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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    From The Huffington Post: In the spirit of the NCAA college basketball tournament, ESPN aired a documentary on the bittersweet careers of University of Michigan's "Fab Five." During the documentary, former Michigan star, and current Huffington Post contributor, Jalen Rose expressed his feelings about his team's rivalry with Duke when he said, "For me Duke was personal. I hated Duke and I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms." Rose's comments became fodder for those looking to emphasize the growing income and education gap amongst African-Americans. But what many have seen as a time to highlight interracial divisions may distract from further debate on the impact being called "Uncle Tom" has on over half America's child population. In a country aiming to compete with the world for the future, what impact does being called an "Uncle Tom" or "white boy/girl" has on academic achievement in America?

    Read More of Curtis Valentine's thoughts on the subject at The Huffington Post


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    From Salon: Decades after the end of Jim Crow, and three years after the election of America's first black president, the United States remains a profoundly segregated country.

    That reality has been reinforced by the release of Census Bureau data last week that shows black and white Americans still tend to live in their own neighborhoods, often far apart from each other.

    See the full list and the breakdown at


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    Channeling her inner showgirl (she was in Vegas, after all), Estelle hit the Jet Mirage Nightclub red carpet in a belted, gold lamé tank, black mini, and gold connected earrings.

    Later, the singer performed for partygoers and fans alike. We think the connected earrings were an innovative move in accessory fashion, but what do you think of her whole getup?

    Was Estelle's performance gear hot or not?


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    From The Huffington Post
    :For Sekondi Landry, a 12-year-old boy who is home schooled in Dekalb County, Ga., the local library is a daily refuge for quiet study time.

    So when Landry heard that budget cuts threatened to close the library, he launched a campaign to keep his beloved resource open, My Fox Atlanta reports. Landry collected signatures on a petition and made signs to protest the impending closure. He also brought his plea before the library's board of trustees.

    Read more and see an interview with this impressive young man at The Huffington Post


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    Chris BrownFrom The Huffington Post by Keli Goff: Because clearly enough people haven't weighed in on Chris Brown's Good Morning America meltdown last week, I've decided to add my voice to the fray. The only real insight I have to offer on this debacle is a tip for Chris Brown's new publicist, since he recently parted ways with his old one. (Apparently alienating the reporters and crew of a major national news program can make publicists feel less inclined to work with you. Who knew?)

    Here's a heads up to whoever is helming Brown's new PR team: Those of us who are former fans of Chris Brown, but now can't stand him, don't dislike him for the reasons you think we do. We don't hate him because he beat a woman (although the seeds of discontent were certainly planted then). We dislike him because he seems utterly incapable of showing any true remorse for "what happened." (Which for the record is how he has, for the most part, described his assault of Rihanna.)

    Read more at the Huffington Post and let us know if you agree


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    Splitsville: Beyonce Ends Management Relationship With Her Father
    Singer Beyoncé Knowles has ended her management relationship with her father, Mathew Knowles.

    The Grammy-winning singer's publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, made the announcement late Monday night to the Associated Press.

    "I am grateful for everything he has taught me," Beyoncé said in the statement. "I grew up watching both he and my mother manage and own their own businesses. They were hardworking, and I will continue to follow in their footsteps."

    Details on why she has decided to seek new representation were not disclosed; however, shortly after Beyoncé's announcement, her father released a statement of his own via his rep, Gwendolyn Quinn.

    "The decision for Beyoncé and Music World Entertainment to part was mutual. We did great things together, and I know that she will continue to conquer new territories in music and entertainment," his statement read.

    Knowles went on to state that he intends to focus on the "tremendous investment that" his "record label has made in the gospel/inspirational genre of music."

    Destiny's Child and Mathew  Knowles
    The 60-year-old CEO of Music World Entertainment is the only manager Beyoncé has had since the beginning of her career with Destiny's Child.

    In addition to winning 16 Grammy awards and starring in films like 'Dreamgirls,' 'Obsessed' and 'The Fighting Temptations,' the Houston-bred singer has released three solo CDs: 'Dangerously in Love,' 'B'Day' and 'I Am ... Sasha Fierce.'

    Beyoncé's former Destiny's Child cohorts, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, have also terminated their management relationship with Knowles -- Rowland in 2009 and Williams in 2010.

    Though Beyoncé's statement emphasized her commitment to her personal relationship with her father ("He is my father for life and I love my dad dearly. I am grateful for everything he has taught me," she said), it did not indicate who her new manager would be.

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    Black Music Notes Mar. 19

    3/19/09: Rihanna / Chris Brown
    Contrary to previous claims that Rihanna and Chris Brown reunited in the studio last month to record a new duet, record producer Polow Da Don recently confirmed that the couple recorded the newly surfaced track last year. "The reports are inaccurate," Polow's publicist, Laura Wright, told US magazine. "The duet was recorded long before the incident." According to People, the track, reportedly titled 'Bad Girl,' was intended to be on the soundtrack for 'Confessions of a Shopaholic,' but the song was eventually recorded by the Pussycat Dolls.

    Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

    3/19/09: Kanye West / The Dream
    Seven years ago this month, music heavyweights R. Kelly and Jay-Z released their highly anticipated collaborative album 'The Best of Both Worlds.' Now it appears Kanye West and The Dream are vying to work on a similar project. "Everybody is trying to talk us into it," Dream told 'MTV News' of his and West's friends and business associates. "It was first thought of by me. I was in Miami at the time, and I gave Kanye a call and said, 'The best thing would be for me and you to do an album.'... Let's take the best of both worlds and put it on a CD and try to make something we can sell to the consumers. He says he's with it. We're gonna try to make it happen." For now, you can catch Kanye on Dream's potential third single 'Walking on the Moon,' which is featured on his newly released album 'Love vs. Money.'

    Getty Images

    3/19/09: The Miracles
    Legendary Motown group The Miracles is the latest musical act to receive a Hollywood star on the world-renowned Walk of Fame. The 'Ooo Baby, Baby' singers were presented with the 2,381st star on March 20 by Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Leron Gubler. Motown founder Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder were also on hand as guest speakers for the ceremony.

    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

    3/19/09: Chester Gregory
    After several years of blowing audiences away on the 'Great White Way,' Broadway Star and R&B soul recording artist Chester Gregory is preparing the release of his debut album 'In Search of High Love.' The March 31 release finds the multitalented singer introducing himself as a thoughtful and sensitive songwriter blessed with a voice that captivates and demands attention. "While I've thoroughly enjoyed performing on Broadway -- eight shows a week and telling other people's amazing stories -- now it's time for me to share my own," explained Gregory. Highlights of 'In Search of High Love' include the poetic 'Clouds to the Ground,' the crossover-bound 'Say it's Over' and Jackie Wilson's soaring 1967 chart-topper 'Higher and Higher.'

    Jemal Countess, WireImage

    3/19/09: Sammy Davis Jr.
    Altovise Davis, the widow of Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. , recently died at the age of 65. Two days prior to her death, she was admitted to Los Angeles'Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a stroke. The couple, who met in 1967 on the set of the musical 'Golden Boy,' married in 1970 and remained together until Davis' untimely death of throat cancer in 1990.

    Evening Standard / Getty Images

    3/19/09: Earth, Wind & Fire
    Iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Earth, Wind & Fire is set to hit the road this summer for a 30-city tour beginning June 5 in Orange Beach, AL. In addition to Maurice White and company gracing the stage will be pop-rock band Chicago, which will perform a full show before joining for a final set together, according to Billboard. The tour will conclude on Aug. 1 in Lake Tahoe, NV.

    Santiago Llanquin / AP

    3/19/09: Kim Burrell
    Gospel vocalist Kim Burrell is on deck to release her first new album in nine years titled 'No Ways Tired.' The project's title is inspired by gospel pioneer James Cleveland's classic of the same name. In addition to covering Cleveland's hit, Burrell also tapped other timeless classics including 'My Faith Looks Up to Thee,' 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' 'O Lamb of God,' and 'I Surrender All.' There are also a few originals. 'No Ways Tired' is set to hit stores April 7 via Shanachie Records.


    3/19/09: Mike Jones
    Despite being on hiatus since the release of his debut album 'Who Is Mike Jones?' Houston's own Mike Jones is ready to make his mark on the charts once again with the release of 'The Voice.' Jones' sophomore effort is packed with some of the industry's most talented artist including, Lil' Wayne, T-Pain, Devin the Dude, Hurricane Chris and Twista. He's had recent success with his latest single 'Next To You,' which is currently number 16 on Radio and Records Rhythmic charts. "For the past four years, I have been doing a lot of restructuring, getting this record right, making sure my business is right and more," Jones said of his hiatus. "Now, I am ready to finish what I started. I'm hoping my fans will feel 'The Voice' was worth the wait." Mike Jones 'The Voice' is due in stores April 28.

    Gilbert Carrasquillo, FilmMagic

    3/19/09: Prince
    With the recent announcement that Michael Jackson will return to the stage this summer, another influential artist is also planning to make his return. Beginning March 25, Prince will be performing on the 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' for three consecutive nights. In addition, the 'Little Red Corvette' singer is also readying the Mar. 29 release of his two new albums 'LOtUSFLOW3R' and 'MPLSoUND.' Prince is the latest artist to promote a release through multiple late-night talk show performances. U2 also recently performed five nights in a row on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' in support of its new album 'No Line on the Horizon.'

    Kevin Winter, NCLR / Getty Images


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    Full-figured fashionistas, this one's for you! Catherine's, one of the leading retailers for sizes 16W-34W, has just launched a new collection, Added Dimensions, with a focus on confidence and luxury.

