Tagged with "will"
Music Hall of Fame - Soul Singer Lenny Williams Tags: music hall fame soul singer lenny williams word life production new quality entertainment featured

Ultimate soul crooner and Oakland native, Lenny Williams, possesses one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music.  With his rich, passionate vocal style, he is rightfully regarded as one of R&B’s most influential soul men.

Williams began his musical career making records that have become R&B and Pop classics (e.g. “Cause I Love You” and “So Very Hard To Go”, which he recorded as the lead singer of Tower of Power).  Lenny Williams’ style has transcended into the new millennium, influencing many of today’s most popular R&B and Hip Hop artists.

Lenny sounds better than ever as he continues to keep the focus on love.  “Love is what has gotten me through all of these years.  I look for love and I surround myself with it”, Lenny says.  When it comes to singing love songs, one must “go there to know there”.  Williams is able to take the listener to the heart of love with such soulful simplicity; no one does it better.

Though born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Lenny moved to Oakland at a very young age.  Learning to play the trumpet in elementary school fueled his interest in music.  Lenny’s skills as a vocalist were first nurtured by singing in gospel choirs and groups around the Bay Area, working alongside up and coming artist Sly Stone, Andre Crouch, Billy Preston and members of the Hawkins family – Edwin, Walter and Tramaine.

After winning several local talent contests, Williams signed his first record deal with Fantasy Records.  He recorded two singles for the label, including “Lisa’s Gone” [now regarded as an R&B classic among British soul music lovers] and “Feelin Blue”, written by John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival.  Lenny then spent a brief time with Atlantic Records before deciding to put his solo career on hold when he joined the emerging funk band Tower of Power in 1972.  A string of hits ensued, including “So Very Hard To Go” and “Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of the Stream)” [written by Lenny Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson].  During his two years with the group, Lenny not only toured the United State, Europe and Asia, but he also recorded three milestone albums with them – [the gold LP] Tower Of Power, Back To Oakland, and Urban Renewal.

At the end of 1975, Lenny returned to his solo projects.  Initially signing with Motown in 1972, he later moved to ABC Records in 1977 (which was then purchased by MCA Records in 1979).  Over the next four years, Lenny scored ten charted hits, including “Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh”, “Choosing You”, “You Got Me Running”, “Love Hurt Me Love Healed Me” and “Midnight Girl”.  Lenny recorded four more albums from 1977 – 1980, Choosing You (his first gold LP), Spark of Love, Love Current and Let’s Do It Today.  These albums established a solid and loyal following for Lenny.  The impact of his music can still be felt today, particularly the mega hit “Cause I Love You” [Spark of Love].

In 1986, Lenny was invited to sing vocals on “Don’t Make Me Wait For Love”, a song from superstar saxophonist Kenny G’s multi-platinum selling album Duo Tones.  When released as a single in 1987, the song became a Top 20 Pop and R&B hit.

Over the past few years, Lenny has continued his solo career, touring the U.S., Europe and South Africa.  In 2004 and 2005, Lenny and Kanye West were honored recipients of the BMI Songwriter’s Award for the song “Over Night Celebrity”, recorded by rapper Twista.  He has recently shared stages with Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, K-Jon, Anthony Hamilton, The Whispers, Rick James, Boney James, Bobby Womack, The Ohio Players, Al Green, Usher and Frankie Beverly & Maze.  Lenny has also expanded his multi-dimensional career to include acting, starring in several popular stage plays.  As an icon of the past and present, Lenny Williams continues to expand his musical prowess and flex his newfound acting skills.  He’ll surely continue to wow his fans in the United States and beyond for decades to come.

 Now Doctor Williams since receiving his honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Lenny has the right musical prescription to soothe real music lovers.  “I’m going to continue to evolve and grow as I learn and experiment lyrically and musically.  I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been watching all of the changes going on in the music business.  I have my own label now (Bridle Ridge Records).  Let me do my thing”, Lenny says.  Indeed, music lovers everywhere want him to do those things of which he’s the musical master.  Like a flowering perennial, prolific soul man Lenny Williams is always prepared for the spotlight in which he belongs.

