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Billy Joel is Ultimate Rock Classic! Tags: billy joel ultimat rock classic word life production new qulaity entrtainment

Singer Billy Joel topped the charts in the 1970s and '80s with hits like "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Born on May 9, 1949, in New York, Billy Joel bounced back after a disappointing first album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), with 1973's Piano Man, featuring hits like "Piano Man" and "Captain Jack." He went on to make successful albums like Streetlife Serenade (1974), The Stranger (1977) and 52nd Street (1978). In the 1980s, Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley, and topped the musical charts with "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." By 1999, his worldwide song sales had topped $100 million, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several years later, in 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Early Life

Singer-songwriter William Martin "Billy" Joel was born in the Bronx, New York, on May 9, 1949, to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to a section of America's famous "first suburb," Levittown on Long Island. Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel's mother who pushed the young boy to study piano. He began playing at the age of four and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive.

Early Career

It wasn't long before the artist, inspired by the Beatles' iconic Ed Sullivan Show performance, committed heart and soul to a life in music. He dropped out of high school to pursue a performing career, devoting himself to creating his first solo album Cold Spring Harbor, which was released in 1971. The terms of Joel's contract with Family Productions turned out to be onerous and the artist was unhappy with the quality of the album they released. It wasn't a commercial success.

Disillusioned with trying to make it as a rock star, Joel moved to Los Angeles to fly under the radar for a while. In early 1972, he got a gig working as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin. His time playing at The Executive Room on Wilshire Boulevard would later be immortalized in his song "Piano Man," which describes a no-name lounge's down-and-out patrons.

By late 1972, an underground recording of Joel's "Captain Jack" had been released on the East Coast and was garnering positive attention. Executives from Columbia Records sought out the lounge player and gave Joel a second chance to become a rock star.

Career Breakthrough

With the momentum of a Top 20 single ("Piano Man") to his name, Joel began recording new songs and albums, coming out with Streetlife Serenade in 1974. Many of his songs related to a growing frustration with the music industry and Hollywood, foreshadowing his exit from Los Angeles in 1976. As the years passed, Joel's style began to evolve, showing his range from pop to the bluesy-jazz stylings that are now closely associated with his name. The Stranger (1977) was Joel's first major commercial breakthrough, landing him four songs in the Top 25 of the U.S. Billboard charts. By 1981, Joel had collected a slew of awards, including a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and a People's Choice Award.

Awards and Achievements

Through the 1980s, Joel would be crowned a hit-maker with smashes such as "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "Innocent Man" and "The Longest Time." He would release two volumes of Greatest Hits and become the first American performer to unleash a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union. While churning out hits, Joel would also frequent the benefit circuit, performing with stars such as Cyndi Lauper and John Mellencamp to raise money for various causes.

In 1989, on the heels of the successful single "We Didn't Start the Fire," Joel was presented with the Grammy Legend Award. His professional success continued unabated into the early 1990s, although his personal life became somewhat dramatic. After the release of River of Dreams (1994), Joel slowed his studio recordings but continued to tour alone and in combination with fellow artists such as Elton John. In 1999, the worldwide sales of his songs passed the 100 million mark. Also that year, Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his idol, Ray Charles. Several years later, in 2013, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Later Career

In the early 2000s, Joel found himself in and out of rehab, struggling with an ongoing alcohol addiction. In 2007, Joel released the single "All My Life," his first song with original lyrics in 13 years. Though semi-retired in terms of recording new pop songs, Joel has continued to tour and branch out as an artist. He has composed a number of classical songs and even reworked older ballads with an orchestral backing.

Throughout the years, Joel's songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived... and transcended that time."

When Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden was announced in 2013, his devoted fans proved how much the singer's music resonated with them. As the first music franchise in MSG's history, Joel broke records; his monthly concerts have sold out every time, and as of October 2015, he has grossed over $46 million in sales.

Personal Life

In 1982, Joel split with his first wife, Elizabeth Weber Small, who had been his partner since 1973. In 1984, Joel would famously meet and marry supermodel Christie Brinkley. Soon after, their daughter Alexa Ray (named after Ray Charles) was born on December 29, 1985.

Joel divorced Brinkley in 1993. In 2004, he married the television personality and journalist Katie Lee. They would eventually divorce after five years of marriage.

In 2015, Billy Joel and his girlfriend of six years, Alexis Roderick, announced they were expecting a baby together. That summer, Joel and Roderick tied the knot at the couple's annual Fourth of July party at his Long Island estate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presided over the nuptials. Their daughter Della Rose Joel was born on August 12, 2015.

