Archive for Black Music

Indie Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders

Posted in Black Interests, Music, Music and Video Releases with tags , , on July 13, 2014 by Gary Johnson

By Tamiko Hope

Over the past 10 years I have seen, from the inside out, how the traditional music business model has shifted dramatically in a number of ways. Labels seldom invest in developing artists, the digital age has changed the way we consume music and social media has altered the way artists communicate and connect with their fan base. Because of my experience as an independent entertainment publicist and consultant, I have had the pleasure of witnessing indies accomplish great professional and financial success by controlling their creative property and having the perspective of where some see a ceiling, the indie doesn’t even know a ceiling exists. As Jay Z said on “F.U.T.W”, “We have yet to see a ceiling, we just top what we top.”

I wrote Indie Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders to help people get the basic fundamental truths on taking control of their careers and not waiting on anyone to do for them what they can do for themselves. The premise of Indie Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders is simple, straightforward and valuable advice from elusive insiders at entertainment outlets that include Allhiphop, REVOLT, XXL and BET. I also peppered each key fact with my own personal testimonies that co-sign the great “indie way.”

The indie way approach is all about creative professionals who aspire to build an authentic brand, craft their own way and profit from the fruits of their labor. Whether you choose to remain independent or eventually sign a major deal, the indie mindset knows its value and isn’t at the mercy of the conventional industry rules. If there is a job that needs to be done, it gets done. Period.

Indie Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders is a concise reference guide of tactical, practical and applicable motivation. For those people who want to wait on opportunities to come to them, prefer to rush success without paying dues or want to be an overnight celebrity, keep searching for what you seek. However, if you want a transparent take on the music/entertainment industry from some of the game’s top insiders, then Indie Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders is for you.

Tamiko Book Cover Click here to buy Indie Insider from

R. Kelly and Devaluing Young Black Girls

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Music, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , , on December 29, 2013 by Gary Johnson

R. Kelly Black Panties

By Darryl James

So, here are my thoughts on R. Kelly:

Do I think he’s guilty? More than likely. When there are numerous people telling a similar story, it has to have some truth to it.

Am I outraged? Yes, but I won’t be taking any action, because those weren’t my family members. I have other fights to fight. Rest assured that if my family members were involved, we would be talking about this in past tense. That would include Sparkle, who delivered her own niece for R. Kelly to have sex with and pee upon. If that young girl were my family, Sparkle would meet the same ugly, painful fate as the child molester. But, men already know that young girls who are harmed with no retribution typically have no men in their families.

And, that brings me to my next position: I would like for people to stop the bullshit about R Kelly being able to do his thing because of some “devaluation of Black girls.” That is not the issue here. The issue is that R Kelly is a celebrity and in America, the people value celebrities more than ANYONE.

Let’s start with Roman Polanski, who stood in front of a judge and ADMITTED that he raped an underage girl. He was allowed to leave the country somehow and still make films to the point where, decades later, the film industry gave him the fugitive an award.

Was that about the devaluation of young white girls? No.

Now, let’s move on to Elvis Presley, who LOVED sticking his drunken pecker into young white girls. He was still celebrated until the day he died.

Was that about the devaluation of young white girls? No.

And, finally, let’s mention one Michael Jackson, who could not shake the pedophile label off no matter what he did. And THOSE were young white BOYS!

Was that about the devaluation of young white boys? No.

All of these cases, including R. Kelly, are essentially about the exalted citizenship Americans assign to entertainers.

I’m not defending R. Kelly, I’m just sick of people attaching unrelated issues to serious issues. If you believe that young Black girls are being devalued, deal with that issue and don’t pretend that everything is about that issue.

Frankly, most of us know that young Black boys are devalued, which is why the schools throw them away on a regular basis and society turns a blind eye while they are targeted and mainstreamed into prison, drugs, gangs and otherwise failure. When a young Black girl is in trouble, we want to know why, but when a young Black boy is in trouble, we CLAIM to already know why.

Who is devalued?

But I won’t use any and everything to make the case that young Black boys are devalued. For example, these bastards playing the knockout game SHOULD be devalued and dealt with strongly.

And, many of you who claim that young Black girls are being devalued, did so your DAMNED selves when you were mourning the white pedophile from “Fast and Furious,” somehow claiming that it was “different” in his case. It was the same thing to me–a grown ass man was having sex with an underage girl.

