Archives for category: industry
Was this commercial screaming racism? Or was it blown completely out of proportion?

By: Taren Vaughan

Performing in front of sold out crowds and making cameo appearances in movies and TV shows, music artists are always down to showcase their talents in various arenas. Singer Mary J. Blige has done all these things and more as she has continued to be a dominating force in the industry. But now “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” is under fire for her appearance in one of Burger King’s latest commercials for their new Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap. And needless to say, some people were highly upset while others well…found their anger to be quite ridiculous.

“I’m a Black woman and I by no means was offended by this commercial. All she was doing was singing about a product that just so happened to be chicken. I don’t see what the fuss is about. If she was up there singing about shackles and chains, maybe my thoughts would be totally different.”

Alicia C.
Age: 23
Silver Springs, MD

“Come on are people really serious right now? Where is the racism in this commercial? The real problem with this commercial was the singing. I love Mary J. Blige just like the next fan, but that was what I found bad about the whole thing, not the fact that it was being so “disrespectful” to Black people because it obviously was not.”

Jennifer M.
Age: 33
Salem, OR

“So tell me, how is this any different from the Black actors and actresses that we see rapping on the McDonald’s commercials? Was that the product of a racist’s mind? I didn’t see people getting all outraged about that and those commercials have continued to air. If a white, Hispanic or a person of any other race was singing about chicken, I guess it would be okay then. The race card can not be pulled in every situation and this is one where it doesn’t need to be.”

Latisha E.
Age: 25
Yonkers, NY

“I may be reaching a little bit here but I think the commercial was very distasteful due to the fact that she was singing about chicken. It is a known fact that chicken is coined as “black food”, right along with watermelon so to see Mary J. Blige participate in something like this is feeding into the negative stereotype that is placed on us already. And God knows, we don’t need anyone else doing that.”

Ashlee T.
Age: 27
Boston, MA

The commercial was quickly snatched off the air after the heavy criticism that it received. And was followed by a statement from the singer, assuring fans and critics that what they saw was not “MJB” certified:

“I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip.”

“I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out.”

Was it really that serious?

Take a look for yourself:

Is the anger justified?

By: Taren Vaughan

After sweeping the Grammy Awards this year, Singer Adele has continued to remain a hot topic in the music industry. Her powerful vocals, full of soul, have earned her six grammys and album of the year, setting her apart from many other vocalists in the industry. She is what many people feel has been missing in the world of music, pure raw talent with no extra sound effects in the background.

Accompanied by music or complete silence, Adele’s natural gift shines with perfection.

As she has created quite a name for herself, the 23-year old singer has informed fans that she will be releasing another song shortly for their listening pleasure before the end of the year. And to add to that, she is also looking to collaborate with other artists. As many artists may come to mind, she is hoping to get into the studio with one in particular by the name of Mrs. Carter.

Adele has made it known that she is a huge fan of superstar diva Beyonce’ and has followed her career since she was a young girl. And the chance to pair up with one of the greatest performers of this era is a dream of hers that she is hoping will soon be a reality:

“I adore Beyonce. I”ve been listening to her since I was about 11. I think her work as an artist and a singer is enviable in terms of the length of her career and how she’s grown and grown”

Beyonce’ and Adele on the same track…I feel a hit coming on don’t you?

Before Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson or Alicia…There was Whitney.

By: Taren Vaughan

To be coined a true diva is something that must be earned. That title is not just attached to any female with a cute face and a few dance moves under her sleeve. An abundance of talent this person must have, along with a set of pipes that are unmatchable to any ones ever heard of. Of the old school R&B crowd, many names are notably mentioned from Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle. This list however would not be complete without one woman, whose powerful vocals still go untouched…Whitney Houston.

An angelic voice and a striking natural beauty, she had it all.

Her voice was incredible and pierced the very soul of those who listened to her music and who witnessed her live performances. One of her most memorable live performances was when she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl XXV in 1991 between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.

To this day, this has been said to have been the best rendition of the National Anthem ever.

And it still has the same effect on people that it had years ago when it was first sung by her.

With her sweetheart image, Houston gained millions of fans over the years, along with releasing a countless number of awards for her chart-topping songs. Her self-titled debut album Whitney Houston was released in 1985 and became the best-selling debut album by a female artist during that time. The album also made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Success is what she continued to find as Houston won a total of 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards. Some of her classics include “I Will Always Love You”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “How Will I Know” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. Not straying far from her gospel roots, Houston also received much applause for her singing of “I Love The Lord” featuring the Georgia Mass Choir.