Source: Biography.com

Let us celebrate the life of the late great Robin Harris Tags: celebrate life robin harris please moment silence word life production new qulaity entertainment feature

Robin Hughes Harris (August 30, 1953 – March 18, 1990) was an American comedian and actor, known for his recurring comic sketch about Bébé's Kids.

Robin Harris was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Earl, was a welder, and his mother, Mattie, was a factory seamstress. In 1961, the family moved to Los Angeles where he attended Manual Arts High School and attended Ottawa University in Kansas. During this time, he began to hone his craft of comedy. He worked for Hughes Aircraft, a rental car company, and Security Pacific Bank to pay his bills. In 1980, he debuted at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store.

During the mid '80s Robin worked as the master of ceremonies at the Comedy Act Theater. His “old school” brand of humor began to gain him a mainstream following. Harris made a promising feature debut playing a no-nonsense bartender in the feature film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988). Harris performed in director Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989). As "Sweet Dick Willie," Harris served as part of the neighborhood "Greek chorus" that commented on the events of an increasingly tense day. Harris was Pop, the no-nonsense, quick-witted father of Kid in House Party (1990). He followed up later that year with a small turn as a jazz club MC in Mo' Better Blues. He also had a role in Eddie Murphy's Harlem Nights (1989). Fellow comedian and actor Raymond "The RayVolution" Baxter credits Harris with him becoming a stand up, "I saw Mr. Harris at home in Chicago at a club my aunt worked for and he was nice enough to see me after a set and joke around with me. He said I was funny enough to get on the circuit at 11! So that day I went to work on my material..."

Bébé's Kids

In Harris' "Bébé's Kids" routines, Harris' girlfriend Jamika would insist that he take her son and friend Bébé's three children with them on a date, as she continually agreed to babysit them. The children would regularly make a fool out of and/or annoy Harris. "We Bébé's kids," they would proclaim, "we don't die...we multiply."

The Hudlin Brothers had intended to make a feature film based upon the "Bébé's Kids" sketches, but Harris died while the film was in pre-production. Bébé's Kids instead became an animated feature—the first ever to feature an all-black main cast—directed by Bruce W. Smith and featuring the voices of Faizon Love (as Harris), Vanessa Bell Calloway, Marques Houston, Nell Carter, and Tone Lōc.

In the early hours of March 18, 1990, Harris died in his sleep of a heart attack in his Chicago hotel room after performing for a sold out crowd at the Regal Theater. Harris was transported back to California, and interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, near Los Angeles. House Party 2 and Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues (which was released five months after his death) were dedicated to his memory. Through archive footage, in House Party 2, a photo of Harris comes to life and tells Kid "Keep your mind on them books and off them 'gals!", which was actually taken from a scene in the original House Party. In House Party 3, when uncle Vester (played by Bernie Mac) looks at a photograph of Harris, he tells Kid how he misses his father and wishes he was alive, and that he "owes him" $150.

At the time of Harris' death, his wife was pregnant with their son, Robin Harris, Jr .

In 2006, a posthumous DVD entitled We Don't Die, We Multiply: The Robin Harris Story (2006), was released. The film features never before seen performances by Harris and accolades from his contemporaries Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, Robert Townsend, and Joe Torry. The film also features a rap performed and dedicated to Harris by his son, Robin Harris, Jr.

Source: Wikipedia

Colors - Classic Movies and TV Tags: colors classic movies tv word life prpduction new qulaity entertainment featured blog

Colors is a 1988 American police procedural crime film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The story takes place in South Central, North West and East Los Angeles, and centers on Bob Hodges (Duvall), an experienced Los Angeles Police Department CRASH Police Officer III, and his rookie partner, Danny McGavin (Penn), who try to stop the gang violence between the Bloods, the Crips, and Hispanic street gangs. Colors relaunched Hopper as a director 18 years after Easy Rider, and inspired discussion over its depiction of gang life and gang violence.

Two white cops, Bob "Uncle Bob" Hodges (Robert Duvall) a respected, 19-year LAPD veteran and rookie officer Danny "Pacman" McGavin (Sean Penn) have just been teamed together in the C.R.A.S.H. unit that patrols East L.A.

The older cop is appreciated on the local streets. He is diplomatic on the surface, preaching "rapport" to gang members to encourage them to offer help when it is truly needed and recognizes that every action cops take is scrutinized by the very people they are trying to help. Hodges explains his view on proceduring to his young partner with a joke about bulls and cows. Although the pair bond quickly, life lessons are seemingly lost on the aggressive, cavalier McGavin, whose stunted actions soon bring him quick notoriety with the local gang members and the people themselves.

