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16th Annual Essence Festival Rolls Into New Orleans

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By Tene Perry, Special to The Black Voice News –

The mid-summer New Orleans heat and humidity - sprinkled with a few showers - engulfs a sea of fresh hairdos, linen suits, halter-top summer dresses and skin exposing garments worn by African- Americans young and old all enjoying the Essence “experience”.

This year marks the 16th Annual Essence Music Festival sponsored by Coca- Cola and it promised three days of an all star line-up on several stages. This year’s Superdome Arena Main-stage donned commanding performances by legendary artists such as L.L. Cool J, Janet Jackson, Charlie Wilson, Gladys Knight and Earth, Wind and Fire. They shared the stage with R&B divas such as Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and (a very pregnant) Alicia Keys.

There were four smaller stages strategically placed on the second level of the Superdome that featured a variety of artists like De La Soul, Mint Condition, Joe, Mary Mary, Ledisi, Estelle and Melanie Fiona. New Orleans own Big Sam’s Funky Nation and The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra were just a few of the featured local artists.

In addition to it being Independence Day weekend, this year also marks the 40th Anniversary of Essence magazine which was even more reason to celebrate. Boasted as the ultimate party weekend the Essence Music Festival has grown in leaps and bounds since its humble beginning in 1995, to providing an unprecedented open forum focused on the African- American woman, family and progressiveness. The New Orleans Convention Center, which was open to the public, provided (in addition to the ice cold air conditioning and exclusive merchandise from vendors far and wide) opportunities for festival goers to attend star-studded forums that addressed relevant topics like Steve Harvey’s Love and Relationships Super Fest addressing keeping the African-American family together and how to make relationships and marriages work.

Nearly five years after Katrina, New Orleans is finally coming back to its original state of America’s party retreat. Hosting an estimated 400,000 attendees from far and wide for one of the most immaculately executed largest music festivals in America, contributions will be made not only towards New Orleans but the state of Louisiana and any efforts to protect the wildlife and commerce that thrives on the Gulf Coast in addition to building up around the city.

Weeper's Friends Join Community For All Star 4th of July Weekend

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Guitarist A. Ray Fuller known as “The Weeper”, a name giving to him by jazz artist and mentor George Duke is hosting an all star weekend with an indoor jazz festival and golf tournament. The event will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA. Joining him will be Euge Groove, top selling Saxophonist known for hot live performances, Terry Steele, Grammy Nominated composer of Luther Vandross' hit “Here and Now” and Brian Simpson, chart topping smooth jazz pianist and musical director for Dave Koz. The Friday event golf outing begins at 10 a.m. with a 6 p.m. dinner/ concert and show on Saturday, July 3.

Guitarist Ray "The Weeper" Fuller has earned the enviable title of the chosen few in his profession: that of "musician's musician." He has been the session guitarist on over 430 mainstream albums. His resume includes playing with legends Curtis Mayfield; Quincy Jones; Luther Vandross; Isaac Hayes; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Staples Singers; Nancy Wilson; Dionne Warwick; Natalie Cole; Whitney Houston; Anita Baker and Oleta Adams and "Mr. Motown" himself, Berry Gordy. He's also worked with Contemporary Gospel royalty BeBe & CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Tramaine Hawkins, Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams.

For more information call (909) 697-9565 or visit www.weepersfriends.org

Proceeds will go to raise funds for his new facility and media projects.

Dancing, Exhibits, Grave Visit Mark Jackson Death Anniversary

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(Reuters) - In Tokyo, fans are planning a sleepover surrounded by his possessions; in Los Angeles, devotees will visit his grave; and on TV and radio stations around the world, lovers of the King of Pop's music won't stop 'til they get enough.

Fans, museums and some members of Michael Jackson's family will mark Friday's one-year anniversary of the singer's death with special exhibits, tributes and flash mob dances from Manila to Manhattan.

In the family hometown of Gary, Indiana, matriarch Katherine Jackson will unveil a monument to the singer outside the humble house where the legendary Jackson 5 began their singing career half a century ago. A memorial and candlelight vigil will follow, ending with the song "We are the World."

Jackson's children -- Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket -- are expected to mark Friday's anniversary privately in Gary.

By contrast, in the Philippines prisoners who danced their way to fame with their "Thriller" YouTube video in 2007, will pay homage to the singer with some more fancy footwork.

Jackson's sudden death at age 50 on June 25, last year in Los Angeles sparked an outpouring of grief around the world for the former child star, who was rehearsing for a series of London concerts aimed at reviving a career shattered by bizarre events as an adult and allegations of molesting children.

A year on, with Jackson's personal doctor awaiting trial on a criminal charge of causing the singer's death by giving him a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid, memories are focused on the artist who won 13 Grammys and whose dancing rocked the world.


There are no major tributes planned by the official Michael Jackson estate, which now controls rights to the "Beat it" singer's music, likeness and other memorabilia.

But Jackson's estranged father Joe has helped organize a "Forever Michael" tribute at a Beverly Hills hotel on June 26, where 1970s band The Chi-Lites and a niece of the Jackson clan are expected to perform.

Katherine Jackson, 80, has given the fund-raising dinner her blessing, and her self-published book of personal family photographs -- "Never Can Say Good-bye" -- will be sold there. But Michael Jackson's estate is not part of the event.

Elsewhere, "The Ultimate Thriller" tribute stage show makes its way from Europe and the Middle East across the Atlantic for the first time, kicking off a U.S. tour on Friday near Boston.