Source: Official Website

Baseball Hall of Famer - Willie Mays Tags: baseball hall fame willie mays word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Willie Mays is a retired major league baseball player who began his career with the New York Giants and moved with the franchise to San Francisco before returning to New York to end his career with the Mets. Mays was a two-time NL MVP and is one of just six players in baseball history to hit at least 600 home runs during his career.

He played in 24 All-Star games, compiling 660 career home runs (third all-time when he retired) and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, having been elected on his first ballot with 94.7 percent of the vote in 1979. Mays was known as the "Say Hey Kid" though the exact origins of the nickname are not clear.

Early Years

William Howard "Willie" Mays Jr. was born May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Ala., just outside of Birmingham. Mays's parents, Ann and Willie Sr., divorced when he was just three years old, and he was primarily raised by his aunt Sarah. Mays' father and grandfather both had been baseball players, his father and namesake a talented player for the Negro team with the local iron plant. By the age of 5, Mays was playing catch with his father, and by 10, he was sitting on the bench during his father's games.

So it didn't take long before Mays was playing himself -- semipro ball by the age of 16. Mays played baseball, basketball and football in school, excelling in all of them. In 1948, at 17, he joined the Birmingham Black Barons, which made it all the way to the Negro Leagues World Series.

Because he was still in high school at the time, Mays played only on Sundays during the school year. Still, he performed well enough the grab the attention of several major league scouts, including one from the New York Giants. The team purchased his contract once he graduated in 1950, assigning Mays to its Trenton affiliate.

Professional Career

Minor league career

Willie Mays hit.353 in Trenton in 1950 and was promoted to Triple-A Minneapolis for the start of the 1951 season. In 35 games with the team, Mays hit .477 and was called up to the major leagues on May 24, 1951, becoming just the 10th African-American player in major league history.

New York Giants (1951-57)

Mays got off to a slow start in the majors, going hitless in his first 12 at-bats. In his 13th at-bat, though, he hit a home run off future Hall-of-Famer Warren Spahn, snapping him out of his slump. Despite having only a .274 batting average, 20 home runs and 68 RBI in 121 games, Mays won the 1951 Rookie of the Year Award. His team staged one of the most dramatic comebacks in baseball history, culminating in Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard Round the World" that defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff for the National League pennant. Mays was on deck when the famous home run took place.

After a two-year hiatus due to military service in the U.S. Army, Mays returned to baseball in 1954. He led the league in hitting with a .345 average and blasted 41 home runs, taking home the MVP Trophy in the process.

The Giants went to the World Series, where they swept the Cleveland Indians, 4-0. It was there that Mays made one of the most famous defensive plays in baseball history, tracking down a long fly ball off the bat of Vic Wertz, then whirling around and throwing the ball back to the infield to prevent the runners from scoring after the fact.

At both the plate and in the field, Mays continued to do things that baseball had never seen before, creating the 30-30 club in 1956 when he stole 40 bases to go along with hitting 36 home runs. In 1957, Mays won the first-ever Gold Glove for center field, the first of 12 consecutive times he would be so honored. Mays also became just the second player in baseball history to have 20 doubles, triples, home runs and steals in the same season in 1957.

During his time in New York, Mays was part of a triumvirate of Hall-of-Fame centerfielders, along with Mickey Mantle of the Yankees and Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The trio combined for 17 All-Star appearances in New York between 1950 and 1957. They also manned center field in five Subway Series during that span.

San Francisco Giants (1958-72)

After the 1957 season, the two New York NL franchises moved west, with the Dodgers going to Los Angeles and the Giants moving to San Francisco. The trip west did nothing to slow Mays down. That first season in California, Mays had a career-best .347 batting average and missed his third straight 30-30 season by just one home run.

