Betty Wright, a supremely talented R&B singer who popularized the phrase, “No pain, no gain,” has died.
Wright’s cause of death was not announced when her niece confirmed the passing. Something was clearly wrong though because 2 days ago, Chaka Khan made a plea … “Calling all my #PrayWarriors. My beloved sister, Betty Wright @MsBettyWright, is now in need of all your prayers.”
Wright, whom some in the music industry called one of the most underrated singers of her time, was recently honored on TV One’s, “Unsung.”
Betty recorded so many songs, including her 1971 hit, “Clean Up Woman. She was only 18 when the song was released, and it turned out to be her biggest song ever. Other hits included “Let Me Be Your Lovermaker,” “Shoorah Shoorah,” “Tonight is the Night,” and “Where is the Love.”
Betty made a bold move in the ’80s, launching her own independent label … it had not been done before by a female artist. That’s when she recorded “No Pain (No Gain).” Ever heard that phrase? Later she recorded “Mother Wit,” and it went gold — the first time an African-American female singer went gold on her own record label.
Wright became an inspiration to so many singers, including Mary J. Blige, The Roots and Joss Stone. Wright performed with Joss on her song, “The Art of Love and War.”
In 2005, her 21-year-old son, Patrick,was shot and killed. She had 4 other children.
Andre Harrell, a legendary music exec who gave Diddy his big break and, among many other accomplishments, ran Motown Records, is dead.
DJ D-Nice broke the news Friday night on Instagram Live. The cause of death is not yet known, but the day before his death Andre posted this … “Whoever need a ride to 2021 … we leave tomorrow morning,” and … “Skip the virus and Let’s Pick it up again at the top of the year.”
Andre’s career began as half of the rap duo, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde back in 1981. Andre and Russell Simmonsworked together and Andre ultimately became a veep for Def Jam Records.
But by 1986, Andre became restless and wanted a label of his own, and he did just that with Uptown Records. It was enormously successful, with artists like Teddy Riley, Al B. Sure, Heavy D and many others. He signed Mary J. Blige when she was a teenager. And, get this … his former intern helped jump-start the label … an intern named Sean “Puffy” Combs, who quickly became an exec for the label.
And, as they say, the rest is history. Combs discovered Notorious B.I.G., but it was short-lived. Combs was fired in ’93 and created Bad Boy Records, bringing Biggie along for the ride. But, Andre and Diddy stayed close over the years. Andre was Vice-Chair of Revolt.
Andre made another move in ’95, when he became the head of Motown.
But, there’s more … Andre went on to become E.P. of the series, “New York Undercover.”
Tributes are pouring in … Mariah Carey said, “Why Andre … My heart is breaking and I can’t stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever.” DJ D-Nice said, “Truly heartbroken. Rest peacefully, Andre Harrell.” Viola Davis … ” RIP Andre Harrell … thank you for the gift of so many incredible artists. Gone too soon.” And, Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Saluting Andre Harrell. The architect of so much music, so much culture.”
Andre is survived by partner Wendy Credle and a son, Gianni Credle-Harrell.
Little Richard, a giant in the early stages of Rock ‘n’ Roll and beyond, has died.
Richard had enormous influence over the genre, with insanely popular hits like the fantastically frenetic, “Tutti-Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally.” The Beatles have credited Richard as being inspirational to the Fab Four.
Richard’s bass guitarist, Charles Glenn, tells TMZ … Richard had been sick for 2 months. He died at his Tennessee home, surrounded by his brother, sister and son. Glenn says he spoke with Richard March 27th and the singer asked him to come over and visit, but he couldn’t because of the pandemic. Glenn says Richard was like a father to him. Richard would sometimes tell him, “Not to take anything away from your dad but you’re my son.”
Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in 1932. Ironically, he was born in a depression and died in what feels like a depression.
His dad had disdain for Richard’s sexuality and threw him out of the family home when he was just 13.
Richard’s music was heavily influenced by the church. He sang gospel and learned the piano at his house of worship.
His first break came in 1951, when he performed at an ATL radio station and it caught the ear of record execs. Richard was signed to RCA. He didn’t become successful while at the label, but it was a start.
