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Emotional Eating Tags: emotional eating health mental wellnes word life production feature weekly blog

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. It usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating. Learning to recognize your emotional eating triggers is the first step to breaking free from food cravings and compulsive overeating, and changing the habits that have sabotaged your diets in the past.

Understanding emotional eating

If you’ve ever make room for dessert even though you’re already full or dove into a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to fill emotional needs, rather than to fill your stomach.

Using food from time to time as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower. Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.

Are you an emotional eater?

    Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?

    Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?

    Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?

    Do you reward yourself with food?

    Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?

    Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?

    Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger

Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful. As a result, it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for that can help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

    Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

    Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves fatty foods or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.

    Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.

    Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn't need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.

    Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.

    Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it's likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.

Emotional hunger vs. Physical hunger

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly.

Physical hunger comes on gradually.

Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly.

Physical hunger can wait.

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods.

Physical hunger is open to options–lots of things sound good.

Emotional hunger isn't satisfied with a full stomach.

Physical hunger stops when you're full.

Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and shame.

Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn't make you feel bad about yourself.

Stop emotional eating tip 1: Identify your triggers

People eat for many different reasons. The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food?

Keep in mind that while most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event.

Common causes of emotional eating

    Stress – Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, it leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.

    Stuffing emotions – Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the emotions you’d rather not feel.

    Boredom or feelings of emptiness – Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.

    Childhood habits – Think back to your childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward good behavior with ice cream, take you out for pizza when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? These emotionally-based childhood eating habits often carry over into adulthood. Or perhaps some of your eating is driven by nostalgia—for cherishes memories of grilling burgers in the backyard with your dad, baking and eating cookies with your mom, or gathering around the table with your extended family for a home-cooked pasta dinner.

Social influences – Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.

Keep an emotional eating diary

You probably recognized yourself in at least a few of the previous descriptions. But even so, you’ll want to get even more specific. One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your emotional eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary.

Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked of the emotional eating cycle. Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward.

Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge. Maybe you always end up gorging yourself after spending time with a critical friend. Or perhaps you stress eat whenever you’re on a deadline or when you attend family functions. Once you identify your emotional eating triggers, the next step is identifying healthier ways to feed your feelings.

Stop emotional eating tip 2: Find other ways to feed your feelings

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, you won’t be able to control your eating habits for very long. Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice, as if the only thing keeping you from eating right is knowledge. But that kind of advice only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when emotions hijack the process, demanding an immediate payoff with food.

In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally. It’s not enough to understand the cycle of emotional eating or even to understand your triggers, although that’s a huge first step. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment.

Alternatives to emotional eating

    If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento.

    If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.

    If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.

    If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).

Stop emotional eating tip 3: Pause when cravings hit

Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because you’ve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isn’t up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.

Take 5 before you give in to a craving

As mentioned earlier, emotional eating tends to be automatic and virtually mindless. Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve reached for a tub of ice cream and polished off half of it. But if you can take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

All you have to do is put off eating for five minutes, or if five minutes seems unmanageable, start with one minute. Don’t tell yourself you can’t give in to the craving; remember, the forbidden is extremely tempting. Just tell yourself to wait. While you’re waiting, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s going on emotionally? Even if you end up eating, you’ll have a better understanding of why you did it. This can help you set yourself up for a different response next time.

Learn to accept your feelings—even the bad ones

While it may seem that the core problem is that you’re powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You don’t feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food.

Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandora’s box, once you open the door you won’t be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we don’t obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention. To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating.

What’s more, your life will be richer when you open yourself up emotionally. Our feelings are a window into our interior world. They help us understand and discover our deepest desires and fears, our current frustrations, and the things that will make us happy.

Stop emotional eating tip 4: Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits

When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.

    Make daily exercise a priority. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer.

    Make time for relaxation. Give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes every day to relax, decompress, and unwind. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

    Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.