In 1962, the Giants once again finished the regular season tied with the Dodgers, with Mays hitting 49 home runs and driving in 141 runs during the regular season. Once again, the Giants won the three-game playoff, Mays hitting two home runs in the opener. The Giants lost to the Yankees in the World Series in seven games.

The 1965 season marked Mays' second MVP campaign. He belted a career-high 52 home runs, including the 500th of his illustrious career, on Sept. 13, 1965, against Don Nottebart of the Houston Astros. After the season, Mays signed a two-year contract that made him the highest paid player in all of baseball.

Although Mays continued to make the All-Star Game year after year, his production began a slow and steady decline over the following six seasons. In 1971, at the age of 40, Mays hit only .271 with 18 home runs and a career-high 123 strikeouts.

New York Mets (1972-73)

In the middle of the 1972 season, the Giants traded Mays back to New York, where he joined the Mets in exchange for Charlie Williams and $50,000. Although he was no longer able to play more than part-time, and often was slotted at first base instead of in the outfield, in 1973 Mays helped the Mets to reach the post-season for only the second time in the club's history.

In the playoffs, Mays went 3-for-10 for the Mets as they defeated the Reds in the NLCS before falling to the Oakland A's in the World Series. After the final game, Mays called it quits, officially retiring from baseball with a career batting average of .302, 3,283 hits and 660 home runs.

Post-playing career

After retiring, Mays remained in the New York Mets organization, helping out as the team's hitting instructor until the end of the 1979 season.

That same year, Mays, along with Mickey Mantle, accepted a public relations job with Bally's casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Because of the gambling connection, even though no sports betting exists in New Jersey, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned the pair from baseball-related activities (commissioner Peter Ueberroth lifted the ban in 1985).

During the 1981 baseball strike, Terry Cashman released the song "Talkin' Baseball", which was inspired by a picture of Mays, Mantle and Snider and recalled the glory days of of baseball in the 1950s.

After Ueberroth lifted Mays' ban from baseball, he became a fulltime special assistant to the Giants, a position he has held for close to 25 years. He also serves on the advisory board of the Baseball Assistance Team, an organization dedicated to helping former players through financial and medical difficulties.

Legacy

Mays' No. 24 jersey was retired by the San Francisco Giants in 1972, the same year he left the team. Mays' godson is slugger Barry Bonds, whose father Bobby was a teammate and close friend of Mays in San Francisco. Mays offered his jersey number to his godson to wear, but Bonds declined, opting instead to wear his father's No. 25.

In January 1979, Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility. Somehow, 23 of the 432 voters did not see fit to make the election unanimous.

The current stadium of the San Francisco Giants is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, and every May 24 in the city of San Francisco is celebrated as Willie Mays Day.

Mays was ranked second in The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999. His career total of 7,095 outfield fielding putouts remains the major league record.

Personal

Mays married his first wife, Margherite Wendell Chapman, in 1956 and they divorced in the early '60s. They adopted a son, Michael, in 1959. Mays remarried, to Mae Louise Allen, in 1971.

Source: ESPN

This week's celebrity pick is the awesome actor, Billy Dee Williams
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: celebrity pick billy dee williams word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

William December "Billy Dee" Williams, Jr. (born April 6, 1937) is an American actor, artist, singer, and writer known for his work as a leading man in 1970s African-American cinema, in movies including Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, and for playing the character of Lando Calrissian in the movies Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Williams was born in New York City, New York, the son of Loretta Anne, a West Indian-born elevator operator from Montserrat, and William December Williams, Sr., an African-American caretaker from Texas. He has a twin sister, Loretta, and grew up in Harlem, where he was raised by his maternal grandmother while his parents worked at several jobs. Williams graduated from the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in Manhattan, where he was a classmate of Diahann Carroll, who coincidentally played the wife of his character Brady Lloyd on the 1980s prime-time soap opera Dynasty.

