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Civil Rights Activist, Baseball Player - Hank Aaron
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: Hank aaron activist baseball player major leauge word life production new quality entertainment feature

Considered one of the best baseball players of all time, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home-run record when he hit his 715th home run in 1974. He later set a new MLB record with 755 career home runs.

Born into humble circumstances on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron ascended the ranks of the Negro Leagues to become a Major League Baseball icon. Aaron played as an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves for nearly 23 years, during which time he broke many of baseball's most distinguished records, including most career home runs (755)—a record that stood for more than two decades.

American baseball icon Hank Aaron, nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank," is widely regarded as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the sport. For nearly 23 years (1954–76), Aaron played as an outfielder for the Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers, setting several records and winning a number of honors along the way.

Aaron continues to hold many of baseball's most distinguished records today, including runs batted in (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), total bases (6,856) and most years with 30 or more home runs (15). He is also ranked one of baseball's Top 5 players for career hits and runs. For more than two decades, Aaron held the record for most career home runs (755), surpassing Babe Ruth's home-run record on April 8, 1974. Barry Bonds broke the record on August 7, 2007, when he scored his 756th home run in San Francisco, California.

Born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934, in a poor black section of Mobile, Alabama, called "Down The Bay," Hank Aaron was the third of eight children born to Estella and Herbert Aaron, who made a living as a tavern owner and a dry dock boilermaker's assistant.

Aaron and his family moved to the middle-class Toulminville neighborhood when he was 8 years old. Aaron developed a strong affinity for baseball and football at a young age, and tended to focus more heavily on sports than his studies. During his freshman and sophomore years, he attended Central High School, a segregated high school in Mobile, where he excelled at both football and baseball. On the baseball diamond, he played shortstop and third base.

In his junior year, Aaron transferred to the Josephine Allen Institute, a neighboring private school that had an organized baseball program. Before the end of his first year at Allen, he had more than proved his abilities on the baseball field. Then, perhaps sensing that he had a bigger future ahead of him, in 1951, the 18-year-old Aaron quit school to play for the Negro Baseball League's Indianapolis Clowns.

It wasn't a long stay. After leading his club to victory in the league's 1952 World Series, in June 1952, Aaron was recruited by the Milwaukee Braves (formerly of Boston and later of Atlanta) for $10,000. The Braves assigned their new player to one of their farm clubs, The Eau Claire Bears. Again, Aaron did not disappoint, earning the esteemed title of "Northern League Rookie of the Year."

Hank Aaron made his Major League debut in 1954, at age 20, when a spring training injury to a Braves outfielder created a roster spot for him. Following a respectable first year (he hit .280), Aaron charged through the 1955 season with a blend of power (27 home runs), run production (106 runs batted in), and average (.328) that would come to define his long career. In 1956, after winning the first of two batting titles, Aaron registered an unrivaled 1957 season, taking home the National League MVP and nearly nabbing the Triple Crown by hitting 44 home runs, knocking in another 132, and batting .322.

Star Player

That same year, Aaron demonstrated his ability to come up big when it counted most. His 11th inning home run in late September propelled the Braves to the World Series, where he led underdog Milwaukee to an upset win over the New York Yankees in seven games.

With the game still years away from the multimillion-dollar contracts that would later dominate player salaries, Aaron's annual pay in 1959 was around $30,000. When he equaled that amount that same year in endorsements, Aaron realized there may be more in store for him if he continued to hit for power. "I noticed that they never had a show called 'Singles Derby,'" he once explained.

He was right, of course, and over the next decade and a half, the always-fit Aaron banged out a steady stream of 30 and 40 home run seasons. In 1973, at the age of 39, Aaron was still a force, clubbing a remarkable 40 home runs to finish just one run behind Babe Ruth's all-time career mark of 714.

Obstacles

But the chase to beat the Babe's record revealed that world of baseball was far from being free of the racial tensions that prevailed around it. Letters poured into the Braves offices, as many as 3,000 a day for Aaron. Some wrote to congratulate him, but many others were appalled that a black man should break baseball's most sacred record. Death threats were a part of the mix.

Still, Aaron pushed forward. He didn't try to inflame the atmosphere, but he didn't keep his mouth shut either, speaking out against the league's lack of ownership and management opportunities for minorities. "On the field, blacks have been able to be super giants," he once stated. "But, once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again."

Legacy

In 1974, after tying the Babe on Opening Day in Cincinnati, Ohio, Aaron came home with his team. On April 8, he banged out his record 715th home run at 9:07 p.m. in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a triumph and a relief. The more than 50,000 fans on hand cheered him on as he rounded the bases. There were fireworks and a band, and when he crossed home plate, Aaron's parents were there to greet him.

