Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Prince plays songs from his vault in concert, 2009 (video)

I came across this treasure on YouTube, His Purple Highness performing songs from The Vault:  Old Friends for Sale and other jazz pieces in a Los Angeles concert, 2009. I bought a copy of the album a few years ago. The concert is so much more. BTW, Chaka Khan also appears during the show singing her song "Sweet Thing."

The album Old Friends for Sale includes not only the same-titled song but other lesser known songs of his such as "Five Women," "She Spoke to Me," and "Extraordinary." It's a pretty short collection. Given his death, the song that gets me now on the album is "My Little Pill," a brief tune indicating addiction to prescription medication.

Prince was a gift to the planet. There will never be another like him.

In other news about The Purple One, supposed previously unknown offspring are announcing themselves so they can get a piece of the Prince estate pie. They must take DNA tests, a judge ruled. Carlin Q. Williams, the Colorado inmate who claimed to be Prince's son, has already failed his test. The courts could have saved itself money on that one. The 39-year-old does not look anything like the star, not even Prince from the 70s.

Even possible half-siblings have come forward. I know of one Prince half-sibling who is definitely his sister, or at least he acknowledged her as his sister. I'll be surprised, however, if any of the alleged offspring are genuine because Prince wanted a child of his own pretty badly. If he knew of one, he would have acknowledged the kid when he was alive.

On the other hand, he had so many gatekeepers that it's possible a son or daughter did try to make a case to him that he or she was his child, but Prince never got the message.

I still can't believe that he didn't make out a will because he seemed to take care of business otherwise. Of course, dead at 57 is fairly young today. Most people don't think that they may die too soon. As for Prince, his physical body is gone, but the body of his work is immortal.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Southside with You: Obamas' love story opens this month

I was so deep in the academic hole for the first six months of the year that I completely missed news about the movie Southside with You, the story of Michelle and Barack Obama's romance. The film pays homage to the president and First Lady's initial courtship and opens in limited release August 26. I.must.see.this.movie. So, I'll be scouting websites, Twitter, creating a Google alert, whatever I can do so I can't miss the film when it comes to New Orleans.

Produced by singer/songwriter John Legend and written and directed by Richard Tanne, the movie premiered with good reviews at the Sundance Festival in January. Based on the trailer, I'll say it's a winner already.

I remember one of the first times I heard a story about the first couple's courtship and said, "Sounds like a romance novel or a romantic comedy." I believe at least one of those times I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Their love story made me happy because we don't hear enough, read enough, or see enough stories about healthy, black, romantic relationships.

Tika Sumpter, a young actress who became much more visible after appearing in Tyler Perry's soap opera on OWN, makes a wonderful Michelle Obama based on what I see in the trailer. I don't know much about Parker Sawyers' work (He plays Barack.), but I do recall him in The Assets TV show. He also is believable in the trailer.

The first couple was not consulted about the making of the film, but according to Tanne, they're aware of it, are excited about the movie, but "baffled by its existence." In a Vanity Fair interview, the writer/director says he gathered all his information from public domain sources, probably the Oprah show and other interviews with the Michelle and/or Barack. He thinks his script is mostly accurate. From what I 've seen, he's caught the warmth and humor of the stories as I recall them.

I've already subscribed to Fandango news to make sure I get a ticket. I mean, Southside with You better show here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rattle Magazine published my poem last month

Almost a month has passed since Rattle Magazine published my poem "Digital Anthropologists Find Our Hashtags" for its Poets Respond series. The poem explores specifically the consecutive shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, by police officers in the first full week of July.

Just hours after I submitted the poem, a sniper killed and wounded police officers in Dallas, Texas. That week of July brimmed too much with violence, grief, and pointed fingers. So, although I was pleased Rattle had accepted the poem, I was also too through with humanity to share at this blog my poem's publication on Tuesday, July 12.

I share it now because since then I've gotten notes and calls from people telling me how they felt about the poem, which you may read at Rattle's site. Acknowledging publication at my blog is appropriate.

The poem was one of two the magazine published that week following the shootings. On Sunday, July  10, the site posted "The Dead Line," a poem by Nicole Homer, a poem that uses repetition to good effect.

Also, the website for the Academy of American Poets, Poets.org, published a poem by the current Poet Laureate for the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, entitled "@ the Crossroads--A Sudden American Poem." Herrera's verse also addresses the present crisis and sorrow of police relationships with black and brown communities. Clearly he wrote his poem after the Dallas tragedy because the epigraph names the slain officers and is dated July 10. Homer and I wrote our poems before Dallas.

Sadly, by the time America solves this problem, by the time we all do the hard work of facing the root causes of this race-related crisis and too often reasonable distrust of police of officers, the world may have volumes of poems exploring or tackling this subject. There is no easy solution here because solutions means behaviors and systems must change, and people fear change, especially when change challenges the foundation of long-held world views and practices.

Verse can soothe, make space for catharsis, and initiate dialogue beyond the heated center. Poetry may not be as popular as it once was in this nation, but the art remains a source humans turn to during troubling hours.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Great Prince story from Matt Damon (video)

Rolling Stone has posted video of Matt Damon telling a great Prince story on the Jimmy Fallon show.  Of course, all Prince stories bring me joy except the one about his passing in April.