Source: Help Guide.org

Sarah Vaughan - A phenomenal Jazz Singer and Pianist
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: sarah vaughan jazz singer organ pianist word life production feature weekly.blog

Born on March 27, 1924, in Newark, New Jersey, Sarah Vaughan grew up with a love of music and performing. Winning a talent competition held at Harlem's Apollo Theater launched her singing career. She worked with bandleaders Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine before becoming a successful solo performer who commingled pop and jazz. At age 66, Vaughan died in Hidden Hills, California, on April 3, 1990.

"I don't think I ever modeled myself after a singer. I've more or less copied the styles of horn-tooters right from the start."

Sarah Lois Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 27, 1924. Outside of their regular jobs—as a carpenter and as a laundress—her parents were also musicians. Growing up in Newark, a young Sarah Vaughan studied the piano and organ, and her voice could be heard as a soloist at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Vaughan's first step toward becoming a professional singer was taken at a talent contest held at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where many African-American music legends made their name. After being dared to enter, she won the 1942 competition with her rendition of "Body and Soul." She also caught the attention of another vocalist, Billy Eckstine, who persuaded Earl Hines to hire Vaughan to sing with his orchestra.

Singing Success

In 1944, Vaughan left Hines to join Eckstine's new band. Also working with Eckstine were trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker, who introduced the group to a new form of jazz, known as bebop. An inspired Vaughan brought bebop into her singing, which can be heard in the 1945 recording of "Lover Man" that she made with Parker and Gillespie.

After performing with Eckstine's orchestra for a year, Vaughan briefly worked with John Kirby before leaving big bands behind to become a solo artist (though she often reunited with Eckstine for duets). Having already been given the nickname "Sassy" as a commentary on her onstage style, it was while striking out on her own that she was dubbed "The Divine One" by a DJ in Chicago. In the late 1940s, her popular recordings included "If You Could See Me Now" and "It's Magic."

The next decade saw Vaughan produce more pop music, though when she joined Mercury Records she also recorded jazz numbers on a subsidiary label, EmArcy. She sang hits like "Whatever Lola Wants" (1955), "Misty" (1957) and "Broken-Hearted Melody" (1959), which sold more than a million copies. Vaughan gave concerts in the United States and Europe, and her singing was also heard in films such as Disc Jockey (1951) and Basin Street Revue (1956).

Later Career

After the 1950s, shifting musical tastes meant that Vaughan no longer produced huge hits. However, she remained a popular performer, particularly when she sang live. In front of an audience, her emotional, vibrato-rich delivery, three-octave vocal range and captivating scat technique were even more appealing. Though her voice took on a deeper pitch as Vaughan got older—likely due in part her smoking habit—this didn't impact the quality of her singing, as could be heard on "Send in the Clowns," a staple in her repertoire.

Vaughan's later recordings include interpretations of Beatles songs and Brazilian music. Over the years, she collaborated with people like producer Quincy Jones, pianist Oscar Peterson and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Vaughan won her first Grammy thanks to her work with Thomas and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Gershwin Live! (1982).

Legacy

Vaughan's final concert was given at New York's Blue Note Club in 1989. She passed away from lung cancer on April 3, 1990, at age 66, in Hidden Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Married and divorced four times, she was survived by her adopted daughter.

Throughout her career, Vaughan was recognized as a supremely gifted singer and performer. She was invited to perform at the White House and at venues like Carnegie Hall, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1989 and was selected to join the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Foods that eliminate heartburn Tags: food eliminate heartburn word life production health mental wellness weekly blog

Heartburn is a common condition that affects more than 70 million Americans annually. It typically begins with a burning sensation that starts in the upper abdomen and moves up into the chest, often making its way to the back of the throat, and sometimes up into the jaw, arms and back. It usually feels worse when lying down or bending forward.

Heartburn gets its name from chest pains caused by stomach acid that washes up into the esophagus. This chest pain can be confused with angina, but the heart has nothing to do with it.

Description

Distress from heartburn is common after a meal of fat-laden or acidic foods, after taking aspirin, drinking alcohol, smoking, or eating chocolate. Obesity, pregnancy, emotional turmoil, and tension can also trigger heartburn. In general, there is no cause for concern with frequent heartburn.