    According to Catherine's, if you love fashion, you'll love what Added Dimensions has to offer!

    "Our Added Dimensions customer embraces her curves and revels in celebrating her own personal style, says Kate McKee, VP of Product Development for Catherine's. "She wants to look like a million every time she walks out the door."

    The extensive collection includes everything from church-appropriate suits to young and fun basics. BV on Style has rounded up some of the best looks from the new line and broken them down by body type. Take a look at the gallery, find your body type, and then get your favorite pieces!


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    From The New York Times: On March 29, 1961, the states completed ratification of the 23rd Amendment, which gave residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote in presidential elections. The anniversary is worth remembering, both because the amendment was an important step toward full political equality for citizens of the nation's capital and because it was frustratingly incomplete.

    Is race a factor in the Chocolate City's lack of rights? Find out at the New York Times


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  • 03/29/11--07:23: Black Movie Remakes
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    Following the announcement last week of a 'Sparkle' remake, I suddenly feel optimistic that black folks are not altogether unwilling to remake our own movies (as opposed to, say, 'Annie' and 'A Star Is Born'), in which case, here are the remakes I'd like to see.


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    b cool. b safe. b yourself.

    It's become frighteningly ubiquitous. Once an after thought for only a select group, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have permeated the lives of millions, changing the way we understand and inhabit this thing called life.

    According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.

    In 2008, Blacks/African Americans accounted for 52% of new HIV diagnoses and 48% of AIDS diagnoses. And, surprisingly to many, almost one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS in this country are age 50 and older. (see more statistics here)

    As a sexually active, same race dating African American, these startling statistics are a brutal reality that demand attention and a lifestyle shift.

    And it's not just HIV/AIDS. With one in five Americans walking around with genital herpes and at least 80 percent of those infected completely unaware of their infection, operating in the oblivion of days past is a no-go.

    While others have recognized and even digested this information, three brothers from Morehouse College have determined that taking care of their own households isn't enough - they must influence the decision making of others.

    The brain-child of Jason Panda, Elkhair Balla, and Ashanti Johnson, b condoms aspires to reduce deaths and suffering due to STIs by distributing an inherently sexy condom and reinvesting a portion of its profits to organizations across the country that support STI education and prevention in the most affected areas.

    It all started when Panda's mother reminded him of what matters most. Exhausted from the corporate law grind, and seeking an opportunity to commit to something with a greater purpose, Panda recalls the vivid conversation with his mom that rejuvenated his passion for STI research and prevention. "You were most passionate working at the Teen Help Line. Why not start a condom company?"

    After spending some time in Africa researching the HIV epidemic, Panda recognized the severe gap in education, funding, and quality products.

    It was a no-brainer. With the help of his Morehouse brothers Elkhair (a former investment banker and current leader of the nonprofit side of their company "b foundation") and Ashanti (armed with pharmaceutical sales experience), Panda knew success was inevitable.

    A brand under their larger company, B. Holdings Group, b condoms embodies a three-pronged approach.

    b condoms founders Jason Panda, Ashanti Johnson, & Elkhair Balla

    1. B Safe: Rest assured that their focus is quality. After visiting a variety of manufactures, b condoms decided on a top manufacturer ensuring FDA approval. "Our focus is quality; consider it condoms with a cause" says Balla. Be yourself and choose between their 4 styles: Ribbed, Classic, Thin, or Large.

    2. B Yourself: By reinvesting a proportion of earnings in their partner non-profits and organizations, b condoms is encouraging the continued education and programming necessary to inform smarter decisions for those at risk.

    3. B Cool: With a sexy product, targeted marketing campaigns, and strategic messaging, they aim to shift the stigma of wearing a condom in the most affected communities. Through their strategic partnerships and programming with organizations like the Magic Johnson Foundation, it's their goal to make picking up a condom as habitual as brushing your teeth.

    Their latest partnerships have launched somewhat of a meteoric rise, most recently partnering with Google, the Magic Johnson Foundation, Florida A&M University, Morehouse College, Howard University and Black Enterprise.

    So what's next for b condoms? Look out for the upcoming launch of their 2.0 marketing campaign, managed by Wondaland Arts Society program director George Twopointoh.

    Get involved with b condoms by joining their mailing list, inviting them to speak at your organization, or sending them a potential partner organization. Oh, and of course, the next time you decide to get frisky, b smart, b cool and use b condoms.

    Jovian Zayne is a writer, photographer, and occasional radio host in New York City. Jovian also works with Janelle Monáe & The Wondaland Arts Society along with Teach For America. Read more from Jovian on Word Up Haay! and follow her on twitter @jovizi for laughs, encouragement, and your daily dose of quick wit.


