Rapper YoYo Honors Congresswoman
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) was recently honored by the YoYo School of Hip-Hop, founded by Grammy-nominated rapper Yolanda “YoYo” Whitaker, during its semi-formal “I Have a Dream” Winter Affair in support of the school’s hip hop summer program based in Los Angeles and Highland Park, Mi. The goal of the YoYo School of Hip Hop is to transform the lives of youth through academic excellence and engagement in the creative arts. Whitaker, who also serves as the organization’s executive director, has been a friend of Rep. Waters since the Congresswoman’s initial “Young Gifted and Black” town hall series. Whitaker participated in one of the first forums of hip hop artists with members of Congress on rap music and censorship. “YoYo’s career and life is an inspiration to me. She has touched so many lives with her gifts and talents, and I firmly believe she has made a real difference in the lives of the children she has mentored over the years,” Congresswoman Waters commented. “YoYo shares with me a firm support of our youth pursing the creative arts and utilizing their talents as a platform to have careers, become entrepreneurs and impact their communities.”
Comedy Central Re-Launches Talk Show With Black Host
Larry Wilmore, who splits his time between Los Angeles and New York City, had a stunning debut as host of “The Nightly Show” on Comedy Central. The seasoned African American satirist, television producer and writer, and author won an Emmy for his part in writing and producing “The Bernie Mac Show.” He is also a Peabody Award winner and has worked on shows such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Black-ish” and “The Office.” He replaces Stephen Colbert, who will be replacing David Letterman later this year. Wilmore’s focus is on race relations, which he tackles with humor and news, as well as guest stars, such as Soledad O’Brien, Talibe Kweli and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. The panel changes each night, as well as the topics of conversation, which have included Bill Cosby, the President and the relationship of police and African Americans. “The Nightly Show” is on Mon. – Fri. at 6 p.m. as a lead-in to the very popular “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.
Destiny’s Child Member Calls Out Politician
Michelle Williams, a solo artist and previous member of multi-platinum group Destiny’s Child (with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland), told off Mike Huckabee (former governor of Arkansas and a presidential candidate) on “The View” last week. Huckabee has previously expressed his opinion that President Barack and Michelle Obama shouldn’t let their kids listen to hip-hop, and specifically, Beyoncé. Williams was on “The View” as a co-host the day that Huckabee was a guest promoting his book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” Huckabee also went so far as to call Beyoncé’s husband – Jay Z – a “pimp.” He said that because she is a role model, she shouldn’t do songs such as “Drunk in Love.” Williams responded. “You know what, you definitely can’t mess with her,” the singer said, sticking up for her friend and peer before defending her success. “But as someone who has definitely come up in a group with her, has seen her hard work and who she is, I just feel like, you know, that album and those songs — it’s that one moment where she decided to probably do some songs she’s always wanted to do to shed that ‘I’m a good girl.’ She had some freedom and she owned it and she took it, so I was definitely offended. I’m not the Carter spokesperson, but to hear some of those comments that you said I thought were very, very, very low.” Huckabee was also called out for his controversial comments by Jon Stewart, the host of the very popular “Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
Black Radio Icon’s Memoir Released
Former Las Vegas resident and music industry icon Jack “the Rapper” Gibson is the subject of new book written by Walker Smith, an African American writer. Smith is an accomplished author (“The Color Line” and writer who has contributed to magazines such as African Voices and Vertigo. Gibson was a renowned Black music and radio executive who broke ground as the first Black man to buy a commercial radio station, and also as a innovator in bringing Black music and radio executives together to celebrate Black music and radio’s rich heritage. “Mello Yello, the Incredible Life Story of Jack the Rapper” comes out in February, some 15 years after Gibson’s passing. While there were other African American radio personalities before him, none of them held the distinction of being the voice of the first Black-owned radio station in the United States. He turned on the microphone and uttered three historic words: “We are here.” The books chronicles Gibson’s incredible life, beginning with childhood remembrances of Marcus Garvey in the 1920s and other prominent African-American personalities of the 20th century that he encountered. Gibson is known to have opened doors and launched the careers of several noted radio personalities and superstars, starting in 1949, when he and J.B. Blayton established the first Black-owned radio station in the U.S. – WERD. Gibson’s most long-reaching achievement, however, was the annual Black music convention he called “The Family Affair.” As founder and organizer, Gibson not only provided the ultimate springboard for new talent, but he established a forum for discussions, which culminated in sweeping changes for African-Americans in radio and the recording industry. The book is available on Amazon and in book stores.
Duke University Offering Course On Impact of Shonda Rhimes
The popular television shows “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” that comprise ABC’s Thursday night primetime viewing have become “must-see TV” for millions of Americans. All are produced by Black screenwriter Shonda Rhimes. A symposium conducted by Durham-based Duke University will be held Jan. 29-30 to explore Rhimes’ impact on mainstream television through her inclusion of richly drawn, complex Black female characters such as Olivia Pope on “Scandal.” Pope, played by actress Kerry Washington, is the first Black female lead of a primetime drama since the mid-1970s. “ShondaLand, the Symposium,” named for Rhimes’ production company, will bring together female scholars in the fields of history, women’s studies, law, cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, Black diaspora studies and media studies to explore the implications of Rhimes’ work. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Duke Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship, and the Durham County Library. For more information, visit the Duke Forum for Scholars and Publics website.