The ads for antacid pills like Tums, Gelusil and Maalox call heartburn "acid indigestion," but actually the problem is more complicated than that. In the vast majority of cases, heartburn is a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD), in that stomach fluids containing acid and digestive enzymes back up past the valvelike sphincter that separates the stomach from the esophagus, causing pain.

Heartburn can also be triggered by lying down, prescription medications, diabetes, hiatal hernias, and some autoimmune disorders.

Treatment

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that neutralize stomach acid are, for most people, the first line of defense against heartburn. Antacids come in tablet, liquid, or foam, and in regular and extra-strength formulations.

The active agents in antacid compounds usually consist of one or more of the following ingredients: magnesium, aluminum hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate, or the centuries-old standby, calcium carbonate.

Antacids should bring relief almost instantaneously. These active compounds buffer the accumulated acid in the stomach. This helps reduce or eliminate the burn that is felt in the esophagus. Antacids do not reduce any further acid buildup or eradicate feelings of fullness in the stomach.

A recommended dose one to three hours after eating should provide varying degrees of relief. If a single dose does not work, the problem may be more severe, and consulting a doctor should be considered.

What actually determines the overall effectiveness of an antacid depends on what and how much was ingested, and the overall state of the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition, those who have high blood pressure or who are on a sodium-restricted diet should not take antacids containing sodium bicarbonate because of its high sodium content. Also, those bothered by kidney stones should not take calcium carbonate antacids because the calcium can accelerate the problem. Calcium carbonate antacids will initially quell acid buildup, but because they contain calcium, this antacid will soon cause an increase in stomach acid.

Contrary to popular belief, milk is not a recommended antidote to heartburn. A glass of milk does provide immediate relief as it goes down, but milk contains calcium and protein, and these eventually stimulate even more acid production in the stomach. This can cause a more severe heartburn that can return in as little as a half an hour.

In some cases, antacids and certain drugs do not mix. Tetracycline, indomethacin, and buffered and non-buffered aspirin, iron supplements, digoxin, quinidine, Valium, and corticosteroids can adversely mix with acids in the stomach, causing problems that are more serious than heartburn. Always check with your pharmacist if you take a medication regularly and are considering using antacids.

Questions

What is causing the discomfort?

Is it caused by hiatal hernia?

Is it related to any other medical problems?

How can this be treated?

Would antacids help?

Are any specific antacids contraindicated?

Should I have an endoscopy (a camera placed through the mouth to look at the esophagus and stomach)?

Am I at risk of complications if I have reflux disease or heartburn? Do these complications change if I do or do not treat my symptom(s)?

Self-Care

Relief from heartburn has been provided for more than a century by antacids that include such familiar brand names as Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, and Mylanta. These antacids, which bring relief in minutes, work by neutralizing the stomach acid that causes heartburn. But because the stomach continues to produce acid, they remain effective only for a few hours.

Beginning in the late 1970s, pharmaceutical companies started offering drugs such as ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid) and Axid, available only by prescription for those with serious heartburn or ulcers. Now these are available over the counter.

What separates the new OTC preparations from antacids is that antacids only neutralize the acid that migrates upward from the stomach. Acid blockers, like Tagamet and Pepcid, on the other hand, go to the root of the problem by suppressing the production of acid in cells lining the interior of the stomach without interfering with normal digestion.

These cells normally produce acid when a form of histamine called H2 "docks" with receptors in the cell walls, much like a key fitting within a lock. But acid blockers, called H2 antagonists, prevent that production by seeking out and fitting snugly into the stomach cell receptors, denying access to H2. Depending on the size of the drug dosage, acid production can be curtailed for as long as 1 to 2 hours.

As for side effects, several studies have shown that both antacids and blockers may mask the symptoms of bleeding ulcers among people with rheumatoid arthritis. These patients often take the pills thinking that they will relieve bleeding that can occur with high doses of rheumatoid arthritis drugs like ibuprofen. While neither H2 antagonists nor antacids cause bleeding they may keep those with ulcers from recognizing the need to seek help.