Damon is out promoting his latest film in the Bourne Identity series, Jason Bourne. I've been disappointed by Damon's politics, but I'm still a Bourne fan, so if you see the new film in the New Orleans metro area, you may bump into me.

Monday, June 27, 2016

#PRINCE BET Tribute or When Jennifer Hudson Tore Me Up (Purple Rain Video)

Jennifer Hudson tore my heart out singing "Purple Rain" during the Prince Tribute on the BET Awards last night. I have nothing to add to this other than Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly appear on this video, too, and perform with love also. Stevie was undone the day Prince died (so many of us were), and Jennifer reboots all the feelings with her performance.

BET producers probably knew she had to be the one to sing Prince's anthem when they saw her impromptu tribute to the beloved megastar with the cast of The Color Purple after his death in April. . . .

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A bittersweet Happy Birthday to Prince, BET Awards plans to drop mic (Video)

Prince Rogers Nelson, his Royal Purpleness, would have been 58 today, June 7, 2016.

In other news about the late, great megastar who died this April, BET Network has promised to deliver "the greatest Prince tribute ever" at its 2016 BET Awards. The list of tribute performers includes Sheila E., Janelle Monae, and D'Angelo, performers who feel more for the legend than mere admiration.

This is not the first time BET has paid tribute to Prince. The network honored him in 2010 with a lifetime achievement awards, but then he was there to enjoy the appreciation. They gave him his flowers while he lived.

Janelle Monae's Prince tribute from 2010's BET Awards.

This year, on Sunday, June 26, 7 p.m. central, the black network intends to honor Prince's memory, make Purple Hippies everywhere happy, and drop the mic at Madonna whose lackluster performance of Purple Rain at this year's Billboard Music Awards made Prince fans holler "Foul!" The material girl let all who adore Prince wondering, "Where is the love, Madonna? Where is the love?"

Nonetheless, BET appears to be offering an olive branch to Roots drummer, Questlove, who produced and promoted Madonna's segment of the BMAs (and later blamed the critical fallout on fans' grief).

Madonna may defend her ego-tripping performance, but -- well -- she failed because her appearance seemed more about her than Prince and more about Billboard's desire to pander to its demographic than to choosing just the right performer for its so-called "tribute." Honest people will admit that just as for Dreamgirls Beyonce didn't land the role of Effie because have the voice for "And I am Telling You," Madonna does not have the chops for "Purple Rain."

However, why sneer at Madonna? The true culprits are the Billboard Music Awards producers who selected her. I cut them a centimeter of slack only for choosing Stevie Wonder to participate.

Surprise Prince, Alicia Keys duet, 'How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore' (video)

Nothing to add here. The video speaks for itself.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Medical Examiner says reports that Prince overdosed are gossip

According to USA TODAY update on Prince's death earlier today,  reports that Prince overdosed are merely gossip.

"Forget those reports that Percocet was found in Prince's body, says the medical examiner's office investigating the musician's still officially mysterious death." 

The paper published an official tweet from the medical examiner's office.

However, that same article has a big headline implying that "Prince was toxic." I hate the Internet sometimes.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

So, will.I.am, Prince, and Michael Jackson walk into a Vegas bar . . .

Having gotten into several debates about who's the greater genius, Prince or Michael Jackson, I love this story will.i.am tells Ellen Degeneres on her show in the video above.

The public's always been curious about the tension between Michael Jackson and Prince, which is why I've posted on the topic of their intriguing relationship in the past. Notice I did not say that the two were friends and neither did I say that they disliked each other. I only say that there was a tension, which is a little different.

According to Prince, there was no rivalry between the two of them. In any case and for whatever reason, Prince seemed to raise an eyebrow more at Michael than vice versa, particularly at the story people would tell about Prince turning down being in Michael's "Bad" music video.

Aside from the effective comedic timing and impersonations will.i.am shows in this video, his representation of Michael as childlike also sticks with me. The Black Eyed Peas star quotes Michael as saying, "Oh, rats!" which is so old-school-kiddie that it makes me think again about the allegations against the King of Pop. It's still possible, as I've told others before, that Michael simply behaved with those children as though he were a child and nothing more.

Prince, however, never seemed to be a child, just playful and funny a times, sexy most others.

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Yes, I'm still a bit weepy over Prince's death. That's a pain that will probably never go away, but I'm also dancing and laughing much of the time because I've always appreciated Prince's sense of humor and his eccentric nature, which is one of the reasons I appreciate the will.i.am story. Another amusing Prince story I love is Kevin Smith's tale of trying to talk to Prince about using his music in a documentary. And then there's Prince himself shaking his head at his audience singing "Cream" off key during his Musicology concert. He tells them later that he wrote "Cream" while looking in the mirror.

 I so wish he had released a totally acoustic CD. Of course, maybe he does have the makings of one in his infamous vault of unpublished music. According to ABC news, there's enough music in Prince's vault to release a Prince album every year for the next century.

H/T to my writer friend Max Reddick for sharing the Ellen video on Facebook.