If you sincerely believe that R. Kelly has been harming young girls, you should take action. Raise funds for the families to go after him. Or chastise the families that took hush money. Chastise everyone, including the women who enabled him to molest their young daughters and nieces. Start boycotts of his music and his concerts and do it seriously and incessantly.

But don’t sidetrack a very serious issue with another issue.

Darryl James Author*Syndicated Columnist*Lecturer*Film Maker


AVAILABLE NOW–“NOTES FROM THE EDGE,” the new book from Darryl James.

ALSO: “WHIRLWIND OR THE STORM,” a riots anthology and historical perspective. AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON.COM!!

Disco Is Back (At Least For One Night)

Posted in Black America, Music with tags , , , on February 14, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Donna Summer

TV One is bringing disco back this month on February 20th at 9:00 pm EST with a special two-hour episode of “Unsung” devoted to the 70’s music genre.

The broadcast will feature new interviews from disco greats Anita Ward, Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, Earl Young of The Trammps and Harry Wayne Casey of KC & the Sunshine Band.

Through the ‘70s decade, Disco rolled like a tidal wave across the pop and R&B landscapes, breathing fresh life into dance music and introducing a charismatic generation of stars. Disco’s relentless four-on- the-floor beat and ecstatic emotional vocals drew heavily from gospel, funk and soul, and it came with a liberating message that crossed cultural boundaries, uniting fans young and old, white and black, straight and gay.

As the party grew, so did the expressions of open sexuality and drug use that fueled its thriving club scene. And then came the backlash, an angry counter-movement that included riots and record-burnings, and as quickly as it arrived, Disco was dead. Or was it? In this ground-breaking two hour special, ‘Unsung’ tells the definitive tale of an American phenomenon, featuring two dozen musical performances, and commentary by legendary Disco survivors.

Unsung Logo

Click here to visit the Unsung web page.

TV One’s “Unsung” Starts New Season January 23rd

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Feature Interviews, Music, Music and Video Releases with tags , , , , on December 29, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Isaac Hayes

TV One’s signature music biography series sheds much-deserved light on some of the most influential, talented and, somehow, forgotten R&B, soul, hip hop, funk and gospel artists of the last 30 years.

Before Barry White and Teddy Pendergrass, there was Isaac Hayes, whose music set the scene for romantic seduction on stage and off. But Isaac was more than a legendary ladies man. He was a creative genius, who rose from dire poverty to become one of the driving forces in popular music, co-writing classic hits likeHold On I’m Comin’ and ‘Soul Man’, while reinventing popular ballads like Walk On By with stunning emotional force.

By the early 70s he’d become known as ‘Black Moses’ a proud and positive-minded role model whose acts of public and private generosity were legend. But behind the gold chains and dark glasses was a sensitive and insecure figure whose compulsion to provide for others took its toll in unstable relationships, lost fortunes, and a tragically foreshortened career.

Now, those closest to Isaac, including family members, life-long friends and musical associates, tell the Unsung story of an American icon.

Unsung Logo

Check out Isaac Hayes, Eddie Kendricks, Lou Rawls, EPMD, Mint Condition, Johnny Gill and more on the new season of “Unsung” beginning January 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm ET.  Click here to watch full episodes of past broadcasts.

Celebrity Crime Files Logo

If you love “Unsung,” another best-kept secret on TV One is Celebrity Crime Files.”  This series delves into some of the most controversial crimes of our generation by exploring the rise and fall of the entertainment, sports and literary world’s most prominent and promising figures including Marvin Gaye, Jam Master Jay and Peter Tosh.


Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Music with tags , , , , on December 24, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Charlie Wilson

Grammy-nominated RCA Records recording artist and R&B icon CHARLIE WILSON is preparing to celebrate his birthday with the release of his new, highly-anticipated album, Love, Charlie, on January 29, 2013The album will be available for pre-order at iTunes, and other leading retailers on December 11th. The first single, “My Love Is All I Have,” is already a top ten hit on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary Chart.  The accompanying video for the ballad can be viewed on

The selection of songs on Love, Charlie cover the various aspects of love that people experience – from the joy of discovering it on “I Think I’m In Love,” to one’s heart speaking to another’s on the lead single, “My Love is All I Have.”  For Wilson, the love of self and faith in God is represented on “If I Believe,” his most poignant song on the album.