H2 blockers still have fewer side effects than antacids. Meanwhile, calcium-based antacids like Tums and Rolaids can occasionally contribute to kidney stones. The aluminum- and magnesium-based ones like Mylanta and Maalox can sometimes be dangerous for people with kidney problems. On the whole, the risk-benefit profile for H2 blockers is excellent, and they represent an advance over what was previously available.

For more frequent or severe symptoms, proton-pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Zegerid, or Nexium may be presribed by your physician. These PPIs are more powerful in blocking acid production than the H2 blockers. They are usually taken in the morning, prior to breakfast. Prilosec has recently become available over the counter for frequent heartburn and is also available as a generic form.

Prevention

Some simple precautions to take in order to avoid heartburn are:

If certain foods or drinks regularly bring on discomfort, avoid them

Do not smoke; avoid caffeine and alcohol

Cut back or eliminate chocolate and chocolate-based desserts

Try to lose weight

Eat slowly; avoid foods or drinks that are excessively hot or cold

Do not eat a major meal less than four hours before bedtime

Find ways to reduce stress

Sufferers of night-time heartburn can sometimes be helped by placing 6-inch blocks under the head of the bed. This often helps better than trying to use extra pillows which can shift during the night.

Source: Health Central

Anthony Hamilton’s is an awesome talent!
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: anthony hamilton art soul word life production feature weekly blog

The Grammy Award winner’s arresting voice—a favorite staple on the scene since 2003—recently provided the perfect accompaniment to Jill Scott’s earthy vocals on the captivating duet “So in Love.” Their dynamic pairing also set a record: 18 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart, tying with Maxwell for the most consecutive weeks atop the tally. The single, in turn, helped propel Scott’s album, The Light of the Sun, to a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Now on the heels of that smash hit, Hamilton is igniting even more buzz. It’s for his new single “Pray For Me,” recently the No. 1 most added single at urban adult radio. The soul-stirring, Babyface-produced track is the second single from his fourth studio album, Back to Love. The December 13 release is the follow-up to his 2008 gold-certified, No. 1-debuting album, The Point of It All (So So Def/Zomba Label Group). The release marks his first album for the newly restructured RCA Records—and signals the eagerly anticipated next chapter in the multi-talented singer/songwriter’s evolving career.

“Having children,” says the father of five, including year-old twins, “gives you another burst of energy, a new perspective. Back to Love stems from that energy.”

That energy pulsates throughout Hamilton’s first single “Woo,” a feel-good, up-tempo ode to a woman whose sexiness stops men in their tracks. Also produced by Babyface, “Woo is just another way of saying ‘Good God almighty or Lord have mercy,” says Hamilton with a laugh. “You’re minding your business, and lo and behold a woo walks by who messes up your whole focus.”

Hamilton’s focus for Back to Love, however, was definitely clear: crafting a broader, more energetic sound without compromising his soul-drenched vocals, engaging melodies and lyrical imagery. Aiding him on that mission was his longtime producer and “So in Love” collaborator Kelvin Wooten, Salaam Remi, Jerry Wonda and, for the first time, industry legend Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.

“Some people write songs to be hits,” says Hamilton, a skillful songwriter in his own right. “Some people write songs because they love it … and that brings a different feeling to the music. I was looking for the latter. That’s why working on this album was so liberating.”

Among the Hamilton-described “firecrackers and life-reflecting songs” comprising Back to Love are the OutKast-influenced “Sucka For You” and “Best of Me” – both invigorating examples of the singer’s rejuvenation. His reflective nature is embraced on “Never Let Go,” a duet with singer/songwriter Keri Hilson and “Life Has a Way,” originally written for the movie “Pursuit of Happyness.” While on “Pray for Me,” the emotional lyrics about a lost love (“Dear God/If you’re listening now/I need you to do a thing for me … I need you to bring her back to me”) and gospel-influenced melody are signature Hamilton.

Overall, Back to Love showcases Hamilton’s distinctive, multi-faceted voice. “There are different tones in my voice that people have fallen in love with; I can go hard or real soft,” says the singer. “I pay attention to that.”