Overall, Aaron finished the 1974 season with 20 home runs. He played two more years, moving back to Milwaukee to finish out his career to play in the same city where he'd started.

After retiring as a player, Aaron moved into the Atlanta Braves front office as executive vice-president, where he has been a leading spokesman for minority hiring in baseball. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1982. His autobiography, I Had a Hammer, was published in 1990.

In 1999, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of breaking Ruth's record, Major League Baseball announced the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the best overall hitter in each league.

Hank Aaron was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002

Source: Biography.com

 

702-R&B Trio that played a major part in the Golden Era
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: 702 r&b trio major part golden era word life production new quality entertainment featured

702 (pronounced "Seven-O-Two"), named after the area code of their hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, was an American platinum-selling R&B trio. Originally a quartet, the group became a trio, which includes sisters Irish (born June 2, 1980), and LeMisha 'Misha' (born June 10, 1978) Grinstead, and lead singer Kameelah Williams. Irish's twin sister Orish Grinstead (June 2, 1980 – April 20, 2008) was founding member and later a substitute vocalist.

In Las Vegas, sisters LeMisha and Irish Grinstead, and their friend Kameelah Williams, were students at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts. Irish, her twin sister Orish, and LeMisha occasionally sang in the lobby of Caesars Palace where they were discovered by actor/comedian Sinbad. He visited their home in order to convince their parents to send the trio to Atlanta for a convention and music competition. Though the girls missed the deadline for entry, Sinbad used his name to get them in. "Sweeta than Suga," as they were then called (Sinbad suggested the name), came in second in the competition. As the convention was nearing a close, they met Michael Bivins (of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe) who agreed to work with the sisters. They were briefly joined by their cousin Amelia Childs. After they made their recorded debut on Subway's hit single "This Lil' Game We Play", Amelia dropped out of the group and was replaced by Kameelah Williams. After recording a few demos as a quartet including "Steelo", and "Get It Together", Orish decided to leave the group (even though her vocals appear on the first album). Bivins continued to work with different producers and songwriters to get the right feel for their first album. The reconfigured group was christened "702," which is Las Vegas' area code, a name which Bivens suggested.

Their debut album, No Doubt shot to #1 on Top Heatseekers. Missy Elliott co-wrote & produced 4 songs on the album including the smash hit single "Steelo" and its remix. The album spawned the 3 hit singles: "Steelo", "All I Want" and "Get It Together". "Steelo" with altered lyrics was used as the theme song to the Nickelodeon television show Cousin Skeeter & "All I Want" was featured in the Nickelodeon movie Good Burger. 702 also performed on Nickelodeon's All That. "Get It Together" exploded by giving the group a #3 R&B single and a #10 Pop single on the Billboard charts. The album earned them a Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award in 1997. It sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. In addition to the album, 702 opened for New Edition, Keith Sweat, and Blackstreet during the 1996-97 New Edition reunion tour. They also appeared on Elliott's debut album Supa Dupa Fly on her 1998 song "Beep Me 911" which didn't make it onto the American charts but reached #14 on the UK Singles Chart. The girls also sang with Busta Rhymes' new artist Rampage. "My Friend" was featured on the soundtrack to Men in Black. In 1998, 702 made cameos in the sitcoms Sister, Sister and Moesha.

After going gold with their debut album, they released their self-titled second album, 702. The first single from the album "Where My Girls At?" was written and produced by Missy Elliott and made #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went gold. The single spent months on the chart, became nominated for the song of the year, and gained them a 1999 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination. The album made the Top 40 on Billboard 200 and earned them a 2000 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination and sold more than 500,000 copies going gold. 702, before releasing their second album, had also sang the national anthem for the WNBA season opener. 702 was also a part of Brandy's Never Say Never tour. On June 18, 702's LeMisha gave birth to her son Tony Lyndon and left in order to take care of her son. Orish took her place during LeMisha's brief absence. They also made a cameo in the 1999 ABC-TV movie Double Platinum starring Brandy and Diana Ross. 702 also signed a deal with Wilhelmina Models. "You Don't Know" and "Gotta Leave" were released but failed reach the success "Where My Girls At? did. In 2000, 702 along with Eric Benét were Brian McKnight's opening act for his tour supporting his album Back at One.

Once the hype for the second album died down, 702 took a hiatus from the spotlight. Kameelah Williams decided to part from the group and go solo. She briefly became the new protégé of Faith Evans and signed a deal to be managed by Faith and her husband, Todd Russaw, under their Pedigree MGI Management. Kameelah sang backup and wrote 3 songs for Faith Evans' album, Faithfully. She also sang backup for Missy Elliott on her Miss E...So Addictive third single "Take Away". In 2001 it was rumored that she joined the R&B band Total but this was denied later that year.