Fans are expected to gather at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where the Jackson 5 launched their careers, and Madame Tussaud in New York will install an exhibit as part of a global wax celebration of Jackson's career.

Some of the more unusual events will take place in Asia, where Jackson had a devoted following even after his 2005 trial and acquittal on charges of abusing a young boy.

At the world's only official Michael Jackson exhibition, fans selected at random will pay $1,000 for an opportunity to sleep the night inside the Neverland Collection at Japan's Tokyo Tower. Some of the singer's clothes, furniture and awards from his famed Neverland Valley Ranch in central California have been on display there since May.

The cemetery where Jackson is buried near Los Angeles will open its gates to all fans on Friday but they will not be allowed into the vast mausoleum containing his body. Balloons, doves, radios and candles have also been banned in what officials hope will be a quiet and respectful occasion.

Yet, airwaves will be filled with Michael Jackson hits. MTV is among numerous TV and radio outlets planning wall-to-wall videos, retrospectives and documentaries throughout the weekend looking at the singer's influence, key developments of the past year and how his family has fared.

And fans looking for ways to mark the anniversary by text or Twitter were offered a list of song-based, 140 character lines from mobile entertainment company Predicto.

They include "ABC EZ as 123 o simple as doe ray me abc baby u and me grl" and "Cuz this is thrilla thrilla nite there ain't no 2nd chance against the thing w/40 eyz, girl."


Summer In The City: Entertainment Continues At The Fox Performing Arts Center

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The Fox Performing Arts Center is now presenting its ‘Summer in the City’ entertainment schedule. In conjunction with the City of Riverside's Star Trek Exhibition at the Metropolitan Showcase in Downtown, the Fox Performing Arts Center will begin the summer with 3:00 p.m. matinee showings of ten Star Trek movies Saturdays and Sundays from June 26 through August 1.

Celebrating a special occasion in the history of Riverside, the Fox will be presenting a special onenight showing of “Gone with the Wind”, offering patrons a chance to relive the first unveiling of this epic classic which was originally previewed as an unfinished print to the first test audience at the Riverside Fox on September 9, 1939.

In addition to movies and the previously announced one night performance of “American Pie” singer-songwriter Don McLean, Fox Performing Arts Center welcomes Eddie Money on July 29th for a single 8:00 p.m. show.

Money, who’s musical career began in the late1960s, has sold over 28 million records since that time. He is well known for a variety of classic rock hits including “Baby Hold On” “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Think I’m in Love”. With multiple Platinum records under his belt and the introduction of MTV, Money’s over-the-top narrative videos made him a household name by the early 1980’s. In 1986, his duet with Ronnie Spector, “Take Me Home Tonight”, reached number 4 on the Billboard Top 100.

The Fox Performing Arts Center is one of Riverside’s most revered landmarks. In January 2010, after two years of restoration, the City re-opened the Fox as a 1642-seat state-of-the-art performing arts center for Riverside and the Inland Empire. Now the Fox is host to award-winning artists, singersongwriters, comedians, entertainers and Broadway shows which kicked off in January with Grammy Award-winning artist Sheryl Crow.

Tickets are on sale now at Tickermaster www.ticketmaster.com and the Fox Box Office. Ticket prices range from $25 to $67 for Don McLean and Eddie Money, plus $4 facility fee. Tickets for all summer movies are $9. For more information about the schedule and tickets, visit www.FoxRiversideLive.com or contact the Fox Box Office at 951- 779-9800.

Blues Pioneers, B.B. King And Buddy Guy, At San Manuel

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Thursday, August 12, 2010, San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino welcomes B.B. King and Buddy Guy to the stage. These two legendary Southern gentlemen fill the evening with blues and incredible guitar playing.

Tickets are on sale today and available at Ticketmaster.com and the San Manuel Box Office for $45, $55, and $65. The King of the Blues, B.B. King, hails from Mississippi, where he began his long career playing street corners for dimes.

1947 was the year he got serious and moved to Memphis, where he followed in his cousin Bukka White’s footsteps towards becoming one of the most celebrated blues performers. His big break came a year later, when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program, which led to a more permanent place on WDIA, a Memphis radio station, clenching a 10- minute time period doing the “King’s Spot.”

Soon after his number one hit, “Three O’Clock Blues,” King began touring nationally, playing an astonishing 342 one-night stands. Over the years, the Grammy Award-winner has had two #1 R&B hits, including “Three O’Clock Blues” and “You Don’t Know Me,” as well as several #2 R&B hits. He is an inductee into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has received six honorary doctorates to universities and colleges around the country.

With the release of a new album, “Skin Deep”, Buddy Guy is still building his musical resume and earning accolades. At age seven, Guy fashioned his first makeshift “guitar”, using two-strings attached to a piece of wood secured with his mother’s hairpins. His artistic nature led him to become a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, gaining momentum with hits like “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues,” “Feel Like Rain,” and “Slippin’ In.”

Through the years, he has received five Grammy Awards, 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards, which is the most any artist has received, the Billboard Magazine Century Award, and the Presidential National Media of Arts, as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Every Thursday night with headliner entertainment, San Manuel gives away $1,000 just for seeing the show. To be eligible to win, guests only need a ticket to the show, a Club Serrano card and to be 21 or older. Guests can enter beginning at noon on such days. Three drawings will be held on those nights: $250 at 7:20 p.m., $250 at 10:00 p.m. and $500 at 11:00 p.m. Winners must be present.

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