Fans began paying attention to Hamilton in 2002, when he sang the infectious hook on the Nappy Roots’ “Po’ Folks.” That performance netted the singer the first of 10 Grammy nominations for best rap/sung collaboration—and a new label, Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def imprint.

After signing with So So Def, Hamilton scored a platinum debut with Coming From Where I’m From in 2003, featuring the chart-topping hit “Charlene.” Two years later, he returned with gold-certified sophomore set Ain’t Nobody Worryin’, which spun off the No. 1 hit “Can’t Let Go.” Then in 2008 came The Point of It All, which elicited USA Today’s declaration that Hamilton is “one of the genre’s rare singers.” Hamilton won his first Grammy Award in 2009 for his collaboration on Al Green’s “You Got the Love I Need.”

Singing in church since he was 10 years old, Hamilton’s natural talent— rich, soul-steeped vocals breathing sonorous life into emotion-packed lyrics—has earned him a reputation as an “artist’s artist.” He counts guest stints on a diverse roster of projects from Dr. Dre and Young Jeezy to Keyshia Cole, Josh Turner, Santana and John Rich (Big & Rich). Between his own album sales and collaborations, Hamilton has sold more than 19.6 million albums.

The Charlotte, NC native’s resume also includes performing a virtual duet of “Buon Natale” alongside Nat King Cole for The Nat King Cole Holiday Collection and a cameo appearance in the Oscar-nominated film “American Gangster” starring Denzel Washington in 2007. Hamilton also performed the soundtrack’s lead song, the Diane Warren-penned “Do You Feel Me,” while his songs “Struggle No More” and “Can’t Let Go” appeared on the “Daddy’s Little Girls” soundtrack.

In addition to giving back through music, Hamilton participates in various national and local outreach initiatives. He currently serves as the national spokesperson for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the growing number of African-American children in the foster care system and recruiting volunteers to advocate for foster children. An adoptee himself, Hamilton notes, “What you make happen for somebody else, God will make happen for you.

The consummate performer, Hamilton recently completed a sold-out European tour, which included stops in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Sweden, among others. His national headlining tour is expected early fall 2012. Hamilton says the immense reception to “So in Love”—and now “Pray For Me”—shows that “R&B is about to be the new mainstream. Real music is coming back.”

And who better to deliver that message than Anthony Hamilton?

Source: Official Website

Let's celebrate the life of Lisa Left Eye Lopes Tags: lisa left eye lopes celebrate life word life production feature weekly blog

Lisa Nicole Lopes (May 27, 1971 – April 25, 2002), better known by her stage name Left Eye, was an American rapper, dancer, and singer-songwriter. She is best known as a member of the R&B/hip-hop group TLC. Lopes contributed her self-written raps to many of TLC's hit singles, including "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "What About Your Friends", "Hat 2 da Back", "No Scrubs", "Waterfalls", "Girl Talk". Lopes won four Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.

On April 25, 2002, Lopes was killed in a car crash in La Ceiba, Honduras. She was the driver of the vehicle when she rolled off the road and was thrown out; she died from her injuries. The last days of her life were filmed from March 30, 2002 until her death on April 25, 2002, including the accident that took her life; later the footage was made into a documentary called The Last Days of Left Eye which aired on VH1's rock docs in 2007.

Lisa Lopes was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Wanda, a seamstress, and Ronald Lopes, an Army staff sergeant. She has two younger siblings, Ronald and Raina.

TLC started off as a female trio called 2nd Nature. The group was renamed TLC – derived from the first initials of its then three members — Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. Things did not work out with Crystal Jones, and TLC's manager Perri "Pebbles" Reid brought in Damian Dame backup dancer Rozonda Thomas as a third member of the group.To keep the "initial" theme of the band's name, Rozonda needed a name starting with C, and so became Chilli—a name chosen by Lopes. Band mate Tionne Watkins became T-Boz which was derived from the first letter of her first name and "Boz," which is slang for "boss". Lopes was renamed "Left Eye", after a compliment from a man who once told her he was very attracted to her because of her left eye. Lopes emphasized her nickname by wearing a pair of glasses with the left lens covered with a condom, in keeping with the group's promotion of safe sex, wearing a black stripe under her left eye and, eventually getting her left eyebrow pierced.