McGavin also has a short lived romance with a waitress named Louisa (María Conchita Alonso) who, like the offended Hodges, feels the weight of the Pacman persona. Amidst the strains of these relationships, the murder of a Bloods gang member leads to a series of escalations between two other street gangs. A relentless intertwining of seemingly random incidents culminates in a plot that finds the two partners in the middle of the Crips, Bloods and Hispanic Barrio war. The Hispanic gang led by a criminal named Frog, attempts to negotiate a peace similar to Hodges and steer clear of the melee. To protect his partner, Hodges unwittingly exposes Frog as his source on the Crips leader Rocket (Don Cheadle) with his scheme to kill McGavin. Each group attempts to right the wrongs against their respective crews as police work to prevent the hit and stand their authority over the fall out.

In the end, the unit moves in on the would-be last crew standing - the Hispanic gang. While arresting Frog, Hodges is mortally shot by a gunman trying to enact the hit on McGavin. With medics en route, McGavin comforts Hodges and breaks down with regret as the elder partner falls into delirium and dies.

Sometime later, a more conservative McGavin has a rookie partner, a black cop who grew up in the neighborhood where they patrol and sports an attitude similar to the "Pacman". McGavin tells him the joke about the bulls that Hodges taught him and he reciprocates the advice just the same as he did. The film ends with McGavin considering the cycle as the pair drive on and continue their patrol.

The movie was filmed entirely in Los Angeles in 1987. The original script by Richard Di Lello took place in Chicago and was more about drug dealing than gang members. Dennis Hopper ordered changes, so Michael Schiffer was hired and the setting was changed to Los Angeles and the focus of the story became more about the world of gang members.

Real gang members were hired as guardians as well as actors by producer Robert H. Solo. Two of them were shot during filming.

On April 2, 1987, Sean Penn was arrested for punching an extra on the set of this film who was taking photos of Penn without permission. Penn was sentenced to 33 days in jail for this assault. A soundtrack containing mainly hip-hop music was released on April 15, 1988, by Warner Bros. Records. It peaked at 31 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold on July 12, 1988.

Source: Wikipedia

This Month's celebrity pick is the awesome Comedian and Actor, Mike Epps
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: mike epps comedian actor celebrity pick word life production new qulaity entertainment feature blog

Mike Epps has generated an extraordinary amount of buzz among his peers within the entertainment industry for being one of the funniest comic actors toe emerge in the Hollywood scene as of late. 2008 proved to be an impressive year for Epps. In February, Epps appeared in the Universal Studios ensemble comedy “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” opposite Martin Lawrence, James Earl Jones and Joy Bryant. In April 2008, he appeared in the indie film “The Grand,” directed by Zak Penn and starring Woody Harrelson and Cheryl Hines. He can also be seen in the following 2008 releases: MGM’s “Soul Men” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes; Sony Pictures’ “Hancock” starring Will Smith and Charlize Theron and “Open Season 2” in which he lends his voice. Upcoming, Epps re-teams with Ice Cube to star in “Janky Promoters,” a comedy about two shady concert promoters (Cube and Epps) who get into hot water when their chance to book a superstar rapper goes awry. “Janky” is due in theateres March 2009. Epps will also star oppositve Mos Def in the dark comedy, “Next Day Air,” which is set to release in May 2009. In 2007, Epps reprised his role as ‘LJ’ in Sony’s futuristic action franchise, “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which placed number one at thte box office for two consecutive weeks in September ‘07. Epps also had as small but dramatic role alongside Don Cheadle in “Talk to Me” for Focus Features in August 2007.

When Epps isn’t filming, he is touring the country and performing his comedy act, The Mike Epps on the Edge Tour to sold-out theaters and arenas across the country. Last year Mike’s one hour comedy special, “Inappropriate Behavior” aired on HBO and was one of the network’s top-rated one-hour specials of the year, followed by its subsequent DVD release that same month. Later that fall, Mike transitioned from his HBO comedy special to hosting duties as the new host of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, which aired on September 10, 2006. Since 2000, Epss’ comedic film roles have exploded. In March 2002 Epps was seen starting opposite Ice Cube in New Line Cinema’s “All About the Benjamins.” Epps also reprised his role as Day-Day in “Friday After Next,” the third installment of the “Friday” series. In 2003, Epps appeared in the Paramount comedy, “The Fighting Temptations” alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce Knowles, and in 2004 he played the comedic relief as a loud mouthed garbage manin Fox Searchlight’s “Roll Bounce,” a film set in the late 1970s about the rollerskating lifestyle which also starred Bow Wow, Chi McBride, and Nick Cannon. Mike then went on to play a pivotal role in the Focus Features romantic comedy, “Something New,” starring Sanaa Lathan as a black career woman who unexpectedly finds love with a white working-class man, played by Simon Baker. Earlier that same year, Epps starred in two classic remakes — first Epps was seen in Columbia Pictures’ well received, “Guess Who”, starring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac which was released in March of ‘05. He then starred in Paramount Picture’s remake of “The Honeymooners,” in which he played comedic legend Ed Norton, alongside Cedric the Entertainer as Ralph Kramden. A native of Indiana who has steadily climbed his way up the stand-up comedy ranks for the last seven years, Epps’ comedic talent was recognized by a national audience in 1995 when he appeared on the Def Comedy Jam tour and appeared on HGO’s Def Comedy Jam broadcasts. Epps moved to Los Angeles after his successful performance at the 1999 Laffapalooza festival in Atlanta. During his performance at LA’s Comedy Store, Epps caught the attention of Ice Cube. This led to him being cast int he co-starring role of Day-Day in his feature film debut, 2000’s hit comedy “Next Friday.” Epps has also appeared in “Bait” with Jamie Foxx, “How High” with Method Man and Redman and was the voice of Sonny in “Dr. Dolittle 2.”