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    Amber Riley: 'Glee' Star Talks Being Plus-Sized In Hollywood
    Amber Riley is the breakout star from 'Glee' who is helping to change the way Hollywood views shapely women. Turned down by 'American Idol' after auditioning for season two, Riley is now living her dream as both a singer and an actress on the hit Fox series. spoke to the self-proclaimed "church girl" who talked about the popularity of 'Glee,' which artists she'd love to guest star on the show and her own upcoming music endeavors.

    'Glee' has become a pop culture phenomenon. What's the most overwhelming part of it?

    Probably the attention you get in general is overwhelming. There are so many different emotions you feel when you find this type of success -- disbelief, excitement, fear and anxiety. Mainly, I am overjoyed with living my dream.

    'Glee' offers the best of both worlds: music and acting. Which one is your first love?

    Music was my first love because it was the first gift that I realized I had, but acting and singing go hand and hand. When I'm on stage, I become whatever character I need to be to relay the message in the song I'm singing.
    Amber Riley
    If you could pick three of your favorite singers to theme 'Glee' episodes after, which artists would you choose and why?

    Chaka Khan, because she is one of my vocal idols. Beyoncé, because she has so much music it would be like a musical smorgasbord -- so many different genres of songs. Sara Vaughan, because we've never really done a blues and jazz tribute, and she's one of my favorite voices to listen to.

    You've become a fashion icon in a short time -- even being named Best Dressed at the SAG Awards by Joan Rivers' 'Fashion Police.' As a full-figured woman, how does that make you feel?

    It makes me feel amazing. I'm a plus-sized girl, but I know how to dress myself and I know what looks good on me. With the character I play, I feel there is a lot of responsibility and I'm okay with being a role model. I think that recognition made a lot of girls feel like they can be beautiful and confident no matter what size or color they are.

    'Glee' is opening up a lot of doors for you. What types of projects would you like to work on outside of the show?

    I am currently working toward doing an album. I am really excited and nervous, but this is my dream and I've waited to go for it my whole life. I just pray the world loves it.

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  • 03/29/11--08:02: 5 Emergency Fashion Fixes

  • There's never a right time for a dreaded fashion emergency! Whether you're heading to an important meeting when your skirt hem falls or you notice the buttons missing from your favorite coat, these mishaps can ruin a perfectly good outfit.

    But wardrobe malfunctions happen to the best of us -- even top fashion stylists! BV on Style asked 5 of the best fashion stylists in the business for their favorite fixes to make sure you always have a stylish solution to your fashion emergency!

    1.) White Deodorant Stain
    We've all been there. You've left the house feeling like a million bucks when you discover white deodorant streaks all over your favorite little black dress. Style expert Daisy Lewellyn, former fashion editor and author of "Never Pay Retail Again: Shop Smart Spend Less Look Your Best Ever," suggests a simple, little-known fashion fix:

    "Briskly rub the stained area of fabric against another piece of the garment back and forth. It will feel like fashion magic as the stain disappears!"

    2.) Oil Stains
    Even the most careful woman has a few accidents every now and then. You may have been enjoying that romantic dinner a little too much to notice the olive oil that fell on your blouse, but have no fear! Stylist Tasha Alexis, who has worked with top models Selita Ebanks and Iman, has a simple solution using items you already have in your house.

    "Grab a grease-fighting dish detergent and an old toothbrush. Turn the garment inside out and put a towel in between the layers. Then in slow, gentle circles, work the detergent into the fabric by scrubbing with the toothbrush. If the stain continues to be stubborn, try using a dry-cleaning solvent which is available where most detergent is bought (or specialty stores)."

    3.) Lost Buttons
    Missing buttons are never chic. But Jayda Audrick, who fabulously styles Black Enterprise's two top rated TV shows - "Black Enterprise Business Report" and "Our World" - has got you covered.

    "If you lose a button, be it on your dress, trousers, or coat, depending on the placement, you can temporarily replace it with a cute brooch or decorative pin. You can also use a safety pin for a hidden closure effect. For a more permanent solution, if you don't have a replacement button, use this as an opportunity to purchase a new set of cool buttons or even mismatch buttons to make the garment more personable to you!"

    4.) Fallen Hem
    When it comes to fashion flubs, fallen hems on pants or skirts are a common culprit that make you look sloppy and unkempt. Celebrity stylist Niki Hall, who has worked with stars like Rihanna, Usher and Ne-Yo, has the perfect insider tip for fixing fallen hems.

    "Topstick wig tape is a girl's best friend, I highly recommend stashing a few sheets of the double-sided tape in your wallet because it solves just about any fashion emergency in a matter of seconds. For years, only stylists knew about Topstick, but these days you can find it anywhere from the drugstore to online.

    For a fallen hemline, gently unfold the fabric at the point of missing thread and peel off one side of the Topstick. Place the sticky side on the inside of the hemline, where it meets the fabric of your garment and smooth it out evenly. Then, remove the other side of the tape, and carefully place the inside of the fabric on top of the tape and again smooth evenly. When you're done, run a warm (not hot) iron lightly over the hem line, and voila! This will keep the hemline seamlessly in place until you can get it re-sewn."