He first appeared on Broadway in 1945 in The Firebrand of Florence. He returned to Broadway as an adult in 1960 in the play version of The Cool Word. He appeared in A Taste of Honey in 1961. A 1976 Broadway production, I Have a Dream, was directed by Robert Greenwald and starred Williams as Martin Luther King, Jr.[4] His most recent Broadway appearance was in August Wilson's Fences, as a replacement for James Earl Jones in the role of Troy Maxson in 1988.

He made his film debut in 1959 in the Academy Award nominated The Last Angry Man, opposite Paul Muni, in which he portrayed a delinquent young man. He rose to stardom after starring in the critically lauded blockbuster biographical television movie, Brian's Song (1971), in which he played Chicago Bears star football player Gale Sayers, who stood by his friend Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan), during his struggle with terminal cancer. The film became so popular that it was given a theatrical release. Both Williams and Caan were nominated for Emmy Awards for best actor for their performances.

Having broken through, Williams became one of America's most well-known black film actors of the 1970s, after starring in a string of critically acclaimed and popular movies, many of them in the "blaxploitation" genre. In 1972, starred as Billie Holiday's husband Louis McKay in Motown Productions' Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues. The film was a box office blockbuster, becoming one of the highest grossing films of the year and received five Academy Award nominations. Diana Ross starred in Lady Sings the Blues opposite Williams; Motown paired the two of them again three years later in the successful follow-up project Mahogany.

The early 1980s brought Williams the role of Lando Calrissian, which he played in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Calrissian's charm proved to be popular with audiences and Williams now had a substantial fanbase within the science fiction genre as well. He reprised this role when he lent his voice for the character in the 2002 video game Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, as well as the audio dramatization of Dark Empire, the National Public Radio adaptation of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and two productions for the Star Wars: Battlefront series: Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. (However, the appearance in Battlefront II was archive footage and it is unknown whether it was him or another actor in the role of Calrissian in Elite Squadron however he appears through Archive footage for that game's full-motion sequences). Between his appearances in the Star Wars films, he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone as a cop in the critically acclaimed film Nighthawks. He co-starred in 1989's Batman as district attorney Harvey Dent, a role that was planned to develop into Dent's alter-ego, the villain Two-Face, in sequels. Unfortunately for Williams, that never came to pass; he was set to reprise the role in a more villainous light in the sequel Batman Returns, but his character was deleted and replaced with original villain Max Shreck. When Joel Schumacher stepped in to direct Batman Forever, where Two-Face was to be a secondary villain, Schumacher decided to hire Tommy Lee Jones for the part.

There is a rumor that Joel Schumacher had to pay him to hire Tommy Lee Jones, but Billy said that it was not true. “You only get paid if you do the movie. I had a two-picture deal with 'Star Wars.' They paid me for that, but I only had a one picture deal for 'Batman.'”

Television

Williams's television work included a recurring guest-starring role on the short-lived show Gideon's Crossing. He has had a brief cameo in the television series Scrubs Season 5, where he plays the godfather of Julie (Mandy Moore). Turk hugs him, calling him "Lando", even though he prefers to be called Billy D. He is also well known for his appearance in advertisements for Colt 45 (a brand of malt liquor) in the 1980s and early 1990s, for which he received much criticism. Williams responded indifferently to the criticism of his appearances in the liquor commercials. When questioned about his appearances, he allegedly replied by saying, "I drink, you drink. Hell, if marijuana was legal, I'd appear in a commercial for it."[9]

Williams was paired with actress Marla Gibbs on three situation comedies: The Jeffersons (Gibbs's character, Florence, had a crush on Williams and challenged him on everything because she thought he was an imposter); 227 (her character, Mary, pretending to be royalty, met Williams at a banquet); and The Hughleys (Gibbs and Williams portrayed Darryl's parents).

In 1992, he portrayed Berry Gordy in The Jacksons: An American Dream.

In 1993, Williams had a guest appearance on the spin-off to The Cosby Show, A Different World as Langston Paige, a grumpy landlord, in a backdoor pilot for his own series.