The group arrived on the music scene in 1992 with the album Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. With four singles, it sold six million copies worldwide; TLC became a household name. 1994 saw the release of CrazySexyCool, which sold over 23 million copies worldwide and cemented TLC as one of the biggest female groups of all time. TLC's third album, FanMail, was released in 1999 and sold over 14 million copies worldwide.[6] Its title was a tribute to TLC's loyal fans and the sleeve contained the names of hundreds of them as a "thank you" to supporters.

During the recording of FanMail, a public conflict began amongst the members of the group. Lopes sent a message to Vibe magazine saying, "I've graduated from this era. I cannot stand 100 percent behind this TLC project and the music that is supposed to represent me." In response to Lopes' comments, Watkins and Thomas stated to Entertainment Weekly that Lopes "doesn't respect the whole group" and "Left Eye is only concerned with Left Eye". In turn, Lopes sent a reply through Entertainment Weekly issuing a "challenge" to Watkins and Thomas to release solo albums and let the public decide who was the "greatest" member of TLC:

“I challenge Tionne 'Player' Watkins (T-Boz) and Rozonda 'Hater' Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled "The Challenge"... a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each [album]... will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000...I also challenge Dallas 'The Manipulator' Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I'm sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner.”

T-Boz and Chilli declined to take up the "challenge," though Lopes always maintained it was a great idea.[10] Things were heated between the ladies for some time, with Thomas speaking out against Lopes, calling her antics "selfish", "evil", and "heartless." TLC then addressed these fights by saying that they are very much like sisters that have their disagreements every now and then as Lisa stated, "It's deeper than a working relationship. We have feelings for each other, which is why we get so mad at each other. I usually say that you cannot hate someone unless you love them. So, we love each other. That's the problem."

Solo career

After FanMail Lopes began to expand her solo career. She became a featured rapper on several singles, including former Spice Girl Melanie C's "Never Be the Same Again", which topped the charts in thirty five countries, including the United Kingdom. She was also featured on the first single from Donell Jones' second album, "U Know What's Up", and she sang "Space Cowboy" with 'N Sync on their 2000 album, No Strings Attached. In September 2000, she co-hosted the MOBO Awards in the UK alongside Trevor Nelson, where she also performed "U Know What's Up" with Donnell Jones. Lopes also collaborated on "Gimme Some" by Toni Braxton from her 2000 album The Heat. In 2001, she appeared in two commercials for Gap Inc.. rappers, and rock bands competed against each other and were judged. The show's winner, which ended up being a male-female rap duo, was promised a record deal and funding to produce a music video, which would then enter MTV's heavy rotation. A then-unknown Anastacia finished in third place, but ended up securing a record deal after Lopes and the show's three judges were impressed by her performance. About nine months before her death, Lopes appeared on the singers' edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire along with Joey McIntyre, Tyrese, Nick Lachey, and Lee Ann Womack. She dropped from a $125,000 question and won $32,000 for charity. A year later, in 2002, the episode of her drop was shown and was dedicated to her.

Lopes created "Left Eye Productions" to discover new talent. She helped the R&B trio Blaque secure a record deal with Columbia Records. Their self-titled debut album was executive-produced by Lopes, who also made a cameo appearance on the album and in their music video "I Do". Lopes was also developing another new band called Ejypt. They worked on her second album under her new nickname, N.I.N.A, meaning New Identity Not Applicable.

Supernova

Main article: Supernova (Lisa Lopes album)

Lopes spent much of her free time after the conclusion of TLC's first headlining tour supporting Fanmail recording her debut solo album, "Supernova". It includes a song titled "A New Star is Born", which is dedicated to her late father. She told MTV News:

“That track is dedicated to all those that have loved ones that have passed away. It's saying that there is no such thing as death. We can call it transforming for a lack of better words, but as scientists would say, 'Every atom that was once a star is now in you.' It's in your body. So, in the song I pretty much go along with that idea. ... I don't care what happens or what people think about death, it doesn't matter. We all share the same space.