Aside from her musical stardom, Houston graced the big screen, making her way into the film industry, starring in “The Bodyguard”, “Waiting Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife” alongside Academy Award Winning Actor Denzel Washington.

Often imitated but never duplicated, Whitney Houston was the epitome of a songstress.

And she has had a major influence over those who have a true love for music like she did:

“I’m still in shock about her passing. It’s so hard to put into words. Whitney Houston was my childhood. I grew up pretending to be Whitney. She made girls who were singers and even those who weren’t want to be like her. An entertainer at heart she was. And even through her trials, you could always see the beauty in her. If it wasn’t for Whitney, there would be no Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson, Brandy or any of the other young stars. The 80’s produced icons. And she was one that no one could compare to. The music industry as a whole suffered a huge loss but more importantly, her family did. My heart goes out to them. I hope that she knew how much she really touched her fans and how much we will miss her.”

Krystal R.
Age: 27
Los Angeles, California

“Whitney was a beautiful woman with one of the most gorgeous smiles I’ve ever seen. Her voice was angelic and uniquely incomparable to any other female artist I’ve heard. My most memorable performance was her 1991 National Anthem rendition at the Superbowl. The way she sung it in my estimation has never been sung like that before. It was technically pitch perfect and I was in total awe and that is still my reaction today. She was definitely before her time and it’s sad that her life ended the way it did. It should serve as example of what happens when we consistently make damaging decisions in our lives. Fame and fortune can never fulfill the void of emptiness and lack of peace. She will be missed.”

Jeremy M.
Age: 27
Whitsett, NC

Despite the ups and downs she faced throughout her lengthy career and her untimely death, Houston will always be remembered for her one of kind talent and ability to touch the souls of her fans with timeless hits. She has influenced numerous acts in the music industry and the legacy that she leaves behind will continue to live on for years to come through her family, friends and fans.

“Every Woman” is what she was and will always be; a sweet spirit that touched the hearts and souls of those who understand the essence of music. Instrumentals she did not need for her voice alone was more than enough to grab your attention and keep it.

Thanks to you Whitney Houston for leaving your everlasting footprint in the world of music.

Her career is her “Motivation” for the moment.

By: Taren Vaughan

The life of an industry diva can be quite hectic at times. It’s almost unheard of for them, or any other star for that matter, to have one pathway that they are sticking to. Singers are not only going for Grammys anymore. They are striving for Academy Awards too as many of them have made their way into the acting game. When they choose to add to their resumes, it often leaves many of them with little free time on their hands for romance.

Singer Kelly Rowland admitted that her heart has been stolen but not by a handsome face and nice body. She has been swept off her feet by her career, which has kept her from settling down with a significant other.

“Most of the men find me too busy. Which is a real problem, because I like being busy,”

Droppin’ the mic for a man doesn’t seem to be something she is willing to do right now.

Rowland went on to say that she is quite content with devoting the majority of her time to her career.

“At the moment I’m in love with my job. But that doesn’t bother me [because at least] my job doesn’t nag.”

Rowland’s plate has been staying full here lately as her latest album “Here I Am” continues to get much airplay. She is also set to be one of the judges for the United Kingdom version of “The X Factor”.

Whenever she does have a chance to step back out on the dating scene, she knows exactly what she is looking for though.

“He has to be real and most of all he has to have confidence.”

Talented, educated and self-motivated…These are just a few words that describe our “Belle of the Month” Mrs. Ci Ci Foster. From writing her own books to dishing out relationship advice to those in need of it, Ci Ci has made her presence known in numerous areas and continues to take on more as her career progresses. Being the multi-talented person that she is, Ci Ci wears many hats and has told UBM about how she manages to balance all of them.

Urban Belle: Ci Ci, I see that you are a native of the Chicago area and you relocated to Los Angeles in the late 2000’s to further pursue your career. How was that transition for you? Is Los Angeles like night and day compared to Chicago as far as the residents and living environment?

Ci Ci Foster: The transition was definitely a challenge. Moving the entire family across the country where we knew no one was a bit scary, but we were able to quickly acclimate ourselves into the LA lifestyle, and it’s so different from Chicago where I spent my entire life. LA has parties and events every night of the week, so there’s always something going on. In Chicago, people are more accustomed to working hard during the week and partying on the weekends. What I miss most about Chicago are the people. It’s one of those very friendly places where strangers will greet you as you pass them on the streets. That rarely happens in LA. I love both places in a different way.