Williams made a special guest appearance on the hit sketch comedy show, In Living Color, in 1990. He portrayed Pastor Dan in an episode of That '70s Show. In this episode entitled "Baby Don't You Do It" (2004), his character is obsessed with Star Wars, and uses this to help Counsel Eric Forman (himself a major Star Wars fan) and Donna Pinciotti about their premarital relationship. Williams made a cameo appearance as himself on the television series Lost in the episode "Exposé". He also appears regularly on short clips on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! as a semi-parody of himself.

In February 2006, Williams appeared in Scrubs, where he guest starred as himself, in the episode "Her Story II". He played Toussaint Dubois for General Hospital: Night Shift in 2007 and 2008. Williams reprised his role as Toussaint on General Hospital itself beginning in June 2009. Also in 2009, he took on the role of the voice of Admiral @!$%#face the head of the military on the planet Titan in the Adult Swim animated series Titan Maximum. In July 2010, Williams appeared in the animated series The Boondocks, where he voiced a fictionalized version of himself in the episode "The Story of Lando Freeman".

In February 2011, Williams appeared as a guest star on USA Network's White Collar as Ford, an old friend of Neal Caffrey's landlady June, played by Diahann Carroll. In February 2012, Williams was the surprise guest during a taping of Oprah spotlighting Diana Ross. Ross and Williams were reunited after having not seen each other in 35 years. In October 2012, Williams appeared as a guest star on NCIS in Season 10 Episode 5 titled Namesake, as Gibbs' namesake and his father's former best friend, Leroy Jethro Moore. On January 9, 2013, Williams appeared as himself in a cameo role on Modern Family, Season 4 / Episode 11 "New Year's Eve".

It was announced on March 4th, 2014 that Williams will be competing on the 18th season of Dancing with the Stars. He partnered with professional dancer Emma Slater. The couple had to withdraw from the competition on the third week due to an injury on Williams' back.

Music

In 1961, Williams ventured into the music industry when he recorded a jazz LP produced by Prestige Records entitled Let's Misbehave, on which he sang several swing standards. The album, which was a commercial success at the time, made Williams eligible for an appearance in the legendary Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983).

Video games

Williams voiced Mr. Lando Calrissian in the video game Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars Battlefront as well as the spin-off Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (however, the Battlefront appearances were archive footage and his voice-appearance in Elite Squadron is left uncredited or unknown). He also played a live-action character, GDI Director Redmond Boyle, in the game Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, which was released in March 2007. This made him the second former Star Wars actor to appear in a Command & Conquer game, with the first being James Earl Jones as GDI General James Solomon in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun.

Internet

In 2008, Williams reprised his role as Lando Calrissian to appear in a video on FunnyOrDie.com in a mock political ad defending himself for leader of the Star Wars galaxy against vicious attack ads from Emperor Palpatine. Williams is currently a cast member of Diary of a Single Mom, a web based original series directed by award-winning filmmaker Robert Townsend. The series debuted on PIC.tv in 2009.

Art

Even before he began acting, Williams attended the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design in New York. In the late 1980s, he resumed painting. Some of his work can be seen at his online gallery BDW World Art. He has had solo exhibitions in various galleries around the United States, and his work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution and the Schomburg Museum. The covers of the Thelonious Monk Competition programs since 1990 are by him. He was also on the Martin Lawrence situation comedy Martin.

Source: Wikipedia

This week’s celebrity pick is the awesome actor Will Smith
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: will smith celebrity pick word life production feature blog

Will Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 25, 1968. At 16, Smith met a DJ at a party. The pair became friends, and the rapping duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was born. In 1990, Smith moved into acting with his role in the TV show The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. in 1992 Smith crossed over into movies. He has been starring in popular films ever since.

Famed actor/musician Will Smith was born Willard Christopher Smith Jr. on September 25, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to mother Caroline, a school board employee, and father Willard C. Smith, a refrigeration company owner. His middle class upbringing saw him attend the strict—and Catholic—Overbrook High School, despite his family's observation of the Baptist faith.