“The first track on Love, Charlie’ sets the tone for this project,” stated Wilson.  “As everyone knows I have not only survived some of life’s challenges, I have been triumphant and ‘If I Believe’ is my testimony which I hope will inspire others.”

Wilson, whose career began with his brothers as the incomparable and funky GAP Band, has been enjoying an extraordinary solo career which includes two Grammy nominations for each of his last two albums, Uncle Charlie and Just Charlie.  The latter release spawned the chart-topping hit “You Are” which claimed the #1 spot Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart for 13 consecutive weeks!

In addition to his success as a solo artist, Wilson has collaborated with numerous chart-topping artists and producers including Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, Fantasia, T. Pain, Justin Timberlake and his recent performance on the 2012 Soul Train Awards with 2 Chainz.

With a repertoire of countless hit songs, Wilson continues to perform to sold-out audiences around the country including his critically acclaimed and heralded performance at the 2012 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.  The following quote in the New Orleans Times Picayune says it all:  “…a performance that left the Dome crying ‘Uncle.’  There’s really no other way to put it – Charlie Wilson is a force of nature.”

Click here to watch Charlie’s new video My Love Is All I Have.”

Stay connected with Charlie Wilson:



Twitter: @imcharliewilson

For Information Contact:

Karen E. Lee /

Juanita Stephens /

Theola Borden /

Watch TV One’s Award Winning Series “Unsung”

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Links, Black Men, Music, Music and Video Releases with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Kool Moe Dee

By Black Men In

One of our favorite shows on television is TV One’s award winning series Unsung.”  This show gets better and better with every season.  If you are unfamiliar with “Unsung,” this series sheds light on some of the most influential, yet, somehow forgotten music artists of our generation.

“Unsungis TV One’s acclaimed series of one-hour biographies celebrating the lives and careers of successful artists or groups who, despite great talent, have not received the level of recognition they deserve or whose stories have never been told.  Many of the featured singers have compelling life stories the details of which have largely remained untold.  Ten of black music’s most talented artists and groups are featured every season.

The lineup for this season looks to be great.  If you can’t be there to watch live, set your DVR‘s.  Do not miss this series.

Sly & the Family Stone (Click here to watch the “Unsung” episode featuring Sly & The Family Stone)
Angela Bofill (Click here to watch the “Unsung” episode featuring Angela Bofill)
Con Funk Shun (Click here to watch the “Unsung” episode featuring Con-Funk-Shun)
Kool Moe Dee
The Marvelettes
Gerald Levert
Arrested Development
Lou Rawls

Click here to visit the TV One “Unsung” official web page.

The CEO Manny Halley

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Music and Video Releases with tags , , on May 13, 2012 by Gary Johnson

In January 1999, Imani Entertainment Group began its journey in becoming one of the premier entertainment companies in the world. Created and nurtured by Founder, Manny Halley, IEG has become a major player in the entertainment world. With a bevy of companies under the IEG umbrella ranging from management to book publishing. This company has set its sights on all aspects of the entertainment world and with hard work, dedication, and a fresh outlook they are posed to take over.

Without a doubt, one of the most influential voices in the entertainment industry is mega successful entrepreneur and music mogul, Manny Halley.  The CEO, of Imani Entertainment Group is responsible for discovering the voice and talent of Grammy Award Nominated R&B singer/songwriter Keyshia Cole.  Born and raised in the inner city streets of Brooklyn, NY, Manny brings the hustle mentality and heart of the streets to the board room serving as the executive producer for Keyshia Cole’s, “The Way It Is” reality series which holds the #1 spot for the highest rated BET program in history and running the nation’s best-selling IHOP for the past 10 years.  With his family by his side, Manny has sought to create a leading empire that the entertainment industry has yet to see.

In 2003, a friend of Halley’s arranged a meeting for him to meet a rising songstress making noise out of Oakland, CA.  The sultry soprano was none other than Keyshia Cole who once she sang for Halley was signed on the spot to his growing entertainment company.  Within the year, Halley arranged a meeting for Cole to meet with Chairman of Geffen Records, Ron Fair, who would be responsible for signing and executive producing Keyshia’s debut and Grammy nominated sophomore albums, “The Way It Is” and “Just Like You.”

