventually leaked on gospel radio. Early reports on stated they were robbed in Atlanta. Well, we have since read an entire different version at other gospel online resources (including They were robbed at gunpoint while leaving Le Peep's restaurant near Houston's Galleria. Personal belongings reported stolen, according to the victims, were iMac computers, jewelry, passports and money. Both Carree and Fortune were unharmed.

James Fortune & Isaac Carree Robbed Yesterday (
Isaac Carree
James Fortune (Twitter)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Former Pastor Found Guilty of Murder

We try not to cover too many stories about religion gone bad. But hey, stuff happens.

This story didn't get profiled here when it first came up, but we sure wanted to make a post of the guilty verdict given to Robert Reaves, a former pastor of Cedar International Fellowship in Durham. Reaves, also referred as a self-proclaimed bishop, was found guilty last week of killing a woman in his congregation. Prosecutors said Reaves was "rebuffed after making sexual advances toward a former college basketball star who rented a room from him," according to Rod 2.0. " he stalked and killed the man's girlfriend in revenge."

Steven Randolph, the basketball star and former roommate, also testified in the trial and mentioned Reaves' interest of offering free rent in exchange for oral sex.

It didn't take long for the Wake County jury to give the final verdict: just a day and a half.

During the closing arguments of the case, the prosecutors mentioned the minister's gloomy crime sheet, which included sexual misconduct with boys. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and faces life in prison without parole.

Reaves' church family had very little to say about the verdict or their f0rmer pastor. Well, what could they say? Well, they could try to explain why an anti-gay preacher like Reaves would also live a hypocritical, private lifestyle - while harming and killing innocent people.

Stuff happens - even in the church.

Guilty verdict in I-540 murder trial [WTVD-TV Raleigh]
Wake jury convicts Reaves in NCCU slaying [Durham Hearld Sun]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tyler Perry Recounts Child Abuse

The famed producer behind the popular Madea movies, #1 box-office dramedies and stage plays opens up about the painful abuse he experienced as a child to his father. Tyler Perry, born Emmitt Perry, Jr., changed his name to distance himself from his father.

Perry recounted a few of those disturbing revelations on his web site's blog after realizing an upcoming movie he's working on conjured up some of the raw emotions from his past. "I'm tired of holding this in," Perry wrote on his site,"so I've decided to give some away."

One night when his mother was gone, Perry stated, his drunken father "got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back."

Perry also wrote that his father, a construction worker, constantly used profane insults at him and belittled him until he turned 19.

Perry has since forgiving his father from his abuse. Attempts to reach his father for comment, according to CNN, were unsuccessful.

Not as publicized as the physical and verbal abuse, Perry also spoke about child molestation horrors he received from a neighborhood woman at the age of 10. He also spoke of a church-goer who molested him as a kid. The man died broke, according to Perry's statements, and Perry was asked by the family to help pay for the funeral. "I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes. There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me," Perry wrote. "I would have dug the grave myself."

Precious, a movie about an illiterate, obese Harlem girl who is abused, hits theaters this fall. The movie, also starring Mariah Carey, will be produced by Perry along with talk show mogul and internationally-known philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

Tyler Perry's Messages [Official Web site]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

To some it comes as a surprise. To others, it's elementary.

The work President Barack Obama put in to "building momentum behind his initiative to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions in the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism" were the grounds of success for the high honor.

Already nine months in his presidential run, many thought it was too early for the popular president (look at the polls and his current approval rating, as of this week) to receive such a nod. Obama, himself, said he was surprised and deeply humbled by the honor. According to the Associated Press, he plans to travel to Oslo to accept the prize, which he said he does not see "as a recognition of my own accomplishments," but rather as a recognition of goals he has set for the United States and the world.

"I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize," Obama said.

Still, his work on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are far from over. He is thinking about sending additional troops, led by demands from the military, and may be considering the decision to ask allies to help out.

Other sitting presidents who have received the covetous award include Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. Al Gore received the award in 2000 for his work in raising awareness for global warming.

Thanks Rod 2.0 for the Obama headshot.

President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize [Yahoo/Associated Press]
President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize [Reuters]

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Steve Harvey Captures TBN Audience

Normally I don't watch TBN. I'm just not a big fan of religious programming. After hearing the rhetoric from super-conservative bullies, I just slowly lost interest.

But led me to watch the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) archived copy of October 5's Praise the Lord. Glad that I did.

The evening's lineup was in rare form that night. Donnie McClurkin hosted the live taping, while special musical guests Vanessa Bell Armstrong and refreshing newcomer Melinda Watts brought some of their best stuff and gusto to the stage. Armstrong debuted her new single, "Good News," from her recently-released album The Experience; sending the audience into a Holy Ghost frenzy. And Watts, surprisingly, sung "Come Boldly." Astonishing enough that in my album review of her debut project People Get Ready I mentioned the song was the strongest moment on board. But thw show's first guest, renowned comedian Steve Harvey captured the heart of the evening. It was hilarious, uplifting and emotional - even leaving the original King of Comedy in tears.

Harvey, a New York best selling author and radio host, brought his blunt and forward humor to the stage and incredibly spoke of his faith in God. The infamous introduction of Jesus segment, taken from his T.D. Jakes' Megafest stand-up performance, opened up the program and had the audience enraptured with shouts of joy. But his breakdown on men, excerpts from his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, allowed the church crowd to get a dose of reality and truth from a renowned mainstream comedian. How incredible is that.

Powerful words from Harvey, when talking about fame, faith and the troubles of the Internet:
"It's this fame thing that makes it hard. See, my life is under a microscope. I get sick of that sometimes. People don't understand how that is, man, to have your life dissected by people who don't know you. See, the Internet has become this place for evil to dwell. People who blog who have no sense of reality. They just blog about you, don't even know you...I have kids that be reading stuff that ain't true about their father. But you gotta have a piece of you that hold you when all of it is bad. I give God all the credit."

After hearing Harvey's transparency, his profound testimony and words of truth, there was no need to even bring out the preacher of the hour.

Below is a short five-minute snippet from Harvey's TBN appearance.