His West Philadelphia neighborhood was a melting pot of cultures where Orthodox Jews co-existed with a large Muslim population. Smith was a good student whose charming personality and quick tongue were renowned for getting him out of trouble, a trait for which he soon gained the nickname "Prince.''

Smith began rapping at age 12, emulating heroes like Grandmaster Flash but tingeing his rhymes with a comedic element that would later become his trademark. At 16, Smith met a DJ at a party by the name of Jeff Townes. The pair became friends, and the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was born.

Rap Success

The pair began producing music, but steered clear of the Gangsta Rap sound that was emerging on the West Coast in groups like Public Enemy and NWA. The Fresh Prince rapped about teenage preoccupations in a clean, curse-free style that middle America found safe and entertaining. The pair's first single, "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," was a hit in 1986. Their debut album Rock the House (1990) hit the Billboard Top 200, and made Smith a millionaire before the age of 18. His early success put any thoughts of attending college out of Smith's mind.

Early on it was reported that Smith had turned down a scholarship to Boston's elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but Smith later dispelled the rumor when he told an interviewer: "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."

In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince continued their success with the album He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper featuring the radio-friendly singles "Parents Just Don't Understand," "Brand New Funk," and "Nightmare on My Street." The album won the first ever Grammy Award for a Rap Performance. That album was followed by And In This Corner... which continued the pair's rise to stardom.

Crossover into Acting

Two years later, Smith began his remarkable crossover into acting. Drawing on his experiences with fledgling stardom, NBC signed Smith to star in a sitcom about a street-smart kid from Philadelphia.

On the show, the character is shipped off to California to live with wealthy relatives in Bel-Air, California. Playing on his rapper persona, and at times featuring his friend Towne, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air was a huge success that ran for six seasons.

Meanwhile, Smith and Towne kept producing music. The 1991 album Homebase produced the hits "Summertime" and "Ring My Bell." Their final album together, 1993's Code Red, was notable for "Boom!

While still making The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith began a second crossover into movies. Small roles in the drama Where The Day Takes You (1992) and the comedy Made In America (1993) were followed by a critically acclaimed lead in the drama Six Degrees of Separation (1993). Smith played a charming street-wise kid moving among the wealthy elite, who was also a psychologically complex gay hustler. The film enjoyed moderate success, but its title idea has become a household term for the closeness of human society.

Smith's first steps into super-stardom came with his next film, Bad Boys (1995). The high-budget cop movie saw him team up with comic Martin Lawrence, breaking away from the black-cop-white-cop formula that had been so successful for Beverly Hills Cop and the Lethal Weapon series. The two black leads proved an instant success and Smith—playing the smooth, serious, cop to Lawrence's clown—was established as leading man material.

Hollywood Star

The 1996, epic sci-fi disaster movie Independence Day was his next assignment. The role confirmed Smith as a major player in Hollywood and the go-to guy for summer blockbusters. Smith played an air force pilot leading the counter-attack against the invading alien forces, and his comedic talents effortlessly transformed into the pithy one-liners all action heroes need to be able to drop while dispatching their enemies.

Smith fought aliens again in his next blockbuster, the comic sci-fi action film, Men In Black (1997). Playing opposite Tommy Lee Jones, Smith chewed up the screen as the new recruit to Jones's old hand. Smith sang the theme song, and its inclusion on his solo album, Big Willie Style (1997) brought the multi-talented actor another success. Another Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster followed with the slick conspiracy thriller Enemy of the State (1998), which earned Smith an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.

The string of hits came to an end in 1999 with Wild Wild West, a sci-fi cowboy Western co-starring Kevin Kline. Despite the film's lackluster box-office performance, the track Smith cut for the film became a hit on his album, Willennium (1999). The golf movie The Legend of Bagger Vance was his next big film, with Smith playing the caddie to Matt Damon's out-of-sorts swinger.