But then, in 1955, Richard signed with Specialty Records, where he recorded “Tutti-Frutti” which became an immediate hit.
So many hits followed — “Long Tall Sally,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Send Me Some Lovin'”.
And, Richard tried his hand at movies, appearing in rock films like “Don’t Knock the Rock,” “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Mister Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
In 1957, Richard shocked the world by quitting the rock biz and became part of the ministry, recording gospel. He recorded an album, “God is Real,” in 1959.
He couldn’t stay away for long. Richard came back in ’64, after The Beatles re-recorded his hit “Long Tall Sally” with great success.
In 1964, following the Beatles’ recording of “Long Tall Sally,” Little Richard plunged back into rock music. Over the ensuing decades, Little Richard would continue to perform and record, but the public response failed to match the enthusiasm that greeted his earlier success.
Although he didn’t achieve great success after that, his influence is irrefutable. He was one of the original inductees into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in ’93, and got the Pioneer Award from the Rythm & Blues Foundation
Richard suffered a heart attack in 2013. BTW, he took a baby aspirin and doctors told him that saved his life. He credited his survival to a higher power, saying, “Jesus had something for me. He brought me through.”
An appellate court ruled on Tuesday that the Michael Jackson estate does not have to pay $6.9 million in royalties and fees to Quincy Jones.
The three-judge panel of the 2nd Appellate District overturned the bulk of a 2017 jury verdict, finding that the trial judge had allowed the jury to misinterpret Jones’ contract.
Jones’ attorneys had argued that the producer was entitled to some $30 million in royalties and other income derived from the “This Is It” concert film, two Cirque du Soleil shows and other revenue streams that followed Jackson’s death in 2009. After a two-week trial, the jurors awarded Jones $9.4 million.
But on Tuesday, the appeals court took most of it back, saying that Judge Michael L. Stern had erred by not interpreting the contract himself, and instead leaving it up to the jurors.
After Jackson’s death, his estate negotiated an increased share of profits through a joint venture with Sony, going from 50% to two-thirds. Jones’ attorneys argued at trial that he was entitled under his producer contract to a proportional increase in royalties. The jury agreed, granting Jones $5.3 million in joint venture profits.
But the appeals court ruled that Jones’ producer contracts did not entitle him to such an increase.
“The language of section 4(a) cannot be tortured to mean that Jones’s maximum royalty rate increased proportionally if Jackson’s maximum royalty rate increased,” wrote Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst, on behalf of a unanimous panel.
The court also vacated an award of $1.6 million in remix fees, which Jones claimed he was owed. Jones’ contract gave him first right of refusal on remixes of his Jackson albums, which he was not afforded. But the panel held he was not entitled to be paid fees for remixing work that he did not perform.
“The only compensation Jones was entitled to receive was royalties from record sales on remixes, and the evidence indicates he received them,” Ashmann-Gerst wrote. “If he wanted remixing fees, he had to negotiate them in separate agreements.”
The court left in place the remaining $2.6 million awarded to Jones, which consisted of unpaid license fees from “This Is It,” plus other fees and interest.
Jones had also appealed two of Stern’s rulings that went against him. His attorneys argued he should have been allowed to claim elder abuse, and should have been awarded interest on a greater portion of the damages award. Those appeals were both denied.
Howard Weitzman, who represented the Jackson estate, issued a statement claiming vindication.
Quincy Jones was the last person we thought would try to take advantage of Michael Jackson by filing a lawsuit three years after he died asking for tens of millions of dollars he wasn’t entitled to,” Weitzman said. “We knew the verdict was wrong when we heard it, and the court of appeal has completely vindicated us. From the beginning this was an attempt to take advantage of Michael knowing he wasn’t here to defend himself.”
John Branca, co-executor of the estate, also issued a comment: “So many people have tried to take advantage of Michael and mischaracterize him since his death. It’s gratifying that in this case the court in an overwhelmingly favorable and just decision, recognizes that Michael Jackson was both an enormous talent and an extremely fair business executive.”