    5.) Shrunken Clothing
    As a stylist who's worked with networks like NBC, Bravo and ESPN, I've also seen my fair share of fashion mishaps. One typical mistake many people make is accidentally mixing in sweaters with their regular laundry. If you've ever pulled out a teeny tiny version of your favorite sweater from the dryer, don't panic.

    First off, don't try and stretch and pull the sweater while its dry-- it will only cause the fibers to break and shred. Add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of regular hair conditioner to a bucket of room temperature water. Put the sweater in the bucket to soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and lay the sweater on a clean dry towel. Slowly and gently try to stretch the fibers and reshape the sweater to its original shape before allowing it to dry on the towel.


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    With the weave and wig industry making more money than ever, it's hard to keep in mind that bald can still be beautiful. However, the new Mrs. Black North Carolina, Sandra Dubose-Gibson, has recently reminded us all that beauty doesn't always come in a Yaki Pony bag.

    Dubose-Gibson has suffered from alopecia for over a decade. After she began to lose her hair at 25, she came to terms with the disease and decided that it would not define her. To wit: The singer and mother of two then set out to achieve what many didn't deem possible - a beauty pageant crown.

    As the new Mrs. Black North Carolina, Dubose-Gibson plans to travel the state talking to women of all races about the importance of cultivating inner beauty.

    "My mission is to be the catalyst that enables women to heal the experiences that have eroded and challenged their self-esteem," she told North Carolina's WRAL-TV. "I am here to help them see the beautiful human beings they truly are, and boldly celebrate that beauty and strength from the inside out."

    To read about Dubose-Gibson's experience with alopecia, visit


    Living With Alopecia: A First Person Account

    Bald is Beautiful


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     VaShawn Mitchell: 'Nobody Greater' Singer Hits The Road & Shoots A Video
    Gospel's breakout star VaShawn Mitchell has been added to the 'Still Something Big' Tour with Mary Mary and BeBe & CeCe Winans.

    "I'm really excited about joining the tour. Can't wait to hit the road with Mary Mary and BeBe & CeCe," the two-time Grammy nominee told

    The 'Still Something Big' Tour kicks off on April 1 in Detroit and has dates scheduled in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City and St. Louis.

    Mitchell recently shot a concept video for his number one single, 'Nobody Greater' in New York City.

    "Moving through the production of the shoot was awesome. Watching the treatment and story of the song come to life on the streets of VaShawn Mitchell CDNew York was a dream fulfilled. Having a great support team around to execute everything from wardrobe, locations, make-up, extras, etc., all made the process move comfortably," he explained.

    The Chicago-bred singer, who has also penned hits for artists like Smokie Norful, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Bishop Paul Morton, admitted that he is still surprised by the success of his latest release 'Triumphant' (EMI Gospel) and how people have responded to the music.

    "The success of 'Triumphant' and the first single, 'Nobody Greater' has been overwhelming," he expressed. "But I'm thankful for all God is doing and look forward to seeing what is next to come."

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    Top-Selling Gospel Artists

    CeCe Winans
    The eighth of 10 siblings in the gospel-singing Winans family, CeCe recorded music with brother BeBe. The dynamic duo scored two No. 1 R&B singles, 'Addictive Love' and 'I'll Take You There.' As a soloist, CeCe has won six Grammys and her collection of R&B hits includes 'Count on Me,' her duet with Whitney Houston from the 'Waiting to Exhale' soundtrack.

    (Photo: Getty)

    BeBe Winans
    After years as a duet with sister CeCe, BeBe Winans went solo and released a self-titled album in 1997. Featuring singles 'In Harms' Way,' 'Thank You,' and 'I Wanna Be The Only One,' the album did well on gospel and secular charts. BeBe is a two-time Grammy winner, one as co-producer of the 'Bodyguard' soundtrack.

    (Photo: Pieter M. van Hattem, AOL)

    Kierra "KiKi" Sheard
    KiKi Sheard is a third-generation gospel artist. Her mother is Karen Clark Sheard of the famed Clark Sisters and her grandmother is gospel pioneer Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Shortly after graduating high school, Sheard released her second album 'This Is Me,' which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel charts in 2006.

    (Photo: John Shearer,

    Mahalia Jackson
    Regarded as the "world's greatest gospel singer," Jackson's spirit-filled force produced gospel classics such as 'Move On Up a Little Higher,' 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands' (a Top 100 pop single) and 'How I Got Over.' She sang for Presidents Eisenhower & Kennedy, and for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. immediately before his "I Have a Dream" speech.