 

In 2001 the biopic Ali, based on boxing legend Muhammad Ali, saw Smith return to critical acclaim. His turn as the charismatic boxing great saw Smith put in the performance of his life, training and disciplining himself to extraordinary lengths to do justice to the athleticism, and ego, of the films main character. The film under-performed at the box-office despite a record-breaking opening day. Smith's performance, however, was good enough to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

Film Roles

A number of sequels were next, with Smith reprising his roles in Men In Black and Bad Boys. Neither were flops, but they were both nowhere near as successful as their predecessors. Staying with the sci-fi action theme, Smith moved on to I, Robot in 2004. The Isaac Asimov adaptation saw Smith playing a cop in 2035 investigating a murder by a robot and then battling a robot insurgency. The film performed well, grossing more than $144 million in U.S. box offices.

Smith's smooth-talking charmer persona was put to use in the 2005 romantic comedy, Hitch. Smith played a ladies' man and dating consultant who helps luckless guys with their romantic moves. Smith penned the theme song, and included it on his album Lost and Found (2005). Hitch was a massive success, and was followed by another critical and financial hit, the 2006 rags-to-riches tale, The Pursuit of Happyness. Starring alongside his real-life son Jaden, Smith captivated audiences with the story of a single father who has to build a life from scratch. He received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance.

In 2007, Smith starred in I Am Legend, a remake of the Charlton Heston film Omega Man, where he battled blood-thirsty vampires. The film became a national and international hit.

The talented actor and musician has recently entered yet another arena, working as a film producer. Smith worked both sides of the camera for the film Hancock, in which he plays an alcoholic anti-superhero, and for Seven Pounds, about a man who sets out to change the lives of seven people. He also helped produce the 2008 films Lakeview Terrace and The Secret Life of Bees. His most recent project, The Mark, is slated for release in 2009.

Personal Life

Smith has been married twice. His first marriage in 1992 lasted only three years but produced a son, Willard Smith III, who is also known as Trey. He has been married to actress Jada Pinkett Smith since 1997. The couple has a son, Jaden, who was born in 1998 and a daughter, Willow, born in 2000.

The Smith family has homes in Florida, Sweden and Philadelphia. Like many in Hollywood, Smith is politically liberal and has made donations to the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama. He is a fan of chess and video games and is known to take his mother on vacation every year, usually to the Canyon Ranch spa in Tucson, Arizona.

© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved. http://www.biography.com/people/will-smith-9542165?page=1

Saved, Sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, William McDowell makes you feel all of that when he lift his voice to worship Tags: william mcdowell true worshipper word life production feature blog

You have to be willing to become invisible. It’s never about you. Nothing in the service is about you. People aren’t coming to see you. They are coming to experience God.”

If you scan the Christian music horizon, you’ll find a wealth of artistry created in praise of God and represented by music styles as diverse as the Church itself. But there are some sounds that defy categorization, some songs that go beyond what our vocabulary can express. And it is the desire to welcome and nurture these heaven-inspired sounds and songs that drives worship leader and songwriter William McDowell.

A pioneer in modern worship, McDowell serves as the lead pastor at Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando, Florida. But his sphere of ministry reaches far beyond his hometown. Taking his songs around the nation and world with two previous chart-topping albums (As We Worship and Arise) and 18 million Youtube views, McDowell now prepares to release a groundbreaking CD/DVD that takes the audio-visual worship experience to a new level.

Set for release on November 5th, Withholding Nothing expands on the attitude of whole-hearted worship that McDowell strives for, whether at his home church or at churches, festivals and conferences around the world.

“In the past three years, we’ve traveled to over 30 countries,” says McDowell. “And along the way, we’ve experienced amazing services. But sometimes, something truly remarkable happens… it starts with the congregation, not the stage. There’s a sound of worship that comes from a congregation so hungry for God… a wave that comes from the back of the room, overtaking the concert. It’s not something that you can orchestrate or plan for, that sound, that response when God shows up.”