Other tracks covered personal issues, including her relationship with NFL football player Andre Rison. In 1994, Lopes infamously burned down Rison's Atlanta mansion, resulting in the loss of all his possessions. Among the album's twelve tracks was also a posthumous duet with Tupac Shakur that was assembled from the large cache of unreleased recordings done prior to his murder in 1996. The unreleased song, "Left Pimpin", was sampled for the song "Quickie", which is featured on TLC's fourth album, 3D. Initially scheduled for release on a date to coincide with the tenth anniversary of her father's death, Arista Records decided to delay, then cancel the American release. The album was eventually released in August 2001 in various foreign territories.

N.I.N.A.

After numerous talks with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Lopes severed her solo deal with Arista (despite remaining signed to the label as a member of TLC) and signed with Knight's Tha Row Records, intending to record a second solo album under the pseudonym "N.I.N.A." (New Identity Not Applicable). She was recording with David Bowie for the project, who she was also trying to get involved with the fourth TLC album. The project was also to include several songs recorded by and with Ray J along with close friend Missy Elliott.The album was cancelled after Lopes' death in April 2002. In 2011, An unofficial remix album to Supernova was released online featuring artists from Tha Row Records.

Eye Legacy, Forever... The EP

Main article: Eye Legacy

In 2008, Lopes' family decided to work with producers at Surefire Music Group to create a posthumous album in her honor, "Eye Legacy". Originally set to be released October 28, 2008, the release date was pushed back to November 11, then to January 27, 2009. The song "Crank It", which features Lopes's sister Reigndrop, was released as a promotional single. The first official single from the album, "Let's Just Do It", was released on January 13, 2009 and features Missy Elliott and TLC. The second official single, "Block Party", features Lil Mama and Clyde McKnight. The album largely consisted of reworked versions of tracks from the Supernova album.

Main article: Forever... The EP

In November 2009, "Forever... the EP" was released which contained international bonus tracks not used on the Eye Legacy album. The EP was only available to download.

"Fantasies"

An unreleased track featuring Lopes was uploaded to SoundCloud on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of her death by Block Starz Music.[19] A portion of the proceeds from the song "Fantasies", which features rapper Bootleg of The Dayton Family, will go to the Lisa Lopes Foundation.

Personal life

Lopes at an event

Lopes was often vocal about her personal life and difficult past. She readily admitted that she had come from an abusive, alcoholic background and struggled with alcohol problems herself. These problems became headline news in 1994, when she set fire to Andre Rison's tennis shoes in a bathtub, which ultimately spread to the mansion they shared, destroying it. Lopes claimed that Rison had beaten her after a night out, and she set fire to his shoes to get back at him. However, she said burning down the house was an accident. Lopes later revealed that she did not have a lot of freedom within the relationship and was abused mentally and physically, having released all her frustrations on the night of the fire.

Lopes, who was sentenced to five years’ probation and therapy at a halfway house, was never able to shake the incident from her reputation. Her relationship with Rison continued to make headlines, with rumors of an imminent wedding, later debunked by People magazine. Lopes revealed on The Last Days of Left Eye documentary that her meeting with a struggling mother in rehab left a big impression on her. She subsequently adopted the woman's 8-year-old daughter. Ten years previously, she had adopted a 12-year-old boy (Jamal of the group Illegal).

Lopes had several large tattoos. Most prominent was a large eagle on her left arm, which she said represented freedom. Later, she added the number "80" around the eagle, which was Rison's NFL number while in Atlanta. She also had a tattoo of a moon with a face on her foot in reference to Rison's nickname, Bad Moon. On her upper right arm was a large tattoo of the name Parron, for her late stepbrother who died in a boating accident, arching over a large tattoo of a pierced heart. Her smallest tattoo was on her left ear and consisted of an arrow pointing to her left over the symbol of an eye, a reference to her nickname.