In 2006, in conjunction with BET, Halley developed and co-produced the hit reality television series, “The Way It Is”, an original program giving audiences the ultimate backstage pass into the life of Keyshia Cole.  On October 30, 2007, the second season aired following Cole’s new claim to fame and recording of her second album, “Just Like You” while dealing with the demons of her and her family’s past.  Halley’s role was highlighted in the series as viewers saw how flawlessly Halley handled Cole’s day-to-day affairs with press, studio time, artist collaborations and even her family.  The show premiered with outstanding ratings with the second season finale drawing in a reported 3 million viewers and 2 million households becoming BET’s largest returning series and original series in BET history.

A man of strength, faith and humility, Imani “Manny” Halley will not rest until the world knows who Imani Entertainment is. His commitment, dedication and loyalty to his artist and more importantly best interest are unsurpassed.  Halley has merged his many talents and keen sense of delivering what the public wants into his latest endeavors.  If his track record is any indication, the future looks might bright for the entertainment mogul.    Manny Halley (@mannytheceo) on Twitter

President Obama Reaches Out To The Black Community On The Web

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Gary A. Johnson, Music and Video Releases with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

As the President gears up for his re-election campaign, it should be no surprise that the Obama administration recently unveiled a new web site to highlight its work and increase its connection with the black community.  The web site is the administration’s way of reaching out and sharing information of interest to black Americans.  According to the web site:  “Since his first day in office, President Obama has been working to secure the future prosperity of the African American Community through efforts such as increasing access to health care, creating jobs, revitalizing schools, and the development of targeted job creating investments in underserved communities. While much more needs to be done, we are making progress. This site is a tool for you to learn about how the President’s Agenda is helping to win the future among African-American Communities.”

The site has the latest blog post, fact sheets and more.  Click here to visit the web site.  You can even sign-up to receive e-mail alerts, browse through a photo gallery and watch videos such as the White House tribute to The Sound of Young America:  The History of Motown, a panel discussion with Motown Founder Berry Gordy, singer Smokey Robinson and singer John Legend.

The direct link to the White House Web site is:

We Remember Levi Stubbs

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Music and Video Releases with tags , , , , on October 17, 2008 by Gary Johnson

By Gary Johnson

If you look up the word velvet or smooth in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Levi Stubbs. The Legendary Voice Is Gone. Levi Stubbs, one of Motown’s greatest voices is gone. As the longtime lead singer for the Four Tops, Stubbs was known for his distinct vocals on some of Motown Records bestselling recordings in the 1960’s and 1970’s including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Bernadette” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

Highland Beach (Annapolis, MD) music critic Kirk Caldwell must be sad today. Kirk had music by the Four Tops playing at his wedding over two decades ago. Levi Stubbs was one of Kirk’s favorite lead singers. According to confirmed press reports Stubbs, who has been sick since being diagnosed with cancer in 1995 died at his home in Detroit. He was 72. A stroke and other health problems led him to stop touring in 2000.

The Four Tops had more than 40 hits on the Billboard pop charts, including 24 that reached the top 40. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the group in 1990.

Of the four “Tops” who first came together in 1953, only one — Abdul “Duke” Fakir — survives. Lawrence Payton died in 1997, and Renaldo “Obie” Benson died in 2005. Fakir now leads a version of the Four Tops that includes Payton’s son, Roquel.

The original foursome “performed for over four decades together without a single change in personnel — a record of constancy that is mind-boggling in the notoriously changeable world of popular music,” the Hall of Fame says in an online profile.

Stubbs also provided the voice for the man-eating plant known as Audrey II in the movie “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986).

Stubbs is survived by his wife of 48 years, Clineice, and five children.

Check out two video performances. The first video is a 1978 performance of the Four Tops singing their hit song “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I Got.”

The second video shows The Four Tops performing an emotional version of the song “I Believe In You And Mewith Aretha Franklin on their 50th anniversary special, which aired on PBS featuring Levi Stubbs (in a wheel chair) singing.

Feel free to leave your comments about Levi Stubbs. What is your favorite Four Top song?

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