So how does one go about capturing that shift in the atmosphere, that moment when the order of service takes a back seat to the work of the Holy Spirit? According to the ASCAP Award winning, Stellar and Dove Award nominated writer, you simply “get out of the way.”

The best you can do is to prepare your heart and be obedient…. you have to be willing to become invisible. It’s never about you. Nothing in the service is about you. People aren’t coming to see you. They are coming to experience God.”

With this underlying approach, during 40 days of fasting and prayer prior to the recording, new songs began to emerge. As an example, McDowell points to the song “Withholding Nothing,”

“What started in rehearsal as a way to re-work our song ‘Give Myself Away’ became the title track after the event,” he explains. “As we were singing the chorus of what would become ‘Withholding Nothing,’ the response was overwhelming. The whole evening was like that… at least 45 minutes of the project was unrehearsed.”

Six months later, McDowell finished writing “Withholding Nothing.” And that finished song is now the album’s first radio single and a bonus “radio edit’ track on the CD.

Referring to both the song and the entire recording, McDowell adds, “No one expected that. We just rehearsed and then followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.”

The powerful, unforgettable result of that obedience is Withholding Nothing, a CD/DVD unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen in Christian and Gospel music. Produced by McDowell, Steven Lester of Elevation Church, Aaron Lindsey, and Clay Bogan, who co-produced Arise, Withholding Nothing aims not so much to entertain or inspire as to minister to those who listen and watch. It was created as a testimony, to open wide the door for a new generation to witness the manifestation of God’s presence among his people.

With 14 unforgettable tracks recorded on CD and 20 total on the DVD, including standouts from Arise and As We Worship, Withholding Nothing reverberates with anthems of surrender and praise, overcoming and victory and a clarion call to change the world in Jesus’ name.

“The DVD highlights 2000 people immersed not in a recording but in worship, people who don’t know they are being heard by anyone but God,” McDowell explains. “We don’t get pre-claps, we don’t stop for any reason. The focus is 100 percent on God and what He’s saying, and the songs just happen the way they happen.”

In fact, when McDowell presented the DVD footage to his distribution company (Entertainment One), booking and management, a collective awe filled the room. They’d never seen anything like it before, a video that focused more on what was happening in the venue, the impact of and response to the encounter, than on the artist on stage.

“We never have a lock on it,” says McDowell. “Each time we bring our hearts to God, it feels as if it is a fresh encounter. We can’t rely on past encounters with God, because he chooses the encounter. We pray and ask him to show up, and if we think it’s something we’re doing, we’re missing the whole point.”

That point has been made crystal clear to McDowell during his travels, including extraordinary trips to Guyana, Guadeloupe and Ghana.

In Guyana, after leading three songs, McDowell witnessed an historical event when the nation’s president took the stage to pray and offer his country back to God. Furthermore, he asked for forgiveness from the opposing political party and prayed for reconciliation. It was an unprecedented act that took the nation’s media by surprise, resulting in headlines such as “Historic Reconciliation At Gospel Concert.”

While at a concert in Guadeloupe, McDowell witnessed the miraculous healing of a deaf man as thousands sang in French despite language barriers. “The thing is,” explains McDowell, “the man wasn’t even a Christian… he was at the concert because he’s a member of the media and he was covering the event.” This time, the headlines read, “Media Member Receives Healing At Concert.”

“We’re not going into these places for concerts,” says McDowell. “We’re going in to see moves of God.”

This was confirmed to McDowell in Ghana when a local pastor explained to him, “We didn’t bring you here for a concert, but for an impartation.”

Referencing his growing international platform, McDowell says, “If you look at what God is doing, what only He can do, I can’t take credit for any of this… if it works, it’s God. There’s no pressure because you can’t do anything apart from God, but there is responsibility to inspire the next generation to pursue God, to inspire them to get into His presence and make a difference in this world.”

“If I don’t do it, He’ll find someone who will.”

Source: Official Website: http://www.williammcdowellmusic.com/biography-contd/

 

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