Roughly three days before her own death, Lopes was involved in a traffic accident that resulted in the death of a ten-year-old Honduran boy. As reported in Philadelphia Weekly, "It is commonplace for people to walk the roads that wind through Honduras, and it's often difficult to see pedestrians." The boy, Bayron Isaul Fuentes Lopez, was following behind his brothers and sisters when he stepped off the median strip and was struck by the van driven by Lopes' personal assistant. Lopes' party stopped and loaded the boy into the car, and the Philadelphia Weekly goes on to explain that "Lisa cradled the dying boy's bleeding head in her arms" while "Someone gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as they rushed him to a nearby hospital." Lopez died the next day and Lopes paid approximately US$3,700 for his medical expenses and funeral, and later compensated the family around US$925 for their loss, although it was apparently agreed upon by the authorities and the boy's family that his death was an "unforeseeable tragedy", and no blame was placed on Lopes or the driver of the van. In the documentary The Last Days of Left Eye, Lopes is shown in a local funeral home choosing a casket for the child. Earlier in the documentary, Lopes mentioned that she felt the presence of a "spirit" following her, and was struck by the fact that the child killed in the accident shared her last name, even thinking that the spirit may have made a mistake by taking his life instead of hers.

Charity

Lopes started the Lisa Lopes Foundation, a charitable group dedicated to providing neglected and abandoned youth with the resources necessary to increase their quality of life. Her spiritual motto is the one that she used for her foundation: "Energy never dies...It just transforms." Her foundation went into various underdeveloped villages and gave away brand new clothes to needy children and their families. In 2012, the Foundation began hosting an annual music festival, known as "Left Eye Music Fest", in Decatur, Georgia.

Death

On April 25, 2002 in La Ceiba, Honduras, while driving a rented Mitsubishi Montero Sport around a bend in the road, Lisa Lopes swerved to the right slightly then again to the left as she tried to avoid a collision with another vehicle that was in her lane ahead of her (it's not clear as to the direction of travel of the other vehicle at the time of the accident). The vehicle rolled several times after hitting two trees, throwing Lopes and three others out of the windows. She died of neck injuries and severe head trauma, and was the only person fatally injured in the accident. Raina Lopes, in the front passenger seat, was videotaping at the time, so the last seconds leading up to the swerve that resulted in the fatal accident were recorded on video.

Her funeral was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia on May 2, 2002. Thousands of people attended her funeral.[28] Engraved upon her casket were the lyrics to her portion of "Waterfalls": "Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you." Lopes was buried at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, in Lithonia, Georgia.

In a statement to MTV, producer Jermaine Dupri remembered Lopes:

She was determined to be something in life. She was a true Hip-Hop star. She cared about some press. She was the star out of the group. She was the one who would curse on TV. She had the tattoos. You could not expect the expected. When you see Lisa, you could expect something from her. That is the gift she carried.

Controversy over leaked autopsy photos led to a protest by NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In response, Earnhardt, Jr. and his DEI teammates Michael Waltrip and Steve Park painted a single black stripe next to the left headlight decals of their Chevrolet Monte Carlos for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway to protest about the display of her autopsy photos. A similar controversy had befallen Earnhardt, Jr. himself after his father's death in the Daytona 500 a year earlier.

A documentary showing the final 27 days of Lopes's life, titled The Last Days of Left Eye, premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in April 2007, for an audience that included many of Lopes's contemporaries, including Monica, Ronnie DeVoe, 112, Big Boi, India.Arie, and CeeLo Green. VH1 and VH1 Soul broadcast the documentary on May 19, 2007. Much of the footage was shot with a hand-held camera, often in the form of diary entries filmed by Lopes while on a 30-day spiritual retreat in Honduras with family and members of the R&B group Egypt. In these entries, she reflected on her personal life and career. A calmer side of her personality was on display, showing interests in numerology and yoga. She was in the process of setting up an educational center for Honduran children on 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land she owned.

UNI Studios

In 1998, Lopes created the UNI Studios for the purpose of recording solo projects. Lopes's family opened the studio to the public. So far, her brother Ronald Lopes is the general manager of the studio. Lopes had a dream of making new artists able to record music at a low price, in a high-end studio at her house. Lisa's family continues to operate it and fill it with new equipment.

Source: Wikipedia

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