The Grinstead sisters, the remaining members of 702, decided to retake their place in the spotlight and enlisted Cree Lamore to replace Meelah. Under the revamped 702, they recorded the lead single "Pootie Tangin" for the Chris Rock movie, Pootie Tang. The song failed to make any charts but earned them a 2002 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award nomination.

With Meelah returning to the group, replacing Cree Lamore, 702 returned to record their third album. The album Star was released in March 2003 and made the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. The girls worked with singers Mario Winans, Faith Evans and Clipse and producers The Neptunes, Mike City, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs. The single "Star" and "I Still Love You" failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 but did make Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "Star" at #98 and I Still Love You" at #49. The album earned them two Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nominations later in 2003. Also in 2003, 702 shared lead vocals on the track "Gamble It" from the album "Emotions" by Sirena. Irish Grinstead appeared in The Brewster Project in 2004. In 2006, 702 appeared on the independent album E Sharp Presents. The composition of that group was Misha, Irish and Orish Grinstead but the cd cover image from their second album "702" appears on the cover. LeMisha Grinstead, under the name "LeMisha 702", in 2007 released a song titled "What I Got" that appeared on the independent album E Sharp Presents vol. II. Original member Orish Grinstead, twin sister of Irish, died on April 20, 2008, from kidney failure at the age of 27. She can be seen as one of the original four members of 702 in the video, "This Lil' Game We Play" with Subway.

In 2010, Kameelah Williams confirmed via her official Twitter that she is now permanently solo and is currently working on her solo album.Kameelah also has a child with artist Musiq Soulchild.

The group's vocals from Missy Elliott's "Beep Me 911" were recently sampled in Danny!'s tribute song, "Go That-a-Way".

On December 13, 2013, 702 with Williams performed their first show in nearly 10 years at 90s R&B Christmas Reunion, along with Total, Latocha & Tamika Scott of Xscape, Changing Faces, Tweet & Sunshine Anderson in Toronto, ON.

Source: Wikipedia

R Kelly is one of the major voices of the Golden Era
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: r kelly major voices golden era word life production feature blog

The self-described "Pied Piper of R&B," Robert Sylvester Kelly has built a career marked both by spectacular highs and devastating lows. Kelly has not only one of the finest voices but also one of the most vivid imaginations in pop, and the charms of his music lay in his love of absurd metaphors and his ability to sell them with his songwriting skills. Arguably the most important R&B figure of the 1990s and 2000s, Kelly has proven equally adept at earnest ballads like the stately "I Believe I Can Fly" as he is at preposterous triple-entendre numbers like "The Zoo."

Kelly's beginnings were relatively traditional. Born on the South Side of Chicago to a single mother, Kelly dropped out of high school to earn a living singing on street corners for money. His youth was a troubled one: Though he has told many interviewers that he was shot at age 13 by local bullies, his mother has suggested that the incident may have, in fact, been a suicide attempt. He got his first real musical break in 1990, when he formed the R&B group Public Announcement. The group released just one album together, 1990's Born Into the 90s, before Kelly departed to start his solo career.

He was successful almost instantly: in 1993, he released the album 12 Play, which spawned the chart-topping singles "Bump 'n' Grind" and "I Like the Crotch on You" and established early his reputation for slow-moving sex jams loaded with innuendo.

Kelly's next chart success was not his own. In 1994, he was introduced to a young R&B singer named Aaliyah by her uncle, and went on to write and produce her debut, Age Ain't Nothing But a Number. The album was a success, selling over two million copies and spawning a wealth of hit singles, but the relationship will ultimately become a harbinger of things to come for Kelly. The two were, by most accounts, married in a secret ceremony at a hotel. The marriage was annulled when Aaliyah's parents learned about it, and both singers repeatedly denied it had ever taken place.

Kelly returned his attention to his music the following year, releasing a self-titled album that went on to sell four million copies on the strength of the hits "You Remind Me of Something" and "Down Low." The album found Kelly continuing in his chosen milieu of simmering R&B ballads — a form he perfected the following year with the release of his biggest single to that point, "I Believe I Can Fly." Unlike many of Kelly's previous singles, the song transcended genre boundaries, becoming just as ubiquitous on pop radio as it was on R&B, eventually climbing to the Number Two slot on the Billboard Top 200. The song also marked a thematic change for Kelly, one that found him moving away from pillow talk and into more inspirational subject matter.