Urban Belle: As a graduate of Chicago State University, you received your bachelor’s degree in psychology. Was that always what you desired to get your degree in? Or had you considered majoring in theater, film or another related area?

Ci Ci Foster: Initially, I did want to get a BS in theater, but after giving it deep thought, I actually decided to take on theater as a minor to have something to fall back on. At the time, I was more of a person who always played it safe. If I had to do it all over again, I would have just went for it full speed ahead. If you don’t plan on failing, you wouldn’t need anything to fall back on.

Urban Belle: “Sunny Rain” was the debut novel that introduced Ci Ci Foster to world of published writers. How long did it take to complete it? What was that feeling like of having your very first book officially published?

Ci Ci Foster: It took me at least 5 years to complete Sunny Rain because I kept putting it down and then I’d pick it back up. Once I actually got serious about writing it though, things moved pretty quickly. I remember the first time I held my book in my hands, I cried. It was like all my hard work was finally starting to pay off. I’m still amazed at how great everything turned out.

Urban Belle: I know that was a wonderful feeling. In addition to being an author, you are also a relationship advice columnist. When giving your advice, do you ever feel like your own relationships (and even current marriage) were under close watch from your readers? Are people really looking to see if you follow your own advice?

Ci Ci Foster: I think anytime you offer people advice on relationships the first thing people are going to want to know is what is your marital status, and that’s a valid question. I mean, I won’t take relationship advice from anyone who doesn’t have their own house in order.

Urban Belle: That is so true; a lot of people feel that way. Giving relationship advice, even to a close friend or relative, can be challenging at times. Has there ever been a time when you were asked a question that you didn’t quite know how to answer?

Ci Ci Foster: Not yet, but I’m sure as I do this long enough, someone will have a question that stumps me. I am fine with being honest and admitting when I don’t know something.

Urban Belle: In the entertainment industry, we see many husbands and wives working together like Beyonce’ and Jay-Z and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. How has it been for you working with your husband with the production of “Digg Into Books”?

Ci Ci Foster: Working with my husband on Digg Into Books has definitely brought us closer together. I’d be lying though if I said every moment is bliss. LOL! There are times when we don’t see eye to eye on something and then go home and argue about it some more. But overall, working with him has been a great experience. We support each other 100% and challenge each other to produce the best work possible.

Urban Belle: Sound like you all are a great team. Now your documentary, “I Heart Hollywood”, is about the struggles of 14 women that are attempting to break into the industry. What event or people inspired you to do this?

Ci Ci Foster: I became inspired to produce this documentary after moving to LA and seeing how hard it is to break into this industry. My production partner, Mashari Bain and I met through a mutual friend and discovered we had similar goals. The I Heart Hollywood project was our way of saying we don’t have to wait on Hollywood to hire us, we can create our own projects.

Urban Belle: Being a member of Cali Connect, you get the opportunity to interact with other authors, some of whom share your same passion for the craft of writing. Have you ever considered starting an organization of your own?

Ci Ci Foster: No, I’ve never considered starting my own group because I couldn’t commit the time needed to make it successful. I’ve met some really great people through the Cali-Connect group, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with them in the future.

Urban Belle: Working with at-risk teens, I’m sure you hear a lot of different stories about what these girls have gone through in their young lives. Other than giving educational advice, what is your overall message to these young girls?

Ci Ci Foster: I always try to open young girls’ eyes to the fact that they are more powerful than they know and that they can do anything they put their minds to. When young girls tell me they want to be a lawyer, I tell them to think about owning the law firm. It’s really important to teach kids to dream big and follow those dreams.

Urban Belle: I totally agree with you on that. Those who dream big are often the ones who find long term success. Back to your writing, the title of your upcoming book “Hollywoodn’t” has me intrigued already. Can you give us a snippet of what to expect from this read?

Ci Ci Foster: Hollywoodn’t is about a rising actress named Nile who gets blackmailed by a scorned ex lover, Steve. He is fresh out of jail, armed with a sex tape of her, and things get really crazy when he stops taking his meds. Hollywoodn’t is so different from Sunny Rain, but it still has the “sexy drama” theme. I think the readers will enjoy it.

To learn more about Ci Ci and her upcoming projects, Click here.

Does the hit sitcom have enough clout to become a box office hit?

By: Taren Vaughan

The HBO series Sex And The City had women all over the globe glued to their TVs. Whether it was keeping up with the unpredictable relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big or hearing about the “friendly” yet stylish Samantha Jones’ sex tales, the show took hold of viewers’ attention and never let it go. It created such a buzz that a genius mind thought it would be an instant hit on the big screen and it was, so much that a sequel soon followed.