    (Photo: Getty Images)

    James Cleveland
    A pianist, singer, composer and producer, Cleveland was revered by the music world as the King of Gospel and even taught a Queen (of soul), Aretha Franklin a few things about gospel. Cleveland is credited with writing and arranging more than 400 gospel songs, including 'Everything Will Be All Right,' 'The Love of God' and 'Peace Be Still.'

    (Photo: Time Life/Getty)

    Kirk Franklin
    Kirk Franklin came up in the church, but often reworks his church messages into a hip-hop mix. Franklin's 1998 hit 'Stomp' propelled him to the best-selling gospel artist of the modern era. Moving beyond music, Franklin has hosted 'Sunday Best,' a music competition on BET, in addition to working the speaker circuit.

    (Photo: Jesse Grant, Getty Images)

    The Winans
    The Winans, comprised of five-time Grammy-winning brothers Marvin, Carvin, Michael and Ronald, put out 10 albums from 1982 to 1995, spawning hits such as 'Let My People Go' and 'It's Time and a Friend.' Their own sons went on to form the third-generation group Winans Phase 2.

    (Photo: AOL)

    Yolanda Adams
    Though initially criticized in the Christian community for embracing R&B and jazz rhythms and "immodest" fashion to accompany her holy music, Adams scored quickly with gospel audiences. Her 1999 album, 'Mountain High...Valley Low' earned Adams her first Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel.

    (Photo: Lester Cohen,

    Mary Mary
    Sisters Erica and Tina Atkins formed gospel duo Mary Mary, named after biblical Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Jesus. Their debut album, 'Thankful,' boasting smash single 'Shackles (Praise You),' was a crossover hit earning the duo Grammy and American Music Awards. The single received rotation on mainstream radio and MTV.


    Andraé Crouch
    After founding the Disciples in 1965, André Crouch garnered mainstream success, appearing on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and at Carnegie Hall. The Disciples contemporary gospel sound, complete with soothing melodies of pop rather than traditional hymns, helped the group develop a racially diverse audience.

    (Photo: Rick Diamond,


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    You may remember Darius Rucker as the lead vocalist of the '90's pop-rock band Hootie and the Blowfish, but in the last few years, he's broken from his rock roots, dabbled in R&B and made a smooth transition as a solo artist into country music.Rucker's 2008 debut country album, 'Learn to Live,' produced three consecutive number-one hits including "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" and garnered him the Top New Artist award at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2009. At this year's 46th Annual ACM Awards, airing April 3, Rucker will perform a song with 25 disabled youth to benefit the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

    If you're not hip to Rucker's music, listen to some of his songs, and soon you may be calling yourself a country fan. The singer took some time to talk with about his music and career.

    Black Voices: How do you feel about being compared to the legendary Charlie Pride?
    Darius Rucker: Anytime I'm mentioned in relation to Charlie Pride, I think it's awesome.

    BV: You will be performing 'Music of the Heart' with 25 teens from the ACM Lifting Lives music camp who have developmental disabilities -- how did that come about and what does that mean to you?
    DR: My biggest cause is kids, their education and their well being. It's definitely a cause I'm glad to advocate for. It's going to be a cool moment, and the song is just a cool song. I heard the recording of it and it's good stuff. It's going to be great; I have no idea how they chose me, but I'm glad they did.

    BV: Are you still in contact with your band mates from Hootie and the Blowfish, and have you considered inviting them to collaborate with you on some country tunes?
    DR: Yes, we just performed together at a show about two days ago. Two of us actually wrote a couple of songs together for my last record -- it didn't make it, but I'm sure a couple of us will write a song that will make one of my records. I actually love all our songs;they're like your kids.

    BV: Who are some musicians you admire and feel have influenced your music?
    DR: My biggest influence is Al Green, and also Kenny Rogers is a huge influence. I'm that type of guy; when I love you, I love you. I'm a records guy, and there are certain albums that are dear to me. Al Green was played a lot in my household.

    Every time my mother would walk into my room and there was a KISS record on or some rock or country, she'd take it out and put Al Green on. He was always the "go to." My favorite song is 'For the Good Times,' and the funny thing is, I didn't find out until years later that it was written by the country singer Kris Kristofferson. So it's funny that one of the biggest names in country music history wrote my favorite Al Green song.

    BV: Are you as anxious for spring as us New Yorkers?
    DR: I'm in Charleston, S.C., and today's a cool day in the 40s, but it's going to be about 64 degrees. It's definitely not like the weather in New York, but I'm looking forward to the spring and warmer weather.

    Rucker's latest album, Charleston, SC 1966, is in stores now.


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    Twenty years ago this week (March 29), 'The Five Heartbeats' was released in theaters.

    Directed by Robert Townsend with a script written by Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans, the film starred Townsend, Michael Wright, Harry J. Lennix, Leon, Tico Wells, Diahann Carroll, John Canada Terrell, Harold Nicholas, Hawthorne James, Chuck Patterson, Troy Beyer, Roy Fegan, Carla Brothers, Paul Benjamin, Theresa Randle and Tressa Thomas.