Kelly's massive success was beginning to earn him the respect of more popular artists; in 1995, he wrote and produced "You Are Not Alone" for Michael Jackson and his 1998 double-album, R., found him singing alongside none other than adult-contemporary queen Celine Dion on the song "I Am Your Angel." Like his idol Marvin Gaye before him, Kelly was proving an asset not only as a vocalist, but as a songwriter and producer for other artists, and as his stature grew, so did his opportunities for collaboration. R. was another huge hit, selling 8 million copies, and his collaboration with Dion would surpass even "I Believe I Can Fly," netting him a number one single.

It is around this time, however, that Kelly's personal troubles intensify. Though he had married dancer Andrea Lee in 1996, by most accounts the marriage was a bizarre and unhealthy one, and Lee would later file protective charges against Kelly. He also faced more allegations of unlawful involvement with a minor when a woman named Tiffany Hawkins accused Kelly of having sex with her from the time she was 15 until she was 18. In 1999, Kelly had a brief affair with a dancer in his video "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time," never revealing to her the fact that he was married.

The following year, he released TP-2.com, an album that was more modest in scope than its predecessor but no less accomplished in its songwriting.

At this point, however, Kelly's personal travails had started to eclipse is professional success. In 2000, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story referencing allegations that Kelly had an affair with a 15 year-old girl. A few months later, Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis received an anonymous tape that showed Kelly and a girl — who was later thought to be as young as 13 years old — having sex. The video culminated with Kelly urinating on the girl. DeRogatis turned the tape over to the FBI, and Kelly was eventually arrested. Evidence grew to suggest that the girl in the tape was Stephanie Edwards, who had been introduced to Kelly under the auspices of Kelly helping her with her singing career. The scandal puts a momentary halt to Kelly's career; the collaboration Best of Both Worlds with Jay-Z stalled, with Jay deliberately putting distance between himself and Kelly. Much of 2002 is spent with Kelly facing an endless string of allegations stemming both from the videotape as well as new accusations of sexual misconduct by women from Kelly's past.

It was't until 2003 that he pulled fully out of his downward spiral with the release of Chocolate Factory, arguably his masterpiece. The album found Kelly moving past the simple stylings of contemporary R&B to incorporate Chicago's step music as well as elements of 1970s soul. Bolstered by the phenomenal success of "Igniition (Remix)," the album did more to re-establish Kelly in the public's good graces than any amount of official statements from the artist or his management. Kelly followed that album with another artistic triumph, the double-album Happy People/U Saved Me. It is here that Kelly fully indulges his love of classic soul and gospel, delivering tracks reminiscent of late-period Marvin Gaye, going light on the raunch in favor of simple songs of praise and celebration.

 

In 2004, he embarked on a tour with Jay-Z in support of a sequel to their Best of Both Worlds album, but the collaboration came to an abrupt end when Kelly accused a member of Jay-Z's entourage of attacking him.

In 2005, Kelly accomplished his most outlandish — and, by most accounts, spectacular — feat to date, the multi-part "Trapped in the Closet" series. The saga sprung from humble beginnings: a simple three-part soapy song-drama on Kelly's TP.3 Reloaded album. The song was so giddily outlandish, however, that Kelly soon started adding more chapters, each one more ridiculous than the last. The story — which began as a simple love trial — soon grew to involve nosy neighbors, gangsters and a philandering midget. All of these tales were delivered over the same musical backing track, and with the same level of self-aware winking by Kelly. After expanding the saga to 22 chapters and premiering them at New York's IFC Theater, Kelly put the saga to rest. The series did earn Kelly a new audience, however — those mostly being internet-savvy fans who fell for the saga's inherent absurdity. It is to those fans that Kelly would also cater over the next several years, leaking a series of songs to the internet well before their official release date, and all of them built on knowingly-preposterous premises.

 

On Double Up (2007) Kelly returned to the hip-hop-derived take on R&B that defined his earlier work. Perhaps encouraged by the success of "Trapped in the Closet," however, it also finds him at his most playful and absurd: on "The Zoo" he called himself a "sexasaurus," and "Sex Planet" found him turning the entire galaxy into an elaborate metaphor for getting down.

In 2008, after years of countless — and mostly ridiculous and unprecedented — delays, Kelly finally stood trial — not for having sex with a minor, but for possession of child pornography. After six years of cross-talk and controversy, the trial ultimately lost momentum and fizzled out; Kelly was acquitted on all charges on the basis that the identity of the girl in the video was impossible to definitively prove.

After an early internet leak of his intended 12 Play: Fourth Quarter, Kelly went back to the studio and soon released an entirely different, untitled album in 2009, which dropped many of the leaked tracks and replaced them with new compositions.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/r-kelly/biography#ixzz2gVHWQTnd
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