If laughter truly is the best medicine, then we could all use a heaping dose — and luckily it looks like we’re going to get it. Some of Hollywood’s hottest comedians have teamed up with former comedian Bryon Allen‘s “Feeding America Comedy Festival” to give us the feel goods we so desperately need.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The three-hour event will include pre-recorded comedy segments from Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal. Comedians including Marc Maron, Kenan Thompson, Margaret Cho and Marlan Wayans are also scheduled to contribute.”
Allen’s Entertainment Studios organized the event which will raise funds to go toward Feeding America. The event is also co-produced by Funny or Die.
“In partnership with Feeding America, my comedian friends and all of us at Allen Media Group are pleased to announce this global live-streaming comedy event on May 9th,” Allen said in a statement. “Laughter is often the best medicine, and we are extremely motivated to bring attention to issues of food insecurity, and to assist in providing meals to families across the country who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The festival will be live-streamed on the Allen Media Group television networks Comedy.TV and The Weather Channel from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on May 9.
Birdman has offered to pay a New Orleans neighborhood’s rent for the month of May, to help them cope with the fallout of the pandemic, which has caused many to lose their jobs.
“I would like 2 offer to pay everybody rent for month of May (for those who in need) in residents area of UPTOWN New Orleans where I was born and raised at from mac melph calio and ST Thomas housing also from 3rd ward to 17th ward I would like HANO to support us on accomplishin this and @q93fm,” the New Orleans native wrote via Instagram.
Babyfaceis counting his blessings on his birthday … he says he and his family tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but now they are no longer infected with COVID-19.
The singer and mega-producer shared the health update Friday on social media … Babyface says he and his fam tested positive for COVID-19, but now they’ve tested negative for the deadly virus and are on the mend.
Babyface says the entire saga was incredibly scary to go through with his family and friends … but now he’s happy to report they made it through the fire.
The timeline remains unclear, Babyface doesn’t get too specific or offer many details, but he says he’s ready to get back to what he does best, making music.
Jay Z and Meek Mill are helping prisons adjust to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As per reps for the pair’s REFORM Alliance, the justice reform organization co-founded by the stars, the collective donated more than 130,000 surgical masks to correctional facilities to help inmates, correctional officers and health care workers survive during the outbreak. “COVID-19 spreads most quickly in crowded and closed environments, and our jails and prisons are at high risk for an outbreak,” a statement from the organization read. “This is a huge threat to public health. Right now, hardly any government officials have a plan to address this crisis. REFORM does. We have worked with experts and advocates from across the political aisle to develop a set of common-sense recommendations that would make us all SAFER.”
Among the locations receiving masks include the Tennessee Department of Corrections (40,000), New York’s Rikers Island (50,000) and its medical facility (2,500), the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman (5,000) and South Carolina prisons (30,000). Click here to sign REFORM’s COVID-19 active petition to assist public officials in protecting inmates from the virus.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
If you’re a fan of the critically-acclaimed film, Set It Off then you’re familiar with Jada Pinkett-Smith’s steamy sex scene with Blair Underwood. Well, it turns out the scene didn’t actually feature the actress.
This week on Netflix’s “Strong Black Legends Podcast” host Tracy Clayton sits down with the always charming Blair Underwood and gets him reminiscing about some of his past iconic work.
When the topic turns to the film Set It Off,Underwood started spilling some tea.
“For ‘Set It Off’, we had a love scene and Jada had a body double. She made the choice, and understandably, and people do that… for the physical body parts. Which I respect, like absolutely.”
He added, “Literally, this actress comes in like ‘Hi, nice to meet you, and you jump right in the bed and do all the physical stuff. It can be awkward sometimes.”
Underwood also confessed that he initially wasn’t going to do the film because of the subject matter.
“I was playing Jackie Robinson in a movie with Mykelti Williamson and Del Roy Lindo called “Soul Of The Game” and I was this place of black historical figures and noble negroes,” he explained. “This was after Boyz N The Hood. I got the script and I was like ‘now we are going to Girls N The Hood?’ There was a little pushback, I was like ‘why do they only want to see us as slaves or in the hood in Hollywood?’”
“But when I read it,” he added, “I saw the love story … and I thought it was a nice balance.”
In the film Underwood plays a bank manager who begins a relationship with Pinkett’s character not knowing she’s about to rob his bank.
Underwood can currently be seen in the Netflix’s docu-series, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.