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Lenny Kravitz Album to Address Black America

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(Reuters) - Singer and musician Lenny Kravitz will release his first album in three years under the title "Black and White America," and he promised on Wednesday it will be his most musically and lyrically "diverse" yet.

The album will be the 46 year-old songwriter's ninth in his career but the first under a new label, Atlantic and Roadrunner Records. It will be released in the middle of 2011 as Kravitz embarks on a world tour in June.

Kravitz told Billboard.com the album's title was derived from his experiences growing up "in between a so-called black and white world," up to changes in the United States today including Barack Obama elected as the first black president.

"My life has always been about contrasts, and it reflects on not only my life and what I've gone through with my parents and what I saw growing up, but also where we are now as far as this country," he said.

Kravitz is the son of black actress Roxie Roker and white television producer Sy Kravitz.

The 12-track up tempo album is expected to contain elements of Kravitz's signature sound that mixes rock, funk and soul influenced by the 1960s and 1970s, including tracks called "Stand, "You're Gonna Run Again," "Push" and "Super Love" -- described as combining 1970s funk with a modern sound, according to a statement.

The album will also include "Dream," a piano ballad and a funk-driven title track.

"Musically and lyrically, I feel it is the most diverse album of my career," Kravitz, who has won several Grammy awards for best male rock vocal performance, said in the statement.

He last toured in 2009 across 18 countries with his last album, "It Is Time For A Love Revolution". It contained the hit ballad "I'll Be Waiting" that landed in the top 10 in several European markets.

Kravitz also has acted in recent years, including a supporting role as a nurse in the 2009 film "Precious."

NY Exhibit Pays Homage to Apollo, Black Music Greats

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(Reuters) - From Michael Jackson to James Brown, Harlem's The Apollo Theater is famed for helping launch some of the most successful figures in U.S. black entertainment and marking their influence in popular culture.

A new exhibit, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," displays images, videos and artifacts including instruments, shoes and costumes from music greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. who performed at the theater over the past 75 years.

From swing to Motown to hip hop, it details the 1500-seat music hall's history of propelling styles of music and artists that have graced its stage from Nat King Cole in the 1940s to its famed Apollo Amateur Night, which helped the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and The Jackson 5.

"The first time I appeared at the Apollo was during Amateur Night -- my gospel group during a gospel caravan show. And we won. And the next time was at the very beginning of my career in 1962," Dionne Warwick told Reuters Television.

"The Apollo Theater is the creme de la creme. And as is said, and is so true, if you can make it at the Apollo, you can make it anywhere," Warwick added.

The exhibit, held from Feb 8 to May 1 at the Museum of the City of New York, also explores Harlem's history as a hub of U.S. black culture and the theater's role in hosting memorial services for James Brown and a public tribute to Michael Jackson.

Jackson first performed at Amateur Night at age 9 with his brothers. Their group, the Jackson 5, won the competition in 1969, when the pop singer was 11 years old, performing Smokey Robinson's "Who's Lovin' You."

"When I think of a soundtrack for the second half of the twentieth century, it's the music that was launched by the Apollo," Susan Henshaw Jones, director of the Museum of the City of New York, said in a statement.

Letters from Martin Luther King and Frank Schiffman, the owner of the Apollo from 1935 until his death in 1974, are also included in the exhibit.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Jill Serjeant)

AI’s Fashion Students Present 'Red Carpet' Event

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

Recently at the Art Institute-Inland Empire, Sherry West, the executive producer and Academic Director of Fashion Design, Dawn Knapp and Cecilia Ng, both co-producers, along with Phyllis Clark, instructor of Fashion retail marketing and a list of others hosted a fashion show featuring their students and a second fashion show featuring Project Runway eighth season finalist Michael Costello.

Costello, 27, a native of Palm Springs who is living his dream since a very young age, opened his fist boutique in Palm Springs at the age of 15. At 16, following a oneyear internship with Mackie, he took a job designing clothes for Claire’s Collection, the design house responsible for stunning gowns featured on red carpets at the Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy Award ceremonies.

He is also noted for dressing Vanna White and the girls from “Price is Right”. Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Celine Dion, and Mya have all worn his creative designs. Although, the outstanding, award winning celebrity fashion designer was celebrated and featured his 2011 African print Spring couture collections, the night belong to the Art Institute fashion design students creating big dreams of their own.

For example, Bertha Harris, 64, has loved sewing, designing, and drawing all of her life. She recently retired from the County of Riverside as a drafter of maps. She loves designing wedding dresses. With her dream planted firmly in her heart she headed to the Inland Empire’s Art Institute and is scheduled to graduate in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design. Harris said, “I’m living my dream and taking it slow. Because my son says, mom take it slow. But I am so happy to be designing and doing things associated with fashion.” In the student’s fashion show she presented a breathtaking beautiful wedding gown with hand sewn sequenced butterflies featured throughout the garment. “I like butterflies” says Harris, “so I thought a wedding gown should have butterflies on it.”

“The Red Carpet” event was a success as the room filled with over 200 people, delighted with the unveiling of each perfect design presented by runway models who volunteered their time. Delicious finger foods were provided by the Art Institute.

Marinello the School of Beauty also sponsored the event. They supplied the make-up artists and hair stylists.

After both fashion shows were featured, the stage was opened to a question and answer segment in which Costello inspired the audience and future fashion design students to live their dreams and to never give up on believing the could become a valued member in the fashion industry.

83rd Academy Award Nominees

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

In the early morning hour on Tuesday, January 25, many were waiting to hear just who made it as an Academy Award nominee for the most glamorous star-studded night of the year.

Over 400 media professionals from around the globe, dined on breakfast bagels and gourmet coffee, before entering the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Academy president, Tom Sherak and Oscar winning actress and Academy member, Mo’Nique made public the list of nominations in 10-24 categories. Last year Mo’Nique received her first Oscar nomination and won for her supporting performance in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” She currently hosts her own late-night talk show, "The Mo'Nique Show," on BET, which features interviews with the hottest hit makers in Black entertainment.

This year, the Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood, and televised live on the ABC Television Network.

Televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide, the Oscar presentation will be hosted by Anne Hathaway, along with James Franco.

The five top 2011 Academy Award nominations are:

Best Picture

"Black Swan" Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers

"The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers

"Inception" Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers

"The Kids Are All Right" Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy- Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers

"The King's Speech" Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers

"127 Hours" Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers

"The Social Network" Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán, Producers

"Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer

"True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

"Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan- Yorkin, Producers

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"

Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"

Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"

James Franco in "127 Hours"

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in "The Fighter"

John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"

Jeremy Renner in "The Town"

Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"

Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"

Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"

Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"

Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"

Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Oprah's Half-Sister Revelation Rocks Show's Ratings

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By Marisa Guthrie –

LOS ANGELES - If only every daytime talk show host had a long-lost half sister.

Oprah Winfrey scored her best ratings in nearly six years with Monday's show during which Winfrey revealed that she had a half-sister she never knew.

The installment of Winfrey's daytime talker averaged a 9.6 household rating (according to metered market weighted averages). That's the highest episode since Winfrey's post-Oscar party installment on February 28, 2005.

Winfrey teased the big reveal on her show last Friday promising a "shocking family secret" that she said "literally shook me to the core."

Winfrey's younger half-sister Patricia was given up for adoption by Winfrey's mother in 1963. At the time, Winfrey was living with her father and did not know her mother was pregnant. Of course, this is not the first personal detail that Winfrey has unveiled on her daytime show. She has also revealed that she was molested as a child and lost a baby at 14.

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)

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