‘Saturday Night Live’ addresses lack of diversity

snl-diversity-sketch-600"Saturday Night Live" wasted no time addressing a brewing controversy about the lack of black women in its cast this week when Scandal star Kerry Washington hosted the show.

In the opening sketch of the night, Washington was cast as first lady Michelle Obama opposite Jay Pharoah's President Barack Obama.

"It feels like it's been years since I've seen you," quipped Pharoah poking fun at the fact that the first lady only gets portrayed on the show when an African-American woman, like Maya Rudolph, hosts.


This week’s DVD releases - November 5, 2013

TheBigPicture Dyslexia-225Top Ten DVD List for Nov. 5, 2013

"The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia"

"Home Is Where the Heart Is"

"American Experience: War of the Worlds"

"Hava Nagila: The Movie"



‘12 Years A Slave’ a talker, if you let go of your fear

12years-pg1-600I am no stranger to slavery. I literally stumbled into it while doing genealogy research in the early 1980's, finding a matriarch who showed up in the 1870 census, which listed her as 61 years old and having been born in Africa.

Much meandering later, and with some hard-learned lessons – many of which I did not want to learn – I decided to embrace what I considered a healthier attitude about slavery, changing my name, clothes, language, etc.

This commentary, however, is not about covering the finer aspects of my journey. I share that opening simply as a reference point for the attitude that I took with me to New Orleans for the Red-Carpet premiere there earlier this month of "12 Years A Slave." The movie debuts in Memphis Friday (Nov. 1) after an advance screening Wednesday at the Malco Majestic.


The return of Paul Porter!

paul Porter-1-600Revered gospel recording artist Paul Porter stepped out of a rental car in front of Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios and exclaimed, "Wow! Can you believe this? Do you know where we are?"

The exclamation and questions were directed to his traveling mates, publicist Jason Hardy and new label executive Lonnie Deadwyler. Porter – in Memphis to attend the "Help Is On The Way" Family Membership and Showcase picnic (Oct. 26th) hosted by the non-profit For The People By The People at Audubon Park – added amplification.

"Man, this was one of my childhood dreams to cut here! This is soul music, baby!"


C’mon Chris, get it together

Myron-Mays-160WHAT'S HAPPENING MYRON: I was on the air this past Sunday deciding on an entertainment news story to talk about when I stumbled across an article I couldn't believe I was reading. The caption read, "Chris Brown Arrested for Assault." I'm thinking to myself, "really?"

As I read the story, I couldn't believe the details of what led to his arrest.

Brown and his bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, had been arrested and released without bail early Sunday morning following an altercation with another man outside the W Hotel in Washington D.C. The man was treated at the hospital and released.


Book review: ‘Ebony & Ivy’

Ebony and Ivy book-400tMost people hold the Ivy League in high esteem as an exclusive oasis of intellectual thinking where one can acquire an excellent education. What they might not know is that its long-revered universities were also once intimately involved in slavery, depending on that evil institution for everything from funding to free labor.

Furthermore, places like Princeton served as a proving ground for the sons of plantation owners being trained in classes on slave management that:

"For Sullenness, Obstinancy, or Idleness... Take a Negro, strip him, tie him fast to a post; take then a sharp Curry-Comb, & curry him severely til he is well scrap'd; & call a boy with some dry Hay, and make the Boy rub him down for several Minutes, then salt him & unlose him."



India! India! India!

IMG-India-Arie-5383-600Four-time Grammy winner India Arie returned to Memphis and the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday night, treating fans to old favorites and new vibes from her latest album "SongVersation."

No stranger to Memphis, Arie has graced Bluff-City stages previously in her decade-long career. I've had the pleasure of working her shows and the consistency of satisfaction again was on display.

The "Soulbird Presents: A SongVersation with India.Arie" tour kicked off Sept. 21st in Seattle! Fresh off the Memphis stop, Arie was off on a string of back-to-back-to-back-to-back shows that will roll her through Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C., Northampton, Mass., New York City and Westbury, N.Y.



This week’s DVD releases - October, 29, 2013

12years Solomon DVD-325tTop Ten DVD List for Oct. 29, 2013

"Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northrup's Odyssey"

"Norman Rockwell Presents: Coming Home for Christmas"

"Cook's Country: Season Six"

"Out in the Dark"

"Storm Rider"


Ashe to Amen curator paints an inviting picture of special exhibit

Dixon-600When word gets out that Leslie King-Hammond is going to be in a city and is going to speak, lovers of art usually show up in ample numbers. They know that in the world of art history experts, she is a curator who knows her stuff.

King-Hammond, whose many accomplishments include having taught art history for 35 years at the Maryland Institute College of Art, was center stage over the weekend as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens opened its Winegardner Auditorium doors to dozens who came to see and hear her lectured on African Americans and Bible imagery.

From now through Jan. 5, the Dixon is home to the exhibit Ashe to Amen – African Americans and Biblical Imagery. It features the wealth and breadth of African-American artists' interpretations of Biblical stories and traditions in historic and contemporary art.


Trentin Hardrick, aka Trigga-Trigga

Trentin Hardrick, aka Trigga-TriggaWe were on our way to Live Tone Studios in Whitehaven. I was driving 23-year-old New Orleans native Trentin Hardrick to meet Memphis producers Sleepy and Taz, two people I knew could turn water into wine when it comes to making music.

I noticed that Trentin, aka Trigga-Trigga, didn't have any notepads or anything to write with. Watching an artist write verses and hooks on the spot in a studio is a norm in the management business. I asked Trentin, who was referred to me for management by his father, where was his song-filled note pad.

By way of his New Orleans drawl, Trentin said he had five albums written down in his head. I wondered whether I was wasting time and gas bringing this "unprepared" young man to the studio. I dropped that thought as soon as they put the music on. Right away I knew that I was witnessing someone with a gift.


Kam’s Kapsules: Weekly previews - 10/25/2013

theSquare-movie-400tFor movies opening Oct. 25, 2013


"Bad Grandpa" (R for profanity, crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and brief drug use) Stunt comedy featuring hidden cameras and starring Jackass' Johnny Knoxville as a cantankerous octogenarian who takes his impressionable, 8 year-old grandson (Jackson Nicholl) on a very eventful, cross-country road trip. With Spike Jonze, Georgina Cates and Brittany Mumford.

"The Counselor" (R for profanity, sexuality, graphic violence and grisly images) Three-time Oscar-nominee Ridley Scott directed this crime thriller based on a script by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) about an avaricious attorney moonlighting as a drug-dealer (Michael Fassbender) whose life spirals out of control. Cast includes Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo and Ruben Blades.



Now starring: Barry White on Hollywood Walk of Fame

barry-white-400tOne of the greatest honors for anyone in the arts is to be chosen to receive a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame. The iconic singer/ songwriter Barry White is among the latest to be so honored.

Unfortunately, the honor came 10 years after his passing. His is star number 2506.

Among those present for the ceremony were his wife, Glodean White, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown songstress Brenda Holloway and producer Tony Cornelius, son of "Soul Train" creator/host Don Cornelius.

Barry White, with a deep voice and a romantic aura, emerged in 1973 with a No. 1 hit titled "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" and became a major star instantaneously.



This week’s DVD releases - October, 22, 2013

Waiting-Room-DVD-400tTop Ten DVD List for Oct. 22, 2013.

"The Waiting Room"

"The Conjuring"

"The Way, Way Back"

"Paradise: Faith"

"Far Out Isn't Far Enough"