The fabulous four were not the only ones putting out a successful show as another group of women became some our favorite “friends”.

Since its very first airing back in 2000, Girlfriends has made a name for itself as the Sex And The City for the sisters. Picking up where the popular 90’s show Living Single left off, Girlfriends lasted for eight seasons making it one of the longest running sitcoms ever. Aside from the record-breaking numbers that it drew in, the one thing that many people applauded the show for was its realism; the realism behind the characters and the things that they went through.

As fanatics were not at all looking forward to its last episode, it still remains a topic of conversation, even amongst those who were once apart of the cast.

The former Joan Clayton, the motherly one of the bunch, has spoken out about her willingness to pursue Girlfriends beyond the sitcom arena.

On her recent appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, Actress Tracee Ellis Ross eluded to the fact that she wouldn’t mind taking the show a step further:

“I would love to do a ‘Girlfriends’ movie. I want to see Joan get married,”

She also longs to see Toni and Joan rekindle their damaged friendship too. It sounds like Joan is very much alive and well in Ross’ heart.

Be that as it may, Ross knows that the ultimate decision is not up to her:

“I think the fans have to ask for it,”

Could she be on to something here? Does Girlfriends have enough clout to make it to the big screen?

Reed Between The Lines may have her hands tied at the moment but I doubt that she would turn down the opportunity to do a movie like this.

Cee Lo Green and Andre 3000 aren’t scared to test the fashion waters…So why don’t other male artists go for more unique appearances?

By: Taren Vaughan

Although many believe that the Hip Hop game is not what it used to be lyrically, there is one thing that seems to remain consistent amongst the new age artists of today…attire. The style of dress for a rapper is pretty typical nowadays: over-sized, iced up chains, baggy or now thanks to Lil’ Wayne, skinny jeans, fitted hats and a pair of fresh 1’s to officially make them a complete fashion package, to some. Luckily, there are those who add something extra to their look, often times looks that can’t be duplicated even by the most fashionable person alive.

Cee Lo Green, member of Goodie Mob and Pop/Rock Neo-Soul group Gnarls Barkley, is a person that could never go overlooked. His raspy, yet soulful sound has laced many of tracks. But his fashion sense is something that always seems to have crowds buzzin’ on the regular:

Even if you aren’t running to the store to find this colorful bird outfit, I guaranteed that that image is forever sketched in your head.

Cee Lo is not the only one that likes to be extreme when it comes to his clothing.

Look at Andre 3000.

The colorful bow ties, plaid bell bottoms pants, furry coats and the freshly pressed hair is not the typical look for Rap/Hip Hop artists of today; we are used to seeing the thousand dollar diamond necklaces hanging from their necks. Now Andre 3000 didn’t come into the game with this image; hell, he didn’t come into the game with the name he has now. But he and Big Boi, his close friend and the other half to the group Outkast, let it be known early on that they are not afraid to test the waters of uniqueness when it came to their music and their style of dress.

Grabbing the attention of your fans by not only your lyrics but your appearance too has a lot of positives to it. Andre 3000 hasn’t put out an album in awhile now but has anybody forgotten what he looks like and his extraordinary abilities on the mic? No. That’s the beauty of being creative.

Now here’s where being too different brings about the ignorance in folks.

Questions about a person’s sexuality begin to pop up out of nowhere. There were a few occasions where Andre 3000 spoke on how people started to question whether or not he was gay or on drugs because his dress game was so elaborate compared to those of other artists. Is that so huh? The last time I checked, being a homosexual goes much further than what meets the eye.

His reaction to these comments: He still kept doing his thing, and quite well might I add.

Andre 3000 has seen much success with ‘Kast and as a solo artist so how much did his bob cut really affect? Not much of nothing.

I see no harm in artists, whether they are male or female, adding some originality and spice to their wardrobe. Clearly, the originality as far as song content goes is lacking HORRIBLY when it comes to the majority of the rap songs that are out now, even boiling down to how rappers sound on a track. So we need something to help us distinguish the difference between artists.

These two artists have proven that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being the “Outkast” and having people think that you are “Crazy”.

It all boils down to what you bring to the table lyrically, despite what kind of hairstyle you may be rockin’ or what you have on your back or feet.

It’s about what is coming out of your mouth…the lyrical content. And who’s to say what one should be wearing when they do so.

Daring to be different has its negatives but the perks are much greater; artists have the chance to embed their own coined style in the minds of their fans and their critics.