Source: Official Website

Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers Tags: kurt carr kurt carr singers true worshippers word life production new qulaity entertainment featured

Just the Beginning Gospel music has its fair share of mainstays and superstars, but only a fraction has been gifted with the higher calling of leading the saints in song. Even fewer have been commissioned with the task of breaking through denominational and ethnic backgrounds, while still maintaining an in-demand career that includes performing, composing, arranging, and producing for the biggest acts in the genre and beyond. Kurt Carr is one such minister.

JUST THE BEGINNING, his latest release on his newly minted Kurt Carr Gospel imprint in association with Zomba Gospel, is a testament to this industrious spirit. The album is a capstone that is bound to extend the reach of Carr’s growing legacy in contemporary gospel—a celebrated repertoire that, in less than a decade’s time, has left an indelible imprint in the sacred-music canon. “God has called me to preserve the music of the church,” Carr says, matter-of-factly. “There are people, there are ministers, who are called to go into the world and evangelize it. I feel that I am called to perpetuate the music of the church so that there’s substance to feed seasoned saints, and new converts once we catch them. That summarizes my calling.”

In light of Carr’s already extensive résumé in gospel music, JUST THE BEGINNING may sound like a non sequitur, but the artist truly believes he’s turning a page. “I feel it’s the beginning of many new horizons,” says the psalmist, who recently moved his quarters to Houston, Texas, after a 20-year tenure in Los Angeles. “God wants us to know that there’s so much more in store for us. People have seen great things, but they haven’t seen the greatest yet.” For those keeping tabs on Carr, it’s been almost four years since he turned heads with his chart-topping One Church project, but this time around the multiple Stellar recipient says he’s not looking to replicate the genre-bending eclecticism of that recording. In many ways, JUST THE BEGINNING is about him stripping things down and going back to the basics.

“The last album was a thematic album; it was a stretch. We had bagpipes, accordion—sounds that have never been associated with gospel music,” Carr says. “These songs are very singer-friendly, very congregational. This time, I’m going back to my roots—church music.” (more) Kurt Carr/Just The Beginning/2 That’s good news for the church. A protégé of not one, but two gospel legends—he was mentored by both Richard Smallwood and James Cleveland—Carr has carved a niche of his own in Sunday-morning liturgies, blessing worshippers with his unmistakable knack for choir-friendly melodies and a cross-cultural appeal second to none. For proof, one needs not look further than Carr’s signature song, “In the Sanctuary”—also the centerpiece of his breakthrough, gold-selling recording Awesome Wonder—to realize his keen ear for the corporate.

To this day, millions continue to sing the song across the globe every week, in no less than nine different languages. “After the success of that song, I knew that God had called my music ministry to reach people of all races and all people who have an open ear for God’s message,” says Carr. Through the years, this calling to reach anyone with ears to hear has led Carr to write an armload of instant classics and standards for the modern church, including the bona fide hits “I Almost Let Go;” “For Every Mountain;” “Kumbaya;” “God Great God;” and “God Blocked It,” as well as “The Presence of the Lord,” the song that put Byron Cage on the map. Kurt Carr has ministered in over 20 countries and was recently named honorary principal of a Gospel music school in Japan that boasts a “Kurt Carr” class of gospel music production!

A renaissance man in every sense of the term, Carr has used the last few years to continue to write and produce for various heavy-hitters, develop his own music label, nurture new artists, and perform all over the world with his inimitable Kurt Carr Singers—Yvette Williams, Michelle Prather, Troy Bright, Timiney Figueroa-Caton, Nikita Clegg-Foxx, Nikki Potts, and Vonnie Lopez.