    Set in the 60's, when so many musical groups were thriving, the story centers around a quintet of hopeful young African American men form an amateur vocal group called The Five Heartbeats. After an initially rocky start, the group improves, turns pro, and rises to become a top flight music sensation. Along the way however, the guys learn many hard lessons about the reality of the music industry, with its casual racism and greed, while the personal weaknesses of the members threaten to destroy the integrity of the band.

    Playing in just 862 theaters across the country, and after receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film didn't do well at the box office. It grossed $8.5 million dollars, but through VHS sales and bootleg copies, it found a new fan base that has continued to grow over the years.

    The soundtrack, with hit songs including 'Nights Like This,' 'Nothing but Love' and 'A Heart Is a House for Love,' was also a contributor to the film's popularity. spoke with director/actor Robert Townsend and cast members Michael Wright and Leon, who played Eddie Kane, Jr. and J.T in the film, respectively.

    Townsend, who had scored a hit four years earlier with his directorial debut 'Hollywood Shuffle,' wanted his next film to be about the music industry.

    "I grew up with a lot of the singing groups from the '60s, such as The Temptations, The Dells and The O'Jays. I always loved music. When The Temptations broke up, I took it personally. [The Five Heartbeats] came out of that," says Townsend.

    Unlike for his previous film, the Chicago native didn't stage auditions. He went after actors he knew would fit the parts.

    "I just met with a lot of actors and talked to them. No one read a script," Townsend recalls. "Harry Lennix, who played Dresser, he was in Chicago doing theater. Leon had just finished doing the Madonna video 'Like a Prayer.' Michael Wright who played Eddie King was the only actor I knew I wanted 'cause he was in a movie called 'Streamers' and I just loved him as an actor. Tico, who plays Choirboy, he came to a big cattle call in New York City and I did improv with him for about fifteen minutes, then said, 'He's gonna be Choirboy!' It was such a different process."

    Michael Wright, who had already starred in another cult favorite, the 1979 film, 'Wanderers,' and had appeared in the 1983 NBC sci-fi miniseries 'V,' had no singing skills when he took on the role of the drug addict-reformed leader of the group.

    "It's extraordinary, because I had absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to be part of anybody's singing group. All I was was an actor," says Wright. "To this day people ask me, 'Do you sing like that?' I say, 'No I act like I sing like that.' When we all came together, even though I was playing the lead singer in the film, I was probably the least musical of all those guys. Because of my craft, I just came up to speed and learned how to become the lead singer of a rock n' roll group, and now I'm not just a movie star I'm a rock star!"

    While the New York native has continued to work on and off the screen in films and plays, he's thankful that this film is among those that he will be best remembered for.

    "This film in particular I could describe as my magnum opus, if you will. Actors are very fortunate if they can have one or two films they're remembered for. I never expected it, but Townsend and I were always creeping around this word 'classic.' It has become, arguably, a favorite film of African Americans in the way that when I was a kid, I used to watch 'The Wizard of Oz.' There are people that tell me they've watched it 50 times, or every day. That's incredible."

    Leon, who prior to the Madonna video, had numerous film credits under his belt when he took on the role as J.T, Duck's pretty boy brother in the group. The New York native had starred with Tom Cruise in 'All the Right Moves,' Matt Dillon in 'The Flamingo Kid,' and co-starred with Oprah Winfrey, Lynn Whitfield, and Robin Givens in 'The Women of Brewster's Place.' The on-screen chemistry he shared with Townsend felt genuine, although the two only first met for the film.

    "I didn't know Robert before then. He saw me at the MTV awards with Madonna, and told me he saw me in the her video 'Like a Virgin.' I think Kenan Ivory Wayans was supposed to play the role in the film but he got 'In Living Color,' and he couldn't do it. Before that happened, Robert wanted me to do the film."

    His friendship with Townsend has last over 20 years as they continue to work together on other projects.

    "We're on the web series 'Diary of a Single Mom.' I'm on the show with Monica Calhoun, Valery Ortiz, and Richard Roundtree. It's really doing well on the internet. The third season just finished."

    Reflecting on the film's anniversary, none of the cast could believe the film's popularity has lasted this long.

    "Somebody sent me a link the other day with one of these historical black colleges were playing 'A Heart Is A House' at their homecoming, and they played it with the whole band, it was wow!" says Townsend. "It freaked me out, they all sang it together. I had never seen anything like that with one of my films. It made me realize 'The Five Heartbeats' is part of the American fabric."


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    Last night, the always radiant First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a dinner at the White House to celebrate Women's History Month. The Remarkable Women dinner drew a star-studded crowd, with celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and Rashida Jones in attendance, along with students from the area.

    Check out the gallery to see some of our favorite remarkable women!


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    'Deep Throat Diva' is a game changer in the erotica book genre.

    The novel, written by the author who writes under the nom de plume Cairo, ups the ante in the style that was popularized nearly 14 years ago by his publisher, Zane.

    The book is a great and sexy read, but not in an Anaïs Nin sort of way. More in a leave nothing, like really nothing, to the imagination sort of way. And if that's your thing, you won't want to miss 'Deep Throat Diva.'

    It is the story of Pasha, a successful hairstylist who engages in online hook-ups with strangers while her fiancé, Jasper, is locked up in prison. Since she vowed not to have intercourse while he was gone, she justifies that having oral sex is still being faithful.

    When her gangster fiancé returns home, her online life continues to beckon, forcing her to make serious choices.

    Cairo chatted recently with

    BlackVoices: All of your books are sexually explicit, such as 'Daddy Long Stroke' and 'The Kat Trap.' Are you upping the ante for erotica? What does your publisher, Zane, the queen of erotica, have to say about all of this?

    Cairo: Yes, in some ways, I believe I am most definitely upping the ante. But I also believe I'm writing things that many people already think about (or dream about) doing to their partners, but don't actually have the guts to. So, through my raw, raunchy writing, I'm allowing readers to live vicariously through all of my characters.

    Truthfully, Zane has been one of my biggest supporters. She believes in me. And she believes in my ability to bring the heat.BV: Do any of your characters resemble you in any way? Be honest! Real talk.

    C: (Laughs) I get asked this often. Okay, real talk. Since I am able to write in both male and female voice, I can't actually say that any of them resemble me in any way. But I can say there are sex scenes that resemble some of what I have experienced between the sheets at one time or another. And, nah... I don't kiss and tell, so I won't say which ones.

    BV: How do you develop your characters?

    C: I meditate and travel a lot, which allows me to conjure up images of characters. I typically start with a title, then create my characters.

    BV: Is Pasha depraved and indifferent to what it means to be in a committed relationship?

    C: Unfortunately, Pasha, like so many other men and women, have distorted views of what monogamy is or isn't. The definition of what a committed relationship is seems very subjective for many. I mean, look at Pasha. This chick knew what she was doin' was wrong, but she tried to justify her actions and kept lying to herself that what she was doin' wasn't cheating because she had no emotional attachment to any of those cats. In her mind, she only loved one man. And that's who she planned on spending her life with. So, as far as she was concerned, she was still committed to the relationship.

    BV: What do your readers have to look forward to next?

    C: Well, in the fall of 2011, 'Kitty-Kitty, Bang-Bang,' the sequel to 'The Kat Trap,' will be released. In the spring of 2012, 'Man Swappers' will be released. I promise you, 'Man Swappers' will stir up a lot of conversation (laughs). Then I'm gonna hit 'em with 'Big Booty,' or maybe 'The Booty Bandits.' Hell, maybe both. It'll depend on where my imagination takes me. Just know that whatever I decide to write, there are some things that will never change. And my raw, graphic, hot, nasty, sex-filled, porn-in-a-book style of writing is one of them. It's my signature. And I'm gonna stamp it all over every book.


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    Listen up, ladies and gents! BV Voices on Style has the ultimate fashion exclusive for you! On April 1, two of the biggest names in the music game will unveil their collaboration all in the name of doing good.

    Akon and Keri Hilson have teamed up with mega-retailer H&M to promote the brand's latest Fashion Against AIDS collection. The H&M Fashion Against AIDS initiative helps to raise funds and awareness for HIV / AIDS with a collection for men and women. The unisex collection will officially launch on April 26th and 25% of sales will go to HIV/AIDS projects around the world.

    Super star Keri Hilson was eager to join and promote the line.

    "I love the unisex collection. I love the way it looks, I love what it represents - AIDS knows no gender, the fact that the clothing it caters to men, it caters to women, to young girls, to young boys, there's a subliminal thing that makes it that much more powerful."

    BV on Style has got some of the very first images from the campaign. In typical H&M style, Akon looked relaxed and casual in a blazer and hoodie, while Keri Hilson showed her playful side in printed jumpsuit with a fanny pack to match.

    While the fashion is great, Akon thinks the most important part is preventing HIV/AIDS in the first place.

    "As I travel the world, I see how much HIV affects people. It's not like we have a cure for HIV, we only have prevention. Prevent it, so that you don't ever have to worry about it. Ever."

    Check your local H&M for the collection come April 26 to do good while looking good.


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    Those are some of the details supplied by former Auburn players of events they said came during recruiting or while at college.

    Former defensive end Stanley McClover (pictured) told HBO in a show that aired Wednesday that when he received money in a bag, he felt obligated to attend Auburn even though he had made a public commitment to Ohio State.

    "I almost passed out. I literally almost passed out, I couldn't believe it was true," McClover said of finding the money. "I felt like I owed them."

    Read more here.


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