In between travels, listeners and congregants alike have continued to reap the benefits of Carr’s prolificacy, as recent songs and albums by the renowned Tramaine Hawkins (her highly applauded ‘comeback’ CD “I Never Lost My Praise”) and Bishop Paul S. Morton (his seminal “I’m Still Standing”), with whom Carr teamed up in the aftermath of Katrina, have made waves in airplay charts and houses of worship throughout the nation. In fact, Morton says all the time that Kurt Carr “is a genius and has found a way to tailor make songs that completely express my heart;” and Hawkins has said the single “I Never Lost My Praise” was a song that she’d been waiting on for over 20 years- while critics compared it to her legendary classics “Changed” and “Going Up Yonder.” JUST THE BEGINNING is all set to further this tradition.

Right out of the gate, the CD gives listeners a trip down memory lane as a high-powered medley of Carr’s greatest hits reminds us of the scope and breadth of his heritage in gospel music. Deftly sequenced and rearranged, this retrospective montage is simply a primer for what’s to come: one of the most tautly conceived gospel recordings of 2008. In grand Carr fashion, the first single “Peace and Favor Rest On Us” stands tall as one of the most energetic calls to worship in the artist’s songbook, a lively corporate number that, once again, asserts Carr as one of the most culturally relevant worshippers of this generation. One of Carr’s favorite moments on the CD is 89-year-old Narcissus Hinton-Brown – a traditional soloist from Carr’s hometown in Hartford, Connecticut and one of his mentors – singing “This Little Light Of My Mine” as a prequel to the affirming “Don’t Let Your Light Go Out.”

“I have friends from all walks of life,” says Carr, “and my whole purpose is to be a light to them…that’s how I live my life and that’s what I am encouraging and reminding others on this song.” (more) Kurt Carr/Just The Beginning/3 Nikita Clegg-Fox leads on the soaring “Spiritual Makeover Extreme,” an ultra-contemporary uptempo track with a “never ending hook” proclaiming “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’ve been through;” while the lively “Right Time, Right Place” delivers a foot-stomping frenzy like only Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr singers can. For those who have relied on Carr to offer songs of encouragement, Just the Beginning is brimming with a thoughtful parade of ballads, like the faith-filled “I Believe God;” the reflective “Sanctuary (God Is a Healer),” which Carr says is a song for this hour; and the empowering title track, a tender motivational piece where the singers proclaim “you haven’t seen your best days yet” and push believers to name and claim with authority the totality of God’s unfailing promises.

By the time the song reaches its praise-filled climax, it’s evident “Just the Beginning” is more than just a song - it’s a prophetic word that Christ followers are called to make their own. All of these set the stage for “My Shepard (Psalm 23)” featuring the dynamic vocals of top-selling Christian group Avalon. The track is one of Carr’s favorite songs on JUST THE BEGINNING and undoubtedly a composition that will permeate Christian circles. The song almost didn’t make the album, but, at the 11th hour, it made the cut after Carr played it for his vocal ensemble and they immediately loved it. As JUST THE BEGINNING unfolds and moments like the majestic, worship inspired “I Exist to Give You Praise;” the worshipful “Great Jesus (God Has Done Great Things);” the powerful Ten Thousand One Million led by Vonnie Lopez; and the swaying, Nikki Potts-led “I Am the One” join the processional of hits-in-the-making, the 2-disc project is already an absolute triumph—yet another milestone from the pen and the heart of this consummate champion of church music. Carr, who has a love and passion for preserving the gospel sounds of African-American heritage, could not complete the CD without delivering gems such as “I Am The One” and “Blessed Be The Rock” that, in Kurt’s own words, are “Sunday morning, choir robe, march down the aisle, sit down if you can songs!”

While each track demonstrates Carr’s penchant for sophisticated, neo-classical arrangements and the Spirit’s unbridled touch, JUST THE BEGINNING still marks the start of an exciting phase in Carr’s storied trajectory. Among various other ventures, the gospel heavyweight is in the planning stages of developing new projects from established and up-and-coming talent through his new imprint, as well as mapping out future recordings for soul divas Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole. But regardless if Carr is guiding the careers of others or carrying saints in the wings of praise, the minstrel is quick to not attribute his gifting to anything but God’s incomparable anointing. “Most times when I sit down to write I go, ‘Oh, God, I don’t have any songs. I can’t hear anything,’” Carr confesses. “And then as I pray and seek God, He gives me ideas. I definitely know that it’s a gift from Him. I’m so appreciative that He’s chosen me to share it with the world.”

Source: RCA

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